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Europe Here We Come! Vision of the Seas July 29,2019: 12 day Mediterranean/Greek Isles

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When I took my first cruise on Vision in March 2015, I could not have predicted that I would be sailing her again so quickly as my 7th cruise and my 3rd one this year!!!  While I think this is the last hurrah for a while (we have rhapsody scheduled for next spring break, but the family wants some land trips to disney and london and my credit cards are screaming in agony lol), it is going to be an amazing trip.

The set-up:  2 years ago ish, we started looking at Europe Itineraries.  We were getting ready to turn 50 and had wanted to do Europe forever, but Disney kept getting in the way 🙂 As soon as the itineraries came out, we saw the 12 day on Vision.  I truly wish that we were on a different ship in that I really wanted to try radiance class, but I enjoyed Vision as my first ship.  We wanted to do something different though, and we looked at the ultra spacious family room.  We only had 3 people traveling...more on that in a sec...and Sharla at MEI was able to grab 4032 for us.  It has a separate little bunk room for our 16 year old and a large couch/seating area.  There will be tons of storage and room to move around.  I don't usually care about our space much, but this will be nice since the whole trip will be 16 days with our pre-cruise stay in barcelona.  Those of you with teenagers know that some space will definitely be needed!   We thought about a balcony, but because Vision is so small and older, the balcony rooms are a lot pricier than on some of the newer ships.  In some ways I wish we'd tried jr suite...we'd have gotten 24 points!...but this trip is already a huge reach for us, so we will enjoy our different room with a big window and enjoy the ocean breezes on the outside decks!  

The travelers:  Jane (mom2mybugs), Jeff (the husband who doesn't love cruising as much as I do but is really looking forward to the ports) and Madison (16, who is very much excited for Europe).  In retrospect, we should have also booked our 22 year old and 20 year old on the cruise as well.  2 years ago, we figured they'd both be working, but Morgan is still finding her perfect post-college job and John just got back from a study abroad in Germany and can't find a 6 week job.  I'm not sure we could have afforded to bring them with air-fare, excursions, etc, but booking them at the beginning would have given us the flexibility if it wanted them to come.  I looked at adding them a few months ago, and the muster stations were full and the cost to put them in another room (even interior) was insane.  So they will be staying with the 2 members of the family that I will be missing dreadfully (the 2 schnauzer puppies!) and basically keeping the house hopefully standing!  Madison is usually a huge teen center kid...we hardly see her at all on the cruises because she meets people and ditches us immediately. We aren't expecting nearly as many teens on this trip as we see in the Caribbean on spring break cruises.  However, she is not as stressed because the port days are so long and she is planning on lots of family time.  I am hopeful that she will find a couple girls to hang with in the evenings and on the sea days, because Jeff and I are pretty boring and we'd also like a little us time!

The itinerary:  Amazing!  

July 24--Fly out of Chicago O'Hare at 630pm, arrive Barcelona at 9:50

July 25-28  Barcelona.  We have a barcelona city card, a barcelona day tours 1/2 day tour (they will pick us up from the airport) and a segrada familia ticket.  We will just roam around and eat/drink!  We are staying at an airbnb very close to the segrada familia.  It has a tiny balcony, 2 bathrooms and bedrooms and is out of the tourist area.  We thought about staying near the ramblas, but really wanted to not exhaust ourselves before the trip.  We can easily metro it looks like and we should be able to see a fair amount.  We are still trying to decide if we will go to Tarragona (Roman Ruins), Sitges (beach town) or both on a day trip (train out by ourselves, or do a 100 euro tour)...I still can't decide.  I don't want to race around, but i will regret not seeing the aquaduct and other ruins.  I'm very worried about the heat in europe though...my daughter tends to drag/mope/get herself sick in heat and my husband isn't in great shape.  We may just do the tour because it is easy and the van will be air conditioned.  Oh yeah, and Jeff and I will celebrate our 29th anniversary on the 28th!

July 29  Board Vision of the Seas early....yep...I'm one of the those people who are there before security opens!  I am so excited!

July 30 Cannes  No tour scheduled.  Either we will do the public crowded beach or take a taxi out to a more quiet location.  Didn't want to spend a ton here since the other excursions are crazy expensive.

July 31  Florence (well La Spezia).  I know someday I will get back to Italy.  After Paris it is a true bucket list trip.  However, i am trying to tell myself that I will go back over and over.  It is going to be hot, crowded and we are cruising into a port a fair distance from Florence, Rome and Athens.  So we did all tours with Royal.  We are skipping Pisa since time is limited, and just doing Florence.  I really really wanted to buy an Uffizi ticket on my own but I can't quite figure out how much free time we have and I know that I wouldn't have more than a couple hours.  I think we are better off just finding one of @Traveler's gelato places and relaxing.  It will kill me...I'm a go/go/go hit every museum person but I'm trying to make my mantra "Pace/pace/pace!"

Aug 1  Rome (again...not actually rome but far out).  We did a tour that will get us into the vatican museum and st. peters and I will see the Sistine chapel along with a gazillion of my close personal friends.  It will be packed.  I will be heartbroken if things are too crowded or the pope closes something, but again, I'm telling myself nothing is a have to...I will be back!!!  We will drive past the coliseum, but i traded that entry for the religious art!

Aug 2 & 3   Sea days!  Much needed relaxation in my happy place on my sky deck chair near the bar!  I have my paperback books, my sunscreen and my chair clips!  I am tempted to do the thriller dance class which i think would be fun, but might involve me getting off my deck chair or not getting one in time, so maybe not!

Aug 4  Athens!  I heard they closed the acropolis for 6 hours because of the extreme heat.  I am hoping this doesn't happen while we are there, but they will find something for us to do.  This is the port I'm the most worried about heat and water consumption.  Hoping nobody gets heatstroke.

Aug 5  Mykenos   Jeff will celebrate his 51st birthday in Greece!  Because he is a high school social studies teacher, one of my majors was history and Madison is looking at anthropology/archaeology as a potential college major, we are going to the ancient ruins in Delos.  This will also be hot.  Really Really hot.  Hoping the fact that we are done by noon will help.  This will be a very cool port stop though!

Aug 6  Santorini   This is the stop that originally i was really pumped about, and now I'm hoping we survive.  There are 4 or 5 ships in port that day, so it will be crazy crazy crowded and hot.  We are simply going to do a tour of Oia, walk around a bit, and then hit a cafe for some wine.  I think this stop will be a take pictures and soak up atmosphere because I feel like it will be over-tourists.  I don't think we will get back to Greece, and so I hope we can see what we want and enjoy whatever we are able to do.

Aug 7   Sea day!  I loved this itinerary because it gave me sea days to relax on a port intensive cruise.  Again, Vision is a bitty ship, so I think we will enjoy some trivia, my deck chair will call my name and I will spend my $20 on the quarter game in the casino.

Aug 8  Valetta, Malta  We are doing the blue grotto and fishing village tour.  It will be relaxing, we will see the beautiful caves and water, and I'm actually looking very forward to not having a lot of ships here.  Apparently they filmed some of Game of Thrones here?  Means nothing to me but since Jeff and my son have been binge watching the first few seasons this summer, he might recognize something!  

Aug 9   Last Sea Day.  And that dreaded day of having to get packing!  Ugh.  I have never done a cruise over 7 days and I think it will be amazing.  However, I will not be looking forward to going back to work (in education, August is gear up for the year time lol!).   

Aug 10  Back in Barcelona.  We have a 355 flight so we had some options.  We didn't want to hang at the airport all day so we considered the option to stay on the boat.  I thought that would be pretty depressing...all these excited people just starting their trip and we would have to be going home.  So we decided to do the montserrat trip and airport transfer.  We had been trying to figure out montserrat earlier and decided it would be a fun last day activity and we wouldn't have to worry about the airport transfer or catching a cab.  It says it is good for any flight after 3 and will get us to the airport by 1215.  I will be stressed about getting through security but i know really we have plenty of time.  

 

Dining and Extras:  We bought a 4 day dining pkg.  I would have considered the udp, but there are only 3 specialty restaurants on vision, and we don't want to do them that much.  We will go to giovannis on Jeff's bday, chops, izumi and I think chops a 2nd time.  I've never gotten fish at chops, so i'm tempted to try it one time.  Chops is a trickier restaurant for my vegetarian girl, but she can live on the sides!!!  And the dessert!!!   Jeff and I also are doing Chef's table  again.  We have done it twice before, and I know this is a repeat menu but I enjoy it a lot, and I'm hoping I get the world again for dessert!  We are going my time dining this time, and expect that we will hit the windjammer a couple nights (esp. Rome and Athens) because we will be tired.  We booked middlish times...630ish...because if madison does want to meet people, she can, but we didn't want to do too early.  We are kinda getting tired of the scheduling specialty at 530 or 6 for her, so we might schedule stuff a bit later and tell them she is leaving.  Then we can have dessert and coffee together.  I haven't really checked out show times, etc., since the compasses out there have been pretty old.  However, again, we can either try to get an earlier table at my time, or skip the dining room if there is something we really want to see.  We are going team drink pkg as usual...it is close for jeff in terms of price, and i totally benefit.  I also think we will be drinking a ton of water, so that will totally make up the difference, plus sending jeff for my morning latte!  We snagged it on a sale for $48 and then upgraded to $57 for the voom.  Voom will be spotty...vision is not known for its good internet...but i want to be able to check email and facebook message the kids back home.  Plus, if we get signal, I will try and periscope for sure (I think I'm mom2mybugs there).  I will also try to blog.  I have to try and find the email that had the info on the picture compresser thing.

 

So that is it....I'm doing a week long babysitting live-in job that pays for a lot of our plane tickets so i'm crazy busy until Sunday.  Then its drs appointments, last minute pedicures and on our way wednesday!!!!!   So can't wait to share my first experiences in these amazing ports.  Jane

 

 

 

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34 minutes ago, ellcee said:

Following!!! Enjoy, this sounds like a great experience. I've had ice cream since but  NOTHING beats gelato. I never had a bad one.

My daughter was on a band trip to Italy and that is what she ate literally every day for lunch!  I cannot wait!!!! Jane

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Wow!  Jane...this sounds like an amazing trip!  We did a 12 night itinerary similar to this one on Brilliance back in 2005.  It was one of my favourite cruises ever!  Very port intensive but the memories and pictures that we have from that trip are so precious.  Soak it all up!  I've been wanting to do an itinerary like this again, but that is not in the 10 year plan at the moment.  Probably when my girls are older like yours.  I'll be following for sure!

1 hour ago, mom2mybugs said:

I don't usually care about our space much, but this will be nice since the whole trip will be 16 days with our pre-cruise stay in barcelona.  Those of you with teenagers know that some space will definitely be needed! 

This made me laugh out loud!  I was so happy to come home after 11 nights from NYC/Anthem GC just to get "my space" back!  I get it!

1 hour ago, mom2mybugs said:

I truly wish that we were on a different ship in that I really wanted to try radiance class,

With these port intensive European sailings, it doesn't really matter what ship you are on.  You'll be so tired you'll barely see it lol.  Better on a small ship because then you don't feel like you are missing out as much on board.

1 hour ago, mom2mybugs said:

Chops is a trickier restaurant for my vegetarian girl, but she can live on the sides!!!  And the dessert!!! 

Red Velvet Cheesecake!

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6 minutes ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

Wow!  Jane...this sounds like an amazing trip!  We did a 12 night itinerary similar to this one on Brilliance back in 2005.  It was one of my favourite cruises ever!  Very port intensive but the memories and pictures that we have from that trip are so precious.  Soak it all up!  I've been wanting to do an itinerary like this again, but that is not in the 10 year plan at the moment.  Probably when my girls are older like yours.  I'll be following for sure!

This made me laugh out loud!  I was so happy to come home after 11 nights from NYC/Anthem GC just to get "my space" back!  I get it!

With these port intensive European sailings, it doesn't really matter what ship you are on.  You'll be so tired you'll barely see it lol.  Better on a small ship because then you don't feel like you are missing out as much on board.

Red Velvet Cheesecake!

I know...the fact we won’t have tons of ship time made us look more at vision than b2b on a bigger oasis class.  I love my daughter dearly but I’ll treasure the space!  And Madison will definitely try the cheesecake and I will tell her we have to take a picture for @Sweety!  Jane

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4 minutes ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

And Happy Anniversary!

July anniversaries must be a teacher thing 😉

Lol...thank you!  We got married btw college graduation and Jeff starting grad school.  Now we fit vacations in the same time.  Jeff always scores on his bday since we are always traveling in that window!  Jane

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I am so excited for you!!!  I can't wait to go on the trip vicariously through you!   By the way, where was your son in Germany?  Mine just returned in May from a year abroad there.  He did an internship in Braunschweig last summer and then spent the school year in Bremen.  We were lucky enough to visit him twice: first we took the entire family on a cruise (the first one on Royal and third one overall) and loved it.  We sailed out of Southhampton and went to Hamburg, Oslo and Bruges.  We went back and did a land trip in March.  After that, I told my husband that we will do something warm next March, and gave him a choice: an all-inclusive or a cruise.  The all-inclusive would have been his choice but for our great experience on RC.  

Have a great trip!!!

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7 minutes ago, Fairlynew said:

I am so excited for you!!!  I can't wait to go on the trip vicariously through you!   By the way, where was your son in Germany?  Mine just returned in May from a year abroad there.  He did an internship in Braunschweig last summer and then spent the school year in Bremen.  We were lucky enough to visit him twice: first we took the entire family on a cruise (the first one on Royal and third one overall) and loved it.  We sailed out of Southhampton and went to Hamburg, Oslo and Bruges.  We went back and did a land trip in March.  After that, I told my husband that we will do something warm next March, and gave him a choice: an all-inclusive or a cruise.  The all-inclusive would have been his choice but for our great experience on RC.  

Have a great trip!!!

John was in Marburg, about an hour out of Frankfurt.  He managed to travel quite a bit...Venice, Amsterdam, Munich, and a couple I’m forgetting.  He loved it but was very ready to come home.  We didn’t get to visit because we had already planned this Europe trip and at spring break I needed someplace warm too lol!  

We have never done a all inclusive.  I sold cruising to my husband based on the ports and even then he worries he might get bored.  So far so good but I think he’s ready for some land trips after this one.  Jane

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5 minutes ago, MotleyCruiser said:

Will English be an issue/barrier?

I’m hoping not.  I feel like there will be a fair number of brits and Americans on any royal ship.  Plus the fact most Europeans learn english.  She speaks some Spanish.  Of course I’m sure she wouldn’t mind practicing her Spanish or learning Catalon if some cute 16 year old boy from Barcelona we’re on the ship! Jane

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1 hour ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

With these port intensive European sailings, it doesn't really matter what ship you are on.  You'll be so tired you'll barely see it lol.  Better on a small ship because then you don't feel like you are missing out as much on board.

I was worried about this for a 9-night Explorer sailing out of Civitavecchia for next August! Now that it'll be amped by then maybe there'll be TOO much to do!? 

Also I hope the Europeans don't judge us for the water slides! Big garish number comes sailing into Santorini marring the pristine coastline, haha 

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We're doing a 7 night western med next May as a graduation present for our oldest - may be the last vacation all four of us take together.  Our youngest will graduate in May 2021 and who know what will happen with jobs, grad school, etc so we want to do this one right.  Will be following along and taking notes!  We sail round trip from Barcelona too.  Common ports will be La Spezia & Civitvecchia.  

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1 hour ago, DDaley said:

Also I hope the Europeans don't judge us for the water slides! Big garish number comes sailing into Santorini marring the pristine coastline, haha 

In most places, they seem pretty happy with the income that tourists bring. The exception would be Venice where there have been big protests against cruise ships including small local vessels blocking the waterway. It looks like they're going to (if they haven't already) ban or limit the big cruise ships. 

@mom2mybugs hope you have a fantastic cruise (I'm sure you will!).  I'm looking forward to following along 

 

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1 hour ago, DDaley said:

I was worried about this for a 9-night Explorer sailing out of Civitavecchia for next August! Now that it'll be amped by then maybe there'll be TOO much to do!? 

Also I hope the Europeans don't judge us for the water slides! Big garish number comes sailing into Santorini marring the pristine coastline, haha 

Ok... That image sounds pretty funny!!!  Jane

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3 hours ago, mom2mybugs said:

I know...the fact we won’t have tons of ship time made us look more at vision than b2b on a bigger oasis class.  I love my daughter dearly but I’ll treasure the space!  And Madison will definitely try the cheesecake and I will tell her we have to take a picture for @Sweety!  Jane

Madison, I am jealous. Have a wonderful time. 

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42 minutes ago, hayley_bopp said:

In most places, they seem pretty happy with the income that tourists bring.

Oh good!! The thought of planning a land vacation to all those Greek/Italian stops is so daunting, cruising seems perfect. 

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2 minutes ago, DDaley said:

Oh good!! The thought of planning a land vacation to all those Greek/Italian stops is so daunting, cruising seems perfect. 

Although I am very worried about how crowded some of those stops will be. I'm  daunted by 5 cruise ships of people unloading into Santorini!!! Jane 

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21 minutes ago, mom2mybugs said:

Although I am very worried about how crowded some of those stops will be. I'm  daunted by 5 cruise ships of people unloading into Santorini!!! Jane 

oh wow, and that's the port I most want to see as well. I hope you guys are able to find a beautiful patio and just sit and soak it in! Even just sitting and looking should be spectacular.. pack so much water!

Ooh, now you got me thinking about packing my camelpak for the Caribbean as well, then you're not carrying as many bottles. 🤔🥵

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What an amazing cruise!  Too bad your other 2 kids couldn't be added but you'll have special time with your teen (when she sticks around...lol).  Looking forward to following along.

P.S. I like how you mentioned that Disney has gotten in the way.  For us, cruises have gotten in the way of Disney.  We are wanting to return but keep booking cruises over school breaks.

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