Holiday Gifts

Some may credit Wal-Mart with putting the final nail in the Bear's ample coffin but many say that their last owners - Penn Traffic did the damage. More widely known as one of the world's largest cargo shipping companies, MSC has operated cruises with an eclectic fleet since the late s. Dave Matthews Band management kicked off the 25th anniversary year's live release schedule with two classics. The teens would cruise up and down all weekend night long backing up the traffic downtown and creating a traffic jam. Ask our Fodorite community. For the money I felt it was well.

Cruise Lines & Ships

Hocking Hills Pet Friendly Cabin Rentals

You need to know that many different cultures of people cruise this route. You will find very polite and queue line respecting Australians and British.

And you will also find all for one, cut in front, didn't see you there or care much less Spanish and Italians. These are cultures and ways of life. So this is what you will run in to. I have lived in southern Spain for over a year now, after having been raised in the Midwest of the USA, where being helpful, polite and respectful is a way of life.

I had already been conditioned to the stepping in front of you thing from Spain, and therefore it didn't bother me. However, if you find extremely large crowds, quarters full of people moving about, and line cutting or going in front of you to catch the elevator might ruin your day, then don't take this cruise.

Just find something else with much less people that will agree with you. The food in the dining rooms table service for breakfast and lunch are very good. The speed of service is reasonably timed; however it's a little overkill on the offering of bread. Most people would prefer to be offered beverage service 5 times per meal instead of breads and croissants. But eventually you will be able to make your beverage order. Again, the food is very good, but the comfort of seating isn't very relaxing.

The food in the dining room for dinner is fantastic. The service is very slow and it is very loud in the dining room. However, if you take a look at the number of people being served, and the number of service personnel that are using the system MSC wants them to use, it is quite acceptable. I read reviews that stated the food was horrible and cold.

The food just isn't going to arrive piping hot when they are trying to serve a thousand. And I think people who haven't experienced many different cultures will be turned off by unfamiliar tastes.

You get about 6 courses for dinner at the restaurant and the seating is comfortable. The buffet on deck 14 is a bit of a madhouse free-for-all.

If you do go to the buffet, take the time to walk the entire oval shape of serving lines first. This will let you know where there are plenty of seats, and what you will find at the ethnic food corner. I read reviews where there wasn't a place to sit. Again, pure numbskulls who don't take the time to explore their options. They think they should be able to walk into very good quality for the masses cruise line, and have everything fall into their lap.

Most of the time there are plenty of open seats at the back of the buffet restaurant, where it is much quieter. I am very particular, so I knew that if I didn't have a room with plenty of space and a fantastic view, then I wouldn't have been comfortable. So I chose cabin Aurea Balcony Suite and would recommend if you are booking for that class of cabin, choose a cruise date where you will get either or I could literally lie on my bed, and look out 2 huge panoramic windows and see wherever we were.

It was more relaxing to look at the views of a port with my head on my pillow, than from the pool deck. Also, the balcony for this cabin wraps around to the end of the first panoramic window to where there is an access door for the rest of the balcony. It was left open when I arrived and I didn't want to upset the folks with the panoramic view windows without balcony access, so I didn't walk in from of their windows.

I would have guessed the cabin suite to be about square feet with square feet of accessible curved balcony. I could see from the back of my side of the ship to about the 10 o'clock position when walking the entire balcony, so about a degree view.

However, it is very windy when sailing above 10 or so knots. Plus the location of the cabin is far away from where you would find kids doing any nighttime tomfoolery, and there is no one above your bed. The bath room had a tub with a shower nozzle. I am 5'11" and I had to duck a good bit to wet my hair.

Your cabin steward will visit you twice each day, and will restock all towels, clean the entire cabin, make up the bed, and restock the mini bar on each visit.

When it's busy, the service is very slow, except in the cigar bar where most people won't go due to smokers. There just aren't enough service personnel to match the number of passengers in both the bars and the restaurants. However, if you do it right, then you can stay satisfied. You can order a drink and take it anywhere except to the theater.

So, if you're going to have an alcoholic beverage, go get one at the bar and then take it back to your room while you are getting ready. That way when you show up to slow service, at least you've already started.

Most of the cocktails I ordered were pretty good. Also, there are entertainers throughout the ship and in most large bars and lounges. Some are not very good, and some are okay.

They do help a little with the ambiance, especially around the main lounge. Back to the cigar bar; they have some Domincan, some Cuban, and some Italian cigars to choose from. I was surprised that the Italian cigars were that good and they were the cheapest. Pools and hot tubs. There are plenty of children on this ship, and they are in full force at the pools. If you were a kid, isn't this where you'd be? So if you are thinking you are going to soak up the sun in peace and quite, take a dip in a hot tub solo, and have a drink delivered to your lounger, then this isn't the place.

Find an all inclusive resort somewhere else that has a reputation for no children. There is an adults only deck, but it is located very close to the kids water slide. No Einstein award for that one.

They are very good, but also a bit random. From acrobatic maneuvers, to singing to dancing all mixed into a show. My opinions consider the fact that it is part of the cruise package, and not a high priced ticket I paid for independently. So, the talent for this value was better than I expected. Although we only went to 4 of the 7 shows, I only felt that 1of them was not worth sitting through.

I noticed the older Europeans were none too impressed with that show. The Michael impersonator didn't have the flair that Michael did, but my wife explained to me that if he tried to do that with the wig he was wearing, it wouldn't stay on very long.

Also, Michael grabs his crotch a lot, much like the original Michael, so if you don't want your kids to see that, then don't take them. A spa visit could also be a visit to the adult only solarium on deck 18 rather than a visit to the saunas or steam rooms. That is the offer as you are checking in pier side at their building and the next day. And there are plenty of appointments available. Now, the massages themselves are not that great. I have enjoyed massages for over 20 years, and so I think I have had enough to provide an accurate rating.

I give them a 5 out of a Oh, and if you have seen a picture of a hot tub in the Spa, then that is on some other ship. The Spa manager confirmed this when I asked where it was. The FANTASIA only has 2 steam baths Turkish baths , 5 or so saunas, a yoga room, and a relaxation room where you might get some sun through the glass windows if the ship is sailing in the right direction.

The gym is really nice. The weights and equipment are Technogym. If I were to ever buy weight equipment again, it would be Technogym. And you can run or walk on the treadmills and have a fantastic view beyond the front of the ship. I didn't get off the ship for Bari or Dubrovnik. We were pier side for all ports except Santorini and Dubrovnik. I had excursions booked for English, which meant English along with another language such as Italian or Spanish, or both.

Meaning the guide would talk in one language and then the other, much like the announcements on the ship. I like excursions because all I have to do is show up on time and they take me where I want to go on an air conditioned bus, and they get me back to ship. The ship won't leave while an excursion is still out. Yes, you might experience a crying and bored 3 year old on the coach.

For the people that just want to set foot on the soil to say they have been there, then there are usually the little portside shops and restaurants. For me, that is no way to experience a city.

You would only be experiencing a port. And when the ship is at anchor, rather than pier side, a tender boat fare to get you ashore will cost you around euro roundtrip. If you take a cab then you won't have a great view as you are driven around, and there won't be any explanation of the history or culture. And then you'll also wind up paying close to what an excursion would have cost anyways. You are only in port for hours depending on where you stop.

Both my wife and I would have some of the 4 euro coffees a few times a day, and my daughter would have the milkshakes as well. I also enjoy Scottish Whisky, so at euro per shot, that adds up considerably.

Even the 21 year portwood Balvenie was included. When you add in the tropical drinks during the day if you're at the pools, the wine per glass for lunch or dinner, sodas and other beverages, then it starts to become of value. But that was buying for us only since we didn't go with any friends or buy any drinks for other people. If you feel the urge to buy other people drinks, then you will definitely save a lot of money with the premium package. It's a pretty weak mini bar of about 6 different sodas, 3 cheap liquors, 2 fruit drinks, and some peanuts and Pringles for snacks.

The room service food was pretty good, but the amount available on the menu was lacking. Also, the dessert station is very good. There are about flavors of gelato and some very good cakes, pralines, macaroons, and other tiny sweets at the dessert bar. Just as advertised in the package, it included all items here, so I literally took home a bunch of pralines. The smoothie concoctions at the Spa bar are pretty good. They are available with or without the sugary syrup that enhances the flavor.

Without it, the drinks literally taste like liquefied fruits and vegetables. The coffee bar has 4 interesting coffee concoctions with or without liqueurs , along with regular coffee and cappuccino. And there is a gelato station on the pool deck with the 12 or so flavors. Problems and customer service. I experienced a carpet soaked cabin room upon my return from before dinner drinks on the second evening.

This was due to driving the ship into a heavy storm and a balcony drain that was blocked from being painted over. The storm was severe enough that the water level rose so high so quickly, that it seeped in through the door jam at the bottom.

The customer service I received to mitigate the problem was satisfactory. The Chief Housekeeper visited my room and asked me if I wanted a different room. I would have accepted, however they didn't have another cabin like that was available.

Having personally dealt with situations like this, I mentioned it should be fine if they use a wetvac to suck up the water and then leave the doors open to help ventilate.

So we left for dinner and didn't return for 6 hours or so. Unfortunately they didn't have a wetvac, but rather a carpet steam cleaner on wheels that couldn't suck up the water like a wetvac would have. Over the next few days the odor became close to unbearable. However, they were already booked full, so we had no choice but to stay in our room.

By the last 2 days, the odor was gone, and the carpet was dry. Also, the reviews that mentioned trouble having charges removed at customer service are true. I spoke to someone about removing a few charges that shouldn't have been on my bill and they said they would speak to the person who can remove it and then it would be taken care of.

But my last night's bill included those extra charges, so the next morning before leaving the ship I had to go down to customer service and speak to them again. They were eventually removed, but the conditioned attitude from the personnel at the customer service desk is to say why they can't until you keep pressing for your request. However, anywhere else you go on the ship, they do not like to say no to your requests and will do their best to accommodate you!!

There are several photographers trying to earn a living onboard, so they are a bit aggressive. I'm sure they have to be to make a decent living. They will be all over deck 7 around pm, and they will visit you at your dinner table for gala night. Also, it is quite entertaining to watch the photographer who cuckoos at people to get their attention so that they won't photo bomb his shots of other people. Then he will also do a hedgehog noise as he is shooting the photo.

Just find a spot where the crystal staircases are and sit down to enjoy a few drinks and you might see him. I didn't buy the wifi service, but my daughter used the internet cafe for 10 minutes of internet time for 26 euro. She was not impressed with the value. The whole thing where people put their bags in the passage way the last night did lead to seeing some people in their underwear.

But if you are going to see people in their swimwear, what's the difference? Smoking is allowed in the Casino and the Cigar bar and you can smell it if you walk through the casino or get near the doors of the cigar bar. People will also smoke on their balcony on the last morning as they are less worried about being kicked off of the ship since it is arriving for their disembarkation. It was so strong it woke me up before my alarm did. Places I didn't visit: Many Mexican cities, towns, and villages hold a yearly festival to commemorate their local patron saints.

During these festivities, the people pray and burn candles to honor their saints in churches decorated with flowers and colorful utensils. They also hold large parades, fireworks, dance competitions, beauty pageant contest, party and buy refreshments in the marketplaces and public squares. In the smaller towns and villages, soccer, and boxing are also celebrated during the festivities.

It honors the Virgin of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico, which is celebrated on December In the last decade, all the celebrations happening from mid-December to the beginning of January have been linked together in what has been called the Guadalupe-Reyes Marathon.

Epiphany on the evening of January 5 marks the Twelfth Night of Christmas and is when the figurines of the three wise men are added to the nativity scene. Traditionally in Mexico, as with many other Latin American countries, Santa Claus doesn't hold the cachet that he does in the United States.

Rather, it is the three wise men who are the bearers of gifts, who leave presents in or near the shoes of small children. The Day of the Dead incorporates pre-Columbian beliefs with Christian elements. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. There is an idea behind this day that suggests the living must attend to the dead so that the dead will protect the living.

Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls , marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts. The gifts presented turn the graveyard from a dull and sorrowful place to an intimate and hospitable environment to celebrate the dead.

In modern Mexico and particularly in the larger cities and in the North, local traditions are now being observed and intertwined with the greater North American Santa Claus tradition, as well as with other holidays such as Halloween , due to Americanization via film and television, creating an economy of gifting tradition that spans from Christmas Day until January 6. It is created to look like popular people, animals, or fictional characters. Once made it is painted with bright colors and filled with candy or small toys.

It is then hung from the ceiling. The children then gather the candy and small toys. Mexican cuisine is known for its blending of Indigenous and European cultures. Popular dishes include tacos , enchiladas , mole sauce , atole , tamales , and pozole.

Popular beverages include water flavored with a variety of fruit juices, and cinnamon-flavored hot chocolate prepared with milk or water and blended until it becomes frothed using a traditional wooden tool called a molinillo. Alcoholic beverages native to Mexico include mescal , pulque , and tequila. Mexican beer is also popular in Mexico and are exported. There are international award-winning Mexican wineries that produce and export wine.

The most important and frequently used spices in Mexican cuisine are chili powder , cumin , oregano , cilantro , epazote , cinnamon , and cocoa. Many Mexican dishes also contain onions and garlic , which are also some of Mexico's staple foods. Next to corn , rice is the most common grain in Mexican cuisine. According to food writer Karen Hursh Graber, the initial introduction of rice to Spain from North Africa in the 14th century led to the Spanish introduction of rice to Mexico at the port of Veracruz in the s.

This, Graber says, created one of the earliest instances of the world's greatest Fusion cuisine 's. The cuisine of Southeastern Mexico has quite a bit of Caribbean influence, given its geographical location.

In contemporary times, various world cuisines have become popular in Mexico, thus adopting a Mexican fusion. For example, sushi in Mexico is often made by using a variety of sauces based on mango and tamarind , and very often served with serrano -chili blended soy sauce, or complemented with vinegar, habanero peppers, and chipotle peppers. Chocolate originated in Mexico and was prized by the Aztecs. It remains an important ingredient in Mexican cookery. The foundation of Mexican music comes from its indigenous sounds and heritage.

The original inhabitants of the land used drums such as the teponaztli , flutes, rattles , conches as trumpets and their voices to make music and dances. This ancient music is still played in some parts of Mexico.

However, much of the traditional contemporary music of Mexico was written during and after the Spanish colonial period, using many old world influenced instruments. Many traditional instruments, such as the Mexican vihuela used in Mariachi music , were adapted from their old world predecessors and are now considered very Mexican.

Mexican society enjoys a vast array of music genres, showing the diversity of Mexican culture. Mexicans also listen to contemporary music such as pop and Mexican rock. Mexico has the largest media industry in Latin America, producing Mexican artists who are famous in the Americas and parts of Europe.

Thermal rooms include the dry heats of the Tepidarium gently heated ceramic loungers , and Laconium a hot room similar to a sauna but lower in humidity and the Thermal Bath a warm water spa.

The Thalassotherapy pool is a warm mineral rich sea water pool with hydrotherapy water jets to relieve aches and pains. Venus Beauty is on deck 9 of the Samsara Spa and offers a range of facilities from hair cuts and colours to massage chairs. Lido Acqua Regina on deck 9 is one of the ship's two main pools and is served by its own bar and two jacuzzi hydromassage baths. Lido Azzurro Blu is located on deck 9 and is flanked by two jacuzzi hydro massage baths and the ship's giant eighteen square meter screen airing music videos and sporting events.

The Lido Azzurro Blu pool is covered by a retractable glass roof during inclement weather. It is served by its own bar and also features a small breakfast and lunch buffet station. Your Costa Cruise Package Includes: It does not include travel protection, shore excursions, personal expenses, gratuities, specialty dining, wifi or alcoholic beverages.

Offer is for new bookings only booked during the promotional period. All other charges, including, but not limited to, taxes, fees, and port expenses are additional and apply to all guests. Prices and Offer are subject to availability and change without notice, capacity controlled and may be withdrawn at any time.

All qualifying cruise bookings must be booked and any required deposit fully paid to be eligible for this offer. Deposit and final payment must be made in accordance with the terms and conditions of the participating cruise line to be eligible for this Offer. Each category has it's own set of amenities from different drink packages to FREE in-room continental breakfast, and much more! Offer is for new bookings only.

Amenities vary by category booked. Package and pricing is not available on group bookings. Other Restrictions may apply. Book your cruise online on CruiseDirect. Shore excursion offer is for qualifying cruise on CruiseDirect. Offer is valid for new qualified bookings only made online at CruiseDirect. Customers must purchase the shore excursion through the website located at https: Coupon Code Expires December Offer is combinable with all other offers except other Shore Excursion offers.

Shore excursions must be booked 3 days prior to sailing. Shore excursions provided by CruiseDirect. Offer is based on availability on a first come, first served basis. Shore excursions may be withdrawn at anytime without notice, and are subject to other policies set by CruiseDirect. Refunds will not be given after the tour if the coupon code was not applied before departure. Offer is valid for new reservations only and is per stateroom, not per person.

Deposit and final payment amounts must be made in accordance with the terms and conditions of the participating cruise line to be eligible for this offer. Pay Less, Cruise More! What's better than a cruise vacation? An affordable cruise vacation! Book your cruise with CruiseDirect, and you'll never have to pay a booking fee.

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