Sunday, August 21, 2016

Cruising the Baltic- All aboard!

This last week we did something entirely different for us, and went on a cruise. We decided to do this because we wanted to see Copenhagen, Stockholm, Tallinn, and St. Petersburg, but there was no way we could afford the time or money to fly to each of those destinations individually. Also, due to visa requirements, this was the only way that we could visit Russia. After asking around, we decided on a budget Italian cruise line, MSC, that had a departure out of Kiel, Germany and also lets kids travel free (if they are passenger 3 or 4 in a room). We didn't even have to buy plane tickets! We thought, "we will just drive up there, park, and off we go." Easier said than done.

This was our ship, the MSC Musica.  The cruise was sold out, so the place was packed. We left our house at 7:45 am, fifteen minutes ahead of schedule, for the 6 hour drive to Kiel.  "All aboard" was at 5 pm.  Well, the traffic and road construction were horrific and about 1 pm we started to think we would not make the ship and told the kids there would be no lunch stop. Around 3:30 pm, we were making plans to take the train to Copenhagen and meet the cruise there. At 4:30 pm Rob dropped the kids and I off at the terminal and went to park the car and run back.  At 5 pm we were in line to board the ship and after an issue with Toby's cruise card not quite functioning, we were literally the last people on the boat.  It was such a stressful day!

Once on board, we went immediately to the mandatory muster.  We were all just so happy to be on the ship.

Because there are six of us, we booked two rooms side by side.  Me with the girls, and Rob with the boys.  This had the added benefit of us having two bathrooms to use.

We took the kids to two shows while on board.  This one was aimed at kids specifically and was so surreal, Rob and I were completely dumb-founded. What you are looking at here is Snow White and Prince Charming singing "A Whole New World" from Aladdin while Cruella DeVil, a clown, and a dalmatian sit in front of them.  At the bottom left you can just see the Beast from Beauty and the Beast twirling to the music. It was so weird, and made no sense at all.  

The last night on the ship there was supposed to be a Ninja Turtles themed show, so we thought we'd try it again. Well, there were four guys dressed as Ninja Turtles, but they didn't actually do much besides stand around, and the rest of the act was people dressed as geishas and ninjas doing acrobatic acts, contortions, etc. These acts were interspersed with a "Sensei" giving instructions on how to become a ninja.  My favorite was "Step 8. Know everything about every profession." What?!?  Who wrote that? And finally to top it off, in the middle there was a singer performing "You Raise Me Up" and the finale was accompanied by "We are the World."  Salvador Dali would be proud. 

Most of our time on the ship we spent trying to entertain ourselves and avoid the crowds.  We watched the Olympics in our rooms, we played Uno and taught the kids War and Slap Jack. We sat in the hot tub, and played on the little playground and in the arcade.  Despite being August, the highs were in the low 60s and it was really windy on the decks.  We did send the three big kids to the kid's club one day (Amelie was too young) but they didn't like it and refused to go back. And we ate at the buffet.  We tried the restaurant the first night, and the service was so slow (European style 3 hour dinner anyone?) it was completely painful. So after that, we ate all of our meals at the extremely crowded buffet.  Sometimes we went to dinner 30 minutes early to find a table that would seat six, and sat and played cards until the food line opened, because it was so difficult to get a table.  

We also got to meet the medical staff on board when Amelie's fingers accidentally got pinched (badly) in the hinge side of a cabin door.  Luckily they were not broken, but all four of her fingers on her left hand were bruised and bleeding.  She got cleaned up, bandaged, and an ice pack, and then they made me fill out an accident report while she sat in my lap screaming.

So, in summary, cruising is not our speed of vacation.  But we are glad that we did it, and we still think it was the only way for us to see all of these destinations. But we don't plan to do it again.  I will do a post on each port: Copenhagen, Denmark, Stockholm, Sweden, Tallinn, Estonia, and St. Petersburg, Russia.


Aubrey said...

Amen, sister. As if cruises weren't already bad enough, I cannot imagine the awfulness of being on a COMPLETELY FULL boat. Ugh.

But being delivered to all those awesome ports via a floating hotel is pretty awesome. It almost makes up for the fact that being there for 8-12 hours almost doesn't feel like it counts as visiting. :)

OUR HOUSE said...

I laughed out loud when you were describing the on board shows. Totally reminded me of something you'd see in Korea :)