Adriatic Odyssey: A stop in Korcula

KORCULA, Croatia – “I have bad news and good news,” announced cruise co-ordinator Ninna Durinec after breakfast as we began the first full day of our Adriatic cruise. “The bad news is that we will not be able to make a swim stop this morning because of the rainy weather. The good news is that we are now cruising fully by sail.” The captain had promised that the crew would wake us up to watch the sunrise. …

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Adriatic Odyssey: A day in Dubrovnik, the “Pearl of the Adriatic”

DUBROVNIK, Croatia – There is a mass of tourists here in late June. Surprisingly, however, few of them are Americans. That may be because today — more than two decades after the last bomb dropped in the Croatian War of Independence — there are still no direct flights from the United States to Dubrovnik. It’s hard to get here. (One of the first Americans we met today after boarding our sail cruiser was still looking for her …

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Adriatic Odyssey: preparing to explore the Adriatic aboard AdventureSmith Exploration’s Panorama

I’m going on a mystery cruise next week. It’s not a game, and it’s not a mystery to the captain, but of the seven ports where we’ll stop, I’ve never heard of four of them. Korcula? Budva? Paxos Island? Kotor? Saranda? So why did I agree to hop on the three-masted sail cruiser “Panorama,” and spend eight days exploring these unheard-of cities and islands? Because this is an Adriatic cruise – and AdventureSmith Explorations, which calls the …

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MSC Splendida Day 7: Day at Sea

  ABOARD THE MSC SPLENDIDA –Swimming in one of the Splendida’s five pools, I notice the only hint that we’re on a ship in the middle of the ocean. The water level at the edge of the pool goes up a bit, then down every few minutes, which means that if this ship did not have a great engine with a fine stabilizer, the water would be sloshing back and forth and those passengers with fragile stomachs …

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MSC Splendida, Day 6: Tunis

ABOARD THE MSC SPLENDIDA-To visit the most exotic country on our cruise -– Tunisia, North Africa – required that we give a “Visitors Embarking Card” and for the first time, show our passports, to the local port authorities as we left the ship this morning. Our tour choice: a historical and cultural look at the area, which began by driving through La Goulette, the fishing village where we docked. A lot of Italians and Maltese make their …

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MSC Splendida, Day 5: Messina

ABOARD THE MSC SPLENDIDA –Speaking from experience, let me tell you that sailing into the Strait of Messina on a humongous cruise ship is much more pleasant than driving down to it in a little red Volkswagen from northern Italy. As a former Navy wife stationed in Sicily years ago, my family and I made the trip down the steep narrow two-lane mountain road through Reggio Calabria, on the Italian side, many times to catch the ferry …

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MSC Splendida, Day 4: Julie finally reaches Capri

ABOARD THE MSC SPLENDIDA – I took more pictures in one afternoon on the island of Capri than I’ve taken of my grandchildren since they were born. It’s not that my grandkids are not the most beautiful creatures I’ve ever seen, but I’ll see them again and again, if all goes well, and Capri is sort of a one-shot deal, an afternoon excursion off the MSC Splendida cruise ship; I probably won’t pass here again. Capri, a …

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MSC Splendida, Day 3: Genoa, known for its pesto sauce

ABOARD THE MSC SPLENDIDA — We have sailed into Genoa today, where the artists Caravaggio, Van Dyck and Rubens, among others, chose to live and where many of their masterpieces remain. They no doubt ate a lot of pesto, for this town along the Ligurian coast is known for its wonderful green pasta sauce, made from basil leaves. They grow so many different varieties of basil here that it is said a true native Genovese can tell …

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MSC Splendida, Day 2: Marseilles, the European Capital of Culture

ABOARD THE MSC SPLENDIDA –-You get the feeling that this is going to be an upscale cruise when the taxi driver taking you from the Barcelona airport to the port is playing classical trumpet concerti on his radio. Upscale is a forte of MSC  cruise ships. In fact, according to cruise director Valerio Stegleano, exclusivity and privacy and five-star service is so important to some passengers now, that pricing voyages according to cabin placement or size is …

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MSC Splendida, Day 1: Am I the only American on board?

ABOARD THE MSC SPLENDIDA – There will be no waffling or wondering where the life preservers and the lifeboats are should an unforeseen accident happen while we’re cruising on the MSC Splendida this week. The first thing we received from the crew, even before we got to our cabins, was a notice of the Compulsory Safety Briefing that we had to attend to learn about how to put on our life preservers and where to meet should …

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