Thursday, August 29, 2013

Noordam 2013 - Preparing for the 11 night Mediterranean Explorer on HAL Noordam

We are Joost, Jolanda, Kim (13) and Rhodé (9), a Dutch family cruising the Mediterranean. Last year we blogged about our cruise on Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam. This year we travel on the Noordam. You will read about our trip (and the days before and after the cruise) on this blog in the next weeks. We hope you will enjoy it.

This is our itinerary:

We start in Barcelona, Spain. We decided to spend four nights before our cruise there to get to know the city. We end in Civitavecchia, the port for Rome, Italy. After disembarkation we spend three nights in the eternal city.

This is our third cruise. Why do we love cruise vacations? Actually because of all the advantages that everyone always talks about: We pack/unpack only once, our hotel travels with us, we like to see different cities and enjoy the great food and entertainment.

We love to experience the sights in the different ports. Holland America offers excellent tours, but we seldom book them. We are more the Do-It-Yourself types. To be honest, the tours may be nice for us adults, but for the kids they are usually a bit boring. When the guides explain, the kids sit in the shade waiting to get back on the bus to the ship. We usually venture out on our own, but we prepare for our visit extensively. Sometimes even months in advance. Isn’t the internet great with sites like Tripadvisor? This year we discovered Shorebee. Great tips on their site for DIY-trips. So besides writing about our trips, we hope to provide other DIY-cruisers with some tips for their own shore-adventures.

Tomorrow we leave for Barcelona. Today we had our first disappointment. We are flying with Brussels Airlines. On the e-ticket we saw something we didn’t count on: carry-on luggage allowance at Brussels Airlines is only 6 kg (13 lbs). On KLM it is usually 12 kg (26 lbs) and that is what we were packing: 4 days of clothes in our carry-on for Barcelona. Not going to happen…

So we packed an extra carry-on and stuffed the rest of the excess luggage in our “ladies bags” that are free to carry-on according to the airlines website. I wonder if that was what they intended to achieve, even more bags on the plane.

Tomorrow we drive from The Netherlands to Brussels, Belgium for our flight to Barcelona, Spain.

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