OT: Italian cruise ships are the best

The current plight of the Costa Concordia reminds me of a comment made by Sir Winston Churchill.
After his retirement he was cruising the Mediterranean on an Italian cruise liner. Some Italian journalists asked why an ex British Prime Minister should choose an Italian ship.
"There are three things I like about being on an Italian cruise ship," said Churchill.
"First their cuisine is unsurpassed." "Second their service is superb." "And then, in time of emergency, there is none of this nonsense about women and children first."
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How creepy this article came out in the AARP newsletter
http://www.aarp.org/travel/cruises/info-12-2011/cruises-big-boat-little - boat.html?cmp=NLC-WBLTR-CTRL-012012-F1t-5&USEG_ID719081404
or
http://preview.tinyurl.com/7drwzyz
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What is creepy about it? Newspapers have articles most every week about cruises.
The sinking of one would not deter me from going aboard at all. What does deter me is being at sea with 4000 people trying to get off and back on every day. It does not seem to be a vacation at all and you don't see much of the port cities. I guess if you want to sit in a beach chair and eat and drink all day, it would be fun. I just don't get it.
Going to a strange city in a strange country and wandering around and meeting the locals is far more interesting for me.
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go from city to city, and country to country, without ever needing to move from your "hotel". You can do as much or as little as you like - the small ships can get directly into harbours where the big ones need to use tenders,.
I DO like land touring and staying in different places too, but SWMBO is not as adventuresome.
Travelling around Burkina Faso in a LandCruiser or on a motorbike doesn't turn her crank one little bit -
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On Sat, 28 Jan 2012 15:05:38 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

I may consider one of the river cruises. My niece takes at least a cruise a years. She asked if we would want to take a 10 cruse in Europe. I check the itinerary and it made stops in many places I'd like to visit again of for the first time. Problem was, the ship left at 6 PM most days, meaning you'd have to be back by about 5 to get aboard. So I'd be sitting on a ship eating the equivalent of Applebees for for dinner and missing out on some of the finest cuisine in the world in Italy, Spain, etc. About 40 hours of land time in 9 days IIRC.
The ship board entertainment is available easily and usually better and cheaper on land. I don't want to go to sea just to shop in overpriced shops or play at a casino.
OTOH, I'd like to spend some time down in the engine room, up on the bridge, and other places they would not allow.
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wrote:

"shore excursion" you can walk down town and hire a taxi to take you out of the tourist trap to "meet the locals" - and depending on the country you can rent a car or a motorbike and head out on your own for the day . Or take public transit . You do need to have a backup plan for if you miss the boat though - - - - -
We've done both
You need to know a bit about the locale to know if it is SAFE to think about these options. None of the above in Mazitlan, for instance - and don't rent a car and drive yourself in Cuba (I know - you Yanks can't go there-__)
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On Sat, 28 Jan 2012 15:10:51 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

The problem is time. The one that I looked into had limited shore time. The ship left port about 6 pm most nights so you'd never had dinner on land .
I'm surprised we still can't go to Cuba. Give the peace loving attitude of the present administration, I thought they would have given up on the restrictions by now. It is one of the places I'd like to see, especially before the tourists screw it up too bad.
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You can. Not legally, but it's easy to get to Cuba (I know several Americans who have vacationed in Cuba). Fly through Montreal.
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And Cubano immigration know better than to stamp the passport of an American.
--
People thought cybersex was a safe alternative,
until patients started presenting with sexually
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wrote:

That would be very important. It is possible to get permission to go though, if you have a valid reason. There have been some medical and church related groups there, as well as US TV crews. A few years ago, the Today show was there and at one point they had a bunch of Americans in the audience where they were shooting outside. Andrew Zimmern did a Bizarre Foods episode also.
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You used to be able to go over for educational reasons. I had a chance to go with a People-to-People group but couldn't get the money together.
Before it went out of business our travel club had a NFP foundation that would take people various places to rebuild things, do medical work, etc. Sorta like Missionary work without the religious part.
The plane that picked us up after a run to Aruba for the Club had been used earlier in the day for the run to Cuba. Prior to coming for us, because they had touched Forbidden Soil, they had to first deadhead to Miami where various governmental employees (and a couple of dogs) went though the entire plane. The Attendant I was talking to said they did everything short of a body cavity search to make sure no Communist Cooties had been brought back
--
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Exactly.
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Perfectly legally. Several reputable tour operators such as National Geographic and Abercrombie & Kent offer tour to Cuba for US citizens. -- Doug
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wrote:

No, without a release from the State Department it is not legal. It's pretty unlikely that anything will happen to you (See: Jane, Hanoi) but it is *not* legal. If ICE sees a Cuba stamp on your passport it could get rough.
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It is technically correct that the State Department has to issue a license to okay this and it usually needs some sort of cover story. You generally don't get your license for touristy stuff, but if you want to go for educational purposes it might be possible. The ease of getting this license is one of those things that tends to ebb and flow according to how badly the Administration in place at the time wants to suck up to the few thousand Cubanos in Miami.
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It's not just a technicality. It's real, though there isn't much of a real penalty for it, unless someone at customs, some day, decides to make your life hell.
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Ed Pawlowski wrote:

You can see it today! Drive through the most disreputable parts of your town. If you don't HAVE a seamy neighborhood, go to Detroit.
Soak up the ambiance. Smell the rats cooking over an open fire. Ignore shouts of "Get Whitey!"
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harryagain wrote:

Heckler: "Mr Churchill, I'd sooner vote for the Devil than vote for you!" Churchill: "And on Wednesday next you'll get the chance!"
--
Soon after losing the Prime Ministership, Churchill entered the men's room
in the House of Commons.
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