Travels

Mediterranean Cruise: embarking on the M / V Zenith

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When they raise their next destination Vacation those who are used to traveling with a backpack or on their own but with a wheel bag, the idea of ​​making a cruise is usually not the first that comes to mind. A priori, the accommodation is always in the same “hotel” during the 7 or more nights that it lasts, they will treat the same people over and over again and will interact with other tourists like them in a basically controlled and free environment of surprises

But every cross has its face and what may seem "cons" become "pros" in certain circumstances. I will talk about both of you in this and subsequent articles about my experience between September 27 and October 4, aboard the cruise M / V Zenith from Pullmantur, making the tour "Egypt and the Holy Land". It was 8 days and seven nights sailing and playing various ports of the Eastern Mediterranean and making excursions through four coastal countries of the Mare Nostrum and an island: Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus. And it will not be the last time I mentioned it but Pullmantur has on its cruises the descriptive slogan of "Think of IT": All inclusive, from mineral water to caipirinhas.

Pullmantur has his ship based for this navigation circuit in Athens (Greece) and when one hires this cruise, the price includes air transfers (either with Iberia or with one of the Pullmantur Air Boeing 747-400) from Barcelona or Madrid to the capital Helena and from there to the port of Piraeus, on the banks of the Aegina gulf. I made the shipment in Spain since T1 and although the Pullmantur Air check-in counters are confirmed on the airport information screens and can change, they were located (358 to 362) next to Ryanair's. As a curiosity, there I was able to contemplate the usual scene of travelers redistributing the contents of their bags so as not to exceed the feared 15 kilos of maximum weight in the checked luggage if you fly with the Irish airline.

After checking in without problems the 14 kg of my suitcase (identifying it with the number of my cabin), passing the usual security controls and queuing patiently at the boarding gate, a bus (popularly known as “gardener”) took us to the foot of the stairs of our Boeing 747-400. With a capacity of more than 400 passengers, the huge plane would take us in about three and a half hours from one end of the Mediterranean to the other end, Athens. By the way, if instead of doing the flight in Tourist class you want to try what is the Exclusive Comfort Class in the upper cabinAt the check-in desk you can ask if there are places available and what is the supplement to pay. A partner paid an additional 125 euros and thus enjoyed a great seat-bed and an exclusive food and drink service.

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Upon arrival in Athens the normal procedure for luggage is that the passenger does not see it. That is, once checked in Madrid or Barcelona the next time the bags are in sight of the owner is at the door of his cabin, as they are taken directly from the airport to the ship. However, on this occasion a strike caused us to have to collect our bags and take them to our bus (although it was not us who took them on board) that less than an hour later left us at the port. I have to say that at the airport there were Pullmantur personnel who were in charge of directing the passengers to the buses and answering their doubts, as would happen later when we arrived at the Port and started the process equivalent to “check in” in a hotel.

We queued in front of a series of counters (and served us water and soft drinks) to meet the first formalities, such as deliver the passport (returned the next day but the Egyptian and Israeli authorities will inspect and seal it before) or leave a quantity of money in deposit concept for possible expenses on board and whose account is settled daily. I have commented that Pullmantur offers the “All Inclusive” in terms of catering and drinks, but there are certain products on the menu that are paid separately if they wish to consume. For example, some brands of rum are free but if one wishes for example a “Brugal Extra Viejo” it must be paid separately.

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