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July 20, 2012

Excellent Choice for your First Trip to Europe

Hi, it’s Michael, your STI Concierge, and I am just back from cruising the Mediterranean on NCL’s EPIC with 42 happy single cruisers! This happens to be my #1 all time favorite cruise itinerary, and once again, I was not disappointed. Add to the mix, we were on one of the newest and best ships on the high seas, the Norwegian Epic. NCL has really taken it to the next level, with it’s new design, better shows (Blue Man Group, Legends in Concert) great food, and it’s star attraction for singles: THE STUDIO cabins. Now you can have your own room without having to pay double the price like you normally would to have your own space! These rooms are really unique, with very modern styling, special mood lighting, and very comfortable! So nice that 80% of our group booked them! Oh, and I can’t forget the private STUDIO LOUNGE, where singles can mingle and you can enjoy coffee, tea, and muffins and luscious cookies any time of the day! And now on to the Itinerary!

Twenty Eight of us met in Barcelona at the Ayre Gran Via hotel a day early for a pre-cruise party. Some of us went on a Tapas Tour at night, and enjoyed the various sites and bars in Barcelona, while the rest of us had a fabulous dinner in the hotel! The next day, before heading to the ship, the group enjoyed a bus tour of the city, which included one of the most interesting churches in the world, Sagrada Familia!

The first and only sea day was very relaxing. Kind of the calm before the storm, as for the rest of the cruise, we would be touring and sightseeing for 9 hours a day! We did however, manage to get in a great dance lesson with our STI DANCE ACADEMY. I was able to teach the CUPIDS SHUFFLE and MERENGUE to the group. Good dancers! This being the un-official Captains Night, we met at FAT CAT’S LOUNGE for an open bar (Thanks STI!) at our official Welcome Aboard Party. We got a chance to get to know each other better, and got some great shots of the group. That night after dinner, we enjoyed HOWL AT THE MOON, the baddest dueling piano team you will ever see! The group really enjoyed this. So much so, that when asked, our STI Dancers volunteered to do some crazy dancing on stage! Guess the dance class really inspired them!

Our first port was NAPLES, Italy. Our exclusive STI excursion took cruisers to one of the most beautiful places in the whole world, CAPRI. The views were breathtaking! Then it was off to POMPEI, to see one of the most famous excavating sites of all time. The trip then continued through the Amalfi Coast where we stopped for a fabulous lunch with wine! Mama Mia! Back on the ship, some had dinner in the Manhattan Dining room with a live band and dancing, with others had dinner and enjoyed CIRQUE DREAMS, a special Cirque du Soleil show exclusive to the NCL Epic.

Our next port was ROME, Italy! This was a very special day. On our excursion, we got to explore the COLOSSEUM, one of Rome’s most famous structures. We then scooted off to TREVI SQUARE where we enjoyed authentic Italian Pizza and got to throws a few coins in the TREVI FOUNTAIN. How do you top this? Well, you go to VATICAN CITY! We went through the VATICAN MUSEUM, the SISTINE CHAPEL, and ST. PETER’S BASILLICA. Let me just say that it doesn’t get better than this! Inspired by our day, back on the ship we had a MASQUERADE PARTY at our STI Happy Hour, went to LEGENDS IN CONCERT, Which featured ELVIS, MADONNA, and ROD STEWART, and ended the night participating in QUEST in the Bliss Lounge. Whooo Hoooo!

The next day, we spent the day in FLORENCE, home to the Italian Renaissance, Michelangelo to be exact. Everywhere you go there are examples of his work, in paintings and sculpture. We went to a museum where we saw the original Statue of David! The history here is amazing. Then it was off to PISA to see the LEANING TOWER. Although they have corrected the angle to prevent it from falling all together, it still leans and is beautiful to see. We all did the famous picture where it looks like you are holding up the tower! (See the STI pics on FB) Back on the ship, some went to CAGNEY’S STEAKHOUSE, the rest had dinner in the MANHATTAN DINING ROOM where were entertained by a special MOTOWN SHOW! After dinner we all met at the EPICS ICE BAR. This is a bar that has an average temperature of 17 degrees. Coats and gloves are supplied, and 2 fabulous specialty vodka drinks are served in a glass made of ice! After that we were off to warm up, and dance the night away!

Our next port was CANNES, France, a beautiful town, and the star of the French Riviera. We then went to MONTE CARLO, where the rich of the rich gamble and park their million dollar yachts in the casino marina. At this point, we enjoyed lunch and some authentic Gelato, ummmm, yummy! We also stopped for a tour at a French Perfume Factory. That night we all dressed in white outfits for NCL’s HOT WHITE PARTY, held outdoors in H20 SPICE, a great area on the top deck at the back of the ship. Our STI Dancer’s were movin and groovin to the sounds of the DJ.

We spent our last day touring MARSEILLES, France. We visited various areas including AVIGNON, ARLES, and LA PROVENCE. Shopping and great food were in order here. The markets were incredible with fresh fish, and my favorite, only to be found in France, chocolate croissant’s!!!! For our final night, we had a farewell party, enjoyed dinner, then went to FAT CATS, to hear the SLAM ALLEN BLUES BAND, which features 4 incredible musician’s. Yours truly actually got a chance to sit in and play bass and sing a blues number…Cool! But there was more talent in our group as we found out at Karaoke. One of our cruisers, Linda, got up and sang, and blew us away! Wow. The night ended in the Bliss Lounge where we danced the night away til 3am in the morning.

Now you know why the Mediterranean Cruise is a once in a lifetime experience. I am so looking forward to next year when we can do it all over again. Check out our 2013 trip on the Norwegian Epic. You will not be disappointed! Click here to look and book!

Considering a Med cruise next summer? Also read our BLOG: What am I missing?

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