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September 9, 2011

What am I missing?

Ponte-Vecchio-Gold-Shopping-in-Florence-Italy-175x150

I recently planned a vacation and it was the first time I took a singles cruise, so of course, I had tons of questions. I read all of the pages on the website and made my reservation. Then I called to find out if there was anything else I was missing?

I was given basic information like how to schedule my flights, arrange for transportation once in Barcelona (where the ship departs) and was offered an option to book shore excursions. But I felt there was so much more to know!

The STI agent that I spoke to had been on the cruise so she helped answer many of the questions, but you know how it is when you are doing something for the very first time. I was unsure and a bit nervous about going all the way to Europe by myself.

So the first thing I did was get a guide book Rick Steves’ Mediterranean Cruise Ports. I read it cover to cover before my trip on my lunch breaks and after work until I was confident that I knew what I wanted to do in each place we stopped on the cruise.

Armed with my new knowledge, I was ready to make decisions about shore excursions. But wow, they looked so expensive! My cruise was only $999 and I never even thought about any other expenses. Well, doing the Med was a lifelong dream and I had saved up, so I decided to take advantage and see as much as I could. Singles Travel International had tours set up for other members of the group and since I took this cruise to be with other singles, I chose a few of their tours. I also used their chat to meet other cruisers and some of us made our own plans in Barcelona. What a blast we had on the Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus, seeing the sites, eating Tapas and drinking Spanish wines with the locals!

Most of Europe is on the Euro and so everything costs a bit more. I want to share my experience with other single travelers like me who are venturing out for the first time. In addition to the cruise, anticipate spending another $2,000 on thingls like air, transportation and tours. I’m not even going to tell what I spend on leather and gold in Florence! Start saving now! Here are some things to consider before you take the plunge:

Airfare: $1,000-$1,500
Transfers inDepartureCity: $50-$100
Taxis about town if on your own: $1-200
Shore Excursions: $300+
Bar bill on the ship: $300+
Souvenirs: $200+
1 Gelato: $7
Tips to ship staff & tour guides: $100-$150
Entrance Fees/Museum Passes (on own, no tours): $100

I am happy that I took a few days to study about my cruise so that I was prepared. I hate to miss out on anything. There were a few singles that “showed up” and I felt sorry for them because they were stressed trying to decide what to fit in. The STI concierge was super, but many options were already sold out. At the end of the day, my memories are priceless and I’d do it all over again!

Submitted by Barb, a new STI member from the Epic Med cruise.

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