Trip Report June 7 to June 14

I just came back from this trip and have some interesting thoughts regarding the whole trip. Overall, I thought the trip was enjoyable and I would love to go back to Croatia again probably next summer may be with Ponant or another tour company. By the way, I have already signed up and got on a highly sought after Tauck trip later in August.Previously, this trip was good enough to sell me on another Tauck tour but there are some reservations.

I flew using my own mileage and booked on my own flight from my hometown to Dallas/Fort Worth and then Dallas/Fort Worth to Philadelphia directly to Venice on an American flight premium economy. Longer international flights and the American Express Centurion lounge are located near A terminal and domestic connecting flights tend to be landing at Terminal B or C. A connecting traveler has to pick up the luggage at the arrival gate and drag them to the bigger A gate unless the trip was booked on one single ticket. The airport is huge and it is not easy to go from terminal to terminal, which makes bringing trunk filled of clothing changes difficult.

The situation applies to Philadelphia. I heard much easy connection flying with Delta through Atlanta to Venice. Two other couples joined me at the Venice airport, which is very manageable but the pick up shuttle was a few minutes late, requiring us to ask for help with a representative from a competing travel company to reach our driver in order for him to take us to the JW Marriott, first on a van and then a speedboat. The speedboat ride was quite fun and smooth but it will be the last time JW Marriott will use the speedboat on you. The remainder of the daily trip to town from the 30 minutes away JW Marriott (In the middle of the Venice Lagoon) is on the much less fun small ferry boat. There will be a 30 minutes wait if you miss one at the very conveniently located San Marcos dock. The hotel is a refurnished hospital and definitely not worth five stars. Th hotel is overrun with almost all American tourists, many with kids. The included buffet breakfast is average at best, similar to dorm food. Lunch and dinner at the rooftop restaurant is crowded and the food is similar to Domino's at best. I find the hotel staff to be friendly but some of the traveler did not think so after they have wandered into the hotel boutique. Feels like a jail on Elba island!

The welcome dinner was scheduled at 6 on the first night and the food is passable. Good news is it was done. the next day the group went off to Doges Palace and St Mark's at 9. Since I have been to Venice before, i opted to explore the city on my whole and waited for the opening of the Museo Correr at 10. Surprisingly Tauck did not offer St Mark Basilica private your at night or spend longer time at the two places. Great news is at 11 a.m. the whole group went on a gondola ride with about 3-4 on a boat launching right off at St. Mark and returning to St. Mark. Every one approximately 7o+ people got on different gondolas. This is the highlight the Venice portion of the tour. Some of the other traveler have difficulties getting into the gondolas and some were jockeying for a good photo spot much to the dismay of the gondola operators. The afternoon was free and I went back to the hotel and took a nap.

The next morning Wednesday June 9 were Murano and Burano. We went to a really nice glass blowing demonstration atFerro and Lazzarini. Very few ended up shopping afterward. The free time to shop for Murano glass was approximately 30 minutes, very surprising for our group touting their wealth, which is very different from my March Essence of Japan small group, which was much more focused on shopping. We then have two hours at Burano where I have visited before. I had a quick nice lunch and the rest of the time, I was bored, did not shop for lace.

We then return to Venice late afternoon and boarded Le Jacques Cartier for the Dalmatia coast.

More to come: Definitely some high points and very some low points!

Let every one knows: the Tauck Tour had a total of 72-73 participants.


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    Part II:

    I went on the Jacques Cartier and was thoroughly impressed with the amenities and the room size. All the staterooms on deck 4-6 have a generously sized balcony with great view of the azure sea. The Dalmatian coast water is so blue and clear. There are amazing photogenic sites on the way into port. The stateroom has a fully stocked refrigerator and coffee bar. The shower was on par with those found in big cities and the water temperature and pressure are more than adequate. The air conditioning and heater in the room work well and the weather is very breezy with warm, gentle wind at night, a pleasure to go to sleep. I have the most number of restful nights while on vacation and did not have much jet lag. The food is very good to excellent although the cooking style is very french, high on freshness of the ingredient and low on heavy spice and sauce. I heard some travelers complain about the food as bland.

    Three major concerns: sharing the ship with Back Road which was far from desirable: Another 40 Americans of certain background and demographics who tend to be very arrogant and show-offish. They are joined to the hips. They have on occasions booked one or two 12 to 15 persons tables for dinner, making the kitchen falling behind in bringing out the dishes.They were the loudest to complain.Always by themselves. These people were older but think of themselves as the college sports star, look like elephants and hippotamus on the fanciest sportswear. On the other hand, the french keep to themselves and was not difficult to deal with. Some of the Ponant French exclusive excursions tend to be more sports-oriented. for Tauck, all but one of the bike trip was cancelled and all sea kayaking were eliminated due to the lack of interest of the Tauck group.

    The main dining room requires shirts and pants for dinner. So, i have skipped the main dining room except for one night. Since I am on vacation,T shirt and shorts are my preferred dinner attire so I am the one to eat at the poolside grill, which I think has more dinner entree selection and every thing is delicious and self service, leaving plenty of time to breathe in the fresh air without the stuffy air of the nicely dressed crowd in the Main Dining room. Think about the country club set despite many of the Tauck group coming from California, Texas and Florida.Those people really like to dress up(Think heavy suitcase for fashion shows).

    The afternoon tea has a few pastry and the piano player but is not well attended. I think most of the Tauck group if not on store excursions is either napping, doing their own things or enjoying the nectar of the God.

    Both captain welcome and farewell dinner started late. The welcome dinner did not start seating until 7 and did not get dessert out until 9:45. Coffee was probably served around 10 after a day of two scheduled excursions. Farewell dinner started 6ish and by 9, the dessert has not come out.

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