Coming Soon – Cruise Port Guides

I was going to write and post a few reviews of my past couple cruises (cruised Alaska in September and just recently returned from another Mediterranean cruise in October), instead I want to write something different.

The one thing that I found a bit of trouble with in doing my own research was finding updated information on cruise port information, what to do and see without taking a tour off the ship. Experience local living as much as possible and see things on my own.

So I’ll be putting together some cruise port guides over the next few weeks of some of the port cities and towns I’ve visited and information I found helpful in getting the most out of my visit.

Stay tuned!

Cruise Review – 11 Day Mediterranean Cruise – Norwegian Spirit – Day 10

Day 10 – Messina, Sicily

Today is my last day of year 31. It’s been a heavy year, but it’s ending on an extreme high. I couldn’t be more grateful for spending my birthday away and experiencing such an amazing cruise. We arrived into Messina just after 7:15am and ate breakfast at Raffles. After, it was time to head down at catch my shore excursion, Exclusive Taormina and Messina from Shore Excursions Group. Once we were all on our bus (about 10 of us), we left the port and got a bit of history on Messina before we got onto the motorway which consisted of over 68 bridges and 39 tunnels to get to Taormina. As we arrived, Mt Etna came into view, still erupting and smoking in the distance.

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We had a walking tour of Taormina, then had a bit of free time wander and enjoy the local foods, Cannolis and Arancini. Taormina was beautiful. I really enjoyed walking around this village, you can really sense you were in the land of the “Godfather”.

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Walking back to the meeting point, I noticed that Mt Etna had really got quite active since we arrived earlier.

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I ended my visit in Taormina on a high note with more gelato, then enjoyed the relaxing drive back to Messina. Once back in Messina, we did a driving tour of the town, then ended at the church near the cruise port. I thought the bell tower was really interesting. It had a full astrological chart on the side with the moon phases and what chart we were in. It was really neat!

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After, I decided I was going to head back to the ship and enjoy the pool for the last time. There was only one more full day left of my cruise! It was so nice to relax and cool down after a few busy days. With only one sea day on this itinerary, I take the relaxation where I can…

I had saved a bottle of wine for today, so I opened it on my balcony for sail away out of Messina. It was nice to just sit on my balcony and just enjoy. As we sailed through the Strait of Messina, two dolphins put on a show right beside us. So good!

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I then took in the performance of Tre Amici. It was their second performance onboard this cruise, however I missed it the first time and was told I had missed out. They were AWESOME! Kind of reminded me of an Il Divo performance. Honestly the last two songs brought tears to my eyes, they were amazing.

After the performance I headed to Le Bistro to use some onboard credits. I had the Napoleon de Legumes and a Creme Brûlée for dessert. It was so delicious.

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Here are the “Dailies” for Day 10:

Next up… Naples, Italy!

 

Cruise Review – 11 Day Mediterranean Cruise – Norwegian Spirit – Day 9

Day 9 – Valletta, Malta

I woke up early and made myself some coffee, opening the balcony door was like hitting a brick wall, even at 6:45am it was hot and muggy. First time on this trip I felt the heat this early in the morning and the mugginess. I was actually somewhat surprised that it didn’t seem like there was too much humidity with the heat (which was great) on more days of this cruise, it seemed quite dry the air most of the time, except for today.

I ate at Cagney’s this morning, had my french press of Lavazza, followed by Tahitian Vanilla French Toast with Mascarpone and Berries. Soooo good…

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This morning we were also able to pick up our passports, it was recommended that only one person from each cabin go to pick up the passports at Shogun. Once I had my passport, I headed upstairs to the Galaxy of the Stars to attend the Captain and Officer Q & A session. There was an interesting handout on the mechanical and operational facts of the Norwegian Spirit. As the session was wrapping up, you could tell that Malta was a busy port. The captain even mentioned it, there were so many ships anchored and on approach just like us into Malta.

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Only one ship can enter and leave the port at a time, so the queue was starting. After the session finished, I headed up to Deck 13, outside at the very forward of the ship to watch sail in. As NCL also sells to a European market, I found out that Malta is an optional staring and disembarkation point. It was great to chat to a few Maltese families as we were approaching for their tips of the city (they were disembarking here today).

Sailing into the Valletta harbour was stunning.

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There is so much history here, the forts, bastions on both sides and just the way you sail in, you can tell that this was an important port and it was impressive.

Once docked, this was another port that I was wandering on my own (no excursion booked). I walked to the Upper Barrakka Lift, just down the street from where we were docked. It costs €1 per person to ride up, free to ride down. At the top, you are in the public gardens of Valletta and on one of the historic bastions over looking the harbour. I took some more photos from here and stumbled upon an info plaque of some of the movies that were filmed here, very interesting.

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After, I started to head towards the downtown core, as I wanted to catch a historical film about Malta. At the movie theatre complex downtown, there is a film called “Valletta Living History”. There are other films that play around Valletta that are similar, however this one was close to where I was. I thought the film was quite good, gave me a great historical lesson before I really started to wander around.

Valletta is gorgeous. It has an intriguing appeal to it. You can tell that the architecture had changed over the years to make concessions for those who arrived here. The built in balconies for example were added when the Arabs took over as the women were not allowed to be really seen in public, by making the balconies a built extension of the homes, they were able to sit there viewing the outside life without trouble.

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I do try to stay true when it comes to souvenir purchases, and here on Malta, it’s silver filagree and lace. I purchased a beautiful silver filagree ring for a pretty good price of €12 from a jewelry store (don’t trust what they sell on the streets from vendors). There are several local jewelry stores along a street on the way to another of Valletta’s main attractions, the Church of St. Pauls Shipwreck. So according to history and the Bible, Paul was shipwrecked here in Malta on his way to Rome. This church is home to a few of the relics. As this is a church, be sure that if you do enter, you are dressed appropriately and are respectful. They are also very strict on the “no photos” rule. At this church they claim to have the pedestal that John the Baptizer was beheaded on, and a wrist bone of the Apostle Paul.

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I then weaved my way back to the main centre of Valletta, taking many photo stops along the way. Malta’s history ended with the British not too many years ago, signs that the British were here last were scattered in the ways of bright red letter boxes and telephone booths.

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Valletta was beautiful, but it was time to hop a dgħajsa (a traditional boat) for the ride across the harbour to Vittoriosa (Birgu). It costs €2 per person and is quite a fun ride across. Once on the other side, it was clear that it was more residential than touristic. It was beautiful to see how the locals lived, slightly jealous. I found a cute cafe in an alleyway and relaxed with a beer and a water. It was very hot and I had been going since we arrived in Valletta, the movie theatre did provide some air conditioned relief, however it was time to rest the feet too haha.

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I walked around Vittoriosa, taking photos of some of the unique details of some of the homes. It was stunning to see some of the buildings, being over hundreds of years old some of them, in pretty good condition still. I took the dgħajsa back to Valletta, where we had to linger a bit as the Seabourn Encore was coming into the harbour to dock.

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After, I decided it was time to head back to the ship and grab some food. I wanted a change, so I ate in The Garden Room, a midship MDR. I started off with the Lime and Dill Shrimp, followed by the Grilled New York Steak with Potatoes Au Gratin, then Apple Pie for dessert.

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After dinner, I went up to the Bier Garten to watch sail away out of Valletta, taking in the fantastic night views. Sailing out of Valletta was a highlight, it was so beautiful.

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It was another busy day in the sun, so I was off to sleep getting ready for Sicily tomorrow.

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Here are the “Dailies” for Day 9 – Valletta, Malta:

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Next… Messina, Sicily…

Cruise Review – 11 Day Mediterranean Cruise – Norwegian Spirit – Day 8

Day 8 – Katakolon (Olympia)

I woke up this morning quite early, about 6:30am. I’m a bit strange as I sleep with the curtains wide open in my balcony stateroom, so the natural light wakes me. I also wake up sometimes in the middle of the night to beautiful starry skies and just take it all in. I love travelling and I love cruising. We arrived into Katakolon just after 7:00am, its a very small, quaint (and lush) town, right near where we docked.

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I went up to Raffles and has a light breakfast at the aft of the ship and noticed another ship sailing towards us in the distance. So far we’ve been lucky. We had just us docked in Livorno, us and an MSC ship in Cagliari, just us again in Heraklion, us and 3 ships in Athens (Seabourn, Celestyal and Princess) and just us in Santorini. As I finished my meal, the Royal Princess came into full view. We were able to get off the ship before the Royal was docked and I knew we had the advantage… it was going to get crazy here by this afternoon…

I did book a shore excursion here, I did the Exclusive Ancient Olympia tour though Shore Excursions Group. Our group was about 14 passengers just from the Spirit, so once we were all there, off we went (thankfully ahead of the Royal Princess guests). It was about a 45 minute drive stunning drive through the Greek countryside to Olympia. I actually really like Greece, it’s a beautiful country. It has quite a diverse landscape as well. Very much reminded me of the Okanagan Valley here at home in British Columbia, just with more olive trees 😉

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Once we arrived in Olympia, we parked and were each handed a bottle of ice cold water for our walk. We walked to the gate of the archeological site and were given the opportunity to use the washrooms before we started off (thank goodness as on the way back we found out they were no longer in service as they got back logged once the big excursions arrived), “eww” I know, but it’s reality haha…

Our guide did an amazing job of walking us around the site, stopping under trees for shade whilst explaining the history of the Olympic Games and the sites we were walking though. She had diagrams of what the buildings would have looked like back in the day and how far they needed to excavate to reveal the site we were walking through today.

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I was also thankful our tour was here when it was, we were one of the first tours here, so we had the place pretty much to ourselves for the first hour and a half (which was amazing for photos), then the cruise ship tours arrived just as we were sent on our way for free time.

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The hill in the distance shows how far down they had to excavate to uncover Ancient Olympia

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We also got to see the place where the Olympic Torches are lit before the Summer and Winter games. I was here in August and they would be lighting the torch for the Pyeongchang Winter Games at this very spot in October. Humbling…

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It was so neat to wander and see the different types of architecture and it’s evolution and additions through the years this place was used. The stadium here is actually the very birthplace of the metric system and units of measure as we know it. The measurement of this stadium became the measurements of a “stade” about 600 feet or 180 metres.

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After numerous photos, we had some free time to explore the village of Olympia. So, back to the favourite pastime… shopping. I needed some new shoes badly. A few of my shoes had been tattered from the walking and cobblestones by this point (one pair broke within the first 250m of walking in Rome), so shoe shopping I went. Looking back, I should have bought the store. I found a brand of shoes called Parex. Amazingly comfortable and lightweight. I bought a pair on the shoe sale rack for €25 and am now fully regretting not buying a suitcase full. They are honestly the most comfortable and durable pair of sandals I’ve ever owned. I can’t wait to go back to Greece this October and literally buy the stores out. After shoe shopping, magnet shopping and a gelato later, it was time to board the bus back to Katakolon.

Once back in Katakolon, we were dropped near the port, however I walked to the town to check it out as I wasn’t ready to board just yet. This was our last stop in Greece, so I was still on the hunt for a couple more souvenirs aka Ouzo. I headed into a cute store closest to the pier and bought some Ouzo, along with a “Greece” magnet. I did find more of the Parex sandals and shoes in a couple boutiques here too, but didn’t buy another pair (again, full of regret)… Along the waterfront of Katakolon, there are plenty of restaurants and bars offering fresh seafood to ice cold beers (with free wifi of course), so I grabbed a chair, ordered a Mythos and checked in with home.

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Heading back to the ship, the line was quite long while waiting to board. They had an issue with one of the check in security computers, so it was one line in for about 20 minutes. The staff did try to help by handing out ice cold towels (ice cubes still attached) and cold drinks which helped as we waited in the hot sun. I was actually surprised that the Royal Princess departed before us, even though she arrived a good hour after us.

Once back on board, I changed and headed for the pool and relaxed for awhile. I was in a journalling mood today, so that night I relaxed in Galaxy of the Stars for awhile listening to the live band, sipping a refreshing gin and tonic as we sailed out of Katakolon. For being such a great lounge, I was taken back by how empty it was sometimes. After enjoying a beautiful sunset, I had a light dinner in Raffles and called it a night.

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Here are the “Dailies” for Day 8 – Katakolon:

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Next up… Valletta, Malta!

Cruise Review – 11 Day Mediterranean Cruise – Norwegian Spirit – Day 4

Day 4 – Sea Day for Me

I loved the pace of this cruise, and one sea day was enough. The NCL Spirit is great. She is an older ship, but she’s a great ship. The staff are beyond friendly and by day four, many of the staff knew my name.

I woke up today at 7:30am, again sleeping so well. After a few relaxing coffees on my balcony I headed up for a quick breakfast at Raffles. I honestly didn’t eat much. I eat more at dinner funny enough, but rarely anything in the morning or during the day. I was the organizer of the Cruise Critic Meet Up, which was held at Shogun at 11:00am. As it was already Day Four, not many actually showed up, maybe 20 of the 45 that had RSVP’d. It was nice to see all the Officers onboard make an appearance and meet the other travellers.

Afterwards, I did get a bit of an appetite and made a stop in Cagney’s for lunch. I had another french press of Lavazza with a starter of Grilled Asparagus wrapped with Prosciutto followed by a Scallop, Shrimp and Artichoke Risotto.

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After lunch, I did a walkabout of the ship, snapping a few photos here and there. Also did some more shopping, picked up my ship magnet (I collect them) and a captain’s hat (ok, it’s a birthday cruise for me, and it was fun hat… ). I went back to my cabin, changed, then ventured up onto the pool deck to get some sun!

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Dining board… Showing where the waits were less/more/completely bookedIMG_0888

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For being a cruise in August, I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to find a lounger. That’s the beauty of sailing on a smaller ship I think, less people to deal with and quite a bit of sun deck space. I did breakdown and buy a couple drinks, usually whatever was the “Drink of the Day” special.

I do have to mention “Galaxy of the Stars”. This forward facing lounge is my absolute favourite place to hang out on the ship. Certain times of the day it seems to always be empty and peaceful. They also do have some entertainment here at night and through the day (check the dailies), but so many times I was able to sit here with a gin and tonic and just enjoy (even do a bit of journalling in the morning here and there).

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Tonight was “Norwegian’s Night Out”, aka Gala Night. I headed up to my room, got refreshed, dressed up and met friends down in Shogun (an Asian Fusion complementary dining option) for dinner. I was not too hungry so I just ordered gyoza (potstickers) and spring rolls. Earlier in the afternoon I received an invitation to attend the Captain’s Cocktail Party. So I excused myself from my friends who went to take in the production show of “World Beat” and I headed to the cocktail party. After a photo with the Captain, I was ushered into the Art Gallery where I chatted with some of the officers and crew. I actually enjoy hearing their experiences and stories about life onboard the ship and their opinions/tips for some of the ports to come. The couple hours flew by with great conversations (as did a few more glasses of prosecco) and it was off to bed for me yet again.

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Here are the “Dailies” for Day 4:

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Next, to the Greek Island of Crete…

Cruise Review – 11 Day Mediterranean Cruise – Norwegian Spirit – Day 3

Day 3 – Cagliari, Sardinia (Italy)

Slept in this morning… 7:30am! Progress on the “jetlag”… I always sleep so well on a cruise. The beds I think are new, the Norwegian Spirit did go through a dry dock about 4 months prior to my boarding her and it showed. Carpets were new, most of the seating had been replaced and my stateroom (cabin 9052) was in a good state and not much show of any ware. Today was the first day I felt like I was really in vacation mode (not exploration mode) and could relax, we didn’t arrive into Cagliari until 12:00pm

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As mentioned before, I had “Partners First” benefits added to my cruise by NCL, so part of that was to enjoy breakfast and lunch in Cagney’s for the duration of my cruise (usually just a Haven or suite perk on the NCL Spirit). I had a Eggs Benedict and fully enjoyed the french press Lavazza coffee.

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I then headed up to the outdoor area behind Raffles and enjoyed the sail in to Cagliari, with the MSC Splendida right on our tail, docking right beside us, she was the only other ship with us in port.

I didn’t plan a shore excursion in Cagliari, which I was totally ok with. Back into exploration mode, I departed the ship, walked through the visitors centre and caught the free shuttle to the waterfront area of Cagliari city. I knew by reading the Lonely Planet guide the town/city was quite walkable, so I found the street that would wind the streets and up into the bastion, the walled part of the city.

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The views from the bastion once on them was beautiful, the panoramic views from here were stunning. Not to mention all the side streets here, narrow cobblestone roads, looking up to views of local life, laundry hanging in the windows along with beautiful potted plants. It’s exactly how I pictured a small Italian town to be.

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Once back at the main Piazza, I saw a tuk tuk and got a one hour tour. It was recommended to me by Elizabetta (an Urban Adventures guide in Rome) who was from Sardinia, so when I saw it, I was in the mainframe of “let’s do it”!. Who knew that Cagliari’s beaches were a protected habitat for flamingos lol? Well, there are flamingos in Italy on Sardinia apparently. We retraced some of my steps from earlier, however this time was getting more historical information on the places I had seen. An hour flew by, I was dropped back off at the main Piazza where I grabbed a beer and connected to wi-fi to upload some photos and check in with family.

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After my rest stop, it was on to my other favourite pastime… Shopping. Again, a few items of cute clothing later from a boutique and a magnet from a souvenir shop, it was back to the ship for me. Once back onboard, I arrived to my stateroom to find a bottle of prosecco chilling on ice, another bottle of red wine and a cheese tray. Thank goodness I didn’t get the UBP (unlimited beverage package). I ate again at Windows tonight, this time with a table by the window, enjoying a beautiful sunset just as we were sailing out of Cagliari.  Tonight I had a Ceasar Salad to start, followed by an Israeli Couscous with Lamb Meatballs, then for dessert, Chocolate Eclairs. Sooo yummy! Afterwards it was to Stardust Theatre… The show tonight was called “Ineffable Two”, it was two performers doing cirque style acts and it was amazing.

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Here are the “dailies” for Day 3:

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Next up… A relaxing day at sea…

 

Cruise Review – 11 Day Mediterranean Cruise – Norwegian Spirit – Day 2

Day 2 – Livorno (Florence)

Woke up early again… 5:15am this time. Probably didn’t help that I was in bed by 7:30pm the previous night. We sailed into Livorno just before sunrise and I watched docking from my balcony with coffee in hand.

Livorno by WanderlustJourney.ca

Once docked I headed up to Raffles for breakfast. Most people don’t realize there is a great outdoor space attached to Raffles , where you can eat at the very aft of the ship.

NCL Spirit AFT - WanderlustJourney.ca

After breakfast, I headed downstairs once we were cleared by the port authority and left the ship. As they don’t want passengers walking through the port area, you do have to pay €5 round trip, per person for a shuttle to the centre of Livorno. From here I met my bus transfer that was going to take me into Florence.

Livorno by WanderlustJourney.ca

For this trip, I didn’t do any shore excursions through Norwegian Cruise Lines. The excursions through NCL are quite expensive and usually have quite a large group. I used Shore Excursions Group for my excursions for this trip and always book them for my clients on other cruises all the time. Like the cruise lines, they guarantee that they will get you back to your ship on time, or they will catch you up with the ship on their dime. Usually the groups are a lot smaller, I think the most people we had was this one, as it was a bus transfer to Florence at 36 people, followed by Athens at a group of 24. Most of the groups I experienced on this trip were between 10 and 18, that alone is much better than the cruise lines.

Once we arrived into Florence, our bus dropped us off at the Florence Centro Rail Station, right in the heart of Florence. From there I wandered the streets and enjoyed the sights (Ponte Vecchio, Ufizzi Galleria, and the Duomo). Unfortunately we were visiting on a Monday, so the Ufizzi Galleria was closed (most museums and national historic sites in Italy are closed on Mondays).

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The Duomo of Florence is amazing. It’s so stunning and intricate and it’s history is equally so, involving many intriguing families including the Medici’s. The dome over the main alter was an engineering feat of it’s era.

Afterwards, I headed to the Mercato di San Lorenzo for some market style shopping. This is a great place to pick up Chianti wine in mini bottles, spices, balsamic vinegars and other Tuscan specialties for souvenirs and gifts for friends and family back home.

Mercato di San Lorenzo in Florence - WanderlustJourney.ca

I always work up an appetite after shopping, lucky I found a great looking pizzeria out the back of the Mercato di San Lorenzo. It’s called Pizzeria i Camaldoli.  It didn’t disappoint. Honestly, probably the best pizza I’ve had… EVER. Check it out, it a great place to grab a pizza margherita and a “birra”. Don’t believe me? Check out the reviews here on TripAdvisor…

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After a great, well appreciated air conditioned food stop, it was time to start to wandering back to the train station for the transfer back to the ship. On the way back I got caught up in more shopping and bought myself a few pieces of clothing (it’s Italy, what can I say lol). It was a beautiful scenic ride back to the ship, however the bus had wi-fi so used some of that time to check back home and FaceTime with my Grama (I didn’t buy an internet package onboard the ship).

Once back onboard it was time to hit the pool and cool down after a long day walking around in the heat. Seems like I hit it just in time before everyone else arrived back, so had a good 45 minutes of peace in the pool before it was just too busy. I had dinner in Windows (one of the MDR’s aka Main Dining Room) which is a complementary dining room and the largest one on the NCL Spirit. I started off with the Brie with Cranberry Compote, followed by a Ceasar Salad. My main course was a Grilled New York Strip Steak (cooked to medium rare perfection) with a Peppercorn Sauce and Gratin Potatoes. My dessert was the Raspberry Chocolate Torte. So good!

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After dinner, I caught the late show which was a singer, Leanne Jarvis from the UK version of The Voice. She was pretty good, but I was so sleepy after the day in the sun. Back in my room, there was a towel dog and tomorrow’s Freestyle Daily waiting for me.

Next up… Cagliari, Sardinia!

Here are the “dailies” for Day 2 Livorno (Florence):

NCL Spirit Dailies by WanderlustJourney.caNCL Spirit Dailies by WanderlustJourney.caNCL Spirit Dailies by WanderlustJourney.ca

 

 

 

Cruise Review – 11 Day Mediterranean Cruise – Norwegian Spirit – Day 1

This cruise for me was a symbolic restart. The day before I left Canada for Italy, I received my final divorce papers. The last time I sailed on the Norwegian Spirit was on my honeymoon, about 12 years to the day of boarding her this time. Getting onboard was like an ultimate “letting go” for me, new cruise, new memories, fresh start… In the Med (and Italy) of all places 😉

I chose this cruise for the amazing itinerary, that’s the one thing I find NCL does really well. Here was the itinerary for my sailing:

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Day 1 – Civitavecchia (Rome) – Embarkation Day

I woke up crazy early again (4:30am) as I still hadn’t got quite acquainted to the time zone in Rome, did my last walk around to Trevi Fountain and had my last coffee (espresso) near Spanish Steps. One thing about being an early riser in Rome is that you have most of these amazing places to yourself. Headed back to the Hotel de Petris, checked out and ordered a cab around 10:30am. Of all the personal research I’ve done, taking a train to Civitavecchia from Rome was actually the most cost effective option. It’s about 80 kilometres outside of Rome, so taxis are horribly expensive. The one way on the express train was €16 per person. Trains are efficient and run on time (in most cases).

Buying tickets at Termini was an experience. I was approached by someone trying to “help” out, however my senses were screaming “don’t trust her” and “watch your bags”, I knew this was some type of scam. I told her “no grazie” several times and then physically kind of body checked her gently out of my way, blocking her from the ticketing kiosk. She got the point then and moved on to another set of tourists. In this situation, it’s best to look like you know what you’re doing, if you have no idea how to buy tickets through the kiosks, just go stand in line at the ticketing counter. With luggage securely in front of me, I purchased my ticket from the ticket kiosk and headed for Civitavecchia.

The train was pretty quick, it’s about an hour journey (90 minutes by car, so the train is faster). Once at the station I’ll give you a heads up. There are no elevators if you are dropped off on one of the centre platforms. Its stairs down into the corridor, then stairs up to exit the station. There are rumours that they are working on this, however everyone else is in the same boat, so cruise passengers I think tend to help each other. I know I did. Once at the station, head into the small convenience store attached to the station and get a ticket for the shuttle bus to the terminal, it was €2 per person, however just ask if they are actually running when you buy and not on a siesta like they were when I arrived. If that’s the case, there are several vans just outside the station touting rides for €5 per person, this was my choice, I was done waiting in the hot sun. Ride to the terminal was quick, just over a mile away, it probably is walkable, maybe 20 minutes walk from the train station, however with luggage I thought it would be too much work in 42C heat haha. Once at the terminal (more like a bus stop), you file into lines for your cruise ship and board another bus to the actual cruise terminal that your ship is docked at (this is free from this point to the ship).

Once at the cruise ship terminal, you walk your bags into the drop off area, then into the check in area. Another quick tip for you is to take a photo of your luggage before you hand it over (I do this for flights as well), if something does wrong and you luggage goes MIA or gets damaged, you can at least provide an exact photo of your luggage and in what condition it was handed over in. As they were already boarding the ship by the time I arrived, the check in line was super quick. Just a note about passports, they do keep them for safe keeping from this point onwards (it was Day 9 when I got mine back), however I always have a photocopy kept on me of my passport (and another photo of my passport on my phone in case that one goes missing), but I could see how this could make some worried, it’s just standard procedure. There she was, the Norwegian Spirit!

Norwegian Spirit WanderlustJourney.ca

Once onboard, the rooms were ready, so I headed up to mine (balcony cabin 9052) to find it filled with goodies. As I am a travel agent (a certified Norwegian Cruise Specialist) and sell quite a bit of Norwegian, my NCL Business Development Manager added some goodies to my file, which are called Partners First perks. I essentially was upgraded to the same benefits as a suite guest and then some. My room was filled will welcome gifts (2 bottles of sparking wine, 1 bottle of red wine, 2 trays of chocolate covered strawberries and a fruit basket) from the Hotel Director, Concierge and Group Services Coordinator. I could totally get used to this! I was slightly regretting not getting a beverage package before leaving for the cruise, but that feeling melted away very quickly.

Norwegian Spirit Cabin 9052

I then did a walk around the ship to get reacquainted and ended up settling on lunch at Raffles (the buffet area). After lunch, it was back to the room to unpack and settle in before the Muster Drill at 4:00pm. After muster and a few glasses of sparkling wine on my balcony later, I attended the Spa Raffle (didn’t win anything this time) then relaxed in Galaxy of the Stars (the forward facing lounge) for sail away, it was so nice and quiet in the lounge (I think most people were either at dinner or at the sail away party on the pool deck). I was exhausted, so decided to actually call it a night.

Here are the “dailies” for Day 1 (Embarkation Day):

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Next up… Day 2 – Livorno (Florence)…