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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

COSTA ALLEGRA 27th November 2011 Part 2 (the final one)


Costa Allegra 27th November 2011
Part 2 (the final one)

Monday 28th November 2011
Today we arrived at 8 a.m. in Ajaccio, Corsica, having sailed 171 nautical miles overnight in a calm sea.

Costa Allegra



Jean Nicoli

We sail again at 1 p.m. so had time only to walk ashore and enjoy the sights of this town in the warm winter sunshine. We went to the train station and were lucky enough to see the new railway carriages which are now in use on the island, although the mosaic artwork on the station booking office floor was still in a rather sad state.

Ajaccio station mosaic

The new island train carriages

Layers of posters

Costa Allegra stern

Once on board again we could see snow on the top of the distant mountains, as we prepared to sail.

This evening all passengers have been invited by Captain Nicolo Alba to a Welcome Gala Cocktail in the Theatre, and this was followed by Gala Night Dinner. The liqueur drinks trolley came round the Restaurant and I was treated to something I had never seen before: a little dark chocolate ‘funnel’, just a few inches high, but filled with Amaretto – a fun-filled funnel! What a delicious end to a meal.

Ships seen: Jean Nicoli, in Ajaccio

Tuesday 29th November 2011
In the middle of the night I was woken by voices out in the corridor, one of which was speaking to the Bridge on a walkie-talkie. I put my bedside light on when their voices had moved away, and went towards the cabin door – only to realise I was paddling. My camera was to hand so I took a photograph, timed at 4.18 a.m., and peered out into the alleyway to see lots of the blue ship-towels on the carpet.

The leak in my cabin at 4.18 a.m.

There must have been a leak somewhere and water had started to come in to my cabin. It wasn’t coming in from my bathroom; I hadn’t been woken officially so presumed I was safe, dried my feet and went back to bed and sleep.

My alarm clock woke me because I wanted to see our arrival in Palma de Mallorca, although it was before sunrise.

Floodlit mega yacht 'A'

I have so many happy memories of visits to the island many years ago. It is the largest of the Balearic Islands and Mallorca is one of Spain’s provinces.

I reported my cabin water problem to Reception and then went on deck for breakfast and photographs.

I could see the Philippe Starck-designed mega yacht ‘A’, which looks a most unusual sight. I subsequently found out that she is owned by a Russian billionaire, and that the name ‘A’ is the first letter of both his and his wife’s first names. Apparently she was built by the same German company that constructed the battleship BISMARCK.

The four of us arranged to meet at the gangway so we could get to the Palma/Soller railway station, which was built in 1912.

The 1912-built train to Soller



The Palma-Soller train ticket

The vintage train carriages are a big tourist attraction and travel through valleys and long tunnels north to the small town of Soller. That journey takes an hour, and from there one can take the delightful electric tram down to the port.

Trams to the sea

These trams are equally vintage and we enjoyed seeing the English Electric driving mechanisms in one carriage.

The driving mechanisms

English Electric

The sight of the local boats on calm blue water sparkling in the winter sunshine was a pretty scene in this little bay as we arrived.



Tram at the port

Rapido del Puerto

Torrent de Pareis

We had lunch back in Soller because we had to watch the time for getting back to the ship for sailing at 5 p.m.,

Banco Soller

The Church

The Office!

but there were enough minutes to buy some local delicacies in a little shop before setting off again through the valleys heading south to Palma. I liked seeing the oranges and lemons growing in the gardens beside the track as we left Soller.

Back on board I was relieved to find out that I was to change cabins. My 7015 still had soggy and slightly smelly carpet and my Bedroom Steward told me that the pipework in my section was new last week; he then paused, and said ‘it needs some improvement’. He is absolutely correct!

Dockwise Yacht Transport's Super Servant 4 with 1 yacht on board

'A' in daylight

My kind friends helped me move all my possessions to my new cabin 5072, a 4 berth mid-ships cross-cabin, which seemed unprepared for an occupant. The bed was made but the bathroom supplies were inadequate – soon rectified by a visit to Reception, as there was no sign of a cabin steward. Not a life-threatening situation, but time-consuming because I was trying to prepare for dinner in the specialist Restaurant Amalfi this evening.

Amalfi Club Restaurant

We wanted to try the Restaurant and had booked a table, and certainly the room had been transformed from its daytime look. I chose fish as my main course, from a short menu, but when it arrived I would never have recognised it, as it was smothered in a sauce which covered any vegetables that might have been under it.

Disappointing dinner

The meal was a sad disappointment to all of us, and not worth the extra charge, but one can only try.

Ships seen: Sorolla, SuperServant 4 of Dockwise Yacht Transport (with one yacht on board), Costa Mediterranea, Al Mirqab, Fortuny, SF Alcuhemas, Abel Matutes, Costa Allegra, ‘A’, Harmony II, Visemar One, Rapido del Puerto, Torrent de Parais,

Wednesday 30th November 2011
Here we are in Barcelona after sailing the 138 nautical miles overnight, with a few hours to enjoy the warmth of this port and city before sailing at 1 p.m. I chose to visit the terminal building and walk along the quayside for a while, but it was more fun to be up on deck and watch the other ship movements. We could see COSTA CONCORDIA further along the quay.

Costa Concordia

Maineborg

The continuing line down the middle of the ship

The view from underneath

The same central columns, in the Flamenco Bar

Montalt

Safmarine Nokwanda and others

There seemed to be lots of activity going on, and we wondered if it was a sea-training day for various port authorities as there were rescue boats and tugs just outside the port, and many police and their vehicles on one of the harbour walls near the helicopter landing site. It was nice weather for it!

Isabel del Mar still resting

Lunch and sail away was enjoyed, and then steamer chairs with rugs on deck were the order of the day, momentarily disturbed only by a small aircraft doing a fly-past and wiggling its wings at the ship. This is what sea-days are all about: just watching the sea and world go past (if the eyes are open).

Dinner this evening was enjoyable, and so was time spent in the Murano Bar and then the Pizza Parlour Bar area. We are due back in Savona tomorrow so it was interesting to discuss our thoughts about this ship and the trip. We all loved the Grand Murano Bar and the Flamenco disco lounge and bar, and we had enjoyed our various ports of call. Many shipboard areas proved so popular with other passengers that we found the noise intolerable, but we usually located somewhere that suited us. We are all happy to be at sea however and feel very fortunate when we are.

Ships seen: Costa Concordia, Excellent, Methania, Safmarine Nokwanda, Georgia Highway, Isabel del Mar (the Iscomar ship at peace), Ramon Casas tug, Cemesa Seis, China Express, Montalt tug, Tomriz, Maineborg

Thursday 1st December 2011
We were up early for breakfast and arrival back in Savona, although it took a long time to disembark. I had arranged on board to take the Costa coach to Genoa airport, ready for my BA flight home to Gatwick.

On boarding the aircraft I was thinking of photo opportunities as we left Genoa, so asked one of the flight attendants in which direction we would be taking off – goodness me, I was ushered into the cockpit to ask the Captain for myself. Many minutes later I had the answer and had enjoyed a chat about flying generally and Heathrow landings in particular, although this time it would be to Gatwick. It’s such a shame that a few disturbed and intolerant people have spoilt air travel for pilots and passengers alike, in us not being allowed on the flight deck by invitation during some flights. I have some extraordinary memories of being on several passenger flights with British Airways heading for Heathrow and being invited to enjoy the views over the Berkshire countryside from the flight deck, just by showing interest and asking if a visit might be possible.

Ships seen: Costa Mediterranea, Costa Atlantica, Island Ranger

Ships seen from the BA flight leaving Genoa: Riviera, still in the shipyard

So here I am safely back in Gatwick Airport in pouring rain; I had enjoyed being with my friends on board COSTA ALLEGRA and was pleased with the opportunity to sail on her. I personally liked the use of glass, mirrors and the light through the ship especially in the Atrium and thought she was well named as The Crystal Ship.

Costa Allegra atrium (brochure picture)

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