Haynes World - ships, ferries, a laugh on the ocean wave, and other interesting things...

19 June 2011

Costa Victoria Part 7 (the final one)

Easter Sunday, 24th April 2011

As soon as I woke I put the radio on and what a glorious surprise to hear the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah, coming through the speakers. That was a good start to the day.

We seem to have arrived early at Ajaccio, on the west coast of Corsica, rather than at the expected 10 a.m. so I had time to look over the deck rails to watch us berth.

Mega Express Four

Down in the water nearby I could see a very small official-looking boat, with two men removing a large and heavy black bag of something from the water.

It must have been heavy, judging by the effort involved. They took it to the quayside near where we were berthed, and various other people joined them in a discussion, but we never did find out what that was all about. Drugs, a body, heavy clothing, a goat in a bag – who knows…

An early morning shower had given way to spring sunshine, so we set off to enjoy the port and town.

Jean Nicoli

This is another interesting Mediterranean town to visit – founded by the Greeks, taken over by the Romans, then the Vandals, the Genoese and then the French, and of course its most famous citizen is probably Napoleon Bonaparte. There was also one particular postcard shop selling ship pictures of all kinds. A brass band played and walked down the main street towards the harbour, COSTA DELIZIOSA arrived in port and berthed near to our ship, tourists were out and about, and as we were tourists too we walked around the harbour wall and round the Military Citadel

round the bay past the Citadel, with its grassed moat

they lived down in the 'moat'

looking out into the bay

to admire the views of the sea and bay. The fact that we had to walk through a street market selling all sorts of bric-a-brac was a happy coincidence. At lunch beside the harbour we could watch the world go by, and then walk in the other direction beyond our ship to see the ferry JEAN NICOLI.

Jean Nicoli

We could see the security man near the ‘keep away’ ribbon near the ship, but a friendly wave of hand and camera meant we could take a few photographs without any problem. This seems the sensible approach to the ISPS situation, with respect on both sides, when it is possible. Tea and a stroll back to look at the Costa ships finished our day on land.

Costa Deliziosa

Mooring ropes fixed to what had been made to look like a vessel

Back on board, we could prepare for departure at 6 p.m. from Ajaccio,

Costa Deliziosa

before dinner with our new Restaurant friends. The menu again offered a good choice, well served and presented, and the wine waiter was knowledgeable, pleasant and efficient at her job.

Easter Bunny sat on our table

Because it was our last night before disembarking back in Barcelona tomorrow, there was a special celebration after the meal. The restaurant lights were dimmed, and yes, it was music time and the parade of the waiters with cakes. Each cake had a lighted ‘sparkler’ on it, and there seemed to be a happy atmosphere all around, with most of us enjoying the spectacle. The Restaurant staff work incredibly hard, with two sittings each evening, and at least they get some face-to-face appreciation from passengers at times like this. Tips for them are added to passengers’ accounts at the cruise-end, but of course good service can always be rewarded with something extra.

As Costa Club members some of us had been invited to a Cocktail Party with the Captain, so we went to that and had photographs taken.

yes, there was Inch of Gold/Silver on sale...

Entertainment that evening was firstly a Theatre musical show featuring members of the Costa crew, with the inevitable ‘I have a dream’ and ‘My way’ etc. The English-version introductions to each singer by the Costa Entertainment staff I personally found rather patronising, extolling the virtues of Costa as employers, but maybe that was not intended.

The other entertainment was the Election of Miss Costa Victoria, with various semi-clothed lovelies determined to win. There were a series of elimination games, and quizzes amongst the finalists, and I guess the best young lady won. It was certainly an entertaining sight…

Ships seen: Jean Nicoli, Danielle Casanova, Mega Express Four, Mega Express, Costa Deliziosa (Costa Queen Elizabeth?)

Monday 25th April 2011
We were up early for arrival back in Savona, Italy, and home to the Costa Cruise Terminal. We were amongst huge ships of the Costa fleet, seemingly all vying to be first to tie up and disembark their passengers, so that was fun to watch.

Costa Luminosa

Costa Deliziosa

Then it was our turn to leave the ship and go our various ways. I’d enjoyed my trip: it was easy to book on-line, the prices for singles are always excellent, the itineraries were interesting even if we couldn’t get to Tunisia as originally scheduled, and I always appreciate congenial company.

Costa Victoria

Ships seen: Costa Luminosa, Costa Concordia, and Costa Deliziosa, all near us (on Costa Victoria) back in Savona

15 June 2011

Costa Victoria Part 6

Part 6
Saturday 23rd April 2011
We have another morning at sea, but it is wet and cold outside, so we go exploring again on the ship. Some places look quite different in daylight, to what they do at night, and we amused ourselves by going Up Pompeii, to quote an old British film title – well, we walked up the slope past the Pompei Spa.

We had an early lunch and watched arrival in Cagliari, on the southern end of the Italian island of Sardinia.

Tivelon, we think
Eurocargo Salerno
Clodia with all those extra cabins on top

Through the rain we could see various ferries so we took the local bus into the town, and started walking around the ancient parts of the city, enjoying seeing the many Roman buildings and remains. The rain became intermittent so we could look down into the harbour and see our ship over the rooftops.

ships, rain and graffiti
Cagliari rooftops
more rooftops
and even more rooftops
arch, scaffolding and graffiti

The path wound down again through little streets, and the sight of a home-made ice-cream shop tucked into the hillside was a happy sight, especially as it had a water fountain and bench outside. Italian ice-cream was the order of the day, with hands washed under the water pump proving a very exciting activity for some of us that afternoon – I got quite wet. The other two just laughed and stood well away. Then it was back to the ship for tea-time,

stern view of Costa Victoria

quayside reflections
goodbye to Cagliari

and preparations for dinner this evening in the Il Magnifico Club Restaurant, which is the extra-tariff speciality one which had been booked and paid for in advance. The food was served at our circular table, and it was very enjoyable, although we were rather surprised to realise that there was no kitchen nearby so the food had to be brought from some distance. I found the large stern-facing room rather cold but it was good to see some more of Captain Stephen Card’s paintings on one wall. It was rather disconcerting to finish the meal and each of us immediately be presented with a questionnaire about the menu contents, choice offered and the service. I could understand them wanting immediate er, feed-back, but it was a strange end to a special meal. Anyway, we filled them in and handed them back and could then go and look at the evening’s entertainment.

In the Concorde Plaza we found the crowds gathering for an Italian ‘Mr Pizza’ Election. This was to be a male-equivalent Beauty Competition it seemed, and as reluctant men of all ages were being picked out of the audience, we scurried up the stairs to the top tier of the seating and my male companions said they felt far more comfortable!

Music was played, the Cruise Staff got very excited and persuaded the men on the stage to take part in various dressing up and dressing down elimination games, and then to make pizza dough on the table. The flour started to fly, a lady in a beautiful red dress sitting very near the stage became covered in it, the nearby audience started to cough, everybody else started to laugh, and then the Cruise Staff got the remaining rather elderly participants to take off shirts and tops and put on a dress to do a sexy dance. We and many others thought it was becoming a bit demeaning and sad by then – it really wasn’t funny any more – so we left Mr Pizza to be chosen by the remaining audience and the rather mocking Cruise Staff.

Back in my cabin I found a large chocolate Easter Egg, beautifully wrapped in foil and cellophane, with an Easter Card from Costa Cruises wishing me a happy Easter Day tomorrow. There are 2,300 of us passengers on board, from 26 nationalities, so that’s a very kind thought.

Happy Easter from Costa Cruises and Costa Victoria

Ships seen: Lazio, Clodia, Eurocargo Salerno, Eurocargo Alexandria, Scorpio, the sunken wreck of Tivelon, Grupo Grendi Conro ‘Esprit’ registered in Cagliari.

14 June 2011

Costa Victoria Part 5

Friday 22nd April 2011
Today we visit Palma de Mallorca, which should bring back a lot of memories. We berthed at 8 a.m. and it was raining; we had a leisurely breakfast, with open seating in the dining room. This was where we met an Italian lady, who enjoyed practising her English on us, sometimes with regrettable results. Three of us then went on a Cabin Cavalcade, which reminded me of one of my American friends – he introduced me to this delightful way of seeing different cabins on a ship, by visiting each shipmate’s cabin in turn.

On deck later we saw a couple of ferries through the rain,

T-Rex Uno
Abel Matutes

and then the sun came out and it was cruise ship weather – hooray. We disembarked, walked along the overhead walkway, looked down at a ferry astern of us,


and arrived at the terminal building. A local bus soon took us a couple of miles around the bay towards the city centre, where we could stop for coffee and enjoy the sun and watch the world go past. On land or sea, this is always a fascinating occupation – one must always ‘stop and smell the roses’, in whatever form this takes.

We continued towards Palma city around the bay, walking along the harbour-side of the dual carriageway road. On the other side of the road were various shops, and to my amazement I could see one called ‘Fish Spa’, and it was something I’d only read about, but never seen. In the bottom half of the pavement-side window was a full-width tank of water, with eight human legs dangling into it from bodies seated just above. In the water tank, though, were also some fishes and these were apparently gently nibbling at the feet of the humans, to remove dead skin. This process is called a Fish Pedicure, and is allegedly very popular in some countries. I think the jury is out on whether this is safe or not…

Phew, on with the walk, past the beautiful Palma Cathedral,

and then to a little quayside advertising harbour tours.

What fun – we can sail on yet another ‘MARCO POLO’!

According to the advertising board, several ships can often be seen, besides our COSTA VICTORIA: they offer the sight of COSTA VENTURA

and also AMERICO VESPUCCIO – how interesting. I feel a letter to Mr David Dingle might be called for here, as he loses one of his P&O fleet.

The tour was lovely in the sunshine, with good views of our own ship as we wended our way around the harbour.

Super-Fast Galicia
Costa Victoria's bow
Man in a boat doing something to the bow hull


There were some huge and palatial-looking yachts, and our boatman delighted in pointing out one owned by Michael Schumacher, one by Mohammed Fayed, and another owned by Gucci. He also delighted in taking orders for ice-creams, and then shouting the details down through a small trap-door to his colleague on the deck below; they soon appeared in a cardboard box, carried by the barman.

We went back to the ship by bus, mentally drafting that letter to Mr David Dingle, in time for tea and leisure on deck, watching the afternoon’s quiz game of guessing the countries, as National Anthems were played. Staff dressed up on the pool side stage depicting in turn the ten different countries – highly ‘cheesy’, possibly not PC, but hilarious to watch and enjoy. The UK came 4th in popularity although, guess what, Italy came first. We sailed at 5 p.m., heading for tomorrow’s port call at Cagliari.

Tonight is Gala Dinner, so posh frock time, ready for the Captain’s Cocktail Party and then First Sitting dinner in the Fantasia Restaurant. We enjoyed meeting our table companions for the first time, and it was an entertaining and memorable evening for so many reasons.

Ships seen: Sorolla, Murillo, Super-Fast Galicia, Abel Matutes, T-Rex Uno, Marco Polo (harbour tour) and yachts

13 June 2011

Costa Victoria Part 4

Thursday 21st April 2011

We have a morning at sea before we get to Barcelona after lunch, so there was time to enjoy a walk around COSTA VICTORIA.

I noticed that this morning I could attend an Arts & Crafts Napkin Folding session, but chose not to. We saw many of Captain Stephen Card’s wonderful ship paintings, which he was commissioned to do for COSTA VICTORIA in 1996. It was good to see one of EUGENIO C, in the classic view that we all admire.

Outside the weather was damp at first but the sky soon cleared and once in Barcelona we could take the ship’s shuttle bus (6 Euros return) to the bottom of La Rambla, ready for a harbour tour.

We chose the little TRIMAR because it was going on a longer route around the harbour area, so we saw lots of the interesting vessels in port.

Liberty of the Seas
Rome Express
a pair from Rotterdam

Mol Premium
Liberty of the Seas
Costa Victoria

We were back on board in good time for sailing at 8 p.m. and to watch the departure of LIBERTY OF THE SEAS. This was her very first departure from a European port, so I enjoyed seeing her sail, as well as seeing the penguins above her Bridge.

Liberty of the Seas

Cruise Barcelona approaching

Florencia through the rain

Abel Matutes (seen through glass)

We decided that we would have dinner this evening in the Bolero Restaurant Buffet on Rigoletto Deck 11, and that was an excellent choice for food and wine.

Ships seen: Liberty of the Seas, Pelcrus, yacht Limitless, Majestic, Trimar (for the harbour trip), Murillo, Evolution, Montras, Cruise Barcelona, a Phillipino ship, Encarnation, Martin y Soller, Florencia, Fortuny, Sorolla, Corelli, Rome Express, Mol Premium, Abel Matutes