7th April 2013
After a calm night at sea we arrived early at La Spezia, Italy, to be greeted with fireboats and water, ship whistles, blue skies and sunshine, and a bright yellow helicopter flying around the ship as we approached the quayside. It was quite exciting, especially as the helicopter pilot flew extremely low and close and we could almost see the colour of the eyes of the cameraman who was hanging out of the open door of the helicopter. We waved!
As we edged nearer, the waiting band played and local dignatories hurriedly finished eating their cake and other refreshments, under the shade of a marquee. We were told that this was the first time a Costa ship had called at the port, so we were given a big welcome. One of my companions mentioned that he did not wish to be pedantic and point out that several other Costa ships had docked there before, albeit only for scrapping.
La Spezia greets Costa Classica
Funnels, flags and the fly-past
A smaller welcome
24 piece Brass Band and dignatories
These grabbed my attention
Yes, they were cakes, so I was invited to have a piece.
Cinque Terre, as that part of the coast is known. The plan was to take the train to the furthest village of Monterosso, and then walk back part of the way along the coastal path.
Train through the tunnel
Monterosso bay, where we went first
The brick-lined tunnel to walk to the next little bay
Back through the tunnel, to the tourist office, where we were informed that there had recently been several avalanches along the coastal paths so three were closed. She suggested we take a train back to another village and visit it, before returning to another train. She also told us that the avalanches had caused several fatalities and two people were still unaccounted for, which was dreadful to hear.
Getting off the train at Vernassa
Then down to the tiny bay for lunch
Our boat coming to collect us at 2.40 p.m.
Goodbye to the delightful Vernassa
One of the trains going through one of the tunnels
Not for the faint-hearted! There was a big swell and only a tiny area to set foot on from the swaying gangway. On the way we had seen where some avalanches had come down - what a tragedy - although other paths looked fascinating, up and down the mountain-sides.
Rugged rocks for the ragged rascals to run round
More amazing rocks
Another tunnel back to the station, to get another train in yet another tunnel.
Another train, another tunnel, to return to Riomaggiore. These are so weird and wonderful, these huge long tunnels cut through the mountains for the trains.
The view from the dining room as we left La Spezia, with the snow-capped mountains
Goodbye La Spezia
Ships seen: Beluo VG3777
Saturday 6th April 2013
I flew in to the city yesterday, and saw the temperature at the airport was 17 degrees C - astonishing after the 1 degree C and snow I had left in the south of England.
In Marseille today it is Carnival Day - where have I heard that before? The Local paper at breakfast also said 'Ships in port' were:
a 7 am Girolata from Ajaccio
a 7 am Pascal Paoli from Bastia
d 11 am Tassilli II to Alger
d 11.30 am Danielle Casanova to La Goulette
d 12.00 El Djazair II to Oran
d 19.00 Girolata to Ajaccio
d 19.00 Pascal Paoli to Bastia
All of which was fine to know, but it was pouring with rain and I couldn't see much. At noon I took a taxi to the Cruise Terminal on the far side of the port, checked my case in and was on board COSTA CLASSICA within 5 minutes. It pays to arrive early, but things were very well organised too. She was built in 1991 by the Italian company Fincantieri, at 53,000 tons, for Costa Crociere which was still owned by the Costa family. She is still much as built and I am looking forward to seeing her.
Today I am sailing on Costa Classica from Marseilles, to various ports in various countries and it can only get better and warmer -lucky me.
Costa Classica alongside, later in the voyage
Chart showing the itinerary
My cabin 4090
Deck 8 - Roma - Piazza Navona Grand Bar, the setting for 'fizzy at four' (Prosecco, because I am on an Italian ship)
Tivoli Restaurant on Deck 8 - Roma
La Tavernetta on the starboard side, with the Dolce Amore Bar on the port side (with a chocolate fountain) up on Deck 9
Deck 5 Main Hall, with the 'Ginger and Fred' 1999-made glass artwork
Celebration cake for 65 years of Costa
Colosseo Theatre, Deck 9 forward
Then I ventured outside to see what I could.
Athena at Marseille
Girolata, through the rain
Grand Holiday in dry dock (and I've been there on Costa Deliziosa!)
Princess Danae in Marseille
Last view as we sailed
Napoleon Bonaparte still in Marseille, but at least she is upright now
So we left Marseille, heading for La Spezia tomorrow morning.
Ships seen: Athena, Princess Danae, Girolata from La Meridionale, MSC Preziosa, Costa Voyager, Grand Holiday in dry dock no. 3 (!), something almost invisible in the rain from Algerie Ferries, Ark forwarder, Napoleon Bonaparte against a quayside (and I wonder if she wil ever sail again, and several distant ferries
4th May 2013
After an interesting sail/flight on the Hover Travel hovercrafts between Southsea, Ryde, and back, it was time to check in with Britanny Ferries in Portsmouth for a trip on the ro-ro/passenger ferry MONT SAINT MICHEL. We would sail over to Caen (Ouistreham) in France, leaving Portsmouth at 14.45 (British Summer Time) and arriving at 21.30 French time (BST + 1). She was built in 2002, at 35,586 gross tons, and is registered in France.
Mont St. Michel
La Galerie Self-Service Restaurant
Les Romantiques Restaurant
As we left Portsmouth Harbour we could see various Royal Navy Vessels, plus HMS VICTORY, WARRIOR, SOLENT CAT from Blue Funnel, JENNY LEE, the ship of the man from Del Monte, WIGHT RYDER, ST. CECILIA, and others.
St. Clare & St. Helen of Wightlink Ferries
Blue Note Main Lounge and Bar, where we took part in a Musical Quiz and achieved second place, amongst many teams
Mont St. Michel as we drove away from the port
We stayed overnight in Dunkirk at a little hotel, and breakfast in the morning was enlivened by the paper place mats.
Place mat showing Newhaven to Dieppe ships
Happiness in a haystack?
Le Havre on the place mat
Outside in the sunshine we walked along the duck route to the harbour entrance
Then drove to the Dieppe Terminal building where we saw this poster on the wall. Our journey continued through the French countryside north-east to Calais. Whilst we were waiting for our homeward ship to arrive we could see others berthed in the port.
Pride of Kent
Calais Seaways, now with DFDS, arriving to take us home to Dover. She was built in 1992 at 28,8733 gross tons, for Belgian Operators as Prins Filip,registered in France to sail at first between Dover and Ostende. She then became Stena Royal, P&OSL Aquitaine, PO Aquitaine, Pride of Aquitaine, Norman Spirit (registered in the UK), Ostende Spirit (registered in the UK), Norman Spirit (registered in France), and then Calais Seaways as from 15th March 2013.
Rodin, of My Ferry Link, arriving
Rodin's stern view
Calais Seaways' deck plan
It was lovely and sunny on deck, heading for Dover across the English Channel
Calais Seaways' life ring