16th March 2019 Marseille
Shuttle bus passengers were dropped off near a Ferris wheel in a vast and empty parking area. I didn't recognise where we were at first but was directed towards the harbour, and soon knew where I wanted to go: along the side of the water leading to the inner harbour where the fishermen sell their produce each morning. Crowds of Saturday shoppers or strollers were enjoying the hot sunshine here in the south of France, and it was fascinating to walk along the quayside or under the arcades in deep shade.
Halfway along the quay I saw what I hoped to find: the cross-harbour little Le Ferry Boat was running. I was soon on board, paid my fare, and enjoyed looking around. It takes 45 people maximum but I was one of about a dozen.
The water sparkled, and we soon set off and a few minutes later arrived on the other side. I disembarked and then joined a little queue of people waiting to return to my first boarding point. Well, that was all enjoyable.
I walked back to the shuttle drop-off point and prepared to get what ship photographs I could on the coach journey way back to the ship.
As I walked into the coach park the red-hulled VIZZAVONA sailed out of the harbour at speed so I was fortunate to be able to turn my camera and capture that. The journey back proved fairly worthwhile, even at speed and with the unexpected route.
Back on board I enjoyed a very late lunch before returning to my cabin. Later on I met my friend and during a promenade around the ship a little later we discovered some lovely ship models in glass cases; these included MSC MAGNIFICA, MSC GRANDIOSA, MSC BELLISSIMA, MSC SEASIDE and MSC MERAVIGLIA.
We met again in our favourite Champagne Bar before dinner, enjoying our last evening on board.
Tonight we have a booking for the Cirque Du Soleil at Sea show, which sounds really exciting. The performance is called 'Varelia - Love in full colour' and is described as 'a tale of modern chivalry where love and courage triumph over the greatest divides'. The doors of the Carousel Lounge Deck 7 opened at 21.45 and we were soon in our allotted seats very near to the raised circular stage. Passengers were also able to book seats at raised dining tables at the back of the Lounge and have a meal there, but they seemed very expensive for such a distant view of the performance. We were given a drink as we arrived and that was just as good, and we were able to look around and watch the high level screens showing interesting light displays before the show started. Then the music started and it was time to watch the performance right in front of us - we enjoyed it all hugely.
Ships seen: MSC Bellissima, Viking Star, Girolata, Superfast something, an MN vessel, Mediterranee, Piana, Pascal Paoli, Tariq Ibn Ziyad of Algerie Ferries, Vizzavona of Corsica Linea, Le Ferry Boat in Marseille harbour
Sunday 17th March 2019
This morning we sailed back into Genoa harbour, under a sunny sky again. We disembarked and walked up to the Railway Station where my friend was to get a train on his way home. I caught a free bus taking me to the airport, where I could enjoy a last Italian coffee before flying back to England. It had been an enjoyable and interesting short trip on this brand-new ship MSC BELLISSIMA.
Saturday 16th March 2019
On board MSC BELLISSIMA it was another lovely warm and sunny morning as we arrived at our berth in Marseille after sailing overnight from Barcelona.
Once I was on deck I could look out and see the dry dock that I remember so well from December 2011. Back then I was on board COSTA DELIZIOSA for a short cruise of 4 nights from Savona which turned into a shorter cruise into a Marseille dry dock but with free excursions and fun on board. (See Costa Deliziosa 18th December 2011). Today after breakfast we walked round to see a little more of this new ship, and enjoyed coffee in the Horizon Pool Bar area.
The big seats were a fun design and comfortable, although with a tendency to make me slide down towards the floor. This was in port, I hasten to add.
We also found a large model of the up-coming MSC World Class ships, the first of which is due in 2022. It has a radical design bow, will carry 6,774 passengers at 205,700 gross tons.
My friend was having a sea day, and didn't want to go ashore here in Marseille, so I set off on the shuttle bus with my costly ticket.
The VIKING STAR was berthed on the other side of the quay. The route through the docks was odd, as we seemed to have very little room on either side of the coach between the security fences. I think it was just a single lane route, and occasionally we were very near the ships alongside the quay - but with fencing between us. I could see some familiar ferries but they were quite difficult to photograph because of the line of sight. I hope to be luckier on my way back because I imagine this lane has got to be one way only, but time will tell.
To be concluded...
Friday 15th March 2019
I woke early this morning, looked at the TV screen to find out where we were, and regretted that this ship doesn't appear to have a 'View from the Bridge' camera. That's a shame I thought, although I could see that we were speeding along towards Barcelona at 22 knots.
I had previously photographed the cabin route out to the nearest landing/stairwell so I managed to get to breakfast in a better than expected time, which was reassuring. From the windows of the Marketplace buffet on deck 15 we could see the Spanish coast a few miles off on our starboard side and the weather looked good. We are due to dock in Barcelona at 12.30, so there is time this morning to look round more areas of the ship.
Up on deck 16 we saw more attractive artworks, the entrance to the Solarium and bags of whey available, the Virtual Games Arcade with an actual racing car which looked fun to drive, the Horizon pool and amphitheatre, and the pool deck.
Earlier in the atrium area near the Champagne Bar on deck 7, I had looked round and noticed sick bags placed beside one of the art works I had admired the previous evening.
It seems that the seas had been quite rough overnight, and maybe the alcohol intake rather high too, so the bags were placed around in case they were needed.
The Atmosphere pool with North and South Bars was very popular with many passengers with ice-cream, food and drinks all near at hand. It was open but nicely sheltered with lots of poolside seating.
Just forward of this was the Grand Canyon bar with huge chairs for comfortable individual seating. They were fun for morning coffee and watching the world go past in various ways.
We had planned to have lunch on board then go ashore and walk along to take a harbour tour. We watched the Barcelona Pilot come on board and then get us to our berth, before heading for the Restaurant.
After leaving MSC BELLISSIMA we looked back up at it from the quayside and were amazed to notice a cabin balcony right above the Bridge on the port side. I had to blink and look again before realising that a passenger was actually standing on what must have been a Yacht Club cabin balcony. It was his/her movement that must have caught our attention up above the Bridge.
The sun was hot and comfortable as we strolled along towards the other part of the harbour beyond the bridge. We had good views of the ships as we crossed the bridge and headed towards the little vessels offering harbour tours.
On our way I persuaded my friend to walk with me into the ferry terminal on our route and he was amazed to see several ship models. I think he now realises how fascinating they can be both to see and to travel on, and I know he enjoyed seeing the cutaway model of one of them with all the tiny passengers, cars, lorries etc. standing beside the model ship in the glass case.
At the harbour tours quayside the popular OMNIBUS was there so we bought tickets and climbed on board, and were soon heading round the inner harbour and under the bridge. It was enjoyable taking photographs from sea level for a change.
copyright S. Morton
After disembarking from OMNIBUS we just had to visit the flea market that had been set up near the quayside, with so many eye-catching things glittering in the sunlight. Nearby again was the local bus that took us back to the cruise ship terminals and we were soon on board.
We met again later at the Champagne Bar and a glass of Prosecco was soon put in front of me. Dinner was good again, although the people we met at the table last night had left the ship today. Tonight we noticed that some passengers were refused entry to the Restaurant because of their too casual daytime clothing.
After dinner we joined the usual promenaders in the Galleria Bellissima, and realised that part of the evening's entertainment was suggesting passengers dressed in 1960/1970s style, to match the Flower Glory Party theatre show. Some of the entertainment staff were dressed accordingly, but a couple of the ones I saw looked rather bored. Fortunately, up in the Sky Lounge we could enjoy the music of the jazz duo, and sample the delights of an Aperol Spritz. Tomorrow we visit Marseilles in France, so that should be another interesting day.
Ships seen: Viking Jupiter delivered a month ago in February 2019, Viking Star, Eurocargo Palermo, Baltic Chief I, STI Hackney, Grimaldi Spes, Armas Volcan de Tinamar, Omnibus for the harbour tour, L'Audace,
To be continued...