Our Cruise around the Med

Saturday 12th September 2015

Southamption  At Sea

ship

The Azura

 The beginning of our adventure

After a rather disappointing breakfast at the Southampton Holiday Inn we made our way to the Mayflower Terminal to be told that the ship had arrived late and the luggage would not be loaded until 11:00.

So we waited in the pay and display car park (£3 for 2 hours minimum) for 3/4 hour when suddenly we moved and the luggage was unloaded the car was driven away and we went for the boarding routine.

Check in, photos taken, cards issued, through security and on to the ship.

The cabin is very nice and comfortable.

Azura

Our Cabin

Azura (3)

Our Cabin (the other way)

We had lunch in the self service restaurant (Venezia) and the choice available was surprising and very good. I had a small fish salad and Margaret had a ham and egg salad.

Later we were treated to a display by the Red Arrows (they were really there for the Boat Show.)

That was followed by the boat drill when we all had to assemble at our assembly point with our life jackets and we were taught how to put them on.

We went to the same restaurant for our dinner and again I had a salad with smoked salmon and potted shrimps (very good) and I followed that with some cheese and biscuits. I also enjoyed a glass of Merlot. Maggie had roast beef and when she saw that I had the shrimps she also had to have them.

Later we went to the welcome aboard show and I must say that it was far better than I expected it to be.

Sunday 13th September 2015

At Sea

big screen

Big Screen

Nice lazy day Sea a little lumpy but it is the Bay of Biscay so what can we expect?

Met some interesting people at breakfast and lunch.

Breakfast was very good with a wide variety of eggs bacon sausage etc. plus the contential breakfast.

Lunch was again a very mixed menu of fish, salads, meat etc. all to a high standard.

Saw the film “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, booked some trips and generally slobbed.

The weather was very bad with the rough seas making walking difficult, sleeping wasn’t easy either.

We went to see an Elton John lookalike but he wasn’t available so there was a comedian “Lloyd Davies” instead. He was quite good.

The Atrium

The Atrium

Dance in the Atrium

Dance in the Atrium

Elsie and Fred at bedtime

Elsie and Fred at bedtime

Monday 14th September 2105

Vigo – Spain

Arrive morning Depart afternoontitle

Spain’s busiest fishing port, Vigo sits on the rugged west coast of the province of Galicia. Over the centuries, this charming town and its resilient residents have been the target for many naval attacks including a couple from Sir Francis Drake.

In these more peaceful days, you will still find the best view of Vigo is from the fort (Castillo del Castro) built to defend it from the hill overlooking the harbour. From here, your Vigo cruise tour will lead you through the steep, narrow streets of the atmospheric old town (Barrio del Berbes) to see (and smell…) the daily fish market.

Try one of the oysters which are fresh from beds in Vigos ‘ria’ – one of the sunken sea-filled valleys for which Galicias coastline is renowned. And our Vigo cruises are also a chance to visit nearby Santiago de Compostela, the subject of pilgrimages since the Middle Ages.

Rain at the start of the day and because of the atrocious weather we docked 1/2 hour late.

We had our usual breakfast (then I discovered the kippers!!) And off we went for our trip “Leisurely Vigo Views“ which started in rain but this soon left leaving glorious sunshine all around. The trip was very relaxed and took in a panoramic view of the harbour a visit to a large mansion with beautiful gardens. The trip ended at a large hotel providing a light lunch and wine and tea or coffee.

“LEISURELY VIGO VIEWS”

Winding your way through the city the coach took us up to LA Guia Hill with panoramic views over the Galician countryside and down by the bay with its many mussel farms.

We continued through the city by Plaza de Espana and Plaza de America with their statues including the fishermen and the statue of the Wild Horses

Went to the 17th century Castrelos Park and the French style gardens

We stopped at the 19th Century Pazo Los Escudos for refreshments of Spanish Tapas and 2ine and coffee and tea.

We returned to the ship and did a little more exploring around the ship to slob around for the afternoon

Went to the Manhattan Bar in the evening to see a Neil Diamond lookalike he was very good after he settled down

Wild Horses

Wild Horses

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French Garden

Church on the top of the Hill

Church on the top of the Hill

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Looking over the Bay

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Pazo Los Escudos

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Pazo Los Escudos

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Maggie on the dock of the Bay

Tuesday 15th September 2015

Lisbon – Portugal

Title

Some of the best views of the Portuguese capital come as your ship cruises along the Tagus River. You pass the Belem Tower and the impressive Monument to the Discoveries with its statue of Henry the Navigator before arriving at the Lisbon cruise terminal.

Although small for a European capital, this city does sprawl a little so you would do best to concentrate on three districts – Baixa, Bairro Alto and Alfama, each with its own distinctive style, making Lisbon cruises a must see.

Baixa has busy streets of inviting shops, cafés and restaurants while Alfama is the atmospheric old town with narrow cobblestone streets, medieval and Moorish-style buildings, wrought-iron balconies with trailing flowers and a mix of small shops and bars.  Bairro Alto is another historic district with narrow streets and is a steep climb from Baixa so look out for the 100-year-old lift (Elevador do Carmo) near Rossio Square. With such a variety of destinations to explore, cruises to Lisbon bring to your holiday a balance of both modern and historical grounds.

Arrive early morning Depart afternoon

Overcast start to the day with a little drizzle at first.

After a good breakfast we went ashore ( that’s ship talk for getting of the ship there’s another one “disembark” means the same thing) and joined our coach No 5 for our “Leisurely Coach and River Trip”

“LISBON BY LAND AND RIVER”

Coach guide pointed out landmarks such as Pombai Square, Liberty Avenue, Black Horse Square Nd Rossio but because of the traffic we couldn’t see much.

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Not really impressed with the trip as the coach couldn’t stop much for the photographs because of the busy traffic although we did get some nice ones through the coach windows.

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Maggie wanted to see Doulphins

We were advised to avoid the bar area because we would not be able to hear the commentary so we avoided that deck altogether. Still couldn’t hear it! There were some nice views and photographs taken which we can ‘Google’ when we get home.

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Belem Tower

Saw the show “When Swing Was King” in the main theatre and really enjoyed it.

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Flowers everywhere

Wednesday 16th September2015

Gibraltar – Gibraltar

Title

Britons love cruising to ‘home from home’ Mediterranean cruise port Gibraltar – and not just because it has some excellent pubs and tax free shops (good buys include glassware, china, leather goods, alcohol, perfume, silk and cashmere garments).

Gibraltar also offers wonderful views of the Bay of Gibraltar and the Moroccan mountains from the Rock Restaurant, served by cable car from the Grand Parade.

Birdwatchers can spot more than 230 species and there are clearly marked nature trails you can follow to discover the country’s flora and fauna.

The most famous ‘fauna’ of course, are Gibraltar’s Barbary apes – get off the cable car at the halfway station to see these, then proceed to the top and hire an audio tape charting the Rock’s fascinating history.

Alternatively spend a day at the beach – Catalan Bay is the prettiest, with its colourful fishing boats and excellent seafood restaurants.

Arrive morning Depart early afternoon

Arrived safely in Gibraltar but decided not to go ashore after our experience before. So we sat and let the world go by.

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The other side of the Rock

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Letting the world go by

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Well the Military are still working

Spent the day onboard the ship simply relaxing

We saw the film “The theory of everything” before lunch

They had a great “sail away “party as we left Gibraltar with everyone given a flag to wave songs and dancing

In the evening we went to the Playhouse and saw Ben Makisi an opera singer. He was brilliant and his version of “Bring him home” was far superior to Alfie Boe.

Thursday 17th September 2015

At Sea

at sea

Going for a haircut at the spa. I need it.

Film in the playhouse “A Royal Night Out” Very good funny film – if only it was true.

Had dinner in the Meridian Restaurant with my best bib and bow very, very good had prawn cocktail followed by lamb shank with the cheeseboard to follow.

Jolly good day.

sea day

Lovely day

Friday 18th September 2015

Villefranche – France

Villefranche0001

The steeply terraced streets of this pretty centuries-old fishing village set against a densely wooded backdrop create a delightfully timeless picture. Despite its increasing popularity with tourists, Villefranche remains a small, relatively uncrowded resort with plenty of Gallic charm.

The centre is just behind Villefranche cruise terminal, across the road and up a series of steps.  Along a maze of narrow cobbled streets, you will find chic boutiques and a choice of both cheap and expensive cafés and restaurants. Alternatively, walk along the seafront to a long narrow beach which curls around the bay. Up some steps is the way to the neighbouring, almost Victorian-style resort of Beaulieu-sur-Mer.

Villefranche is a convenient base from which to explore the French Riviera and Cote dAzur and the medieval villages of Eze and St Paul-de-Vence.

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Quite an experience – to get on land we had to use the lifeboats.  Margaret didn’t’ t enjoy it much as it did rock a bit but the trip (Riviera Panorama) was very enjoyable and the scenery was breath-taking. We had a couple of stops to have a quick look around.

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More Flowers

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View from a Bridge

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Beach at Monti

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In a Garden

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Unusual Flowers

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Relaxing Day

We returned to the ship at about 14:00 and had some lunch and slept most of the remainder of the afternoon. All this gallivanting is so tiring.

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Hawaiian Themed Dinner

Decided to have dinner in the Meridian Restaurant as we didn’t fancy dining outside in “smoker’s alley” pleased we did as I had duck and Maggie had chicken

Thinking about trying the Peninsula Restaurant tomorrow for breakfast I wonder if there is Eggs Royal or Eggs Benedict?

Saturday 19th September 2015

La Spezia – Italyla spz

Tucked into the Ligurian coastline between Genoa and Pisa, is the pretty town of La Spezia – one of Italy’s most important military and commercial harbours. But it’s not this that attracts so many. La Spezia is the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage Site called Cinque Terre – a collection of five coastal villages perched on the coastline. Monterosso al Marc is famous for its beaches. Vernazza is a charming fishing port decorated with colourful buildings. Cornigilia is perched high above sea level with painted houses clinging to the cliff face. Peaceful Manarolais is modern in comparison and boasts a rocky cove. While Riomaggiore is a pretty town with attractive tall houses marching up the hillside.

Back in La Spezia itself you’ll find a number of churches and museums. There’s the 13th century Our Lady of Assumption church, housing a surprising collection of art, and the civic museum in the Castle of San Giorgio is just one of seven museums in the town.

Arrive early morning Depart early evening

We had breakfast in the Peninsula Restaurant where I had poached eggs on toast while Maggie had scrambled eggs and bacon and sausage cooked to order so not been hanging about for ages. Really good

Well we didn’t go to La Spezia but instead we went to Livorno Not a pretty port but a short shuttle bus ride of 15 minutes took us to the town. Very Italian town. We saw a Cathedral dedicated to St Catherine and then on to a small church dedicated to Our Lady.

La Spezia0002

Crib in the Cathedral

Afterwards we stumbled upon a huge market with very good and cheap fruit and vegetables and also other goods. We spent a little time at a cafe people watching

Tonight we intend to eat in the Meridian Restaurant and later see what entertainment there is.

Saw the “Flyrights” a close harmony group

Sunday 20th September 2015

19 May 2015

18:27

Civitavecchia – Italy

Arrive early morning Depart early evening

Standing in the Colosseum, visiting Vatican City and tossing a coin in the Trevi Fountain are all unique experiences of a lifetime to be had in the Eternal City of Rome, reached from your Italian cruise port Civitavecchia.

Rome’s breath-taking monuments, palaces, churches and classical features are quite unlike anything you will find in any other European city. They will always leave you wanting to come back for more – hence the coin-tossing, which is said to guarantee your return.

The city’s other must-sees include the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon (probably the most complete ancient Roman building in the city) and the Sistine Chapel, home to Michelangelo’s masterpieces.

While steeped in history, Rome is also a modern, bustling city with designer shops and chic boutiques at every turn. Reasonably priced department stores selling all the latest fashions can be found in the many pedestrianised shopping streets, while restaurants and cafés spill out onto piazzas offering authentic Italian dishes and sensational ice cream.

Because the majority of things we wanted to see in Rome were closed

We cancelled our trip and instead we took the shuttle bus into the town.

Visited the cathedral and walked to the seafront enjoying a coffee on the way. Nice relaxed 3 hour visit

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Maggie enjoying her paddle

In the evening we saw “Byron Johnston” a guitarist Brilliant and exceeded the performance levels of the shows so far.

Monday 21st September 2015

Ajaccio – Corsica

Arrive morning Depart afternoon

corc

Napoleon was born here and, if you did not know that before, it would only take a few minutes after cruising into Ajaccio to cotton on as ‘Boneys’ name and likeness is everywhere.

The main shopping street is called

and the wide tree-lined boulevards, parks and large squares in this newer part of town feature many statues of the great man, notably in the main square (ironically called General de Gaulle). The Old Town between the port and the imposing citadel on the cliff above boasts Napoleons House and the cathedral where he was baptised

The main marketplace is right by the port and here you’ll find lots of local craft goods and endless Napoleonic souvenirs. Nestling in the Bay of Ajaccio, halfway down the islands west coast, Ajaccio is an excellent base from which to explore Corsica and discover why it is called the ‘Scented Isle’ (because of the sweet aromas from the mountainside marquis vegetation).

I had my Eggs Benedict for breakfast really good.

We decided to stay onboard as the powers that be decreed that we couldn’t tie up alongside the harbour so to get ashore we would have to use the tender which Maggie is a bit nervous about. So we had a relaxing day on the ship and attended the Sail Away Party which was fun.

Tonight we are going to see the show featuring the songs from the musicals.

cors bay

The Bay

sail away

Sail Away Party

Tuesday 22nd September 2015

At Sea

sea day

Azura (10) Azura (7) Azura (9)

Slobbing about, relaxing all day before the formal evening

Wednesday 23rd September 2015

Cadiz – Spain

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Sunrise over Cadiz

You cruise right into the heart of historic Cadiz as immediately across the busy Avenida del Puerto from the Spanish port is the main square and shopping area. From there, it is easy to find your own way around this compact city. Behind is the 18th century cathedral (El Nueva) and the view from the top is worth the long climb up its internal stairs.

The narrow streets of the old town below are lined by tall Moorish-style houses with flower-decked balconies mixed in amongst some small shops and tapas bars. Cadiz dates back to the 12th century BC so is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the western world but sultry Seville has long since outgrown its neighbour.

La Giralda (the bell-tower next to its Gothic cathedral), is in Sevilles historic Jewish quarter which also has the whitewashed houses and exquisitely coloured bougainvillea that everyone associates with this lovely city.

 Arrive morning Depart early evening

“ANDALUSIA DRIVE”

We went by coach through Medina Sidonia saw loads of bulls bread for fighting, olive groves and vineyards

We had a stop for refreshments and free time in Went on a trip “Andalusia Drive” not bad. A chance to see some of the scenery around Cadiz however it turned out to be a bit of a history lesson and I wouldn’t recommend it. If I return to Cadiz I think I would be inclined to taking the “Hop on Hop off Bus. Followed by a mooch around Conil de LA Frontera. Maggie had an ice cream strawberry and mango and it fell off but she didn’t cry

Went up on the deck 15 to the final“ Sail Away Party” which was very good

After dinner went to the Playhouse to see Byron Johnstone again but with a different show. This time instead of classical it was guitar rock and roll legends. Excellent!!⚓

Thursday 24th September 2015

 sea day

Arrangements made for disembarkation (getting off the ship) on Saturday – cases outside the cabin the night before, vacate the cabin by 0800 and leave the ship at 10:30.

Filled in questionnaire about cruise for what it’s worth

Had to have breakfast at the smash and grab (Venezia) because we were too late for the Peninsula Restaurant who finish breakfast at 0900.

We will have lunch at the smash and grab with a formal dinner at the Meridian Restaurant this evening followed by the Headliners show “Reel to Reel”

Packing tomorrow 😦

Black tie again tonight

Friday 25th September 2015

At sea

at sea

Lazy day today we ate at the smash and grab as the rich food of yesterday was starting to play me up a little so I ate simply.

The bags are packed and collected clocks put back

Alarm set for 6:00

We leave the cabin by 0800 have breakfast and leave the ship about 10 30

Wonderful experience I really hope to do it again

Saturday 26th September 2015

Back

South Sun

Sunrise over Southamption

Back to Southampton safe and sound after an excellent holiday seeing new sights and meeting new people some nice some not so nice but then that’s people.

Our luggage was taken last night and we have had an early breakfast so now we are waiting for our 10:30 call to disembark the Azura. Then, all being well, it’s off to Burnham on sea and with a bit of luck I will complete this diary and be able to publish this as a blog.

Very efficient disembarkment

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