Thursday, November 29, 2012

Second Half of 42 Day Cruise


November 11  -  November 30, 3012 

Day 23 - 24 ... Naples, Amalfi Coast and Sorrento

Arrived in Naples as our alternate port across the bay from Sorrento,  high winds forecast last night caused the change because we were suppose to tender into Sorrento. We will be in Naples for two days to tour Naples, Sorrento or the Amalfi Coast.  On the first day we boarded a bus to Travel the Amalfi Coast, widely considered to be one of the most beautiful coastal drives in the world. From Naples we set out on a spectacular coastal drive, passing through the village of Positano which is surely one of the most beautiful spots on the Amalfi Coast, if not in the world. We also passed through the gorges of the Furore Valley and cross the rocky slopes of Lateran Mountain. Along the way, we stopped at the village of: Amalfi,  We explored the village and shopped for handcrafted majolica-ware, an Amalfi Coast specialty since the Middle Ages. We also purchased a bottle of Lemoncello and some lemon hard candy balls.  This area is known for it's lemons and we saw them in the market and they were grapefruit sized. A lunch was supplied on this tour in one of the village restaurant.  After the tour we headed back to the ship for the night.

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The second day we scheduled we went on a ship's tour of Sorrento across the Bay of Naples. The skies got cloudy as soon as we arrived at Sorrento.  It was mainly a free time walking tour of the town where we explode the streets of Sorrento and some churches.  Returning to Sorrento, we visited a wood craft center specialising in wood in-lay products.

Day 25 ... Cagliari, Italy

We arrived  at 8:00 am in Cagliari, Sardinia an island off the coast of Italia.  Heavy winds and overcast skies with temps for most of the day at 72 degree.. We took a ship's walking tour of the city the city.  We began our walking tour inside the medieval city by passing through the 13th-century Tower of St Pancras and the Piazza Arsenale. From another viewpoint, we admired the sights of the Molentargius Pond, Mount Urpino and the Devil’s Saddle. We continued  to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Castello, flanked by the Archbishop’s Palace and the Governor’s Palace. The exterior of the cathedral is a mixture of medieval, Renaissance and Baroque architectural details. Inside are two magnificent marble pulpits and a Madonna dating back 700 years. We then had a short time to explore on our own.                                           

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Day 26 ... At Sea

Day 27 ... Gibraltar, British Territory

Another windy day a large cloud hanging over the 'Rock' on our approach to this port. We took a ship's tour up to the top of the Rock and the rest of the area. After a cable  car ride to the top, it was all fogged in and we could not see a thing.  We then got back in the cable car and went one stop down. Barbary Monkeys everywhere as we catch a glimpse of them as they go about there way.  they seemed to be a docile, however we did hear of a few passengers getting bitten and of course food was involved.  we got a few splendid views and entered the military fortification Gibraltar has to offer. 

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Day 28 ... Cadiz (Seville), Spain

Docked in a little seaport town called Cadiz.  After a big breakfast it was time for us to board a bus for a scenic drive through Andalusia’s cork plantations and after that we arrived at Seville, Spain’s fourth-largest city. The tour was a walking tour and showed us 3 UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Alcazar, the Seville Cathedral, and the Archivo de Indias.  Following an in-depth walking tour around the old Jewish Quarter, we were served buffet-style at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, we had a panoramic that showed us the new and cosmopolitan part of Seville. The Torre del Oro and La Giralda Tower were seen on this part of the tour. We left the port at 730 pm, enroute to our next port, Lisbon for a two day overnight stop.  About an hour after sailing we ran into a large thunderstorm with heavy rains and strong 40+ mph winds that continued to make a bumpy ride north.
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Day 29 - 30 ... Lisbon, Portugal

After a bumpy overnight thru windy conditions along the Atlantic coast from the sail up from Cadiz we arrived at the mouth of the Tagus River, going under the 25 de Abril Bridge, and the approach to the city of Lisbon. The temps were nice at 65degrees with the sun and clouds mixing it up.  The first day in Lisbon we took a cruise tour to the medieval town of Obidos, dating back to 308 BC.  Obidos has been a wedding gift to all of Portugal’s queens. It felt that you were traveling back in time as we explored its picturesque streets. We visited  the 17th-century Parish Church of Santa Maria, with its magnificent interior in blue and white tiles. After the tour it was back to the ship for the night.

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For the second day in Lisbon, we all decided to catch a ride to downtown Lisbon on the bus. We walked around the pedestrian only street with some friends from the ship including Ray, Pat and Ruth.  The pastry shops just kept on 'calling us' so a 'timeout' had to be made at a pastry shop and outdoor cafe which we remembered from last years visit here where we tried an assortment of delicious pastries and a cappuccino which I might add was quite 'different' from any cappuccino we've had in Spain and Italy.. and pretty darn good too. We walked thru the main square watching the 'street people' performing their musical acts, since this was a Sunday downtown was not as busy as it normally is.. off the main street and walking area a lot of the shops were closed.. we doubled back and after a couple of hours hopped onto the 728 bus taking it back along the waterfront a few stops back. 

Day 31  ...  At Sea

Day 32 - 33 ... Funchal (Madeira), Portugal

After 1 day at sea, we arrived in this beautiful island of Madeira,Portugal at the port of Funchal the capital city. Today we decided to take the Hop On - Hop Off bus tour and do the two routes across the southern part of the island and over to the village of camera de lobos, what a view. After we completed our tour we decided to go the the Mercado (Market), where we walked around and sampled some fruits and roasted nuts, this place was like Costco, free food samples all over the place.  After leaving the mercado we hop back on the bus and took it two stops into the downtown Rambla area where we had lunch at an outdoor café,  using the free wifi and listening to a local live quartet. Had a nice lunch with of course a cappuccino topped off the visit as it began to drizzle. After walking around the town we hopped a taxi ride back to the ship and called it a day. We stay here overnight and will go on a ship's tour planned for tomorrow.

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Day 2 in Funchal started with the temperature in the low 70's with some early morning clouds changing to blue skies in late morning. The ship tour this morning took us to a beautiful high location Eira Do Serrado at over 3000 feet high. The ride to the top was a little scary, especially when two buses try to pass each other on a curve. The temperature dropped down to 51 degrees as we walked up to the peak.  On the way down we stopped at  a church to say a prayer before our high lite of the tour for us in the small village of Monte, a sleigh ride down the streets and halfway down the mountain. Next to the Camel ride, this was next.

After the tour, we did a short stop at the local Mercado in Funchal and then headed back to the ship for an early afternoon sail away. We sailed along the southern coast of Madeira and the beginning of our 7 day transatlantic crossing heading for Half Moon Cay, Bahamas.

The Funchal Sleigh Ride video was done by my friend Ray.  Click on link below for video.

                       Funchal Sleigh Ride video

Day 34 - 40  ...  At Sea

Day 41 ... Half Moon Key

After 7 days at sea, we arrived at Half Moon Cay at 8 am and were on board the first tender onto the island under partly cloudy skies.  The second to last day at sea, the ship had a great seafood buffet, all you could eat. The skies quickly cleared and  temps got up to the low 80's as we spent a wonderful day on this pretty island with friends we met on the cruise. By noon, the water temperature warmed up, and it was a day in the water. The ship's staff manned the BBQ pit  for a great outdoors lunch of burgers, chicken and ribs.  As always when the time came to leave around 145pm and ride the tender back to the ship  we were a bit gloomy as this island is truly a mini-paradise. Upon leaving the anchorage near 3pm the ship made it's final turn northward on our journey back to Ft Lauderdale  and the end of our cruise.  We said goodbyes to our favorite Dining Room staff, bar staff and room stewards. It was a GREAT cruise. 

Last day Ft. Lauderdale.

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