22.10.2016 - 29.10.2016
Let me get it out of the way right off the bat : I am a cruising convert. So much has happened in the last 7 days that enumerating everything would take more time than I have to write, and certainly more than you may be willing to devote to reading it! For that reason I present the edited highlights (in no particular order) of life on board the MSC Preziosa.
Board a floating hotel with bars and restaurants, unpack for the week, and visit 5 destinations in 4 countries. Visit Rome for the first time, and gasp at your first sight of the Colosseum. Having bought a ticket for the Hop on, Hop off bus, somehow manage to find yourself on a private tour of Rome. Wander the ancient streets of Palermo and find an extraordinary church hidden behind a door in the midst of a fish market. Giggle at the Fountain of Shame and its oddly shaped genitalia. Go to sleep in Italy, wake up in Malta. Meet for breakfast, wander the ancient streets of Valletta and pretend you're in Kings Landing hiding from the Lannisters. Thank your lucky stars you read about the lift to take you into Valletta after you see how steep the streets are. Grovel at the feet of those same stars when you see the shuttle bus that will return you up those steep streets after you've walked down them to take a cruise around Valletta. Toss up whether the €1 each for the lift or the shuttle bus was the best €1 you've ever spent. Decide it's a dead heat. Back on the ship for lunch, retire to your suite for a nap, get frocked up for Gala Night, laugh loud and often, pick up a pre-dinner cocktail on your way to the restaurant, smile at the sour-faced woman at the next table in an attempt to get her to reciprocate (success on the final night!). Join in the cheering when the lights dim and the line of white-jacketed waiters promenade through the restaurant, plates held aloft, bearing the tiramisu, or the baked alaska. Hand over your cruise card as payment, safe in the knowledge that you have pre-paid for everything and there will (hopefully!) be no nasty surprises awaiting you on receipt of your bill. Make your way to your bar of choice for post-dinner drinks, feeling smug at having timed your arrival to beat the hordes exiting the Platinum Theatre after the first show. Sit in the theatre for the second performance and try to make sense of the show that sees singers, dancers, jugglers, and acrobats try to weave disparate songs and movements into a comprehensible story. Shake your head when they fail to do so.
Take advantage of having woken early and be the first and only person in the pool. Pick up an espresso on the way back to your cabin, greeted by your steward wishing you a good day. I'll try, Lener, but it will undoubtedly be tough!
Take a guided tour of Valencia that includes your tour guide pointing out the plethora of rude carvings on the church walls: "see this man who is making love to the building"; "this man is making love to a stick"; "I am not going to tell you what that woman is doing"! Marvel at the incongruity of the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences and be glad there are no rude carvings to be seen.
Be filled with wonder at the benevolence of the travel gods who have bestowed upon you an upgrade to a suite at the very front of the ship, offering almost exactly the same view as that presented by the ship's webcam and beamed into every cabin onboard. Above all else, express your never-ending gratitude to your second cousin, and your second cousin's wife, and your favourite second cousin once removed, who offered to share their holiday and their cruising prowess, ensuring laughter was never very far from the surface.