Sunday 27th January 2019
Cruise from Southampton to the Mediteranean booked on the Sapphire Princess.
Parking in Southampton booked.
Saturday 17th August 2019
Martin arrived home at 06:00 after a 13 hour drive from Inverness. After a two hour power nap we put the last few items in our cases and locked the house. The drive to Southampton was uneventful and we stopped in the shopping centre for a coffee.
Driving to the Mayflower Quay to drop our suitcases we pulled up at the traffic marshal expecting to explain what we were doing. The Marshall looked at Martin and said "Oh its you" and waved us through. We haven't a clue who he thought Martin was but we chuckled to ourselves as we dropped our bags and drove back out.
Driving around to Marchwood we dropped our car at Penguin parking and jumped the shuttle back to the ship. With Priority check-in we jumped the queue and after a short wait due to the gangway closing because a container ship was passing we boarded. Priority boarding is nice. Soon we had dropped our carry on in our cabin and climbed the stairs to the Horizon Court for brunch.
Back at our stateroom our cases arrived and we unpacked and hung our clothes to allow the creases to drop out. Then after watching sail away it was time for an early night.
Sunday 18th August 2019
Slightly disturbed night as something was making a noise like a marble rolling around on a tin tray all night. In the morning we found that a zipper was rubbing on the wall of the wardrobe as the ship rolled. We fixed that for tonight. Sea day today. Crossing the Bay of Biscay. The seas were a bit confused leading to the ship bouncing around a little. Sick bags on all stairways and complaing passengers all over the ship. In the evening we passed Cape Finistere and the waves changed to a long rolling Atlantic swell.
We dropped into trivia and met a couple and a lady who's husband doesn't do trivia and teamed up. We did quite well in the morning and won the afternoon. Collecting our prizes, a drink coaster each, we changed for dinner. Eating in the Savoy Diningroom we finished in time for the end of the champagne waterfall and snagged a couple of glasses of champagne on the way to the Princess Theatre.
Grabbing a couple of seats we watched the show called "Bravo". It was very good with a guest soprano. They did a load of songs from stage shows and operas. Stopping in at the Explorers Lounge we watched the "Broardway trivia". Martin knew none and Jackie got a couple but we were not participating. So it didn't matter. Then off to bed
Monday 19th August 2019
After breakfast we met up with our trivia group and did reasonably well. Stopping for a posh coffee we walked upstairs to the wake pool and chilled before lunch. Then we moved to the Promenade Deck and got a pair of steerage loungers and relaxed watching the ships go by.
Getting changed for dinner we dropped down to the dining room. After a relaxing dinner we moved to the Princess Theatre for a Musical Showtime, Starring Chris Watkins. A violinist and very enthusiastic and entertaining. Then it was time to climb the stairs to our stateroom and bed.
Tuesday 20th August 2019
We arrived in Cadiz at five am. We were woken by the ship manoeuvring but went back to sleep. Getting up for breakfast we went to the gangway and off of the ship at nine. Walking out through the dockyard we arrived at the Plaza Espania. We sat for a while and watched some tourists getting ready for a Segway tour. One of them ran straight into a lamp-post. Fortunately he wasn't badly hurt so we didn't feel to bad about laughing.
We walked around the coast until we arrived at the medieval town where we spent some time admiring the Cathedral. Then we walked back to the ship through the twisting back lanes.
Back on board for a light dinner. Then into the theatre for the evening's entertainment a comedian from London. He was very funny so with aching sides we retired to bed. At 23:00 we opened our curtains and went out onto our balcony to see Gibraltar all lit up as we passed.
Wednesday 21st August 2019
Another sea day so we toured the ship finding places to sit and drink coffee. Getting an early dinner in Alfredo's Pizza Restaurant we were ready for a busy night.
In the evening we attended the Captains Cocktail party for platinum and elite passengers. After that we shot through to the Explorers Lounge and grabbed some seats. The comedian was doing another show and we were an hour and a half early. Just as well because ten minutes later there were no seats left and people arriving an hour early were dissapointed. He was just as good the second time around.
After a late night snack we retired for the night.
Thursday 22nd August 2019
Arriving in Barcalona we had breakfast before leaving the ship. Paying the €5 each for the shuttle bus into town saved as a three mile walk.
Dropped off by the World Trade Cente we walked along to the Columbus Column and headed up La Rambla. It was early so the crowds weren't too bad. Dodging the street performers we made it to the end. Walking back down a parallel street we passed the hotel we stayed at the last time we were in Barcalona. Arriving at the Cathedral we took photos and looked at the gargoyles. Some were even animals, there was a cow, a dog and even an elephant.
On the way back to the coach pick up point we stopped in at the Placa Reial for a coffee. Taking the shuttle back to the ship we chilled out on the Promenade Deck until sail away and dinner
Friday 23rd August 2019
Marseille was a €14 shuttle ride after we docked. Walking away from the bus stop we found the Cathedral La Major. Then dropping down through the old town we arrived at the old port of Marseille.
Paying 50 cents each we rode across the port on the ferry and then walked back around. Next stop was Fort Saint-Jean on the end of the port.
Having looked around and enjoyed the view over the port we found the shuttle and rode back to the Sapphire Princess.
Saturday 24th August 2019
Setting out alarm for six thirty we were up, washed, dressed and out of our stateroom in fifteen minutes. With the ship docked in Livorno we had booked a "Florence on your own" tour. Dropping down to the International Cafe we grabbed a breakfast muffin and a coffee each. Collecting our sticky badge for group Green 18 we sat in the Theatre until it was our turn. Leaving the ship we boarded our coach for the hour and a half drive into Florence.
We were dropped off as near as the coach could get. A fifteen minute walk brought us to our RV (Rendezvous Point) in Piazza di Sanra Croce. Leaving our guide we headed for the Galleria dell'Accademia. With no tickets we joined the small queue to buy them.
Fifteen minutes later we were in and found the statue of David by Michelangelo. After mooching around the gallery for a while we left. By now the queue looked at least an hour to get in.
Heading back towards the river, we arrived at the Piazza del Duomo and the Catedral de Florencia, Santa Maria del Fiore. So big in lanes so small it was very difficult to get a good view. The queue to get in stretched all the way around. So we decided not to wait and moved on.
Continuing toward the river we arrived at the Piazza della Signoria and the Medici's Palace. Following the elevated and enclosed walkway brought us to the Ponte Vecchio bridge.
Stopping in the Piazza di Sanra Croce for an Itallian lunch including pasta, wine and olive oil we decided to get an overview of the city. Crossing the river we climbed the stairs to Piazzale Michelangelo where you get a stunning view of the city. Stopping for a gelato and coffee on the way back down we walked back to our RV dodging the "Lookey lookey men" selling tat for ridiculous prices. Back at the Piazza we were ticked of the guides list and walked back to the bus back to the ship.
Sunday 25th August 2019
Once again an early start for our trip into Rome today. Sapphire Princess is docked in Civitavecchia today. Leaving the ship with our tour group we boarded the coach for the short drive to the station. Here we boarded our private train for the forty five minute trip into Rome St Piere station.
Leaving the train we left the group behind as we walked quickly to the taxi rank as we had timed tickets to enter the Colosseum. Only to find that the taxi we saw waiting had been snagged by someone else. We only waited five minutes when another taxi arrived so we jumped in. After a ten minute journey we arrived at the road overlooking the Colosseum. Paying the €11 taxi fare we walked down the steps to the forecourt and checked with the staff to see if we had to exchange our printed conformation for tickets. As we were early we found the Stern Enterance, around the opposite side from the ticket office. Then we found a shady spot to sit and wait.
At our appointed time we went to the gate only to find that the upper levels were closed due to maintenance work. So we were refunded the cost of the tour but were escorted past the queue and allowed free entry to the site. Walking around inside the Colosseum we felt the heat increasing.
Leaving the Colosseum we walked to the Altar of the Fatherland. Deciding that the heat was getting too much we jumped another taxi to St Peters Square. Walking into the back streets we found a restaurant with reasonable prices and stopped in for a late lunch. After lunch we walked back to the Vatican and spent a while people watching. Then it was time to walk back to the station for our train back to the ship.
Monday 26th August 2019
A lazy start today. Arriving in Alghero on Sardinia this morning we were anchored off and using tenders to get ashore. After breakfast we went down to Crooners bar to collect our tender tickets. With tickets for tender 10 and no 7 just being called we sat in the atrium with a posh coffee whilewe waited. Fifteen minutes later our number was called. Dropping down to deck 3 we boarded out tender for the ten minute ride into the harbour.
Getting off the tender we found the park and sat for a while checking social media. Then we walked to the market. Leaving the market we wound our way through the little lanes of the town. Passing the church we got back to the harbour, where we got a tender back to the ship.
We spent the afternoon doing laundry and chilling out in Skywalkers Nightclub. In the evening we watched Ruby singing Adele and an Illusionist. Ruby was very good.
Tuesday 27th August 2019
Day at sea. Relaxed start. Spent the day chilling around the ship. Won at the trivia, amazing that playing Uckers taught Martin what "The Devils Bones" were. In the evening we went to the comedy show. Very amusing.
Wednesday 28th August 2019
Up at five forty five and down to the International Cafe for coffee and a light breakfast before making our way through to the Princess Theatre to meet our tour for the day.
Getting off the ship as soon as the gangway opened, we boarded our coach. After a five minute drive we arrived at the border crossing. Ceuta belongs to Spain. Very much like Gibraltar belongs to the UK. Funny how the Spanish complain about Gibraltar but refuse to hand back Ceuta to Morocco. Anyways, after getting through border control we started the two and a half hour drive through Tetouan to Chefchaoeun.
Off of the coach we met our local guide who commenced to shout at us about the local history. After an interesting walk through the blue lanes of town we arrived at the local weaving school. After the sales opportunity we left with a bedspread.
Next stop a local restaurant for a traditional meal and a group performing local music. Then it was time to return to the coach for the drive back to the ship.
On the way to the border the coach driver jumped the queue by driving through the back lanes. When we arrived at a roundabout where we had to join the queue he drove the wrong way around the roundabout and the border staff moved a barrier to let us through. With a lot of handshakes and waving of arms we continued to jump queues and force our way back in. Eventually we got through the last barrier and drove to the ship. We were only 15 minutes late and we were hustled back on board by ships officers.
We arrived back in time for trivia and dinner before a show and bed.
Thursday 29th August 2019
Gentle start and a late breakfast before the first trivia which we won. Leaving without water bottles we strolled around the ship. Then after lunch we went to the "Where in the world?" quiz which we won. Martin from Australia who was setting the questions said the prize was two hundred dollars and gave it to us. The 200 dollar note turned out to be a fake. Two half one hundred dollar notes printed together. In the background we heard a woman complaining that more time should have been taken over the marking as she might have won the two hundred dollars. TOO serious FFS. We were given princess bags and went for coffee.
Formal evening. Penguin suit on and down for dinner. After dinner a comedy show before bed.
Friday 30th August 2019
Last sea day of the cruise. Arriving in Southampton in the early hours of the morning. Trivia quizzes and cases to pack. Stopped the packing to watch a pod of dolphin playing beside the ship. Just one of the advantages of having a balcony.
Jackie enjoyed a tour of the backstage area in the Princess Theatre while Martin sat in the Wheelhouse Bar reading. We watched the pop choir perform in the atrium in afternoon.
Saturday 31st August 2019
Arriving in Southampton we had breakfast and our last posh coffee before waiting in the lounge for our departure time.
When we were called we left the ship and found the Penguin Parking rep. Back at our car we drove home and the end of another fantastic holiday.