The Costa Cruise Experience

Trip Start Sep 30, 2009
1
8
23
Trip End Jan 30, 2010


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Flag of Malta  ,
Monday, November 2, 2009

We drove four hours from Positano to Rome to catch the ship. Chris kindly drove the family and the expanding luggage to the port and headed back into Rome to drop off the rental car (it was supposed to be dropped off at the port, but is a public holiday in Italy and the office was shut). He was fairly sure where the Avis office, in the center of Rome, was situated and knew it shut at 1pm.  However having driven to all the Piazza's in Rome and around numerous fountains several times over, he ran out of time.  Finally located the Avis office at 1.15pm to find it closed.  Parked the car outside and thought about throwing the keys through the metal grid in the Avis internal parking area, but envisaged a resourceful person with a bit of wire……. so took them with him instead, and popped them in the post. He then headed off to the train station to catch the train to the ship, but while having a quick bite realized that his train was due to leave, so made a dash to the platform only to find that his train was 500 metres away, he sprinted and got on with 30 seconds to spare (at this point Robyn was thinking she was going to be doing the cruise minus Chris as he was now 3 hours overdue).    Robyn gets two frantic messages on the phone from Avis asking if we could return immediately and move the car as it was parked in a motorbike parking area and was going to be towed.  Had difficulty trying to communicate that we were sailing on a cruise - so when we return to Italy we may be maxed out in fines on the visa card and have to beg our way home!!!

We were certainly glad we did the cruises in the order we did, The Costa Pacific is only four months old, thus is new and gleaming. It has glass lifts in the in middle which ascend 12 stories all the way up to the retractable glass roof.  The boys have enjoyed the waterslide at the very top of the ship.    The passages are huge and the rooms almost one third bigger in size than the last ship.  The children are in an adjoining room so it’s all very cozy.

Our waiter at dinner is just adorable, Jay from the Philippines.  Each night he talks to Olivia and says "Now Miss New Zealand what is your choice".  One night was entitled Italian night and in the middle of the meal the song It’s Amore started playing really loud and next thing Jay, our waiter is asking Robyn to get out of her seat and waltz with him. It was hilarious (can’t you just envisage Chris wanting the ground to open up hoping he will not have to participate).  Jay asked Miss Zealand next, but she was too shy.  The next song he grabs Robyn and has his whole dining area out behind him doing the conga and yes Chris was reportably seen in the line and the hips might have even had a slight sway to them. (He reckons that was just the roll of the ship! – or the eighty year old American lady that had a hold on him).

The Cabin steward knew the meaning of service, you could hardly leave the room before he was in again with replacement towels or tidying.  Each night when the kids arrived back at their room he had made a white towel into some kind of animal.  These workers get so little time off (no such thing as a five day week – lucky if they manage to get four hours off in a seven day period) they complete a 10 month contract, then two months off then back again for another contract.

Ryan and Mitchell thought the games room was amazing with its six play station consoles, equipped with the latest games, to play on while lying on couches - they used their daily allowance religiously on this vice each day.

A run down on the places we visited:

Savona

As it was raining and cold here, decided to spend the day aboard and relax and enjoy the fabulous view of the city from the 12th floor of the ship and teach the children how to play 500.

Barcelona

Walked from the ship into town, needed the exercise and didn’t want to pay the exorbitant cost of cruise transport. Hit the Paseo de Gracia (Main Street), so interesting and buzzing with activity.  Loved this city, and we all commented on how nice and polite the Spanish are (we are travelling with about 2000 Italians who have no concept of queuing or personal space).  The Sagtrada Familia (neo-gothic style cathedral which is still being built) spectacular.  Hopped on the underground, to visit a park with building designs inspired again by Gaudi, while the doors of the train were beeping, but only Olivia and Ryan managed to alight.  Robyn hastily mouthed “get off at the next station” but all they could see as the train rushed into the tunnel was anxiety and horror written all over Olivia’s face (fortunately we had talked about this scenario happening when catching previous trains).  Two minutes later we boarded a train and when arriving at the next station Robyn felt huge relief to see two children sitting waiting on the platform, however Olivia’s face was now one of boiling anger and she left her parents in no uncertain terms concerning her feelings of abandonment. Managed to bribe the children to walk the 40 minutes back to the ship by offering them half the bus fare it would have cost us.  Olivia spent hers on chocolate and well you don’t even need to guess what the boys did with theirs.

Palma de Mallorca

This is the administrative centre of the Balearic Islands and was warm and beautiful.  Again it had the most amazing city walls, a well preserved Gothic church and a magnificent Cathedral.  Ryan’s neck was quite sore here so we decided to indulge and take a horse and cart ride around all the old cobble streets of the city, in every city since, when we see a horse and cart, Ryan declares he has a sore neck!!!!!!  We so understand why many of the British population choose this distination as a holiday destination.

Tunisia

We really felt like we went back through the centuries to discover the exceptionally rich cultural heritage of the Tunisian capital Tunis.  For years this place was the most important Mediterranean port until the Romans destroyed it in 146BC, we thought about a trip to archaeological excavations but didn’t fancy munity by the kids so gave it a miss.  We employed a local guide to take us to all the good spots, but having paid the recommended price realized that had we walked out of the port gates we could have got a taxi and guide for a lot cheaper.  Being kiwi’s we hate that feeling of being ripped!!!  We visited a beautiful town called Sidi Bou Said, again painted blue and white with the most amazing patterned and painted doors we have ever seen.  Tunis consists of the most colourful merchandise, fragrances from the aromatic essences, pretty sparkles from the beaten silver, and finally the madness of the old Souk.  The Souk is a rabbit warren of narrow streets lined with shops off all kinds, with every owner vying for custom.  We walked past yet another vendor yelling “hello American, Dutch” and when didn’t reply pointed to Ryan and said “Mr Bean, Hey you Mr Bean, come and buy” we laughed and laughed and on our way back through pointed and referred to him as Mr Bean again.  Chris tried to confuse them all by replying to their greetings in Maori and had great satisfaction at silencing them even if only for a few seconds.

Malta

We really enjoyed this beautiful city again with its imposing huge brick city walls.  We visited a cathedral which was last reconstructed in 1700.  Legend has it that Publio, who was a Rome governor at the time of Saint Paul’s reign in Malta and who later became the first Bishop of Malta, used to have his home there.   Every day at 12.00pm the military perform a cannon fire salute, Robyn reckons she had prepared herself for it, but nearly jumped out of her skin when it actually happened.  When we visited another church with the largest dome in the city we meet a lovely 86 year old Maltese man sitting as a guardian at the door.  He found we were from NZ and proceeded to tell us how he had fought with the British against the Germans and Italians in the war, as a spit fire pilot.  He was given money, a new set of clothes and the offer to immigrate when the war finished.  He turned Australia down as he was scared of snakes and NZ down as he was scared of the 14000 sheep that existed at that time.  He wanted to just stay in Malta and has remained there ever since.  He really liked us because NZer's were allies in the war and just before we left told he did not like the Italians who fought beside the Germans.  He went on to say and I quote “Those Italian’s they are just s—t”.  At that stage thought it was time to take our leave, hoping the next unsuspecting visitors waiting to get in weren’t Italians.  We left port at sunset and the views over the city, with the beautiful, unusual cloud formations, made for a spectacular exit.

Sicily

Not on our list of places to return to.  Grimy, full of rubbish but to be fair, a grey cold day with showers didn’t help its cause.  Maybe in twenty something years tourism will have lifted their game a bit, but couldn’t help but think perhaps years of public money siphoned off to the mob has probably ground these people down.

We are looking forward to the next part of our journey, Rome for five nights.  We will leave the ship a few kilo’s heavier, but looking forward to a little more flexibility in our time table.
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Comments

Marian on

Happy Birthday Ryan & Mitchell. I hope you have a fabulous day. How lucky are you to be celebrating your day while travelling around the world. Make sure you put some photos on the blog of what you get up to.
Love Marianxxx

fayeengman
fayeengman on

Hi Guys

Love reading your Travel Blogs and seeing the photos of your fantastic travels. Happy Birthday Mitchell and Ryan, hope you have a great day where ever you may be!!!

Love from Gran, Grandpa, and the Engman Clan xx

Mr B on

Happy birthday you 2 awesome young men!!! You both deserve 100 more ride in the horse and cart!! Hi to Miss New Zealand too!!

Carol on

So exciting! Thanks for the great updates. Enjoy every minute!

fayelangdon
fayelangdon on

Happy Birthday Ryan and Mitchell and what a way to celebrate your 14th year travelling Europe. Great memories and the cruise ship looks amazing and 6 game boy consoles!!! Love to you both Faye , Maurice and Haydon.xxxx

gazes
gazes on

Happy Birthday boys! Yay a couple more baby sitters to add to my list :) Sounds amazing and I have given in to jealousy!!!

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