February 28, 2024

When our good friend Caloy Manzanillo and wife Raquel asked us to join them to go on a Mediterranean cruise, my wife and I readily accepted, it being our long-time desire to go on one but we never had the time and opportunity to do so when we were still working. Now retired from work and having a good pension to afford a week-long cruise, we were excited to go on one. It was also a good time of the year to be out at sea without the risk of getting into a Titanic kind of disaster, because the sea is usually calm during spring going into summer, and we are cruising on the Mediterranean, where there are no icebergs. Furthermore, the prices for a cruise were also reasonable. In fact, our cabin was upgraded to a balcony view of the sea, which cost more than double than what we paid for. Talk about “beginners’ luck” so to speak.
The ship was literally a floating hotel with so many amenities spread all over the 20 decks. It is 22 percent bigger than the Titanic, and could accommodate as many as 5,119 passengers and 1,413 crewmembers. The ship called “Seaview” is only five years old and has a wide outdoor space to accommodate four swimming pools with jacuzzi, promenades, a waterpark, and a zipline ride. Indoors, there are buffet restaurants on two decks, open for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner, aside from fine dining and specialty restaurants on two decks, cocktail bars on the lobby of four decks showcasing live singers, a sports bar featuring games of soccer football, basketball, Formula 1 races, and French Open tennis matches. Shopping boutiques are found on the lobby of the four decks; entertainment areas for two-lane bowling, billiards, pinball, and football machines; table tennis; a big gym with weights, treadmills, stationary bikes; and a health spa for all types of body pampering including massage and sauna, as well as barber shop and hair salon. There is a casino of slot machines, roulette tables, card games, lotto, and crap games. Every night, there were live performances in the theater. There is also a 4D cinema on two outdoor big screens found on two decks where disco parties were also held.
The route of our ship took us to six ports of call, including our port of embarkation and disembarkation which is Barcelona, all of which are in the coast of the Mediterranean. We left the port of Barcelona in the late afternoon towards our first port of call, Cote D’ Azur, Cannes, France. In every port of call, the passengers were given the option to explore the places of interest on their own or pay for excursions, either by bus or walking tour with guides that were available. The passengers could just stay and opt to enjoy the ship’s many amenities, but why miss the chance to explore the very interesting places in this part of the world?
At the French Riviera is found the City of Cannes, which is famous for its international annual film festivals.
The Boulevard de la Croisette along the curved coast of Cote D’ Azur is lined with sandy beaches, high fashion boutiques, and luxurious hotels.
The seafoods menu and wines offered and served in the restaurants are fantastic, to say the least.
At the Notre Dame d’ Esperance (Lady of Hope) Church grounds, one can have a magnificent view of the sea and the city below. Just by walking up and down the narrow streets of cobbled stones where tapas bars and souvenir shops await the many tourists is already an adventure. We had hoped to meet by chance the movie stars but the festival had just ended a day before we arrived. However, we saw the venue where it was held at the Palace of Festivals and Congresses of Cannes and just imagined the place fully packed with celebrities dressed in designer clothes and glittering pieces of jewelry. I imagined too where the nude painted lady run through the red carpet screaming her protest of the Russian invasion of Ukraine during last year’s festival.
The second port of call was Portofino, Genoa, Italy. Overlooking the Ligurian Sea, Genoa was one of the maritime republics which played a leading role in trade in Europe becoming one of the largest naval powers on the continent and was considered one of the richest cities in the world. The famous navigator, Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa. The top sites in Genoa are the churches, notably the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, where the rich businessmen donated their wealth to build and adorn them. The Piazza de Ferrari and the Aquarium of Genoa are also top tourist drawers. One can just do a walking tour from the ship to the tourist areas to reach these interesting sites, including Via Garibaldi Palaces where the beautiful state buildings are situated almost next to each other. Each government building seems to have been built with its own character and form and that is why the Via Garibaldi Palaces is a must tourist visit especially for architecture lovers.