Welcome to the pictorial view of our Holland America Cruise, plus a few comments about the ship and cruise itself.
Our itinerary started in Rome. Actually, since Rome isn't on the coast, the ship docked in Civitavecchia which was about 2 hours by bus from Rome or maybe one and a half hours by car. Buses were restricted to a lower speed. After arriving in Rome at about 8 AM, losing 6 hours difference in time plus the 8 hours flying time, we had to collect our luggage and pass through customs, who reluctantly stamped our passport with an uninked stamp. Then we were taken to a nice hotel for a "continental breakfast", which means coffee and little else, where we sent postcards, killed 3 hours, and were exposed to "little Stevie", the worse behaved 10 year-old we have ever seen. Thank God we didn't see him much alone onboard or he would have been tossed over the side. We eventually jumped on bus number 2 and took the slow route to the port. Bus number 3, ignoring the posted speed limits as most everyone did, passed us along the way. Thanks to Holland America, we had an escort that pointed out things of interest along the way, although once out of Rome, there isn't much interesting, probably due to Italy being on the wrong side of WW2. There certainly wasn't anything in the port at Civitavecchia. Allied forces leveled the place. Now it is an ugly industrial port with a dock area where it is hazardous to walk from the ship. After checking in on the ship, which was normally done outdoors, but due to the drizzle was held indoors, we arrived at our room, cleaned up a little, had lunch, and took a much needed nap. Surprisingly, our luggage came before dinner, something we had not expected from our previous cruise experiences. Early dinner was at 6, and casual. Our table mates did not show up (they had the good sense to stay in Rome).
The next day we went back to Rome, this time to actually see the place. See the Index for our experiences in the ports. Monday night the ship left for Livorno, another dirty, dangerous, industrial port that the allies didn't quite take to the ground during WW2. This dock area was a maze, poorly marked and another embarrassment to Italy. At least they can play soccer! After seeing their driving, they could also do well in the road race at Monte Carlo, which we missed by a week.
From Livorno, we saw Pisa, a place with a long history, but evidently little of interest except the leaning tower. When it falls down, I doubt anyone will go there, for it's main interest is that the engineer did such a poor job of testing the land for stability that he built the bell tower on the worse possible spot. I believe, in embarrassment, he killed himself later.
After an hour or so we went on to Florence, a word you will not find on any t-shirt or map. Florence is a beautiful city that recovered well from bombing in WW2 and the flood in the seventies. Unfortunately, we were at the height of tourist season. After an 8 hour day we went back to the ship. Possibly one of the greatest monuments crosses the road on the way back to Livorno with no fanfare, the aqua ducts of the Romans.
Day 4 saw us to Monaco. Not being into the gambling scene, which didn't open until about 2 PM anyway, we took a tour of Nice and Eze. It made for a nice and easy day.
Day 5 was in Corsica and day 6 in Palma de Mallorca, islands owned by France and Spain respectively.
Day 7 was at sea, our only at sea day. Day 8 was in Morocco, our one shot at adding another continent to our travels. Day 9 was supposed to be in Spain, but due to bus strikes we went to Gibraltar instead. Day 10 and 11 we were in Lisbon.
The flight back should have been easier since we'd gain only 5 hours and have a 7 hour flight, but Holland routed us through Kennedy in New York. Speaking of an embarrassment, whoever is in charge of Kennedy should be shot for embarrassing New York, the United States, and airport managers everywhere. We had to go from terminal 3 to terminal 4. They have a bus, but if you take it, you'll miss your plane since they've messed up all the roads and ramps. Walking is a very long trek, totally unmarked. Where to enter terminal 4, a multi-level, multi-entrance building, is anyone's guess. If you couldn't speak English, you'd never get there. To top it all off, our luggage looked like it had been dragged on the ground through the construction zone. There were other problems with Kennedy, too lengthy to mention here. Do yourself a favor, refuse to fly through Kennedy.
This page was last updated on 08/04/00.