Saturday, 25 January 2014

Visit Palma de Mallorca on a Cruise

View of Cathedral at Palma de Mallorca from the Cruise Port
After a sea day we were looking forward to docking in Palma de Mallorca, a new port of call for us. We were overnighting here so had plenty of time to look around the old town with its historic buildings, quiet laneways and bustling plazas.
  The cruise ship docked at the port, about 15 minutes by bus to the centre of the city. A continuous shuttle ran all day at a cost of 12 euros per adult and 8 euros per child, round trip.
  In the huge square below the cathedral there is a tourist information office and lots of street entertainers and buskers to keep you amused and smiling for quite some time! 'Living statues' of men dressed as Shrek, a Zulu warrior, Charlie Chaplin, an Aztec prince and a cowboy added to the mix of cruise ship passengers, (3 ships in port that day), locals and other tourists.

I snapped this photo before the street performer put his 'head' on!
  Some people wanted to see around the historic town centre in a horse and carriage.

Waiting for passengers outside the cathedral
But we preferred to wander the maze of back streets that fan out from behind the cathedral, finding unexpected delights in little squares and peeping into beautiful courtyards and admiring ornate doors and balconies.

An entrance courtyard to a property in Palma
  Of course, the massive cathedral -La Seu- was on our 'must see' list of local sights.  It truly is magnificent, both inside and out. As we entered the nave, a ray of sunshine struck one of the stained glass windows and cast a reflection onto one of the pillars. Serendipity!

Sunshine 'lighting up' a cathedral pillar
 I love this photo - a case of being in the right place at the right time!

Part of the ornately carved exterior of La Seu cathedral
 We did enjoy our time in Palma de Mallorca. I would like to have stayed longer as there was so much more exploring to do.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Cruise the French Riviera to St Tropez

Cruise the French Riviera
Our first port after leaving Genoa was the town of St Tropez, long associated with movie stars and rich heiresses and celebrities. Our ship anchored offshore and we were transported to land by tender. 

The streets of St Tropez were decked out with banners
It was very pleasant wandering round the edge of the marina where artists painted the yachts and picturesque buildings that line the boat harbour. The Tourist Information Office is located right by the famous bright red cafe-patisserie called Senequier and next to the fish market building.

Cafe Senequier, the place to people watch
What's to buy at the St Tropez fish market
After stopping at the cafe for the second most expensive coffee of my life (the most expensive was at the Fullerton Hotel in Singapore!) I wandered along the narrow twisting streets of the old town to the market.
  The market was huge, set out in a tree-lined square. Goods for sale ranged from bric-a-brac to Provencal specialties to clothes to just about everything else. Colourful local ceramics caught my eye as did the lavender products that would make lovely gifts for friends.
Local ceramics at the market

All in all it was a pleasant day out in beautiful weather but did I see a movie star? No!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Genoa, Italy, Cruise Port

View from MS Sinfonia over Genoa Port
We hadn't been to Genoa before so we were looking forward to exploring a bit. We stayed the night before the cruise at Morelli Palace, right in the picturesque Porto Antico area. It was wonderful - candelabra and crystal glasses, sumptuous breakfast, antique furniture and wall hangings - all for a very reasonable price. 
Our room at Morelli Palace
As we sat in the breakfast room we could see our ship arriving at the cruise terminal.
  On looking at the map, we had thought we could walk from Morelli Palace to the cruise terminal but the reality was a bit different - roadworks and construction sites meant a large part of the area was blocked off to pedestrians. So it was a short taxi ride that took us to the ground floor embarkation area of the cruise terminal.
  Embarkation went without a hitch. At the time we arrived there were no queues of passengers waiting to be processed, so before we knew it, we'd had our photo taken and were walking up the gangway, ready to start our cruise.

Monday, 6 January 2014

About MSC Sinfonia

Swimming Pool on Deck 11 of MSC Sinfonia
First impressions on boarding MSC Sinfonia? How spotless it is, both inside and out. Gleaming white paintwork, shiny brass and chrome, and sparkling mirrors really impressed us!
  Throughout the ship the clever placement of mirrors, along with the shine of chrome fittings make the interior spaces seem much larger than they are. For example, in this photo the library seems to stretch the width of the ship - it doesn't!
The library
The decor throughout is pale woodwork with burgundy and green upholstery and carpet. All pleasant enough, but without the 'wow' factor that some other ships I've been on have with their art work in public spaces.
  Sinfonia can carry 2087 cruisers over 9 passenger decks. Our captain is Pietro Scarpato and over the course of the 7 night cruise, round trip Genoa, we'll have 6 ports of call in the Western Mediterranean.
  So it's all aboard for the cruise!