The Best Mediterranean Cruise
Magnificent Sites from Barcelona, Spain to Marseille, France on the Epic, Norwegian Cruise Line
We Cruised the Mediterranean for Our 30th Wedding Anniversary
Note of Thanks: Angelladywriter, would like to thank her twin sister Paulette, her husband Walker and various family members for helping her continue writing articles and producing photos during her injury for the past few months. We would also like to thank Shavon May of CruisesOnly for helping us plan this beautiful vacation for our 30th Wedding Anniversary.
We humbly give thanks to our Grand Creator Jehovah God, for the privilege to see so many other beautiful parts of the world through a seven night Western Mediterranean Cruise on Norwegian's Epic. Our flight was on a Saturday, out of Newark, New Jersey which took a total of seven hours to #Barcelona, Spain which is about six hours ahead of our time. Upon our arrival in Spain, we decided to exchange our American dollars for #Euros. One US Dollar equals 0.89 Euro. We had done research and knew that Euros, were vital for our expenses which included a taxi for about forty dollars from the airport to the ship. After numerous checks of our passports, starting from Newark's Airport to our arrival at the cruise line, we finally boarded the illustrious Epic of #Norwegian Cruise Line. This ship was impeccably clean with embellished chandeliers, furnishings, restaurants, shops and staterooms. Tremendous anticipation filled our thoughts as we located our stateroom; this time with a balcony to begin our thirty year wedding anniversary celebration.
Our Cruise Begins With Tremendous Anticipation
The Norwegian Epic, departed the port of Barcelona around 6:00 pm for our Mediterranean Cruise. We had planned and saved for this trip, although after my injury, we were not sure if our plans would come to fruition. Fortunately, the air travel was not too difficult and waters of the Mediterranean were smooth and not choppy or disheveled like they might be during an ocean cruise. We thanked our Heavenly Father for the calm waters daily.
Many may think that this trip was extremely expensive but after thirty years of marriage and the fact that we had never been to Europe as a couple; we prayed and decided to do something special for ourselves. Thankfully, after numerous prayers to Jehovah God, we were able to pay a total of $2,400 per person in installments. Forr this seven night Mediterranean Cruise which included nonstop round trip airfare on United Airlines, from Newark, New Jersey to Barcelona, Spain. We took the time to shop around for airfare which was lower by not booking the cruise and airfare together at the same time. We booked the cruise through CruisesOnly, at the beginning of the year which also caused the prices to be a little more reasonable. The search engine and computer savvy person can easily get these prices even at a lower rate.
On Sunday, We left Barcelona, Spain on the way to Naples, Italy
After Departing From Barcelona Our First Port of Call on Norwegian Cruise Line was Naples, Italy. In the Morning We Visited Pompeii Excavations and Other SitesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Our First Day At Sea and the Magnificent Sites of Pompeii, An Ancient City Near Modern Naples, Italy
On Monday, after the luxurious Epic Cruise Line, left the port of Barcelona, Spain on Sunday; we enjoyed our first freestyle dining option at the Manhattan Supper Club on Deck 6. We dined on delectable fried calamari as an appetizer, sirloin steak, roasted pork loin, with sides of vegetables and snickerdoodle pound cake with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Our table for two was positioned near the spectacular two-decked, floor to ceiling windows. After drinks, we retired with excitement for the planning of our tours during our first day at sea. This gave us the opportunity to explore the ship. On Monday, while at sea, we enjoyed such activities as Bowling, Poolside Music with a DJ, while we consumed our delicious breakfast at the Garden Café Buffet.
Naples, Italy A Mecca of Archaeological Findings and Ornamental Beauty
We arrived at our first port on Tuesday. During the night we sailed and arrived at the port of Naples, Italy around 7:00 a.m., that morning. The #Pompeii Excavation tour was highly recommended by previous guests. "Pompeii is a vast archaeological site in southern Italy's Campania region. Once a thriving and sophisticated Roman city, Pompeii was buried in meters of ash and pumice after the catastrophic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 C.E. Near the coast of the Bay of Naples, the site features excavated ruins that visitors can freely explore," stated Wikipedia. Our interest was peaked after the 2014 movie entitled, Pompeii, where a Roman Senator played by Kiefer Sutherland, fought against Kit Harington, a slave who was also a gladiator. The two fought for the love of the same woman Emily Browning, as the destruction of Pompeii surrounded them from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
The intrigue of Pompeii, consisted of a tour of various Roman ruins which involved towering statutes, elaborate remains of homes, businesses, brothels, rocky stoned streets where chariots once maneuvered, bathhouses and spas. Our well informed tour guide Ada, astutely shared historical points about this once enriched city that was buried in more than 30 feet of ash which lasted two days in 7980. Her descriptions helped tourist to see the lavishness of Pompeii 's previous residents. They could have easily spent their days within their marble encased walls, eating fresh baked bread and cakes from their local bakery. Daily they would visit their copious bathhouses with running water, swimming pools, saunas and changing rooms were available for both women and men.
Pompeii, A Roman City of Pure Lavishness Buried In Ash
An article in The Watchtower magazine of January 1, 2003 made this comment about the city of Pompeii, "In the first century of our Common Era, Pompeii and Herculaneum were two prosperous Roman cities that were situated in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. For wealthy Romans, they were popular resorts. Their theaters were capable of holding audiences of over a thousand, and in Pompeii there was a large amphitheater that could seat almost the entire town. Excavators of Pompeii have counted 118 bars and taverns, some of which served as houses of gambling or prostitution. Immorality and materialism were rampant, as wall paintings and other remains testify."
This #Watchtower article explicitly discussed how Volcanologists discovered that on August 24, 79 CE, the first eruption occurred from Mount Vesuvius. This was a clear warning for the surrounding inhabitants of Herculaneum and Pompeii. Some residents did flee but many did not. Tragically, those that remained in these areas loss their lives in the downpour of superheated gases, pumice, and rocks. "During the excavations, plaster was used to fill in the voids in the ash layers that once held human bodies. This allowed one to see the exact position the person was in when he or she died," mentioned Wikipedia. Warnings were given beforehand about the danger of this volcano. Do we adhere to similar warnings we receive today?
The Restoration of Pompeii, Not Excavations
Our tour guide Ada, also reminded us about the negative aspects of Pompeii, such as the abundance of brothels. Prostitution was not illegal and was accepted by the Romans. "The Roman empire wanted prostitution because they paid taxes and they had a high income from the prostitutes." This was one of the major attractions of Pompeii. Additional information was shared about the poorer residents of the city. "People who could not pay for water, came to the fountains. The fountains where they would place their hands. People used relief of the fountain to get information." There was an abundance of information shared concerning this once wealthy city of Pompeii. "You need seven days to see excavations. One part of the city is still buried under ash," explained Ada. Archaeological excavations began in the 1700's. She also explained, "We are restoring Pompeii, no excavations but restorations." Ada, talked about how "buildings were covered in marble because this was a rich city, frozen in time."
The spectacular Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy was our second port call which we arrived at on Wednesday.Click thumbnail to view full-size
Norwegian Cruise Lines' Second Port of Call was Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy
Wikipedia, beautifully describes "Civitavecchia, Italy is a town and commune of the province of Rome in the central Italian region of Lazio. A sea port on the Tyrrhenian Sea, it is located 80 kilometers west-north-west of Rome, across the Mignone river. The harbor is formed by two piers and a breakwater, on which is a lighthouse. The name Civitavecchia means 'ancient town.'" Major cruise lines stop and start at this port for shore excursions to see "Rome and Vatican sights, which are ninety minutes away."
Tours were organized for trips to the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and Raphael's Rooms. St. Peter's Basilica & Papal Tombs tours were also available. You can obtain these type of tours before you arrive for your cruise through Shore Excursions Group, LLC out of Weston, Florida. The cost of these excursions can range from about $50 per person for a few locations or up to more than $150 per person for a full package tour of Rome. Due to traffic and long lines, these type of tours were not recommended since our cruise line departed from the port around 7:00 pm. For those reasons, we decided to keep our tour of the areas closer to the port. There are solutions to this dilemma whereas some cruise participants caught the ship in Rome on Wednesday, after spending a few days there. The variety of choices for the different ports of call can decrease the cost of your cruise as well. These choices can lower the cost to less than $800 per person on the Epic.
Civitavecchia, Italy Was Cultured and Alluring
For our #Civitavecchia, Italy tour we decided to walk downtown. It was interesting to arrive on a major street and see two armed militia men near one of the stores. Unfortunately, the mistake was made when someone attempted to photograph them. Without hesitation, they approached the individual and said, "No photos." One of the armed men seem as if he wanted to confiscate the camera from the tourist.
We continued past the vendors down to the coastal area where families enjoyed the rocky beaches under the ornate and unique historical archways. Restaurants lined the coastal boardwalk. We decided to eat lunch at the quaint little Italian Caprasecca Al Mare Ristorante. They had just gotten fresh lobsters, crabs, mussels, clams and fish delivered. We ordered the fresh fish dish which included fried squid. The mozzarella and fresh tomato dish was also delicious. Afterward, we did a little shopping and strolled back to catch the shuttle to the cruise line.
We Dined At Cagney's Steakhouse On the Epic
Later that evening after a nap we had dinner at the incredible Cagney's Steakhouse on Deck 7. We had made reservations which is suggested for all the specialty restaurants. This allowed us to be placed by the windows. We watched the sun cascade beautifully across the sea as we left the port of Civitavecchia. This signature restaurant offers a variety of selections. We started with their baked potato soup and pork bellies. These dishes are an absolute must have. We followed our appetizers with their delish prime rib and surf and turf platter. We had cognac for drinks after dinner. For dessert we had crème brulee and a beautiful mixture of fruit with a cream topping. This was truly one of our best meals on the ship. There was no charge for these meals or drinks with the specialty dining package. They asked if we were celebrating anything special. The waitress suggested that she would sing happy anniversary to us. We declined as she then suggested a free cake would be sent to our cabin as a part of our anniversary celebration. Our day in this Civitavecchia had been very relaxing and inspirational.
The cost of a 7 Night Mediterranean Cruise with Freestyle dining and beverage package and nonstop round trip airfare directly to the port where ship departs.
What do you think a 7 Night Mediterranean Cruise with freestye dining and beverage package and nonstop round trip airfare should cost?
Livorno (Florence & Pisa), Italy Was Our Third Port of CallClick thumbnail to view full-size
Livorno, ( Florence & Pisa), Italy Was the Third Port We Visited
Sounds of Italian music played in our ears as we passed through the beautiful city of Livorno, Italy. Neatly dressed women and handsomely dressed men stood near their businesses as we passed them in our red bus with an open top. "Between 1590 and 1603, the city of Livorno was established with laws that was directed to Jews that lived freely up to period of unity of Italy," stated the recording on the tour bus. The recording also mentioned, "a sort of fish soup is the symbol of Livorno. Cachuco, is a fish and then a strong coffee with lemon zest," was also famous with a lot of the residents in Livorno. There was also a discussion about the popularity of the expressionist movement which influenced their artwork in area museums.
Spectacular Mountain Views From A Sky Car
The very best part of our visit was our ride on a sky car up to the mountains which overlooked the delightful area of Livorno. Florence, Italy is about a two hour drive from Livorno. How sad to hear through news stories recently that such beautiful towns as Livorno, that exist in mountainous regions of Italy were devastated by an earthquake. More than 250 were killed and numerous historical sites were destroyed in the towns of #Amatrice and #Pescara Del Tronto, Italy. We send our love and prayers out to the residents of these once beautiful, historical regions.
The Livorno, Italy tour was about $150 which we purchased before our trip from the excursion website that is not directly connected with the Norwegian Cruise Line. You can also wait until you are on the ship to order your excursions as well. The prices are pretty much the same. Other excursions such as the Ultimate Florence & Pisa-David & Tower Climb, is about 326 Euros, Florence & Wine Tasting at a Tuscan Castle, is 155 Euros, Pisa & A Taste of Tuscany, is 167 Euros and a Pisa Trolley Ride is 96 Euros. All of these tours and how many hours they are as well as cost, can be obtained on a brochure from Guest Services and Shore Excursion desk of the ship.
Things to bring for Mediterranean Cruise
one formal outfit
hat for excursions
Your passport is vital
Monte Carlo, Eze and La Turbie, Was Our Absolute Favorite TourClick thumbnail to view full-size
Monte Carlo and Nice, France Were Intriguing Tours
The Monte Carlo, Eze and Nice, France was my favorite location to visit. "Nice, capital of the #French Riviera, skirts the pebbly shores of the Bale des Anges. Founded by the Greeks and later a retreat for 19th-century #Europe's elite, the city today balances old-world decadence with modern urban energy," expressed Mobile-friendly. Eze, is located in "southeastern France and is not far from city of Nice. Your jaw will drop at the gorgeous view of the Mediterranean from Eze, a charming hilltop town on the Cote d' Azur. The tiny village of Eze, is one of the jewels of the south of France which is probably why it is chosen as a holiday spot. . ." Tragically, in the news recently a total of eighty four were killed and more than two hundred injured as a truck driver drove through a crowd during a celebration in #Nice. What critical times we truly live in.
Monte Carlo Is An Absolute Jewel
#Monte Carlo, is in the Principality of Monaco. Spectacular shoreline views, Hotel de Paris and the world class casino is surrounded by a beautiful garden with top designer boutiques such as #Cartier, Prada and Chanel. We walked in the Chanel boutique and was graciously greeted by well dressed ladies and gents. Professional politeness rolled off their tongues which was followed by bright smiles. They explained that there was a second floor which we casually visited. There was an exquisite cape that was shown to me for a mere $2,000. I smiled and thanked the well dressed saleslady to leave the cape where it was because we were there as tourist and nothing more. Videos of gorgeous models constantly played on screens throughout the store. The models marched forth dressed in winter styles. The saleswoman went on to explain that this was the winter collection. We thanked the distinguished ladies and gents as we humbly left the store. It was interesting to see where the wealthy shop.
Extravagant Wealth and Amusing Scenery Captivated Our Attention
Wikipedia mentioned that, "Monte Carlo (literally "Mount Charles") is situated on a prominent escarpment at the base of the Maritime Alps along the French Riviera. Near the western and of the quarter is the world-famous Place du Casino, the gambling center which has made Monte Carlo an international byword for the extravagant display and reckless dispersal of wealth.'" We do not gamble but visiting this area and seeing this impressive casino structure from the outside with its exquisite appearance was interesting.
Our driver David, had given us an hour to walk around Monte Carlo and explore its sights and food. After going into this elegant restaurant to use its white marbled bathrooms, we decided to get some delicious sherbet which exuded from a cone. It was refreshing on a hot day. Now, it was time to return to our vehicle so that we could head over the Nice, France where we toured a perfume factory with scintillating smells that filled the air as we approached the building. Our tour guide at the facility talked about how perfume was made from a variety of flowers. She also suggested that the best way to protect your perfumes is to leave them in the original container or box they came in. Rather than purchase perfume at the factory, David, our driver suggested that we should purchase it at another shop downtown.
Taking A Taxi Was Beneficial For Sightseeing in Monte Carlo & Eze, France
Our tour with David, as our driver throughout Eze and Monte Carlo, was compelling. For four hours in a private, impeccably clean vehicle with the comforts of a limo, we paid about 150 Euros per person. This excursion was purchased at the port once we got off the tender or shuttle that we came over on from the cruise line. It was the best decision that we made because although we had booked this same tour through Shore Excursions Group, we missed our tour which seemed more rigid with restrictions on dress due to visit of a religious or memorial site, where your knees and shoulders had to be covered. We realized that waiting until we arrived at some of these locations and just hire a taxi was cheaper than pre-booking our excursions. You have the privacy of your own vehicle and most drivers can serve as tour guides with an abundance of information about the areas. We enjoyed this excursion more than any other.
Marseille (Provence), France Was Our Final Port Call On SaturdayClick thumbnail to view full-size
Marseille, France A Seaside Gem
We arrived in the last port of call on Saturday which was Marseille (Providence), France. Once we left the ship, taxi cabs were available through cruise staff members. For a total of 50 Euros, we had a personal driver from the area who gave us a guided tour for two hours . More than five minutes into our trip, we stopped for a quick photo. With tremendous excitement we greeted our brothers and sisters in Marseille, France. Our driver was amazed that we knew people there. We explained that Jehovah's Witnesses are all over the world. No matter where we go in the world, we are brothers and sister who love each other because of the teachings from God's word the Bible from our Heavenly Father. After hugs and cheek to cheek kisses, we returned to our taxi and headed up to Notre-Dame de la Garde. It was situated on a mountain top that grandly overlooks the city. Numerous visitors were at this location so we did not stay very long.
The Exotic Sites and History of Marseille, France
This unique and exotic city has an amazing source of history. "Marseille's answer to Alcatraz, this brooding Island-fortress-prison has hosted victims of religious persecution, anti-royalists, revolutionaries and Alexander Dumas (fictional) hero, the #Count of Monte Cristo. Very often adapted for film and television, it tells of Edmond Dantes, a sailor unjustly accused of treason on the eve of his wedding and held up for 14 years before becoming the only inmate to escape by swimming across to the city. Today, his exploit inspires an annual swimming race, the Monte Cristo Challenge. In 1890 the prison was closed and the Island opened to the public."
Marseille, became a part of France in 1481, "but the city retained in theory the right to provide her own defense. The new Chateau was to many people an unwelcome reminder of royal, Parisian authority. This was a dark period of history for Marseille, France. Today, this Mediterranean city, ". . .is the country's second largest city, after Paris, with a population of 852,516 in 2012, . . . Marseille was the most important trading center in the region and the main commercial port of the French Empire," stated Wikipedia.
Pitbull's, video for Norwegian Cruise Line entitle, "Freedom," featured on YouTube.
Final Photos of Spain, Italy and France
Our Seven Night Mediterranean Cruise Was An Outstanding Experience
During our Epic cruise on Norwegian, delicious food was served and top entertainment was presented. Such performances as #The Epic Beatles, Piano Bar Music with Ian West, Burn The Floor, The Supreme Dream Girls, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Howl at the Moon, Cirque Dreams & Dinner. Other activities included Open Mic Karaoke, Late Night Dance Party Music with our DJ, The Perfect Couple Game Show, Deal or No Deal Game Show and numerous shopping facilities within the ship. Some of the best five star specialty restaurants. Many tourists acknowledged that this was their first time on the Epic and they had not been to this part of the Mediterranean before. Ann, from #Scotland said, "This is the best cruise I have ever been on." We totally agree with Ann.
Our 30th Wedding Anniversary Celebration, was a tremendous success. This Mediterranean Cruise on the Epic of Norwegian Cruise Line, was awesome. From the excellent accommodations to the appetizing food. We have travelled on numerous cruises and this was one of the best. The ability to see such dazzling locations throughout Spain, Italy and France was delightful. We are fortunate to have been given such an exquisite place to live called the earth, from our Grand Creator. To discover more about our amazing Creator and his remarkable creation of the earth go to, www.jw.org
Our appreciation and respect for the earth should constantly be exhibited through recognition of creation, thanksgiving and prayer to God. How thankful we are to have had this experience. Good job Norwegian Cruise Line!
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