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Friday, March 2, 2012

Our Big COSTA Cruise

A couple of fall cruising seasons ago, my husband and I did something we've never done before...we went cruising...and we chose a cruise with COSTA Cruise lines, out of Genoa, Italy to the Western Mediterranean.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.
The idea of seeing Mediterranean ports from a ship felt appropriate, after all, these ports grew out of days of ocean travel.  The itinerary that I liked was the one that hit upon all the ancient highlights, starting from the port of departure where Christoph Colombo left Italia to sail the oceans blue, through the straits of Gibraltar and back.  We docked in Malaga, Casablanca, Cadiz, Lisbon, Valencia and Barcelona.
These ships are big. How big you ask?  The COSTA Magica, which was our vessel for 10 days, holds 3500 passengers plus double that in crew to serve you.  And they serve you and serve you 24/7.  We also became students during the cruise, filling our wise old heads with more information than our elder bodies could absorb.  Sitting for hours, listening to even the most scintillating presenters, is difficult for seniors and juniors alike.  Throw in a few buffets between sessions...you get the picture.
Dining can be casual, buffet, snack bar, small fancy restaurant or big group dining with layers of seatings, in the main dining room, as seen in this photo above. You choose your menu and your table mates and order your beverages at each meal- all six of them!  It is a virtual floating feeding trough.
When in ports of call, your can choose from various optional day tours, which can be relatively short or up to 10 hours, based on length of stay in each port.  Arriving in Casablanca for instance, a long bus ride to the interior cities, such as Fez or Marrakesh, may take 4 hours each way on a bus with walking tours lasting a couple of hours at your destination.
Our draw to the cruise in the first place, was the added attraction of a fascinating Scientific American line-up of professors at the top in their fields of specialty, on topics of current scientific interest.  Here we are enjoying Dr. Jeannette Norden discuss Parkinson's disease of the human brain.
The very first gathering on board the COSTA Magica was an evacuation drill, complete with your personal flotation devices, found in the closet in your cabin.  You must read all the rules and regulations right after finding your cabin, and before you even unpack.  How to put on the vest, secure it, lights and whistles, and which stairway and deck position you dutifully go directly to, and stand in a line with your group... and listen up!  These will be your 158 fellow passengers in an emergency.
Here I am looking out over old Lisbon warehouses, as we find our berth in port for a long day. As I remember, there were a dozen stories on our ship with multiple elevators extending the heights, as well as 3 pools, 8 bars, a huge theater, several dance floors,  and a casino.  
As we were crossing the opening of the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, from Morocco to Portugal, we had rough water, and I clearly remember wondering if these floating cities ever flounder...how do they stay afloat?  But then, I know now that they can flounder at the helm of an idiot pilot.
Remember to say I love you... often... to your loved ones.  And buy travel insurance. 
Blessings to the families of the COSTA Concordia victims and survivors.

3 comments:

  1. sistah - i never realized that was a costa cruise you were on.....at least your captain ran the safety drill before you left port. great post and great memories!

    by the way i love your new header and overall blog look - tres chic!!

    xoxo
    panda

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  2. Fortunately no misadventure for you, and what sounds like a fascinating time.

    I've never thought much about a cruise until recently. I'd like to head up the "Inside Passage" from Vancouver (Canada) to Alaska, and back. Maybe. Some day.

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  3. Sistah ~ yes, we thought it might be a good one, since the smaller group we were with chose it over others, but still prefer a smaller ship with less opulence. Remember the Turkish gullets? That's a nice way to travel.

    Rob-bear ~ I hope this doesn't discourage you from finding a smaller cruise through the "inside passage", because it is really the only way to go. Sometimes seeing from ports of call is better than over the road or in the air. Alaska is the last American state I have on my bucket list to visit - so sooner than later before the oil rigs crowd the scenery and the Arctic Passage is open. god that is a scary thought!

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