Initial impressions

DSC08510rOur cabin (or to be PC our stateroom)



The balcony was a decent size, with a table, two chairs and two foot stools.


The Atrium or Piazza as it is called in this class of ship, covered three decks in the centre of the vessel.

Each early evening a female string quartet,

DSC08809ror a small jazz band


or a piano player


would supply background music.

One afternoon we had four players from the Chinese National Orchestra, who played a short piece to advertise their evening performances.


On our second evening, while sailing between Naples and Santorini it was the first of four formal nights anticipated for the twenty-eight day cruise. This first formal evening was the evening when the Master and his senior staff were presented to the passengers, over drinks of course!

DSC08580rThe Italian Master had been in command for the past seven months during the fitting out procedure and the first few weeks cruising around the Mediterranean. He left the ship for home leave when we arrived in Dubai, and was replaced by a British Master.

DSC08574rThe Staff Captain was British, but he did not take over command in Dubai.
All the senior people, which included engineers, doctor, hotel staff, chefs, were presented to the passengers.

DSC08571rThe Champaign fountain had been built during the afternoon and I was pleased that the sea was calm . . .

DSC08581rThe maître d’ using two more bottles of Champaign for the trickle down fountain. Free welcome aboard drinks for all . . . . . . .
Most people dressed accordingly for a formal evening – dinner or dark suits, and the ladies in evening dresses.

DSC08573rMaureen (my wife) on the left – Will Wood from New Zealand, his wife Mei has yet to arrive, John & Fiona Cuthbert on the right. Both Will & John have recently retired after a life time at sea – both held command.
The badge on John’s cummerbund was presented to him by the officers of HMS Northumberland, during his and HMS Northumberland’s time in the Falkland Islands. John came from the Newcastle area in the UK.
I booked Maureen & I on the cruise and mentioned this to Will, who asked if he and his wife Mei, could come along, which pleased me greatly. We then ‘ganged’ up and persuaded John, who still lives in the UK to also join us.
The three of us joined HMS Conway together in September 1960, and have kept in touch off and on during the last fifty-seven years, so it was really great to meet up once again for the cruise to Singapore. A bit of a busman’s holiday for Will & John.

Knowing that we would have four ‘formal’ evenings I splashed out and bought a new suit – the original man in black. It was an ordinary suit because I no longer attend functions that require a dinner suit (not since the early 1980’s),

DSC08584rbut I knew that I would blend in with a plain black suit.

On unpacking the suit in our hotel in Civitavecchia, to hang it and avoid creases, I found out that I had only packed the jacket. The suit was in a special carry bag and I’d forgotten that the pants had been sent away for a small alteration, and on their return I had left them on their own hanger instead of under the jacket . . . .
I visited every possible shop in Civitavecchia looking for a pair of black pants. They had black pants, but not my size.
Fortunately during our ‘walk about’ in Naples we passed a clothing store and I was able to buy a pair that matched the black of the jacket. . . . an expensive mistake, but I now have an extra pair of pants that matches the suit.


A small shop near the above location saved the day for me.

Civitavecchia – the seaport for Rome

Civitavecchia pronounced ch-ee-v-ee-t-aa-v-EH-k-k-ee-aa

On arrival at Hotel Traghetto, which is a family run hotel,  we were shown to our room on the second floor. The room boasted a small balcony, which we didn’t use.
I’d booked us for three nights, but two days, just incase anything happened to our luggage. Having seen two ladies distressed over missing airline bags when joining a cruise ship a couple of years ago, I didn’t want to leave Italy for a 28 day cruise without our bags!
The hotel cost was not all that great in the scheme of thing, (3 * hotel), but it gave me peace of mind. As it happened everything went to plan and we were able to enjoy a couple of days sight seeing.
We were very happy with the hotel and the friendly English speaking staff. It was clean, convenient for the port, yet close enough to the town centre that we could walk to the main areas within ten minutes.
DSC08449rOur room – a double bed and two single beds, which allowed us to spread out.
The following morning we decided to visit the local market –

Always pleasant to scan the food of the locals to see what they have but you don’t.
The market also had a fish section, which is not my favourite area, but had to photograph the crustaceans, shown below, because I didn’t have any idea what they were, other than some form of shell fish. They seemed popular with the locals.


The cheese section was attractive, but the cheeses seemed to all look alike – I prefer an English cheese display with the white of Cheshire cheese, the yellow of Cheddar, the off white of Shropshire Blue, the red of Derby cheese etc.

Although it was not summer the weather was very kind to us with a blue sky and enough heat in the sun for me to wear shorts.

DSC08456rLooking towards Fort Michelangelo from along the sea front.


DSC08457rYou’d think that we had the place to ourselves but there were enough people around that we didn’t feel lonely.

DSC08459rI had a feeling that this sun bather must be British  . . . he could well have been lonely.


A cold beer for me and a soft drink for Maureen over looking the water – what more could you want – it was quite hot in the sun.

Evening meal once again overlooking the water – this area was full of life and I had to wait for a quiet moment to take the picture – without the passing crowds.

The following day we checked the harbour on the off chance that our ‘ship had come in . . .’  it hadn’t, but the short holiday made us think that ‘our ship had come in . . ‘

An evening stroll along the prom after dinner – how British can two ex POMs be . . .

The Majestic Princess had arrived, and a free shuttle, supplied by the town, ferried us from outside our hotel to the ship. I clicked the above picture over the driver’s shoulder.

Our twenty eight day cruise was about to begin. . . . .


Dubai to Rome


Breakfast was in the hotel, after which, we were ferried by private Emirate Airline car to the airport, for the final leg of our journey to Rome.

DSC08421rDeparture area in Dubai Airport – very clean and impressive.

We passed through emigration & security & boarded a train for the short ride to the satellite area.
Once in the satellite area we approached the bank of lifts that took us up to the ‘boarding’ area – which was also the shopping area and airline lounges.


Behind the lifts they had computer controlled fountains to keep you amused while in the lift  . . .

Once inside the Emirates business class lounge we realised how large this area is in comparison to Emirates Sydney – it was huge.

Just one small area of the lounge which contained much of the food and drink.

Dedicated area to Gate A 12 (our departure gate), which is within the main lounge area.

Power and internet sockets at every seat – if you wish a waitress will bring you coffee, just ask.


A view of the public shopping area below – picture taken from within the business class lounge.

When called we made our way to boarding.
Once again, we had ‘staggered’ seats – I was behind Maureen, for the much shorter flight of six hours to Rome.


As expected we were offered Champaign, along with menus for lunch.
The airport was busy so we had to wait our turn before turning on to the runway for our take-off.

DSC08441rView from the nose camera as we made our take-off run.

Once airborne the cabin staff started preparation for lunch. First course shown below, smoked halibut.

This was followed by chicken Baharat, with Arabic seven spice – the problem was that I forgot to photograph the main dish, and the sweet course, before eating.


But the above shows that I liked the pudding . . . . before the coffee.

On arriving at Rome Airport we found our way to the Emirates chauffer area where we met our driver, and because we were not staying in Rome city, but in Civitavecchia, which is the port for Rome, we had to pay an additional fee for the excess kilometers to the port. Considering the cost of a taxi and the level of service I was ‘happy’ to pay the fee. The driver kept a steady speed of about 130 km per hour (81 mph), so the whole trip only took us about 50 minutes.

The trip was very smooth, comfortable and virtually soundless, so conversation within the car was easy.