On the 18th of September, Abby and Rusty flew on a KLM 747 from LAX to Amsterdam, Netherlands. After 11 hours in the air, we transferred to a 737 and made our final two-hour hop down to Barcelona, Spain. Arising early on Saturday the 20th, these two travelers set out to explore this enchanting city. Then, on Sunday afternoon, we boarded Holland America’s youngest ship, the Nieuw Amsterdam. With California friends Katherine and Steve Anderson, (and an additional 2,000 other pampered passengers) we proceeded to comfortably cruise Europe’s southern coast for the next 24 days, stopping in 13 other picturesque ports. In the following photos, we’ve attempted to give you a tantalizing taste of this magnificent Mediterranean wonderland that Abby and Rusty were blessed to briefly visit.
Overview map: Our 24-day northern Mediterranean cruise aboard Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam.
Abby and Rusty enjoy an amazing Mediterranean Autumn.
Barcelona, Spain: We join Katherine and Steve on a double-decker bus
Barcelona, Spain: The Bull Ring.
Barcelona, Spain: Old City balconies.
Barcelona, Spain: Beautiful urban gardens.
Barcelona, Spain: An artistic park gate.
Barcelona, Spain: New City features wild new architectural styles.
Barcelona, Spain: The Torre Agbar Tower (aka The Bullet Building)
Barcelona, Spain: The Tower lit at night with changing patterns of 4500 LEDs.
Barcelona, Spain: The International District.
Barcelona, Spain: Proud residents showing Catalan province flags.
Barcelona, Spain: Our first view of Gaudi’s unfinished Holy Family Church.
Barcelona, Spain: Details of those Gaudi spires.
Barcelona, Spain: One of three church facades.
Barcelona, Spain: The Passion of Christ entrance.
Barcelona, Spain: Details showing Gaudi’s genius.
Barcelona, Spain: More details showing Gaudi’s humor.
Barcelona, Spain: Closeup of Gaudi’s Casa Batllo.
Barcelona, Spain: Gaudi’s whimsical 30-acre Güell Park.
Barcelona Spain: Güell Park’s HypoStyle pavilion with four-seasons ceiling.
Barcelona Spain: Güell Park’s Portico.
Barcelona Spain: Güell Park’s grand view of the city.
Barcelona, Spain: Mount Tibidabo’s wild mix of old cathedral and new amusement park.
Barcelona, Spain: We take a Ramblas ramble.
Barcelona, Spain: Katherine spots an unusual store – but it was only selling specialty candies!
Barcelona, Spain: Ramblas museum featured one-person floats used during Catalan festival.
Barcelona, Spain: On the Ramblas, Rusty approaches an amazing archangel.
Barcelona, Spain: Will Rusty be enchanted by this beautiful being?
Barcelona, Spain: On the Ramblas, Abby gets detained by a demonic dragon!
Barcelona, Spain: Near the Ramblas, we go into the Gothic Quarter.
Barcelona, Spain: Near the Ramblas, The Gothic Quarter’s ancient alleyways.
Barcelona, Spain: Gothic gargoyles.
Barcelona, Spain: Plaza Catalunya’s bubble man.
Barcelona, Spain: Plaza Catalunya’s folk dance recital.
Barcelona, Spain: The harbor monument to Columbus.
Barcelona, Spain: Columbus seems to implore us to see more of this world,
so off we go!
Hasta luego Barcelona!
As our ship entered the Mediterranean for the first time, these dolphins provided us with a spectacular sendoff.
Marseille, France: Two old forts flank the Old Port.
Marseille, France: The New Port and city center.
Marseille, France: Abby and Rusty take their own whirlwind waking tour, starting with this fortress church.
Marseille, France: The church’s caretaker of the cats.
Marseille, France: Fisher terminal and the catch of the day.
Marseille, France: Ferocious-looking ribbon fish.
Marseille, France: Mysterious mirrored bus stop.
Marseille, France: Cone head.
Marseille, France: We explore the new exhibit
at the Chamber of Commerce building.
Marseille, France: A celebration of the history of France’s primary port.
Marseille, France: A classic 1940’s cruise ship.
Marseille, France: Beautiful bronze deep-sea diver’s helmet.
Marseille, France: Abby marvels at this early underwater space suit.
Marseille, France: We visit the international vendors’ markets.
Marseille, France: A tray of tempting pastries.
Marseille, France: A hike up the highest hill to the Notre Dame de la Garde.
Marseille, France: A spectacular bell tower.
Marseille, France: Wonderful stonework.
Marseille, France: Opulent interior.
Marseille, France: The most artistic telescope we’d ever seen
(designed by Jules Verne?!).
Marseille, France: It provided a terrific view of the red-tile rooftops…
Marseille, France: As well as the Marseille ultramodern soccer stadium.
Livorno, Italy: Only a few hours to visit the Venezia Quarter.
Livorno, Italy: The “New” Fortress built in 1590.
Livorno, Italy: A boat in the moat.
Livorno, Italy: Abby gets her bearings on the steps of the theater.
Livorno, Italy: Abby strikes a statuesque pose.
Livorno, Italy: Go green – get a bicycle!
Livorno, Italy: This statue is known as the ‘Four Moors’ and honors Livornos’ defeat of pirates.
Livorno, Italy: Incredible detail of captive North African pirate.
Rome, Italy: Our guide, Pete, snaps the four explorers at the Palace of Mussolini (also known as the Wedding Cake).
Rome, Italy: Mussolini wanted a palace more magnificent than previous emperors, but he never got to live here.
Rome, Italy: The only rain showers on our entire trip
dampen these Roman streets.
Rome, Italy: The she-wolf nursing Romulus and Remus.
Rome, Italy: Like a giant cake, Rome was constructed one layer on top of another as it was repeatedly ruined and then rebuilt.
Rome, Italy: Ruins of the Roman Forum where matters of state were discussed.
Rome, Italy: Our guide, Pete, shows us a model depicting the layout
of ancient Rome.
Rome, Italy: The remains of the Flavian Amphitheater,
commonly known as the Colosseum.
Rome, Italy: Drawing of the completed amphitheater and the colossal statue of the emperor that gave its nickname.
Rome, Italy: Ancient advertising.
Rome, Italy: The retractable rain awning once available to Roman spectators.
Rome, Italy: Gladiators’ gateway.
Rome, Italy: the floor of the Colosseum had trap doors with elevators to raise fighters and animals from below.
Rome, Italy: This sports complex had multilevel entry and exit corridors,
just like ones today.
Rome, Italy: Detail drawing of Colosseum access design.
Rome, Italy: The Pantheon, Rome’s titanic temple honoring all its Olympic gods.
Rome, Italy: Crowds moving through the Pantheon’s massive bronze doors.
Rome, Italy: The dome of the Pantheon, built in 126 A.D., is still the world’s largest coffered concrete dome. It forms a perfect half sphere with a height
and width of 142 feet.
Rome, Italy: Emperor Constantine’s Arch dedicated to
the first “Christian” emperor.
Vatican City: The Swiss Guards.
Vatican City: The balcony where the Pope greets Catholic crowds
in St. Peter’s Square.
Vatican City: St. Peter’s Square. No Pope Francis to greet us today.
Vatican City: The Crusaders collected ancient art and treasure from the middle east and took them back to the Pope. This lion is one of several Egyptian monuments surrounding the plaza.
Vatican City: Modern art pieces are also regularly purchased and placed here – remind you of the Death Star?
Vatican City: St. Peter’s Basilica – The Pope’s private church.
Vatican City: Just a little place for the Pope to pray.
Vatican City: A sculptural detail – so this is an angel?
Vatican City: One of Michelangelo’s most lifelike sculptures:
Mary with the Body of Jesus.
Naples, Italy: New Castle and the Royal Palace of Capodimonte up the hill.
Italy’s Amalfi Coast: The scenic winding road to Sorrento.
Sorrento, Italy: A holy traffic cop.
Sorrento, Italy: Sunny church facade.
Italy’s Amalfi Coast: The end of the road.
Italy’s Amalfi Coast: We visit a master wood-inlay artist and meet his cat.
Italy’s Amalfi Coast: Our great Italian guide, Claudia (CBM tours), at another roadside attraction.
Italy’s Amalfi Coast: Mary of Amalfi prays for our safety from Italian drivers.
Italy’s Amalfi Coast: Incognito lemon.
Italy’s Amalfi Coast: Festive farmer’s market tempts the adventurous eater.
The remains of Mount Vesuvius and the ruins of Pompeii.
Pompeii: Once a wealthy resort and seaport.
Pompeii: Shops for craftsmen and international merchants.
Pompeii: An early fast-food restaurant with thermos-like soup pots serving passing shoppers.
Pompeii: Elevated crosswalk with spaces for chariot wheels and kept clean by daily wash down with diverted river water.
Pompeii: Details of elaborate cast column decorations.
Pompeii: The volcanic ash preserved this home’s colorful frescos.
Pompeii: Details of the wall art.
Pompeii: Images from long ago preserved in plaster.
Pompeii: A portrait of the owner?
Pompeii: One of the body casts of buried victims of the volcano.
Pompeii: Many houses featured an entry with sky-lit pool.
Pompeii: Some of the vaulted ceilings survived the ash but the heat and gasses killed any occupants.
Pompeii: Ceiling details.
Pompeii: A whimsical fountain. Homes had running water and sewage disposal.
Pompeii: This theater featured performances and government meetings and offered outstanding acoustics.
Corfu, Greece: Corfu and all of Greece have fallen on hard times with high unemployment and civil unrest.
Corfu, Greece: Abby climbs up to see the view from the lighthouse.
Corfu, Greece: Rusty enters another old fortress built to ward of Moorish pirates.
Corfu, Greece: This symbol of St. Mark means that the Venetian empire once controlled this port.
Corfu, Greece: Abby enjoys her snack of baklava and sweet Greek coffee.
Kotor, Montenegro: Nieuw Amsterdam anchors in the deep waters of this Mediterranean fjord.
Kotor, Montenegro: The sun is just rising high enough to illuminate the granite cliffs above this magical medieval town.
Kotor, Montenegro: Notice the stone walls rising along the ridge built to keep out southbound barbarians.
Kotor, Montenegro: Another stone plaque indicating one-time control by the Venetian navy.
Kotor, Montenegro: View from the town square with more mountain fortresses in the distance.
Kotor, Montenegro: This symbol was said to represent the decimation from the Black Plague.
Kotor, Montenegro: An attractive swordfish sign for a merchant selling nautical antiques.
Kotor, Montenegro: These narrow alleys were built to confuse invaders and allow deadly defense from above.
Kotor, Montenegro: Around a corner, we found this artist working in the soft morning light.
Kotor, Montenegro: Ancient stone steps worn down by generations of fleet feet.
Kotor, Montenegro: One of the village’s dozens of antique shops.
Kotor, Montenegro: Perhaps for protection from rats, the town loves its cats.
Kotor, Montenegro: One of many Kotor cats.
Athens, Greece: Due to windy weather, our ship docks early in Athens, so Abby and Rusty taxi to the National Archeological Museum to see their extensive chronologically arranged collection of ancient art.
Athens, Greece: 5000-year-old Cycladic figures now look very modern.
Athens, Greece: This little figure is called “The Harpist.”
Athens, Greece: Minoan vase.
Athens, Greece: Partial fresco with hunting dogs and wild boar.
Athens, Greece: How could an early potter throw something this massive?
Athens, Greece: When form follows function, beauty results.
Athens, Greece: Gold provided a malleable medium for early artists.
Athens, Greece: The bull was sacred to early Greeks.
Athens, Greece: Golden lion?
Athens, Greece: If he’s throwing a trident it’s Poseidon, a lightning bolt it’s Zeus.
Athens, Greece: The young athlete god, Apollo.
Athens, Greece: Amazingly accurate 3-D portrait of a Greek VIP.
Athens, Greece: More mastery of facial details.
Athens, Greece: A highly defined hand.
Athens, Greece: This dynamic sculpture is known as “The Jockey.”
Athens, Greece: We paused in this section that featured cemetery memorial artwork.
Athens, Greece: A faithful companion.
Athens, Greece: The hilltop fortress of the Acropolis.
Athens, Greece: Abby takes in the view from the top, remembering when she lived here summer ’69.
Athens, Greece: One of the world’s oldest cities, Greece’s capital now has a population of over 3 million.
Athens, Greece: The Agora (ancient meeting hall and center for commerce) still has its original roof intact.
Athens, Greece: The 5000-seat Odeon of Herodes Atticus, a musical performance center, is still used today.
Athens, Greece: We start our tour of the Acropolis temples — The Parthenon, The Erechtheion, and The Temple of Athena Nike.
Athens, Greece: This is the most famous temple, The Parthenon, dedicated to Athena, goddess of Athens. It was nearly totally destroyed in a battle when Venetian artillery blew up the Ottoman powder magazine hidden inside.
Athens, Greece: Details of the Parthenon’s left facade.
Athens, Greece: Details of the Parthenon’s right facade — Note the horse heads peeking out from under the roof.
Athens, Greece: We next walk to the marvelous new Acropolis Museum.
Athens, Greece: Below the museum’s entrance is a newly excavated archeological site.
Athens, Greece: This scale model of the Parthenon shows its architectural perfection.
Athens, Greece: Scale model of the Parthenon’s front roof triangle sculptures.
Athens, Greece: Detail of the front roof triangle sculptures that honor Athena.
Athens, Greece: Details showing how the horse heads would have looked.
Athens, Greece: Abby explores the Plaka, the old neighborhood at the foot of the Acropolis, where she lived in 1969. She was disappointed to see how dirty and graffiti-covered it had become.
Athens, Greece: While not the same house where Abby once lived, this one is very similar.
Istanbul, Turkey: The Galata Tower, built in 1308, dominates the skyline of the city’s European side.
Istanbul, Turkey: Abby and Rusty join the crowds crossing and fishing from the Galata Bridge. It spans a bay called the Golden Horn. Shops and restaurants line the bottom layer.
Istanbul, Turkey: We walk as far as the Sirkeci Train Station, fabled terminus to the Paris-to-Istanbul Orient Express.
Istanbul, Turkey: Next morning, our SRM guide, Senem Kotooglu, leads us to an electric tram headed to the heart of Istanbul.
Istanbul, Turkey: With only one day to see this sprawling city that spans the Bosphorus Strait from Europe to Asia, Senem conducts a four-hour walk that takes in the major attractions within Istanbul’s historic Old Town.
Istanbul, Turkey: On our ride, we pass this striking stairway.
Istanbul, Turkey: Our first stop is the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, but better known as The Blue Mosque.
Istanbul, Turkey: One of the Blue Mosque’s six minarets.
Istanbul, Turkey: Entrance is free but lines can be long. Everyone must take off their shoes and women cover heads with scarves.
Istanbul, Turkey: Muslim men wash at this fountain before entering the mosque. Some tourist women wear full burkas.
Istanbul, Turkey: This mosque features a series of blue domes and golden pinnacles.
Istanbul, Turkey: The mosque’s golden light floods in through dozens of stained-glass windows.
Istanbul, Turkey: Pillars, walls and ceiling are covered in repeating mosaic patterns.
Istanbul, Turkey: As we walk to our next sight, we pass a vendor displaying Turkish pastries.
Istanbul, Turkey: This stack contains giant sesame pretzels.
Istanbul, Turkey: Katherine declared the pretzels delicious.
Istanbul, Turkey: Next stop is the Hagia Sophia museum. It was first the Constantinople Orthodox Christian Church’s version of the Vatican. After the Ottoman conquest, it was converted into a mosque. Its original Christian mosaics and iconography have been restored and it now serves as an historic museum.
Istanbul, Turkey: View up into the museum’s massive dome.
Istanbul, Turkey: A very odd-looking angel.
Istanbul, Turkey: Some of the Turkish treasures on display – an emerald-encrusted dagger.
Istanbul, Turkey: A golden tea service.
Istanbul, Turkey: Items from Ottoman royalty.
Istanbul, Turkey: Below the Old City, we descend into this series of ancient cisterns for storing water.
Istanbul, Turkey: Senem next introduces us to one of her favorite restaurants for Turkish coffee and dessert.
Istanbul, Turkey: Our final destination is the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market.
Istanbul, Turkey: This magnificent indoor mall attracts locals and tourists alike to its colorful collection of storefronts.
Istanbul, Turkey: Gold and jewelry merchants claim dramatic discounts.
Istanbul, Turkey: Aladdin would love all these magical lamps.
Istanbul, Turkey: Some shops feature both old and new brass and copper kitchen equipment.
Istanbul, Turkey: This fine fellow sold Turkish Meerschaum pipes.
Istanbul, Turkey: Here are extraordinary varieties of bobbles, bangles and beads.
Istanbul, Turkey: Belly dancing paraphernalia are on prominent display.
Istanbul, Turkey: Fancy footwear can also be found here.
Istanbul, Turkey: Want to satisfy a sweet tooth? Look no farther than Turkish Delight!
Istanbul, Turkey: The sights and smells of the Spice Market overwhelm our senses.
Istanbul, Turkey: exotic oils line the shelves.
Mytilini, Lesbos Island, Greece: A chaotic mixing of East and West, old and new in this street scene from this island city.
Mytilini, Lesbos Island, Greece: Solemn statue of fisherman’s waiting family contrasts with a happy harbor dog.
Mytilini, Lesbos Island, Greece: The Old Fortress guards
the fishing harbor from pirates.
Mytilini, Lesbos Island, Greece: Abby and Rusty explore the Old Fortress.
Mytilini, Lesbos Island, Greece: View of the city’s commercial port.
Kusadasi, Turkey: Another harbor protected from pirates by a formidable fortress.
Ephesus, Turkey: Our tour guide, Ilker with SRM Tours, takes us by van to Ephesus, trading center of the ancient world. Our first stop is in the hills above to see the house where Mary, mother of Jesus, is believed to have lived after her son’s death.
Ephesus, Turkey: This hillside sanctuary is surrounded by peaceful gardens.
Ephesus, Turkey: A major trade center of the ancient world. Abby walks along the ruins of Harbor Road towards the now silted over bay.
Ephesus, Turkey: Excavation of this once major metropolis (500 B.C.) has only just begun.
Ephesus, Turkey: This carving topped a temple gate and represents the goddess Nike presenting a wreath to the victor.
Ephesus, Turkey: This gate is protected from behind by the evil image of Medusa.
Ephesus, Turkey: Visitors marvel at the Library of Celsus, third largest library of the ancient world.
Ephesus, Turkey: The site’s most spectacular ruins, the library once held over 12,000 volumes. The four statues represented Intelligence, Knowledge, Wisdom, and Valor.
Ephesus, Turkey: Just a sample of the hundreds of cats that make the ruins of Ephesus their home.
Ephesus, Turkey: Feline royalty.
Ephesus, Turkey: Another sun worshiper.
Ephesus, Turkey: This mosaic floor resembles a Turkish carpet.
Ephesus, Turkey: Pomegranates now adorn this ancient gateway.
Kusadasi, Turkey: We make a lunch stop at a family business that specializes in weaving and selling stunning Turkish rugs.
Kusadasi, Turkey: Here we see a demonstration of the unique double-knotting technique used in Turkish carpets.
Kusadasi, Turkey: While our guide, Ilker watches, Steve and Abby test the texture of finely woven wool with their bare feet.
Kusadasi, Turkey: Rusty marvels at the lustrous density of woven silk, and also at its breath-taking price.
Santorini Island, Greece: The Nieuw Amsterdam anchors in the bay and tenders take us to the port town of Fira.
Santorini Island, Greece: This is all that remains of an exploded volcano — only the caldera’s rim now rises above the sea. And that isn’t snow, it’s the whitewashed buildings of villages that perch along the crater’s perimeter.
Santorini Island, Greece: From Fira’s harbor, Abby and Rusty hire a boat to take them to island’s north shore.
Santorini Island, Greece: A closer view of our destination, the photogenic village of Oia.
Santorini Island, Greece: An early morning look back from Oia towards Fira.
Santorini Island, Greece: Inside one of the many art galleries that provide the principal income for Oia.
Santorini Island, Greece: Restaurants are the other major business here.
Santorini Island, Greece: Oia residents love their dogs.
Santorini Island, Greece: They all seem to be patient, well behaved, and well cared for.
Santorini Island, Greece: Oia residents have promoted the use of whitewash for walls and blue for church domes.
Santorini Island, Greece: However, a few pastels have worked their way into the classic cliff-hugging architecture.
Santorini Island, Greece: Once, windmills helped power the pumps and millstones, now they’re just decorative.
Santorini Island, Greece: Fine Greek cuisine carefully combines fresh seafood with slowly simmered sauces.
Santorini Island, Greece: Abby and Rusty lunch in Fira on a patio with a Mediterranean view.
Santorini Island, Greece: While Rusty and Abby walk the 700 steps from the village of Fira down to its waterfront, some visitors elect to ride these donkeys instead.
Argostoli, Greece: On this island off the west coast of Greece, we taxi to Lassi Beach and finally get to swim in the Ionian Sea!
Venice, Italy: Our ship actually visits here twice during our Mediterranean cruise, near the middle and at the end. So we’ve combined all of our Venice photos for viewing convenience.
Venice, Italy: Plazza San Morco, the political and religious center with its Campanile (bell tower), the city’s tallest structure.
Venice, Italy: This Piazetta, or little square, has the Doge’s Palace on the left, the library on the right, and the two columns looted from Constantinople — the 2,000-year-old winged lion of St. Mark and St.Theodore vs. a croc.
Venice, Italy: The Correr Museum displays models of the war ships used to establish and maintain the Venetian empire.
Venice, Italy: Interesting trivia — this early gondola features a louvered shutter for the privacy of its passengers. Now you know the origin of our modern Venetian blinds!
Venice, Italy: The Doge’s Palace’s first floor was home of the Venetian empire’s ruler and his family; upper floors contained ornate governmental halls and meeting rooms.
Venice, Italy: Just one of many immense and extravagant palatial halls.
Venice, Italy: Memorable sculpture of a mother and child.
Venice, Italy: Prisoners tried and found guilty in the Palace’s Hall of Justice (left) had to cross this “Bridge of Sighs” and enter their terrible internment within the Venetian prison (right).
Venice, Italy: Abby and Rusty follow the passageway to the Bridge of Sighs.
Venice, Italy: The last view of the outside world most prisoners got to see.
Venice, Italy: View into the depths of the prison.
Venice, Italy: Abby can’t wait to get her freedom!
Venice, Italy: Details of St. Mark’s Basilica, built in the 11th century with treasures captured by Venetian war ships. St. Mark’s bones are buried here.
Venice, Italy: This gigantic church glows in the golden light of its bejeweled mosaic interior.
Venice, Italy: This winged lion of St. Mark represents the pride and power of the Republic of Venice.
Venice, Italy: Rusty and Abby spend a morning walking across Venice sightseeing and getting lost in its maze of alleys and canals.
Travel options in this floating city are limited to either walking or riding a boat — no wheeled motor vehicles are allowed beyond the bus and train stations.
Venice, Italy: With dozens of holidays and costumed celebrations, Venice is perpetually partying.
Venice, Italy: The tradition of the masked ball probably originated here.
Venice, Italy: The city is bisected by the Grand Canal and most boat traffic must use it, so it can get very crowded.
Venice, Italy: We use the slower water buses, known as vaporetti, but those in a hurry hire an expensive speedboat taxi.
Venice, Italy: Romantics with 100 Euros hire one of these classic Venetian gondolas to glide them around for an hour.
Venice, Italy: Once painted in bright colors, current Venetian law requires that gondolas all be black. Each must be hand made from 280 pieces with 8 types of wood. The front ornament serves as a counterweight to the gondolier.
Venice, Italy: Boats tie up to these brightly painted poles and passengers can disembark directly into their residences.
Venice, Italy: Hundreds of these classic wooden speedboats travel up and down the canals.
Venice, Italy: Secondary canals can be very narrow.
Venice, Italy: Hundreds of footbridges criss-cross these side canals, making transport of goods and luggage difficult.
Venice, Italy: For a hefty fee, these brightly painted barges will move the bigger merchandise to stores and homes.
Murano Island, Italy: To avoid fires in Venice, glass factories were all moved to this island a few miles across the lagoon.
Murano Island, Italy: We watch as craftsmen create magical glass animals similar to these.
Burano Island, Italy: On this neighboring island with its leaning bell tower, lace makers live.
Burano Island, Italy: Artisan women create intricate knotted designs passed down through the generations.
Burano Island, Italy: Details of their intricate needlework.
Burano Island, Italy: Examples of the handicrafts they are able to create.
Burano Island, Italy: Homes here are famous for their fanciful color schemes.
Burano Island, Italy: Legend has it that drunken fishermen needed their own specially colored cottages to ensure that they’d have no excuse for slipping into bed with the wrong wife.
Venice, Italy: As our tour boat returns us to Venice, a glorious sunset illuminates its spectacular skyline.
Venice Italy: We now understand why Venice is called the City of Islands and Queen of the Adriatic.
Venice, Italy: On our last day in Venice, Abby returns to the Rialto Bridge and a special jewelry shop she’d found there.
Venice, Italy: In the Le Perle, she purchases special Murano glass earrings.
Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam with lifeboat tenders. Our ship carries 2000 passengers, 900 crew on 12 decks.
While we usually tie up to a port dock, in smaller locations a tender transfers passengers to shore and back.
Rusty photographing from the Promenade deck.
The aft swimming pool favored by Abby is for adults only.
The New York Skyline chandelier that hangs in the three-story Atrium.
The final farewell from representatives of the ship’s outstanding staff.
Abby’s Mediterranean Cruise Ramblings
Our 24-day cruise on Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam departed from Barcelona on September 21 and finished in Venice on October 15. We spent two extra nights both in Barcelona prior to the cruise and in Venice at its end.
What we enjoyed most about cruising:
– Twenty-four days in one comfortable cabin with all clothes and other needs stowed only once in closets and drawers.
– A comfortable king-sized bed with the waves gently rocking us to sleep
– The helpful, kind, fun staff (most were Indonesian or Filipino): room stewards Dika and Rosa, Cruise Director Mario, and location expert Tom.
– The amazing variety and quantities of food (both healthy and not so).
– Meeting other people from around the world
(including Swedes, many Aussies, and a few Brits).
– Walking the Promenade Deck many mornings — three times around
equals one mile.
– Entertainment, especially the B.B. King Blues Club band with its man and woman singers who knew all the old soul and rhythm and blues classics.
– Rick Steve’s ‘Mediterranean Cruise Ports’ book was immensely helpful as we planned our brief visits to each port.
– We decided that the second half of this cruise was best since we had
more time to explore the destinations of Venice, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and then back to Venice.
– Abby loved reading books recommended by friends that focused on places from our cruise:
> Shadow of the Wind (eerie novel set in Barcelona)
> The Drifters by James Michener that starts in 1969 in Torremolinos, Spain, with college-age vagabonds.
> The Four Seasons: historical novel about Vivaldi and sisters raised in a nunnery in Venice.
> The City of Fallen Angels: a nonfiction description of Venice and its characters by an American journalist who lived there during the time of the Fenice Opera House fire.
> The Island: historical novel about the leper colony and Crete, Greece.
> And No Bird Sang: Farley Mowat’s memoir about his WW II army service in Sicily and Italy.
> The Prince of Medicine: nonfiction about Ephesus.
Problems and reservations about cruising:
– Illness: Despite our due diligence, as well as the cruise staff’s efforts at germ protection, on our ninth day of cruising, Rusty got a sore throat and high fever. The next morning, he went to the ship’s clinic but passed out while waiting to see a doctor. What a way to go to the front of the line! That night, Abby also started feeling ill. She was achey, couldn’t keep keep food down, and just wanted to sleep for a couple of days. Her virus then went into her chest resulting in lots of coughing. In a day or two, our California friends also got this bug. In all the ship’s public spaces, we were hearing that same familiar cough. Previously, Abby had gotten a flu shot although Rusty had not. Once home, we did Internet research and learned that Australia (coming out of winter) had a large number of H1N1 flu cases that year. The symptoms sure fit what we’d experienced. Both of us lost two-plus days of activities due to this vicious virus. The good news was that Abby did not gain weight on the cruise, which she would have done otherwise.
– Weather: The captain chose to cancel visits to three ports due to high winds endangering tendering of passengers to shore and back (Monte Carlo in Monaco, Taormina in Italy, and Katakolon in Greece).
– Liquor: Prices were way too high. Happy Hour helped. At least we didn’t drink too much!
So, will we take a cruise again? We are still undecided but look forward to learning more from other’s experiences.