The Costa Cruise Experience
Trip Start Sep 30, 2009
23Trip End Jan 30, 2010
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We were certainly glad we did the cruises in the order we did, The Costa Pacific is only four months old, thus is new and gleaming. It has glass lifts in the in middle which ascend 12 stories all the way up to the retractable glass roof. The boys have enjoyed the waterslide at the very top of the ship. The passages are huge and the rooms almost one third bigger in size than the last ship. The children are in an adjoining room so it’s all very cozy.
Our waiter at dinner is just adorable, Jay from the Philippines. Each night he talks to Olivia and says "Now Miss New Zealand what is your choice". One night was entitled Italian night and in the middle of the meal the song It’s Amore started playing really loud and next thing Jay, our waiter is asking Robyn to get out of her seat and waltz with him. It was hilarious (can’t you just envisage Chris wanting the ground to open up hoping he will not have to participate)
The Cabin steward knew the meaning of service, you could hardly leave the room before he was in again with replacement towels or tidying. Each night when the kids arrived back at their room he had made a white towel into some kind of animal. These workers get so little time off (no such thing as a five day week – lucky if they manage to get four hours off in a seven day period) they complete a 10 month contract, then two months off then back again for another contract.
Ryan and Mitchell thought the games room was amazing with its six play station consoles, equipped with the latest games, to play on while lying on couches - they used their daily allowance religiously on this vice each day.
A run down on the places we visited:
As it was raining and cold here, decided to spend the day aboard and relax and enjoy the fabulous view of the city from the 12th floor of the ship and teach the children how to play 500.
Walked from the ship into town, needed the exercise and didn’t want to pay the exorbitant cost of cruise transport. Hit the Paseo de Gracia (Main Street), so interesting and buzzing with activity. Loved this city, and we all commented on how nice and polite the Spanish are (we are travelling with about 2000 Italians who have no concept of queuing or personal space). The Sagtrada Familia (neo-gothic style cathedral which is still being built) spectacular. Hopped on the underground, to visit a park with building designs inspired again by Gaudi, while the doors of the train were beeping, but only Olivia and Ryan managed to alight. Robyn hastily mouthed “get off at the next station” but all they could see as the train rushed into the tunnel was anxiety and horror written all over Olivia’s face (fortunately we had talked about this scenario happening when catching previous trains). Two minutes later we boarded a train and when arriving at the next station Robyn felt huge relief to see two children sitting waiting on the platform, however Olivia’s face was now one of boiling anger and she left her parents in no uncertain terms concerning her feelings of abandonment. Managed to bribe the children to walk the 40 minutes back to the ship by offering them half the bus fare it would have cost us. Olivia spent hers on chocolate and well you don’t even need to guess what the boys did with theirs.
Palma de Mallorca
This is the administrative centre of the Balearic Islands and was warm and beautiful
We really felt like we went back through the centuries to discover the exceptionally rich cultural heritage of the Tunisian capital Tunis. For years this place was the most important Mediterranean port until the Romans destroyed it in 146BC, we thought about a trip to archaeological excavations but didn’t fancy munity by the kids so gave it a miss. We employed a local guide to take us to all the good spots, but having paid the recommended price realized that had we walked out of the port gates we could have got a taxi and guide for a lot cheaper. Being kiwi’s we hate that feeling of being ripped!!! We visited a beautiful town called Sidi Bou Said, again painted blue and white with the most amazing patterned and painted doors we have ever seen. Tunis consists of the most colourful merchandise, fragrances from the aromatic essences, pretty sparkles from the beaten silver, and finally the madness of the old Souk
We really enjoyed this beautiful city again with its imposing huge brick city walls. We visited a cathedral which was last reconstructed in 1700. Legend has it that Publio, who was a Rome governor at the time of Saint Paul’s reign in Malta and who later became the first Bishop of Malta, used to have his home there. Every day at 12.00pm the military perform a cannon fire salute, Robyn reckons she had prepared herself for it, but nearly jumped out of her skin when it actually happened. When we visited another church with the largest dome in the city we meet a lovely 86 year old Maltese man sitting as a guardian at the door. He found we were from NZ and proceeded to tell us how he had fought with the British against the Germans and Italians in the war, as a spit fire pilot. He was given money, a new set of clothes and the offer to immigrate when the war finished. He turned Australia down as he was scared of snakes and NZ down as he was scared of the 14000 sheep that existed at that time. He wanted to just stay in Malta and has remained there ever since. He really liked us because NZer's were allies in the war and just before we left told he did not like the Italians who fought beside the Germans
Not on our list of places to return to. Grimy, full of rubbish but to be fair, a grey cold day with showers didn’t help its cause. Maybe in twenty something years tourism will have lifted their game a bit, but couldn’t help but think perhaps years of public money siphoned off to the mob has probably ground these people down.
We are looking forward to the next part of our journey, Rome for five nights. We will leave the ship a few kilo’s heavier, but looking forward to a little more flexibility in our time table.