Mediterranean Cruise - MS Carousel
First week itinerary.
Sept 14 to 29 2001:
Our flight was scheduled to leave Toronto on Sept 14 2001 at 11.30pm and we arrived at the airport 5 hours early due to the increased security after September 11. There was some confusion on what got packed in which baggage, but fortunately we had checked the web the night before for special instructions, right after we'd heard that the flight was actually going. I didn't notice any difference in the security, other than the baggage requirements, and we were at the departure gate two hours ahead of schedule. The plane left the gate on time, but we sat on the runway for an hour or so before takeoff, the flight over was as usual, about 7 hours. The arrivals lounge in Palma was mobbed, literally thousands of people all trying to get through one police checkpoint, it took us an hour and a half to get to the baggage carousel, where we found our luggage and were soon on the bus heading to the ship. The boarding procedure for the Carousel (our ship) is definately the easiest of all the cruises we've been on, a short line up and then straight onto the ship, even though it was only about 11am. Airtours (the ships operator) loads and unloads passengers at the same time, while it's been our experience with every other cruiseline that all the passengers are unloaded before any new ones get on, this can mean you might be sitting in a waiting room for a few hours before boarding, worse still, you normally get dumped off the ship about 9am even if your flight is at 5pm, Airtours allows you to stay on board until a couple of hours before your flight leaves. Anyway we were soon on board and all looked the same as last year, we asked about Boris, the head waiter, whom we'd met last year, but he'd gone back to Ukraine as his wife was about to deliver. Our cabin was on B deck,the lowest passenger deck and was very small, about 10 inches between the beds, but it did have two portholes which gave us a view of the sea about ten feet below, the steward introduced himself, Giat, from Indonesia, so I got to practice my Indonesian phrases, was he ever impressed..........
Ian in the first week's cabin, windows at the back, washroom to the right, dresser to the left.
We had a quick bite on deck after some preliminary unpacking and then went for a couple of hours sleep. Dinner was served from 6.30pm and as always was open seating on the first night, we sat down with another two couples, from England I think, cant remember the names, but I do remember the couple who sat down after us, because his name was Ian too, they were Welsh from Cardiff of all places, we spoke to them on and off throughout the first week, as they were only on for one week. After dinner we went up on deck for a smoke, no smoking in the dining area, not surprisingly, but we were surprised that you could smoke almost anywhere else, including the show lounges. Some time during the day we had bumped into three sisters on holiday with their husbands, from somewhere in Ontario, can't remember where, anyway when we got up onto the deck and settled at one of the bars, we realised they were sitting right next to us, so we had a couple of drinks and a chat, then they all sang Happy Birthday to Izzy as it was her 50th that very day, it got the holiday off to good start and marked the beginning of a two week long birthday for her. We were supposed to leave Palma around 10.30pm so we stayed up for the deck party and departure, unfortunately, departure was delayed due to a late flight coming in from Liverpool, so we were sound asleep long before the ship left port around 2am.
The next day was a full day at sea, as we headed for North Africa, we were up around seven and had breakfast on deck, then set ourselves up on loungers to spend a relaxing day in the sun.
The pool area on the Carousel
After lunch I brought my bottle of Cointreau up on deck and we watched the carry-on around the pool, you're not supposed to drink your own stuff on board, but it's a lot more affordable than the 2.65 pounds (C$6.10) they were charging per drink. That night was the Captains 'welcome on board' reception, where all passengers are shuffled in to have their picture taken, shake hands with the captain, have their picture taken again, get a free glass of cheap sparkly stuff and enjoy the weekly presentation of officers and crew. I don't like sparkly wine, so I had to pay for a Drambuie, which was disappointing, but it was quite a nice presentation. Dinner right after, was the first time at our assigned table where we met our fellow diners, the waiter, Francisco and helper, Manuel. After dinner we watched the show in the main lounge, an english comedian who wasn't bad.
Dining table - First week - Ian, John, Marj, Gwyn, Shirley, Denni, Brenda, John, Nick & Izzy's empty chair
We arrived in Bizerte, the chief town of the on the northeast coast of Tunisia, some 65 km north west of Tunis, about 8am, the harbour entrance was quite nice with palm trees and a park area along the shore. The large liftbridge opened to allow us through and we travelled past the dock to a turning basin before coming back to tie up.
The lift bridge at the harbour in Bizerte, Tunisia, the ship passed under it, with waves from
the masses of people patiently waiting to get across to the other side
I had noticed from some distance out what looked like a huge sand castle behind the town and it wasn't until we were in the turning basin that I could see that it was a large oil refinery, covered in sand dust, it was discharging hot water? into the basin and a steamy layer cover part of the area. We went ashore around 10am and walked toward what looked like the main part of town, through the bus station and across a large open square, the roads were pot holed and everything was dusty and worn.
The main square in Bizerte, Tunisia, the Tunisian flag flys prominently
We found the main square and spent 30 minutes or so strolling around. Finding nothing of much interest we headed off in another direction and soon came across a more active shopping area, I'd brought my Arabic/English printout with me and quickly made good use of it in the first store we entered. The people are not been particularily outgoing, but after our attempts at speaking Arabic, we got more smiles and lots of help in pronunciation, everyone we spoke to wanted the printout as it had Arabic script as well as the phonetic version, but we held on to it until returning to the ship, we stopped back in to see an old man we'd spoken to earlier and left it with him, he was very pleased and shook our hands vigourously.
Bizerte, Tunisia view looking East
Bizerte, Tunisia view looking West
There wasn't much to see in Bizerte, but we enjoyed talking to the people and after a day and a half on the ship, it was nice to get off for a walk.
Inside the Colisseum, Rome
Izzy outside the Colisseum, Rome
Ian in middle of the platform over the tunnels under the Colisseum, Rome
Reconstruction of the floor of the Colisseum, Rome
'Gladiators' outside the Colisseum, hoping to make a few lira from tourists taking pictures
Rome, a back street close to Trevi fountain,
I liked the ivy growing betwwen buildings, that's Izzy walking ahead.
Fountain, Piazza Navona, Rome 7 there's Izzy sitting on the left hand side of the fountain
Piazza Navona, Rome, Izzy is sitting on the bench - the white thing that looks a bit like the
statue of liberty, is not a statue but is a person acting like one, they're all over Italy and
expect a contribution if you take their picture.
Parthenon, Rome, that's Izzy standing next to the obelisk. That's not the Parthenon, it's the Pantheon.
Trevi fountain, Rome, is that Izzy sitting on the wall
Trevi fountain, Rome, the sillouette holding the bag on the right, is Izzy
Spanish steps, Rome, can you find where Izzy is sitting
Florence, Piazza del Popolo
Florence, Izzy's back with Ponte Vecchio
Florence, the river ?? from Ponte Vecchio
These buses plied the narrow streets of Florence, constantly beeping, since the streets are basically pedestrian, yes that's Izzy sitting on the steps to the left
Statue of Neptune, Piazza del Popolo, Florence
Florence, 10am in the morning and it's raining, so let's buy an umbrella
Statue of David, Florence, not the original one
Ian on Ponte Vecchio, Florence
Bronze statue of a boar, Florence market, it's lucky to rub his nose
Florence, the tour group awaits instructions, thats the guide with the closed umbrella on the right.
Florence, vendors in period costume on the Ponteveccio
The leaning tower of Pisa, Izzy is sitting on the post
The leaning tower of Pisa, that's Izzys' knees in the foreground, she was laying in the street and she hadn't even had one glass of wine
The Carousel in harbour, Villefranche, South of France
Promenade des Anglais, Nice
Motercycle policeman just after he told our bus to move, Nice, South of France
View from the top of Eze, South of France!
Izzy at cabin door
Git away from ma window!
Rick (from Newcastle) & Izzy (at her favourite pastime)
The Golden Princess in port, Barcelona
Gaude's cathedral, Barcelona, Spain, this is the oldest part of the cathedral
Gaude's cathedral, another view, this is round the other side and is the newest part, built mostly of concrete in the last 50 years
Monserrat, the forecourt in front of the monestary
Lighting a candle in Monserrat monestary & yes, that's Izzy in the back, lighting her candle.
Boys choir in Monserrat monestary, they were singing for a wedding.
View down the valley from Monserrat
Monserrat on the way up, if you look carefully you can see the monestary built into the top of the cliff
Second week itinerary.
Dining table - 2nd week - Jack, Giovanna, Marj, John, Izzy & Ian - (Behind) Severino (waiter) & Manuel (Busboy)
Approaching malta harbour
The Clock tower in Messina, Sicily, very interesting, the animals all moved on the hour
Messina clock tower
Crowds of passengers, watching the volcano Stromboli, at about 10pm one night North of Sicily, unfortunately you cant see any of the fire at the top of the volcano, you'll just have to take my word that it was there.
Bay of Naples, it was pretty overcast, but cleared up shortly after.
Little back street in Sorrento
The Amalfi coast, Italy
Amalfi on the Italian coast
Another view in Amalfi, this time Izzy is in the middle of the staircase
Seaview on the Amalfi coast
Ian, Mandy (Purser) & Izzy
Ian, Izzy & Captain Spekeman at Captains dinner
Tina (captains wife), Captain Spekeman & Izzy)
The strange people at the next table