Once again we started the morning started off at sea. Bob Snelling, our guest speaker, held a destinations presentation on our forth-coming visit to Barcelona.
For passengers who wanted to enjoy activities outside in the glorious sunshine, they could join Mike, our assistant cruise director, out on the open decks for a stretch and relaxation class. Alternatively passengers could join the cruise staff for a game or two of shuffleboard or tennis.
We arrived into Sorrento anchorage at 11.00. It was a busy day with three ships at anchor. As we would have been anchored quite a distance from the Pier, I decided to hold the ship in position off the breakwater to minimise the tender ride ashore. Using the engines and bowthruster this was done. It was a good opportunity to give third officer, George Fullick, and second officer, Martin Gowlett, a chance to manoeuvre the ship while I supervised - taking in the sun of course! Adam Reece, our resident pianist, was playing out on the open deck as the ship sailed in.
The tours departed shortly after we arrived at 12.15pm.
The first tour was ‘Italy’s beautiful Amalfi Coast’. Italy’s scenic Amalfi Coast is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. For over 30 miles the coast road winds along the cliff tops, where villages perch on rocky crags and citrus fruits grow in terraced orchards. Amalfi itself was a major seaport in medieval times, but now just a small resort, although its impressive cathedral is a testament to its past glories.
‘Ancient Herculaneum’ was the second tour to depart at 12:45pm. Smaller than Pampeii but in many ways better preserved, the Roman town of Herculaneum befell the same fate as its neighbour on the other side of the volcano. Although many of the marble and bronze statues and some of the finest frescoes were looted from the site during initial excavations in the 18th century, what remains still holds much fascination. Unlike Pomeii, which was a busy commercial centre exporting wine and fish, Herculaneum was a residential town, so you will be able to see noble mansions and more modest town houses, together with the public baths and their frescoes. A devastating torrent of hot mud buried the town and encased it in tufa-type rock. This meant that wooden structures and many everyday household objects and tradesman’s tools were preserved, including a weavers loom, paintings and a bed. A large portion of ancient Herculaneum remains under the modern town and excavations.
The final tour ‘buried treasures of Pompeii’ departed at 1.00. This excursion allowed passengers to explore the excavations, which have revealed well-preserved buildings, mosaics, furniture and personal possessions. They could see the city’s public buildings, including temples, the law courts and the marketplace. The guide provided informative commentary as they walked through the ancient streets. Afterwards they enjoyed some free time for shopping before returning to the ship.
Throughout the day we had to contend with what I can only consider to be poor seamanship by the local ferries speeding past us causing wash at the gangway. Every time a ferry arrived and departed, we had to stop operation and stand the tenders off until the ferry wash had passed.
Ashore, our shore excursion manager, Jaquie Forbes Watson, and her assistant Julie, were leading from the front getting all the tours away amongst the mayhem on the quay. With three cruise ships already tendering their passengers, ferries depositing hundred of locals, cars and lorries, the quayside was rather crowded.
However, Andy boyd, the staff Captain, also remained firm ashore taking charge and directing traffic and keeping our passengers safe and in the right direction. They did a sterling job keeping the operation running efficiently even with the sun beating down on them. They were sent emergency rations mid-afternoon. These included sandwiches and cigarettes!
Anyway as the sunset, and all the cruise ships were gone, we had the last few hours in a tranquil setting. All our passengers were brought back home safely and we set sail for Civittavechia.
The evening’s entertainment started straight after dinner with the team trivia. James, one of the cruise staff on board, hosted this evening’s fun general knowledge quiz. The evening then continued on in the discovery lounge with the Gail Davies singers and dancers opening the show for comedian, Gerry Graham. After the show, passengers joined Adam Reece in the Shakleton’s for late-night cabaret and cocktails before retiring to bed.