MSC Cruises Splendida – Mediterranean Voyage – Day 7

Toulon, home to the French fleet And so we reach the final day of the cruise. Sailing into Toulon with an overcast sky we pass Holland America Lines ship Noordam that is at anchor in Toulon Bay whilst behind us is Costa Riviera. We are being moored in the commercial port of Seyne-sur-Mer, a small pretty town celebrating a festive weekend, everywhere decorated with flags and flowers in abundance. After berthing and allowing the tours to depart as well as passengers leaving the ship to return home we go to the Shore Excursions desk and buy 2 shuttle bus tickets as we are 35 minutes from the town of Toulon. Off to breakfast for my usual 2 glasses of juice followed by smoked salmon and scrambled eggs all washed down with, no not Rosé this early, but several cups of their excellent coffee. Breakfast finished we make our way to the now empty gangway, disembark the ship and board the shuttle bus. The traffic is heavy which gives an opportunity to admire the festivities in Seyne-sur-Mer as we slowly make our way to the main road leading to Toulon. 30 minutes later we arrive at the terminus and leave the coach. Opposite is a market where WHSBO buys a table cloth she says will look nice on our new dining room table. I visit the little church of Saint Francois de Paule which has the most beautiful white altar and surround. Personally I love visiting churches here on the continent as they have such beautiful interiors, even the smallest ones have something special to show. It’s then a stroll around this old town which is the home to the French Navy’s Mediterranean Fleet. Toulon market flowers Through the cobbled streets of the old town is stepping back in time with every type of shop imaginable. Eventually we return to the sea front and the ‘Cafe Society’ that is very evident by the prices. Two cans of Coke and I think I have bought shares in the place. The sun is now shining from a clear blue sky and people are going to their yachts that are berthed in the marina. It’s easy to see why people love the South of France and the towns dotted along the coastline. Time to get the shuttle back to the ship and our last lunch on board. Waiting for the shuttle bus in the sun is not good. People arrive who have no idea what it is to queue so that when the coach arrives some who have played by the rules don’t get on. Luckily I have large shoulders that stop some and we get on.

Yoga on board Back at the ship it is cabin and then the Villa Verde dining room. The lunch is excellent especially the seafood soup washed down by, yes, you know already, Rosé wine. Back to the cabin to start the packing. It doesn’t take so long now as of course on the homeward journey folding items to stop creasing is not so important. Clothes out ready for the evening and tomorrow it’s time for the last sun bathe. Deck 15 is a great place to go for the sail away as the views are magnificent. At 5pm we start to move away from the quayside and wind our way through various twists and turns toward the open sea. The harbour area and the approach to it are full of small yachts criss-crossing the calm blue sea. The captain is making good use of the ships whistle just like a driver sounding his horn, warning of his approach. I’m sure that 6 long blasts means get out of my way. Soon we have returned the pilot to his small launch and build up speed as we set our course for Genoa.

Squid and seafood starter Tonight of course is our last dinner so it is a sorrowful farewell to Cantur and Sahuda his assistant who have looked after us so well on this cruise. Filipe, the head waiter, comes by and puts a dish of local cheese drizzled with honey onto our table, it tastes wonderful. He really is a gem. The meal as always is excellent. Fish croquettes, seafood soup and grilled squid as I really do enjoy my seafood and MSC’s seafood is excellent. Washed down with what? All together now, Rosé wine. Bidding them farewell we make our way to the Strand Theatre where we witness another excellent review by the theatre group entitled ‘Paris Fou’. Great costumes and dancing.  All the shows have been most enjoyable. Finally time to return to the cabin for the last items to be packed and then place the suitcases outside the cabin door for collection. Tomorrow it’s home.

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Alan Fairfax

Travel writer & cruise journalist

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