Silver Travel Advisor Alan Fairfax writes his daily Blog from the deck of the P&O Cruises’ Aurora on his 17 day Mediterranean cruise. He gives a day by day account of life on board this classic ocean-going vessel.
Last night was ‘Caribbean Night’ so most of the men dressed in Caribbean/Hawaiian styled shirts and ladies in appropriate wear. Very colourful it looked too. Garlands were at the dinner tables to add to the flavour of the evening. The evening culminated with a party in Carmen’s lounge. A great time was had by all.
We arrived at Izmir this morning at 8am as predicted by the Captain but there were other ships ahead of us so docking took longer than normal. The Captain announced that the overcast conditions will clear and temperatures will be 23C/24F.
Today we have the ADADiva and MSC Divina in port with us. The MSC Divina makes us seem very small. She is huge but a beautiful looking ship with her all white superstructure and dark blue funnel. With us that is a possible 8,000 plus passengers going ashore so it could be busy.
Having let the tours get away first we decided to leave our departure from the ship until after breakfast. When we finally left the ship the sun was shining and it looked like the start of a great day. This was to be short lived. On walking along the quay I took a photograph of one of the murals and on stepping back tripped and fell over. The first thing to hit the ground was my camera swiftly followed by me. On sitting up I saw blood coming from my arm and leg and the camera looked beyond medical aid. A member of the ships crew helped me up. It was then back to the ship and the cabin to see how bad the cuts were. Luckily I was able to stop the bleeding from the leg and slow it from the arm/elbow. After a quick change of camera’s it was back off the ship to join the wife and our friends and to start playing ‘Find the Pharmacy’. After about half an hours walk we found one and I have to say the service received was fantastic. I went in to buy a bandage but when the pharmacist saw the cut which is in actual fact a very large deep graze she cleaned it, treated it with iodine and ointment and then dressed it all for 5 Euro. I was really impressed which is more than can be said for our next stop which was a coffee shop. 4 Cappuccino’s and when the bill arrived it said 8 Turkish Lira. We thought that was very reasonable until we found out that was the cost for each coffee!!!!
By now the arm was starting to ache so we made our way back to the ship past the various shops the majority of which appeared to be restaurants. The others were a mixture selling telephones, shoes and bags. There was one selling pottery and ceramics that was doing a good trade. As we got nearer the ship the sky started to darken and the sun disappeared. The owners of the horse drawn carriages were still trying to sell sightseeing trips of the town and sea front.
On boarding the ship the rain started so sitting on deck to admire the view was out of the question. Lunch was taken in the buffet which is known as the Orangery on deck 12. It offered a decent selection of cold meats, prawns, and various fish whilst the hot selection was the usual fare of meats and vegetables. There is also a selection of deserts as well as cheese and biscuits.
As it is still raining the wife and our friends have gone to the onboard cinema to see today’s film ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ whilst I get on with this blog.
Today we sail at 5pm for our next port of call which is Piraeus tomorrow morning where hopefully the weather will be better.
Tonight is a Smart, Jacket Required evening so I will now say goodbye and go to my second home to iron a shirt and press the trousers.
Arrived this morning into a very wet Piraeus at about 8am – 18C/64F. There are 4 other cruise ships in port with us today. Splendour of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, MSC Opera and ADADiva is back with us again.
For those who have never been to Piraeus it is the port for Athens. Also one of the busiest ferry ports in the world as from here you not only travel to the Greek Islands but also to Italy and Turkey. Some of the ferries are huge, indeed some are larger than some of the moderate sized cruise ships. It is also one of the few ports that supplies free shuttle buses within the port area. We in fact used it to go and see the other cruise ships that were in port as certainly Navigator and Opera were moored some distance from us. Navigator is huge but with her glass fronted balconies and white superstructure she really did look magnificent.
The city of Athens is situated 8 miles away from the port and can be reached by metro, bus or taxi. Take a day long tour and this will include all the famous sites in and around Athens as well as the Corinth Canal.
Leaving the enclosed port area we walked towards the town and the area where the City Tour buses and Hop On-Hop Off buses start from. The queues were very long which was no surprise really as the passengers from the 5 cruise ships totalled over 12,000. Having been here before we decided to forget the tours and have a walk around Piraeus. It has a large shopping area as well a many little shops selling souvenirs and the like. I went to a pharmacy and purchased some clean bandages for my arm and was surprised to find the lady behind the counter spoke perfect English. The cost of gauze, sticky surgical tape and dressings came to a very reasonable 3 Euro. Some of the areas we walked through are very run down and in need of renovation but on the whole it is like most Mediterranean sea ports, hustle, bustle and lots of traffic, especially taxis.
Lunch time found us back on board and heading for the Medina dining room for lunch. P&O Cruises really must be complimented on their Brunch which was excellent.
Tonight we have decided to dine at the Pennant Grill which is one of the extra charge restaurants. I will report on our findings tomorrow but for now it is out on deck as the rain has stopped and the sun is threatening to make an appearance. Also a good excuse to relax on a lounger and rest the eye lids. Temperature now up to 20C/68F.
As an aside to anyone thinking about coming on Aurora for a cruise. Try and avoid cabin B179 which we are in as it is directly below the running machines in the gym. For some days I wondered what the pounding noise was and at first thought it was the engines but have now ascertained it is caused by people on the running machines. Cabins B185 and B187 are also affected by this. It’s not all the time and the gym is only open from 8am-8pm but it can still prove irritating.