Our favorite meal on our most recent cruises has been the breakfast in Blu. We sleep well and wake up early (body clocks not adjusted yet). Breakfast was indeed great, and an added treat is the view of Mount Stromboli, a big, active, volcano, from our window seat in the restaurant. Vacation has started!
After breakfast, I headed out to check the game area for table tennis opportunities. There are two tables, and several good players are already going at it. After playing a little and walking around the ship, I meet Judy in one of the lounge areas for an official “Cruise Critic Connections” party. There are snacks, etc. and a great view of the ship’s passage through the Messina Straits. Italy is to our east (port) and Sicily to the West (starboard). It’s narrow passage, and there are lots of ships traveling in both directions. This is one of the spots where the captain earns his pay. Back in our cabin, we relax and then begin getting ready for our afternoon excursion to Siracusa.
The group (8 of us) meet at 1:45 and we’re able to exit the ship (docked in Catania) quickly, once we were cleared. We meet our guide/driver, and start driving to Siracusa. It’s an hour and a half drive, and the guide begins to tell us how tight our itinerary is. 2:00pm is late to disembark a ship and begin touring. He keeps trying to make the point that there’s little chance to do everything we were promised. He’s in a tough spot. He’s in a car with the actual guests. Whoever defined the itinerary and confirmed prices, etc. is back in the office trying to dodge the blame for promising, but most likely not delivering.
Sure enough, in Siracusa, we had three main destinations, the Roman Ruins Archealogical site, the Duomo (cathedral), and the Church of Santa Lucia (Caravaggio painting). Due to our late start on the day, and new winter schedules, the Ruins, are closing as we drive up (3:30pm?). We head on into town where we get the chance to walk around some interesting narrow medieval streets, enroute to the Duomo, and the Caravaggio painting. Of course, Church of Santa Lucia (painting) is closed on Mondays, and the Duomo is almost ready to close. We walk through the Duomo, with it’s interesting mix of Roman and Greek architechture. After the Duomo, our tour options are limited, so we opt to sit in a café along the waterfront, enjoying a light dinner, and the beautiful evening. It’s warm, we’re off the ship, no wind, and the setting sun makes a beautiful picture.
We make the drive back to Catania. On our way back, Michelle, our tour organizer, convinced the tour company to refund some of our money, so we got 30 euros refunded. Back at the ship around 7:30, we freshen up in our cabin and head to dinner. The traveling and jet lag are beginning to have an effect. Sleep couldn’t come soon enough.