by Bob Sparrow
I’ll be leaving this week to cavort, literally around Italy on Oceania Cruise Line’s Riviera, along with Chuck & Linda Sager, Jack & JJ Budd and wife, Linda . . . and of course you guys, vicariously. We’ll be flying into Rome (You won’t have to endure that part!) a couple of days early and staying at the Hotel Villa Delle Palme which overlooks the Mediterranean and is just a few miles from our port of debarkation, Civitavecchia, where we will start our 11-day cruise.
Before I tell you the ports of call you’ll be visiting, let me give you a short description of our ‘boat’, the Riviera. It has 16 decks with a guest capacity of 1,250, served by a staff of 800. It is elegantly fashioned with interior architecture that features a spectacular spiral staircase (Don’t worry, you can take the elevator). One of the ship’s specialties is food, and boy do they specialize! Aside from the Grand Dining Room, we will be eating at the Bistro and Jacques, both featuring quintessential French dishes, the Polo Grill, a classic steakhouse, Toscana, featuring traditional Italian cuisine and the popular Red Ginger, featuring contemporary interpretations of Asian classics. These are in addition to the numerous Cafes and Grills spread throughout the ship. Additionally we will be taking a couple of cooking classes offered on board, so I hope you’re hungry. Wow, I just gained four pounds writing about the food! And of course, we’ll be participating in some sort of drink package, so we’ll be needing a whole new wardrobe when we roll home.
The ship’s first stop is just a short jaunt down the coast to Sorrento on the magnificent Amalfi coast, where we will be taking a side trip to Pompeii, the city that was buried under more than 15 feet of volcanic ash and pumice from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD – it’s certainly taken a while to clean up, I guess the city workers have been on strike for a while. It’s just another short voyage to Catania, Sicily, where there has been recent activity of another volcano, Mt. Etna, we’ll try to avoid the falling pumice. It’s then another short trip to the island of Malta, known for . . . being a small island south of Italy. Not sure what kind of trouble we can find there, but we’ll find some I’m sure. We then motor over to Katakolon, Greece, where they held the very first Olympic Games, we don’t have tickets! We will then have a day at sea, where I’m sure I’ll spend most of my time in the gym or doing laps in the pool . . . OK, maybe I’ll just be sitting by the pool lapping up a cold one.
We will then be heading up the Adriatic Sea with our first stop being Kotor, Montenegro, a picturesque city tucked behind a series of fjords. Like many of the cities we have seen and will be seeing, it is filled with lots of ancient cathedrals and other old stuff. We will continue up the Adriatic to the country of Croatia, where we’ll visit Dubrovnik and Split, then to Koper, Slovenia and finally into Venice, where we will have two days to check out the canals, St. Mark’s Square and the millions of tourists.
Then, you of course will be spared the long and winding road home, while I must endure delayed flights, transfers, uncomfortable seats, airline food and a heavyset, chatty neighbor telling me all about her trip through Italy. What I don’t do for you guys!
That’s the plan; I’ll give you the real scoop as it happens, or at least a few days after it happens, depending on Internet availability. Hope you enjoy the trip. Arrivederci.