Our first full day of the Cruise was supposed to be spent in Monaco. We were very excited about this port. Our plan was to do an excursion in the mornig to the French Rivierra - and to make stops in the villages of Nice and Eze. The afternoon we were going to spend exploring Monte Carlo on our own. We were happy to be there because the night before we had an announcement that the day would be shortened due to a storm moving in and the anticipation of winds picking up. The week before this port had to be cancelled so I told John we were lucky to just be there.
We woke up early (7 am) with plenty of time for breakfast and to meet our tour group at 8. We looked out to see what we thought was our pulling into the port of Monaco. We were getting dressed when we hear a "ding dong" over the loud speakers - in the cabins. I said to John, "This isn't good!" (it's never good when the speakers in the cabins are on.) The Cruise Director came on and told us that she had some bad news for us. Due to winds, we were unable to pull into Monaco. We would, instead, have a "fun day" at sea as we made our way towards our next port.
We were sooooo disappointed! All we would see of Monaco would be from our balcony.
So, we decided to have breakfast in the main diningroom instead of the buffet and try and make the most of the day. We met and ate with some very nice people (who were also just as upset as we were.) One of the couples were from Hamilton, just down the highway from us, and another couple were one of the couples we would have an excursion with later in the cruise (on a private, small group excursion.)
After breakfast I went up to the Salon to have my hair cut as it was driving me crazy. Hey, might as well make good use of the time (and the money we just saved not having the excursions.) I loved the haircut!! I wish I was able to see her regularly!
me, the day before
So, the rest of the day John and I explored the ship a little more, and I had fun making John pose for goofy pictures for me - they did say it was going to be a "fun day at sea!"
this one makes me laugh, still. I made him stand beside the sign.
Later that day (I think it was) we heard the "ding dong" in our cabin again. Oh, oh! This time, the Cruise Director was informing us that the storm system was quite large and was going to make things miserable for us, so in an effort to get away from it, they would be rearranging our itinerary. After our port the next day, we would have two more "fun days at sea" while we headed to Dubrovnik and then make our way back down the Italian coast. What that would mean for us was that we would miss Messina. To save you all the gorry details, lets just say the dinning room that night would be filled with unhappy passengers.
Port of Livorno
The following morning we were up early again, keeping our fingers crossed. It was a rainy day, but we made it into port.
We were off the ship early and met up with our tour group. We had booked a private excursion with a small group. There were 7 of us in this group - one family from the UK and a couple from Florida. Our driver was Vinny and he was amazing! He took us first to Pisa where we had about an hour to explore. It was still raining, but we didn't care, we were just happy to be in port.
The Leaning Tower was very cool to see in person. I was very surprised at how much it was actually leaning. I walked around taking pictures, while John decided to climb the tower with some of the others.
From there we went to Florence. Vinny did an amazing job of tour guide. (as it would turn out, he would be our favourite from the trip.) He took us to many of the must-see spots in Florence, including the Acadamia where Michaelangilo's "David" is housed. (he even did a great job of getting us tickets right away - even though you need to purchase them weeks in advance.) He also took us to a great little Italian Restaurant that was 140 years old inside the old walls. It was called Casa Toscana and the food was amazing! John had the best lasagna he's ever had and I still dream about the pumpkin ravioli that I had.
One of the things that we saw while we were in Florence was a bridge that I know Matt would have loved seeing because he loves history - especially WW2. It was the only bridge that the Nazis didn't blow up during the war called Ponte Vecchio and still has all the shops built along it, as was once common.