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Naples – Stazione Marittima

As I mentioned in the previous post, our first cruise was very port-heavy. A 7-night cruise, and therefore 6 full days, it had a port every day.

Here’s the itinerary:

  • Genoa: embarkation and departure at 17:00
  • Naples: 12:00 – 20:00
  • Palermo: 08:00 – 17:00
  • Tunis: 08:00 – 13:00
  • Palma: 14:00 – 01:00
  • Barcelona: 09:00 – 19:00
  • Marseilles: 08:00 – 19:00
  • Genoa: disembarkation by about 09:00.

We had also havered for a while about the itinerary. MSC at that time did two 7-night Western Mediterranean cruises out of Genoa, with slightly different itineraries, and departing on different days. My recollection is that the alternative itinerary called at Rome instead of Naples, Tunis later in the day, and possibly Valencia or somewhere in southern Spain rather than Palma. IIRC the prices were pretty much identical.

Given that this was our first cruise, all of these ports were new to us as ports. We had been to Palma the year previously on a land-based holiday to Mallorca, and had enjoyed it.Also, being our first cruise, we had no idea about docking arrangements, shuttle buses, etc – it was all new to us. As it happened, we berthed very centrally at Naples (at the old Stazione Maritimo) and also at Barcelona, within a few minutes’ walking distance of the bottom of La Rambla. At Palma we were a bit further out, maybe a kilometre or so round the bay from the cathedral. I’m not sure about Palermo, but at both Tunis and Marseilles were some miles away from the main parts of town and shuttle buses were in operation.

We did a mixture of excursions and our own thing. We reckoned we knew Palma so we got a local taxi to Castell Belver above the town and walked around that for a hour or so, then went back into town. (We may have got the MSC shuttle bus back from there.) In Barcelona we walked ashore and used the HOHO buses, but didn’t enjoy the experience – lots of confusion at the stops, and very hot on the buses, especially when they just stopped for 10 minutes or so. However, we visited La Sagrada Familia, then still very much a building site, and that was the highlight of the day. At Naples we decided to make our way up to the old monastery and museum of San Martino up above the town. I remember that we particularly enjoyed the journey to and from – through an old Galleria shopping arcade, and then up the hill in a funicular. At Tunis, Palermo and Marseilles we did excursions; to the ruins of Carthage and to Sidi Bou Said at Tunis, to Cefalu at Palermo, while at Marseilles we did an excursion to Cassis in the morning and then went back ashore for a late lunch, which we found in a restaurant/bistro around the Vieux Port.

I can’t remember now how we decided to do what we did most of the ports, although in Palma, as we reckoned we knew it, we always intended to not do an excursion. Tunis seemed like it would be hard work on your own, and that and the early departure were big factors in our decision to do an excursion. I don’t recall that we ever thought about an excursion in Barcelona. What lead us to explore on our own in Naples I can’t recall, but I’m glad we did – maybe I’d learned somewhere in advance that the berth in Naples would be close to to the town. Not so in Palermo, because I don’t think we ever intended to go ashore on our own there.

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