Treasures of the Mediterranean: First stop Sardinia

This is our 3rd cruise, all with Thomson.

Leaving early in the morning is a headache. A 5 am flight means being at the airport at 3 am, and a taxi at 2 am, prompting the consideration whether it’s worth while going to bed at all! For me, even an hour’s sleep is worth taking, so I’d had an early 9 pm bed time, and was feeling reasonably human at that hour of the day.

Luggage checked in, with kgs to spare, we easily made it airside, where R hovered around the Burger King waiting for it to open. The flight was on time, there was no issue with getting to seats, though we were seated right at the back of the plane, and so had to put our hand luggage a few rows forward. Plus side, we were first to leave the plane when we landed in sunny Palma.

Ah, Palma! I do love it, but so do many other travellers, and the airport is consequently rather large and not entirely user friendly. The sign board said our luggage was at track 19, and we could only see tracks 1-6. A bit of persuasion and reminding that we were ON HOLIDAY, and we did in time locate the luggage track, and our bags.

Helpful Thomson rep sent us to the coach, which took us to the boat. Boarding was very smooth, a welcome soft drink and some accompanying music helped to create the right mood.

We’d arrived each in need of an essential item – I wanted wedge sandals, and R had come without sunglasses. I remembered that the port at Palma had a shopping centre pretty close by, and checked my directions with Anna on reception, who was very helpful (and wanted to see any shoes I found!)

We dandered over to the shopping mall – the weather was HOT and I actually enjoyed being inside the air conditioned mall. Shoes were to be had a-plenty, and I had to restrict myself to just the one pair. Sunglasses were a bit more elusive, but we did eventually find a suitable emporium to satisfy his requirements.

Back on board, took one of the “get to know the ship” tours, which I have to say wasn’t THAT informative – I specifically asked about getting into the Broadway Theatre from deck 9, and was given TOTALLY the wrong info. But no matter, I was starting to get my bearings.
Sailaway was at 11 pm – a late sailing, off into the night leaving the necklace of city lights fading into the distance.

Sunday was our only full day at sea. This means a Fight for the Sunbeds, but I was up at 8 am to claim 2 beds near the deck pool and jacuzzi. I happily put the day in between dance classes, jigsawing in the oasis of calm inside Browsers corner, and working out how to get to the gym. Dinner was the only formal night of the cruise, where you could have your photo taken with the Captain. R wasn’t keen – we went for our usual table with Jesus and Ulysses in the Orion restaurant at 6 pm, and after that I went solo to do the schmoozing with the Captain bit. I have to say it was interesting being introduced to all the people who make the ship work – engineers housekeeping, restaurant and bar, shopping, shore trips…

Monday – at last we sighted land, in Sardinia. As the ship approached I was in awe of the misty green hillsides, and a real sense of somewhere new…
Linda’s rule of cruises is to look out for the phrase “gateway to….” which translates as “this is a big industrial port, and you should Get Away form here as soon as you can”. With that in mind, we’d booked a shore excursion along the Costa Smeralda.
Sardinia is remarkably quiet. At this time of year, the roads weren’t too bad, though apparently in July in August it is hot and crowded with Romans trying to escape the heat and crowds of Rome.
The tour took us to a little town beloved by the beautiful people, full of designer shops and tiny streets. We discovered the joy that is “cafe shakkerata” – an espresso blended with crushed ice until creamy, served in a martini glass.


We also had an ice cream and admired the crystal blue waters, the fancy boats, and designer shops.
This was a very short stop – we were back on the boat for 2. I’d booked a wine tasting experience with Ferdie, the head wine waiter, an animated and knowledgeable Chinese chap who claims Jilly Goolden was his mentor and sponsor. The most important part of the lesson was to look for the punt – the indentation underneath the bottle.

I also had a fun learning casino session for £5, which reminded me how much I enjoy blackjack.

Nest stop: Sorento.

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