A Few New European Ports with Friends on Independence

Independence of the Seas


Well today we bid fond and tearful farewell to Suzanne, our roommate for the last 28 days. She was probably glad to get away from the rollaway cot back to her own bed…

The second two weeks she was aboard with us, the itinerary was slightly modified, calling at Civitivecchia (the port for Rome), Cannes (instead of Villefranche), and adding Cadiz, the port city for Sevilla.

We were unable to score any complimentary excursions, so decided it was “once in a lifetime” spending to pack in the sightseeing. We opted for a deluxe 10-hour tour of Rome, which, if you’re only going to be in Rome for a day, was perfect! The coach took us directly to the Vatican, where we sped right past the huge line right into the Vatican Museum for a wonderfully guided tour that included the Sistine Chapel and the inside of St. Peters Basilica. I had seen both nearly (gasp) 40 years ago during a trip while I was a senior in high school – but it still took my breath away. After St. Peters, the tour included a 4-course lunch (WITH wine and spumanti) at a lovely hotel, a drive past things you only read about in history books or historical novels– the site of Julius Caesar’s assassination – the Circus Maximus (site of the famous Ben Hur Chariot Races) – the Colisseum – Musolini’s Palace – Trevi Fountain – and words fail to describe how awe-inspiring the city is. I must go back to spend more time there!

In Cannes, we just tendered ashore and walked the seafront, then strolled the shopping district, choking on the prices. Ole was able to get away for lunch, so we found the public market and a small alley behind for crepes and cider – made us both homesick for Pornichet!

We were able to book an appointment to get into the Uffizi Gallery in Florence – even with the appointment, it took us nearly 45 minutes to get through security and into the museum. I’m not really big on Renaissance painting, but there was a Michaelangelo painting there of the Holy Family, as well as two different interpretations of Adam and Eve that were impressive. What impressed me more was a sculpture gallery that featured the busts of all of the emperors of Rome, in chronological order. Even with our appointment, we found we had limited time to really explore Florence any more than last time – MUST go back!

In Cadiz, we took a shuttle bus for the 90-minute drive into Seville, billed on the ship as the “most beautiful city in Spain.” Seriously, that’s about all we knew about it. So the bus lets us off, we stroll about 4 blocks, and find, guess what, yet another cathedral. What else do you do in Europe? So there we were, in the third largest cathedral in the world, by accident, when we turned a corner and saw a wall of sculpted panels depicting biblical history, leafed over with TWO TONS of gold. We turned around and saw another altar covered with silver (and a guy in a cherry-picker polishing it.) Photos wouldn’t do it justice – we just gasped – then turned another corner and found the tomb of Christopher Columbus. Aha! THAT’S where all the Inca gold and silver went! Had a lovely lunch with the ubiquitous olives and peasant bread, and sampled fantastic Spanish ham, sausage, and cheese.

Our time aboard Independence was also spectacular. We befriended the pub entertainer, Chris McCann, who is better for bar revenue than just about anybody we’ve ever seen aboard. On the Friday after Vigo, the Croatian engineers that work for Ole sponsored a homemade seafood feast with purchases fresh from the Vigo market. We ate in the specialty restaurants, Chops and Portofino, and had finer dinners than many restaurants offer ashore. And it was great to have Suzanne back in our lives, even for such a short period. We had a wonderful time – and can’t wait for the next one!

Speak Your Mind