Sunday, the first full day of our cruise and we oversleep. I awake from deep slumber at NOON, when out friendly steward knocked on our door. Holy Cats! We were supposed to be on a formal ship excursion. Oops. I wake up the family. We are amazed we slept so long, but then we have been traveling non-stop since last Thursday. I admit I hadn’t set an alarm, because my children are always up at seven, like clockwork. Not this time.
Later we learn that our family did knock on our door, as well as text, but texting is sketchy and doesn’t always work. In the meantime, we decided to try the buffet for lunch and then adventure into port on our own.
I’m glad we overslept. We are on our own, in Palermo, Sicily. Fortunately, this port is in the heart of the city, unlike some of the ports which require transportation sometimes up to an hour to the destination city. We step off the dock and it’s a beautiful day. I have the ship port printout in hand, and that’s all, really. We spontaneously hire a horse-drawn carriage and see the sites in the city from this vantage point. My dear son rides up front with the driver, hubby and I share the formal seat, and our dear daughter rides on the jump seat, facing us. And it’s perfect.
Our guide takes us to about a dozen stops in this charming port town, in almost two hours. Highlights are the corner of the four fountains, the massive post office, Teatro Massimo, a sweet park with lots of cool banyan trees, a cool parade float honoring Palermo’s patron Saint Rosalie, another square, and an exquisite cathedral.
This chapel I will forever remember, as a side altar honoring St. Rosalie was beauteously adorned with the most silver I have ever seen. We aren’t allowed to use flash photography, but you almost do not need a flash, for the silver is so plentiful and bright.
At the end of our excursion, the kids and I get postcards near the port, hubby has to haggle with the driver, there’s some confusion over the hourly rate. Luckily we will later be credited our unused excursion. Oh- and housekeeping increased our air conditioning airflow, not quite on par with our favorite Las Vegas suites, but much improved. We learn the secret to folding up the kids’ bunks on our own, now we can stow the bunks when not in use, and walk around without bumping our heads.
We move one table and all our life jackets to the balcony (which it is really too hot to enjoy), and have increased more space. Every bit counts! We are like a new family. Air conditioned and well rested. We look forward to meeting the rest of our family for dinner, so we can compare our adventures.
Tonight is formal night. I had suggested to our dear daughter that she pack her Cinderella inspired dress, she said no, thank you, she wanted her black lace dress. Dear son looks dapper in his fancy polo and khakis, Hubby wears a polo and dress pants, as well. I am wearing a cool black sundress, which is not fancy, per se, but a little fun jewelry and it’s all good. Most people are a little more dressed up than we are, and that’s okay. It’s kind of fun to “dress up” and see everyone else all fancy-like. We look forward to taking more family photos after dinner.
At dinner we learn that our family did attempt to reach us in the morning, when we were dead to the world. Since we didn’t answer any knocks, they figured we were already at the meeting point or were on our way. I had only received one text from our godson in the afternoon. Theirs was a formal cruise excursion, including a bus to another town, a walking tour, free time and lunch, and a bus drive through Palermo prior to reboarding the ship. We gather that some of our family members are not happy with us for not going with the group as planned, and some are even jealous that our adventures were more fun than theirs. Only a little awkward.
Dear Daughter orders again from the kids’ menu, and again selects the best dessert on the table. The Love Boat Volcano is a brownie banana sundae with whipped cream, cherries, fudge, and rainbow sprinkles atop. Funny how dining takes so long. There’s drinks ordering, bread, entrees ordering, the wine arrives and wine bottle-opening rituals ensue, more bread, entrees arrive, order desserts, order coffees and after-dinner drinks, charge coffee cards for the specialty drinks, charge cruise-cards for any specialty wines or sodas. I will enjoy steak for five out of our nine nights of vacation, because, when in Rome…!
Since we are all dressed up, we pose for photos, as you do. With nine of us it takes a bit of time, first one of the clan, then one family and then the other, and then the grandparents, now each of them solo a few poses, now my husband and I, oh look, now one parent with one child, etc., etc., etc. We actually do this in two locations with a backdrop, and then on the actual winding staircase of the Grand Atrium. This photographer is a bit pickier about head angles and hands in pockets, and standing feet together with one foot pointing forward. We later see him at the photos cashier, and dressed in a Roman costume as we disembark at one of the ports.
In between the photo shoots, we break and explore/ obtain internet minutes plan for the ship, as well as a coffee card, stop by the sundries store for yet more AA batteries. During this time I happen to run into my in-laws, on my own. I comment on how my nephew is different this trip: he is Too Cool for School. They realize how his interest is affecting all the other kids. It is what it is. There is a risk of traveling with so many kids of different ages and various abilities to appreciate culture and history. At least they are having fun with each other.
I bring a frozen coffee drink back to the room for my treat, as I manage the kids’ getting to bed. Dear Husband works a little, then checks out the ship casino. I have some wifi time, but it is slow and we are monitoring our minutes. I limit myself to ten texts per day, so as not to incur overage fees with my cell phone provider. I am feeling quite disconnected from my family and friends.
Tomorrow our port is Salerno. We have lined up a private tour for Pompeii and the Almalfi Coast.
Have you been on a Mediterranean cruise? Tell me about it in the comments below!