After spending the night in Barcelona, we boarded the Equinox at about 12:30. Boarding was super fast. We lunched in the buffet--easily found an empty table, and reveled in being aboard the “Beautiful Equinox” again! Access to our cabin was at about 1:30. Then we attended the Emergency Lifeboat Drill held in one of the restaurants--do arrive a few minutes early if you want a seat. Many people were standing. It was quite a long process--via video.
The first day we enjoyed a ship tour to Nice and St. Paul de Vence--very nicely done. Some people on our tour were complaining about the steps and lots of walking in St. Paul, so if you have walking difficulties, do another tour. St. Paul was a beautiful little tourist town with pretty shops and cobblestone walks.
At Cadiz, we went on our own by train to Cinque Terre--the 5 lovely fishing villages on the ocean. Do leave the ship as early as you can in order to get on the 9 a.m. train--we missed it and had to wait a long time for the next train. Many people hike this trail. However, we just hopped on the train when we were ready to go on to the next village--you can get a schedule at the train station. I think the total cost for all day was about 10€ each. The villages are a bit run down, but quite pretty--in late November, many shops/restaurants are closed. We took a taxi to and from the train station to the train--it would be quite a long walk.
At our Civitavecchia, we joined a Cruise Critic group, total of 8, to see Orvieto and Assisi--Both very pretty and historic towns.
Kotor, Montenegro was also quite pretty--walled, cobblestone streets. Another couple invited us to share their private guide--so it was nice to just have 4 of us with a very well spoken young guide.
We only arrived at 2:30 p.m. at the dock near Venice--so it was late afternoon before finally setting foot in this unique city. (Count on 1/2 hr. to get to the city) The tide was just going out, so it was relatively dry walking. It was so cold (turned dark by about 5 pm.) that we went back to the ship after walking around St. Marks Square, getting a few pictures, and finding very pretty masks to take home to the grandchildren from a street vendor for only 5€ each. The next morning we took a gondola ride--just went to a booth and paid 80€ for both of us. The gondolier even sang a bit--it was fun. That day, the tide was in, and we had to use the temporary elevated sidewalks put out for our convenience. We were not able to see much since the ship sailed again at 2:30 p.m. A longer stay in Venice would be wonderful. As we sailed away, the sun was shining and the ship played beautiful Italian music--very romantic.
Dubrovnik, Croatia was another ship tour--very good one--rain again, beautiful city, then into the countryside for lunch and seeing a flour mill.
Barcelona was our final port on this part of our cruise. (we did the B2B with the TA). We took a ship tour to Monserrat--very pretty church--in the mountains--also very cold--headed in to 2 shops to get warm!
We thoroughly enjoyed this cruise--traveled in a Gty. balcony on Deck 8--excellent service.
The entertainment in the theatre was usually very good. The comedians managed to be funny without being offensive, and the solo musicians were outstanding.