By this point in the cruise, I was LOVING the ship, and about to give up on the excursions. Malta was OK. Tunisia was bad. But this day was a better prospect. We had booked the Nursery all day, and dropped Lucas at his "club" so that Julien and I could do this one by ourselves. I am so glad that we did because it made up for the other two. We started the excursion in a bus, as usual. The ride to the volcano was OK, but not fantastic. The tour guide seemed to think a little too highly of herself for my tastes (hmm, it is looking like I just don't like tour guides). However, once we got to the volcano itself, things took a fairly steep upward turn. We were taken most of the way up to the crater in 4 x 4 jeeps that looked like leftover army vehicles. The final bit of the climb we did on foot. The view was incredible and the volcanic rocks, stones and soil were so multi colored that I occasionally felt like I had fallen into some 60's flashback. Once we got to the crater, it was amazing to look down into the mouth of this sleeping god and realize the power that simmered there. It was a little like falling in love. We got some fairly cool videos of the steam coming out of vents in the crater as well as the obligatory photos of us in front of it but none of this captures the feel of the place. It is a visceral thing that you just have to experience. I must admit that I, like roughly 4,000,999,993 tourists before me, took a few stones away. I rationalize this by the fact that I left some coins on the ground as a kind of payment. Yeah, I'm weird. When we were done with this, we loaded ourselves back into the tanks, and went down the crater to a vineyard that was actually on one side of the mountain. It was quite a small place, but as we all crowded off the bus, I noticed that the owner had hung the flags of various countries in front of the building. It was a sweet touch. While there, we had the opportunity to sample numerous wines that he produced. Even though this was not a restaurant, he also provided food in the form of large bowls of pasta. This was served by a very serious looking Italian man, who was quite strict with his manners. When Julien held his plate out for more pasta, he said that you always serve the head of the house first, meaning me. The owner was clearly just a man who was proud of his vineyard and he gave us a history of it and his family, via the interpreter. There was no pressure to buy wine, or to do much of anything. It was truly lovely, and we were all pleasantly toasted when we were finished. They also had the forethought to provide lots of water, so I did not get the headache that I so often do with wine. Of course, with such a great experience, we bought 2 bottles of wine AND some olive oil. I hope Disney keeps working with this man, as this was such a warm reception. After finishing our wine and food, we all sauntered back to the bus and made our way to Pompeii. I must say that the weather gods had been very kind to us so far, and continued to be, as there was sudden cloud cover when we got to Pompeii. This cut the heat which was becoming a bit stifling. In truth, I don't remember too much about Pompeii with the exception of the temples and the brothel...but I figure that is good enough. Once again, a very strong feeling here that must be experienced. When we had finished in Pompeii, we had roughly 30 minutes in which to look for souvenirs outside before we left. After getting a coffee, we found a place that would MAKE you a pair of shoes. Not only could they do this, they did make me a lovely pair of sandals in less than 10 minutes. So I also had my chance to pay homage to the shoe gods. We went back to the ship very relaxed and happy. All in all, a great excursion. I would give it a 9 out of 10, which is really close to perfect coming from me.