The cruise was great, but the food in the main dining room was very uneven. Some nights it was great and on other nights it didn't rise to the level of McDonalds. I don't know whether that was due to diversion of many crew members to cleaning and sterilization around the ship, but it seemed to affect the main dining room kitchen more than any other. The ports were very good.
I expected Ajaccio to be a small town that I could walk around easily and see all the sights. I didn't think that there was much to see in Ajaccio until I went into one of the town squares and got on the little train that runs around the area. That gave an excellent overview of what there was to see with a number of stops for photography. After that I went to the fine arts museum which was also interesting. Had lunch and a glass of wine (vin de pays) at a little cafe and it was a wonderful day. Having some knowledge of French helps, even my stumbling French.
Toured the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona (5 miles of walking) with the iPod and learned a lot of Barcelona history and saw some really interesting places. I had lunch at a Tapas bar (La Taverna del Bisbe). Great food and good sangria. Took a cab to Segrada Familia and it is a fantastic place - not to be missed. The last time I was there the interior was still under construction, but now you can see the beauty of the interior.
Did a private tour of the Roman ruins and some tapas bars in Cartagena set up by some of the folks on CC. Loads of fun. One tapas place was built right over some Roman ruins next to the Roman theater that was excavated. The owner of the tapas bar put in glass floors so you could see the ruins beneath you. Not a good place for a skirt or a dress. Great Sangria. After the sangria you would stop worrying about your skirt. The owner took us on a tour of the place and told us some of the history of it.
On another private tour set up by folks we met on CC, we went by bus up to Granada from Malaga so we could see the Alhambra. Fascinating! The guide on the bus who describes the history of the region and points out the areas of interest turned us over to guides that only work at the Alhambra. Use the toilet facilities before the Alhambra tour starts. The tour takes about one and one-half to two hours, covers about 3-4 miles and goes uphill and down. It covers the gardens and the buildings, most of which were damaged or destroyed by Napolean. If you need to use the rest room at the end of the Alhambra tour, men note that there is only one men's rest room at the end of the tour. After the Alhambra, our guide took us on a walking tour of some of the back streets of Granada so we could get photos of the Alhambra from a different perspective. We had a great seafood paella and sangria to die for.
Our tour of Tangier and the surrounding area was set up by another couple we met on CC. Tangier was a study in contrasts. The outskirts of the city is made up of mansion after mansion of Arabian sheiks and princes. Beautiful white mansions, expensive cars, full time guards and they only live there The city center, the medina, is abject poverty. I never said no to so many vendors in my life. Had a very nice meal there at a place the guide recommended. No alcohol, Moslem country, but their mint tea is great.
Madeira was beautiful. We took the tour that took us around to the opposite side of the island and stopped at every point of interest along the way. Very few vendors relatively speaking. The meal was delicious, but the wine wasn't madeira. LOL
The long sea voyage didn't seem so long. Between the people at the dinner table, the people we met on tour and the folks who arranged some of the tours, it was a whirlwind of eating, drinking and parties. A couple of fellows we met on our tour in Cartagena had the penthouse suite and we had a couple of parties at their place with great wine and food. We became friends with one couple who had set up the Cartagena and Malaga tours and had a few lunches in the Pinnacle Grill with them and with the penthouse boys. Then we also did the special "An Evening at Le Cirque" dinner and the Cellar Master dinner in the Pinnacle Grill, both of which were fun. The food was every bit as good as what I had eaten at Le Cirque. The wine pairings at the Cellar Master's dinner were excellent.
Then we got home and the GI infection that had been going around on the ship hit both my friend and I just minutes apart. Someone aboard didn't report their illness because they didn't want to be quarantined in their cabin. So we had to pay the price for their self-indulgence.
That concludes more than you ever wanted to know about my cruise.