We decided to fly to Venice a day before our flight because we had heard that Marco Polo airport is sometimes fogged in and we did not want to miss embarkation of the Costa Fascinosa. The following day we did the usual trips around the canals on the Vaporettos or water taxis before heading to the cruise port with our cases to check in.
It had been foggy that morning but was clearing up when we arrived at the port. What we did notice was that there was no sign of the ship which is unusual because they are so big it is hard to miss them.
CabinWe had originally booked an outside cabin for two but our daughter was able to join us so we called Costa to add her in our room. As this was a two berth cabin they told us we had to be moved to a cabin for three. Much to our delight this new cabin turned out to be a balcony cabin on deck eight. A decent size cabin with enough space for clothing, and space under the bed for the cases,a safe and a good sized bathroom with shower, no bath. There was a fridge, but this was locked so could not be used for drinks brought back to the cabin from the bars. There were no tea or coffee making facilities in the room which would have been useful given the limitations on drinks stations in the buffet mentioned elsewhere.The cabin was very conveniently placed between the fore and mid ships lifts and one floor below the buffet on deck 9. We did get some noise in the mornings from people moving chairs about on the deck above but this was not really too much of a problem.The third bed was made up on the settee so it was not necessary for one of us to have to clamber up on to a pull down pullman type bed as is often the case in three or four berth cabins on some cruise ships. The TV set had multi language channels including BBC world service so we were able to keep up with daily events at home and abroad.
Bari is not somewhere that we had even heard of before let alone visited. We decided to go ashore without buying a ship’s trip and ended up on one of those tourist road trains so familiar in British seaside towns. This was quite good value at 20 euros which sounded a bit expensive but turned out to be good value with several stops and a personal guide who took us to various interesting places and gave us lots of information. We had only four hours in Bari so not much time and the road train trip fitted the bill and got us back to the ship in plenty of time.
The second stop was Corfu. Again only a few short hours to see the island so we chose to travel into Corfu town independently and managed to catch a local bus from the Port for only 1.5 euros. The ship had laid on a bus but this cost 6 euros so we were quite pleased to save the money and spend it on ice creams instead. We also walked up to the New Fortress which over-looks the town and Port and with an entry fee of only 4 euros which included a drink, beer, wine or pop and a toilet, it was well worth the climb and the views were spectacular including looking back toward our ship.A leisurely walk back down the hill took us straight to the bus stop for the return journey to the port and our ship.
Our next stop was Mykonos. There were a number of ship’s trips as usual but starting at around 50 euros per person the three of us decided to explore by ourselves. We had obtained tickets the previous day for the tender to shore which was provided by the Mykonos harbour rather than using the ship’s own life boats as we have done on previous cruises.The main town on Mykonos was quite compact so we were able to walk around it quite easily in the short time available. There were lots of small shops selling local nick-nacks, bags, pottery fridge magnets etc. We walked up to the four windmills, a popular photo opportunity, overlooking the harbour and on our way back stopped for a drink at a local bar called, you guessed it, Zorbas.
The next day we arrived in Santorini and again had to anchor offshore as there is no big harbour to accommodate a ship as large as the Costa Fascinosa at 115,000 tons.We caught the tender to shore and joined the queue for the 5 euro cable car up to the top of the village while some brave souls caught a donkey ride up the winding pathway which also leads to the town perched on the volcanic cliff top. The shops were similar to those in Mykonos but the pathways were slightly wider. We walked up to the top of the town to get the best views across Santorini and the bay with the Ship and a new volcanic island rising up out of the sea in the centre of the old caldera.We stopped off at a cafe called zafora, perched on the side of the cliff and enjoyed a selection of local Greek dishes and Greek beer for just under 30 euros for the three of us. The best food we had had since the start of the cruise!Walking down the winding path was an experience having to run the gauntlet of the dozens of donkeys and owners trying to persuade us to buy a ride down the steep hillside to the small harbour below. Back to the ship in plenty of time and watched as others were nearly left behind as the time to up anchor arrived.
Our last day was spent in Dubrovnik. Our daughter had visited previously to so she acted as our guide. Again the ship laid on a bus to town but we decided to use the local buses. On disembarking we saw signs for taxi trips to town priced at 10 euros per taxi so we decided to take one of these. As soon as we were in our large Mercedes taxi, the driver immediately offered us a tour to local highlights including a trip to the top of the local cable car station which he pointed out would cost us 15 euros each for the ride if we were to take the cable car from the town. With stops at view points before arriving at the city walls of Dubrovnik followed by a return to the ship he would only charge 50 euros all in, for the three of us. So we agreed and he took us off on a journey around the countryside and gave us a bit of history about the conflict in Croatia and told us about the partial destruction of the city within the walls. We drove up a windy road to the cable car station and we enjoyed spectacular views over the city and city walls. Then back down to the city itself and the city gate where we decided to pay off the taxi and make our own way in to the city. We went to the tourist office inside the main entrance through the city walls to buy a day ticket which gave us access to the city walls and a few local museums. We had very little time in Dubrovnik, and only had time to walk half way around the city walls and back down the centre of the towns main street pausing to buy local lavender and some dubious Russian quartz beads from a local before catching a ten euro taxi back to the port and our ship.