After reconnecting with family for a few days while visiting Vienna and Budapest, we all took the nighttime train to Venice to begin our Adriatic Sea cruise. In all, we had 4 adults and 5 teens. The train ride turned out to be a wonderful adventure and we arrived rested and eager to see Venice. We left Santa Lucia train station and carried our luggage over the bridge, which was not easy by the way. For 5E per bag we stored our luggage at the luggage storage at Piaza Roma. After that, we took the #1 Vaporetta on the Grand Canal to Lido and back. This turned out to be a great way to take in some of the sights and to get a feel for Venice. We picked up our luggage and took the people mover next door and within an hour we had boarded the Voyager of the Seas.
The Voyager is a grand ship but I did not find it to have the wow factor that it had when we cruised on her in 2004. Much of the granite has been covered with carpet and many or the fine works of art have been replaced with carpet wall hangings. To DH and myself it was more than just the wear and tear that we expected. It seemed to us that the ships interior had been downgraded on top of the expected wear and tear. We are an active family and enjoyed the many offerings that this ship has. Rock Climbing and both inline and ice skating along with dance classes were our favorite activities on board. These activities along with all of the walking that we did on the port days kept most of us our of the gym on this cruise. We found the ship to be filled with live music in the evening which we found very enjoyable. Most of our evenings ended with a nightcap in High Notes bar listening to the Latin band on board. Although our girls did not find the teen club to be to their liking, they did however, meet several other teens on board and enjoyed spending their evenings with their new friends. We found Mercedes, the Cruise Director, to be informative and witty without being corny and over-the-top. The shows that we attended in the La Scala theater were enjoyable. We especially liked the shows by the Los Gouchos and the Beatle Maniacs. The iceskating show was a favorite of ours as well.
We had dinner at Carman's dining room at the 6:30 early seating and we were seated by a window. This was great as on most of our port days we were treated with watching sail-away from our table. We found the food to be rather salty and on many days more than one of us didn't enjoy their dinner. Our wait staff were pleasant and efficient but we did not enjoy mealtime as much as we had when we were on other cruise lines. We found that the food on board in general had room for improvement except for the Cafe Promenade where the sandwiches, pastries and desserts were always very good. We did enjoy our meal at Protofino's but our DD's thought that Johnny Rockets was just o.k..
Bari Italy turned out to be our favorite day. We caught the local bus right outside of the pier and took it to the train station. From there we purchased tickets to Polignano a Mare. It took 30 minutes by train to arrive there. Polignano a Mare is a most beautiful little town with the highlight being the cove. It was an easy 15 minutes walk to get to the bridge overlooking the cove and the view was spectacular. We walked the many stairs down to the cove and spent a couple of hours or more lying on the rocky beach and swimming in the clear blue water all the time being mesmerized when looking up at the limestone walls that surrounded us while cliff divers entertained us. We stopped for ice cream as we had read that the town was famous for it. We were not disappointed. In Polignano a Mare the cone is filled with whipped cream and then ice cream is scooped on top and then the ice cream is dipped in whipped cream. All of us agreed that it was the best ice cream cone that we had ever had. We returned the same way that we came and the transportation costs for the day for the nine of us was 65E. It was a really great day.
Our plan for Dubrovnik was to head directly to the old town. Our plan changed when we were offered a tour just outside of the cruise terminal. For 15E pp we were given a 1 1/2hr tour and then dropped off and picked back up at the entrance gate to the old town. Our tour included a stop at the top of where the cable car goes to. The views overlooking the old town were fantastic from there. Dubrovnik is called the pearl of the Adriatic and rightfully so. Once we arrived at the old town we purchased tickets and walked the seaside of the wall. We loved the views but it was at least 30 degrees celsius and we all found it very hot up there. We made our way down to the old town and found Buzza cafe where most of us went for a swim in the clear blue Adriatic Sea. This is a great spot for drinks and to cool off with a swim from the rocky platforms. After the swim we had lunch in the old town, enjoyed the sights, souvenir shopped, met our driver and returned to the ship.
We ported on Friday morning in Venice and had the entire day and night there. Since we had seen the entire Grand Canal on embarkation day we decided to get lost in Venice this time around. This was not difficult to do. Walking Venice certainly gave us another perspective of this very interesting city. I found Venice to be crowded, smelly and dirty, and oh so touristy. I have never seen so many souvenir stores in all of my life, and I grew up near Niagara Falls. St. Mark's Square was swarmed with people and after taking some photos we walked back to the ship. Seven members of our group had seen enough of Venice in those 5 1/2 hours but DH wanted to return when the crowds and heat had dissipated. I joined him and we spent from 5:30-8:30 reexploring Venice. We found it much more enjoyable and estimate the crowd to have been about 70% less than during our visit earlier that day.