Transatlantic Cruise, Italy, Spain, and the Azores

The Crown Princess

The Crown Princess

Setting sail into the sunset on this beautiful ship.  The first thing we did was explore all the decks, finding some favorite spots.  There were five swimming pools.  My favorite was the Sanctuary Pool.  They had the cushiest lounges.

The Sanctuary Pool

The Sanctuary Pool

Our first port-of-call was Livorno.  There had been severe storms in northern Italy, so this port was substituted for Genoa.  Our tour of the Cinque Terre was canceled.  A mudslide had divided one of the towns in two up there!  We took a lovely tour to the center of Tuscany.

The Tuscan Hills

The Tuscan Hills

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We explored San Gimignano, and walked through the village up to an old fort, where the views of the countryside were spectacular.  It was drizzling just a little, so I bought an umbrella (cost three euros).

 

In the market at San Gimignano

In the market at San Gimignano

Lovely display.  One of their specialties is artisanal Parma ham.

Lovely display.            One of their specialties is artisanal Parma ham.

Enjoying creme brulee gelato

Enjoying creme brulee gelato

"Do not pet the pig"

“Do not pet the pig”

It gets my vote for the best ice cream!

It gets my vote for the best ice cream!

We spent some euros here!

We spent some euros here!

Samples - delicious!

Samples – delicious!

Walking the narrow streets in San Gimignano

Walking the narrow streets in San Gimignano

We had lunch at a winery where the owner’s niece told of their history and explained wine-making over the centuries.

Grapess at a 300 year old vineyard.

Grapes at a 300-year-old vineyard.

Our tour took us to Pisa and Livorno.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

Livorno, Italy

Livorno, Italy

The following day, we were scheduled for Toulon, France (Provence), but the storms were too bad to put into port, so we got an additional day at sea.  I loved our sea days!

Enjoying a peaceful place on the cruise ship.

Enjoying a peaceful place on the cruise ship.

The setting sun, showing stormclouds near France.

The setting sun, showing stormclouds near France.

There were nice teak chairs with cushions on the Promenade deck.  We enjoyed being outside even when it was a bit chilly!

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Sunshine and warm in Barcelona!

We took a hop-on-hop-off bus tour of Barcelona.

We took a hop-on-hop-off bus tour of Barcelona.

Beautiful and interesting architecture

Beautiful and interesting architecture

Our tour took us up the hillside where the Olympics took place, then down through avenues in town, past historical and beautiful buildings.

Sights along our tour

Sights along our tour

Getting off at the top of Las Ramblas, we learned we had to find a place to eat in order to take advantage of the water closets.  We bypassed Starbucks and McDonalds and found a fantastic little restaurant serving tapas.

Tapas, yum!

Tapas, yum!
The menu was on the table, with pictures!

The menu was on the table, with pictures!

We rambled down Las Ramblas, admiring the flower stalls and shops.

We got off at the top of Las Ramblas and walked down to the Columbus Statue.

We got off at the top of Las Ramblas and walked down to the Columbus Statue.

There were people dressed up like statues.  And the best find of all:

We got a cup with mixed olives, and continued our walk, munching away!

We got a cup with mixed olives, and continued our walk, munching away!

La Boqueria, a huge market along Las Ramblas.

La Boqueria, a huge market along Las Ramblas.

We bought a delicious coconut strawberry smoothie in the market for one euro!

We met our bus, to get to our cruise shuttle, at the bottom of Las Ramblas.

Columbus Statue in Barcelona

Columbus Statue in Barcelona

Passing by the Rock of Gibraltar, we enjoyed three lovely sea days before arriving at the Azores.

Formal Night

Formal Night

We were served canapes in our stateroom as we prepared for our first formal night.

We were served canapes in our stateroom as we prepared for our first formal night.

The first day was a bit rocky.  Denis wore his sea bands and was just fine.  I love to be rocked to sleep, so I liked it.  At dinner, you couldn’t even tell it was rough (no sloshing in the water glasses!); there are such good stabilizing systems on these cruise ships.

Relaxing at the aft pool.

Relaxing at the aft pool.

Because it was a bit rough, the pool and hot tubs were covered with netting.

View of Ponta Delgada, Azores, from the cruise ship.

View of Ponta Delgada, Azores, from the cruise ship.

Furnas Lake

Furnas Lake

The beautiful Azores!  Instead of crossing these lovely islands off my bucket list, I’ve added “I want to go back!”

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The first village we visited, right on the ocean.

The first village we visited, right on the ocean.

We wound up the hills to an overlook of the Furnas Valley.

Hydrangeas bloom prolifically around the island.

Hydrangeas bloom prolifically around the island.

One of the many geothermal areas beside the lake in the Furnas Valley

One of the many geothermal areas beside the lake in the Furnas Valley

Then we drove to the bottom of the valley, where we walked through a botanical garden and then went to a geothermal area, with bubbling pots and steaming hot springs.

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Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens

Hot Springs with iron and minerals

Hot Springs with iron and minerals

Geothermal areas in the Furnas Valley

Geothermal areas in the Furnas Valley

The water was fizzy, and tasted a bit strange, but not bad.

The water was fizzy and tasted a bit strange, but not bad.

Goodbye….. or should we say “until we return?!”

Goodbye to the Azores from our ship.

Goodbye to the Azores from our ship.

Six fantastic sea days.  Wonderful to settle into shipboard life!

The first day, the captain announced we would be experiencing some ‘rocking and pitching’.  Again, it was not bad (in my opinion), but they emptied the pools!  Oh well, only a day, then we headed directly southwest, with the weather warming up day by day.  The pools and hot tubs were refilled, and I’d love to do this again!

We enjoyed the entertainment in the evening, in the theater and movies-under-the-stars.  Sometimes, we just relaxed in our stateroom too!

The entertainment was spectacular.  This was a musical.

The entertainment was spectacular. This was a musical.

Our last day at sea, we decided to treat each other to a half day in this special place.  So we were there, bright and early at 8 a.m. and enjoyed the chaise lounges, lemon water, sauna, hot tub, and pool until noon.

My view from the Sanctuary

My view from the Sanctuary

Denis in the Crown Princess Sanctuary

Denis in the Crown Princess Sanctuary

Celebrating our anniversary early!

Celebrating our anniversary early!

Now, this is what I love!

Now, this is what I like!

Our fourteen-day crossing came to an end in Fort Lauderdale, where we had the day to enjoy before flying to Orlando, getting our van, and driving home.

Enjoyed a water tour of Fort Lauderdale while we waited for our flight.

Enjoyed a water tour of Fort Lauderdale while we waited for our flight.

Friends were boarding the Royal Princess as we disembarked from our cruise, docked right next to them!

Friends were boarding the Royal Princess as we disembarked from our cruise, docked right next to them!

As always, we love our return home too!

Antelope welcome us home!

Antelope welcome us home!

And we had to get home by Thanksgiving, where we enjoyed family time with Denis’ cousins in Denver.

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