different portions of an operation. I will confirm that you do absolutely not want the Italians to be responsible for organizational details. Part of the package included with our “suite” (more on that later) are three shore excursions – all of which are stacked in the first few days of the cruise. Today we are in Sicily, specifically Messina. I am mentioning the tours because the first one is today. It is not that an Italian line can not coordinate anything, it is that they seem to enjoy presenting the details as complete and utter chaos.
The example to which I will point is ship’s tours. Our meeting time in the theater was 1100. The meeting times for the tours after ranged from 1115 to 1200 staggered in 15 minute intervals. The theater is nowhere large enough to seat everyone – trust me on that. Now, I am fine with announcements in five languages and understand completely that, even with clear language indicators and arrows in 400 point fonts on the screen some people are just going to get in the wrong line and blame the ship.
The ship has no control over port authorities and this is the first time this ship has docked anywhere. Are they going to clear the ship from outside after a cursory look at the papers? Not in this life time. Obviously every port agent and inspector wants to come aboard. The result was that the ship wasn’t cleared till 1145. There was a lot of grumbling made worse by the hike down four flights of stairs followed by a scrum at the exit. Never the less, I was off the ship by 1201.
Please note that the original ship’s clearance was listed as 1200. So there we have the appearance of complete and total chaos made worse by pushing and shoving to leave when we were actually on time…
I boarded the bus and hunkered down in the back. Given that the bus was packed – who did I get as a seat mate but the drunk Aussie (sorry my friends from downunder, but this guy was late 30s and couldn’t have done a better job of portraying the stereotype if someone had hired him to play the role).
Full – the bus pulled out with the usual unintelligible babble over the mike which at least didn’t squeal. After driving for 20 minutes we got out at the first church for a 40 minute stop. Ok. I wandered around the square for 5 and was bored. Looking up, I spotted the ship not two blocks away.
At that point I decided that heading back rather than getting on the bus was in my best interest given that I have been here before and really only wanted to see what was on offer.
I had a lovely visit with the staff in my favorite coffee bar and a relaxing time for the rest of the day. Still a bit time zone whacked so that relaxing really helps.