Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Naples, Italy

May 16....ship docked at 10 am today. After a late night, I barely managed to make it to the Bora Bora cafe for breakfast. Timing for breakfast is till 10 am in Pago Pago and Bora Bora cafes. But at 10 mins to 10 the staff had already started emptying buffet tables. It was very annoying. We disembarked a little after 11 am and walked through the port with the intention of figuring out how to get to Mt. Vesuvius. The ship excursion was €55 pp for adults plus a cost for kids as well. We found a van taxi outside the port - the driver whose name was David agreed on a price of €25 pp round trip for adults only, no charge for kids. We were 6 adults and 5 kids, so this turned out to be a great deal. He also agreed to drop us to a good local pizza place in downtown Naples. We headed out to Mt. Vesuvius with a pit stop for water - the ride took is about 45 mins. Once at the base, we had to walk up to the crater. The walk is fairly steep, on ash and stone and the day today was extremely windy although it was bright and sunny. It was a fantastic day for taking photographs but not so much fun fo hiking. DH prevailed...poor guy, walked all the way up and back down. Tickets to the 'Parco Nazionale del Vesuvio' are €8 pp and included a guided tour at the crater. We met Stephano at a souvenir store right before the crater and he gave a fairly decent account of the crater, its surroundings and history. He earned his €5 tip from me coz he was also cute with that typical Italian accent! :-P
The yummy cherry tomatoes at Fratelli La Bufala
We hurried down coz the wind was killing us (kids and hubbies bailed out on the guided tour). David drove us back into town and dropped us off at Fratelli La Bufala apparently established in 2003 and according to David, the best pizza in town. I don't know about the pizza but they served fresh mozzarella and cherry tomatoes which was to die for! I am not a mozzarella fan at all but really savoured the bread with mozzarella bits and cherry tomatoes with balsamic vinegar! The pasta was also good, I didn't particularly care for the artichoke and mushroom pizza I ordered. That was a bummer since my brother had sworn, the pizza in Napoli was the best ever! :(
We split up the group after that - my friends went with David (again for €25pp) for a tour of Pompeii (which DH and I had done before and thoroughly enjoyed) while we headed for a city of Naples tour. After stopping for some delicious gelato in downtown we headed over to Piazza Municipio to catch the CitySightseeing Napoli hop on/hop off tour bus ( For €22 pp adult we were able to do the route B loop along the gulf of Naples, om the western side of town. The day was cold and overcast and DS was extremely tired, so we didn't hop off anywhere. Although most of downtown Naples and the area we had seen thus far was shabby and extremely dirty, the tour took us through an area called Santa Lucia, which is very pretty. The views from along the coast are breathtaking and it would have been wonderful to get down at several stops and sight see. DS slept through the whole tour and I tried my best to do justice to the scenic views by using my camera to the best of my abilities in a moving bus. Sigh! Some moments were frustrating...especially when I saw the opportunity to possibly take panoramic shots of the entire town of Naples, Mt. Vesuvius and the gulf of Sorrento but we decided not to get down and the bus kept moving.....grrrr! Well, I'll just have to make another trip! :-P
We headed back to the ship after that. A brief walk through the Galleria del Mare shopping center at the Stazione Marittima di Napoli took me through some interesting shops, especially those of Italian leather shoes and handbags! Very unfortunately, DS kept complaining of a headache and as it turned out, the poor guy had a 102.5 fever!!! After some ibuprofen and mommy hugs, we managed to make it to dinner at Villa Verde. It was disappointing to know that our meal request from the previous day was not only not honored but we got the runaround when we tried asking how to request the chef for something specific. On all our previous cruises, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity etc special meal requests were always honored. The comparison was inevitable and we were all sorely disappointed by the service! After a very uninteresting and unappetizing dinner, we went for the nightly show called 'Prestige' in the Strand theater. The show featured the usual dancers along with a juggler (Duo Dillon?) and a very talented shadow puppeteer (Antonio Versini). Once again the show was excellent and we were really entertained.
Guys were planning on having a guys night out today so we headed back to put the kids to bed (mine was out already due to the fever). When I reached the cabin, however, the key card would not open the door. DH who was inside could not open the door either. We called reception, who called some help, who called more senior help, who called the carpenter and finally an hour later they managed to pry the door open! With absolutely no apologies or comp of any kind, the guys fixed the door and walked off! That's MSC hospitaloty for u!!!!! I am certainly NOT recommending this cruise line to anyone, certainly not to anyone used to the RCCL brand of service!

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