Join us for an exploration of the Mediterranean Sea
Gail Jessen, Live Voyage Reports
The vibrant food. The warm sun. The famed history as the birthplace of the Western world. The Mediterranean. Simply speaking aloud the name of that sea instantly blisses me out. If you’re searching for a relaxing vicarious vacation, you’re in the right place.
Join me as I embark on Holland America’s ms Noordam for an 11-day exploration of Italy, Tunisia, France, Monaco, and Spain. On this voyage I’m traveling with my friend Jennifer. We will stick together in some ports, in other ports we’ll go our separate ways. Sometimes we’ll enjoy pre-booked Holland America excursions and other times we’ll wander around sans tour (likely in search of more gelato and/or tapas).
The goal is to post daily about our adventures (with the cooperation of satellite WiFi). Check back often using the itinerary below.
Follow Along Day By Day. Enjoy Your Virtual Vacation.
Holland America Line Noordam, Mediterranean Explorer
|Day 1 – Exploring Rome, Italy on ms Noordam||Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy||Step off the cruise ship, linger at a sidewalk café in the early evening, and take in the pageantry: The taste of cappuccino, the kiss of warm air, the immaculately attired locals getting their evenings started. Rome is nicknamed the Eternal City for the array of icons (Colosseum, Pantheon, Castel Sant'Angelo, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Basilica), and for the role it played shaping the Western world. There is perhaps a less-recognized genius in the way the city embraces the sensual side of life, as if to acknowledge there's no eternity like the present.|
|Day 2 – Exploring Capri, Italy on Noordam||Capri, Italy||The docile bay, the peaceful, cypress-tufted islands of Ischia, Procida, and Capri, and the muscular city of Naples itself. Over it all looms Mount Vesuvius: A volcano, national park, and persistent corrective to hubris. Cruise to see the only active volcano on the European mainland, which blew in A.D. 79 and buried the city of Pompeii. Naples itself is mere enduring greatness. One of the chief commercial cities of Europe, highlights include Castel dell'Ovo, Castelnuovo, and national museums dedicated to art and archaeology. The city center has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the surrounding area is dotted with cultural and historical treasures, not least them the restored ruins of Pompeii.|
|Day 3 – Exploring Palermo, Sicily on Noordam||Palermo, Sicily, Italy||Traces of Roman, Arab, and Norman influences mix in Palermo. The highlight of the city is the Norman Palace with golden Byzantine mosaics.|
|Day 4 – Exploring Greenhouse Spa on Noordam||La Goulette (Tunis), Tunisia - CANCELLED DUE TO SECURITY CONCERNS||The stop in Tunisia was cancelled due to security concerns. The ship rerouted to Cagliari, Sardinia.|
|Day 6 – Exploring Pisa, Italy on Noordam||Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Italy||If one mistakes Livorno for another city across the Italian peninsula, all is be forgiven. The Venice District of town is a tangle of streets crisscrossed by canals. A beautiful Renaissance city in its own right, Livorno is also the gateway to Pisa (north) and Florence (west). Pisa is home to beautiful cathedrals, palaces, and bridges over the Arno River, as well as an infamous monument to faulty engineering. Florence represents so much of what is vital to human expression in commerce, politics, and the arts.|
|Day 7 – Exploring Calvi, France on Noordam||Calvi, Corsica, France||Rumored to be the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, Calvi is a small, stunningly beautiful beach resort town on the Island of Corsica (known to be the birthplace of Napoléon Bonaparte). Visit Notre Dame de la Serra Chapel and take in 360° views of the bay and surrounding mountains, explore the centuries-old fortress Citadel of Calvi, a remarkable example of Genoese architecture, and relish time relaxing on one of Corsica's secluded white sand beaches.|
|Day 8 – Exploring Nice and Eze, France on Noordam||Monte Carlo (Nice & Eze), Monaco||The principality of Monaco is the essence of the Riviera: couture fashion, grand yachts, and nightlife centered around its famed Casino.|
|Day 9 – Exploring Provence, France on Noordam||Marseille (Provence), France||A salty city with a feel and culture all its own. Try the renowned bouillabaisse or tour the lovely towns and vineyards of Provence.|
|Day 11 – Exploring Barcelona, Spain on Noordam||Barcelona, Spain (overnight)||Barcelona effuses the ancient, the modernist, and the Gaudi. Legend has it the city was founded by Hercules 400 years before the founding of Rome. Whatever the truth, the city today is a global capital of commerce, fashion, culture, and sunshine (300 days a year). Enjoy a walk down Las Ramblas, the glorious tree-shaded thoroughfare at the heart of the city. Claim a patch of sand on one of the city beaches. Do not miss the creations of visionary architect Antoni Gaudi. Seven of his creations are honored as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including La Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, and Casa Mila.|
|Barcelona, Spain||Itinerary ends with a 6:00 am disembarkation.|