As we had stayed in Rome many times this year we decided to spend 2 nights in Civitavecchia. As many people know, we normally travel from Rome airport to Civitavecchia by train but this year we decided to book a private taxi transfer. Our driver was waiting for us as we walked into the arrivals hall and after a short walk to the car and a pleasant 35 minutes’ drive we were being dropped off at the hotel Traghetto, our home for the next 2 nights.
At 115 Euros, the taxi is obviously much more expensive than the train (13 Euros per person) however if you have heavy cases and want a relaxing and speedy journey after your flight it is well worth considering.
The hotel Traghetto is a small 3* hotel, basic but very clean and with amazingly friendly and helpful staff and is located only 50 metres from the cruise coach shuttle park.
Tip. We stayed in room 402, which is on the top floor and the only room with a view directly over to the cruise terminal. Infact, the balcony is huge and covers the whole width of the hotel, perfect for sipping wine and admiring the cruise ships in port.
Many people simply transfer straight through Civitavecchia but it is perfect for a 1 or 2 night stay before your cruise. The promenade is pretty but touristy however the narrow streets within the old town have a great selection of bars and restaurants, all much cheaper than those on the sea front. For example the hotel recommended a family restaurant (Ristorante La Nuova Torretta), located in the base of a medieval tower where an excellent meal of melon and prosciutto followed by 1 spaghetti vongole and 1 penne washed down with water and a litre of very drinkable house white (all enjoyed on a pretty outside terrace) cost only 20 euros per person.
Again taking the hotel's advice we first visited the local market which was really interesting selling everything from fresh meat, fish and vegetables to clothes and bangles. Leaving with more bags and bangles for Joan we then jumped on a local bus for a 20 minute journey to Tarquinia, a lovely medieval town, set back from the sea with fascinating narrow winding streets to explore all enclosed by majestic medieval town walls. Again incredible value with a 3 course tourist menu with wine & water, only 16 Euro's per person.
Tip. Purchase your bus tickets from the supermarket next door to the bus station and you will only pay 2 Euro's 80 return per person, buy onboard and it will cost you 6 Euro's each.
This evening after a stroll around town we decided to have pizza and wine on our balcony and again following the hotel staff's advice went to the pizzeria next door to the hotel. We do not speak Italian and none of the staff or customers spoke any English but with lots of arm waving, pointing and laughter we ended up with a huge and superb pizza. Pizzas were charged by weight and the cost for the largest pizza we have ever tried to eat was only 18 Euro's.
This morning we were up at 06.30 to stand on our balcony with goosebumps as we watched the Royal Clipper appear in the distance and sail into the port and moor directly opposite our balcony - amazing!!!
Checking out of our hotel at 11.00 and leaving our cases we had a pleasant wander around town before an enjoyable lunch opposite the railway station as we waited for our friends Val & Ken who were joining us on the cruise, to arrive from Rome.
It is a 20 minute walk from the train station to the coach shuttle park (with plenty of places to stop for a drink if it is hot) so after a couple of drinks we were onboard by 17.00 and saying hello to many of the crew we recognised.
After attending the compulsory life boat drill and then enjoying an excellent dinner, we made our way up on deck with a glass of champagne to enjoy our first sailaway. Always magical and another goosebumps moment.
This morning after another life boat drill we met Captain Sergey Utitsyn and the rest of the officers and crew, before taking the tender ashore at Ponza, a lovely little town built around a wide harbour. After a pleasant walk we selected a little bar with stunning views across the bay towards the Royal Clipper and simply admired the view whilst we sipped local wine and said hello to fellow passengers who all appeared to have the same idea.
Departing Ponza at 15.00 the Royal Clipper headed to the rocky island of Palmarola, where although it is not possible to go ashore the tender boats offered trips around the island which gave great photo opportunities of not only the island but also Royal Clipper.
We must say at this point, that Balazs, the ships young entertainer was fabulous and very talented. Playing not only piano and keyboards but also both acoustic & electric guitar as well as having an amazing voice and a huge repertoire of songs (Beatles, R.E.M, Rolling Stones & Passenger to name but a few) , he kept us up dancing until 1 am on more than one occasion.
Royal Clipper anchored off Sorrento at 09.00 for a full day in this beautiful town.
Tip. We may have mentioned before but take the lift up from the port to the centre of town the lift is located just behind the public beach and only costs 1 Euro 80 for a return trip.
Sorrento is a busy town with a huge selection of shops, bars and restaurants. It might also be the wedding capital of Italy as whilst we sat having (another) drink overlooking the bay 5 wedding parties arrived to have photographs taken.
Royal Clipper anchored today at 14.00 at Giardini Naxos, the nearest port to Taormina, one of our favourite towns. Disembarking from the tender there are taxi's waiting to take you up to the town which is perched on a hill overlooking the bay. (Taxis 25 Euros for 2 or 40 Euros for 6). Taormina is a bustling town with a pretty main street filled with shops, bars and restaurants and numerous narrow winding streets leading off it to explore.
Taking advantage of the first late night sailaway we decided to have dinner ashore and found a beautiful little pizzeria with stunning views over the bay.
Tip. Taxis from the port drop you at one end of the main street, when you wish to return the main taxi rank is at the opposite end of the main street where it is much easier to get a taxi back to the tender.
Returning to the ship we were in time to enjoy entertainment from Gruppo Folk Naxos, an excellent traditional Sicilian folklore group.
Today was spent totally at sea as the Royal Clipper sailed from Sicily to Corfu. Sea days are always relaxing and give you a chance to get to know many of your fellow passengers (if you haven't met them already at the bar) as you sunbathe or sit cooling off in one of the 3 pools. For the more energetic there is the opportunity to take part in mast climbing with the reward for your efforts being stunning views of the ship.
After dinner it is well worth going on deck for a lesson in star gazing undertaken by the bridge officer.
Waking after another good night’s sleep you will find Royal Clipper already tied up alongside the pier in Corfu. After breakfast simply walk down the gang plank and take the free shuttle bus from the ship to the cruise terminal.
Tip. It is possible to walk from the terminal to Corfu town but in the heat we would always recommend you take one of the waiting taxis which are only 10 Euros for 4 passengers.
Corfu town is a bustling and interesting place to explore with everything from traditional and touristy shops to a Marks & Spencer’s and attractive cricket pitch surrounded by bars and restaurants.
Tonight was Pirates night which is always great fun and entering into the spirit the 4 of us purchased 4 identical Instant Pirate Just Add Rum t-shirts. Great fun!!
This morning we arrived at Kotor after a stunning sailing through the bay which is often referred to as Europe's southernmost fjord, and is listed by UNESCO as one of their world heritage sites - stunning!!!
Initially as a large cruise ship was tied up at the pier we anchored off shore, however once this had left we tied up alongside and walked ashore. Kotor is another of our favourite stops (you can see why we decided to do this wonderful sailing again) and is a beautiful well preserved medieval town still completely enclosed by its original walls.
After exploring the narrow streets we stopped (second stop actually) at our favourite pub Evergreen and Tony enjoyed a glass of the superb dark beer (Joan prefers the local wine). Having already decided to take advantage of the late night sailaway to have dinner ashore we had already selected a restaurant but reading on line reviews decided we had made a mistake. Thankfully fellow passengers sitting at the next table recommended a restaurant they had found (thank you Alan) which turned out to be amazing. Trpeza, definitely worth a visit, with beautiful inside and outside eating areas. Nothing was too much trouble for the very friendly staff and allowing them to suggest what we ate led to one of the most memorable meals we have had for many years. Reasonably priced too - at 50 Euros per person including 3 bottles of wine (it was between 6 of us and we were on holiday) mixed tappas style starters and 3 large fresh fish selected by us from the iced display which were accompanied by lots of veg all finished with a shot of local spirit.
Sailaway is 23.45 but well worth staying up for as the whole town including the walls is illuminated at night and looks spectacular as Royal Clipper sails away. Yet another goosebumps moment.
Anchoring off Dubrovnik at 14.00 this is another late night sailaway with Royal Clipper not departing until 23.45. Dubrovnik is a beautiful and very popular town. Due to the popularity of Game of Thrones it is now always busy and has become very expensive, particularly the bars and restaurants around the harbour and main street.
Tip. Choose one of the many bars and restaurants in the little side streets and prices are much cheaper. Do bear in mind Dubrovnik is part of Croatia and not in the EU so although many places will accept cards and Euros it is best to have some of the local currency - Kunas. Likewise Hvar & Rovinj, the next 2 stops. Indeed, many bars, shops and restaurants in Hvar & Rovinj only accepted Kuna's.
Tonight’s entertainment on board was Tall Ship Memories Movie Night in the Piano Bar. Around Cape Horn followed by Around The World In The Pommern. As many of you will know, Around Cape Horn has been shown for many years on the Star Clipper ships. Mikael Krafft (founder and president of Star Clippers) has recently been given 3 copies of the film Around The World In The Pommern for each of the ships.
Today we are in Hvar. There was a choice of either a tender to the beach or a tender to the town. We decided to do the town. Hvar is a small but busy port very popular with young people.
Tip. Follow the path around the bay past the church and around the headland and you come to a smaller bay with just a few bars and restaurants, much quieter and perfect for a drink and a spot of people watching.
Walking back to the main town we stopped at a lovely beach front restaurant for another drink (can you see a pattern developing here, well it was hot) and shared between the 4 of us, two portions of the best chips we have ever tasted.
Arriving at Rovinj at 12.00 Royal Clipper anchors off shore so after an early lunch we went ashore to explore this lovely little town. Don't be put off by the initial view of the town which is not that pretty, once you leave the tender and walk past what appears to be a derelict factory it becomes much prettier. Walk through the main street and you come to a lovely harbour full of small boats and surrounded by open air bars and restaurants. Much cheaper than Hvar & Dubrovnik, for example 3 beers and 1 wine in Hvar 128 Kunas, Rovinj same order 88 Kunas. (£1.00 = 7.3 Kunas, 7th August 2017).
Tonight was guest and crew talent show, always an event not to be missed and this year didn't disappoint, with everything from singing & dancing to some very impressive magic from Manolito , the bar manager.
Sadly today is our last day (until our next trip in October) and we are at Piran, so back to Euro's. As it was our last day the 4 of decided to have lunch ashore - pizzas & spaghetti Bolognese which was delicious, in a small restaurant situated along the promenade with fabulous views of the Royal Clipper.
Then back on board to pack and dress for our final night's dinner on board. This is always an emotional and quite uplifting event as the whole crew gather in the restaurant waving their national flags and singing “we are the world". Definitely a night to take your camera into dinner.
This morning we were up at 5.30 and up on deck to witness the Royal Clipper sail along the lagoon past St. Mark’s Square and into Venice. Without a doubt one of the most magical experiences and one not to be missed. It is well worth the effort of rising early and when you go on deck you will be amazed at just how many of your fellow passengers have also made the effort.
Sadly after breakfast it was time to disembark and bid farewell to the crew and many new friends we had made. This year we were flying directly home and so had booked the coach transfer from the port to the airport through Star Clippers. This was very well organised and after collecting our cases which had been taken to the terminal exit for us, it was only a short walk to the coach and a 25 minute drive to Venice airport.
Please note the coach park at Venice airport is a 5 minute walk to the terminal entrance however there are plenty of free baggage trollies available.
Another amazing sailing over. We hope you have enjoyed reading about our latest adventure and we look forward to helping you plan your next Star Clipper cruise.