There is little left to set sail and all passengers are already on board the cruise. The crew dismantled the security control and the passengers go from here to there knowing all the nooks and crannies of the Vista, this ship that will take us through the Mediterranean and will be our home for the next 8 days.
On the deck there are more and more people. Some are already trying sandwiches and drinks while others relax on the lounge chairs or take pictures of the landscape.
At 19 p.m., as the schedule said, the ruins of the fortress that once protected the port of Civitavecchia, near Rome, begin to look smaller marking the beginning of the maiden voyage of the new Oceania Cruises ship.
The port of Civitavecchia Photo Shutterstock.
The Italian city disappears completely and the landscape becomes blue thanks to a pristine spring sky, which on the horizon seems to touch the immensity of the Tyrrhenian Sea, where the ship is leaving a large wake in its wake.
Night falls and life on board begins to take color. Passengers are seen dressed elegantly to go to dinner; at Martinis, a bar located on the sixth floor, there is a piano show; and little by little, among the guests the word begins to spread that in Founders, the small bar next to the casino, there is an excellent and exotic cocktail bar with drinks whose presentations earn a photo on Instagram.
As Currents points out, the diary that they leave us on the bed so as not to miss any activity and explain the navigation conditions, this is a special trip, since it is an itinerary created only for the inauguration of the ship, which will take us to know -although there can always be unforeseen events- four destinations: Malta, Naples, Sardinia and Corsica.
Martinis, Vista's bar where they perform live performances. Photo Luxe Latam
When you arrive at a new port the day starts early, but it seems that nobody cares to get up early because the excitement of knowing a destination is stronger than the desire to sleep.
Around 9 in the morning we are already walking the streets of Valletta, capital of Malta.
Wall and ochre buildings, a postcard of the historic center of Valletta. Photo Shutterstock
The history of continuous invasions and different dominations remains latent in the extensive wall that covers the historic center.
Also in cultural matters, for example, after being under the rule of Napoleon Bonaparte, the island became part of the British Empire until its independence and, of course, here it is handled on the right side.
Another curiosity is the language. English is the official language along with Maltese, a language that derives from Maghrebi Arabic, but is expressed in the Latin alphabet.
The center is in height. It can be taken up by elevator or by ramp. Photo Travel/ CD
According to our guide, an Arabic-speaking person can understand them perfectly. The language also takes Italian, Greek and Spanish words, due to the position of the island and the domains it had.
In Valletta there is a lot to see. All this history makes the center an open-air museum, in fact, the capital was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco becoming one of the densest historical cities in the world: in 55 hectares there are 320 monuments.
Its streets are charming: the buildings are all an ochre color with colorful balconies; There are yellows, reds, light blues, violets, greens. The sidewalks are very narrow, some go uphill and others downhill, sometimes they become stairs. There are numerous places to eat, many churches to visit and dozens of alleys to discover.
Narrow streets and colourful balconies, a tour of Valletta. Photo Shutterstock
The great must-see: the gardens of Barraka, divided into Upper Barraka (top) and Lower Barraka (bottom). They are built on the wall of the wall and that is why one is on top of the other.
Although they are some of the most beautiful green spaces in Malta and from here you get one of the most amazing views of the city and the port, their popularity is due to the line of canyons that are under the parks. Every day, at 12 and 16, cannon salvos are thrown and the parks are filled with tourists who want to see the show.
Another of the points of interest most sought after by visitors, and for which you have to be patient because there is always a line, is the Co-Cathedral of San Juan. The eyes despair to see this architectural wonder, even the decoration of the floor surprises those who enter.
Twice a day a salvo of cannons is launched. Photo Shutterstock
For those who spend more than one day in Malta, it is recommended to visit villages surrounding the capital that are very close.
We make an express stop in Vittoriosa or Birgu, in Maltese. We get lost in narrow streets, photograph the colorful balconies, get to know the city gate and in the main square we try a pastizzis, a traditional salty cake filled with ricotta.
We also pass through Marsaxlokk, a fishing village with many vineyards. Its main attraction is the waterfront, full of small boats, souvenir stalls and restaurants located next to each other.
Birgu Gate. Photo Viajes / CD.
For those who like to try local flavors, Maltese food has Sicilian, British and a little Arabic influence. The national dish is called fenkata, spaghetti with rabbit; The meat is cooked with wine, potatoes and garlic. Another popular dish is fish, called lampuki, which is served as a soup, stew or cake.
After spending almost two days in Malta, we say goodbye to the island in a very special way: as the ship sets sail, the cannons of Valletta fire and we have a privileged view of the event.
A grey sky with intermittent rain welcomes us at our second stop: Naples, a chaotic but charming destination, where the fervor for football and love for Maradona invade even the least footballing Argentine.
In a walk of a few blocks you can find numerous references to the soccer star. From the balconies hang flags and T-shirts with his face, in souvenir shops everything has its image, in a wine bar hang scarves with the inscription Maradona and a popular pizzeria bears the name of "Santa Maradona".
Maradona's famous mural summons numerous visitors in search of a photo. Photo Travel/CD.
On Via Emanuele de Deo is the famous Pelusa mural. The peculiarity is that the player's face is painted on a window that, according to urban legend, only opened with the victories of Napoli, the local club, and when Argentina won in Qatar.
The place is an argentine oasis that summons several tourists who take pictures and buy t-shirts or other souvenirs.
To all these street tributes, we must now add the expressions of affection dedicated to Napoli, recent Serie A champions getting the Scudetto after 33 years.
The streets of Naples are full of tributes dedicated to the local club. Photo Peterluga
White and blue flags, posters with the inscription Forza Napoli and T-shirts of the new idols, today are part of the landscape of Naples, the third most populous city in Italy.
But in addition to the love for the shirt, there is a lot of history and culture here. The main points of interest, luckily, are a few meters from the port. The first one we find is the Castel Nuovo (New Castle), a fortress built between 1279 and 1282. At this moment it is surrounded by scaffolding for maintenance works, something unpicturesque for the photo ... We will have to go back.
A must-see is the Galleria Umberto I, one of the most popular in the country next to the Vittorio Emanuele in Milan. It was built between 1887 and 1890 and is covered by an iron and glass structure, decorated with numerous statues. Inside there are several shops and restaurants.
Tourists strolling through the Umberto I Gallery. Photo Shutterstock
The tour continues throughPiazza del Plebiscito, the city's main square. On one side we see the imposing Royal Palace, which has concentrated political power for three centuries, and where the National Library and a museum about the history of the building operate. On the opposite side, we find the Basilica Reale Pontificia San Francesco da Paola with its majestic façade full of columns.
A gem of this area, which is overlooked by many tourists, is Gambrinus, Naples' most famous café, which first opened in 1860 and boasts a rich family history.
Even if one is not going to consume, it is worth entering and seeing its interior that protects the best of the Belle Epoque, with its rooms decorated with marbles and numerous paintings. Of course, not being tempted is almost impossible.
View of the Basilica Reale Pontificia San Francesco da Paola. Photo Shutterstock
So we took advantage of the excuse that we are in a historical place and tried the famous sfogliatella, a kind of sweet cake filled with ricotta and some fruit.
Without more time, we return to the ship. Arrivederci Napoli.
The scale that wasn't
It is a new day on board and most passengers are having breakfast almost ready to disembark in Sardinia, a destination that can already be seen through the windows. However, plans change.
"Good day ladies and gentlemen. We regret to inform you that due to weather conditions and to ensure your safety, the port authorities and our captain, have decided not to dock in Olbia," an announcement read.
Pool, jacuzzis, sunbeds and bar, this is the 12th floor of Vista. Photo Luxe Latam
After a few minutes of laments and several sighs, the energies change and we take the opportunity to enjoy all the services of Vista, the new cruise of Oceania Cruises.
The first hours of the day were spent in the pool and in the jacuzzis on the 12th floor. For lunch we chose Terrace Café, one of the ship's 11 restaurants. This is buffet style and informal.
Our afternoon continues to duel with different passengers on the 16th floor where the 18-hole minigolf course and a paddle court are.
The miniature golf course has 18 holes. Photo: Viajes/ CD
Special activities such as an art workshop, yoga and spinning classes and skincare talks are organized throughout the day.
In the afternoon the live shows begin in different sectors of the ship. In Martinis, a bar located on the sixth floor, there is a singer playing the piano; in Grand Lounge, also in the 6, a quartet of girls play some waltz and in Horizons, in the 14, a band puts rhythm with Latin songs.
For dinner, we chose Polo Grill, a restaurant specializing in meat where decoration and ocean views are protagonists.
Cena en Polo Grill. Foto Viajes/ CD
Luego pasamos por Founders, donde los tragos se roban las miradas de todos con sus presentaciones extravagantes, y terminamos nuestro día de navegación en Vista Lounge, el teatro donde todos los días, a las 21.45, se presentan diferentes musicales.
En tierras napoleónicas
The arrival in Ajaccio, the capital of Corsica, is early. At 6.45 the boat is already in port and some time later tourists can start to get off.
Napoleon Bonaparte was born on this French island and several of the attractions are in his honor: monuments, squares, streets, museums. Those interested in his life could spend all day knowing places related to his history.
Statue of Napoleon on Place d'Austerlitz. Photo Shutterstock
For example, one of the obligatory stops is the Maison Bonaparte, located on Rue de Letizia and Rue Saint Charles. That was the house where the famous conquistador was born and raised. A plaque above the entrance commemorates his birth, on August 15, 1769. Family portraits, period furniture and other memorabilia are on display there.
On Place du Foch, the most beautiful square in the city, surrounded by palm trees and located in front of the port, there is a statue of Napoleon wearing a Roman toga. Another popular monument is on Place d'Austerlitz, up on a hill. To get to the statue you have to climb some stairs, the reward? A great panoramic view of the island.
And so, we could list a long list of places dedicated to the emperor, but on the island there is much more to do.
Napoleon was baptized in this Cathedral. Photo Shutterstock
"The center is so small that it is impossible to get lost," says our guide Isabella. It is very picturesque, with narrow streets, buildings of different pastel colors and bars everywhere.
In the simple architecture of the houses the legacy of Italian rule is present. Also in the language, while French is the official one, all the locals speak Corsican, a language similar to an old Italian.
Visiting the Cathedral surprises more than one. On the outside it has a simple façade and looks small, but upon entering, the decoration is ostentatious and the dimensions enormous. There, he was baptized Napoleon when he was two years old.
Another main attraction is the Fesch Museum, where the art collection of Cardinal Joseph Fesch, uncle of Napoleon, is exhibited. Among all the objects, around 1,500 Italian paintings stand out.
Ajaccio has several beaches a few meters from the center. Photo Travel/ CD
In this palace, which began to be built in 1828 in a staggered manner, there is also the Imperial Chapel.
After walking through the center, we move away a little and we will know the beaches. Some are made of sand and others of stone. In all of them you can see people enjoying the sea and the sun during this European spring.
To continue knowing the outskirts, we got on a bus. 11 kilometers to the north, the landscape changes completely, the buildings disappear and we arrive at Parata, a protected natural area, which includes islands and hills and is recommended for hiking and knowing the local flora.
The Parata protected area is ideal for a getaway to a natural environment. Photo Shutterstock
This island in only 8,680 km², has it all. Ski centers, the waterfall of Prunelli and Les Calanches, mountains of red granite, will be left for the next visit.
The stay in Ajaccio ends, but before returning to the cruise we take advantage of every minute on land and pass by the city market, located steps from the port, where they sell cheeses, sausages, wines, olives, sweets, among others.
Shortly before 17.30 we returned to the ship and went up to the deck to take a last look at this destination where we would like to stay longer.
Ajaccio Market. Photo Shutterstock
As the ship moves away and the city disappears, we go to the cabin to pack our bags because this incredible tour of the Mediterranean has come to an end and it is time to return home.
A feeling of nostalgia invades the body, but also of joy for having known new destinations, having tasted local flavors and having added incredible experiences.
- From Barcelona to London, 14 days, from 4 to 18 August. From US$ 6,699 per person in double room. Includes 6 shore excursions, beverage package and $600 onboard credit.
- From London to New York, 18 days, from August 30 to September 17. From US$ 7,449. It includes the same as the previous one.
Prices on board
- Dining experiences that are not included: wine tasting, US$ 44 plus 20% tip, lunch and pairing from US$ 99 plus tip.
- Massages from US$ 229, 75 minutes.
- Manicure and pedicure, US$ 129.
- Washing and styling hair US$ 79.
Makeup US$ 79.
- Highlights in Naples. It lasts three hours and visits the main sites of interest, US$ 259 per person.
- Scenic Sights of Malta. It lasts three hours, US$ 279 per person.
- Highlights in Ajaccio. It lasts three hours, US$ 259 per person.
Where to find out more