Day 5 Tuesday 20th September 2022


Written by Tam

We’re awake before the 7.30am alarm and watch as we come into port – Marina Di Carrara – Italy. We decide to try The Galley for breakfast and are impressed by the selection of items available. We have a wander round to each of the stations to look at all the options before taking a seat at a spare table and await a waiter/waitress to serve us. It doesn’t take long and we order two coffees, whilst Kev has salmon and cream cheese on toast and I have yoghurt, berries and granola and we both finish with a delicious fresh raisin roll. Some of the stations have grab and go options, like the yoghurt, berry combo and various pastries etc., but others are cooked to order and these can be ordered from the waiters.

We head back to the cabin to pick up everything we need for the day and head to the gangway for 8.30am disembarkation. Today our plan is to visit Cinque Terre (five lands), having seen a post on Instagram for this beautiful location it’s long been on my list of must see destinations. We’ve researched the best options to make the most of the day and have made a decision as to which of the five villages we should aim to visit. To visit all five would mean we wouldn’t be able to do any at a relaxing pace or make the most of them, so we picked the three that appealed the most. Rather than doing the ships tour with hundreds of others, we decided to use public transport and hopefully get ahead of the crowds and do things at our own pace.
To that end we arrive at the station after a longish walk to find we have just missed the 9.15am train that we were hoping to catch so instead we wait for the 9.45am one. We have to change at Massa Central where there’s about a 20 minute wait for the train to the main station for Cinque Terre which is La Spezia. Once here there’s a big queue for tickets to get to all the Cinque Terre villages – you can get a card that allows you to travel to each one but we decide against this as we’re not seeing them all today and opt instead to pay €5 for each leg.
Our first stop is Vernazza – it’s such a stunning place, colourful houses surrounding a small marina with The Santa Margherita di Antiochia Church dominating the coast with the bell tower and elegant cupola, there’s also a castle – Doria Castle standing above The Belforte Bastion. Plenty of photo and video opportunities here and we are so happy that we made the decision to venture out to this village today.

We get back on the train to our next stop Manarola which is the second smallest of the towns. Again the many colourful houses clinging to the rocks above the tiny harbour are very picturesque. We take some steps up the street heading out to a restaurant we’d read about – Nessun Dorma – which has spectacular views back to the village, but unfortunately it's shut for the winter. Still we enjoy the view and watch people diving off the large rock in the middle of the harbour into the water.

Onwards and upwards we head to our last stop of the day – the village of Riomaggiore. This is actually the first village when travelling from La Spezia. So to clarify the two villages we didn’t visit were Monterosso – the furthest from La Spezia and Corniglia the middle village. Our decision was purely based on having looked at photos and blogs from other visitors and deciding which would be the most impressive. As we exit the train station at Riomaggiore we go through a pedestrian tunnel which is beautifully decorated in mosaics, all sorts of amazing bright patterns including underwater scenes make the walk into the village a real treat.
The harbour again is picturesque with beautiful restaurants lining the waterside and the streets up from the harbour have boats parked up the sides of the street, like other towns would have cars parked. It’s certainly quirky. We find a small table at one of the harbourside restaurants – Dau Cila and enjoy the sunshine with a lovely bottle of white wine, limonata, fillet of fish with sauces, cucumber and vegetables and prawns, langoustines and sweetheart tomatoes. What a perfect setting for a delicious meal.

[Kev - We both agreed that the villages were probably the highlight of the entire cruise. So beautiful and even surpassed the Amalfi coast.]

[Kev - This was one of those meals that you will remember forever. After a long day walking around it was lovely to sit down and relax in the most beautiful location with an ice cold bottle of wine and some fresh seafood.]

[Kev - It wasn't the cheapest - I think the meal and wine came to just over 100 Euro - but I'd pay that again in a heartbeat for the same experience.]

We now decide we’d better to head back to Le Spezia station so we can ensure we get a bus back for the final leg of our journey as the long walk doesn’t seem so appealing after a day in the sunshine and a bottle of wine!
This time we return via Sarzana station and the journey is much prettier than our outbound trip. Get out at Marina Di Carrara station and luckily as there are a number of returning tourists from our ship we are able to share a taxi back to port for €10 a couple.
We head back to the cabin to enjoy a relax on the balcony before getting ready for our evening meal. Tonight we are off to Gunbae This is a Korean barbecue restaurant and is advertised as being a social, interactive dining experience. This is the only restaurant where you are seated with other passengers. We are seated on a round table with 4 other people (a couple from the UK and one from Australia), in the middle of the table is a flameless grill where the meal is cooked in front of you. It’s fun to sit with other couples for this meal but I find that because we are talking so much that actually it was difficult to enjoy the actual food as much as I’d hoped. The server starts the meal with a drinking game which I can’t remember but involves numbers and shouting Gunbae and drinking if you lose – the shots are a fruity spirit which is actually ok to drink. Kev manages to win – and his prize ……. Another shot of the drink.

We’re asked what we want to eat and there’s a selection of small bites – like seaweed salad, cucumber and shitake mushrooms/kimchi and mung bean pancake/ mixed seafood corn dog/ mixed seafood and scallion pancake and crispy chicken, pickled daikon and chili sauce. We have the crispy chicken and the seafood pancake. The next section on the menu is Rice/Noodles/Stews – Bimibap – short grain rice, egg and mixed vegetables, Japchae – stir fried vegetables, egg and noodles, Kimchi-Jjige – kimchi stew, pork belly, gochujang – we go for Bimibap. Lastly there’s the BBQ Grill selection, assorted mushrooms and vegetables/ squid, octopus, shrimp/ marinated beef short ribs/ Chefs combo of ribs, pork belly and shrimp – we decide on the marinated short ribs. All these get cooked in the middle of the table, but again because we were so busy talking it was difficult to savour the flavours and eat them when they were fresh off the grill. The small side salad that was served with the meat was really tasty.

[Kev - Tam appears to have forgotten about the dessert. She tells me it was Sikhye/Black Sesame Twist soft serve with black sesame granola, mimi mochi and miso caramel. I can tell that she enjoyed it as she is drooling as she recalls it all.]

The meal is over just after 9pm so we decide to go to The Red Room for Duel Reality show. It’s a fast paced contemporary re-telling of the classic story of Romeo and Juliet/Westside Story. The performers are very talented doing a number of acrobatics and acts which would be difficult under normal circumstances, but to perform them whilst on a ship in the middle of the sea must be exceptionally hard. The performance is accompanied by music and dancers and we thoroughly enjoyed this show. The crowd is divided into two sides – reds and blues. The only problem with this performance is there is no bar near the venue and therefore the only drinks available outside are limited. We decide on a tin of Smoky Margarita and a Pineapple Daquiri – both of which were disgusting. Due to the dangerous nature of the show you’re not permitted to leave whilst the acts are on so we were stuck with the drinks for the length of time we were in the theatre.
[Kev - She's right about the drinks. You could only get tinned drinks at the entrance to the theatre and they were not good.]

After the show we go to Pink Agave – after dark – there’s loud salsa/latin music being played by a DJ but we get a couple of margaritas and a small bowl of guacamole. The margs were ok but the guac was entirely tasteless. It seemed like it was just mashed avocado, no lime, chillis or seasoning – very disappointing. This was topped with pomegranate seeds which did nothing to make it taste any good but made it marginally more aesthetically pleasing.
On that note we head to bed.

[Kev - It really was a wonderful day and sums up what the beauty of cruising is. After visiting amazing sights you return to your floating hotel to enjoy food, drink and entertainment. What's not to like?]