September 2010 Mediterranean cruise

Valence-sur-Baïse - As we leave the heat of August behind us

Rue des Arts Moissac - lessons in the sunshine, joy listening to mother and son

We cruised back from Valence sur Baise to our home port in Moissac, very excited about boarding a different ship in a few days. This was a fab holiday, before starting the renovation work on our house which has all been finalised this month. We enjoyed the vibrancy of Moissac and especially sitting in our garden, watching the boats cruise by.

Maria and I enjoyed packing our clothes (no weight restriction). Maria, Howell, John and I headed off in our car for Barcelona. We boarded the Costa Pacifica at 3pm, boarding was slow. This ship had on board 3,700 passengers, most were Italian with their children, (noisy). Passengers boarding and disembarkation at every port. Disembarkation for passengers was not a nice experience at times and let the ship down this we all felt.

Barcelona, Costa Pacifica, 8 days Mediterranean cruise

A map was needs at all times while on board, with 13 decks to explore, 950 foot in length, (good for my walking) 114,50 tons. I must admit lots of time spent getting lost, wonderful exploring the ship, all part of the fun. We would of preferred a smaller ship, this was like being at a Butlins camp at times

Amazing staff on board- who seem very happy in their jobs and well looked after also.

This ship was immaculately clean, we had a balcony suite on the 8th floor and were thrilled with the accommodation and our up grade. Our cabin was cleaned twice a day. The food was really good, with three special Gala dinners to dress up for.

We were given a ship's credit card on arrival, this was used as our passport while on board, also used for getting on and off the ship, card was used for all our needs while on board. A bill was presented to us the night before departure, we were able to keep an eye on the bill via the TV in our room. It was so nice to be pampered, we were so well looked after.

Gala Night our seven course meal

We were invited too a special drinks party with the captain. This special party was for couples who had married, or were on honeymoon, also people celebrating a special wedding anniversary, or special birthday's - as Maria and Howell, were both celebrating their 60th birthdays on board, we all enjoyed free bubbles and a great night, followed by a show. A stunning theatre on board, sadly the show we seen did not match up to the theatre (WOW), so we never went to see a show again, we have seen far better shows on the Bilbao ferry or village hall. But the ship was buzzing, with music, dancing, and things to do every hour of the day, if you wished to take part, or plenty of quiet rooms or corner of the boat could be found to chill out and relax if this was what you wanted or needed.

My way restaurant - we enjoyed many a special evening.

I most enjoyed getting dressed for dinner, though it was not compulsory, except for gala dinners. We were on first sitting, so could enjoy all the music and shows after dinner. 2nd sitting never finished till around midnight, which was late. We did have to ask for our table to be moved after the first night, we were sat near the waiters bay, serving food and placing dirty dishes (it was so noisy I thought my ear drum would burst). We were given a much more suitable table after this, almost in the middle of the room. A joy also for us getting up and dressed for a wonderful breakfast and sunrise (not every morning sunrise) then great days ashore.

Cruising the beautiful coast of Italy, visiting Rome was very special indeed.

Our Itinerary with sun and fun thrown in

Depart and Arrive Barcelona, Palma D Majorca, Tunisia, Malta (the most stunning port to arrive in), Catania, Civitavecchia, (Visiting Roma was one of my high lights), Savona, (magic) then we cruised back to Barcelona.

We mostly cruised at night, dressing for dinner as the sun went down. We arrived in a different port early each morning, so most days we were having breakfast as we cruised into the port of call.

We enjoyed exceptional entertainment, I asked for a special tune for Maria & Howell 60th.

Just enough time in each port to visit some of the highlights of the country we were visiting, a wonderful taster. We had time to shop and enjoy each new day in a different country, without the hassle of flying or driving, we woke each morning in a different port. We had plenty of time to enjoy this vast ship, with all its splendour. Live music in 13 bars, several restaurants to choose from. Dance classes, art opportunities. Maria & Howell enjoyed the gym most mornings, working off all the food.. John enjoyed time to read. I had time to paint and lots fun with camera, and of course the spa WOW.

The Samsara Spa (huge) on two decks this spa has 12 suites also with direct access

Treatments were expensive in the spa and beauty, I enjoyed a sample, enjoyed having my hair put up for the Gala evening, a facial and hand treatment, all on special offer. I might not have this opportunity again to be here, using the biggest Spa afloat. Friends Nick and John gave us a present of a different coloured marker pen before we left (cruisers themselves). Each morning a news paper arrived in our cabin to tell us what was on offer for the we choose carefully with our pens, all the things we wanted to try or the trips we wanted to take part in. Just as we were finding our way around this enormous ship, the holiday came to an end. Though a week was long enough.

We enjoyed our drive back to Moissac, especially the serenity of our peaceful boat and Maria and Howell's house. Nick and John cooked us a wonderful meal in Maria and Howell's the night we returned, what a welcome home they gave us.

Moissac Chasselas AOC grapes

The Chasselas grapes ripen early here in Moissac. This prestige grape was judged this month, for the winner, the flavourful aromas of its crispy pulp earned it an AOC some time ago.
The rich soil here on the slopes in Moissac benefit from lots of sunshine, Moissac is a big fruit growing region. Mirabelles, melons, apples, lovely plums, lots of cherries. Fruit production is what Moissac is renowned for. We all enjoyed a blissful weekend for the grape festival, lots of things going on in the town, we so enjoyed tasting lots of good food here. They were giving away lots of wonderful posters, so I have one or two for the house. Moissac Chasselas AOC grapes

John with Linda and Sylvia whom we 1st met in York, UK - one day I will bring my boat to France.

What a shock when we met up with Sylvia (in red) again this month, what a lovely lady, brave too, full of life and adventure. We met her along with Teresa and Les in York, just before setting off for France in the summer of 2004. Sylvia brought her boat over to France on her own this year, she had promised one day we would be moored together again, she had cruised from Toulouse, not knowing we were in Moissac, we had a lovely catch up. Sadly tootling around the waterways in France on her own is not for her just yet. Sylvia has now taken her boat back to Ripon, UK but one day she hopes to return again with a partner, so our good wishes our sent out to the universe to find her a cruising partner.

Sylvia and friend Linda leaving Moissac port, another adventure arrives - A tent on water

Never a dull moment on the waterways, always meeting new and interesting people, boats caravans and travelers. The couple traveling on this floating tent have traveled all the way from Germany, now they are heading for Bordeaux, sadly the weather was not so good when they were here, we had a few days of rain.

Cruising the canal's of France, as friends helping crew for Tom's boat Easyvie

Tom was getting ready to pick up guests in Montech he needed crew to move "Easyvie" from her moorings in Moissac, Tom asked John and I if we would like to help out, "with pleasure we both said", I asked if we could bring friends along, the more the merrier Tom said. Tina and Sarah were delighted to be asked to join us for the day. Tina and I cooked and brought along a wonderful breakfast and picnic + plenty of wine. The day was magic, Sarah had never before cruised the canal's, we all basked in the sunshine.

A delightful and memorable trip indeed.

Tina and Sarah as we left Moissac - our arrival on the Montauban branch.

The canal is not always peace and sunflowers as Doug and Sally found this week.

The canal near PK159 was closed off today. It transpired that Doug and Sally on their boat "Poseidon" were stranded, on an upside down car in the middle of the canal. A little later they discovered a body was in the car also, a very morbid scene indeed for them, the police brought in a crane to lift their boat off the car.  

The canal was closed for a day as forensics arrived to investigate the scene. Sally & Doug were able to cruise onto Pont des Sables to have their boat lifted out of the water, inspecting boat for damages. Thankfully Poseidon was ok. They were able to carry on with their cruising. So very sad for the man who died in the car and his family.

Celebrating Maria's 60th birthday at Bardigues restaurant and Tina's

Maria and Howell, have been very busy these last few months, adding the finishing touches to their home in Moissac, started renovating there home in Feb, now it is almost finished (is a house ever finished)!

All the help we have given to Maria and Howell is now helping us in designing and putting together our home, as we start our work.

Howell has been helping us get rid of all our rubbish with his tow bar and Toms trailer. We are all very excited with our new projects.

The final signing for our house, Iain and Kaz had bubbles ready for us back in the port.

We were lucky to have lots of bottles of wine and champaign sent or brought to the house by friends, to toast health and happiness Hic Hic.

Tina was a great help to us, bring all her gardening tools, all too soon we had the garden cleared and low and behold we could see the back of our house, what a celebration dinner we had that day on Moet. We shared many a magic moment, in our house, especially the garden, we had lots of lovely lunches sat outside, it was such a very pleasant experience, working very hard indeed. We are so lucky to have friends share in the work and our table with us. We so look forward to this our new adventure.

Work commences on the house

John digs for gold in the celler, hopefully turn this room into utility/boiler room. You could not see the house for the over grown garden, but we soon shifted all the rubble and we worked hard making a start in the loft also.

Happy Hard working days to come. We both thank you so much for all your help.

Our next update will be coming soon - when I can take a break from house renovating.