April 17, 2016

World Cruise 2016 Day 103

Day 103 – Monte Carlo, Monaco. We arrive in Monte Carlo with cloudy skies and temperatures in the high 50's. The high is expected to reach 62. We are berthed at the only pier, and there are no other cruise ships here, but many large private yachts. Some of the largest have been anchored for years and never move.

My nice easy tour today will take me past Eze to the nice French town of Nice as well as around Monaco. (I just had to use those words in one sentence.)

There are about 35 of us for the tour. The bus is sitting on the pier, and we are the last tour group to leave the ship. We are given our stickers and head for the bus early, giving everyone plenty of time for the long 20 foot walk from the gangway to the bus. We sit until the designated departure time, and we sit, and sit some more. There is one more passenger on the way, she arrived at the gathering place on the ship 20 minutes late, but we wait for her.

We are on our way. Monaco is very small, and within 15 minutes we are in France. There is a frantic voice from the escort at the back of the bus. A passenger is sick, and she asks that the bus be stopped. The driver pulls over as soon as possible. After several consultations and phone calls, the decision is made that a cab will be sent for the ill passenger, and the escort will take him back to the ship. We begin the wait for the cab arrival.

After about 30 minutes we learn that Monaco cab drivers will not go into France to pick up a fare, and there are no French cabs in the area that are working today. The bus heads back to the ship. An hour has passed and we are sitting back on the pier where we started. The shore excursion office and the tour operator adjust the tour ending time as needed. We start again.

Roads are very narrow, and the area very congested. Being Sunday most businesses are closed and the traffic is reasonable. Our guide has a very soft voice, and the speakers are turned all the way up. The couple behind me can't hear him. I suggest that they could hear better in the front of the bus where there was less engine noise. That didn't interest them, so they just talk to each other much of the trip so several other passengers can't hear the guide either.

Just as we arrive in Nice for one and a half hours of "free time" it begins to rain. The first rain while I am in port in 103 days of travel! The guide and driver agree to spend the time showing us other areas of Nice from the bus. The passengers appreciate it.

We stop at public washrooms for a restroom break. As is the case in much of Europe, there is a small fee. Despite being told many times to carry some Euros for incidentals like washrooms, at least a third of the needy passengers have none. Between the guide, myself,  and several other properly prepared passengers being generous, everyone that needs the bathroom gets in and we are again on our way.

Shortly later the sun comes out and we then enjoy our free time. I grab a quick lunch. The return to the ship is uneventful, but I can't begin to imagine what it would be like to travel with inexperienced travelers if these are the ways of seasoned ones.

Last night turned out to be a very sad evening for most of us. Everyone was given the "Fort Lauderdale Disembarkation Questionnaire". This is the starting point of the disembarkation process at the end of our cruise. I have no guess how long it will take to clear customs, but I doubt there will be many passengers carrying off their own luggage.

Tonight Rita Rudner does another comedy show. Having gotten to know her and her husband this past week makes the show even more enjoyable.

In order to meet our scheduled arrival time in Barcelona tomorrow, we need to average over 19 knots. At present we are going 20.6 knots, with a 20 mph wind almost directly on the bow. The ship is riding smoothly but the speed means harmonic vibrations in the stateroom most of the night. My tour doesn't leave until 10:00, so there will be no need for an early alarm clock.