Costa Smeralda - Part 2 Palma Mallorca and onwards

Day 2 begins with a lovely warm morning  where the view from the cabin reveals that we have arrived  in Palma Mallorca. To be precise we have docked at the  Palma Estación Marítima 6 (cruise port 6) which is possibly the furthest point you can get from the city when arriving by sea - as fate would have it though we find we are in the perfect position to visit an area Jack knows from her early trips to Mallorca.

However first things first - Breakfast in the Panorama is absolute paradise  - perfect service and perfectly cooked food in a small quiet private dining room - such a luxury compared to the noise and hustle of the buffets. To be fair the Smeralda like most cruise lines does actually have an MDR open for table service breakfasts everyday and to balance things even I must admit that if the weather is suitable there is nothing quite like eating your breakfast out on deck (something we usually do when aboard NCL ships).

As we were only here a few weeks ago on the NCL Epic the  plan we have come up with is to walk (google maps tells us its 30 mins away) to the Sant Agusti area which Jack had previously stayed in her teen years with girlfriends. Its a sort of nostalgia trip combined with a good bit of solid exercise. As we approach our destination she remembers being on this road whilst the police held up the traffic & a fleet of rather grand vehicles drove through the gate. This gateway actually leads to the summer residence of the Spanish Royal family.

So part of what would have been the palaces grounds have now been turned into public gardens and art displays. Its actually a slightly longer walk than it looks from the port. (mainly because the port is so huge and google maps is useless when you indicate walking - wanting to take us on the most indirect route possible) . However we pass through beautiful turquoise coves (and shortcuts through petrol stations) until we  finally  arrive.

Many  moons ago one of  our first  Spanish trips found us touring the central areas with Magic of Spain travel company. In the  city of Madrid we visited the Prado and as always happens found ourselves looking for a gift from the gallery. We settled on a lovely wooden block jigsaw/puzzle/ornament that was designed around a Joan Miro work of art. 

This entire tranquil park is dedicated to surrealist artist Joan Miros sculptural works. Rather like our wonderful little wooden jigsaw puzzle from the Prado its best if you dont try to link the title of the work with what your looking at otherwise you'll be scratching your head for quite some time. The surrounding town area does seem to have declined in popularity though and has a tired and neglected look about it. So with nothing more than closed fast food establishments on offer we find a taxi at the rank and head back to the ship for lunch.

One advantage of eating in the Panorama is that all those dishes listed as "supplement" are included in here. These giant prawns are sweet and tender and washed down with a few glasses of cold and dry white wine a perfect lunch for a sunny day.

One thing that the Smeralda has got right is the sheer amounts of outdoor space. Decks even on the promenade are extra wide and spacious. And its nicely split up into various rooms and levels using wind breaks so your never really staring at miles and miles of decks and sunbeds.  There's also plenty of shade should you need it.

Every new ship now seems to have a glass walkway. Here you can stare down at the rear bar ( Spanish Steps) on deck 6 from the heights of deck 18.

Tomorrow will be a full sea day as we head from Mallorca towards Italy and Rome; already news is starting to filter through that this may not quite be as straightforward as it sounds. There has been  nothing official announced yet, but it doesnt take more than a few glances at the internet to realise Italy looks like it may be preparing to lockdown more than the Lombardy region.

Day 3 At sea

Sea days, calm waters, good books and quiet spaces (and great great great coffee) - paradise on the ocean waves. In case you're interested its Peter Swanson's latest (as the latest Elizabeth George is bigger and probably weighs in at more than the Bible).

Its another nice warm relaxing day where its rather easy to forget the drama and chaos that is slowly unraveling around the world. Its possible some of that is down to the fact that this is one of the most clean and hygienic environments I have ever set foot on so we feel wonderfully looked after and safe.

By mid afternoon we get the full details of what the current plan is regarding the  Italian ports. The plan is  we will be visiting each port on schedule but only to disembark those passengers who have reached their final destination. We will each receive immediate compensation for every port missed in the form of onboard credit which will be refunded in cash at the end if unspent. Luckily we have actually done this route before on the Diadema and have visited Rome and Italy in general  many times before; and I'm sure we'll be back many more times in the future. To be honest I think its what most people were expecting as things are  now changing in Europe on a daily basis.

Back to life onboard I realise I have not mentioned the evening entertainment. I have to say the Smeraldas theatre is actually a strange and perhaps not quite as successful affair as the rest of the ship. Seating on the second level has a lot of restricted view areas and for a ship that has one of the best lighting rigs I have ever seen on a vessel the sound is a bit quiet,dull and lacking any ooomph.

To be honest we only actually visited the theatre once during this entire cruise and never actually watched any of the shows in the Colosseum area (which is sort of a cross between an Atrium with an elevating stage and a theatre) so can't really comment on how that set up works.

Our favourite spot after dinner has rapidly become the Jazz club. A wonderful band made up of Spaniards and a Canadian pianist; they sound superb and can turn their hand to a great variety of music styles. They split the sets up between Jazz songbook classics (including a superb rendition of Americano) to rock classics sessions including Dire Straits (the guitarist is superb) Gary Moore, Beatles, Queen etc. We pass the nights drinking Gin and Tonics or Camparis and Sodas. Service in the bars has been fantastic.

As the sun sets over a calm Mediterranean its time to  relax into  a few days on board a ship that will be disembarking passengers daily without replacing them. Marseilles now looks like it will be the next port where we can disembark which is 4 days away - its a good job we are used to the slow calm pace of transatlantic crossings :)

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