Travel writer Raisa Rivas is sailing aboard Nieuw Amsterdam’s current 12-day Mediterranean cruise and will be sending in cruise diaries throughout her voyage.
We had a very smooth embarkation day! Although we were really tired because of the long flights, there were no delays (we even arrived one hour prior to scheduled) and no lost suitcases. It just took around 10 minutes in a taxi from the airport to the Marittima Basin, our berth just for one day aboard Nieuw Amsterdam. Later that day, we received a letter from Captain Jonathan Mercer letting us know that the next morning the ship was moving berth to downtown Venice, which is called “Riva Sette Martiri,” located on the San Marco canal, and just 700 meters south of St. Mark’s square.
Like us, passengers that came very tired and with the terrible jet lag found in the ship a great buffet for lunch and an outstanding welcome buffet at evening with BBQ ribs, chicken, salmon and salad. The Manhattan dining room and Canaletto were also open, and all the services of the ship, except the casino and the shops. That night, after a nice walk around the city, we decided to go back to our cabin early, to get ready for the next day.
In our second day, after a good night sleep, we felt really happy and excited to have a long day in Venice. We felt very lucky when we opened the curtains in our cabin and saw the wonderful scenery of downtown Venice. If the first one was really nice with wonderful views, this was better and walking distance to all the major attractions.
But Venice had another surprise for us: the high tides, which make the water flood the city, an event that it’s not supposed to occur in this season (it’s most common during winter). But it didn’t mean that we couldn’t go anywhere, as we could buy disposable boots for 10 euros, or just take off our shoes and have a more in depth feeling of Venice.
As we decided to visit the city in our own, we walked around the stunning streets, did some shopping (really good prices of course for Murano articles and Venetian masks), had some tiramisu and a yummy ricotta pie, and then the absolute highlight of the visit: a gondola ride along the small canals, with Luciano, a gondolier that didn’t sing O Sole Mio for us, but he sang Shakira’s latest hit: “Waka, Waka”!
As good passengers, we returned to the ship on time. Later that night, we had a great dinner in the Manhattan dining room, where we had a crostini with fresh tomato, basil and prosciutto as appetizer; a tomato and fennel soup, a honey-glazed snapper filet, and eggplant and zucchini piccata for my husband. For dessert, there was a great selection, but we absolutely recommended for others the zuppa inglese (slices of sponge cake dipped in sweet wine, filled with whipped cream, diced fruit and topped with a toasted meringue). Food and dessert was extraordinary, but the best of all was the service, that’s a great WOW. Since our first day, we noticed that the staff really wants you to feel like a star.
After this evening of lot of calories, tomorrow will be a good day to begin taking a vigorous walk on the jogging trail, or to visit the gym. We have a full day of activities waiting for us, including cooking classes in the Culinary Arts Center, computer classes as part of the Digital Workshop program and tournaments and games like ping pong, Scrabble, aquaerobics and volleyball.