Thursday, 25 June 2015

June 13, 2015 – Marseille, France & Boarding the Ship

Explore Marseille, check out the Hotel Alex, taxi to the cruise ship terminal, and board the Costa Magica for our first ever cruise

We awoke to find lots of wet clothes from last night’s rainstorm that we were caught in. We had breakfast in the hotel, buffet style. What value! For 12 euros we had pastries, cheese, yoghurt, eggs, bacon, ham, coffee, tea, and juice. We packed up and continued to dry our clothes with the hair dryer.

We checked out and checked our bags in the hotel as we had some extra time to kill. As we walked to the Old harbour, we stumbled upon a flea market. It was fascinating to peruse the old wares and quasi-antiques. We then wandered down to the old harbour and found a café right on the water to have what discovered too late was a sad nicoise salad, albeit, reasonably priced.

After lunch, we wandered back to the hotel, procuring along the way some water and nuts to bring aboard the cruise ship to snack upon. The friendly front desk agent at the Alex Hotel called a taxi and a jolly cabbie came and brought us to the cruise ship terminal.

We went through the cruise ship security screening without much hassle, however, Bill suddenly found out that he would have to surrender his passport for the remainder of the cruise because he did not have an EU passport like April (we were not informed of this ahead of time when we booked the cruise). They said that they would have to hold the passport for visa reasons at each port of call. We asked to speak to the manager and had to wait for quite a while at the "passport collection table." The passports were all on display on the little table with nothing covering the little box. The bored employee seldom had her eye on the passports and anyone could have grabbed a handful and absconded with them. We doubt the Canadian government would be happy to know their passports were being held in this manner. The manager said that Bill would have to surrender the passport or get up very early every time they called in port and go with an employee to sort out visa issues with that port or just stay on the ship. So Bill surrendered his passport. April was able to keep both her Canadian and Irish passports.

We were subjected to a security drill for abandoning ship if necessary, but not necessarily abandoning ship. After all the adventure we ordered ourselves room service of a light meal to share as we had the late dinner service and wouldn’t be eating for another number of hours. The “fruit with fresh cream” was a special treat for April, and resembled a chilled fruit soup. Traces of melon and pineapple shards were uncovered in the opaque liquid. A little surprising…a little unexpected…not a great description of what the dish actually was.

We were also disappointed and shocked that we could not order a glass of tap water with room service. Even though we were told before we booked the cruise that all non-fizzy drinks and alcohol would be free (the "North American plan" that Costa is using to try to attract customers from North America).

We were happy with the size of our room which was bigger than we expected. The condition of the room though was definitely showing the age of the ship (11 years) with marks on the walls, chips out of the bathroom counter, and a worn carpet. The light by our door flickered like a strobe light and we called to have it fixed.

A little while before dinner, we changed our clothes and went to explore the ship and get our bearings.

Dinner was in itself rather disappointing, however the server, Amit Sing, was the highlight. He provided us with great service and we enjoyed talking to him about where in India he was from. The highlight of the mediocre meal was the ice cream.

It was a very full day. We returned to our cabin to find the ship's newsletter in French. Apparently they thought that we were French.

Breakfast in Marseille

April's flower complements the life jacket during the emergency drill very well.

A silhouetted Bill finds a perch in our cabin

Selfie on the top deck of the boat before dinner.

Before dinner

The ice cream was much better than the M&M meats style cream puffs. 

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