Our Honeymoon

For our honeymoon, we chose a 7 day cruise of the western Mediterranean with Norwegian Cruise Line. We flew into Barcelona, Spain to meet up with our ship, the Norwegian Jewel. We stayed in a mini-suite, complete with our own private balcony. The Jewel was launched in 2006 and has 10 restaurants and 13 bars and lounges, each with a different theme. They offered some sort of show in their theater each night, like a broadway style musical or comedy show. The ship also had pools, hot tubs, a spa / salon, a casino, a gym, basketball, volleyball, and tennis courts, a shopping area, a library, an internet cafe, an arcade, and an art gallery. There was no shortage of things to do while on board. And then there was Europe!



Day 1: Sunday, May 28, 2006: Barcelona, Spain


Here is a map of our trip.

 

Our flight departed from Atlanta at 8 PM on Saturday, May 27. Unfortunately, it rained on us.

 

We arrived in Barcelona at 11 AM the next day (their time). These are snow capped mountains, as seen from the airplane.

 

Our first glimpse of our ship as we arrived at Barcelona's port. We went straight from the airport to the ship, so we didn't see much of Barcelona.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

We liked the winged lions perched on this building.

 

We're getting closer to our first cruise!

 

They snapped this quick pic of us in front of a green screen just before we boarded.

 

Our hallway on Deck 11. Note that the fish swim toward the front of the ship, so you won't get lost.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I loved the clown fish! They were right outside our door!

 

Our stateroom door.

 

Inside our stateroom, a mini-suite.

 

Our bathroom.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Our shower.

 

Our stateroom, looking in from the balcony.

 

Our friends gifted us with a Honeymoon Package that included these chocolate covered strawberries and champagne!

 

A barge in the mist outside Barcelona.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Travis on the balcony.

 

Sonya on the balcony.

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
As we waited to board our plane in Atlanta, we noticed another couple looking over NCL cruise documents. We took a second to speak with them and learned their names were Ted and Susie and they were from Nashville. As it turned out, they had also gotten married the day before and were taking the same cruise we were. One of those small world moments. Anyway, after arriving on the ship, we spent the remainder of our first day looking around the ship before eating dinner and going to bed.



Day 2: Monday, May 29, 2006: At Sea


We woke up at 6 AM and had a good chance to check out the pools and hot tubs while everyone else was still asleep.

 

The other pool, hot tubs, and waterslide. The deck chairs were still put up from the night before.

 

The ship's bow.

 

We got up just in time to enjoy the sunrise.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The sun slowly creeping up into the sky.

 

Finally free from the sea!

 

The ship's exhaust.

 

The ship's name, the Norwegian Jewel, and she was less than a year old.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The ship's wake, as seen from a bar called The Great Outdoors, which ended up being our favorite spot to relax.

 

We spent the day at sea and saw nothing but water. So it was off to the Garden Cafe for breakfast.

 

The ship's bridge, as viewed from the observation room.

 

More of the ship's bridge. Note the windshield wipers.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The promenade, complete with shuffleboard grid.

 

One of the ship's 10 restaurants, the Tsar's Palace.

 

One of the ship's 13 lounges, the Corona Cigar Club. This one had a grand piano.

 

Sonya in her formal night attire.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The happy couple all dressed up.

 

Travis in his formal night attire.

 

This is the picture the ship photographers took for formal night.

 

Each night the cabin crew would leave us a towel animal. This one is an elephant.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Since we were on the ship for lunch instead of on shore, we ate at the Blue Lagoon. We ate our dinner that night at a restaurant called Azura. After dinner, we dressed down and sipped Pina Coladas at The Great Outdoors, where we met Ian, who became our preferred waiter at our preferred bar.



Day 3: Tuesday, May 30, 2006: Messina, Sicily


Morning brought the welcomed sight of land. This is along the shore of Sicily, near Messina.

 

More of the shoreline near Messina, Sicily's third largest city.

 

My favorite picture of the shoreline. You can really see the topography changes.

 

This was taken from our balcony as we docked in Messina, Sicily. The traffic in this crowded town was insane!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Before we left the ship, we had to stop by the currency exchange desk, which was located near the Crystal Atrium.

 

This is the Messina Cathedral. The golden figures on the bell tower move every 15 minutes. Very cool.

 

This is one of the roads we took to Taormina...in a bus!

 

The gate into Taormina.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

This was in a window of one of Taormina's churches. It depicts Christ being brought down from the cross.

 

Walking along the streets of Taormina. Very charming.

 

One of the views from Taormina, which is perched atop a mountain. (That isn't our ship.)

 

Another view from Taormina.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A glimpse of every day life in Taormina.

 

This three legged symbol called the Trinacria represents Sicily and it's many different facets.

 

Taormina's Greco-Roman theater. It is still used today.

 

A view of the theater's stone seats. The plastic ones were added to accomodate more guests.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A view of Mt. Etna from Taormina. Mt. Etna is Europe's most active volcano.

 

Sonya and Travis in the theater.

 

Another shot of Mt. Etna from the theater. That is smoke rising from her peak.

 

Feed me, Seymour! My god, this plant is huge!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

This is a hotel's courtyard in Taormina. Those beautiful purple flowers are bougainvillea.

 

A mosaic of Mary and Jesus.

 

A street performer, preparing to startle the next passerby.

 

Evidence of a somewhat recent lava flow on Mt. Etna.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Another winding road travelled by tour buses.

 

This restaurant was somehow spared during a recent lava flow.

 

Travis on Mars. Not really, but it looks like it.

 

This is the inactive Crater Silvestri. Note the people along its rim and down in the crater.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sicily is a land of extremes. This is an active ski slope and lift at the end of May.

 

Another view of the ski slope and the area that looks like Mars (iron deposits make the rocks look red).

 

Another crater viewable from Silvestri.

 

A view of the coastline, where people are swimming and sunbathing. The ski slope is just back over our shoulders.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Travis on the floor of Crater Silvestri.

 

We returned to the ship and checked out more of its amenities. This is the Jewel Club Casino.

 

Another shot of the casino. It didn't open until we were in international waters.

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
While in Taormina, we sat on some stairs near an outdoor cafe and split a calzone for a snack. We enjoyed an authentic Sicilian meal for lunch while we were on our shore excursion. We sipped the wine that was provided to us with two other couples, Don and Jennifer, and Don and Bertha. They were both quite nice and convinced us to take an Alaskan cruise sometime. On our trip back to the ship from Mt. Etna, we were caught in a small hail storm. Sicily is a land of extremes, indeed. Once we arrived back at the ship, we enjoyed a bottle of wine over our French style meal at Le Bistro. Afterwards, we relaxed at The Great Outdoors and each enjoyed a Mai Tai.



Day 4: Wednesday, May 31, 2006: Naples, Italy


Most of our mornings began with breakfast at the Garden Cafe, followed by meeting here, at the Stardust Theater, to head out to our various shore excursions.

 

Our first view of Mt. Vesuvius as we departed the ship in Naples.

 

This winding road lead us up to the walking trail that takes you to the top of Vesuvius. Note the shiny new wedding ring shaped UFO.

 

Looking back at Naples below, as we slowly climbed higher up Mt. Vesuvius. Very slowly, as the bus kept breaking down.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Another view of Naples.

 

I made it halfway up the 4km trail to the rim of Vesuvius. From here, Travis finished the journey by himself.

 

Travis on Mt. Vesuvius, with Naples in the background.

 

A view of the parking lot below us and a recent lava flow.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

More of the scenery from Mt. Vesuvius.

 

You can see a little of the walking trail here. This part was flat, but the rest was quite steep.

 

Finally Travis was rewarded for his efforts. Here is the mouth of Vesuvius.

 

The crater was absolutely huge. See the little bush down there? That's a full grown tree.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The view from the top.

 

Travis at the volcano's rim. Note the complete lack of guard rail.

 

The entry way to Pompeii, the city destroyed by Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD.

 

Mt. Vesuvius could be seen looming over Pompeii at all times. A constant reminder of its power.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

An ancient road leads you past the ruins of various homes and shops.

 

An ancient courtyard. We saw some piping like you see on the right in one of the other homes. It was for indoor plumbing.

 

This indentation in the floor is called an impluvium. It collects rainwater from the open compluvium in the roof.

 

A small section of the city's main square, the forum.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Since garbage and rainwater collected in the streets, the curbs were high with these stepping stones used to cross. Special chariots were rented that were compatible with these stones.

 

Another view of the forum.

 

Mt. Vesuvius was once much taller. When it erupted, it blew its top and formed two smaller peaks. The larger one is Vesuvius, the smaller one is Somma.

 

Columns near the forum.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

More of the forum. The red bricks were used by the Romans to repair earthquake damage done several years before the eruption.

 

Detailed carvings around a doorway.

 

This looks like a Cingular commercial.

 

A Pompeii citizen, frozen in time. The bodies left cavities in the ash as they decayed. These cavities were later filled in with plaster to get the bodies seen today.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Though the bodies were plaster, the bones inside were real, left behind as the bodies decayed.

 

Another citizen of Pompeii.

 

These frescoes in the city market have survived.

 

This is the center of the market, which was once covered.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Foot bones in the plaster cast.

 

Another surviving fresco.

 

A city street and stepping stone. One or two stones indicated the street was one way. Three or four stones indicated a two way street.

 

This was a fast food restaurant of sorts. The pots had fire under them and kept the food warm until it was ready to serve.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A mosaic at the doorstep to a house. Have (pronounced Ah Vey) means welcome.

 

A mosaic at the entrance of the House of the Faun, the largest private residence in Pompeii.

 

This statue of a faun in the impluvium is how the house got its name.

 

The garden inside the House of the Faun.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

An ancient bath. The chambers in the floor housed boiling water, creating a sauna above.

 

Another fresco.

 

Inside the House of the Fontana Piccola.

 

One of the most popular mosaics, Cave Canem, or Beware of the Dog.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A wood fired oven inside a bakery. Loaves of bread were found still intact inside.

 

Taking a rest on an ancient flour grinder.

 

A storage area for some of the artifacts found in the city.

 

Another plaster body.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

More recovered artifacts.

 

Another citizen frozen in time.

 

Back to the ship and its spectacular views.

 

That evening we were greeted by a towel alligator.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Just outside Pompeii, we visited a cameo factory and got to see them carving the cameos by hand. We also got to try a favorite Italian beverage, Limoncello. We also enjoyed a serving of gelato whenever we had a free moment.



Day 5: Thursday, June 1, 2006: Civitavecchia, Italy


At the port of Civitavecchia, we boarded the Roma Express train to Rome. We accidentally captured a man we met on the train in this photo, Tony. We became fast friends with him and his wife Nancy.

 

This bridge and castle over the Tiber River in Rome are dedicated to the Archangel Michael.

 

Rain and crowded streets greeted us in Rome.

 

The Vittoriano, a monument to the unifier of Italy, is called the Wedding Cake by the locals.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

We caught our first glimpse of the Colosseum on our way to the San Clemente Basilica.

 

Another quick shot of the Colosseum from the bus.

 

The courtyard of the Basilica of San Clemente, three churches built atop one another.

 

Part of the elaborately decorated modern church. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures of the ancient church.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The ornate ceiling.

 

Christ on the cross.

 

A fresco on the ceiling of the church.

 

The modern San Clemente Basilica.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

These chambers are across the street from the Colosseum and are believed to be where the gladiators lived and trained.

 

Here you can see the thick interior and exterior walls of the Colosseum. An earthquake destroyed a section of the outer ring.

 

This is the smaller inner ring, but you can still get an idea of how huge this arena is.

 

This is the Arch of Constantine. The victorious walked through here.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Inside the Colosseum.

 

This is a reconstruction of the original marble seating. It is estimated that the Colosseum once held 200,000 people.

 

A walkway inside the Colosseum.

 

A partially reconstructed wooden floor and another view of the marble seats.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Another shot of the Arch of Constantine, as seen from inside the Colosseum.

 

Tony took this photo of us in the Colosseum.

 

One of the numerous fountains found throughout Rome.

 

Due to the narrow streets and crowded traffic conditions, mopeds and motorcycles are everywhere.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The ancient city walls of Rome.

 

A Smart car cleverly inserted into a motorcycle's parking space.

 

St. Peter's Square in the Vatican City. Yes, we stood in that line.

 

The roof and dome of the Basilica.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Every square has its pigeons.

 

The Swiss guards provided us with a quick Eurotrip moment.

 

This place is huge! Look at the people compared to the building!

 

Marble floors and gold inlaid ceilings. And this is just the entry way.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Walking up the stairs and into the Basilica.

 

Michaelangelo's Pieta. Unfortunately, some wacko came after it with a sledgehammer several years ago, so you can no longer get close to it.

 

The dome of the Basilica.

 

The huge bronze canopy created by Bernini.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Massive columns and statues were everywhere.

 

There were several of these grates in the floor, giving a glimpse of the tombs below.

 

The foot of the bronze canopy and some of the 99 lights that surround St. Peter's tomb.

 

One of the numerous giant statues.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A stained glass dove at the back of the church.

 

All of these paintings at St. Peter's Basilica are actually mosaics! Incredible.

 

This is a Pope's tomb. I'm not sure which one, however.

 

The tomb of Pope Innocent XI.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

More marble columns, gold accents, and amazing mosaics.

 

I've noticed with these ancient basilicas, you're never too far from a dead guy. Imagine our surprise when this one was just about out in the open! This glass coffin contains Pope Pius X, who died in 1914!

 

Back out on the Roman streets with their mopeds.

 

Another shot of our train, the Roma Express. It dropped us off in this parking lot near the pier.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A towel rabbit. We think.

 

Despite the warmth we found in Pompeii, it was quite chilly in Rome.

 

Travis on the balcony at sunset.

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Basilica of San Clemente was very neat and it's a shame you couldn't take pictures. The ancient church looked nothing like the modern one. It resembled more of an ancient archeological dig. Some of the passages were quite musty and you could hear running water almost constantly. We had lunch at a restaurant in Rome. There we met Gary and Karen, a British couple with the most adorable accents. We also discovered that Tony has a penchant for going into the women's restroom. The Colosseum and St. Peter's Basilica are difficult to describe with words and pictures alone. Travis was so awestruck upon entering St. Peter's that he forgot to remove his hat and was chided by a guard. We finished our visit with a trip to the Vatican Gift Shop. It was over too quickly and we were sent back to the ship.



Day 6: Friday, June 2, 2006: Livorno, Italy


Our view of the shoreline as the ship pulled into Livorno.

 

The gorgeous countryside of Tuscany as we made our way from Livorno to Florence.

 

More of the Tuscan countryside. Those silverish colored trees in the background are olive trees.

 

More of the beautiful region of Tuscany.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

We crossed the Arno River on our way into Florence.

 

Our first glimpse of Florence's main cathedral, the Santa Marie del Fiore.

 

This cathedral is made completely from white, green, and pink marble.

 

This is the Baptistry, just across from the main church.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A vertical shot of this very tall cathedral.

 

These bronze doors covered in gold have been called the Gates to Paradise.

 

A depiction of the baptism of Jesus.

 

A shot of Florence's world famous Duomo.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The designer of the Duomo didn't leave any plans behind, so to this day no one is sure of exactly how it was built.

 

The cathedral's bell tower.

 

Another famous church in Florence, the Basilica of Santa Croce. The scaffolding seen here was temporarily erected for a parade.

 

There are over 200 tombs housed in this church, this one belonging to a Capponi.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The gothic arches and wooden beams that support this church.

 

This is Galileo's tomb.

 

This is Michaelangelo's tomb.

 

This is Dante's tomb.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

This is the church's courtyard.

 

From the courtyard, looking back toward the church.

 

Either a tomb or a funeral monument, I thought it looked cool.

 

Travis and the lion outside the church.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Me and the lion.

 

This is the Ponte Vecchio, the only bridge in Florence to survive WWI, and the place where Travis lost me.

 

Once we found each other, we found this. Modern art! Unbelievable!

 

This sculpture is called Hercules and the Centaur. It resides in the famous Signoria Square.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

This sculpture, The Rape of the Sabines, was the first one designed to be viewed from all sides.

 

Part of the Fountain of Neptune.

 

Hercules and Cacus.

 

A weathered bronze statue of Perseus with the head of Medusa.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Signoria Square's most famous statue, Michaelangelo's David. Actually the original of this and many of these statues are housed in the museum Galleria dell Accademia.

 

Another angle of Hercules and the Centaur.

 

An olive tree grove.

 

Back over the Arno River toward Pisa.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Our first glimpse of Pisa's famous bell tower.

 

Pisa's Field of Miracles.

 

The Baptistry.

 

The marble Cathedral and its Duomo.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

From here, it looks like the bell tower is peeking around the church to see what's going on.

 

The entrance to the cathedral and its weathered bronze doors.

 

A closer shot of the bronze doors.

 

Posing with the Leaning Tower.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

You can't go to Pisa and not take this shot!

 

These are Umbrella Pine trees, apparently native to the area. Every tour guide mentioned them for some reason.

 

A towel lobster.

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
After getting back to the ship, we dined at Tango's and enjoyed a couple of margaritas out at The Great Outdoors.



Day 7: Saturday, June 3, 2006: Villefranche, France


As the sun rose, it revealed a beautiful shoreline near Villefranche, France.

 

A lighthouse near Villefranche. This was easily the most beautiful port city we saw.

 

The rocky shores of Villefranche.

 

This is near where we dropped anchor.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The port was too small to hold our large ship, so we dropped anchor out in the bay and rode these tenders into shore.

 

Numerous small boats tied up to the pier.

 

Villefranche was full of lovely views.

 

Who knew there were Georgia Bulldog fans in France?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The famous Necresco hotel in Nice.

 

A typical street in Nice.

 

In the middle of Nice stands this very pretty, but out of place, Russian Orthodox Cathedral.

 

A glimpse of the Nice beach.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The morning crowd at Nice's open air market.

 

Fresh fruits and veggies.

 

There were also numerous flower shops. Some of these blooms were huge!

 

An outdoor carosel.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The rocky beach.

 

A view of the Azure Coast. Look at those blue waters!

 

Another scenic view of the Villefranche area.

 

I think we've already chosen our summer home!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A view of the bay. (Not our ship.)

 

Another nearby bay.

 

The mountain fortress town of Eze.

 

Stopping for a picture as we climbed the 200+ stairs into Eze.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

What a cute little piggy!

 

Eze's Cathedral.

 

The view just outside the cathedral.

 

Eze is foot traffic only. We liked this narrow alley.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

More of the alley.

 

Narrow streets and small shops give Eze tons of charm.

 

One of those cool roads that come out of a mountain!

 

A lovely view of Nice.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Stopping for a picture at an observation point.

 

A great shot of the bay below.

 

There's our ship!

 

The bus dropped us off in this old fortress called the Citadel.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A lovely view from the ship.

 

This is the crew returning one of the tenders back to its resting spot below our room.

 

Almost tucked back in.

 

A departing view of Villefranche.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

One of the souvenirs we bought. These were for our friend David.

 

Our last towel animal, a seal.

 

Our final sunset.

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Villefranche and the surrounding area was really nice. It was also more modern than the other places we visited, so it seemed a little less scary to wander off on your own. We ate dinner aboard the ship one last time and enjoyed one last night on our balcony. The next day we docked in Barcelona and returned home. It was an awesome trip and we really enjoyed cruising. It's an easy way to see a place. You just go to bed and wake up in a new city. And ship is literally like a floating city itself. The only drawback is that with a place like Rome or Florence with so much history to take in, you really need more than just a few hours on shore. But it was an amazing trip with lots of awesome memories. We can't wait to go back!