Rome – Transatlantic 2009 Day 11 – Cartagena, Spain

Yesterday, we made a port of call in Cartagena, Spain. It’s a relatively small coastal Spanish town that dates back to before the Romans. We were not really sure what there was to do in town. There were not many tours, so we had decided to just walk around town and take it in.

As usual, I breakfasted early while the other folks slept in. It was shaping out to be a very nice day as the sun was out and there wasn’t a cloud to be seen. The weather on this cruise, except for the heavy rain in Livorno/La Spezia, has been pretty nice, but cool around 60 degs. In Cartagena, we were going to be in the 70s. I ate a nice breakfast on the stern of the ship and watched our approach into the Spanish town in a harbor protected by a couple of break walls which made for some interesting maneuvering for our large boat.
The town is also home of a Spanish Naval base, so there were several destroyer class ships in port plus even one Spanish submarine though it was quite small compared to the US submarines I have seen.

After our late docking (complete about 10:00 am), Suzanne and I went into town to scout around while the kids stayed behind at the fun factory. Sean has been suffering from a sore throat so he didn’t want to walk around town and there was an event going on that she wanted to participate in. Suzanne and Savannah had plans to go back into town after lunch for some shopping.

I was pleasantly surprised by the town. It was very clean and friendly with some interesting buildings and architecture. Suzanne did a bit of shopping and picked up an authentic, though used, Flamenco dress and some professional castanets for her dancing. She was pretty excited as she always wanted to buy a real Flamenco dress in Spain and we found a nice one for a pretty cheap amount. We were also able to find the black beret that Savannah has been searching for. Suzanne and Savannah would return to town later and find several more souvenirs for Savannah.

After lunch, Sean and I played some Bocce Ball while the girls were shopping. The Celebrity Solstice is pretty unique in the a large section of the top 15th Solstice deck is a lawn area. Yes, its real grass area and quite large. They have 3 Bocce Ball fields set up, plus some toss a sack areas, two croquet fields and horseshoes. It’s real, authentic, green grass. It was kind of funny to see golf course styled maintenance folks running around the lawn area cutting the grass and doing general upkeep. It probably occupies about one third of the top deck with a sunset bar at the backend where you can see where the ship has been or watch the activities on the lawn. I was unsure about the lawn area when reading about it pre cruise, but after several trips back there and playing some Bocce Ball, I can say it actually works quite nice.

There is also a little section of the lawn area where they do hot glass blowing demonstrations. We haven’t actually seen one of these yet, but will likely do so during one of our at days at sea coming up.
After an afternoon of fun, we enjoyed our sail away from Cartagena from the top deck. Thus far, most of our sail aways have been at night, so on this gorgeous day, it was fun to finally get to enjoy one in daylight. With the warm day and the sun setting over mountains and then the ocean, it was very picturesque.

After the sail away, we got dressed for dinner (casual night) and visited our pre dinner spot, the CellarMasters lounge. We had another tasting of Australian wines and actually met one of the distributors of wine to Celebrity Cruises and had some good conversation with him. Sinisa, the ship cellar master that we have been spending some time with, poured all of us a very nice Saint Emillion wine.

Dinner last night was a kind of a featured pasta night. Most of the dishes included some sort of pasta. The kids and I enjoyed a Spaghetti and meatballs dinner while Suzanne had the seafood pasta. The meatballs dish is considered one of the favorites of the Chef. They were all very good though Suzanne felt the seafood pasta she had in Rome was better.

Dinner was kind of interesting tonight because there was a lot of extra scurrying, activity and commotion in our dining area. About twenty minutes after we were seated a couple was seated a couple of tables over from us and seemed to garner quite the attention. The hotel director and our assistant maitre d’ as well as the cellar master were well preoccupied with them. In talking with one of our servers, we found out these VIPs were some multi-millionaires from England. They were staying in the Owners suite to the tune of $150k for the cruise. If was kind of fun to watch the royal treatment they got. To Celebrity’s credit, our service didn’t suffer one bit. They actually brought over some additional wait staff to cover our area and make sure our service remained top notch. After their dinner, the Head Chef came to their table and chatted with them for a few minutes. To my surprise, he then headed over to our table and talked with us for nearly ten minutes before he went back to work. So, we were in pretty good company last night!

After dinner, it was Sizzle Dance Night. Basically, it was some Latin dancing in the Sky Lounge. I had fun watching, but the dancing is not my cup of tea, so Suzanne found some other gentlemen to dance with. For a couple of dances, she just went out there by herself and danced her Flamenco routines to the music. Sean and I just sat back and watched.

It was about 1:00 am when we retired for the night, but it was our lucky night and we would be gaining an hour on the clocks as we slept.