Better late than never but here is the post about the cruise we went on for 13 nights commencing 6 May 2012…
As it would be awkard to fly with Adam we decided that a cruise from Southampton would be perfect for this years family holiday and Adam’s grandparents. We booked a Western Mediterranean cruise on P&O’s Azura. Adam had been unwell leading up to the holiday so we were concerned that we’d have to cancel but thankfully he picked up the week before we were due to set sail.
We drove to Southampton and both Adam & Isla were great in the car, which was a relief as Adam is usually unsettled on long journeys resulting in constantly having to stop. Check in at the port was seamless. We drove to the main entrance where we were met by a representative who took our cases and bags and somebody else took the car to park. In the departure lounge a representative spotted us with Adam & she directed through the Gold Club priority check in area so we didn’t have to queue.
We had booked an adapted cabin which was larger than the standard cabins giving us plenty of space, making life much easier with all Adam’s equipment, wheelchair and of course a travel cot and pushchair for Isla. It also had a wet room with a fold down bench in the shower area which helped when we showered Adam. Everything about the cruise was perfect, the lifts were directly opposite our room making getting around easy (when you don’t get lost!!) the staff were all fantastic nothing was to much trouble and being able to get off the ship onto dry land to explore at the ports with Adam was brilliant.
Places we visited…
As Adams grandparents had visited before they took Adam & Isla for the day so Kerry & I could go up the rock of Gibraltar and meet the apes.
We all spent the day together, had a nice walk, visited Christopher Columbus birth place, had a lovely lunch in a typical French cafe and looked around the continental market. The sun shone all day without a cloud in the sky. Ajaccio is a very attractive port and town, we all said its a place we’d like to go back to.
Adam’s grandparents have been to Rome before so Karl & I went on the train from the port. Adam couldn’t go as the train wasn’t wheelchair friendly and the journey was over an hour. It was also a blistering hot day which he wouldn’t have tolerated. We loved Rome it was all a bit rushed as we only had around 7 hours but in that time we saw all the main tourist attractions. Being foodies we managed to make time for a authentic Italian pizza washed down with a chilled beer whilst people watching in one of the many squares followed by a visit to the gelateria-ice cream heaven.
Pisa and Florence
We took Isla and mum on this trip whilst Adam & dad spent the day on board male bonding!! Again it was a fairly long journey but this time by coach. Pisa is fascinating, the coach stopped for an hour which was long enough. Once you’ve seen the church and the tower there’s just the usual tourist tat gift shops and overpriced cafes to wander around.
The weather in Florence was awful, very cold, windy and wet which is not ideal for adults never mind a 12 month old baby. You could identify the tourists a mile off as the local market that day did a roaring trade in hoodies. It’s a beautiful city, however one thing to be aware of if you ever visit is there are no public conveniences. What do people do when they need to pee or change their babies?? (Go in cafes and spend a small fortune on a cuppa which makes you need to pee again 10 minutes later). no wonder the alleyways gave off an unsavoury smell. Unfortunately, We didn’t feel we’d seen Florence at its best and were quite pleased to get back onboard the ship to get warm and dry.
This was the first time a cruise liner the size of Azura had been allowed to dock at the port of Monaco. Our itinerary listed a tender transfer so it was a very welcome surprise to wake up in the port. We had breakfast looking out over the port of Monaco, the amazing yachts, properties and the famous casino. We took Adam & Isla for a walk all the way around the Formula 1 circuit which was all set up for the grand prix due to take place two weeks later this made the walk much more interesting and challenging negotiating all the barriers, temporary footpath closures, seating and scaffolding. All in all we had a great day. Sail away that evening had a carnival atmosphere (celebrating the first large ship in port), as Azura left the port the captain sounded the horns, the DJ had everyone up dancing and cheering and the locals all came down to the harbour to wave us off.
We have all been here before and think its a beautiful place. we took a stroll around the new harbour area and up La Rambla watching the street artists before stopping at believe it or not Starbucks of all places (only cafe we could get a seat in with Adams chair!!). This was our last stop of the cruise before the return leg of the journey to Southampton.
We had two days at sea at the start of the cruise and three at the end. There is so much going on onboard we didn’t have chance to get bored. A newsletter is delivered to the cabin each evening detailing the following days activities, current affairs, weather forecast and the evenings dinner dress code. During the 13 nights we had 2 black tie evenings and 4 formal dining evenings (cocktail dresses & lounge suits) the remainder were informal but strictly no trainers & only smart denim allowed.
We found cruising was perfect for us. Adam & Isla seemed to enjoy themselves, Adam coped quite well with the change of environment and the noise. The ship operates a cabin listening in system therefore Karl & I could still go out at night and enjoy a nice relaxing meal knowing we could quickly get back to the room if needed. We will definitely cruise again in the future.