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Europe Cruise Day 11
Thursday, September 16th
Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy

Arrival time here is scheduled for 7:00AM. This is the last stop in the Central European time zone. To simplify things I will put a clock for Rome here.


I suspect everyone knows where Rome is but maybe some less know where Civitavecchia is. It is west of Rome and is its port. Here is the map.

Day 11 Map

The shore excursion scheduled for here is one of the more elaborate and expensive ones. It is called The Vatican's Sacred Scenes and is scheduled to leave at 7:15AM. Holland America's description for this excursion is very lengthy, of necessity I think. Here it is.

Relax during a 1½-hour journey by minibus to the center of Rome. Here, your guide will give you a map and help you to plan your approximately 3½ hours of free time around the wonderful city of Rome. Then, re-board your minibus for a transfer to the Vatican. Your private Vatican tour begins at the Porta di Bronzo, the Bronze Gate, on Viale Vaticano. Once inside, you will visit the Vatican Museums and the St. Peter’s Basilica, including the most interesting “off the beaten track” hidden corners, as well as special sections closed to the general public. First you will visit the Cappella Niccolina, the private worship place of the Pope. Under Nicholas V (1447-55) the Vatican became a court of the muses—the Pope was an art-lover and in 1448 asked the famous painter Fra Angelico to embellish this private chapel. Three walls are covered with frescoes representing scenes from the lives of St. Stephen and St. Lawrence, two archdeacons who had been widely venerated in Rome since the early Middle Ages. Fra Angelico was able to accomplish this considerable amount of work only with the assistance of a large workshop, including Benozzo Gozzoli. Next you will admire the Carriage Museum, founded by Paul VI in 1973. It is located in a large room under the Square Garden and contains saddles, carriages, automobiles and sedan chairs used by the various popes. Curiosities include some 19th-century carriages, a model of Vatican City’s first train engine (1929) and a Berlin built for Leo XII, used by popes for gala occasions until the tenure of Pius XI. Continue your exclusive tour to the Room of Tears. During the conclave for the election of the new Pope, when finally one of the cardinals obtains 50% plus one of the votes, he is declared Pope; at this point he must accept the assignment and choose his Papal name. Then, he goes to a special dressing room to don the Papal clothes. In this room, a man becomes a Pope and, due to the strong emotions experienced there, this room is called the Room of Tears (Sala del Pianto). Proceed to the Pinacoteca, commissioned by Pius IX in 1931 to house a collection of paintings. Many of the paintings on exhibit were taken to Paris by Napoleon in 1797, but returned to Italy after the Congress of Vienna (1815). The works, covering a period from the Middle Ages to 1800, are set in chronological order in eighteen rooms. Among the many masterpieces, you will see the Raphael’s Crowning of the Virgin, Madonna of Foligno and Transfiguration, Leonardo’s St Jerome and the Deposition from the Cross by Caravaggio. After this amazing viewing, proceed to another “off limits” section of the Vatican Museums—the Sala degli Ori where precious Etruscan jewels dating back to the 8th century BC are beautifully displayed. Finally, continue to St. Peter’s treasure room where you will be amazed by a collection of precious objects given for consecration of the Basilica.

With this and the Fatima excursion at Lisbon one might think I am planning to become Catholic. Does not seem too likely.

This excursion is scheduled to take 11 hours. It is a good thing that the ship is not departing until 9:00PM.

Tomorrow is an "At Sea" day so there is a chance to recover. The next stop is Katakolon, Greece for Olympia on Saturday.

How it actually happened!!!
(written October, 2011)

The first part of the blog entry that I wrote for today is likely the best place to start so here it is.....

The arrival was as scheduled again, this time at 7:00AM. The weather is still sunny with a few clouds and temperatures in the mid 20s C. This weather is almost getting boring, nice, what more could one on vacation want, but still boring. I will probably pay for saying this but the current weather forecast does not indicate that.

This day was an 11 hour long trip to Rome and The Vatican. While I was in The Vatican I see from the news that the Pope is in London, England. I just missed him, darn. As I have mentioned previously Holland America’s newest cruise ship the Nieuw Amsterdam was at Civitavecchia as well. Both ships arrived within a short time of each other with the new ship in front of us at the pier.

The rather ritzy shore excursion for today was called The Vatican’s Sacred Scenes. It consisted of an hour long drive to Rome, several hours of free time in the Trevi Fountain area, and then a private escorted tour of The Vatican Museum. This was very costly so it was only a small group. The group was so small in fact that they combined people from both ships and ended up with a group of 9 people, 3 from the Westerdam and the rest from the other ship. This required only a minibus which interestingly enough came from Insight Tours, the company I had done my previous Italy tour with (in a much bigger bus of course). I guess it is just another one of those strange coincidences that seem to happen now and then. 

The excursion left around 7:20AM and arrived in Rome just over an hour later. There was a short orientation tour of Rome and then we were dropped off near the Trevi Fountain with a short walk to it.

Here are some pictures covering the early part of the shore excursion that is described above up to the arrival at the Trevi Fountain.

To Rome 1 To Rome 2
The Westerdam on the left and
the Nieuw Amsterdam on the right.
Hard to see but Rome's airport is off in the distance.
To Rome 3 To Rome 4
One of many churches I saw along the way. Another church.
To Rome 5 MiniBus 1
The inside of the minibus. The outside of our minibus.
Rome Tour 1 Rome Tour 2
Circus Maximus. The Victor Emmanual II monument.
Rome Tour 3 Rome Tour 4
The building where Mussolini made his famous speech. The same as above from a better angle.
Italy's tomb of the unknown solder is also located here
Rome Tour 5 Rome Tour 6
I think this is (well once was) the Forum. I think this is the Forum from a different angle.
Rome Tour 7 Rome Tour 8
Do I really need to tell you what this is? Yep, it is the Coliseum!

After being dropped off at the Trevi Fountain and the short walk the blog continues.....

There was about two and a half hours of time there to do whatever. I visited the Pantheon, and Piazza Navona, both of which were within easy walking distance of the Trevi Fountain. Lunch was also required and living dangerously (ha, ha) I had it at a MacDonald’s a couple of blocks from the fountain.

Here are the pictures covering this portion of the trip starting with the fountain and then the Pantheon and continuing from there back to the Trevi Fountain.

Trevi 1 Trevi 2
The statues of the Trevi Fountain. The fountain itself.
Trevi 3 Pantheon 1
The throngs of people around the fountain. The front of the Pantheon.
Pantheon 3 Pantheon 2
A diagram from a sign showing the how the Pantheon is constructed. The Pantheon is a Basilica now. This is the alter.
Pantheon 4 Pantheon 5
The famous dome which is 43.30 metres in diameter with its hole in it and the sun shinning through. This dome is the largest ever vaulted in brick. Not bad considering it was built some 2000 years ago. A general view of the inside.
Pantheon 6 Pantheon 7
If you look closely the sun has moved.
The hole is about 9 metres in diameter.
Some of the art work inside.
Pantheon 8 Pantheon 10
Another general view from a different direction. Another general view from another direction.
Pantheon 9 Pantheon 14
The hole with the sun from a different spot and in a different orientation. Some information I saw says that this dome would be almost impossible to build even now in the perfect sphere it is with the same materials and of the same dimensions. The roof of the entrance.
Pantheon 12 Pantheon 13
The main entrance. The entrance closer so you can see inside.
Pantheon 11 Pantheon 16
A wider view of the entrance way. You can see that perfect dome in this picture.
Pantheon 15 Piazza_Navona_01
A more straight on view. Piazza Navona with its sidewalk cafes.
Piazza_Navona_02 Piazza_Navona_03
Another portion of Piazza Navona. This picture combines the two previous ones in one picture.
Piazza_Navona_04 Piazza_Navona_05
The fountain in the Piazza. Heading back towards the Trevi Fountain

Trevi 4

Here I am back at the fountain and heading to meet our minibus.

From the blog....

The group left the fountain area at approximately 11:45 and had to walk quite a distance to get to the minibus. I think they really need to find a bus pickup (the guides term was drop on as opposed to drop off) point. It was too long a walk for many people. This is not the excursions fault it is just the nature of the city of Rome. 

At this point I have decided that The Vatican's part of the excursion will need to be on a separate page. I have selected something over 90 pictures to use for this part of the excursion and that would make this page rather unmanageable both for me to create and edit, and for you to read. To see The Vatican's part, click on the link below.

Day 11 Part 2 "The Vatican".

Here is how the excursion and this day ended after the completion for the visit to The Vatican. From the blog.....

The main tour guide Sergio met us on St Peter’s Square and gave us a washroom break and then took us to the minibus for the just over 1 hour drive to Civitavecchia and the two ships. Port security did not want to let us onto the pier. Apparently we got left off their list of authorized tours. So after a few phone calls and a 15 minute wait, all was well and on to the ships we went arriving at about 6:15PM, just early enough to get the main course of the early sitting meal in the dining room.

Here are several pictures taken after I returned to the ship.

Civitavecchia_02 Civitavecchia_03
Ferries waiting to depart in Civitavecchia harbour. A cruise ship that left ahead of us.
This is not the Nieuw Amsterdam that did leave ahead of us.
The Lido Deck pool in the evening before departing.

Welcome to Civitavecchia

This is a less than perfectly aligned two picture combination showing the sign painted on the break wall beside the Westerdam.

Finally from the blog....

The ship was scheduled to sail at 9:00PM and left just shortly after that. The other ship had sailed at 8:00. There was one interesting comment from one of the people from the other ship that were on the excursion. She commented that she had sailed on the Westerdam six months ago and when she got on this new ship, which is only 2 months old, she could not see very much difference. The Westerdam is 6 years old.

Tomorrow is one of those "At Sea" days with the highlight being sailing through the Strait of Messina between Italy and Sicily in the afternoon.

On to Day 12!

Page Created: August 2, 2010
After Trip Update Started: October 14, 2011
After Trip Update Completed: October 18, 2011
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 6:05 PM

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