MSC Virtuosa Postcard #3 – Cherbourg, France

I found myself at Guest Services again this morning to query a payment from my onboard account. It was for an internet package that I had already paid for prior to embarking so I was provided with a print out and told to take it to the photography desk when it opened to resolve the matter as they apparently deal with the WiFi and internet along with all the photos. I grabbed a quick coffee before heading up to join the others for breakfast in the buffet. As it was early and very quiet, we had pick of the tables so selected one of the outside ones right at the back, it was a great spot and nice and warm with the rising sun shining on us. At 9:00, I managed to speak to someone about the account query and the matter was rectified without any explanation. I now have £40 OBC to spend again but there is nothing really that I want so not really sure what to do with it. The shops take up plenty of space but don’t sell anything that has any appeal to me.

We arrived at Cherbourg just after 11:00 but didn’t actually allow anyone off until 11:45. Having done a little research about Cherbourg and found very little to interest us it was a toss up as to actually get off or not. In the end we did if only for the walk into town.

Why do cruise lines schedule Sunday stops in France when just about everything is closed? It’s happened to us several times now. The cafés and bars that were open were doing a roaring trade.

So, the irony is, the best place of interest is right next to the cruise terminal. There are three venues included in one ticket which costs €19. It’s called La Cité de la Mer and houses an Aquarium & Ocean museum, Le Redoutable atomic submarine & an interactive Titanic exhibition. Well worth the €19 entrance fee and a good way to pass a couple of hours, La Redoubtable submarine walk through being the pick of the three.

Once back onboard we took some time out in the cabin to round off the afternoon before joining the others for an early dinner in the buffet. Quite likely another early-ish night tonight so we can be up in time for breakfast and leaving the ship just before 8:00.

MSC Virtuosa Postcard #2 – Rotterdam, Netherlands

The clocks went forward an hour overnight so we lost an hour’s sleep. Even so I was up early so went for a walk around the deserted ship. It’s a real treat when it’s totally empty.

Even Rob The Robotic Bartender was still asleep. While out, I visited Guest Services to try and remedy our lack of Voyager Club status which was great at that time of the morning because there wasn’t a queue. Apparently our club status hadn’t been linked to our booking but the situation was quickly rectified and new cards issued with Diamond Status attached. I then grabbed a quick coffee at the bar before taking one up for Nicole.

Breakfast in the MDR was okay but didn’t really live up to expectations, certainly not as good as what Costa are providing for special dietary needs. The best thing about it was the view from our table looking out over the wash.

So we have made the decision that it is going to be a better option to use the buffet from here on.

We enjoyed the sail into Rotterdam along the Nieuwe Maas with arrival at 11:00. Once the early excursions had departed we made our way off for a walk. We headed for Markthal and had a quick walk through and then around a few of the adjacent shops eventually stopping off at a vegan café for a snack prior to heading back to the ship.

On arrival back at our cabin we discovered some chocolate coated strawberry’s and a bottle of Prosecco which are a perk of our Diamond Status. Better late than never. 😁

Judging by the amount of people back on the ship and using the open decks, it would appear that Rotterdam didn’t hold much appeal, perhaps the weather and the drinks packages were a stronger draw.

I managed to find a quiet shady spot while the boys and their entourage went off to the Savannah Aquapark for some watery fun. The two of them had a fun time and were both feeling very tired and hungry come 5:30 so it was quickly back to the cabin for a wash and brush up before heading off to the buffet for something to eat. Everyone ate really well and we even managed to find a table outside at the back of the ship so were able to watch sailaway as we ate. Nicole was on babysitting duty this evening so I relaxed in our own cabin with some welcome beers in front of the TV. No doubt it will be another early morning tomorrow.

MSC Virtuosa Postcard #1 – Southampton & Embarkation

Despite both groups being on the same booking and with cabins right next to each other, we were given different boarding times, ours was from 10:00 until 11:00 while the others from 11:00 until 12:00. Instructions informed us not to arrive more than 30 minutes prior these slots so we all arrived at 10:30 and amazingly were all onboard by 11:20. I had feared the worst but in the end it was quite a simple and efficient embarkation.

We then had had plenty of time to explore the ship as access to the cabin was delayed until 3:00pm.

It’s a very compact cabin but plenty good enough for the 3 nights. Ideal for just two people but maybe not so for four, we will find out how our neighbours get on over the next few days.

The muster involved watching a safety video on your cabin TV and then to confirm that you had watched it a quick call on the phone to verify the viewing. One final part was to visit the muster station to have the bar code on your sea pass read.

With all that now taken care of, the boys were keen to visit the Savannah Aquapark and have a paddle so that is where we were for sailaway.

Cruising with two youngsters means many priorities and timings change, the need to eat being one of them. At 6:00 we found ourselves in the buffet for just that reason. I think that on this short cruise, this is potentially where we will eat most of our meals, we just need to ensure we get our timings right to miss the busy times. We are on first sitting in the MDR but at 7:30 it could be too late for our young companions. We will have to see how it goes tomorrow and then make a decision. The time change might work in our favour but much depends on how the boys fare in Rotterdam. We have been told from a couple of different sources that the ship is full and there is in excess of 1200 children onboard but to date, it really hasn’t been too much of a problem although the amount of youngsters is very obvious. On return to the cabin we found a letter from Guest Services confirming they were aware of of our special dietary requirements, Nicole is vegan while one of the boys is dairy intolerant and they have said we will have a dedicated waiter who will be aware of our special needs. The restaurant we have been assigned to is the Minuetto Restaurant for both breakfast and dinner. We can but give it a go in the hope they can deliver.

MSC Virtuosa Rotterdam & Cherbourg Preamble

What better than to take a cruise with family and this is what this cruise is all about. There will be six of us on this cruise, the two of us plus our daughter, son-in-law and 2 young grandchildren. After spotting this cruise at a real bargain price, we asked if they would like to join us, and a positive response was fairly quick. Because this will be family time, I will probably not post as much as normal but I can’t let it pass without at least recording something even if it is mostly photos.
The itinerary itself is just for 3 nights and during half term for the schools so could well be full of children so fingers are crossed that MSC are able to cope, (us as well). This cruise was originally to be on MSC Grandiosa and overnighting in Rotterdam but we received a letter about a month after booking to say that they were changing the ship to MSC Virtuosa and that all cabin numbers would remain the same due to the fact they are practically identical ships. The itinerary also changed with Cherbourg added and Rotterdam became just became a normal day visit.

We have cabins next door to each other so we can be on hand for assistance and babysitting duty.

So depending on how much time I get, there may or maybe not be a follow-up post, if not I will catch up once home. 🤞🏼

Norwegian Jade Postcard #11 – Piraeus & Disembarking

We awoke this morning to find ourselves already in Piraeus with the unloading of suitcases well underway.

We took breakfast in the MDR which was surprisingly deserted so I guess everyone else had chosen the buffet. We had made the decision to self disembark so used the lifts for the first time this cruise, it’s the only time we allow ourselves to do this. Getting one empty enough to get in with the cases became another challenge so Nicole took the stairs as soon as I had managed to get in one with the cases. This worked well in the end but in order to get an empty one we had to hit the going up button and ride up before being able to get down to deck 4. We got there in the end. 😁


Our transport was arranged for 9:00am to take us to the airport and the journey took 70 minutes. Unfortunately for us, our flight got moved from 2:15pm to 5:15pm and when we arrived at the airport terminal we had to wait as our desk didn’t open until 2:30pm.

The four hours plus seemed to pass fairly quickly and we found ourselves airside within 25 minutes.

Our plane was delayed from Heathrow which had a knock on effect with our leaving.

After a 45 minute delay, we eventually took off at 6:00pm arriving at Heathrow at 7:55pm.

So that’s it for this trip, I hope you have enjoyed tagging along with us over the last 10 days or so. We certainly enjoyed this one. 😁

Norwegian Jade Postcard #10 – Mykonos, Greece

Today was our last full day of this cruise and a good portion of it was a sea day. Earlier in the morning, looking through the windows it was really deceiving because again we had partly cloudy skies interspersed with bright sunshine but a really blustery chilly wind and sitting outside was only for those with Eskimo blood in them.


However, by 10:00am the wind had subsided enough to sit outside without needing a sheltered spot. Because of the timings today, packing was 95% completed this morning by Nicole in her ever-efficient way thus leaving us time to sit outside and await for our arrival at Mykonos.


Our designated port slot was from 1:00pm until 9:00pm which really was a strange one for the last day/night onboard and adding to that we had to tender ashore as well. Tender tickets were available on a first come first served basis from the library at 10:30 and when I went to check it out at 10:20, the queue was hideous so we decided to wait until tendering went to an open ticket. Fortunately, our friends from one of the private tours had thought of us and got us slot 7 tickets. Tendering started 30 minutes early and we eventually got on the tender boat at 1:45pm.

Once ashore we set about navigating the small but picturesque passageways and alleys that make Mykonos what it is.

The Happy Cow app once again found us an amazing lunch spot and after we made our way to the Windmills for a photo stop.

Before heading back onboard we made one last stop at Little Venice for one last drink and probably the best photo location in Mykonos.


Great timing for the tender boat back to the ship gave us ample time to get ready and go for our last dinner in the Grand Pacific MDR and say our farewells to our servers from the last 9 nights.

Norwegian Jade Postcard #9 – Istanbul, Turkey

Today was our 4th visit to Istanbul and our aim was to visit a couple of places we have missed on previous visits, incredibly we have not been to Hagia Sophia so that was our main target of the day along with the Galata Tower. Almost as soon as clearance had been given we were off the ship and navigating the new and massive cruise terminal in Istanbul. It’s huge and not too dissimilar to an airport. Once through we set off on foot towards the Galata Bridge and then on to Hagia Sophia.

The walk took 50 minutes but seemed to take no time at all. Thinking that by being early we would beat the crowds, we were very disappointed to see a massive snaking queue of people waiting to go in. It wasn’t moving so we decided to go elsewhere then come back later in the hope that the line had shrunk.

Heading off to the Blue Mosque instead and finding hardly any queue at all, so in we went, spending around 30 minutes inside taking a few photos and admiring the interior.

We then returned to the Hagia Sophia to find a shorter queue that was actually moving so we joined it. We waited for about 40 minutes in line and were rewarded with entry at 10:00am.

The building is once again a fully functional Mosque and a strict dress code is now required to enter, not only that all but two items depicting human form have been removed, not sure why some are still there and can only assume it has something to do with it being a UNESCO site. It is a stunning place and one that I can now happily say that I have visited.

We grabbed a quick coffee before setting off back over the Galata Bridge and onto our next stop, the Galata Tower.

After a bit of a climb, we made it to the base and tickets were purchased to get us to the top. We had a short wait for a lift to take us up and were soon enjoying the views over Istanbul.

Our final stop before heading back to the ship was for lunch at a vegan restaurant we found on the Happy Cow app. After a delicious and filling meal we headed back to the ship. Off for 6½ hours with 20,000 steps recorded on my Fitbit. The rest of the afternoon was spent out on one of the sundecks taking a well-earned rest and reminiscing about the day’s activities.

This evening we are eating early in one of the speciality restaurants called Teppanyaki, they have said that they can and will facilitate Nicole’s vegan diet with the only drawback being the only available slot was at 5:30. This worked out to be a blessing as we were both feeling fatigued after the days walking.

Teppanyaki was a huge success for Nicole, we were wondering how they would cope and in the end, all concerns were dismissed because they cooked her food before anyone else’s.

Norwegian Jade Postcard #8 – Kusadasi, Turkey

Kusadasi is somewhere we have been a few times, and we visited Ephesus many years ago from Izmir so today was a bit of a kickback day. We arrived before sunrise just before 5:30am so managed to see how the place looks in the dark.

Once everyone had departed for their tours, we went for breakfast in O’Sheehan’s which is a sort of bar-come restaurant. Its menu changes throughout the day but to date, we have only eaten breakfast there. This has become a regular place for breakfast because it pretty much stays open 24 hours and was useful for our early Israel starts. They have a breakfast menu where I can have eggs cooked to order while Nicole has also managed to get a couple of breakfast options in there too so it works for both of us. And it’s never that busy and very close to the cabin 😁

We found ourselves off the ship at around 8:30am and made our way through the plethora of traders and taxi drivers that had congregated outside the cruise terminal. In Kusadasi, this area has been set up like a complete tourist trap with no obvious way around it.

Last time we were here in 2015 we walked to Pigeon Island which when we got there found it to be closed. Since our last visit, it has had a lot of restoration done and today we managed to get in. It’s free entry and once inside it’s basically a walled garden/park which we enjoyed walking around.


We stopped for a coffee at one of the cafés near the terminal after which we made our way along the promenade in the opposite direction from which we had just come.

We covered about 1½ miles before turning around and making our way back to the ship. We briskly passed through the tourist trap and were back onboard just in time for lunch. The afternoon consisted of blue skies and scattered clouds and out of the wind, it was not too bad. We managed to find a coveted spot and stayed until around 4:00 but eventually, the wind blew us inside where we found a couple of seats in the atrium.

While sitting there, I decided to have a look at some of my photos from 2015 (pre-refit) and compare them with what is there today. The first thing that struck me was the quality of today’s photos which came from my mobile phone and the ones from my camera in 2015.

Tomorrow we have a day in Istanbul which will be our 4th visit to this port.

Norwegian Jade Postcard #7 – Rhodes, Greece

With nothing booked today, we enjoyed a little extra time in bed. The ship was cleared at 8:00 and we made our way ashore not long after.

Lots of tour buses seemed to head off elsewhere so we enjoyed looking around the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes which was more or less deserted.

It’s a really fascinating place, the building itself is very impressive let alone some of the artefacts housed within the rooms on the top floor. After that, we set about walking around the inside of the medieval city which is so picturesque with all its small alleyways and passages.

All the traders started to come to life as we walked around, all wanting to sell you the best meal or souvenirs of Rhodes, but if you can turn a blind eye to it all then it’s a really lovely place to visit. We like to try and find somewhere vegan for Nicole to eat when we are ashore and using the Happy Cow app on the phone found somewhere really good just off the beaten track.

After walking the food off, so we set off to visit Saint Nicholas Fortress which when we got there found it isn’t open to the public.

Just along the jetty at the entrance to the harbour are two columns each with a bronze deer (a stag and a doe) at the top. Apart from being the symbol of the island, they stand guard at the entrance to the harbour.

They are also believed to mark the location of the Colossus of Rhodes which was a statue of the Greek sun god Helios, it was said to be the same size as the Statue of Liberty but collapsed during the earthquake of 226 BC.

On our way back to the ship we stopped off at the Church of Panagia tou Kastrou (Our Lady of the Castle) for a quick investigation. The building was originally built as a Byzantine church which was subsequently converted into a mosque. Today it houses a small exhibition of icons and medieval sculptures.

After a quick gelato, we made our way back to the ship to relax for the rest of the afternoon.

It’s been another fabulous day and we have thoroughly enjoyed our first visit to Rhodes. Sailaway was at 5:00 and we are now on our way to Kusadasi.

Norwegian Jade Postcard #6 – Limassol, Cyprus

Although Cyprus wasn’t new to me, it was the first time I had visited it on a cruise. So, the question was, what should we do with our day while considering it a slightly shorter day in port. The answer came from our Cruise Critic roll call in the form of a private shore excursion to Paphos. The beauty of this was there was a maximum of 16 people which meant we could move around much quicker. We were given instructions to get off the ship as soon as clearance was given so we could get away as soon as possible. Everything worked perfectly and we were soon heading towards Paphos and our first stop which was basically a photo stop at Petra tou Romiou – Aphrodite’s Beach Birth Place Rock which as the name suggests is the mythological birth place of Aphrodite.

20 minutes later we were on our way to stop two, the Agia Paraskevi Byzantine Church in Geroskipou village. This is a five-domed church which has some wall paintings dating back as early as the 8th century. No interior photos were allowed so I have one of the outside only.

Moving swiftly on we then visited the Tombs of the Kings which is the impressive necropolis that is located to the northeast of Paphos town. There are 8 tombs you can look at and our guide (Mary) showed us the best ones. Local archaeologists predict there are many yet undiscovered on the site.

Before getting to our last venue, we made a quick visit to Ayia Kyriaki church and Saint Paul Pillar, the latter is where the apostle St. Paul was tethered and whipped.

Our last stop of the day was the Paphos UNESCO Archaeological Park where we were guided around the House of Dionysos Mosaics. I have to say the floors are of amazing detail and condition and I know the photos won’t do it justice.

To finish the visit to this UNESCO world heritage site we made a circular walk around the perimeter to take in various other things, including the impressive Odeon.

The journey back to Limassol took just over an hour and we were back onboard for a late lunch. After we set sail, the open decks became very windy and none of the prized sheltered spots were available so we decided to go back to the cabin and sit out on our balcony which unfortunately was in the shade.

Tomorrow we are in Rhodes with no plans at all so it will be plenty of walking I suspect