Norwegian Epic - Western Mediterranean
We arrived and went to a viewing platform overlooking one mine which had grapes above our heads and where our guide told us about how they used to mine for marble compared to now.  She showed us a cutter with diamonds on which looked more like something you garotte someone with!  A private tour group were also around so we went to another part across the road until they'd finished where we also watched lorries carrying marble blocks negotiating the narrow roads up and down the mountain.
After chatting to some of the people from the other tour (one lady was from Perth and her son lives near where Juanita does in Ferndale), we headed off to the next stop which was the small village of Carrara.  Mimi had bought a very nice crystal necklace and wore it proudly.  Our guide kept going on about lardo, which they ate a lot of.  Contrary to first thought, it's actually a cheap, thin ham which many of the miners used to keep them going in the old days.  They're meant to have put it in ice cream now.  There was an elderly lady with a dog some of our group were taking photos of.  Later we saw her talking to some other people.  Final stop was La Stazione for the lardo.  You were also only given a choice of red wine or nothing, which is a bit off if people don't like it or don't drink so only wanted water.  We had three snacks each and I removed the lardo from mine, just eating the bread because I don't eat pork.
Then we headed back to the port, passing Pisa once again then time for a few dock pics.  My back was aching so I didn't walk to the barrier as I'd wanted to.  Afer the freezing morning, it had turned into a lovely hot day and a contrast to a year earlier.  I was so pleased!
Pepsi refill then lunch in the Garden Café and a lovely view of Liberty's bum.  I had the urge to jump from Epic's fabulous pointy bow onto Liberty's skirt so it was a good job 1) the crew would have stopped me and 2) I have a bad back.  Afterwards, I went to find Seven Seas Voyager plus get some photos of the rest in sunny conditions then back to the padded cell for a snooze.
Having missed the singles meet in the Studio Lounge on the first two nights, I went to see what was going on.  Despite 120 of that type of cabin, probably about a dozen or so attended but then many were travelling with others.  Mind you, if they had gone to singles meets on other ships where bugger all turn up, they probably thought it would be something similar.  This isn't.  It lasts a scheduled hour but you're free to just carry on chatting.  The bar's open (they serve breakfast too), you can have tea or a choice of coffee as well as biscuits.  The crew member in with us was Natalie from Perth, although her Aussie accent had a slight American twang.  She was great and made the time fun and fly.  There was going to be a dinner on the Thursday in Taste, which we could sign up to if we wanted to.  A left-wing Republican was spouting crap to Annette from Canada, failing to understand the royals CAN be themselves if they choose to and reckoned the government says they can't.  Zara Philips anyone?  William and Harry are doing jobs as well as royal duties.  Only some are a waste of taxpayers money, and she failed to even mention cost in her ramblings, which many do.  Even Annette had no idea what she was on about with her ramblings.  She cleared off when she lost her argument with Annette, who knew a damn sight more about things than she did.  Now I don't care what people's politics, religion, views on monarchy etc are as long as they don't talk out of their bum with inaccurate 'facts' then try and indoctrinate and try to force their opinion on you.  Anyway there were saner people there such as Linda, Amy, Christina, Gareth, Liam but I went for sailaway when Natalie decided to teach us how to make paper flowers.  Despite us, Liberty and Silver Spirit all down for 7pm, when I got onto the deck, Liberty was already getting a head start on us to Civitavecchia!  We were next, followed by Silver Spirit.  Our annoying vibration came into force again, resulting in only a few half-decent pictures as the light faded.
It was chilly so I phoned my dad while we still had a land signal then went to the Garden Café for food.  I tend to avoid the buffets on other ships unless I know it’ll be quiet because the queues can be horrendous and it’s difficult finding somewhere to sit.  Not on NCL thanks to the numerous eateries to choose from.  Also on Epic, the Garden Café is MASSIVE.  I’ve never yet had to fight for a place, inside or out.  Back to the padded cell and the bin in the toilet had been emptied for the first time since I boarded!  He hadn’t done the one in the room or replenished the tissues though.  I missed stuff again I wanted to see because I was so tired.
Morning hadn't broken when we arrived in Civitavecchia and it was time to play Epic Roulette one last time.  Round and round the Med she goes, where she'll dock, nobody knows!  Well at least it's not boring.  I learnt my lesson from the day before so put the hoodie over my Norwegian Jade T-shirt and cardie before braving the cold.  Timings were askew, which made things interesting.  We and Liberty were 7am, Grand Holiday half an hour later while Seven Seas Voyager and Thomson Dream were 8am.  Gemini had been due but was anchored off Gibraltar following the collapse of Happy Cruises a few weeks earlier.  When I went on deck at 6am we were turning to dock in the BO Terminal, where Epic had spent most of the previous nine weeks.  It was quite strange being back.  It's used for turnarounds and I'd left Celebrity Equinox there in 2009 after the supposed maiden voyage from Southampton.  I sent a photo to Juanita later.  Although I was quite disappointed, it actually worked out better considering we were first.  Grand Holiday was behind us, followed by Thomson Dream and Liberty.  I had no idea where Seven Seas Voyager was.  As the Thomson neared the entrance, the fog slowly came down.
After chatting to the Japanese lady from muster who had plans to go to Rome, it was time for a much-needed breakfast!  Now the fog had lifted and it was turning into another gorgeous day, I grabbed a couple of quick snaps of the three visible ones before going to down get ready for my excursion.  I had booked Tarquinia & the Etruscans and the meeting point was the Epic Theatre at 8.45am for this one.
People blocked the back and only a few sat, despite constantly being told to.  Forty buses were doing the Rome on your own – good luck!  Wednesday is Papal mass or something which caused much frustration 52 weeks before.  Two New Zealand ladies called Shirley and Lorraine wouldn’t do it any more than I would since Rome, while nice, is hard enough to see much of in several days, never mind a few hours.  Just twenty-two on our coach 44 plus one escort I thought was a passenger until I spotted her name badge.  If anyone had lagged behind she certainly did nothing to keep everyone together, unlike the Steve Read lookalike in Livorno.  Our guide was called Luca and very interesting.  He told us many UNESCO sites are disappearing because there’s not enough money and how some buildings at Pompei had collapsed.  It was still foggy inland as we made our first stop to see some burial places of the Etruscans.  Nearby was a military firing range!  It was very difficult getting in and out of the tunnels down the the crypts.  One didn't have a light on at the bottom and the lady in front was having difficulty trying to find it.
After a short drive, we arrived in the town of Tarquinia where we were route-marched through a market towards the museum.  Luca said were were only allowed to take photos of the courtyard but I saw some Italians doing it at other parts, so I did the same.

We had an hour free time, which was a bit silly since there was nowhere to really go in that time.  I bought a Coke from a supermarket and we just waited with others until it was time to go.  Really it would have been better to have said to either meet where we got off the bus, since it was a straight walk through the market so easy to find, or wait there for Luca.


© Patricia Dempsey 9th-16th October 2011
Not to be reproduced without permission