I was woken far too early this morning by the in room alarm clock at 6.30. This had also happened yesterday morning and although I had removed the batteries the alarm still went off today! Despite this rude awakening I went onto the balcony which was bathed in early morning sunshine and watched as we sailed down the channel into Olbia, Sardinia. It was so interesting as we passed all the fishermen in their tiny boats already at work retrieving their lobster pots. Some were also dragging piles of weed onto their boats creating mountains which looked as if they would sink the boat.
I enjoyed another delicious breakfast on the balcony. I am always amazed at how hot the cooked food is when it has to travel so far from the galley. The large fresh pot of coffee provided every morning has the best strength and flavour compared to that served by other cruise lines and I enjoyed every drop.
Before going to meet our group at 9.45 I found my cabin steward and asked him to destroy the alarm clock! I also mentioned that although I am sleeping very well I am finding the mattress a little hard. He immediately offered to place an additional topper on the mattress - such service.
After signing various health and safety waivers we were escorted for a tour of the Bridge. On the way we passed all the plaques that have been presented to the Azamara Journey from the various ports of call, a tradition that happens on the inaugural visit to any new destination.
The bridge tour was conducted by the senior officer on duty. He told us that before joining Azamara he worked on oil tankers and container ships. Guess which of the three is his preferred occupation?! He told us that he is waiting for the opportunity to move up to Captain the ship, but I think he may have a long wait!
He explained that the various radars show the location, name and size of every vessel no matter how small. They have open radio contact with all the ships as well as coastguards, pilots and port authorities. When approaching and departing from port the local pilot comes on board for a cup of coffee while he is in control of the ship. Once out in open sea the autopilot is switched on!
All fire doors, emergency exits and watertight doors are controlled from the bridge and a large panel on the wall shows the location of every stateroom, sprinkler and alarm system. It is very reassuring to see how quickly any emergency can be dealt with.
Another officer was sitting with various charts and mathematical appliances plotting the route to be taken for future voyages. In fact he was working on 2012 itineraries. It was very refreshing to see a practical, manual application to this rather than relying on automated processes.
Once the tour was over some of us made our way to the gangway where we took the complimentary shuttle to the centre of Olbia which is a lovely little town. We explored the pedestrianised streets and went into a beautiful church with a colourful domed roof before turning a corner to find a pretty square where we sat and had drinks in the warm sunshine. Although none of us were hungry, we were automatically served with pieces of tomato covered bruschetta and a bowl of crisps. This just added to the continental atmosphere we were enjoying just watching the world go by.
On my way back to the ship I stocked up on locally produced olive oil, wine and salami to take home.
Back on the Azamara Journey, I collected a Latte from Mosaic Cafe and took this back to my room where I got ready for our private cocktail party on my friend's wraparound balcony. Canapés were provided and the Butler was very proficient in keeping all 18 of us well stocked with champagne and cocktails while we enjoyed the sailaway from Olbia.
Dinner this evening was in Discoveries and we had an excellent meal, served by very efficient and happy waiting staff. We stayed talking at our table so long that we missed this evening's show so instead made our way to Mosaic where we enjoyed the pianist and his tribute to Elton John - all very enjoyable.
But the evening was not over. On my way to the Looking Glass for Karaoke, I stopped at the Casino and turned $30 into $60 - an excellent return on my investment, thank you Azamara!
(c) Janet Welsh