DAY 3 | VENICE
ABOARD THE MV AEGEAN ODYSSEY — I awake after 11 hours of sleep in a very comfortable double bed with two large duck feather and two duck down pillows. The bed linens are white-on-white stripe microfiber sateen with a matching comforter. Cotton sheets, I was told, are available upon request.
I focus and assess my surroundings. My cabin is smaller than as depicted in the ship’s photography and is approximately 200 square feet in size. The cabin is furnished with a double bed, two end tables with reading lamps, a credenza incorporating a mini-fridge, a love seat and chair, and three nice-sized closets with a safe, shelving, drawers and a dozen hangers. There is a small glass coffee table is offered and a small flat-screen television (about 24-inch) is mounted on the wall. The television (with remote) offers six news channels (including CNN, Al Jazeera, Bloomberg, BBC, CNBC and NHK World), four movie channels, a cruise information channel and four music channels. The cabin does not offer a desk surface which would be useful.
With a good night’s sleep, my cabin looks more inviting to me.
While the cabin is fully air conditioned, the brochure is slightly misleading when it claims that the air conditioning is individually controlled. Ceiling vents can be opened and closed like the air vents in one’s home, but there is no thermostat. The temperature is set throughout the ship, and you may simply control the air flow within your cabin. My cabin was a bit warmer than I would have liked and other passengers commented that their cabin temperature (on lower decks) was quite cold.
The cabin’s bathroom is good size consisting of a sink with a room-length counter with mirror above, hair dryer, magnifying mirror, and walk-in shower (some cabins offer bathtubs). Shower pressure is quite good as is the amount and temperature of hot water. Bathroom toiletries include a shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body lotion, shower cap, sanitary bag, vanity kit (Q tips and makeup swab) and bar soap, all made by Molton Brown of London. The towels are rough and in need of replacing.
(A tip from another passenger on how to deal with the rather rough towels proved useful. She suggested that I simply go to the pool deck and pick up a pool towel. They are large, fluffy and soft. Going to the pool deck is a bit out of the way, but the result is worth it.)
My cabin, on the Bridge deck, has a covered balcony that is about 5′ X 9′ with two deck chairs and what appears to be a teak side table. The view is unobstructed and lovely.
Other Aegean Odyssey cabins
There are 14 cabin categories aboard the Aegean Odyssey on seven decks ranging in size from 130 square feet at the smallest, to the largest, the 550-square-foot owner’s suite. There are both inside and outside cabins with either two twin beds, a double or queen; single cabins are available at a single supplement cost.
Furnishing and closet space vary with cabin size, but basic amenities remain the same for all. Only upper level staterooms have balconies.
I had breakfast al fresco in the Tapas on the Terrace restaurant. A nice buffet is offered along with an omelet station. Tables are set with cloth napkins, silverware and drinkware and the waitstaff provides beverages and breads tableside.
Following breakfast our first lecture was given in the Ambassador Lounge by guest lecturer Gregory Dowling, who provided insight into the history of Venice and contemporary life. Venice, we were told, is situated on 118 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges in the marshy Venetian Lagoon which stretches between the mouths of the Po and the Piave Rivers. Venice is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. The city and lagoon are listed as World Heritage Sites. The session was well attended and provided insight into what we would see today on our walking tour of the city.
Late morning we began our Highlights of Venice walking tour which included St. Mark’s Cathedral, with its beautiful facade mosaics and golden dome, and the Piazza San Marco – the city’s center. We then moved on to the 14th century Doge’s Palace, with its magnificent Gothic edifice, followed by the Bridge of Sighs and the old prison cell where Casanova was once held.
The tour proceeded to the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, usually just called the Frari. One of the greatest churches in the city, it has the status of a minor basilica. It stands on the Campo dei Frari at the heart of the San Polo district. The church is dedicated to the assumption of Mary. The Franciscans were granted land to build a church in 1250, but the building was not completed until 1338. Work almost immediately began on its much larger replacement, the current church, which took over a century to build. The campanile, the second tallest in the city after that of San Marco, was completed in 1396. From there we were released to explore the beauty of Venice on our own.
Whether it is your first time or 15 in Venice, it is easy to get lost amid the labyrinth of bridges, footpaths and waterways. In fact ,I strongly recommend walking away from the touristy parts and visit some of the charming neighborhoods inhabited by locals to get a better feel for the city.
This evening I had dinner in the Marco Polo dining room. The most formal of the ship’s restaurants, the Marco Polo has a full waiter service and Mediterranean influenced food. Dress is country club elegant and a jacked is suggested for dinner. The complimentary house wines offered are from Italy, Croatia, and Greece. There is also a full wine list of additional vintages available at extra cost. The room consists of tables for two, four, six and eight, covered by off white table cloths and napkins and adorned with fresh flower arrangements. As the room is on the ship’s lowest public deck there is no view to the outside. Sheer covered portholes are in evidence and the dining room walls are decorated with Greek-themed artwork. Dining room chairs are upholstered in a geometric design complementary with the room’s carpeting.
Waiters are smartly dressed in black trousers, white shirts, black bow ties and maroon vests, and the single female staff member was the wine server. The service is friendly and professional. The menu included a choice of three appetizers, a soup and salad selection, three entrees, a vegetarian offering, and seven desserts with one being sugar free. As an appetizer I had the San Daniele prosciutto with melons with lemon-infused olive oil and rocket leaves and parmesan cheese; a main course of trout filet with almond butter sauce, spinach and dill potato and a dessert of selected French and Italian cheeses. The wine served was Italian: Giovanni Bellia Veneto Orientale Tia Bianco. The meal was well prepared and plated with thought to color and texture.
This evening passengers were offered an evening visit to St Mark’s Basilica, a unique opportunity to visit St. Mark’s after the daytime crowds have left and it closes to the public. The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark (officially known in Italian as the Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco and commonly known as Saint Mark’s Basilica) is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice. It is the most famous of the city’s churches and one of the best known examples of Byzantine architecture.
The church lies at the eastern end of the Piazza San Marco, adjacent and connected to the Doge’s Palace. Originally it was the chapel of the Doge, and has only been the city’s cathedral since 1807 when it became the seat of the Patriarch of Venice, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice. For its opulent design, gilded Byzantine mosaics, and its status as a symbol of Venetian wealth and power, from the 11th century on the building has been known by the nickname Chiesa d’Oro (Church of Gold).
At 10.30 p.m. the ship departed Venice into the Adriatic Sea for our first port of call, the Croatian city of Zadar.