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Azamara Quest - Mediterranean Cities, October 28-November 4 2021


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Here is the itinerary of my (2nd) Azamara cruise including the pre-cruise and post cruise destinations;


DAY 1 October 25

O'Hare Airport, Chicago



DAY 1 and 2 Newark Airport (huh?)



DAY 3 Rome, Italy (but don't quote me)





















Norris, the jet lagged 

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DAY 9, MARSEILLE, FRANCE, CRUISE DAY 6 (moving bus shot)















DAY 14, NOVEMBER 7TH (hey-that's today!) FLYING HOME


So that's the basic framework of this Gentleman's Seafaring Journal which I am about to write and which will feature;

Air travel (4 flights total)

Covid tests (5 of those-PCR up the nose)

Dining in Rome, Barcelona and Dublin

Azamara Quest of course

Food porn

A mountain of marble

Wine tastings in Tuscany and Provence

Covid 19 in all the cities

Ships we met in the various harbors

Bus excursions

Tour of Sagrada Familia/Parc Guell (Private guide)

 and of course lots of pics of Carol, Deck Chair Queen as she is known on CC

who bravely went through with Covid airports, ship and hotels in these uncertain times. We travel everywhere together. This one tested us.


The "Journal" as the term suggests will be recounted chronologically, as it happened. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly will be revealed where it is found.

I will write something every day until it is done, or I am.


There will be a great many photos.....

I hope you will read along.




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Carol and I began our  cruising adventures back in 2011 with Princess Cruises. Our itineraries focused on Alaska and the Caribbean.

Our first Mediterranean cruise happened in September 2014. Our cruise began in Venice and ended in Rome. Our ship was the Ocean Princess. That ship was an R Class vessel which held 700 passengers.

It was one of 8 sister ships sold off following the bankruptcy of Renaissance Cruises. Princess bought two of them.


We anchored off the coast of Sorrento, Italy. A ship owned by Azamara-the Azamara Journey had stayed anchored at Sorrento and overnight. We envied their itinerary. We were used to staying in port until dusk and missing the ports nightlife which allowed passengers to dine ashore when the bigger ships left.



I watched some Azamara Youtube videos and was attracted to the line. We sailed the Journey to Cuba in January 2019 and while on that cruise discovered a love for Cuba and an appreciation for the cruise line.

While on board we booked a Med cruise on the Quest for October 2020.


March 2020 would shake everything up in cruising. We postponed our cruise until October this year.


Norris, to be continued






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 We had to make our final Quest payment on June 30 2021 and we debated back and forth whether to cancel or lift and shift to 2022.


Cruise ships one by one slowly went back to sea. Some had Covid cases in the Med. Some countries couldn't safely risk cruise ships docking. Some ports were closed. Air travel was still impacted. There was no certainty of a safe cruising environment. Vaccinations slowed.


Carol and I were double vaccinated by Final Payment. When we thought of 2022 we considered that there was no guarantee that cruising would be any safer as countries were not getting vaccinations completed quickly enough and there was a new Delta variant to contend with.


We normally cruised at least once a year since 2011 and our last cruise (see my signature) was in September 2019. Maybe 2021 would be the last year we could cruise? There was only one way to find out and that was to go ahead and make plans for Rome and Barcelona and everything in between....


We booked our excursions -Florence on Your Own, Lucca on Your Own, Nice on Your Own, Avignon on Your Own to name a few. "On Your Own" appealed to us as we would have transportation via Azamara and then could go at our own pace once in say, Florence, where we could visit the Uffizi and have a lunch outdoors.


So we had much to look forward to on the cruise and had to keep an eye on the CDC for cruise ship approval.


So that's basically the back story and it allows me to get this Journal underway....



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We always fly United Airlines-the Friendly Skies. Chicago is a major hub for United.

To fly to Rome would require completing some steps through their app, the most important of which was needing a Covid test no more than 72 hours prior to landing in Rome. They offered a drop-down menu of places in Chicago approved for testing.

We chose a nearby supermarket chain with a pharmacy. Our appointment was for October 23 prior to flying to Newark for our connection to Rome on Monday October 25.

We had 2.5 days in Rome before our Rome in Limo transfer to Civitavecchia on the 28th.

Yippee!! We love Rome.


We arrived on time for our testing...

" Hi, we're here for our Covid tests"

Um, we don't do those here was the response.

"United Airlines told us you do"

Oh, yes we do those.

"Alrighty then-let's do it" said I

Ok can you just take a seat?


The Pharmacist busied herself on her computer, studying the procedure.

After 15 minutes she was ready for us and said (wait for it...)

I've never done a PCR test but I've watched it being done so  you'll have to do it yourselves and I'll validate.


So it was that we each took turns swabbing our own noses, just stopping short of drilling into our brains.

Results within 24 to 48 hours via email....


 We waited. The stakes were high- if either of us proved Positive there was no flight, no Rome and no (gulp!) cruise!


Norris the nervous




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United advised calling the testing lab if no result within 24 hours.

I did.

"We haven't received your tests at our lab  yet" said the voice on the phone

Oh dear, said I. Where is your lab? I assumed it was in Chicago.

"Oh no, we're in Austin Texas"

Holy Smokes I said. 24 hours already lost in transit.


We were flying the very next morning at 11 a.m.

 Our bags were packed. We went to sleep that night with "What if?" running through our frazzled brains.


The results came via email at 1.30 a.m. We found this out at 5 a.m when we awoke.

NEGATIVE!  We uploaded to the United App and our spirits lifted.


I should at this point tell you that Sunday October 24th was  a rainy windy day in Chicago. It poured heavily all day long. It was still pouring when we looked out at 5 a.m. Our Lyft was due at 8 a.m by which time the rain had dropped to a drizzle.


We made it to O'Hare in 40 minutes. Hooray!!


We checked in. Said adios to our luggage and went the United Club to relax and grab a snack.


We had two hours before our flight so we could relax.


Or could we?


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2 minutes ago, clutchcurrier said:

So glad to hear from you and Carol again and that you are both healthy.  Will be following along on your adventures.


Linda, Rochester Hills, MI

Linda, glad to have you along for all the drama (and joy) that will unfold!


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While relaxing, waiting for our flight from Chicago to Newark (no direct flights to Rome from Chicago!) I began getting texts from United....

Your flight to Newark at 11 a.m has been canceled. Please rebook another flight.

Reason being O'Hare couldn't use some runways due to 40 mph winds and it was impacting incoming and outgoing flights. Our "equipment" was coming from Orlando but was still sitting there.

As we were in the United Club we went to the desk to get help rebooking. There was a line of course.


We still had 7 hours or so before our Rome flight took to the sky (best place to fly in my opinion).

We were offered a flight going to Cleveland, with enough time to catch a Cleveland to Newark flight.

"We'll take it!"


Back to the Club for more snacks and to relax. More people were taking refuge there as their flights were delayed.


Another text came in....Your 11 a.m flight to Cleveland is now delayed. it will now depart at 2.30 p.m. The plane was still in Boston.


We were given a new flight- 12.53 direct to Newark. Hooray!! Now we could relax!! It was going from the B gates and not the C where we were-that's the one with the colored lights and Rhapsody in Blue playing non-stop. We made the long trek again51663341375_2efa72e7cc_b.thumb.jpg.59358e3a496ba4195b499a7402507fc5.jpgn.


Carol on the march.

Now relaxing in a packed United Club near our gate.

A text from United- Your flight to Newark is delayed and now leaves at 3.40 p.m.

It would arrive after our Rome plane took to the skies. 


"They may delay your Rome flight as there will be many people arriving late- 9 alone from Chicago" said the desk clerk. 

Our luggage had now been rerouted for a third time. It was going  to meet us in Rome.


We arrived in Newark almost an hour after our flight left. It's a vast airport. Packed and noisy.

We went to the United Customer Service desk. There were two agents and a long line. We were so exhausted we passed on through. We had been in an airport already for 7 hours plus a 2 hour flight.


Rome was off the menu for today. The agent in Chicago had booked us for the following day incase the flight didn't wait, which it didn't. We thanked her for her foresight. I sent emails to our hotel in Rome and to Rome in Limo telling them not to waste their time coming to FCO in the morning.


Carol booked us into the Mariott Hotel which is within the airport. We had dinner there-burgers and fries from their small menu and got an early night.


The Saga continues.....







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10 minutes ago, Vivasea said:

Loving your Journal -Thank you


Thank you ! So glad to have you reading along. I will get to the good photos today- Rome!

Bear with me.



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12 hours ago, Solar Yellow said:

Hi Norris. Signing on for the trip report!


Welcome sir!

Pull up a chair/lounger.


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Here's what it meant having to stay in Newark for the night instead of enjoying our Business Class seats and waking up in Rome. First of all the weather when we woke was the Chicago weather moved Eastward. That was the least of our worries though.



A room costing @ $300 

Dinner and a breakfast @ $100


and the worst of all-another Covid test as our 72 hours would expire by the time we woke up.

We had to go over to the airport via the Marriott shuttle after breakfast for a Rapid PCR test. Results in one hour for the Princely sum of $250 each. An hour later we uploaded our Negative results.


We also had to fill out and upload a new Passenger Locator Form for Italy as our previously accepted one had expired.





 So far a total of $900 unplanned expenditure thanks to the chaos in Chicago. United wasn't the only airline impacted of course.


I had planned to get myself the Ultimate Beverage Package onboard Quest. Now I decided against that and live with their complimentary wines and beers. Not my style on a ship but I wanted to slow down the river of money flowing away.


We were in Newark and our 5.35 p.m flight was on time.


We had TSA pre and went through the security check-only to be called back.


What's the problem Officer?

Your boarding pass is for yesterday!

We explained that we had been issued one for today.

"Go upstairs and see the United Business Class desk"


Up we went and got an updated boarding pass. My luggage had been showing up on the United App as "being redirected " but no current location shown. "Your luggage will be on your flight today and you can see it in Rome" I was wearing the same clothes as the day before.


Great news!


We tramped the half mile or so to our gate-gate 126 at the furthest reaches of this vast sprawl.

Tired, worn out.


We boarded the plane and it took off on time.


Let's meet up there for our first positive experience!


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5 hours ago, CruiserRob said:

Joining and looking forward to your GSJ



 Robert , so good to see you again.

Please spread the word of my return to all the citizens of Canada from the snowy mountains of British Columbia across the frozen plains of Winnipeg to the whatever there is in Newfoundland!


I need bums on seats for this review as there is so much good Covid travel info to impart as well as all the delights from the ports and the ship. Would you consider walking the streets of Toronto with a sandwich board proclaiming "Bimmer 09 is back at sea!"?


Let me know and there will be a check in the mail (but don't be surprised if it "gets lost")



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The sun sets over Manhattan



The flight attendant comes by my seat. " The Captain is ready to take off now sir. Ok to proceed?"

I didn't have to think twice. "Make it so!" I said with a wave of my hand. 

We rolled down the runway and picked up speed.  100 knots...V1....Rotate! and we lifted up into the air on our (well United's) Boeing 777.



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11 minutes ago, mchell810 said:

Hello Norris!  I am thrilled to be reading another GSJ!  I hope you and Carol got all the trouble/difficultly out of the way at the start of your trip so the rest ran smoothly.   😄

So good to see you again!

It will soon unfold-a cruise unlike any other we have taken. Once we get to Italy there will be considerable joy and once on the beautiful Azamara Quest the stress will fall away.

As you know I am very disciplined regarding the timelines but I'm itching to show you the photos of what is waiting in Europe in these uncertain times.


We'll be on the ground soon....


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1 minute ago, Bimmer09 said:

So good to see you again!

It will soon unfold-a cruise unlike any other we have taken. Once we get to Italy there will be considerable joy and once on the beautiful Azamara Quest the stress will fall away.

As you know I am very disciplined regarding the timelines but I'm itching to show you the photos of what is waiting in Europe in these uncertain times.


We'll be on the ground soon....



I am looking forward to your usual pacing -- it means I will have something good to read for awhile!

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