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HeinBloed-Blog from QUEEN ELIZABETH/MSC WORLD EUROPA - October 2023 - Western Mediterranean


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We went to France and Barcelona, Spain, for a week on QUEEN ELIZABETH.

The high flight prices, our curiosity about the long journey with an electric car, and the fact that we had packed a lot meant that we took the opportunity to finally see some of the places and landscapes away from the port cities that we usually fly over on planes.

The first section of our journey in the blog takes us to Alsace, France.

Later, we continued via Lyon, France, to Barcelona. On the way, we tried restaurants that other forum participants from the Gay Traveling Friends group recommended to us.

In Barcelona, we boarded QUEEN ELIZABETH for a week in the Western Mediterranean.

We had decided much earlier to spend two more days on the MSC WORLD EUROPA, which ended in Genoa, Italy.

So we used the days between trips to drive through the south of France to Genoa and reposition the car.

We also discovered a gay resort in the Languedoc, France, via Facebook and Gay Traveling Friends that we wanted to try. We continued along the Côte d'Azur to Genoa.

We return by plane to Barcelona and then onto MSC WORLD EUROPA - a ship full of surprises. Far away from what we learned on our first trip on MSC MUSICA 16 years ago.

Then we went back home through the Swiss mountains.

So now, part 0.A until shortly before Strasbourg, France. Have fun while reading.





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Day 0.B took us further into Vaud, Switzerland, and Lake Geneva, Switzerland. Memories of childhood come back and a short visit in front of the MSC headquarters.

We continue to Lyon, France, - the capital of French cuisine. What my French teacher used to say: he was a gourmetand and liked to eat well and a lot.














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In the next section, we continue to Barcelona, Spain, on day 0.C.


We were unlucky on the way: the charging stations were only near fast food restaurants.


In Barcelona, finally, the first ships can be seen: always a paradise for shipspotters: VALIANT LADY, SEA CLOUD, SEABOURN OVATION, MSC DIVINA, SYMPHONY OF THE SEAS, COSTA TOSCANA.


We stayed in a great hotel on Plaza Espana, close to our favorite tapas restaurant.










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The first encounter with QUEEN ELIZABETH took place early in the morning. My shipping company ID allows me access to the port area - our office in Barcelona is right in the middle of it.


The ship leaves at 23:00 hrs. Our check-in time slot would be 16:00 hrs, but luckily, we have many friends on board who ensure we can enjoy our first coffee before 11:00 hrs.


We are at "home"!


Day 1 is divided into sections 1.1 and 1.2.













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I love it when the day after embarkation is a day at sea. You can then arrive in peace, sort yourself out, and relax.


I'm relaxing so well that unfortunately, I missed the guitar concert.


For this, I booked the QUEEN ANNE on board with benefits. 810 days to embarkation. Thanks to Leah. Now I have a lot of time to look forward to it.


It's a black-and-white gala evening. We did well with Joel and JB. We enjoy their attentive and friendly service.


Head waiter Tristan made sure I had my favorite breakfast. Maître D'Hotel Anand greets me like an old friend of the company.


We already know the show "Be Our Guest" from the last trip on the QUEEN VICTORIA 2022.

We met Isabelle and Thierry from France, whom I previously met in a Facebook group, at the bar in person.




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Day 3 takes us to Naples, Italy.

In the morning, we always have our coffee at Agnieszka's. We tell her boss, Claudia, how nice she is, always making us coffee.


We also meet Krishna again, whom we know from a previous trip.


Daniel is the unlucky guy at reception: whenever he catches me as a guest, something is going on that means he has to run.


On board, we meet Suzy and Blair, who are looking for a way to see Pompeii, Italy.


We planned to take the boat to Sorrento, Italy, around 11:00 a.m. and take the train to Pompeii. We booked a guided tour there.


Back on board, we look forward to the evening in The Verandah. It's so good that I even want to know the chef, Karin, later. The service from Isai and Lance is excellent.




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Day 4 takes us to Civitavecchia, Italy.


We also have a butler: our cabin is surrounded by suites. We ask Joy something, and she calls around for us, even though we aren't suite guests.


Losito is our sommelier in the evening, and even though we don't drink alcohol, he never ignores us.


We take the express train to Rome, Italy. Cristian, who I know from a Facebook group and lives in Rome, recommends visiting Villa Borghese. We also booked a guided tour here and were competently introduced to the beautiful arts.

Later, we met him for lunch at a Chinese restaurant. I'm curious how the noodles are prepared here: soft for Chinese or al dente for Italians.



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Day 5 should have taken us to a port we'd never been to, Ajaccio on Corsica in France. We have never been to Corsica before. A private city tour had already been booked, and we had tickets for the "little train" in the afternoon.


But the weather doesn't allow the journey: the port is closed. So we have another day at sea. My disappointment is limited.


On board we meet bar manager Brandon again, who we know from many trips. And finally, we have time for tea. It has to be once every trip.


It's a shame we won't play a submarine in a car wash again as we did on QUEEN VICTORIA.

Today, we looked at the schedule and discovered Martin Vishak is giving an additional guitar concert. We're there on time this time, just the way we love it.


I still needed to manage to eat at La Piazza when it was offered. That's why I'm making it to Riviera today. Marianne and her team warmly welcome us. An old friend we have known for a long time is Nitin - he surprised me and asked how my operation went and whether I was feeling better.


We ate together again with Nenad and talked about this and that. Not everything is for straight people. We are worse than the Viennese washerwomen. But it has to be done, and it's a lot of fun. We're unlucky at the LGQLTI+ meeting: it's so dominated by lesbians that all the gays have disappeared.


If you're a Saltimbocca fan, try to get a seat here. I have never eaten a better saltimbocca in my life.




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Now comes the regular sea day that we would have had.


For the big premiere, I go to the Silent Disco in the evening wearing a tuxedo - that shows how much fun I have on board.


But first, a huge surprise at breakfast: I met the waiter who made my father happy in 2014 and his colleague John. These two are part of why my father was so enthusiastic about the QM2 that he wanted to take the ship model with him on his last voyage.


Reynaldo knows our special requests at Café Carinthia, and we don't need to order anything when we sit down.


Finally, Club World members will have a big party with Captain Steven and Hotel General Manager James. It's unpleasant: Two trips need to be added to my list. Otherwise, I would be a Diamond member at the end of this trip. So I have to write to Southampton again because Jasmina can't do anything for me on board. However, I learned much about QUEEN ANNE at an event for German-speaking guests.


Ravi fulfills our table requests in the main restaurant.


Housekeeping Manager Ana Lisa and her assistant make sure I don't get wet again when I wash my hands and replace the pumps in the shower gel/shampoo bottles.


The evening is crowned with the show Hollywood Nights. And again, at the end, there is "You Can't Stop the Beat" from "Hairspray". This gets me singing, standing up, and dancing along. I feel wonderful.



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Day 7 takes us to Palma de Mallorca, Spain.


I'm lucky: our ship for March 2024 is also here. CELEBRITY INFINITY: unfortunately, it's not going to Israel or Egypt, but the main thing is the ship: there are still two new ports for us: Thessaloniki, Greece (which I'm looking forward to) and Limassol, Cyprus.


We're on the road again with Suzy and Blair. Together we go to the Soller railway. Nice, but not comparable to the Swiss or Canadian panoramic trains.


It's time to slowly say goodbye to everyone who has grown dear to us in a week.





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The sad day is here: we must leave our "home" at sea. But in January 2024, we will see a few "small" Cunard family members again.


There is a big shipspotting parade for me in the harbor: ENCHANTMENT OF THE SEAS, MSC FANTASIA, COSTA SMERALDA and CARINTHIA.

CARNIVAL FREEDOM is fresh out of dry dock - she doesn't look it.

We have to continue towards Genoa, Italy. We have three days to do this.

The first section takes us to Languedoc, France, to the gay resort Cinq & Sept. If we ever get permanently seasick, this could be an alternative for us or a few days before or after a cruise.

However, I have to sleep here in the bedroom with Emmanuelle Macron. I've never had to sleep in the same room as a politician before.

Since there is, unfortunately, no dinner for guests this evening, we are eating at the Maison de Conti with other resort guests.



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Our vacation consists of two cruise sections: The section with the QUEEN ELIZABETH ends in the Nice, France, area. Nice is part of the catchment area of Genoa, Italy; therefore, we delimit it now. 

After a classic French breakfast at Cinq et Sept, we continue to Aix-la-Chapelle.

This brings back memories: Back then with Chantal and Selma... Coke in the shoe, and I saved it so it didn't get stuck, and I got hit for that!

Otherwise, it's a lovely city.

We drive to Toulon on the Côte d'Azur and continue via Heyères to Cagnes-sur-Mer.

The QUEEN ELIZABETH part ends here. This is followed by the transition partly with the MSC WORLD EUROPA.

But it's also worth reading on for Cunard fans. Even if you don't like giant ships, the ship surprises you because it sets new accents that we haven't encountered with any other company before.



Edited by HeinBloed
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The HeinBloed blog now starts here with the MSC part.

The second part of the trip takes place on the MSC WORLD EUROPA. Our journey starts in Barcelona, Spain, the end of our trip on QUEEN ELIZABETH.

But there is a logistical problem: the journey with the MSC WORLD EUROPA ends in Genoa, Italy. But we have enough time to reposition the car and finally have the opportunity to discover the coast's beauty between the ports.

Our route takes us to Genoa via Antibes, France, and Nice, France. Because the SEADREAM II happens to be in Nice, we know where we will dock next September with the AZAMARA QUEST, which we will also see later in Monte Carlo.

In the evening, we will have a great experience of Ligurian cuisine: the Rosmarino is fantastic — especially the pasta with pesto Genovese.




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In the morning, I want to go on the ferry to photograph the BRILLIANT LADY, but it's not running due to "bad" weather.


This is how we see Genoa waking up. After breakfast, we park our car in the Ponte dei Mille garage - so positioned correctly to drive off immediately.


We take a taxi to the airport. The flight to Barcelona is a lot cheaper than the train journey.


There, we returned to the same beautiful hotel as a few days ago, and in the evening, we returned to the Casa de Tapas Canota. We don't want to eat tapas this time because they have so many other things on display that we want to try out.



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We went back to the harbor early in the morning to take photos. Once again, I am allowed into the non-public part upon presentation of my shipping company ID card.

Here it comes: so beautifully illuminated: MSC WORLD EUROPA. Also in the harbor are the former MEIN SCHIFF 2/HERZ: MARELLA VOYAGER and AIDAcosma.

After breakfast, Eva picked us up and took us reliably back to the port.

It only takes a few minutes for us to get on board. The ship is quite impressive. A little too big. But with lots of oases that we can make good use of because we don't have a drinks package.

We are booking another trip on board the MSC ARMONIA for 2025; then, we will know all MSC ship classes. We are also curious about how things work in Venice-Marghera.

In the evening, we have a great dinner at La Pescaderia. We enjoy fresh fish from the display and the excellent service from Ayoub and Tawiba.

We are surprised by the modern shows in the Panorama Lounge. We always remember "one-size-fits-all" events. But that was great.



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Day 2 takes us to Marseille, France. So much happened that day that I had to divide the second day into two chapters.


We already know Marseille, so we limit ourselves to a research walk to the bus stops and prefer to enjoy the options on board.


We experience new offers: breakfast and tea time in the Raj Polo tea room with excellent service from Joseph John, Shennoy, and Anitek.


Or Audrey and Akshay, who make your coffee the way you want. We are therefore very sorry that we prefer to go to the Coffee Emporium, even though we always received amiable service from Novi at Jean-Philippe's.


The Speakeasy Bar is also very inspiring in its concept - I've never experienced anything like it on any other ship. I love the non-alcoholic cocktail.


We are delighted with our cabin steward, Aggriawan.


Specialties Restaurant Manager Alex knows how to serve friends of the house, even if something goes wrong... I would have gotten my steak if we had shipped with our shipping company instead of MSC!


I was lucky to meet Hotel Manager Neven and Director of Hotel Services Aniello, and I could share my sincere enthusiasm with them.


Then came the shows. Jugglers, rope artists, and can-can are part of MSC's DNA. They could do a presentation about the moon landing and still include a can-can in the plot.


But if Sarah Brightman is singing Christine from The Phantom of the Opera, that speaks for MSC.


Even better: at 4:00 a.m. I was at a rehearsal in the Panorama Lounge. Latin rock isn't my thing: "Let's get loud" - I'm thrilled and feel like I've been in a fountain of youth all day. That was two days of intensive medical care from MSC.





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