Holland America Line Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise: Day 8 Catania, Sicily

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Viv & Jill’s Holland America Line Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise: Day 8 Catania, Sicily
12-Night Mediterranean Romance Cruise June 3-15, 2011

Holland America Line's Nieuw Amsterdam Mediterranean Romance Cruise - Catania on Sicily, Italy

Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam Mediterranean Romance Cruise – Catania on Sicily, Italy

Day 8 – June 10: Catania on Sicily, Italy

The Nieuw Amsterdam arrived and docked in Catania (second largest city in Sicily and tenth largest in Italy) before we were awake. Again, we had to turn on the TV webcam to see where we were – this ship had been so stable that even when she was moving we couldn’t feel it for the most part. Surprised to find that we were indeed in port, it was time for a quick breakfast in the Lido Restaurant before disembarking at 9 am and making the easy 20-minute walk into town. As soon as we left the ship we had views of the active straovolcano Mount Etna (the tallest active volcano in Europe) in the distance, breaking through the clouds that shrouded her peak in the early morning.

Fish Market in Catania

Fish Market in Catania

As we love food markets of all kinds and seek them out everywhere we travel, the local market in Catania was the first place on our list to visit. Here, tucked away in a small plaza near the Piazza Duomo (cathedral square), we found local fisherman flogging their early morning catch with everything imaginable from the sea – urchins, octopus, razor clams, fish of every size and description. Local residents were eagerly bartering with the fish mongers and filling their shopping trolleys with the bounty of the sea and lots of lovely fresh vegetables. We were just hoping someone would invite us home for lunch, but no such luck.

After wandering the main shopping area of the city, visiting the Roman Amphitheater ruins, viewing the Teatro Bellini and picking up more cheap Italian wine at a grocery store, we sauntered back towards the ship. This turned into a very interesting diversion as we somehow found ourselves down hooker alley – a very seedy neighborhood – with madams in doorways giving us the evil eye. Very quickly we got ourselves through the area and back to the port. (Note to self: sometimes it’s best to stay on the longer route instead of taking short cuts through unfamiliar areas around a city.)

Back on board Nieuw Amsterdam by early afternoon, we found a table by the pool for lunch from the Lido Buffet. The Greek food today was especially good and we tried not to overindulge as we had dinner reservations in the Pinnacle Grill for “An Evening at Le Cirque”. With most passengers still on excursions we had a nice quiet afternoon poolside reading books from the ship’s library until departure at 5 pm.

Luckily for us, as there is only one Le Cirque evening per voyage, Linda Garrison (About.com) and her mom, Marvel, were able to join us for a 7 pm reservation at the Pinnacle Grill. Again, the four of us talked all things travel as we dined on a sumptuous 4-course meal inspired by Sirio Maccioni’s legendary New York restaurant, Le Cirque at the Mayfair Hotel. We started with the Chef’s amuse-bouche and then enjoyed the Lobster Salad “Le Cirque”. The sweet corn soup with corn fritters and wood ear mushrooms was delicious. Then we both chose the Rack of Lamb with goat cheese panisse, artichokes and arugula as our entree with sides of Pommes Dauphine and seasonal vegetables. Other entree options available were wild halibut with a leek fondue and Cote de Boeuf with horseradish flan and beets. For dessert we were wowed by the chocolate souffle with vanilla gelato and the crème brulee Le Cirque.

Tonight we were in time to catch the performance in The Showroom at Sea that featured the one-man, baby grand-playing Brett Cave and found him to be most entertaining. Then we decided to head out on deck to see if we could catch a glimpse of one of the continuous minor eruptions from the Stromboli Volcano (known as Lighthouse of the Mediterranean) as we sailed through the Straits of Messina – unfortunately, no luck tonight.

The ship’s clocks were set back one hour in the middle of the night, so we were getting an extra hour to sleep in before exploring Naples tomorrow.

Roman Amphitheater Ruins

Roman Amphitheater Ruins

Explore More of WJ’s Holland America Line Mediterranean Romance Cruise

Overview | Itinerary | Photos | Day 1: Venice, Italy | Day 2: Venice, Italy | Day 3: Dubrovnik, Croatia | Day 4: Corfu, Greece  | Day 5: Argostoli, Greece | Day 6: Santorini, Greece | Day 7: Sea Day | Day 8: Catania, Italy | Day 9: Naples, Italy | Day 10: Rome, Italy | Day 11: Livorno, Italy | Day 12: Barcelona | Day 13: Barcelona Disembarkation |


Click here to visit the Holland America Line website.


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