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Day 9: End of Cruise and Debarkation

1 e1373660737477 Day 9:   End of Cruise and Debarkation

Dateline: Civitavecchia
Aboard Oceania Cruise Ship, The Riviera

We were sad to see the cruise come to an end but the ten days aboard were sufficient. I saw several places I had never visited before: Cannes, St. Tropez, Marseilles, Olbia, Sorrento, Amalfi and Ravello. We could have made ourselves quite comfortable staying on board for another ten days, even though the ship was retracing its journey back to the same ports. The food on board the Oceania was outstanding, as well as the service. Our stateroom, though small, was well-appointed and quite comfortable.

The ship was still running my “Cheese in the Mediterranean Diet” seminar on the ship’s Guest Lecturer channel in a continuous loop. I wondered how much longer it would run after I left.

We had breakfast outside on deck twelve’s Terrance Café. This was our favorite breakfast spot on the ship. Set up as an oversize buffet, with fruits, excellent pastries and yogurts, an eggs-to-order station, it included pretty much everything else one could want including cereals. This final morning on board we were some of the first to arrive so we chose a table by the railing which overlooked our arrival at the port of Civitavecchia – Rome’s seaport.

I failed to record our flight number so we were placed on the first bus leaving that morning, this to make sure we made our flight, whatever the number, at whatever time it was scheduled (which was why we were two of the first at the Terrace Café). This ended up giving us a few extra hours to spend at Rome’s airport. Sure, it would have been nice to sleep in a little, and to adjust our clocks westward an hour or two. The day ended up being a long one.

The early morning drive to Rome was a quiet one. I am sure we weren’t the only ones reminiscing about the previous ten days. We drove past acres and acres of sunflowers, a few small dairy farms, cow or goat, the last of which seemed a little close to the airport. This road from Civitavecchia (meaning “old city”) hugged the coastline most of the way to the airport. I had forgotten this. The bucolic seaside farmland along each side of the road was far different scenery from what we would be driving beside on our way home from JFK later that day.

I could not bear the thought of leaving behind any leftover cheese. It would be one thing if someone else might enjoy it but it was nearly certain that it would have been thrown out. I could have easily left a third of a bottle of leftover Sancerre and another third of a thick Zinfandel. Less likely that either of these would have been thrown out, I can’t say for sure. I was talked into stuffing each of these into my backpack, along with the cheeses, my laptop, tablet, magazines and all the other stuff we guys carry in our man-purses. We had overstuffed our checked luggage pieces and carry-ons anyway; fortunately the luggage carts are available no charge at Leonardo da Vinci.

During the marvelous cruise, with its focus on the cheeses and wines of the western Mediterranean, there may have been more people crisping on the pool deck than there were curious gourmets in the seminars, yet for those that took in the culinary delights it had to have been one of the most fabulous assemblies of gustatory thrills ever experienced on a cruise. People were thanking me all the way up to the airport check-in. After that point we let them run ahead so we could attend to one last piece of business.

Arriving four hours early for our departure (I was told) would allow us time to find a little corner to finish our cheeses and wines. I can’t imagine the same scenario occurring at any US airport: sitting as nonchalant as possible while pouring wine from a backpack into espresso cups, and nibbling on little bits of cheeses. Maybe this is routine here?

- Max McCalman

Spread the curd!
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