Got up around 8.00am as usual to see that the Azamara Pursuit was just getting ready to dock in Nice. The last time we’d been to Nice was in 2011, when we’d flown in to join sister ship Azamara Journey, where we did a four-night cruise culminating in the Monaco F1 Grand Prix.
It was a lovely sunny warm day, with big fluffy clouds and a gentle sea breeze. We didn’t have any excursions booked at all, preferring to explore this charming port, on the affluent Côte d’Azur, on our own. We thought we’d try one of the hop-on-hop-off buses again, as this is always a good way to explore in your own time.
As we disembarked, I was able to get a fantastic bow shot of the Pursuit tied up in her berth.
As we walked out of the cruise terminal, we were handed a guide to the town with a map and details of the local transport. It wasn’t far to walk to the main town, and we passed many pleasure boats and yachts on the way. Lots of the boats were for charter, and there were also the massive millionaires’ yachts which we looked upon enviously.
As we crossed the road on our way to the HOHO bus stop, we spotted one of those little trains that tour all around, Le Petit Train Touristque. It was only 10 euros for the train against 23 euros for the HOHO bus. In any case, we were not in any hurry, and we thought we’d walk along the coastline to the old town, which has lots of character and laid-back charm.
We enjoyed the walk. Not only were we getting some much-needed exercise, but the beach and coastline were so picturesque, with many people sunbathing and swimming, or reclining under striped umbrellas.
On the way, we passed the huge and ornate opera house, and in front of it spotted the Statue of Liberty. 🙂 This statue is an original statue made by Bartholdi, the sculptor who made the iconic statue welcoming people in New York.
It is much smaller, much smaller too than the Statue of Liberty which is in Paris. This one (less than a meter high) is one of several statues which helped Bartholdi create the huge New York statue. It is known that he worked step by step, making statues larger and larger. Therefore, this one is probably one of the very first statues which inspired their large sister. 🙂
As we walked along the Promenade des Anglais in the hot sunshine was thirsty work, and I realised we hadn’t put any bottles of water in the rucksack. We therefore stopped at a kiosk and I bought a 500ml bottle, from which I took frequent sips in order to stay hydrated. We soon came to the area where the little train drops off and picks up its passengers, so we each paid for a ticket and sat on some nearby grass in the shade to wait the 10 minutes or so for the train to arrive.
Boarding the train, we picked up the headsets through which the commentary was broadcast, and selected the appropriate number for English. Then we set off through the winding streets for the 45 minute ride. The train advertised itself as 100% electric, and indeed it was very quiet.
We really enjoyed the ride and the commentary, but I couldn’t take any good photos out of the window of the little train, and the vehicle didn’t stop. Nevertheless, it gave us a good all-round look at old and modern Nice, and the 45 minutes went over very quickly, dropping us back off outside the Opera de Verdure where it had picked us up.
We then took a slow stroll back, passing the War Memorial on the way.
We then came to pedestrianised streets full of shops, cafés, restaurants and bars, all doing a roaring trade, and we decided it was a good time to enjoy a freezing cold beer, as we’d already clocked up over 12,000 steps on our fitness monitors. We ordered “deux bières, s’il vous plaît” and sat down at a nearby table. With the beers the waitress brought out a dish of olives, no doubt to make you drink more beer! All around us we listened to the happy French chatter as we people-watched; the beer certainly went down very well. To be honest, I could have had another one, but we thought we’d go back to the ship as they were serving up traditional salade Niçoise in the Windows Café. 🙂
We arrived back at the Pursuit just before 2.00pm, dumped our stuff in 6062, then hotfooted it up to the restaurant, hoping we hadn’t missed the salade Niçoise, as it closes at 2.30pm. We needn’t have worried, however, as the chef made up the salad for me and placed a fresh tuna steak on the hotplate to sear. I also asked for extra anchovies (!!) and the chef added some chilli flakes to give my salad a “bite”. It was delicious, and we washed it down with a beer as we sat out on the rear decks.
Afterwards, we returned to cabin 6062 for a half-hour power nap, and to sit out on the balcony for a short while and just relax and potter about. I then got showered and shampooed and blow-dried my hair in readiness for the much-publicised White Night, which was scheduled from 6.00pm onwards.
Azamara cruises, whilst they don’t have a strict dress code beyond elegant casual, do have one ‘dress up’ event on their ships called White Night. This is where all passengers, entertainment staff and crew are encouraged to dress all in white, and the pool deck is decorated with white bunting and white fairylights. Dining tables and chairs and set out and dressed with crisp white tablescloths and napkins, and the whole effect looks wonderful.
I dressed in white jeans and a white broderie anglaise boho top, while Trevor wore a white shirt and pale blue trousers (he doesn’t have any white ones). We then went to the Discoveries Restaurant and had an early dinner at six o’clock before making our way up to the pool deck around seven. The tables were all taken up with groups dining al fresco, so we just perched on bar stools under the canopy at the bar, and ordered a cocktail each. As we sat there, enjoying the music of Lucky Charm and viewing the spectacle of everyone dressed in white, I noticed the blueness of the sky gradually being replaced by ominous black clouds. Judging by the flapping of the bunting, the breeze also seemed to have strengthened.
Just then, we heard a loud clap of thunder, which elicited an “oooooohhhh” from the crowd. The wind got up and some tablecloths lifted, causing the glassware to fall off and shatter on the deck, to be quickly cleared up by the attentive deck staff. A bright flash of lightning followed, then another long rumble of thunder. The sky was very dark now and we were glad we were under the canopy, as rain was inevitable. The Pursuit should have set sail at 9.30pm, but there was no sign of her casting off.
Soon enough, the rain started, and everyone ran for cover either under the canopy or along to the Windows Café. The band, Lucky Charm, stopped playing and Ernest’s voice came over the mic that the White Night Party would now move to the Living Room, so everyone made their way there en masse.
How typical is that? We’d never seen a single drop of rain all cruise, but as soon as a deck party was taking place the heavens opened. 🙂
We managed to get our regular bar stools in the Living Room which gave us the best vantage point to observe the action and enjoy the live entertainment. It consisted of lively music by the ship’s excellent orchestra accompanied by Lucky Charm, and featuring the vocals of Ernest, Lee and some of the show company singers. The dance floor soon filled up and, when the music came on for the dances we’d learned earlier on, everyone got up and did the actions and it was all good fun.
At intervals we went out of deck to see if the Pursuit was underway yet, and wondered what the hold-up was. We never did find out, but it was about 10.40pm when we noticed we were moving at last, over an hour late.
The party went on until well after midnight, with the Living Room gradually emptying out. It was around 12.30am when we left and made our way back to our cabin, feeling sad that tomorrow would be our last port of call and, indeed, the last day of our fantastic cruise. How the time had flown.
We settled down for the night once again, looking forward to our visit to Marseille tomorrow.