Yesterday a post on the P&O forum on Cruise Critic alerted me to a change in the itinerary of our forthcoming cruise on Azura: out goes La Spezia, instead we’ll call at Livorno. While neither of these ports are great destinations in and of themselves, they give access to rather different areas, and therein lies the annoyance.
As originally planned this cruise would have allowed us to get to the Cinque Terre, a part of Italy that we haven’t seen before. Indeed, we had already booked our excursion – “Beautiful Cinque Terre” – a 7 1/2 hour trip that would have included a coach ride, a boat trip and a train ride, as well as free time in a couple of the Cinque Terre towns. After the itinerary change there was an initial suggestion that the excursion might still be run from Livorno, but it would have been over 9 hours because of the extra distance. Today, however, this excursion is no longer listed at all among those for this port on this cruise. I’ve been told that we’ll get a refund for the cost of this excursion by the end of next week.
We’ve booked a replacement – “Famous Martelli pasta and wine”, so we’ll be able to eat and drink good stuff, probably to our hearts’ content. We’ve already been to Pisa (did this on our own some years ago) and Florence (an excursion, in 2010) so this time we’ve decided to go somewhere else and this one looks attractive.
As to why the itinerary has been changed, there’s no definite information. However La Spezia is principally a port for the Marina Militare, the Italian navy, and I have heard a story that they have simply withdrawn permission. I gather that other cruises have also been affected – some Cunard ones as well, for example.