Saturday 21 September 2019. Today requires a tender operation to get us to shore. By which I don't mean that the crew of the ship are any more caring than they usually are, but that we are unable to dock at Santa Margherita. The ship anchors just off the coast - we know this because our cabin is near the front of the ship and the anchor chain makes an unavoidable noise as the anchor goes down!
Then we take to the ship's tender boats for a transfer from the side of the ship to the small harbour. I always enjoy these little boat trips though it can challenge some people. However there are always crew members to help you onboard.
One lady was obviously very nervous and every time the tender bobbed up or down she backed away. But she eventually managed to step from the side platform of the ship onto the boat - true bravery; being very scared of something but doing it anyway.
And today's port of call is well worth it anyway. We came to Santa Margherita in 2008 on a cruise with my Mum. This time Fran and I are on an excursion to Portofino. First though there is a walking tour of Santa Margherita.
We cross this road by the crossing to a tiny park, not much more than a traffic island. The guide we were with watched as someone had to dodge something falling from a tree and then proceeded to talk for ten minutes about the tree... Followed by five minutes on the unification of Italy and then said "Now we are going to walk to the town centre." In other words, leaving the beautiful scenery of the sea front behind. We and several others just asked when and where to meet for the ferry to Portofino and left her to it. Why do guides always feel the need to bore the pants off people? We are there on holiday, we are not on a history course... If we look at a castle I like to know the (brief) history of it and maybe a small history of the actual place but not the entire history of Italy.
There is a castle. Or a small fortress at least. It was built in the 16th century as the Mediterranean coastal towns were being regularly attacked by pirates from North Africa. The doorway under the ramp to the right of the fort leads to public conveniences - of much more relevant interest than the breeds of nearby trees...
We strolled back along the seafront past the harbour and looked round a series of market stalls. We bought a couple of small pottery dishes and the inevitable fridge magnet.
Then we found somewhere just to sit and admire the view over the marina for ten minutes until it was time for the ferry.
The ferries to Portofino depart fairly regularly, the trip taking roughly 20-30 minutes. As members of an organised tour we were allowed to board before other passengers, although the arrival of another ferry boat meant that they were not all that disappointed. In fact they boarded and left while we were still being herded on...
The Marella Dream's tender boat waits for the other ferry to leave the harbour wall before depositing another boat load of passengers onto dry land.
And we're off! Portofino, for us, was the most anticipated destination of the cruise this week. See you there on the next page!