It was still dark when I woke up and I could hear the wind and rain through the balcony door. It did not sound like it was going to be a great weather day. We had an early tour so we planned to meet Joe and Ammie for breakfast in the Yacht Club at 7:30. There was a very nice variety of options for breakfast. Everyone had some type of eggs except me. I chose fruit and oatmeal. We waited in the lounge to be escorted down to the first tender since we had a tour guide meeting us at 9.
A butler escorted a group of us from the lounge to the front of the line for the the first tender. It was fairly rough seas boarding the tender and while waiting for the rest of the passengers to load. The concierge had given us ponchos and we were glad as it started to pour right as we reached shore. We found our guide easily but we were pretty drenched even though it was a short walk to the van.
We arranged before the cruise for this private tour and our guide, Anna planned a perfect day around our lunch reservation in Eze. She was a very knowledgeable guide who spoke english beautifully. Our first stop was Monte Carlo, Monaco. It was very cold and rainy and Ana did provide umbrellas for us. She was also gracious enough to share her soft sweater jacket with me. We saw the opera house, park, marina, and of course the casino. We were allowed to go into the casino to the lobby area only. Next, was a short ride to the town of Monaco. There we saw the palace, cathedral, park, and a smaller chapel. Ana suggested buying postcards at a shop and offered to mail them for us. Our tour guide pointed out a statue of Mary atop the Church. I had a conversation with Mary and promised some Hail Marys in exchange for some improved weather for our trip. I was really hoping the rest of the trip would not be as rainy as today but the forecast when I planned the trip was not to promising. Hopefully, this will help so stay tuned.
The medieval village of Eze was the final stop of the day. Chris had made us reservation for lunch at Chateau Eze. Ana walked us to the restaurant which is atop the streets of the the winding village. This restaurant looked amazing online and it surpassed my expectations. Although I had hoped to dine outside, we were seated next to huge windows with breathtaking views of the French Riviera. As soon as we sat at the table, a gentleman brought an ottoman to place our purses upon. This was a definite first for me. I knew I was in for a treat.
Lunch started with a glass of champagne served in stunning flutes. We toasted to our trip, upcoming anniversary, and our friendship. All of us decided to have the prix fixe menu. An amuse bouche started the gastronomic delights. It was a broth with mushroom mousse that tasted so delicious. We all chose the Couer de boeuf tomato which was the most amazingly flavorful tomato served with so many delicious items to enhance it perfectly. This is an instance where a picture to describe this is my best option. I am not a fan of tomatoes yet I ate every morsel. For our mains, Ammie and I selected the Codfish, (confit with nori seaweed and shellfish, spinach gnocchis with lemon pistachio emulsion) and Joe and Chris had the Poultry from l’Ardeche (stuffed with spinach, girolles mushroom and hazelnut, confit potatoes Supreme sauce with agastache herb). Both entrees were outstanding! I chose Lemon and mint freshness (maple syrup emulsion) for dessert while everyone else had Roasted fig with Hojicha tea (Iced grilled tea, fresh fig and fig leaf emulsion). The desserts were delicious and mine was truly outstanding. The meal wasn’t over yet though as a stunning plate of petit fours was presented to the table. It had a lemon gel, the most amazing raspberry macaron and a chocolate tart with a salted caramel top. The coffee service had the most unique sugar presentation as well. This might be the best restaurant I have ever been to as it has breathtaking views, phenomenal service, and superb food. It checked every possible box and will be an experience that would be hard to top.
Ana was waiting right outside the door for us with umbrellas. She expertly guided us back down the winding stone paths through the village. The rain had eased up an the delicious meal certainly lifted our spirits as well. I used the return trip to write postcards. The rain picked up however when we reached port to board on tender back to the MSC Grandiosa. The ponchos the concierge provided us came in handy once again. As we said our goodbyes to Ana, the driver handed us each pouches filled with soap, lavender potpourri satchels, and perfume samples.
Ammie had the idea to visit the thermal spa to warm back up and relax. This is another perk of the Yacht Club experience. I had read online that it is one hour per day and you are asked to reserve time on a sea day. We were told there was no time limit but to let them know on the sea day if we wished to use the facilities. Upon arriving at the spa, we noticed there were no towels or robes in either the women’s or men’s locker rooms. Inside the thermal suite, there were lots of shelving that seemed designed for towel but there was not a single clean towel in sight. Chris went out to the front desk and an attendant did come with four robes and towels for us. We tried the whirlpool tub and as we were soaking a woman came and stole two of our towels. The spa was pretty busy but we did use the sauna, snow room, and emotional showers. We did go in the salt room but there were only four loungers so we just stood as they were all being used. There were lots of used towels about and a used face mask on the floor. NCL definitely has a better thermal spa experience on their ships but it is also not included with the Haven, only spa cabins. I think I would have been disappointed if I paid for this spa but it was a nice perk for the Yacht Club.
Another perk appeared in our cabin which was a snack delivered by our butler. Today’s treat was a cheese plate, grapes, and nuts. It is a nice touch to have this as you are relaxing and getting ready for the evening ahead.
We met up with our friends in the Top Sail lounge to have our pre-dinner cocktails. I really enjoyed the buffet selection of apertivos. It was nice having a small treat with our drinks. This was something that was definitely missing on our NCL Haven cruise.
The dinner for the evening was in the Yacht Club Restaurant. It was a very nice menu this evening. Most of us started with the Burgundy snails except for Chris who had steamed octopus carpaccio. Both of these appetizers were very good. For our mains, Ammie and I both had the monkfish medallion au gratin with bouillabaisse mussels and potatoes. I enjoyed this dish including the mussels which typically I am not a fan of. Chris ordered the egg fettuccine in a creamy porcini mushroom sauce. He let me taste it and I thought it had amazing, rich mushroom flavor. Joe ordered the blackened Angus filet steak and also enjoyed it. We sampled some champagne risotto as well and thought it was prepared very nicely. Dessert was crepe Suzette which was good but not too remarkable.
Earlier in the day, Joe made reservations for the cirque show, Sweets. This show is an up charge of 15 euro but it is only 5 euro if you have the drink package. When he made the reservation, he was told to meet 15 minutes before the show at the concierge so a butler could escort us to the theater. We were walked along with another couple to the theater. The choice of included drinks were on trays at the bar so we each chose one. The butler lead us to seats in the front row that had signs on them so others would not sit there. The butler removed the signs after we had sat down. We were pretty impressed with this level of service provided by the Yacht Club. The seats were excellent and the show was a decent cruise cirque show. We returned to Top Sail for a nightcap and to enjoy some music. I had a perfect espresso martini while Chris had a Manhattan. Our first full day of the cruise was a fabulous day. I went to sleep still thinking of the wonderful tour and excited for the upcoming days as this was a day to remember!
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