In December last year, Anniken and I decided to book a cruise vacation. We booked a 7 night Eastern Mediterranean cruise and on July 1 we went to Civitavecchia, roughly an hour outside of Rome, Italy, to board the MS Navigator of the Seas. Everything was arranged for us, so there was no hassle getting from the airport to the port. Check in also went without a single fluke and we soon found ourselves on the ship, with a great view of the port of Civitavecchia, which, unfortunately, isn’t much to look at.

The Navigator of the Seas, however, is an impressive sight: Constructed at Aker Finnyards in Turku, Finland, the ship measures 138.279 gross tons and can carry 3.114 passengers, plus crew. Her length is 311.1 m (1,021 ft) and with a beam of 49.1 m (161 ft). At maximum speed she moves at 22 kn (41 km/h; 25 mph). The Navigator of the Seas is the fourth out of Royal Caribbean International‘s five Voyager-class cruise ships. She was once one of the largest in the fleet and still ranks among the largest passenger ships in the world.

From Civitavecchia, we departed for Messina, Sicily, Italy. Here Anniken and I had decided to go to Mount Etna and Taormina. The barren landscape surrounding Mount Etna clearly showed that living close to an active volcano is a pretty bad idea, but for some reason, people insist on living there. Beats me. We were never close to the active craters of Mount Etna, but instead went to several old, secondary craters that were stone cold, so to speak. So, even though we didn’t see any lava, it was a spectacular view from the other craters. If you ever go to Mount Etna yourself, be sure to taste the Fire of Mount Etna, a pretty stiff liquor they produce in the area. They called it “wine”, but no way that stuff is wine.

From Mount Etna, we went to Taormina. A nice town, but in retrospect we both agreed that the visit to Mount Etna had been sufficient. It was damn hot that day and seven hours in the sun was more than enough for the both of us. So if you ever embark on the same cruise as we did, consider yourself warned.

Here are a couple of pictures from the first leg of our journey. Mixing both landscape and horizontal pictures in a slider probably wasn’t the best idea, but please bear with me. I’ve also noticed that before me and the missus goes anywhere else where we want to take pictures, we should get a new compact camera. The current one has bumped into more than its fair share stuff and is in desperate need of a replacement. Some pictures that aren’t blurry would be nice, for instance.

The herd has been gathered and is ready to move from the airport.
The herd has been gathered and is ready to move from the airport.

The Royal Promenade of the Navigator of the Seas.
The Royal Promenade of the Navigator of the Seas.

Not your average dining room.
Not your average dining room.

To our surprise we discovered that Sheldon is part of the Navigator of the Seas crew.
To our surprise we discovered that Sheldon is part of the Navigator of the Seas crew.

Anniken ready for the first dinner onboard.
Anniken ready for the first dinner onboard.

A small part of the 12th and 13th decks.
A small part of the 12th and 13th decks.

Avoid the James Bond Martini thing on the left.
Avoid the James Bond Martini thing on the left.

A pilot boat, not an unfamiliar sight when the Navigator of the Seas docked or departed.
A pilot boat, not an unfamiliar sight when the Navigator of the Seas docked or departed.

Messina.
Messina.

A huge grasshopper thing that found its way to the top deck somehow.
A huge grasshopper thing that found its way to the top deck somehow.

Etna is somewhere behind these hills.
Etna is somewhere behind these hills.

This was about as close as we got to the active parts of Etna.
This was about as close as we got to the active parts of Etna.

Notice the number tags.
Notice the number tags.

I’d brought my GoPro camera, hoping to capture a sudden eruption. But no.
I’d brought my GoPro camera, hoping to capture a sudden eruption. But no.

Tour guide Anniken in Taormina.
Tour guide Anniken in Taormina.

View from Taormina.
View from Taormina.

Taormina was damn hot, but we still managed to pose.
Taormina was damn hot, but we still managed to pose.