Today, we spent the day at sea crossing the Adriatic Sea from Dubrovnik, Croatia to our next port of Otranto, Italy. Our action-packed morning started with a presentation by the captain, who narrated the process of setting up the sails, which started at the spanker deck and moved to the bow. We watched as the 17 deck hands climbed up and down the masts to unclip the sails before using ropes to release them. In total, 26 sails were set in roughly an hour. Afterwards, guests were able to walk on the forward part of the bow and chat with crew members. Next, our photography instructor gave a presentation on smart phone photography. After lunch, we also did the Sea Cloud safari–a Zodiac cruise around the ship for photographs with a close-up look at the stern, where the boat’s original name can be seen. Our historian, Dr. Robyn Woodward, gave a presentation on The Normans Kingdom in the Sun later in the afternoon, followed by crepes at teatime. Before dinner, the captain hosted a cocktail party on the Lido Deck.
Today we awoke to a full moon glimmering over the water as we headed toward the port of Amalfi — situated on the south side of the Sorrentine peninsula that separates the Gulf of Naples from the Gulf of Salerno. This stretch of southern Italy is characterized by spectacular limestone cliffs, valleys, and ravines which plunge into the sea. The natural beauty of the Amalfi Coast has made it a popular destination for European travelers since the 18th century. Like much of the Mediterranean coastline, Amalfi has a long history of settlement. There are remains of Roman-era villas in the area, and it was within the Duchy of Naples during the Byzantine period. Eventually, Amalfi became an independent republic ruled by merchant families who controlled the maritime trade routes across the Mediterranean in the 9th and 10th centuries. Amalfi was the early leader in a trade war that would later be dominated by the likes of Pisa and Venice. We went ashore for a walking tour through the old town, which is bordered on either side by sheer cliffs. Many narrow alleyways wind throughout the town beneath multistory buildings. Many staircases emanate from the central valley up toward residences built high above — Amalfi is truly mountain goat territory. We visited Saint Andrew’s Cathedral, a stunning example of Norman-Arab-Byzantine architecture which features a crypt with many colored marbles and beautiful frescoes. After returning to the Sea Cloud we were treated to a hearty meal of Italian cuisine — local seafood and the pasta wheel! We raised anchor and cruised along the coastline to the amazing Isle of Capri. In the evening we enjoyed the farewell cocktail hour, guest slideshow, and capped everything off with the Captain’s Farewell Dinner.