Saturday, 15 September 2012

Marseille, Corsica and Crystal Serenity

A short trip to Corsica with Mike Louagie from ShipPax to sample the new La Meridionale ferry Piana and to visit in Bonifacio the recently renovated cruise ship Crystal Serenity. we commence, however, in lovely Marseille at a Tunisian restaurant, where a very good luncheon was enjoyed outdoors:

Marseille signs:

Down to the harbour:

Piana at her berth:

Carthage arrives from La Goulette in Tunisia:

The Art Deco CGT (now SNCM) terminal:

Waiting to board the Piana:

Onboard the Piana - a magnificent ferry:

My cabin:

Out on deck for our departure:

Ariadne arrives:

Patterns painted on the quay:

Kalliste sets sail:

Followed by Carthage:

Outside the port, Jean Nicoli:

Dinner time:

Piana interiors by night:

Sunrise off Bastia:

Tanit passes by on the horizon:

Bastia signs:

A diesel railcar:

Jean Nicoli in Porto Vecchio:

Bonifacio with Giraglia at the berth:

Ichnusa on her way from Santa Teresa de la Gallura:

My hotel:


An exceedingly French vignette:

The next morning, Mike and I went out in the pilot boat to photograph Crystal Serenity's arrival at Bonifacio:

Well, that was fun!

The first of Crystal Serenity's passengers arrives in Bonifacio by tender boat:

Crystal Serenity crew members in slightly colonial uniforms:

Then we caught a tender to visit the ship while Ichnusa sailed and Giraglia arrived:

Bonifacio, viewed from the tender boat:

Owned by an American-headquartered subsidiary of Japan's famous Nippon Yusen Kaisha shipping line, Crystal Serenity is supposed to be one of the world's most exclusive and luxurious large cruise ships. I was therefore very curious to see in what ways she was similar to or different from more 'mass market'-orientated vessels.

The main reception hallway, with perspex piano:

Various dining rooms:

On all the tables, there were very many wine glasses - six at each place setting. Clearly, this is a ship aimed at exceptionally picky passengers. (Chez Bruce, when entertaining enough guests, it is quite feasible to get through six bottles in an evening - but they only get one glass each.)

A sushi restaurant - the only sign that the ship is Japanese-owned:

Italian-themed speciality restaurant:

Barbie pink and white Neo-Georgian casino:

Cigar bar:

A superfluity of cushions:

A lounge in the New Mexico ranch style with a blue suspended ceiling covered in golden stars:

Let us now examine in detail some staterooms. This one is a standard example (note - only two pillows and one cushion each):

This one is a bit posher:

Just look at all those different shampoo bottles:

This one is yet more posh:

An this one is uber-posh - a top-of-the-range, multi-room suite with an additional roly-poly draft-excluder-type cushion:

Reading material carefully selected to be the type of books one ought to read:

The gymnasium:

The Spa and Wellness Center:

Varieties of healthy organic tea:

The Lido Buffet:

Wide and uncluttered promenade with lifeboats stowed below:

One of the Crystal Serenity's outstanding features is her truly magnificent collection of kitsch art, running to hundreds of individual pieces. Let's take a connoisseur's tour of the exhibits, beginning with the charming 'Woman playing harp with nymph and birds', which has pride of place in the reception hallway:

'Buddah's wife playing cello', a fine sculpture gracing the Observation Lounge:

A charming impressionistic scene:


'Sunset over red sea, two red vases and antique cabinet' - a fine example of contemporary installation art about the meaning of which critics could engage in lengthy discussions:

King Neptune:

Dancing couple?

'The mass and levity of a heart':

'Red bird on clarinet player's finger':

'Girl pushing barrow-load of pots with guitar':

'Curious red bird inspects whisking of pudding':

'Man in blue suit with three large blue books balanced on his head':

Believe me, you could travel a long way and still not see art such as that.

Back to terra firma.

Kitsch comes in many forms: here's a modern cruise ship disguised as a sailing clipper with a winged-eagle bowsprit:

And then there are the big privately-owned mega motor yachts, a phenomenon of our era, of which Bonifacio Harbour contained many examples. These vessels all look fairly similar and they all have a very particular nomenclature:

Zoom Zoom Zoom:


Serenity (as opposed to Crystal Serenity):

 Double Xelle (spreadsheet?):

La Passione:



A Dream:

Nanou (possibly as in 'nanou nanou - see what I can afford'):

Seven Sins:

One More Toy:

Bonifacio signs:

You know, the more I look at this, the less convinced I am that it says 'Chez Denis':

Dinner time:

The most delicious thing eaten all year - sensational Corsican fish soup:

Bonifacio by night:

Mega yachts in the bay:

Back to Bastia:


Onboard Piana for the crossing back to Marseille:

Corsica Victoria arrives:

Dinner onboard Piana:

Showers of sparks and cinders issuing from the funnels:

Early morning in windy Marseille:

The laid up cruise ship Atlantic Star:

Napoleon Bonaparte:

Napoleon Bonaparte and Mediterranee set off:

Seen en route to the station in Marseille:

The 'grand descent' from the station:

Beautiful old SNCF diesel - the height of French 1960s railway chic:

Some latter-day unofficial repainting - but quite nicely done:

Then it was time to go home. Thanks a million, Mike - it was a grand little trip.

1 comment:

  1. Marvelous. For a while there I was afraid you had stopped blogging. Thanks so much for this wonderfully visual trip sans carpets al la Peter Knego. :)