This day started early for Gary & Shaun...but it wasn’t hard to wake for this one: the day of the Monaco Grand Prix. Gary rose early enough to see the day dawning over the beautiful Côte d'Azur landscape. It was a spectacular sunrise just before 6:00am. The two of them met up at 6:30am for breakfast Windows Café, and it was a fabulous day - sunny with a clear blue sky. The anticipated high for the day was 26°C, so the conditions were basically perfect for the 2011 edition of the crown jewell of the Formula 1 race calendar.
As Azamara Journey continued to sail along the coast, Gary & Shaun found a table outside at the rear of the ship to enjoy the scenery as they ate breakfast. There was indeed an air of anticipation. As they ate, the famed Monaco coastline came into view as the ship approached from the east. From that approach, it was the Fairmont Hotel that put the view into perspective - the hotel that extends over the road to provide the tunnel for the race. Behind the hotel but elevated above it sat the Grand Casino. As Azamara Journey slowly made its way to its anchoring location, it was amazing to take in the entire tiny Principality. How tiny? well, the total area is about 2 km² - just over that, actually, since recent expansion of Port Hercules and the district of Fontvieille - reclaiming land area from the Mediterranean Sea. The breakfast view was, to say the least, breathtaking.
While Gary & Shaun sat at the track, Linda & Nona took things slow and easy for the day - taking the ship's tender to Fontvieille to take a wander around Monaco - well, to wander as much as possible with the race and accompanying barricades located all around the principality. They were finding out that if there was a view to be had of any part of the track then it was required to have a ticket. Any place with even a distant view of the track had either barriers to block the view or required a ticket to see.
It was really unfortunate that their originally anticipated tour had been cancelled - that would have taken them out of Monaco and would have given them a bit more freedom to enjoy things for the day. As it was, enjoying Monaco would be limited - unless, of course, you were at the race. From Fontvieille, Linda & Nona’s walking tour of Monaco started at Prince’s Palace of Monaco (Palais Princier De Monaco) located in Monaco-Ville. The impressive looking building is the official residence of the Prince of Monaco and has been held by the current reigning Grimaldi family since 1297. The high and strategic location has been home to fortress since 1191 and was transformed into a palace during the 1500s.
Walking options were obviously somewhat limited because of the race, and most shops and attractions were closed for the day - so Linda & Nona limited themselves to the Monaco-Ville district for the day’s touring. Leaving the palace, they made their way past the Monaco courthouse (Palais de Justice) and Saint Nicholas Cathedral (also known as Monaco Cathedral). The present day cathedral was consecrated in 1875 on the site of a previous parish church that dates back to 1252. Many of the Grimaldi family have been buried in this church, included Prince Albert’s parents Prince Rainer III and Princess Grace. With so much of Monaco shut down for the race and/or it being Sunday, Linda and Nona wandered for a bit more around Monaco-Ville while the sounds of the race reverberated through the principality. It was unfortunate that even the Oceanographic Museum (Musée Océanographique) was closed for the day. When they figured they had seen as much as the could of Monaco they returned to Fontvieille to catch a tender back to Azamara Journey. They sat for a while on the open deck at the Sunset Bar located at the rear of the ship on Deck 10 to enjoy a bit of food and they could easily hear the race while they sat and relaxed in the shade. With the stoppage in the race for the Petrov crash that delayed the end of the race, Linda & Nona even caught a bit of the race action on TV from onboard Azamara Journey after leaving the Sunset Bar.
Once Gary & Shaun returned from the race, we all met up in our room for a post race glass of champagne - taking advantage of the bottle we had received when we came onboard and had arranged for our room attendant to chill for us today.
Before dinner we all went to Mosaic Café for some coffees - what would turn out to be our last visit to this fav spot on the ship. The realization of the end of the cruise was setting in, and now we were wondering why we didn't book back to back cruises to extend the pleasure! We returned to our rooms to freshen up and change and then at about 8:00pm we met up once more to head to dinner at Discoveries. Our last meal on board was terrific, as they all had been on this short trip.
The night view of Monaco was breathtaking and a joy to take in after dinner. One order of business that we did need to take care of, though, was to prepare our bags for disembarkation. When we returned to our room, many other rooms already had their luggage waiting outside to be collected by the porters. While we packed up we also took some photos of the Monaco coastline to finish off the memories of this amazing day in this amazing location.
WHITEonline is the digital home of Gary & Linda White. We’ve been married since 1980 and live just outside Toronto in Ontario, Canada. Linda was born and raised in Toronto while Gary was born in London, England and moved to Canada at the age of 11. We enjoy travelling and taking photos while we travel. WHITEonline provides the opportunity to share some of our photos & experiences.