Greek Mythology is peppered with mention of Messina. According to ancient tales, Scylla and Carybdis threatened valiant Odysseus at the Strait of Messina. Hercules swam across the channel and Jason and his Argonauts visited while pursuing the elusive Golden Fleece. Even Romans, who were uneasy sailors, used the port as a tactical base and grain storehouse. Modern plans for the strait have included a bridge to link Sicily with Calabria, but after lengthy public discussion, funding evaporated – for now.

Greek explorers established a Messina settlement in the 8th century BC atop the ruins of an earlier community. The first name of the port was Zancle (“sickle”), a reference to the natural harbor shape, but was later renamed Messene after the southern Greek city of the same name (ruined). Greek rule ultimately eroded and Sicily became a favored retreat among Rome’s elite.

In the 10th century, Saracenes  invaded and the island fell to Arab rule. Messina was one of the last communities to resist the attacks. An endearing local legend recalls Saracen General Hassas Ibn-Hammar, who fell in love with Mata, the beautiful daughter of a local merchant, as he prepared to vanquish the port. After forcing her to marry him, he tried in vain to win her affections, but was unsuccessful. Finally, in an act of desperation, he converted to Christianity, and adopted the name Grifo. He later came to  be known as Grifone (“the large Grifo”) for his impressive girth. According to the tale, the pair finally found happiness.             Messina29

MESSINA is often missed for its own beauty as visitors rush to the north to visit TAORMINA or mighty ETNA, the island’s unofficial queen. Among the city’s treasures, the original 12th century DUOMO (Cathedral) fell victim to a 1908 earthquake and later wartime fires, but it has been carefully restored. The port’s prized monuments include Cathedral Annunziata dei Catalani (CHURCH of the ANNUNCIATION of the CATALANS) on via Garibaldi near Via Cesare Battisti, which dates back to the Norman era. One of the highlights is the Orologio Astronomico (astronomical clock) in the bell tower. Built in Strasbourg, it was installed in 1933.. The elaborate timepiece is spectacular – especially at noon when the full “show” begins! The Gothic Chiesa Santa Maria Alemanna (Church of Saint Mary of the Germans) was also built in the 12th century, when Emperor Henry VI ascended the Sicilian throne. German King Frederick II von Hohenstaufen also prayed at bathe site, Graceful Orion Fountain dates from 1547.

Watch the Slide Show “Messina, Sicily, Italy”.


It was a wonderful reception day on deck 3 restaurant, tonight’s dress is : formal , that means ladies in evening gowns and men in tuxedoes or jackets, children in smart clothes. We did not know about that and showed up in very casual wear. At the entrance we  were greeted and Janko was lent a jacket for such an occasion, Val was without jewelries so was Lara. Next to us the women were wearing beautiful decollates and men bow ties. The waiters were friendly and helpful, the service was quick and efficient, one plate finished, before you know it, the other has taken it place. Décor was elegant and the food was very well prepared and presented. The impression given that here people knew exactly what they had to do. There was one waiter per table. This continues for twelve days. We enjoyed our delicious meals. The moment arrived. In Janko’s Italian minestrone soup there was found a strange thing, nobody could believe their eyes: something of a kind of plastic thread hanging the label of clothes. Janko’s eyes became round and he called for a supervisor. The manager Joseph ran to Janko, examined the odd subject from the soup, said in a low voice: ”Things like this can happen. Take my apologies and please, accept the bottle of champagne instead.”

Janko agreed. Champagne was drunk next evening.


Day 6-Sunday, August 16, 2009

7:00 am Walk a mile Meet at Lifeboat 6 Promenade Deck,3Larisaandme

7:30 am Fitness Class Circuits Greenhouse Spa,9

8:00 am Catholic Mass Queen’s Lounge, 2

8:00 am Fitness Class: Pathway to Tai Chi ($12)

Greenhouse Spa, 9

8:30 am Canadian Diamond Collection Merabella, 3

9:00 am Interdenominational Service led by congregation

Queen’s Lounge, 2

9:00 am Fitness Class: Pathway to Pilates ($12)

Greenhouse Spa, 9

9:00 am World Amber Event Signature Shops, 3

9:00 am Scenic Cruising: Stromboli Volcano Bow, 4 & Outside Decks

9:30 am Spa Secrets: Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture                                   trioinbarcelona

Ocean Bar, 3

10:00 am Bread Animal Creations Culinary Arts Center, 2

10:00 am Bridge and Card Players Meet Half Moon Room, 3

10:00 am-11:00 am Complimentary Jewelry Cleaning Merabella, 3

10:30 am Win-a-Cruise Bingo game begins at 10:45 am Vista Lounge, 2

11:30 am Scenic Cruising: Straits of Messina Bow, 4 & Outside Decks

12:30 pm Team Trivia Challenge Ocean Bar, 3

12:30 pm Art Seminar: Artist’s Mediums Art Gallery, 2

12:30 pm Sizzling Sail-in with Leena & The HAL Cats, Lido Deck, 9 aft

1:00 pm The Art of Ice Carving, lido Poolside, 9 midship with Party Planner Mary

1:30 pm  Around the World Basketball Sports, Deck 11

2:00 pm The Oosterdam is Docked in Messina, Sicily, Italy

3:00 pm Ring Toss Sports, Deck 11

3:00 pm-4:00 pm Afternoon Tea Explorer’s  Lounge, 2 aft

4:00 pm Football Toss Sports, Deck 11

4:30 pm Friends of Bill W. Meet Board Room, 2 aft

5:00 pm – 8:00 pm Wine Flights: Premium Pairings of the Pacific Northwest ($9,50) Pinnacle Bar, 2 midship

5:30 pm-8:30 pm Lido Barbeque Lido Poolside, 9 aft

6:30 pm BIG SCREEN MOVIE The International Vista Lounge, 2&3

8:30 pm  Name that TV Tune with DJ Issa Northern Lights, 2

9:00 pm-11:00 pm LIDO  POOL  PARTY             Lido Deck 9, midship

10:00 pm Name That Tune: Back to Your Childhood  Piano Bar, 2

10:30 pm ALL ABOARD!  The Gangway is Raised

11:00 pm The Oosterdam sails for Navplion, Greece

11:00 pm Top 40 Dance Mix with DJ Issa Northern Lights, 2

11:30 pm Texas Hold’em Cash Game Casino, 2

11:30 pm-1:00 am After Hours Teen Disco calling all 13-19 year old… The loft, 10 midship.


Once we were given a surprise to pay tips for all staff who are cleaning our rooms, making our beds, serving at the dining tables. We were told to pay extra  $ 11 dollars a day from each guest for tips, it means $ 44 dollars from our stateroom multiplied by 12 days, it is a good fat tip, that is why they are taught to smile at you every single day and night while meeting you.

But in reality they work hard, those people, 11 hours per day without days off, 7 days a week and for 9 months a year. They deserve their tips, we decided, and paid.


Hanging around  Messina, dropping by the Churches and Cathedrals, looking at the wonderful clock with the figurines showing up with each quarter an hour strike, we were divided into two groups then: we were still walking on the Messina streets, Gleb and mama were streaming to the beach. Taxi drivers surrounded them trying to make money on them, proposing tours plus extra, and extra. Cooperating with one American couple they took a cab for 20 euros. After 5 minutes’ drive they were on the beach. When lying down on the shore somebody came up  to them and said: “You need to pay here, it is a private beach.” The public beach was 5 steps from this one. It was not so clean and comfortable. Sure, the taxi driver would bring them back for another 20 euros but Gleb and mama decided “no”. It is not worthwhile to be screwed twice. To a great disappointment of local taxi dealers the young couple preferred to walk back to the ship.

From the Navigator:

Passing the Stromboli volcano, on our port side, we see a small island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, off the north coast of Sicily, containing one of the three active volcanoes in Italy. We will embark the local pilot for the Messina Strait and later at night we will alter to  an easterly course to start crossing the Ionian Sea  on our way to Navplion. The Ionian Sea lies between the west coast of Greece and east coasts of Sicily and south Italy. It forms one of three major basins in the Mediterranean Sea, and its centre is a small abyssal plain with depths of over 9000 ft (3000 m).