As a side note, big ships and cruises are a bit of a sterile way to see the world. This is not meant to be derogatory, just one does not have to make decisions or confront the many travel issues one is required to do when traveling on your own. While cruising one travels in a controlled environment and if they wish can elect to go on a ship-organized shore excursion, again in a controlled environment of an air conditioned bus, a fluent guide and prearranged sites of interest.
For our cruise stop in Naples, Italy we chose to go on our own to the Blue Grotto on the Island of Capri. The ship did not offer this as a shore excursion. This is not a difficult adventure, but one must catch three boats and get back to the ship on time. We are certainly not great world travelers at this point and all of this is still a challenge, dealing with language barriers and getting back to a ship which announces it will leave without us…. So we booked a hydrofoil boat to the town of Capri on the Island of Capri from the Naples harbor. Unknowingly, we left ourselves just minutes to catch-all the connections. So here is how the adventure unfolded… Do not expect any big issues or surprises, as all went very well. First you see the Island of Capri with steep cliffs, blue waters and brightly colored houses. The piles of luggage on the boat indicate that many people stay on the Island, so Capri is their home for the next several days.
Next, you get onto a smaller boat which takes you to the entrance of the Blue Grotto. We arrive and find 15 or so other large boats drifting around the small hole at the waterline of the cliff which is the entrance into the grotto. There is no numbering system we can discern and no visible means of knowing which boat is next. We look at our watches and see we are cutting it very close to catch our boat back to Naples…. It seems a hundred people are ahead of us. I try to realize this dance goes on just about every day, the boatmen know what they are doing,’ and I sit back and enjoy the sunshine and very blue waters.
After about a half an hour drifting around, it is our turn to climb out of our boat that holds around 25 people and into a row-boat which holds only four passengers and the oarsman. He immediately tells us not to sit on the benches, but on the floor of the boat and lay down. So you may very well have some stranger’s head in your lap, or vice-versa… You are then paddled over to another floating vessel to pay a few more euros for the ticket into the Blue Grotto. The photo on the left shows the grotto entrance and exit, a boat is exiting through the opening. To enter everyone must lay flat including the oarsman while he tries to time the waves and pull the boat through the opening using chains attached to the cliff.
Finally you enter the blue grotto. Some of the oarsmen are singing familiar Italian songs and you are paddled around for a few short minutes. I am trying to adjust the ISO on my camera to get any image to appear on my camera back, adjust the shutter speed so not all is blurry and select an acceptable depth of field….. The journey here is as much fun as the actual grotto experience. The sun shining through a bigger opening below the waterline reflects on the sand and vivid blue water is the result. Certainly the most blue water I have ever seen.