The plan for this morning is San Marco Square (before the crowds) and then return to the hotel, check out and board the Azamara Quest in time for the lunch buffet. One of the things I love about cruises is that you never have to worry about where you're going to eat. It's always there and it's always delicious.
By now, Xingxing knows his way around the hotel environs so well that he's even got a favorite spot to do what dogs do. He settles in so easily. He's such a good traveler!
Early morning is a good time to visit San Marco Square. You really get a sense of the sweep and majesty of it. The elegant, flanking colonnades on three sides and the magnificence of the domes and spires (even half-covered in scaffolding as they are now) of the basilica itself forms a space that is both majestic and inviting, quite different from the forbidding immensity of St. Peter's at the Vatican. There aren't a lot of people around, although Florian's seems to be open. I consider sitting and having a cup of coffee, just to say I did it. But the point of Florian's is people-watching and at the moment, the pigeons outnumber the people. So we walk around, window-shopping in the long arcades as the square gradually comes to life.
We've booked a water taxi to take us to the ship. There is also the option of public transport, a vaporetto. We see people heading for the vaporetto landings, dragging their wheeled suitcases behind them along the cobbles. It's much less expensive, public transport. But not at my age, not with a suitcase in one hand and a dog in the other. I did all that when I was young. At this point, I reckon I've earned the right to enjoy a bit of luxury.
Once we've reached the docks, there is a long, long walk to the terminal. We take it slowly, but it is a really long walk. Finally, we arrive. Boarding is a complicated business, but when they see Xingxing, Azamara staff make it easy for us. There's only one glitch, right at the very end of the process -- an Italian customs officer won't let us leave Italy unless I show her Xingxing's passport. EU residents have pet passports. But Americans don't. And this woman has never seen a service dog, much less a service dog boarding a cruise ship. But eventually it gets sorted out.
When Xingxing sees the gangplank he gets really excited. He remembers. I'd wondered if he would. Then someone calls out, Xingxing! They remember him, too! He's thrilled. I'm thrilled. What a lovely greeting, I think.
We haven't got a balcony, this time. But our stateroom is huge, and there's a big, square window. There's a big mirror facing the bed, and I take a photo of us. They've put Xingxing's potty box in the same place as last time, as well. We enjoy a glass of champagne (well, I enjoy it) and then we visit the buffet. Our Adriatic Adventure aboard the Azamara Quest is about to begin.