Ciao Italia – Stintinto, Sardinia

In the early hours of this morning we were finally able to board our ferry. The first non-roll-on / roll-off I have been on in many years. The couple of hours of watching them reverse lorries on the cargo decks before we boarded demonstrated to me why ferry design has evolved to what it has. The whole experience of boarding was certainly the least organised we have seen anywhere.

Even at 10pm, the roads of central Barcelona were amazingly busy. We got to the port and followed signs for Grimaldi, our ferry company, though they only seemed to indicate Civitavecchia (Rome) as a destination, slight worry. Then the signs showed Terminal 2 or 3 (no mention of either on our ticket). Or a baffling option showing something like a policeman’s hat with credit cards below it. Luckily the roads were deserted at the port so u-turned to head back to the Grimaldi office building and presumably foot passenger check in. We took up a couple of empty taxi spaces in the tiny carpark while I ran in to ask where to go. Signs were for foot passenger and lorry check in. I explained we were neither and asked where we should go. They took our passports (though not pet passports), printed tickets for each of us, vehicle, each pet and cabin keys then said we should go to the right hand side of the building. I was very confused and ran around the side to a dimly lit, I sign posted, what looked like a service access road to the building, with what appeared to be parked cars on it. On closer inspection some cars did have people in. Meanwhile, some guy in fluorescent jacket had intercepted Kev in the motorhome so we parked up there in the queue and went to the bar where it seemed everyone else was. We had a beer and a really very nice pizza between us. All the chill cabinets in the bar were amusingly filled with bags of dried pasta for decoration, this was obviously the gateway to Italy 😂

After being told they would start boarding at 00:30, at 23:30 the parked cars all moved forward through the entry barrier, which had been lifted. There was one guy directing vehicles into lines, which meant when one van ahead of us took the wrong line he had to abandon the entering queue to run across and move them, then run back 😳 😂. He asked if we are going to Civitavecchia. Hmm slight worry again, but at least it says Porto Torres on our ticket. We say Porto Torres which he accepts and sends us to a line. We deduce the ferry must stop twice. We are hoping we are the first stop.

So we are now in queued lanes but no one has yet asked for tickets and there appears to be no prevention to people just pulling up without. By 1am, another guy starts going car to car to hand out coloured stickers for our destination. We offer him our tickets which he seemed a little ambivalent about receiving, which he scans and still asks twice if we are really going to Porto Torres. Worrying. We can’t quite read the sticker he has put under the windscreen wiper but the last two letters look right so hopefully all will be well!

Anyway, eventually we board and locate our cabins, dutifully making the girls wear muzzles as instructed, which they hate, only to find not a single other dog has one. Also, dog walking is also supposedly only on the outside decks but there is a guy with his two dogs sat just outside the bar with a glass of wine. I think it really is only the British that follow rules in Europe 😂

Salty sea dog Lola

We do manage to get some sleep. The self-service restaurant open only until 10am despite only having boarded at 1:45am, has a really terrible selection of food but decent coffee. Having dutifully kept the dogs off the beds all night we come back from breakfast to find them both laid on my bunk, so after that the three of us all cuddle up together. Very pleased to have an ensuite cabin to while away the hours. There are several people variously laid out on couches in the main bar or with full double duvets and mattresses by the deserted swimming pool etc. I have been there before in years gone by and it makes a very long trip.

Cosy cabin

We decide to skip the big queue of truck drivers at the self-service restaurant at lunch. The main restaurant has opened offering Le Degustazioni, Gli Antipasti, Primi Piatti, Secondi Piatti followed by Dessert. When we arrive there is only one table taken by what appears to be the captain and all his officers, or perhaps not all, unless we are on autopilot 😳 Anyway, the two courses we opt for were very nice and somehow burns two hours of the crossing.

Our first Mediterranean cruise!

Before we know it we are being chucked out of our cabins by the cleaners, 45mins before arrival. We are only told to go down to the car deck just after we feel the ship docking. We hear the ships doors open on the deck below. There are no sign of any crew and like the good Brit’s we are we sit patiently waiting to be told to disembark. The motorhome in front of us though is obviously a regular and just drives off down the ramp of his own accord 😳. After a few seconds for this to register, everyone else decides to follow suit. There is interesting turning and manoeuvring as not everyone is pointing the right way. Still no crew appear. Kevin is getting into this Italian style driving and turns in front of some strange conversion job which looks like someone has put a caravan on top of a chassis truck who is struggling to turn. The crew below do not seem surprised to see us even though trucks are being offloaded as well, we are signalled to swerve around the crew member reading a clipboard in the direct path of the motorhomes arriving from the upper deck. Hilarious.

Fairly rough seas crossing the Mediterranean

Anyway, we were soon off and despite the stern looks from what I think were customs directed at all exiting vehicles there were no checks or stops as we exited the port.

Land Ahoy! Sardinia

We drove about 20km up the road to Stintinto to some gravel car parks reserved for campers behind the Le Saline salt pools and a beach on the north coast. It was just getting dark as we pulled up though so exploration can wait until tomorrow. We are in Sardinia! 🇮🇹

2 thoughts on “Ciao Italia – Stintinto, Sardinia

  1. We have been in ports where it seems almost impossible to find your sailing point and also on similar ferries, and on at least two, we had to reverse on board up a steep ramp then manoeuvre in the small space left, its no fun. The ferries between islands are the worse. We found that marking the ferry port position on Satnav when landing helped finding it on the way back.

    Have fun. We are enjoying the blog

    Lots of love Mum and Dad

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jan forgot to mention that the ferry maneuvers were done at night in a very brightly lit docks, but the interior of the ferry was very dark and impossible to see inside. And not much in the way of direction from the staff.


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