The Mediterranean was as wonderful as ever! I have just returned from 2 weeks in the Eastern Mediterranean where I started with 2 nights in Rome. I always thought Tuscany would be where I would want to live, but I do love Rome. Yes it is crowded, but the history takes my breath away! On this trip I tried to do things I had not done before or at least in a long time. I did a 4 hr walking tour of Rome starting at the Spanish Steps and ending at the Coliseum. I had a wonderful English speaking guide that was very knowledgeable and I enjoyed it very much. I usually opt for a tour that is geared more toward antiquities so this was a nice change. I do love it all!
On the 3rd afternoon our private driver picked us up to go out to the port of Civitavecchia to board our beautiful ship, Regents Seven Seas Mariner. Boarding is so civilized on these little ships. You simply go onboard and after being handed a glass of champagne, you walk right up to a desk and check in. NO LINES!
It is impossible to have anything other than a beautiful suite on any of the Regent ships as they are all lovely with great bathrooms and walk in closets. Our very nice cabin steward was there to put 2 bottles of champagne and a bottle of white wine in our refrigerator and 2 bottles of red in our cabinet. The trip was looking good!
At about 530pm we had mandatory evacuation drill and shortly after, we were all invited to grab our choice of glass from our cabin and come to the lobby of our individual deck for a “Block Party”. The stewards are there with wine and champagne and nice hor d’oeuvres. While the guests are all getting to know one another, the Captain and his officers make their way from deck to deck introducing themselves. This little party is a jump start for the cruise. You meet people that you will be friends with throughout the cruise and everyone really enjoys it.
After the Block Party, we made our way to the Observation Lounge to watch the “Sail Away” and have a cocktail. Well honestly, I had a glass of water after two glasses of champagne. There we met up with several people we had met at the Block Party and added a few more to our group who had come up to watch the sail away. We next made our way to dinner Compass Rose. The food on the ship was excellent. I was impressed with every meal we had.
The shows in the evening were varied and fun. We didn’t go every night, but did go to several and especially enjoyed the Crew Show on the last evening. I would suggest everyone see this one. It is always my favorite show of the cruise.
Since Regent is “All Inclusive” including your excursions, most everyone is off the ship when in port and they are prepared for that. I never had a group over about 15 people which makes for a nice size. Of course if you want to do a private tour or take a helicopter somewhere it can be arranged for additional charge. You can figure that if the tour cost under about $250 prior to them going all inclusive (which is most tours), they are included, but if they were over that, like for helicopter trips, or yacht day tours etc, there are additional charges. I don’t know that I saw any that were over about $500 per person for even the most exotic. In my opinion, this is a wonderful inclusion.
I had 53 people in my Signature Group this year. When I host a group, I am there to help answer questions, help with any problems my people might have and host a cocktail party for them. I particularly enjoy that part where I get to know each of them a bit more.
On my cruise we over-nighted in 3 different ports that gave us plenty of time to see these particular destinations. The Amalfi Coast was home for two nights and we spent a day touring Pompeii. If you have not been there, it is a must, at least once in your life. On the 24th of August, 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius erupted catching everyone completely unprepared. There was an eye witness who was located far enough away to survive and thanks to his profesional abilityies as a Roman administrator and poet, his accounts were very telling. I have been there 5 or six times and always see something new.
We nexted stopped in Sicily for a day, however that was the day before my evening cocktail party and I had to stay onboard and prepare. Malta was our next stop and was my biggest surprise. I had been there for a few hours once before, but never spent any time. I certainly knew the history that has taken place there but didn’t realize it was such a charming place.
We arrived in Athens on Tuesday after their elections on the previous Sunday, and we were all unsure what we would find. To our surprise, it was totally business as usual. The city was alive and waiting for tourist with open arms and other than a bit more graffiti than in years past, there were no obvious signs of problems. It was nice to see.
Stay tuned for my next post featuring Santorini, Greece, Ephesus, Turkey, Istanbul Turkey, and my 2013 trip!