The Mediterranean What’s the secret to a happy marriage? If you ask me, it’s taking as many long, sun-kissed cruises as possible—whether it’s to the Caribbean, Mexico or, one of my all-time-favorites, the Mediterranean! My husband and I love to poke around ancient ruins, chat with rug weavers and lace makers (that’s me mostly), and watch the sun set while sipping ouzo and dining on octopus. And when we’re not sharing the things we love to do as a couple, we’re enjoying the freedom of exploring on our own.
Our most recent adventure was a 10-day “Mediterranean Relics” cruise aboard the gracious Seven Seas Mariner (Regent Seven Seas Cruises) and I have to tell you, it was worth every penny. We chose it not only for Italy and the Greek Isles, but for the all-verandah, all-suite accommodations and all-inclusive shore excursions. Regent is the only cruise line to offer free excursions in all ports in all destinations!
Our first morning out from Civitavecchia found us on deck watching Sorrento unfold. The Gulf of Naples with Mount Vesuvius towering over cliff-hanging villas kept us breathless and we fell in love all over again on our full-day tour of romantic Capri. Neopolitan Pizza on the square and an Italian leather handbag from the Via Camerelle may have had something to do with the magic. Erice, a quaint Sicilian town where the local history is rooted in ancient legends of love, we were tempted to linger over ancient artifacts and flower-filled courtyards. And we toasted our health with a glass of Marsala wine—it’s not just to cook with we were fascinated to learn. Valetta on Malta was a history buff’s fantasy with its UNESCO World Heritage pedigree. Somehow my hubby’s quirky imitation of Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon suited the scene. And I suppose it’s no surprise that we took in the sights and browsed the boutiques. Our perfect day, however, came about mid-way through the cruise. It was spent entirely at sea enjoying the pleasures of our ship and each other’s company. We dined, danced and took in a movie. And we also found time for our own favorite pursuits. He gravitated to the Coffee Connection and Club.com while I indulged in the Canyon Ranch SpaClub.®
Greek Isles and Turkey Santorini found us taking the cable car to the cliff-top town of Thira and then riding donkeys back down to the sea. On Syros, we soaked up the 16th century Venetian charm of the neo-classical town of Ermoupoli with a stop to sample St. Michali cheese and buy boxes of Loukoumia, the Greek version of Turkish Delight. And, since the island of Volos boasts some of the best-loved beaches in Greece, we hired a car and spent the day basking on the sun-swept sands of the Pelion Peninsula. With the a mazingly well-preserved Roman ruins of Ephesus and two days in the shadow of Istanbul’s minarets and mosaics, the Turkish portion of our trip was refreshingly exotic. Haggling with a rug merchant in the Grand Bazaar topped it all off with a flourish. Our lush, hand-knotted wool rug now graces our bedroom reminding us of our rendezvous with the romantic Mediterranean. A tip from the writer: Plan to spend time in Rome before embarking your ship in Civitavecchia. Regent offers a selection of pre- and post-hotel packages that make it easy to experience the history and culture of the Eternal City.