Every cruise has to begin somewhere. Ours departed from Civitavecchia, the port of Rome Italy. It is located appoximately 40 minutes from the Fiumicino Airport, by car.
I have always said to friends and relatives that there is nothing wrong with Italy. That sounds like a backhanded compliment, but you name it: coffee, ice-cream, wine, pastries, pasta, history, scenery, clothing, style–Italy has it all in spades. A night and a morning to hangout before our cruise departure was a joy in this small seaside town.
Before you get too far along, I have to give a shout out to the camera on my Samsung Galaxy 10+ phone. The photos on my videos are unedited and all used the ambient light. Gotta love Samsung!
Jewel of the Seas
I had been on a Carnival Cruise of the Bahamas a few years ago. Hands down, no comparison. This ship was first class all the way. I think the photos do it justice. What do you think?
After a day and a half at sea we arrived at the island of Crete. Our docking was not immediate. In fact, our booked tours were delayed by an hour. This was no fault of our captain. Our tour guide told us that the ship that had been in our berth was short 6 passengers. After an hour, it finally left Crete with 4 of those passengers. The other 2 would have to find their own way to Athens, Greece! Note to self and others: Always carry your passport and credit card!
In my opinion, this is an island worth visiting for more than an afternoon. The tour I booked with the ship was called The Treasures of Cretan Culture.
We visited a family business that used recipes from their grandmother to make organic soaps and creams from olive oil. You will have to check back in a few months to see if the Anti-wrinkle Olive and Rose Cream I bought has worked.
We next spent an enjoyable hour at an olive and wine producer:
https://anoskeli.gr/ . We sampled their olive oil and honey with generous tastings of the delicious wines. While verifying the link to their site I discovered that World Market carries the olive oil! Cretan olive oil is said to be the best in the world together with their thyme honey. I, of course bought some of both. Due to restrictions about bringing alcohol onto the cruise ship, I didn’t purchase any of the wine. It was quite the best wine I had throughout the cruise. It looks to be available in the US for a reasonable price. I will have to do more research.
I was relieved to be back on my normal early rising schedule the next day when we made port at Mykonos. A quick trip on the Seabus from our cruiseship berth took me directly to the end of the harbor closest to Little Venice. The early morning light combined with most tourists still asleep gave me the opportunity to take some delightful photos. By the time the shops opened I was full speed ahead to start my search for a version of the leather sandals I had bought in Greece some 40 years ago.
I found the sandals and celebrated with my first real Greek yogurt. It was light, creamy and flavorful. Made of full fat milk from goat, sheep and cow’s milk. Oh, yes, it was really, really good!
The harbor front became very busy by mid-day but I was ready for my first ouzo in Greece, some grilled sardines and a chance to relax in the shade next to the water.
I experimented with the ship’s alcohol policy by purchasing a 200 ml bottle of ouzo in decorative packaging. It made it! I really did purchase it to bring home and not consume on-board. I just didn’t want to deal with claiming my bounty before our 6 am departure for the airport on the last morning. I added 3 more bottles before the cruise ended.
As we drew into port I was wishing that my husband were with me. He has read so much about the Knights Templar and this was their stronghold. I was gifted with another early morning docking. I managed to get lost a couple of times, try my hand at making a REALTOR video and follow some people to the morning market outside the city walls. I also got to have some more of that delicious Greek yogurt when it was time for a rest.
Later, while looking for a place to have lunch, I was greeted in German. In all fairness, being tall and blond, I can pass. I also speak German so carried on in that language of choice, asking for a restaurant recommendation. I was taken to Yannis restaurant and had their special of the day a slow cooked lamb casserole.
What is blue and white and very crowded? The picturesque Santorini village of Oia (pronounced Ia). There is only one spot to get the iconic photos and crowds of tourists wait to get them. I got them.
This had always been my mother’s favorite travel destination. Of course, she was there some 50 years ago, before the age of the whole world’s bucket lists.
I was told that if it was very windy that you would not be allowed to leave your ship. We were able to but the next day they were not. Enjoy the photos in case your ship is one of those, one of these days.
The Acropolis of Athens is another place that had more than its share of tourists, especially compared with 40 years ago. Being tall allowed me to get the photos that I missed all those years ago when taking photos and looking like a tourist was not cool–along with not wearing tennis shoes. At least I was glad that this time I had on some chunky but gripping TEVA sandals. It was pretty dangerous walking up and around the Acropolis while all of the cruise ships were in.
The Plaka was still enjoyable and a good place to get in my last ouzo and a piece of Baklava.
Naples, Last Port of Call
It was the last port, but the options of where to go once you got there were endless. Pompei? The Amalfi Coast? Capri? All sounded familiar and some of them were, from my youthful travels. This time I decided on something a bit off the normal cruise passenger path. I went to the Island of Ischia. The city of San Angelo is known as the Positano of Ischia. My real reason was to visit the volcanic thermal baths. My husband and I had thoroughly enjoyed the thermal springs of Papallacta in Ecuador a few years back and I was looking forward to a similar experience. These were different. Some 28 pools of different temperatures. Of course, the first one I chose was the hottest at 40 degrees Celsius, yikes! A freezing cold pool was right next to it and there were several others of different temperatures up and down the mountainside. There was even a sauna, as if you needed it! In case you didn’t bring a baseball cap to contain your hair of any length, those charming swim caps were provided.
Remember we were back in Italy so the food was outstanding–a plate of 5 different mozzarellas and oh, oh, oh: Don’t miss the Delizia al Limone and a perfect cappuccino.
I wish you your own Bon Voyage!