I was pretty impressed with the river cruise, so I didn’t really know how this cruise could top it - but somehow it did!
On boarding, I was blown away! The ship was huge! It was like a huge hotel, except it floats! We had a quick stop in our room (with complimentary champagne, and fancy soap and stuff!), which was way bigger than our river boat room.
The only real downside compared to the river boat was that the wifi wasn’t too good, and only one of us could use it at a time.
Then we all met up to go exploring - there were so many cool things!
- A mini tennis court
- A proper gym
- A pool!
- Shuffleboard (I’d never come across this before)
- A mini-golf course (Laura won)
- An exclusive front-deck spa place (but the spa was too hot most of the time)
- Afternoon Tea, which was amazing
- A casino
- Lots of good food. Seriously, the food was so amazing, and there was basically as much as you want!
- Competitions for table tennis, putting, shuffleboard, bag-o-bean (throwing bean bags at targets - I got pretty good at this).
Sam got a bit competitive with a guy called Steve during table tennis, so naturally we had to beat him at everything else too. Lots of big O points for us!
So really, there was no chance of us being bored at any point.
We set off during the night, and we hardly felt a thing! The ship is so big and stable, the only movement we really felt was big swells when we were on the open sea (and you could see the pool sloshing, which was cool). We also got a few vibrations when we docked and undocked, which gave me a fright during the night!
It was such a cool feeling waking up in the morning and looking out at empty sea!
Our first stop, in Crete, was a bit of a disappointment. It was too wavy for the tender service to launch, so we didn’t get off the boat! All good though, there were lots of fun things to do on board. We spent the next day sailing, so we were soon very well acquainted ourselves with all the fun parts of the ship.
Next stop, Israel!
In Israel we were greeted by our very talkative guide, and took a van journey across a whole lot of the country. One of my favorite spots was the dead sea, which was so floaty that you could just stand up and bob, not even treading water. Getting in was tough, because there were lots of sharp salt crystals covered in oozy mud, and you really don’t want to cut yourself in that water! It was so salty that when I tried it, it burnt my tongue, and I couldn’t get the taste out for ages! It was also funny afterwards, when we got out and the water dried a bit, we got white scales of salt all over us. My black togs turned grey!
Another highlight was Masada, which was an ancient fortress built on a mesa overlooking the desert. Water was collected in big underground cisterns, so the whole place was really well prepared for a siege. Eventually the (invading) romans made a big enough ramp up one side that they could get in, and that’s still there today!
We also visited Jesusalem and Bethlehem (of course), and lots of other religious sites, but most of them had been buried by the sheer number of temples built on top of them, which I didn’t find particularly interesting.
Waving Israel goodbye, we turned our prow to Limassol! The main event here was…
FLESH EATING FISH!
Seriously though, it was awful, I had to sit there with my feet in a tank of little fish that come and nibble at your feet - it tickles sooo much!
We also popped into a local castle, which wasn’t bad, though it had a strange design that meant that if people got up to the base of the walls, the archers couldn’t really hit them.
With nothing more exciting, we turned to Rhodes, where we had a nice walk around the walls and town. Simon got an… interesting new t-shirt, featuring Hercules wearing what may or may not have been grapes, while we sat down and I had a go at one of the beer boots. Not a bad day, although Simon decided to wear his new top to high tea, which earned him a few funny looks.
The next day we were in Santorini, which was very very hot, but well worth the trip out to see. It’s the place you see at all the travel expos, where the buildings are bright white, with blue domed roofs and the blue sea behind. It’s all situated on a big volcanic hill, so you get great views too.
Our final stop was in Mykanos, which was sort of like Santorini-but-not-as-cool, but was still fun (and a lot less hilly) to wander around. Though we kept an eye out, we didn’t see the local pink pelican, who is supposed to wander around town.
And then we were back in Athens!
We stayed in Athens for a few nights, before a tearful farewell to Sam and Simon. We stayed another night or so, before heading to Naples!