We have just returned from a fantastic Mediterranean cruise on the Crown Princess to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary.
Actually this story begins a few days before we flew to Venice to board the ship when my husband tore a calf muscle. While he was having an ultrasound at the hospital to rule out a blood clot, I was on the phone to Princess to talk about the impact of this on our plans. The woman (wish I had jotted down her name) was so helpful and we ended up with a wheelchair accessible balcony cabin which greatly reduced stress levels. We arrived at the dock and my husband was wheeled on board by a crew member from Mexico. All our worries seemed to evaporate from that moment on. Our cabin and balcony were so spacious and perfect for our "slower pace than expected" holiday.
The first night was an overnight on the ship in Venice and we were delighted when we found out that the Venetian Chamber Orchestra was playing in the Princess Theatre that evening! Throughout the cruise we enjoyed the Polonia String Quartet in the piazza as well as the pastries and paninis in the International Cafe.
Captain Nick Nash kept us informed in a professional, skilled manner about a mechanical problem that took place shortly after we set sail. I think he is very much on top of what happens on his ship and this shows in the smooth operation of everything onboard. Sailing by Venice and Piazza San Marco was spectacular. Seeing that beautiful city from the perspective of the ship was truly breathtaking and Vivaldi over the speakers the perfect touch.
Both of the "anytime dining" restaurants were wonderful with superb food and wait staff. Most evenings we were seated immediately. We always asked for a table for two and because these are often side by side if you were so inclined it was easy to carry on a conversation with the diners beside you. We met so many lovely people from our country, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand. As it was a special occasion for us we purchased the wine card and enjoyed wines we are unable to purchase at home.
For our wedding anniversary we dined in Sabatini's at the requested window table where we were made to feel very special and the food was outstanding. When asked, we confessed that we were celebrating our 45th anniversary. A marvellous chocolate mousse cake was brought to our table by two singing waiters. Definitely worth the small extra charge for this dining room.
We signed up for three Princess excursions and were very satisfied with them all. These were Olympia, Ephesus and Athens. Special mention must be made of Georgina our wonderful guide for Olympia. This warm caring woman is a retired Greek school teacher and she made that site come alive with her information carefully chosen to not overburden but to leave us with the essentials. She also helped us to understand what Greece has been going through economically and politically with her thoughtful observations.
We took the shuttles laid on by the cruise line or by local transportation companies which were reasonably priced and quickly and efficiently arrived in the interesting and breathtaking ports on our itinerary. My husband was able to visit the ports with the use of a cane and although our pace was slower than usual we still saw a great deal. Because we had to slow down I think we enjoyed ourselves more as we drank a beer at the cable car cafe overlooking Dubrovnik, ate lunch in the Venetian quarter of Mykonos beside the cooling spray of the Aegean Sea and spent time admiring the frescos in the Archeological Museum in Naples.
Returning to the ship after these excursions we were greeted with cold wet refreshing facecloths. I bought the coffee card and Mr. Perfect always made me an iced coffee latte to finish the cooling down process and start the relaxing back on board. How does one describe the beauty of sailing through the Strait of Messina, or the awe of watching from our balcony as the Stromboli volcano emitted steam and black smoke?
Although transport from our ship to the airport in Rome left us with more time than we would like at the airport it was done efficiently and I always prefer to be early for a flight. If the airlines could process passengers more quickly it would be wonderful to have that extra time in the gate areas with the shops and restaurants.
My husband packed his cane and walked off the Crown Princess showing that cruising can be the cure for what ails you. This was our 5th cruise and our 3rd with Princess and the best one of all. My line is that I don't think I can go on another cruise as nothing will ever be as wonderful as this one but I know that in time I will be looking forward to another cruise.