In case you haven’t kept up to speed with what’s been happening lately, I’ve just returned from a seven-night Western Mediterranean cruise with my family. It was a simply fabulous trip, filled with unbelievable attractions, delicious culinary treats, thrilling entertainment and good old fashioned family fun. Here’s the seven highlights from my seven nights cruising the Med with my loved ones.
Our trip began with a stop at Calvi, Corsica. A classic Mediterranean tourist town, with sun-soaked beaches, quaint shop fronts, grand Medieval architecture and more, Calvi was a sheer delight. But the best part of the day came when I stopped at a small pizzeria for a bite to eat. I’d been looking forward to Florence, because the Italians obviously know how to do pizza right, and don’t get me wrong, their pizza was incredible. But I hadn’t expected this small Corsican pizzeria to blow my socks off quite as much as it did, with a simple Margherita pizza. Don’t leave Calvi without trying some!
Our next stop was Florence, and for me, it was the standout destination. Everywhere we went on our walking tour of the city, we noticed grandiose architecture, such as the iconic Ponte Vecchio Bridge, which is lined with market stalls, and the majestic outdoor statue museum in the square outside the Palazzo Vecchio. The first stop was the best however, as it took us past the city’s cathedral; a towering affair with intricate, multicoloured marble work, ornate features and a grand dome which you can see for miles around. No one does ecclesiastical architecture better!
After our walking tour, we stopped for lunch at this charming restaurant in the city centre. I ordered a pepperoni pizza (obviously), and it was mouth-smackingly good. I decided to dine like the Florentines, and ordered a glass of Chianti, the famous wine of Tuscany, as well. Do you know how most red wines leave a sort of acidic aftertaste? Well not this wine! My Chianti was just so incredibly mellow, yet rich and robust, that it really made an impression on me. Everyone should try a Chianti in Florence at least once in their life! And at 5.50 Euros per glass, it was actually pretty reasonable!
Strolling the water front
The next stop was Monaco, which I decided to skip, but then came Marseille. Known as Europe’s melting pot, Marseille houses a veritable treasure trove of eclectic cultural attractions, which will stay with you forever. But Marseille is very much a seaside city, and it has small marinas, filled with tiny family boats, everywhere. The centre of Marseille is dominated by the city water front, a scenic marina filled with sturdy sea-going vessels, that proved simply captivating. To stroll along the Marseille water front is to experience tranquillity, with picturesque scenes along every point.
Our final major stop was Barcelona, a true jewel of the Mediterranean. With everything from the architecture of Gaudi, to the Neu Camp football ground calling this city home, it was hard not to be impressed. The funny thing was, that we visited the city not long after the Barcelona terrorist attacks on Las Ramblas. As we walked this iconic street, we noticed that the locals had created a memorial for the victims, an urban oasis filled with traditional candles, pretty flowers and images of loved ones. It was just so moving to see this memorial, and it will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Song and dance
Don’t get me wrong, we had just as much fun on our ship – the Thomson Majesty, as we did on land. It was practically a floating city, lined with chic cabins, welcoming bars, and expansive decks. But it was the attentive nature of the crew which made the strongest impression on my family; their dedication really made this voyage special. My most memorable highlight from the ship itself, was attending an old school Broadway variety performance, put on by the entertainment team, where they wowed us with everything from the works of Sondheim, to the hits of Cabaret. Listening as one talented woman belted out that final note from ‘Maybe This Time’ sent chills up my spine.
The best part of any holiday, however, isn’t necessarily any attraction you see, dish you sample, or moving memorial you happen to encounter. It’s the people you share it with. I’ve lived away from home since I was 18, only visiting my loved ones for short weekends every few months or so. The cruise brought my first chance in years to spend an extended length of time with my family, and I feel that on this trip, I really re-connected with them, as we shared this amazing experience together. If you take anything away from this article, it should be that any time you get to spend with your loved ones, whether you’re sunning yourself on a beach, or sipping tea at home, should be truly cherished.