Our cruise started with a short flight to Venice from Manchester. We were heading to the 115000 tonne Ventura for a week’s cruise along the Adriatic and up to Genoa. We’ve cruised many times, so the purpose of this trip was a bit of rest and relaxation, plus the chance to explore a ‘new’ ship. This is P&O’s first season fly cruising to the Med and check in was efficient – we didn’t see our bags after Manchester, until they arrived in our cabin.
First impressions were good. Although the check in at Venice was fairly lengthy, this is normal, and we were soon on board enjoying lunch in the buffet. It didn’t appear too crowded and we were able to find a table outside to enjoy our lunch with a fantastic view of the rooftops of Venice. We ordered our first drinks of the cruise, all priced reasonably, although as an (almost) non drinker, I was hoping for a non alcoholic beer (not available) and had to settle for mineral water. We made the most of the quiet ship to have a dip in the pool and a wallow in the Jacuzzi. Having visited Venice many times and with little time to spare before muster stations, we decided to relax on board rather than run the gauntlet of the queue for a vaporetto.
Dinner on night one was taken early in the Cinnamon dining room so that we could take full advantage of the glorious sailaway. We were not disappointed! We went through the secret squirrel door on deck E which leads right to the front of the ship and into the ‘clam’, or passage, which is part of the wraparound deck. There were very few people here and we had amazing views of the city as the sun set, casting a pink glow over the buildings. It was magical.
Day two we were at sea, so plenty of time to get our bearings and unpack. Our cabin was E201 forward. A mistake on our part. We took the risk of a late booking guaranteed obstructed view cabin and were allocated the most forward cabin on the ship. We felt every movement!! That’ll teach us! However, the first sea day was calm so we enjoyed a leisurely lunch, a relax on deck and a chance to start a good book.
I love to sing so was delighted that there was a passenger choir on board. I really enjoyed our rehearsal of some popular songs such as ‘Saints Go Marching In’ and of course ‘We Are Sailing’.
Day three was somewhere new for us: Kotor in Montenegro. The early morning sail in was serene and beautiful. Kotor reminded me of Dubrovnik, as it’s an old port surrounded by fortifications and built during the Venetian period. We took a 10 minute tender into town and despite cloudy weather, enjoyed a walk and a hot chocolate in the main square.
Day four it rained. And rained. And rained. Luckily we’d visited Corfu before otherwise we may have failed to realise what a lovely place we were visiting. We walked (paddled) into Corfu Town and hopped in and out of the little shops in the narrow maze of streets.
Tonight we were having dinner at Marco Pierre White’s so best bib and tucker was the order of the day. The food was indeed fab! I had a trio of smoked salmon to start, a melt in the mouth halibut for main and zuppa inglese for pud. Fantastic service and a lovely atmosphere.
Day four, at sea.
The day started really well with a relaxing mooch around the ship. We passed through the Straits of Messina about midday and had fantastic views of the smoking Etna (pictured) while we sunned ourselves on deck.
However, my mid afternoon, we seemed to have picked up a bit of a swell, accompanied by thunder and lightening. I spent the late afternoon and evening on deck 7 watching the weather, missing dinner, and finally getting to bed at 2 a.m.
Day five brought us to Civitavecchia. Most people were off to Rome, but we thought we have a look at the town. The seafront has a few nice bars and restaurants and further back there are some good leather and shoe shops. There was some sort of festival in town and the front was packed with partygoers which made for a fun atmosphere. As we sailed away, a dozen or so packed boats sailed out to send us off with lots of noise!
We tried East tonight. It was beautifully cooked Asian fusion food, again immaculately served and presented. This was my squid starter:
That night, we had the dreaded swell! Another night spent mostly on deck and partly in the Red Bar which is midships and where we experienced far less movement. We finally got to bed at 5 a.m.!
Day six was the lovely Ajaccio, birthplace of Napeloen, in Corsica. This was our first visit and I have to say, this is a place I would definitely return to. We wandered along the seafront and tasted bits and bobs in the food market. The sun shone gloriously and we really felt we were on a summer holiday.
Day seven, and time to fly home from Genoa. A tiny airport, but all handled pretty efficiently. Our plane took a lightening strike as we took off which scared the living daylights out of me, but we live to tell the tale.