Ahhhh…a cruise to the Mediterranean with Singles Travel International. Sounds like heaven, right? If it’s not on your bucket list– it should be! This is not your typical cruise, nor is it for the faint of heart. It’s a fast-paced opportunity to go back thousands of years into history and peek into the world as it once was. (Just make sure to pack comfortable walking shoes!)
I sometimes hear from some travelers that they are not “cruisers,” but take a few considerations to heart; there’s a definite benefit to unpacking only once, waking up in a different port city each day, as well as the vast dining options and top-notch entertainment aboard NCL’s Epic. And don’t forget… the solo cabins with NO Singles Supplement. I know that saving on a singles supplement is one of our client’s biggest concerns.
The Epic Med itinerary is the perfect introduction to cruising and I also believe a great option for your first trip with Singles Travel International. Be sure to book early. The single studios tend to sell out quickly, or if you want to share a balcony we will match you with a roommate. The itinerary allows you to begin in Barcelona and cruise your way to cities such as Napoli, Firenze, Roma, Cannes, and Palma de Mallorca. (Not bad, eh?) Allow me to take you on a quick journey and share with you some of the highlights of these magnificent port cities. Add new single friends to share the experience with and you’ve got the making of a perfect Summer vacation.
Rule #1 of cruising…get there early! There are many components involved with air travel, so it’s best to give yourself time to arrive before the day of embarkation. Another benefit is that you get an opportunity to meet/greet with your fellow cruisers.
The starting point for this cruise is Barcelona, a city located along the northeastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula, with glorious views of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s easy enough to book your flight to arrive on an embarkation city, but you truly do not want to miss out on Barcelona. Travelers make their way to the ever popular Las Ramblas, filled with street cafés to sit and sip on Sangria, stop for tapas or just take in the various sites which get more colorful in the evening.
We came together in Barcelona and met each other for the first time at the hotel. When I made it up to the rooftop, many were already there basking in the sun, sipping Sangria and laughing. We feasted on paella at the charming 7 Portes; then after dinner, we made our way to Port Olimpic, for some fun times and dancing. I’ve read that some feel as though they’ve fallen through the looking glass when they enter into Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. No matter what your perception, you have to admire the sight of this surreal work of art still in progress after 130 years. The best part is that you don’t have to worry about the long lines, as STI always has a standing reservation for our groups.
The second day aboard the Epic Med cruise affords a nice relaxing day at sea to let you unwind or explore the ship. Our group spends the day chatting about their experiences in Barcelona together because that is really what travel is all about: Shared experience. There is a quote that comes to mind:
Once in a while, it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to. – Alan Keightley
Naples took us along the Amalfi Coast. A few STI members even made their way into the waters of the Mediterranean in Positano. At lunchtime, we sipped wine and dined at a vineyard near the base of Mount Vesuvius. Afterwards, we walked through the 2000 year old ruins of Pompeii – words cannot describe the walking through the city that was buried beneath the ash. In Livorno, we visited the leaning tower of Pisa, and gazed upon David before walking the streets of Florence. Our most important mission of the day – shopping! After leaving Florence, we broke up the drive back to the port with a stop for some wonderful Chianti.
In Rome, we took many steps back into history to view the Coliseum, and made our way through the crowds to see the awe-inspiring Vatican Museum. (It was amazing to see a copy of a Vatican gallery in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia after this cruise…but that’s another blog!) Outside of Cannes, was Antibes, on the Côte d’Azur – this is one the most wonderful markets I’ve ever experienced! The smell of lavender, herbs, fresh fruit, almond croissants, macarons… ohhh the yummy delights!
In Nice, some were disappointed that they didn’t experience the crepes. Better luck next time, ladies! On our return from Monaco, we stopped at a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea with a perfect vista of 4 countries! We exited our vans for plenty of photos and amazing views.
Over the past five years of escorting the groups for this cruise, I have been there for so many “first” trips and have witnessed truly remarkable friendships as the outcome. Traveling may take us places but it also brings us together. I realize this is why I love what I do. I cherish every moment. The memories of the same destinations are different based on the people I shared them with. Each cruise offers new memories in each port. As a concierge, I admire each and every member of Singles Travel International for taking that leap of faith, overcoming whatever inhibitions they may have had and booking that first trip. I think it’s more than appropriate to end with a quote that sums it all up:
Sometimes you will never know the value of a Moment, until it becomes a Memory!
~ Dr. Seuss
Join us in 2018 on our wonderful Epic Med Cruise— Unlimited Drinks included
~Submitted by June Moore, Singles Travel International Concierge