Last summer I embarked on a cruise with Majestic Line around the Scottish Isles. I was pleasantly surprised by the wealth of different scenery, seafood and even sunshine on offer and returned with a camera full of pictures and a head full of beautiful Scottish memories.
Read my feature for Woman’s Own on this wonderful cruise here.
I thought cruising wasn’t for me. Despite travelling on some 30 trips a year, cruising had never made it into my travel plans. To me, it was for older travellers, or perhaps for those who were too nervous to travel independently.
It turns out that I was wrong. Because cruising is fabulous. And I have Silversea to thank for proving me wrong.
I have just returned from a 9-night cruise around the eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea on Silversea’s Silver Spirit – and I loved it. It started with a sail away from Istanbul, the city’s sky-piercing minarets slowly sinking into the horizon as our ship cruised out along the Bosphorus.
Our first stop was to be Myrina, on the Greek island of Lemnos, and it would take the night to get there. With no train, bus or plane journeys to manage, I was free to unpack and settle in to my suite. All fears of cramped space went immediately out of the (very large) window, as I discovered tucked away cupboards and seemingly endless shelves. Each suite has a walk-in wardrobe with plenty of hanging space and the bathroom even had a full-size bath – as well as a shower.
Unpacking for me is a luxury and this is where cruising started to work its magic. Although I would see three different countries and get to explore seven different destinations, I would not need to pack my suitcase again. I happily kicked it under the bed and headed out to explore the ship.
On boarding the Silver Spirit had not seemed very large. But ranging over its seven public decks I found six different restaurants, several different bar areas, a decent-sized swimming pool and a spa with steam room and sauna.
One of my concerns about cruising was having to eat in the same restaurant every night, but this turned out to be yet another myth, immediately busted by Silversea. The main restaurant did have open seating, no reservations required, but there were also three other restaurants included in the cost of my cruise, and I never saw any of them full – tables were always available.
Over the first few days of the cruise, as we sailed from Myrina on to Thessaloniki, then to Skiathos and Athens, I started to get into a routine. Breakfast on the balcony; a day on shore exploring beaches, churches, the Parthenon; a jacuzzi on the pool deck as the sun set and we sailed on; dinner at a different table. The food ranged from perfectly cooked rare steak to made-to-order pizzas and the all-inclusive package kept the drinks flowing.
And then came the day at sea. I was worried this would be a dull day, but instead it turned out to be one of my favourites. I sat by the pool, used the sauna, ate lunch out on deck and then, as the afternoon went on, joined what felt like all the other passengers in the Observation Deck for a talk on the sights of Istanbul as we cruised back up the Bosphorus and they paraded past the 180-degree windows.
The last few days of my first cruise passed in a blur. Of jacuzzis, al fresco meals, formal dinners and, best of all, of dancing as the ship sailed on through the night. Every evening on Silversea was vibrant, the other passengers always keen to dance, or to have a chat over another cocktail, and every day meant a new destination.
That is, until the last day, when bad weather in Nessebur meant tendering ashore was unsafe. Another day at sea beckoned, this time with no sunshine, but I wasn’t afraid of being bored. A long lunch, the chance to catch up on work, and another jacuzzi at sundown as Istanbul swung back into view, and I was sorry to leave my floating home on the final day.
It turns out that cruising is for me after all, and if it’s for me then I’d be willing to bet it’s for everyone.
You can download Silversea’s 2015 brochure from their website.
In June, I sailed out from Oban on Scotland’s west coast, to St Kilda, the furthest outpost of the United Kingdom.
It was an adventure – the biggest one I’ve been on in the UK – and I will never forget the sheer excitement of arriving in Village Bay, the jagged rocky landscape rearing above me, the puffins wheeling above my head.
I wrote about the experience for About Travel. You can read about my voyage to the islands with Hebrides Cruises as well as my thoughts on walking on the main island of Hirta.