Being asked to go on a cruise is probably one of the top three things I wished for last month. The other two … (becoming a best selling author and a highly sought after pop star at 43) were highly unlikely to happen. 1 out of 3 isn’t bad.
So imagine how excited I was when Royal Caribbean emailed to ask if I’d like to go on a cruise with them.
Umm, YES PLEASE?!
I even had the choice of choosing from two cruises – travelling on Liberty of the Seas and going to France and Spain mid week, or Italy. Work meant ‘having’ to choose the Italy trip that ran from Thursday to Sunday.
It was like Sophie’s Choice.
Now I want to preface this series of posts about my trip by saying they’re not meant to make you jealous, or boast in any way. You know I’m not like that right? Right? I was blessed to be chosen and truly thankful … and the trip could not have come at a better time as far as my sanity was concerned. I only hope that I can do Royal Caribbean justice by sharing tales of my travels with you.
My journey started at 4am. An unearthly hour by anyone’s standards – this is my 4am face … which says it all:
I arrived at Gatwick and everything ran remarkably smoothly. We flew with easyJet and I have to say, I couldn’t fault them. It really was a case of drop bag off, check in, drink large coffee, order toast, Costa forget to cook toast, complain about toast, go through security, run to gate to meet Matt the PR because I was now a little late due to Toastgate … and board plane.
By 7.15am we were in the sky and on our way to Rome.
My travelling companion for my trip was Linda. Aah, the lovely Linda. I couldn’t have wished for a more delightful lady to be with. (We had THE best time! More of that later.)
Matt and I met Linda at Rome airport and we were greeted by our very own personal guide for the day – Kristina.
I can’t say I’ve ever been a particular fan of the whole ‘guided tour of the city/see the sights’ type experience but having your own minibus and personal guide sure does make a difference – we were very lucky.
First stop … The Vatican!
(Fact of the Day: The Vatican is the smallest independent state in the world. You’re welcome.)
I think the following photos speak for themselves. I’m not remotely religious and yet I found myself swept along with the obvious spirit and passion that everyone around me felt. Kristina, our guide, was very knowledgeable but didn’t overwhelm us with too many facts and figures – I think she quickly realised when our eyes were glazing over … it had been a very early start!
We left the Vatican, and I was ever so slightly relieved that I got out in one piece – those old ladies can be vicious with their elbows when they want.
By now we were starving. OK, I wanted a beer … but thankfully it was now time to break for lunch and so we made our way to a square. Can’t remember what it was called, but it was full of statues and fountains and paintings and BEER AND ALL THE PIZZA.
It was one of those moments where I just felt at peace. It’s hard to explain. I was in a fairly busy restaurant, in a country I knew very little about, with people I’d only met once before and yet … it was absolute perfection.
More about my Royal Caribbean cruise later this week!