Respected travel writer Anthony Nicholas recently joined Aegean Odyssey on a 2-week sailing around the Mediterranean, visiting destinations such as Livorno, Cadiz, Monte Carlo, Genoa and Marseille. We asked Anthony if he would write a blog about his cruise and instead of the destinations taking the spotlight, it is Aegean Odyssey herself that has the leading role and she may just steal a little piece of your heart.
There are quite a few compelling reasons why a voyage on Aegean Odyssey is a near perfect way to enjoy up close and personal educational cruising. I could reel off the extensive, inclusive tours that cover each port. And, indeed, the high- quality lectures that prep you and whet your appetite for each upcoming new adventure are impressive, too.
I could talk about the ease of access that a small, intimate ship gifts the truly inquisitive, and the sense of shared camaraderie that such an epic adventure engenders. But no, I’m still not putting my finger on the one, true high point of the Voyages to Antiquity experience.
That being, quite simply, the Aegean Odyssey herself.
It simply isn’t enough to offer a small vessel with great accessibility. That vessel should be stylish and comfortable, with enough public and private space to accommodate a whole ship full of returning guests, coming back to the ship after what is often a long day exploring the fabulous sights ashore.
What I treasure is a raft of handy facilities, created on an appealing, human scale, and set in an environment that is cool, cosy and comforting, rather than the often forced, frantic hugger mugger of a screaming great party boat.
I like the fact that my cabin is handy for everything, and that I don’t have to dress up to the nines for the evening meal. And I like the fact that I can take that evening meal alfresco if I choose, with a side order of setting sun, and with my evening wines included with the meal.
I like a ship where the drinks prices are not stratospheric; a civilised ship where I can lay on a plush, padded lounger under the stars just outside the main lounge, and still just hear the piano player from inside.
I like the consistency of great service, and treasure the true quality of cuisine that’s both familiar and sometimes delightfully adventurous. And I value the flexibility of open, unstructured dining seating at both day and night.
I savour the feel of real, warm teak decks under my feet, and the almost complete lack of loudspeaker announcements. In short, the feel of being cossetted in something that’s wonderfully casual and understated, yet still sinfully indulgent when the mood takes you. Champagne by moonlight on the Lido Terrace, anyone?
It’s genuinely nice to be on a ship where all the public rooms feature floor to ceiling windows that let in the sunlight; a ship where the decor is cool and captivating rather than over the top and visually overpowering. And the proximity of those public rooms to each other- you can literally walk from the main lounge to the Lido Buffet in ten seconds- is welcome, especially after a long day spent ashore.
More than anything, what is truly endearing is to be on a ship that sparkles from stem to stern; one where you quickly learn the names of your favourite bartenders, shop assistants and wait staff- and where they also know you, and what you like to eat and drink. All of this fosters an atmosphere of ease, contentment, and a feeling of sheer, simple wellbeing that many ships never quite manage to do.
And, while none of the above is rocket science, it’s surprising how many lines lose sight of it in the their sometimes-relentless pursuit of the financial bottom line. It’s not called the ‘fine art of hospitality’ without reason, after all.
And these boxes are ticked neatly- rather sweetly- on board the Aegean Odyssey. After all, who said that adventure cruising had to be uncivilised?
Book your next cruise with us today. Our entire Cruise Calendar is available at the click of a button and 2018 looks to be one of our most exciting seasons yet.