What’s next for us? How about 21 days, 7 countries, some land, some sea, 11 ports, and too many sights to count? We’re leaving for Italy and the Med tomorrow, and we couldn’t be more excited. We started planning this trip in January 2016, which has given me plenty of time to research and obsess over the most minute details! This was one of those trips it took us a long time to choose. I considered almost every cruise line I could find doing an Eastern Mediterranean itinerary, and in the process ended up finding the cruise we chose and also greatly increasing our junk mail!😳 Be warned – if you even glance in Oceania’s direction you will receive several catalogs and flyers every week. Every. single. week.
Remember in my first blog post I said travel is full of surprises? This cruise is another one of them. If you had told me in early 2016 when I started researching we would end up on the Holland America Westerdam I would have said you were crazy. We were on the Westerdam to Alaska in September 2013 and didn’t like the ship AT ALL! In fact, we pretty much wrote HAL off after that cruise, so this trip is a great example of never say never.
Looking back, I think a lot of the things we disliked were circumstantial and specific to that cruise. First and foremost, it was a replacement for a Celebrity Pacific Coastal Wine cruise that was cancelled at the 11th hour, so we booked Alaska at the last minute in a desperate attempt to save our vacation. The cruise already had one strike against it since it wasn’t what we planned, and then that was compounded by bad weather, a VERY quiet, non-social group of passengers, and the fact that it was the end of the season and they were practically shutting things down as we left ports. The crew was tired and ready to reposition, and unfortunately it showed. Anyway, even my mother who was 82 at the time thought the ship was boring. Jim and I were stunned, because we LOVED the Noordam, which is a sister ship. After that trip we really thought we were done with HAL, and certainly the Westerdam.
Never say never…the most important thing to us if we’re going to float around the Caribbean for a week with few ports is that we love the ship. I like sea days in the Caribbean, because it gives us a chance to relax and unwind. However, if I’m going to the time and expense of flying to Europe it’s all about the ports. I can relax on my balcony in the Caribbean, but overseas I want to be off the ship exploring. With that in mind, we decided to gamble and give the Westerdam a second chance. We both love the itinerary, we really wanted a cruise that focused on one small region, and in the end our thought process was that we will be off the ship every day but one and that one will probably be spent sleeping and resting our tired feet!
Here’s the itinerary:
There are a couple things we’re especially excited about. For Jim, he keeps talking about the Godfather tour we’re taking in Sicily. We’ll visit the tiny villages where scenes from the movie were shot. For me, I think I’m most excited about our tour in Dubrovnik. We’re taking a wine tour to Bosnia-Herzegovina, where we’ll visit a a market, a home, and a monastery where they’ve been making wine since the 1400s. Why does that excite me? Well, first of all I never thought I would visit Bosnia, and second, it’s wine!🍷
It’s not quite time to leave yet. We’re more or less packed, but I have some very important things to get done before we leave. Yes, today is all about hair and nails! Tomorrow we’re off!