Greece: Escape reality

By Julia Shallcrass

Julia Shallcrass discovers a love for cruising around the Greek Isles on a 12-night voyage aboard the Crown Princess.

All aboard the Crown Princess.
All aboard the Crown Princess.

Should you wish to be treated as though you're rich and famous, consider travelling the Greek Isles with Princess Cruises.

This is our first cruise, but veteran cruisers assure us that Princess Cruises has the best cuisine, service and cleanliness of any cruise liner.

On our 12 night voyage around the Adriatic and Mediterranean seas, we sample a taste of four countries, their culture and their antiquities - but nothing compares with dining aboard the Crown Princess.

We devour lobster. Sip fine American wines. Savour the flavour of fine dining in the Michaelangelo and da Vinci restaurants.

We eat popcorn and ice cream while lying on our recliners, watching Movies Under the Stars. Food attendants serve us milk and warm cookies at half time, lest we might starve to death.

Expect first-class service aboard Princess Cruises. All 3000 passengers on our cruise are treated like royalty. As this is our voyage of relaxation, we mustn't pour our own water, or tidy our own room.

Cruising proves effortless travel: think cocktails, cabaret, and cooling off in the Calypso fresh water pool.

Almost every day we wake up at a new port. Our luggage remains safely secured in our statesroom, as we head for shore.

We choose an optional excursion at each port to sight-see and get acquainted with the culture. Local guides in Croatia, Turkey, Greece and Italy, share their myths and legends, and take us on a tour of their region's famous sights, including beaches, landmarks and antiquities.

In Mykonos, we photograph a pelican posing like a white bride outside a whitewashed church. We walk along the city walls of Dubrovnik and the fortress of Corfu.

We see the remains of Ephesus, the Acropolis temple in Athens, and the volcanic preservation in Pompeii, which beholds one of the world's first pizza parlours. We run the Olympic track at Olympia. We feel fit.

Santorini stands out as the jewel of the Cyclades group of islands in the Greek Islands. Its steep cliffs provide the foundations for white cubical houses and blue domed churches. As the soil is volcanic, you should avoid the wines and enjoy the sea views with an orange juice or an ouzo.

At the end of our Santorini excursion, we find our own way back to port. If you choose not to take the cable car, be sure to watch your step along the slippery 'donkey track', and think twice before riding the donkeys. Pay heed the advice of a fellow cruiser, game enough to ride a donkey: "It was okay until we got near the end - then he thought he was in the Melbourne cup".

After each day excursion, the Princess Cruises welcoming committee steer us aboard with a cold wet cloth for refreshment. They literally roll out the red carpet.
Then they roll out the entertainment.

Comedians, singers, dancers, and musicians play at the Princess Theatre, and in the ship's night clubs and bars. Our favourite entertainer, ventriloquist Gareth Oliver from Britain's Got Talent, provides a full repertoire of Simon Cowell jokes and Susan Boyle songs.

On our final formal night, we dance to the band in the Piazza amongst several hundred passengers. Formal nights are renowned for high glamour, with professional photographers capturing everyone looking their best. We feel like Oscar nominees amongst tuxedos and ball gowns, and a flurry of flashing cameras. Soon we will dock at our final port in Rome, and will be back to reality.

Welcome aboard Princess Cruises, the cruise for the rich and famous: even if you're not.

Cruise Tips

* Book your cruise with an early bird special for a discounted rate.
* Consider using the internet at each port, where it is likely to be more affordable.
* Book day trips through Princess Cruises to save any stress on shore: should your excursion return late, the ship will wait for you.

- nzherald.co.nz

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