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Mediterranean Cruising and a Villa stay in Tuscany

Sally Ellis took the cruising plunge earlier this year and now has the bug! This cruise was chosen purely to solve the arguments between teenage cousins about where to go as it covered various of their chosen destinations. With little research and no previous cruising experience between the 6 of us ranging in age from 78 to 16 years we were game for trying it.

Where did you go?

Our 7-night MSC cruise started and ended in Venice, Italy and took in Split, Santorini, Mykonos, Dubrovnik and Ancona. We opted for a 3-night pre-cruise stay in Venice. And following the cruise we took the train to Florence, and then rented a vehicle to take us to our 7-night villa hire in Tavernelle Val di Pesa in the depths of Tuscan wine country.

How did you get there?

We flew direct from London Gatwick to Venice (and I do have to admit that the adage about accountants being the worse money minders, travel agents the worse with their arrangements and so on is indeed true … we were minutes away from getting a transfer to Heathrow because I hadn’t read the itinerary!). On the return we did fly into London Heathrow. Around Venice definitely use the water taxis once your legs are weary from all the meandering around the beautiful streets and hidden alleyways. If you ever managed to find the same route twice then give yourself a pat on the back.

Favourite Place

I can’t name just one! We all loved Venice and spent hours and hours meandering the narrow busy colourful streets and hanging over the bridges watching the gondoliers manoeuvring the canals. It’s fair to say we also spent many hours in lovely piazza’s enjoying Italian coffee and wine. On the cruise the place for me was Dubrovnik. What a beautiful walled city. We were all very complimentary about our guide’s account of their besiegement and bombardment in 1991. The restoration of the city has led it to being one of the top tourist destinations in the Mediterranean. Given the heat and number of steps I am pleased that I did not allow myself to be talked into the Segwaying excursion option by the younger generation in our group!

Our villa was to die for. Our only requirements were a pool and sufficient rooms for potentially up to 8 of us and we really scooped on all of that and more.

Favourite Activity

Does eating count?! Kidding aside though it is worth taking time to explore the cafes and restaurants a little off the beaten track to taste the real Italy. And aside from that one of our favourite activities was the ubiquitous gondola ride in Venice – the gondolier was incredibly informative about the city and the profession.

Favourite Tour

We took a guided tour of the Uffizi art gallery in Florence and was so pleased we opted for that rather than self-touring. Although a whistle-stop tour it showed us all the highlights and with a great insight and entertaining stories behind various pieces. A night time “ghost and horror” walking tour in Venice was also fun.

Best Food and Drink Tip

We took out the all-inclusive drinks package for the cruise and would thoroughly recommend any similar option that a cruise offers if you like more than just an odd glass of wine. It gave us so much freedom without having to worry about money or credit cards whilst on the ship.

Sum up your trip in one sentence

The combination of cruising and villa hire really appealed to the whole family and I already have my eyes on several other combinations. Seattle to Alaska with sometime in Vancouver; Mexico to Florida via the Panama Canal with a villa in Orlando … the opportunities are endless.

For further information and assistance on planning a cruise and/or a villa hire please contact me on email se.itt@horizon.co.fk

The incredible diversity of South America, the unique wilderness of the Falkland Islands or the pure allure of the least known and last explored continent, Antarctica - begin your journey here, with us.

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