When is a Cruise not a Cruise? When it’s a Voyage
Rocked to sleep in either the splendour of a teak-cocooned cabin or on deck, under the stars, in complete and utter peace
I like to think that I am quite a seasoned traveller; not one that spends six months each year discovering untold secrets across the globe, but I have certainly visited many countries over many years, covering all ends of the travel spectrum.
I have stayed in the height of luxury, indulging in the care given by designer hotels in exclusive and elusive settings.
I have also stayed in single tents, 5000 metres high at the top of the Andes. A cruise, however, has never really appeared on or anywhere near my bucket list.
Having seen super-tankers crammed full of overweight, culture-allergic and self-obsessed travellers who are more interested in a waistline overload than a sensory overload, this type of holiday has never appealed to me.
Mediterranean Delights Fitness Voyages is a cruise in the technical sense, but in the real sense it is a million miles away from the description above.
I had no idea of what to expect when I waited, with a little trepidation, to meet my fellow voyagers and our host in Marmaris harbour. After all, as a sailing gullet is a traditional vessel, I assumed I would have to make do without the little luxuries normally associated with a vacation. Will my cabin have toilets? Will I feel stir crazy? Will I need space from other people?
After arriving at Marmaris harbour, it didn’t take me long to realise that all of my worries were both unnecessary and unfounded.
The driving force behind this venture is American entrepreneur Cynthia Paulauskas. After a sabbatical spent touring the world, she realised that she could offer something that would provide a work/life balance whilst fulfilling her passion for perfection. So, together with her extremely knowledgeable and very charming business partner Ali Ihsan Yalcin Cyndi’s vision and Ali’s experience created this match made in heaven.
Passion, professionalism and perfection were all evident as myself and my follow travellers were met by a vision of gleaming teak designed with lounging sofas the size of average sitting rooms. My cabin was a large bedroom with double bed, endless power points, crisp linen, beautifully soft blankets and yes, a pristine bathroom and shower all of my own. Afternoon tea served in china cups and accompanied by cut glass sugar bowls set the tone for the whole of this journey. Beautiful in presentation, beautiful in content and all with the wellbeing of the guest in mind.
So, we have the med and we have our incredibly detailed itinerary: what about the fitness?
As my current fitness levels are a lot less than they once were, I worried that my Zumba classes followed by a glass of wine in the local hostelry would not be sufficient preparation for this voyage. Indeed, my worries had reached such a fever pitch that I imagined a boat filled with gym bunnies and marathon runners. How would I fit in?
Although the fitness aspect of this cruise is of course a very important factor, and one that’s taken extremely seriously, it’s also optional. The guru on board, a very sassy lady from the US, is not only a yogi with the flexibility of a bouncing ball, but also holds a black belt in martial arts and comes across as witty, fun and able to encourage.
The on-board crew of four, in addition to sailing during the day, all perform another role as a steward, chef or housekeeper. They do this almost invisibly and the result is incredible, with our table heaving from the weight of delicious, freshly cooked and locally sourced food, with hotel standards service throughout.
The complete lack of stress was one of the most impressive aspects of the cruise. We were in no hurry, and for those of us that have busy lives, the ability to combine total relaxation with a schedule that stimulates all of the senses is a real treat.
We enjoyed meditation, yoga, swimming, kayaking and fishing or simply watching the beautiful, mountainous coastline of Turkey retreat into the distance whilst the equally breathtaking sites of the Greek islands approach.
After a few nights on the water, the days merge into complete bliss as Roman ruins and ancient monasteries continue to make each day a unique experience.
The reward of our yoga and hikes was waiting in anticipation for the ship’s bell to ring, a comically Pavlovian response as “dinner is served”.
Mornings were spent watching the sun rise and then reflect against the clear blue sea, sharing the moment the fishermen set out for their local catch, laughing, smiling and lazing in the sun. Afternoons were filled with discovery, sleeping off magnificent lunches on oversized sun beds, hopping in and out of kayaks and speedboats and snorkeling in aquarium-like waters. I spent the evenings trawling ancient harbours, indulging in local flavours (both literally and figuratively), learning backgammon, practicing belly dancing or indulging in the local raki. As for the nights – these were spent swaying gently and being rocked to sleep in either the splendour of a teak-cocooned cabin or on deck, under the stars, in complete and utter peace.
Seven days of sheer delight, seven days connecting both with nature and with myself, seven days spent with people who arrived as strangers and left as friends. Seven days that I shall never forget.
- Jill Rayner
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