When I told people that Mr TS and I were going on a cruise they raised their eyebrows while looking me up and down and doing that thing people  do with their  mouths which says ‘You?! Are you sure?!’ without any words actually coming out. People who know me well and have read the piece I wrote about our adventures for Cruise International have asked me if what I wrote was true because we do, on the face of it, seem to be very unlikely people to find on board. We always self cater when we go away, we are very independent, are big fans of peace and solitude to shake off the chaotic busyness of our working lives and we usually prefer to sail ourselves to places rather than letting other people do it for us!

So – did we really enjoy it? Yes, we did and this is why…be warned, it’s picture heavy, both Mr TS and I are photographers and we had several cameras with us!

Two days in Venice alone before we boarded Island Princess with Princess Criuises for our journey to Istanbul and then on to Mykonos, meant that we were relaxed and ready for our first cruise adventure. I had read other people’s accounts of their experiences on board but I didn’t really know what to expect. When I opened the door of our stateroom and saw the carefully made bed, the well appointed shower room, the loungers out on the balcony and the chocolate coated strawberries and chilled Champagne waiting for us on the table I began to realise that this wasn’t our usual boating experience! We started with a Martini in Crooner’s Bar overlooking the incredibly glitzy three story Atrium at the heart of the ship.

I may have spent more time than was strictly necessary zooming up and down in the lifts admiring the sparkle!
Our first evening on board saw us whizzing back across to Venice to enjoy dinner at the 300 year old  Ristorante Antico Martini watching elegant Venetians spilling out of a performance of Madame Butterfly at Teatro La Fenice next door. I was beginning to feel like a Bond Girl rather than the salty sea dog I usually am. Returning to find our bed turned down and chocolates waiting for us on our pillow and, with ordering breakfast to be delivered to our balcony being the only thing I needed to do, I realised that I was actually ON holiday! A morning meandering in Venice was followed by a champagne sail away with the most glorious view down onto the city and all its islands, it was breathtaking and not even the rain could dampen my excitement – we were sailing down the Grand Canal!
You can see a cruise ship still in port in the background of this photograph, just behind the rooftops on the right – look how huge they are!
As we left Venice behind us the rain clouds cleared, we were on our way! Ahead of us were two days at sea before we reached Istanbul and what a two days they were.
I was expecting to be twiddling my thumbs and trying to keep a twitchy Mr TS entertained; it took about five minutes in the Sanctuary for us to relax totally and utterly. We read our books and sipped at iced cucumber water. I didn’t have to get up once to make sure everyone else was happy. I thumbed the menu and anything I desired was brought to my very comfortable lounger.
I lounged, he lounged and it was good. Click on the photos below to enlarge them – the sea really was that blue, the light that clear and the relaxation that real.
I spend a lot of time watching the sea when we are sailing, our wake never looks quite like this (no editing was done on this picture at all – look at that colour!)
If it had been up to me I would’ve spent every moment I could curled up in the Sanctuary with my man and my book but I was supposed to be working so I allowed myself to be booked in for a massage in the Lotus Spa – oh the trials and tribulations of the freelance life! The Sanctuary costs a little extra but for $20 per person for half a day it is definitely something I would budget for in my holiday.
A spot of table tennis and a swim in one of the two pools on Island Princess (I had it all to myself – my worries that the cruise ship would be crowded were totally unfounded) set me up nicely for dinner. I’m going to write about the food on board in a separate post over on Life is Delicious in the next few days so I won’t wax lyrical here – but the food was fabulous – another cruise novice worry popped back in the cupboard where it belonged.
The other pool was open to the sky on the Lido deck with a large screen at one end. At night this was the place to be for movies under the stars on a lounger, under a blanket with popcorn and hot chocolate. Lovely.

And so we sailed on. As we moved along the Eastern Mediterranean our phones updated us offering us service from every country we passed on our way (Mr TS loved that!), I had lounged, he had lounged, our cares had wandered off and given up on us giving them any attention and he had started taking photographs of me again – like he used to – and I didn’t mind, there were no children for me to hide behind, it was just me and him. This one was taken at the start of our second day at sea, just before we set off on the most fascinating tour behind the scenes to find out how a cruise ship is run.

You can read the next part of our adventure on Island Princess next week with a behind the scenes tour of the bridge and the kitchens – so exciting! 

We travelled on board Island Princess with Princess Cruises as part of a press group. All our expenses were covered.

GETTING THERE Princess Cruises offers a 12-night cruise on Island Princess from Venice to Barcelona, with ports of call including Istanbul, Mykonos, Athens, Naples and Toulon from £949pp, based on two adults sharing an inside stateroom, cruise only. Price includes accommodation, all meals and on board entertainment. For more info or to book visit princess.com/discover or call 0843 374 2403.

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