My beau got an invite to cruise around Italy on a Club Med boat: a weekend jaunt from Naples via picturesque Ponza (an island off Roman coast) to the classical city of Genoa.
I was instantly cynical. My memory of Club Med in Tunisia was Butlins meets Ibiza - lots group 'fun', karaoke nights, nonstop sport and flirting
with the “hot” coaches over a less than romantic buffet dinner.
But then that was ten years ago... I thought perhaps I should put my prejudices behind me and see what a 2011 cruise was all about.
We had just come back from Cannes film festival and the summer hols were still in distance so an injection of Mediterranean sun was tempting - even if the rest was more like a Carry on film.
We arrived at the foot of the most spectacular boat and I was totally flabbergasted.
I had had visions of a hotel on water but this was more like a giant sailing boat - imposing and yet still sleek.
The crew lined up for our arrival and I felt decidedly regal. In fact as I got to the top I couldn’t resist a sneaky Queenly wave.
Our cabin was bijou and luxury - Champagne
on ice and a fruit plate awaited us. As a kid, I’d done (or rather been subjected to) cruises around Greece and remembered the cabins being cramped and functional. This time round there was even room service and laundry!
Our first visit was to Naples and I’d heard less than glowing reviews. By all accounts Naples was far from the glamour of Rome.
I tiptoed down the dirty cobbles as Godfather types skulked in allies. I tried to buy a postcard and got ripped off. I started to berate the little witchy lady but my beau steered me out of the shop quickly.
Anything can happen in Naples. What’s great about a cruise is that you can get back to the safety of the boat and your cocooning cabin when you have had enough. Literally draw up the gang plank and retreat.
At 7 the anchor was raised and we set sail for Ponza. It was magical -think Gladiator theme tune and pink
sunset as we sailed silently out into the open sea.
Then the party started; cocktails dinner and a disco-tastic dance floor. There’s nothing like dancing out at sea – it’s the one time when you definitely should rock the boat!
And it wasn’t one of those snotty clubs where the DJ looks down his nose at you when you request Britney’s One More Time.
I obviously had one too many Bellinis as I was convinced the water was getting higher. I peered out of our porthole convinced we were submerged. I also learnt that heels and a slippery, windy deck are not a sensible combination – particularly after one too many Bellinins. Luckily my sturdy sailor beau took my arm before I took a tumble.
There is nothing like sleeping on a boat. The gentle sway lulled us to sleep like babies. Though the clanking of the anchor at 8am sharp woke me up with a start.
I peered out of our porthole. Gone was Vesuvius and Naples - in their place a darling of an island. We first headed to the gym - cross training staring out into the ocean is an improvement on the normal vista of sweat stained Lycra.
We jumped on a boat to Ponza’s tiny port lined with pizzeria and cafes. I had what was probably the best cafe latte ever. So good I had to take a picture! Creamy coffee in blazing sunshine – bliss.
We followed with a stroll and the obligatory tourist shopping (nothing without a straw hat).
Back on the boat we had an afternoon of sunning on deck. Somehow you’re always overlooked on a beach but on the boat the sea is your only view. Infinite blue broken only by the odd dolphin.
In the evening we were invited to cocktails with the Captain: “Aye aye”.
The following day we dropped anchor at Genoa - after a facial for me and a pedicure for my beau.
We were so enthused with the whole experience it looks like we’re going to do the Greek island cruise this summer en famille.
Water sports and games for teens and site seeing for us. Everyone’s a winner.
Where else offers waterskiing, wine tasting, circuit training, a deep facial cleanse and disco dancing all in the same day? All within 30 seconds from your room... I’ll leave out the details but it’s safe to say cabin sex