What a year this has been so far for Shoresound!
We’ve just stepped onto dry land after our second contract of the year, which was a short cover on P&O’s Oceana ship. After our mammoth world cruise on Crystal at the start of 2017, this shorter contract covered some places a little closer to home in the UK.
In this blog I’m going to writing briefly about what we got up to in the 5 countries we visited and give you a little glimpse into the past month of our lives!
We were really excited about this little cover contract, as it was only two, two week cruises visiting destinations some of which both Harry and I have never visited before. On the menu this time round was Greece, Croatia, Albania, Malta and Italy!
On July 13th we flew from Manchester airport to Malta. Its always a little stressful the flying part as we always have a lot of luggage. 3 Guitars and 2 large suitcases and two pull a-long’s… as you can imagine; it can be a work out.
This was probably one of the smoothest journeys we’ve had so far arriving in Malta to a pre-booked hotel, where we immediately made plans for our evening exploring Malta! In the midst of this planning we both fell asleep and woke up to find the evening had in fact been stolen from us as we slept right through until 7am the next morning! Travelling does this to you doesn’t it! Even though you are sat down for most of the journey, it still tires you out!
The Oceana is a relatively large ship holding around 1800 guests. It is not the largest in the P&O UK fleet but by no means the smallest either. Our gig was covering for the resident duo whilst they went on their break. We checked out the venues we would be playing in and made a really good start at getting lost around the new ship! It always takes me forever to get it into my head which is the front and which is the back of the ship!
Our cabin on board the Oceana was I think the best we’ve ever encountered! I mean, don’t get me wrong, no one past the age of 10 is thrilled about bunk beds but this cabin has so much room! I could do Yoga and a dance at the same time there was so much floor space!
After unpacking and decorating the room (with fairy lights of course), we played our first set and got immediate instincts this was going to be a good month!
I’m not going to write about each location in the exact path the ship took to visit them as we did dot about a bit, but our home port was always Valetta, Malta.
We’ve never been to Malta before but friends of mine have and have always told me how beautiful it is. The first time we ported in Valetta, we were given 3 deck sets on the open deck of the ship which meant we have barely any time to get off and explore but we still made the most of the last few hours. A question we get asked a lot is, are we able to get off and explore when we aren’t working and the answer to that question is…YES! Immediately and whenever possible!
Malta was, as my friends had said, really lovely. There were big beige buildings looking down on us from every angle and the architecture was just brilliant.
We wondered through the streets and around the harbor, popping into every church we came across stopping to read every historical artifact.
One highlight of Malta however was discovering a Marks and Spencer’s and buying veggie Percy Pigs! I haven’t eaten meat or fish for about a year and a half now and so Percy Piggie’s are my go to sweet! It is actually a lot more difficult being veggie and working on cruise ships as opposed to eating in your own kitchen every night, but I will save that for another blog entry ;-) We also stopped off at the Hagen Diaz ice cream parlor to get milkshakes, which were so yummy we had them every time we ported in Malta!
Hello Greek goodness!!! First stop Piraeus Athens where we got a healthy dose of history visiting the Acropolis and the Temple of Zeus. We sang Hercules on repeat whilst venturing around these amazingly ancient ruins and I’ve got to say my highlight was the view from the top of the Acropolis it was a real treat. It is truly amazing that some of the original structure of the Acropolis is still standing along with theatres that are over a thousand years old. What really got me was
every step I took on the ancient land, I wondered who took a step in the exact same spot thousands of days before me. And if they wondered who would tread in their path in future years to come.
When we got to the Temple of Zeus I was hoping for a glimpse of Hercules come to life but alas, there isn’t much of it left! You have to use your imagination to fill in the gaps but it was epic to witness. We also visited the actual turf where the very first official Olympic games was held at in 1896!
The only negative thing I can comment about our trip to Athens is that we should’ve got on the Hop on Hop off bus to visit these places as our taxi man, who albeit was a lovely guy born and raised in Piraeus, really ripped us off (translation: daylight robbery) and we also spent far too much on a Greek vase (which we were told was one of a kind and in no way looked like every other Greek vase in every other shop!)
Next up in Greece was Katakolon, which is located just outside Olympia, the location of the original Greek Olympic games, a quaint little place where I had a smashing Greek salad!
Mykonos really stole my heart and I would love to come back here. It was beautiful white maze with the cutest little streets and passageways. Picture typical Greek landscape, pure white buildings with bright blue shutters.
Here we actually sat by the sea and caught up with a friend whom we worked on a P&O Australia ship with last year. Imagine our surprise when we saw her working in the shop on the Oceana! It’s crazy how you say goodbye to people you think you more than likely will never ever see again, and then there they are!
Our last Greek destination was Corfu. We got on the shuttle bus straight into Corfu town where we entered through the market place and meandered up to the high street. We didn’t spend all that long here but it was very busy. A major tourist destination for holidaymakers, Corfu is becoming more popular each year.
Now I may have been slightly biased about my preconceptions to Albania (any one else seen the film ‘Taken?!’) and this was in the back of my mind when we arrived at Sarande. It was a tender boat ride over to the shore, which only lasted about ten minutes. The entrance to the town was flooded with people begging, it was very sad. The general vibe we got as we walked along the promenade wasn’t particularly positive. You know when you just get a feel for a place and it just doesn’t feel that great? Well that was the feeling we got today. We stopped for a couple of beers, which also weren’t that great, then got back on the tender boat. There may have been some beauty in Sarande just waiting for us to discover, but on this occasion, we didn’t hang around long enough to find out.
“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie that’s amore!”
Ah Italy! Ravenna was delightful, exploring Italian poet Dante Alighieri’s tomb and tucking into absolutely YUMMY pizza! Where else to get delicious pizza but Italy!
I would’ve liked more time here to explore all of the colorful mosaic buildings like Basilica of San Vitale but we set sail at 3pm so it was a rush to cram everything in.
Next was truly beautiful Venice. We came here twice on the Oceana and although I have been here before when I was back packing around Europe, I could’ve come back every day since. I fell in love with Venice the moment I arrived. It’s just so inspiring! Tiny winding little streets and busy canals, where just seconds away lie peaceful piazza’s. We didn’t actually ride on a gondola this time, but we did sing “Just one Cornetto, give it to me..” loudly as they passed under our bridges!
The first time we visited Venice there was the biggest thunderstorm I have ever seen in my life. We were exploring a music museum when we realized people were hovering in the doorway because it was raining. The rain turned into heavy showers and then torrential downpour. We checked the weather on our phones and the current status was ‘light showers’ followed by the thunderstorm at 4.15pm! We knew it was only going to get worse so we just thought ‘ah screw it!’ For once, St Marks square was completely empty as everyone was hiding from the rain! We skipped through the puddles singing ‘Singing in the Rain’ whilst everyone gave us peculiar looks! But I will be honest it was so much fun! We got soaked through to our skin but it was so refreshing!
Definitely my favorite destination of all! I’ve always wanted to go to Croatia so I was really excited to find out we were going to Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik!
Zadar was lovely and had this incredible feature that we discovered as we stepped off the bus. It was a Sea Organ! It was designed by Nikola Basic and has thirty five pipes built under the concrete of the peer. It is sculptured so that when the wind and waves move, they create air pushing into the organ, which creates random notes! It was incredibly harmonious!
Split was amazing! We explored Diocletian’s Palace and climbed the bell tower, which was really scary at the top! Rickety is the best word I can use to describe it! We tucked into some yummy coconut ice cream and had a couple of ice-cold beers along the sea front before heading back to the ship. Split was a really great place.
And our final Croatian destination…Dubrovnik!!! This city in itself is just beautiful with its defensive walls built in the 7th century, which have withstood many battles and an earthquake! But I, alike many, was mostly ridiculously excited at the prospect of visiting Kings Landing!!! Of course Dubrovnik is where some seasons of Game of Thrones were filmed! We walked the entire walls and I acted out scenes from GOT! Harry wasn’t impressed, as he hasn’t seen it (unbelievable right!?) We had such a great time in Dubrovnik. It was so beautiful, the walls were unreal, the food was tasty and the ocean was just beautiful, so inviting we were kicking ourselves for not bringing our swimwear!
What is wonderful about cruise ships is that you get to just take a taster of each destination. You get a feel for a place and you can decide where you would like to come back and visit. I think cruises are a great way to holiday as you get to explore 2 or 3 countries within that one week instead of just one!
My favorite place I think was Croatia and I would definitely go back someday!
And so it was time for us to say goodbye to the Oceana and all the wonderful guests we met on our contract! Two days at The Premier Inn near Southampton and then our next adventure begins! Britannia here we come!