Serenity at Sea & Shore: Exploring the Mediterranean aboard Royal Caribbean’s Splendour of the Seas
I didn’t think it was possible to love cruising anymore than I already did. Cruising is totally my thing; it’s so relaxing to only have to unpack once while you are seeing the world one port at a time. Meals, beverages, entertainment, shopping—it’s all there on board your floating home away from home! Convenience aside, Royal Caribbean really outdid themselves with this rather quick trip through the Adriatic and Aegean Seas on the Splendour. The ship was in excellent shape, the staff was one of the friendliest I’ve experienced at sea and provided excellent service, and the ports were stunning. I mean. Stunning. As my husband and I were sitting in lounge chairs on the observation deck sailing into Kotor, Montenegro passing fjords, steep mountains, and beautiful water, I said to him: “It makes me sad that our cameras can’t capture the real beauty of this moment to share it with everyone.” But that’s just the thing: the world needs to be seen in person and internalized—breathed in and registered forever in your memory.
This sailing departed out of the ever-charming city of Venice, and we were fortunate to spend some time touring the city and its many historical sites. The Hotel Metropole, which I’ll brag on later, was located on the Grand Canal with a view of the picturesque Church of San Giorgio Maggiore and St. Mark’s Square.
The sail-away from Venice was unlike anything I’ve experienced on a cruise ship. Being pulled by a tugboat and guided from another tugboat at the aft of the ship while sailing the Grand Canal was truly incredible. Venetian water taxis and vaperettos were bouncing all around our ship and then we were out on the open water.
The scenery was nothing short of amazing and the ports were welcoming, beautiful, and must-sees on your European bucket list. The Splendour took us to Kotor (Montenegro), Athens and Corfu (Greece), and Dubrovnik (Croatia) on this six-night voyage. Kotor’s scenery is worth its weight in gold and the sail-in to the port was by far the most beautiful. Kotor is built around Stari Grad (local language for Old Town) and the city has preserved it beautifully.
Athens has so much history to offer and the Acropolis made us feel like we had gone back in time. The local eateries brought us right back to present day and gave us new ideas in our kitchen. Corfu has two old forts (the “new” fort dates back to 1588!) among beautiful gardens and great shopping. The Old City of Dubrovnik was incredible, even if you’re not into Game of Thrones (scenes are filmed there!). The city’s walls are high, the beaches are beautiful (and the water chilly!), and the charm of the old town is ever-present.
This cruise experience was absolutely wonderful and a perfect getaway for a taste of the Mediterranean. The only negative part of this vacation was that it left me wanting to go right back! I’ll be happy to expound more upon this cruise vacation and plan your getaway so you can see these amazing sites or check other Mediterranean ports off of your European checklist.
Discover Venetian charm at the luxurious 5-star Hotel Metropole
Where to begin with Hotel Metropole? I suppose the face of the hotel is a perfect place to start. After a lengthy flight and waterbus ride, I was eager to get to the hotel for a little sanctuary. Metropole is just steps away from a water station and its façade greeted me with classic beauty (and the possibility of rest soon!). We entered the hotel and were greeted by the friendly staff immediately upon arrival. The doorman immediately took the bags off my shoulders and signaled for help to take the luggage from my husband, too. I asked if we could store our luggage in the hotel while we toured the city (without luggage in tow) and Hotel Metropole did us one better: they let us check-in at 10:00 AM. We were escorted to our room up an elevator and through ornate hallways of impressive, Victorian-style décor. I felt like we were walking through a museum all the way to our room on the third floor. Upon entering our room, we were met with our luggage and a sizeable room with a comfortable, large bed, marble bathroom, and a window that overlooked a narrow canal to our left and to our right: San Giorgio island in all its magnificence on the Grand Canal.
The hotel boasts a restaurant that has a Michelin Star to its name, a beautiful wine bar, and a lush garden area that doubles as a retreat for an afternoon snack or cocktail and a cappuccino or fresh fruit the next morning.
After taking in all the sites of the hotel, we were off to explore Venice. St. Mark’s Square is a five-minute walk and the Rialto Bridge’s atmosphere was quite spectacular. While admiring the canals from the bridge, we were able to hear a gondolier sing to his patrons (and thankfully, everyone nearby). His voice was a beautiful baritone and the end of “Ciao, Venezia” was reverberated off the walls surrounding the canal. We explored side streets and found a quaint eatery for some authentic cuisine, witnessed a beautiful bride marry in a church close to the square, and watched the sunset in the gardens near the Gallerie dell’Accademia.
Hotel Metropole was truly an amazing experience that complemented our trip to Venice perfectly. Overall, this trip was magical and I can’t wait to help you plan a getaway to the Mediterranean so you can enjoy this experience for yourself!
To begin planning your dream trip with Megan Jones’ cruising expertise, contact her at email@example.com or call 706-566-5241