I have just returned from my very first educational trip with Travel Stop, and what a fantastic one to start with!
Our group had a very early start to the trip, when we met at 5am at Heathrow. There were 12 of us in total including representatives from Silversea cruise line and Classic Collection Holidays. At 7am we were on our way to Rome.
Our trip began with a visit to the Bernini Bristol Hotel, where we were welcomed by the General manager for a beautiful lunch up on the terrace.
The views from the restaurant were stunning and you could see for miles. The hotel is in a really central location, and is situated just 7 minutes away from the Trevi Fountain.
We were then picked up by two minibuses and transferred to Civitavecchia port where the Silver Spirit awaited us. This was my first time on board a cruise ship, and I must admit I think any future cruises I may take will certainly have a lot to live up to. The service on board was outstanding. There are roughly 1.4 members of staff for every 2 guests on board, so a gin and tonic or a glass of prosecco are never far away. The Silver Spirit only carries 540 guests, so not on any occasion did it feel over crowded.
On our first evening on board we had dinner at the pool bar and grill. This was a unique dining experience. Each guest is presented with a sizzling hot lava stone, where you then cook your own seafood or prime cut. I opted for the largest tiger prawns I have ever seen and they were delicious. There are lots of areas to relax in after your dinner, we enjoyed sitting outside at the ships stern and looking out to sea.
The next morning, we awoke to find ourselves in Portofino. Here we visited two hotels the Belmond Splendido Mare, and the Belmond Splendido. The Mare has only 16 rooms and is located right on the harbour surrounded by boutique shops and many places to buy Italy’s famous gelato. The Splendido is situated up high into the hillside with views over the bay down below. The hotel opened in 1902 and has seen many celebrities grace its floors over the years. You can easily walk between the two hotels using a red carpet… we all felt like royalty. The rooms at the Splendido were incredible and the terrace restaurant outside served up authentic Italian cuisine which we all thoroughly enjoyed.
After looking around Portofino’s designer boutiques (window shopping and dreaming) we took our tender to get back on board the cruise ship. We spent some of the afternoon out on the pool deck which is a really lovely area to enjoy the sunshine, complete with a swimming pool and Jacuzzi. Our second night was a formal night at La Terrazza. The food here was some of the nicest food I have ever eaten, the lobster was just to die for. Once again, the service was impeccable and on Silversea everything is included right down to your personal butler.
On the last morning, I drew the curtains to find myself surrounded by super yachts and the formula one track as we had arrived in Monte Carlo. Due to silver Spirit being a smaller ship it is able to dock really close into the marina which is fabulous. Some of the group took a transfer to the Fairmont Monte Carlo, but myself and a few others in the group decided to walk along the famous circuit as all the preparations were being put into place ready for the Grand Prix.
We arrived at the Fairmont which again is located very centrally. Some of the rooms look out on to the famous hairpin bend… although should you be so lucky as to be staying in one of these rooms over race weekend (and they book up 2-3 years in advance) it would set you back 45,000 euros. The rooms were beautifully decorated, and a really good size. After looking around the hotel, we had lunch at the Horizon Deck Restaurant and Champagne bar. This restaurant served a beautiful buffet with lots of fresh salads, cheeses, fish, meats and stunning desserts. After lunch we walked out from the hotel to the famous Monte Carlo Casino, this took less than 10 minutes. There are also lots of shops and restaurants nearby for you to enjoy.
We then returned to the Fairmont to enjoy the world-famous Nikki Beach. Every day from breakfast until late, celebrities, VIP’s and yacht lovers all gather here to enjoy themed parties and lively music mixed by world renowned DJ’s.
Then sadly it was back to the airport for our flight back to London. Although a short trip, it really gave me a taste for cruising, and I hope to be able to embark on my next one in the not too distant future. I can highly recommend SilverSea if you want a luxury all-inclusive cruise with impeccable customer service and a very personalised feel.