Tuesday , 18 February 2020
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Exploring Europe by sea

Rebecca Pereira

There is no better feeling than waking up to the breathtaking view of the sea. My family and I recently returned from a 10-day vacation across the Mediterranean which included a seven-day cruise. The Norwegian Epic cruise took us through some of the hotspots of Europe such as Cannes in France, Italian cities of Naples and Florence, and Barcelona and Majorca in Spain. Living onboard a ship for a week is an unusual experience by itself. The magnificent seascapes, live entertainment, fantastic cuisine and the atmosphere onboard made the trip a memorable experience.

Our departure port was Rome which is a fantastic holiday destination in itself. Steeped in history, the city is home to architectural marvels and historic monuments from centuries gone by. The one-hour train ride to Civitavecchia flew by in a breeze. The 15-deck vessel housed over 20 speciality restaurants, theatres and performance arenas which offered live performances, a state-of-the-art gaming arcade, sports courts, fitness centres and swimming pools and more. Instantly, a sense of delight and excitement took over.

Spoilt for choice, my family and I debated where we would grab lunch. With 20 restaurants to choose from, it wasn’t an easy task. We eventually settled down to try out the 24 hour buffet at the Garden Café located on deck 15, the highest deck on the ship. The sprawling buffets and menu offerings include any meal the heart would desire. From pizzas and pasta to burgers, stir frys and even an Indian menu, there is something to satisfy everyone’s taste buds.

One of the first performances we booked was a dragshow called ‘Priscilla Queen of the Dessert’ which was filled with song, dance and laughter. The day came to a wonderful end as we booked a table at an exquisite fine dining restaurant for a three course dinner. The first course included salmon which melted in the mouth while the second course included a steak fillet served in a red wine sauce which had subtle and delicate notes of spices. The last and the best by far was the five-spiced chocolate cake. The cake looked beautiful and included a layer of butter cream which had the perfect blend of chocolate and spice followed by an intrinsic decorative chocolate arc covering the top layer of the cake.

At Barcelona we stopped at a local dessert parlour to try the popular local delicacy churros. These long cylindrical sweet treats are soft with a crunchy exterior covered in chocolate and cinnamon sugar. We were in for a treat as the famous church in Barcelona Sagrada Familia had an orchestra playing while the locals gathered together, held hands and participated in a traditional dance of synchronised movements.

Over the seven days, my mother  and I bonded over salsa dance classes organised by the dancers of ‘Burn the Floor’ which was a dance show featuring Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, Cha Cha, Samba and Jive. While on a cruise, everything is taken care of. It was a great way to strengthen bonds with family and let go of the hustle and bustle one is accustomed to in their daily lives.

We caught up with a few Goans working onboard. They gave us an insight into the life of an employee working onboard a cruise ship. For nine months a year they work on the ship, forging bonds that last forever. They earn double the income working on a cruise ship than they would back home working in a starred hotel. Choris Pao and Prawn Pulao are some of the Goan dishes craved by them while at sea.

While exploring the ship my father and I decided to meet a few of the staff to get an understanding of the logistics and coordination required to manage a ship with over 3000 guests. Victor Martins from Margao who was at the front desk, informed us that there are close to 1000 crew to care of approximately 3000 guests, ensuring that each and every guest has a memorable experience. He surprised us by sending a platter of exotic cheeses, chocolate coated strawberries and two bottles of wine to our rooms to make us feel more welcome.

The cruise voyage was truly a trip of a lifetime and one which I will never forget. The memories I made and strangers I bonded with onboard is something I will cherish.

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