I fell in love with her at first sight, moored off Cannes on the French Riviera.
With my five seafaring friends, a suitcase filled with only swimsuits, t-shirts, a couple of casual outfits to wear for dinner and a packet of Kwells, I climbed the rope & chain gangplank to be greeted by the captain, Brunon from Poland, and his cheery crew… I knew in an instant it would be a wonderful week.
The crew of 70 hail from all over the world - a mix of French, Balinese, Swiss, Swedish & Croatian, although Norman from Jamaica who at exactly 7.45am each day brought a pot of Earl Grey tea to my cabin. What a perfect way to start the day, lazing in my double bed and listening to the waves gently lapping with a lovely cuppa! Then looking out the porthole to see what magical place we were about to visit for the day...
We would cruise at night to arrive each morning in a new port where we would spend the day exploring, before returning to the ship late afternoon in time for last light to sail into the sunset.
Our glorious journey sailed from Cannes to St Florent in Corsica, then on to the capital of Corsica, Bastia, then Portoferraio on the island of Elba, across to Italy to Portovenere at the southern end of Cinque Terre, to the most famous fishing village of them all – Portofino - and then to the millionaire’s playground of Monte Carlo.
At each port, the tenders would scurry around, taking us either to the beach to try a variety of water sports or into town where we could participate in a guided tour by the lovely French cruise director, Elsa. The more adventurous could wander at their own pace, exploring the towns.
We tended to wander off by ourselves, to shop and find somewhere inviting for a leisurely lunch with a glass or two of local wine. Some days, it was hard to choose from the exquisite cafes and restaurants which would give us the best vantage point to watch the world go by! In the afternoons, we would return to our yacht and sit by the pool and relax on a lounge with a book.
At Portovenere we went on the local ferry and visited each of the exquisite Cinque Terre villages, having café latte at Riomaggiore, walking along the coastal path to Manarola for pesto pasta, swimming at Vernazza and wandering around Monterosso before returning to our yacht.
The highlight at the end of every day was pulling up anchor in preparation for sailing into the sunset towards another enchanting port.
All the passengers and crew would gather on the deck as we set sail, the sails gently unfurled while we listened to the haunting music of Vangelis, complete with a flute of champagne in hand, it was pure magic as you felt the yacht gently glide through the water and into the open sea.
One night as we set sail, Felicity (the ships parrot who was always present as we left port) managed to slip and slide down the sails into the sea. Of course, we couldn’t turn back, but in a flash, the Swedish sports instructor jumped into the Zodiac as it was launched into the sea to save poor Felicity who was bobbing up and down in our wake. We cheered and clapped as Sven and Felicity, complete with the Zodiac, were winched back on board.