Come Sail the Mediterranean with Us!
We had such a good time when clients and friends joined us for a cruise to Alaska last month. It was a lot more special being able to experience the trip with others.
So we decided to get another group cruise together for next year, this time in the Mediterranean. After much research, we decided on Regent Seven Seas Cruises for a 7-night sailing starting on April 27, 2020. Part of the reason is the incredible value and quality Regent offers. If the dates work for you, we hope you’ll consider joining us! In any case, please enjoy the armchair travel below.
Not surprisingly, I see a lot of itineraries, and I love this one.
Barcelona proudly displays the best-known works by famed architect, Antoni Gaudí. At his graduation, the school director is reputed to have said, “We awarded the diploma to a madman or a genius. Time will tell.” We’ll let you decide, but I’m thinking maybe a little bit of both—with some delightful results!
This is a bench in Gaudi’s Park Guell. It is only a tiny close-up of the kind of fanciful attention to detail he put into his creations.
The park is full of surprises. You can be walking alongside pillar after pillar, and then you notice a subtle difference: one is carved like a woman holding a basket.
Gaudi is more famous for Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia.
The construction of this basilica began in 1883 and it's not finished yet! It is, however, a stunning piece of architecture and unlike any other cathedral or basilica I’ve ever seen.
Barcelona’s architectural gems didn’t start in the 19th century with Gaudi, of course. Its ornate Gothic Quarter predates him by 400-600 years. This area includes the Jewish Quarter, with its tiny, narrow 'streets.' This is where most of Barcelona's Jews lived prior to their expulsion from Spain in 1492.
There's so much more to say about Barcelona, but we need to move along.
Cartagena is a port city that was founded by the Carthaginians in 227 B.C, with its heyday happening during the Roman Empire. That being the case, it’s not overly surprising that there is a 1st-century B.C. Roman theater there. What is surprising is that it was not discovered until 1988, beneath the ruins of the Old Cathedral.
Some of the other artifacts that were unearthed include a statue of Apollo, an altar to Jupiter and some Islamic ceramics dating to the Middle Ages. These and more can now be seen in the Museum of the Roman Theater in Cartagena, the last 'room' of which is the Roman theater itself.
Granada, Spain (port is Motril)
When I toured the Alhambra in 2014, I said that this one experience was worth the whole cost of the trip to Spain. It wasn’t hyperbole.
The craftsmen did not use scaffolding to do the carving in the Alhambra, so how did they accomplish this feat? Well, that’s one of the interesting tidbits we learned on the tour. ;)
Here’s another question for you: animals are not depicted in Islamic art, so why are there 12 lions encircling this fountain? What do they represent and how did they end up in an Islamic palace fortress?
Gibraltar is a 2.6 square mile British Overseas Territory at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. It is bordered on the north by Spain. It has great strategic significance because, in part (according to Wikipedia), half the world's shipping passes through the 8.9-mile-wide Strait of Gibraltar.
See the Rock rising 1,400 feet from the sea. You can get to the top by cable car or steps. I’m not sure if Al will be willing to take the cable car, but I can guarantee you I won’t be taking the steps!
Gibraltar is home to Europe’s last free-range population of monkeys, the Barbary macaques. The story of the macaques’ presence on the Rock is that, during the Siege of Gibraltar between 1779-1783, Spain and France were launching an ongoing attack on British Gibraltar. Legend has it that one night, a surprise attack was thwarted by the monkeys who were disturbed by the activity, thus alerting the night watch to what was happening. This legend gave rise to the saying that “as long as the monkeys remain on the Rock, so will the British.”
The very name conjures up nostalgic images of Bogie & Bergman and echoes of “Play it, Sam.” And to be sure, Rick’s Café Casablanca is there, patterned after the one in the movie, complete with a 1930s piano and set in an old courtyard-styled mansion built against the walls of the Old Medina. Wouldn’t it be fun to go in period dress? (Hmm, one more outfit to pack…okay, probably won’t happen!)
Even more than Rick’s Café, I’d like to visit the Hassan II Mosque, one of the few mosques in Morocco that allows non-Muslim visitors.
Talk about architecture! This is one of the largest mosques in the world, with the second-tallest minaret in the world (689 feet). It sits on prime oceanfront property and cost an estimated €585,000,000.
Not to be overlooked is the shopping at the souks in the Old and New Medinas. I don’t usually shop when I travel, but am thinking that Casablanca might have to be an exception.
Seville (Cadiz is the port)
Seville is so beautiful! It would be enough for me even just to visit María Luisa Park again, the site of Expo 29 in 1929. It’s a lovely place for a horse-drawn carriage ride or just a stroll.
Andalucia.com describes it best:
Today, Maria Luisa Park is a paradisiacal half-mile of palms and orange trees, elms and Mediterranean pines, covered with flower beds and dotted with hidden bowers, tiled benches, ponds, fountains and pavilions. Now that the trees and shrubs have reached maturity, the genius of its French designer can be appreciated - this is one of the loveliest parks in Europe.
It only improves with closer inspection.
The Plaza de España is the centerpiece of the park. It's really a very special place. As impressive as it might look here, one photo can't begin to do it justice.
About 30 minutes from Lisbon is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sintra, which is a popular excursion for Lisbon cruise stops. These three photos are from there.
On a clear day Pena Palace can be seen from Lisbon. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal, it is among the country's most-visited monuments.
Pena Palace's surrounding park contains a labyrinth of paths in its 500 acres.
The ship will have a full day and night in Lisbon, from 10:00 AM arrival until disembarkation the next morning.
Regent Seven Seas Explorer is currently the cruise line's newest and most beautiful ship. It has been described as being like a 5-star boutique hotel on water. With only 750 passengers—but 542 crew members—you can imagine that the service is stellar (and it is).
Prices include the following:
FREE Unlimited Shore Excursions
FREE Welcome Bottle of Champagne
FREE Unlimited Beverages Including Fine Wines, Premium Spirits and Specialty Coffees
FREE Open Bars and Lounges Plus In-Suite Mini-Bar Replenished Daily
FREE Gourmet Dining
FREE Specialty Restaurants
FREE Room Service, Available Around the Clock
FREE Pre-Paid Gratuities
FREE Unlimited WiFi
FREE Pre-cruise Luxury Hotel Stay (for Concierge Suites and higher)
OPTIONAL SPECIAL PRICING: $2,500 for Business-Class Air from Major U.S. Gateways, Including Transfers
It's worth it to take a look at this sheet to see how much this kind of pricing can save your bottom line. Plus, the feedback we've gotten from clients is that they don't like being nickeled and dimed to death on their cruise—paying Starbucks prices for their specialty coffees, sometimes $3.50 for a bottle of water, up to 75 cents a minute for WiFi, and hundreds of dollars for excursions and gratuities.
Pricing for all cabin options can be seen on Regent's website. There are a couple of things to note: (1) Their prices include business-class air. If you prefer to book your own flights, you can deduct $2,500 per person from the prices shown. (Or you can leave it in to get a great price on business class.) (2) The website shows the lowest three cabin categories as being waitlisted; however, we still have one of each reserved in the block on a first-come, first-served basis. Keep in mind that the 'smallest' cabins—Regent calls all of them suites—are 307 square feet, including its 88-square-foot veranda.
Advantages of this group are:
$300 shipboard credit per cabin (great for spa treatments, laundry or the onboard gift shops—pretty much anything that you might charge to your cabin).
It's a Virtuoso Voyage, meaning that there will be a welcome reception and a dedicated host just for those passengers who booked with Virtuoso travel advisors (which we are). The host is available throughout the cruise to assist you, if needed.
There is also a Virtuoso amenity: the choice between an enhanced, complimentary excursion in Cadiz or additional shipboard credit of $150 per person (i.e., $300 per cabin).
If you think you'd be interested, sooner is better than later, as availability is extremely tight, unfortunately—especially for cabins that have the lowest or highest price points.
Let us know if we can answer any questions for you, and we hope you can join us! Email Vicki@schecktrek.com if we can help you with any of your travel needs.
Barcelona: Park Guell tiled bench (Anthony Taubin/Pixabay), Sagrada Familia exterior (Patrice Audet/Pixabay), Sagrada Familia interior (Kirill Sobolev/Pixabay), Gothic Quarter(RepubliCAT/Pixabay)
Granada: Alhambra exterior (Pablo Valerio/Pixabay), Alhambra carved column (ScheckTrek Travel), Alhambra lion fountain (Wilfried Santer/Pixabay)
Gibraltar: Aerial shot (lutz6078/Pixabay), Monkey (Szabolcs Dumitras/Pixabay)
Casablanca: Hassan II Mosque (Fargo Flyer/Pixabay)
Sevilla: Park shot with woman (Grant Ritchie D/Unsplash), Maria Luisa Park, distance and close-up(ScheckTrek Travel), Plaza de España (shai-pal-UeSZNsV7GZE/Unsplash)
Lisbon: Tiled wall (AL-MUT/Pixabay), Orange palace (Jessie Brown/Unsplash), Forested park (Red Mirror), Palace interior (C B/Pixabay)
Ship images: Courtesy of Regent Seven Seas Cruises