Taste of Tranquility – Crystal Serenity Cruise – Athens to Venice
How do you define luxury? Is it being cocooned in a huge dressing gown with a butler serving you tea on a silver tray, with bone china and little silken bags of the finest organic brew? Is it quality Champagne on tap and a Michelin-worthy dining experience? Or is it superlative service where your every need is constantly anticipated and fulfilled?
For me, luxury is all of these, combined with meticulous attention to detail and a feeling of exclusivity. And it can be found on every deck of Crystal Serenity.
An aptly-named vessel, Serenity is the quietest, most tranquil ship I have ever experienced: annoying announcements are kept to an absolute minimum, service is ultra-discreet, the Ink Spots croon softly while you eat your Cornflakes and even the obligatory handwash is soothing. As an extra bonus, the sea seems to be mimicking a millpond.
We board in Athens and our first destination is Monemvasia, a massive rock sitting a quarter of a mile off the coast of the Peloponnese mainland and often referred to as the ‘Gibraltar of Greece’. Accessible by a single causeway that winds into the charming old Castle Town (known locally as Kastro), it is a labyrinth of medieval cobbled alleys set against a backdrop of the bluest Aegean sea.
Eye-catching little shops and tavernas line the main street, with top marks going to the Edodimopolio Honey Shop. Thanks to its zealous and generous owners, Fotini and Paraskevas, this is a retail experience to be savoured (their honey mead and ouzo with walnuts should be available on prescription).