Venice to Dubrovnik: Onboard the Norwegian Gem

When I mentioned to my mum that I was going on a cruise, she said there are some cities that should be seen from the sea (rather than the air) – Sydney, New York, Hong Kong – and of course Venice.

It was a shame it was blowing a gale and it was pouring with rain, but despite that it was a beautiful way to leave the city.

Being so high up allows you to look down into St Mark’s Square and along the canals and bridges, and it seems so serene despite teeming with tourists.

Small boats constantly buzzed us, their passengers waving, and with perfect timing a bride and a groom stood on the steps of a church, their guests all gathered below, as we sailed past.

It astonished me how such a vast ship can even be manoeuvred through such a narrow channel, but we did it, stylishly and effortlessly.

It’s been 13 years since my last cruise, a seven day Caribbean cruise with my mum and brother onboard a Celebrity ship, and I have to report that in terms of the essential ship experience, not much has changed.

What is different is that there is more choice. So for example, there’s a rock-climbing wall, as well as hot tubs, a pool and a spa.

There are also a bewildering number of restaurants with a vast variety of cuisine, bars, nightclubs and bowling – of the ten-pin variety in the nightclubs.

I’m here with a press group of assorted journalists and radio presenters including legendary 80s DJ Mike Read, who I ended up sitting next to at dinner.

A more charming, self-effacing person I couldn’t hope to meet. Casey, my wonderful New Zealand host, had of course never heard of him. And some celebs may have been put out by that, but Mike (we’re on first name terms now), patiently explained that in his day his radio show was pulling in 11 million viewers, Top of the Pops around 20 million and then Saturday Superstore another 10 million.

We were suitably impressed.

He told us another lovely anecdote when he was at an airport and a man with a young son recognised him and said to his young son – “Do you know who that is?”

His son replied: “No dad.”

His dad replied: “That’s Mike Read. Back in his day he was like Ant and Dec rolled into one.”

Mike will be broadcasting, along with the other DJs, live from the ship for the next week.

Currently I’m sat on my balcony looking out at the Croatian coastline, next stop Dubrovnik.


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