People I met who had previously travelled on the Serenissima described her as “quirky”. A bizarre description for a cruise ship, albeit an ex Hurtigruten ferry used to potter up the fjords of Norway. But in fact a very apt description. Renovated and rechristened the Andrea in 2003 she operated as a cruise ship and was subsequently purchased by a Russian oligarch, who was on board on my cruise with his charming wife, who upgraded and thoroughly renovated the ship in 2013 and gave her the new name of Serenissima, once the name of Venice.
But what a delightful ship she is. Almost every one of the 59 cabins differs from its neighbour. Some have shower, some have bath, some have one porthole, some have two, others have one or even two windows and four interior cabins have no windows at all. And four cabins have a balcony. Most of the cabins have twin or double beds but there are 11 dedicated single cabins (as opposed to twins for sole use) which is unusual for a ship this size.
The 82 passengers on this cruise ranged in age from 58 to 94 and were admirably looked after by the crew of 49 – mainly Croatian on the bridge and deck and Filipino in the cabins and restaurant and galley. And what a joy they were! Incredibly hard working, friendly and remembering the names of each passenger within two days of coming on board. So polite, the men were addressed as Sir Michael, Sir Peter etc. and the ladies as Madam Diana, Madam Susan etc And they never made a mistake! The food on board was superb. Plenty of choice, everything freshly cooked, ample portions and always served with a smile.
Our cruise around the lesser known islands was conducted in April in calm waters, sunshine every day and temperatures of 21 -24 deg. We visited: Thessaloniki, Limnos, Chios, Samos, Icaria, Fourni, Patmos, Lipsi, Leros, Nisyros, Tilos, Simi and Syros – all in ten days!! All of them delightful small islands out of the reach of the larger cruise ships but perfect for Serenissima to be able to tie up alongside the jetty enabling us to wander off on our own to explore or to sit at a harbour café for a coffee or glass of wine. April was an ideal time for this visit; very few tourists around and wild flowers in abundance on the islands.
Also on board were three local guides, perfect English speakers and extremely knowledgeable who accompanied the three buses which waited for us at most destinations to conduct us on a guided tour of each island. They contributed enormously to our enjoyment of the holiday. Also on board was the guest speaker, Nigel McGilchrist who gave lectures several times during the cruise on the places of interest and archaeological sites we were to visit.
Altogether a thoroughly enjoyable cruise and I don’t think this will be my last time on Serenissima.