A full year of meticulous planning, with every detail catered for and a whole weekend put aside to celebrate with your nearest and dearest. This will sound familiar to anyone who has organised a wedding. They will know that no matter how hard you try and cling on to it – your wedding day is as long as any other day.
Before you know it, you are waving your guests off and thanking them for coming. That’s it. The happiest day of your life, over! How can you go back to work on Monday after having a party that has taken a full year to plan? The answer is that you can’t and the solution is a honeymoon.
The honeymoon industry itself is worth an eye-watering amount of money. Statistics in the US suggest that American honeymoons alone are worth $12 billion per year. It seems that for an overriding majority, the only way you can keep the magic alive after celebrating a wedding is to go straight on holiday.
And, who are we to buck the trend?
With that in mind, my wife and I packed our bags and headed off on our Cruise Adviser honeymoon. The trip would see us take in some of the most romantic destinations in Europe: Sorrento, Capri, Kotor, Venice, Lyon, as well as the vineyards spread across the Rhone valley. Of course, we would be travelling by ship – with one half dedicated to ocean and the other by river. Here at Cruise Adviser we are fully dedicated to the task at hand and will never let an opportunity go begging. With that in mind we boarded our plane at Manchester airport and flew to the Italian coastal city of Naples, where we joined the ultra-luxury vessel Crystal Serenity in the stunning town of Sorrento.
Having never stayed on board one of the six star lines before, neither of us was sure what to expect. How can one line be so different from another, given the similar canvas all cruise lines have to work with? What could Crystal do that was so different to other luxury and premium lines? I knew the facts – all-inclusive, crew to passenger ratios etc – but I wanted to know if I would feel a difference in the quality of the product.
I can now 100 per cent say that you do.
When you walk on to a six star cruise line you are hit by the differences straight away. From the diligence of the crew to the sumptuous and high-quality décor, fixtures and fittings. And the food! We’ll get to the food later. As your eyes become accustomed to being dazzled, you start to pick up on the number of tiny finishes and touches that all go into making the experience a better one for their guests.
We are taken to our penthouse balcony cabin and receive a call from Engin, our butler, who will be looking after us during our stay. He tells us that we each get a bottle of our favourite spirit in the cabin, as well as a regularly restocked minibar which has champagne, wine, beer and soft drinks already chilling nicely inside.
There’s also a bottle of champagne waiting for us in an ice bucket on the table, a gift, we are told. It is already clear that it would be impossible not to relax on board this ship.
The one issue with staying somewhere so luxurious is that you don’t want to get off. Or, when you do, the idea of coming back is pretty appealing.
However, given that we are in one of the prettiest towns I have ever seen – and duty calls – we tear ourselves away from Crystal Serenity and tender across the Bay of Naples and into Sorrento.
Perched precariously on the coastal cliffs, Sorrento is the perfect place to begin our honeymoon. Its narrow, cobbled streets are broken up only by picturesque Italian squares and rustic churches. We saunter aimlessly through them, taking in the atmosphere and discuss whether to buy a gelato or sit down at one of the many cafés that spill onto the streets and have a beer. We opt for a pizza in the bustling Marina Grande and sit by the startlingly blue water, among the yachts of the well-heeled Italians.
While we eat, we discuss the merits of taking a cruise for your honeymoon. It seemingly makes perfect sense: what could be better than relaxing in the lap of luxury while working your way through an itinerary of romantic destinations? A cruise within this context is for the couple that want total relaxation, but aren’t too sure about staying on the same beach for two weeks. Personally, I would rather marry the two – have the luxury of relaxing by a pool, or sunbathing on a balcony while being able to visit somewhere new each day – if you can drag yourself away from the ship that is. The important thing is offering that choice, which in many ways is the most luxurious thing this type of holiday.
A cruise must be one of the best-kept secrets of the honeymoon sector, albeit not intentionally. However, it is undoubtedly one to bear in mind. It won’t be for every couple – but neither will the increasingly common two weeks in the Maldives.
Next time you have a customer that comes in asking about suggestions for their honeymoon, a cruise would not be a bad place to start.
We’ll be using this diary to tell you why.
Next, it’s Kotor, Montenegro.