Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Seabourn Spirit 2009 Food & Wine Cruise - Finally Onboard...Err, I Mean, Home!

We boarded the Seabourn Spirit and it was, as it should be in our dreams, like coming home. Everything was as it was when we left months ago: Consistently exceptional.


As we boarded so late, after our walking wine tour, we had just enough time to go to our suite, see the incredible flower display Pam Conover had placed in our suite (when I die they should be so nice!), unpack (an unusual treat for us!) and head up for the muster drill. This was quickly followed by the sailaway – with champagne flowing…and there is no better sailaway than Venice.

We were invited to dine with the Rachael, Assistant Cruise Director, from South Wales, the first night. At that point I didn’t know if she could sing or dance, but what I did quickly learn was that she was absolutely charming. During dinner the chef, Bjoern Wassmuth, stopped by and let me know that he had arranged “Shopping With The Chef” in Split, Croatia and that we were already on the list. I figured that would be better than the Taste of Split tour I had signed up for, so my plans for a guided trip changed a bit.

Dinner was flawless, both in cuisine and conversation. After a nice tawny port with my favorite, the cheese platter, it was up to the Sky Bar for an evening whiskey, a nice cigar and some good conversation. It was as if I was…no I was…at home.

The next morning, in Optaija, Croatia, I was “blessed” with my tour of Krk Island and Nada Winery starting out at 8:15 a.m. I have Island. It was nice to see the Croatian countryside, and the excellent roads, but it wasn’t really what I was looking for as the ride was long. We stopped at the lovely little town of Omisalj which was very much asleep on the early Sunday morning. From there it was another 45 minutes to Vrbnik, a really charming town which towers over the sea complete with wonderful stone buildings, narrow streets and interesting architectural details.

We were let off at the Nada Winery…and I immediately knew that the winery was not what I thought it would be. We were served original, herb and fig grappa (komovica) before we were escorted into the building’s basement for a promotional video…all before our wine tasting. If you are even marginally interested in understanding a wine, drinking grappa beforehand pretty much assures it will not happen. So I soldiered on…I mean unless it is really bad wine I’ll drink it. Eventually we were seated in a very attractive restaurant where bottles of a white wine (Zlahtina), a red wine (forgot the name) and a dessert wine (Prosek) were set on the table with one glass per person with small plates of a cured ham and cheese. The wines were really nothing to speak of.and no one actually spoke of them. Not much of a wine tasting. It was a wander around town before heading back to the ship after another long drive.

It was, surprisingly,already formal night and we were invited to dine with the Captain, Magnus Bengtsson, which was enjoyable and a good bit of fun. We had a bit of a chat about his time as staff captain o f the Seabourn Odyssey during and after its construction as well as some of the plans for the Seabourn Sojourn.

A nightcap at the Sky Bar and looking forward to Split in the morning.