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BOUTIQUE CRUISING


fire planes and helicopters dived into the bay to scoop up sea water to drop onto the flames.


Cartagena in Spain proved a pleasant


surprise. An evening in port meant we had more time to explore this vibrant city, complete with Roman ruins and impressive architecture. Cartagena was also hosting a section of the Audi Med Cup yachting regatta, and the place was buzzing. Taking the opportunity to dine ashore, we were delighted when – half-way through our paella – a huge carnival procession danced its way past our table. The city partied into the night, giving us a memorable midnight sailaway. Over the next few days we made our


way across the Mediterranean, calling at Mahon, Alghero and Calvi – all delightful


58 WORLD OF CRUISING I Winter 2011-12


destinations. We took full advantage of the laid-back ports to relax, before reaching Livorno and tackling Florence.


T


his World Heritage site attracts millions of visitors each year, and most of them seemed to be in the


city the day we arrived. However, the palaces, bridges, statues, art and culture make it all worthwhile – the place simply oozes history. So we spent our last full day walking miles while soaking up the culture, before heading back to the ship to pack and make the most of our last night on board. Back on Minerva, we were greeted with the formal news our much-loved ship was to receive much-needed improvements via an extensive refit. The present cabins are comfortable but small,


so it was welcome to hear the upgrade will include many larger cabins, as well as many more balconies and a new forward observation lounge. Brochure prices usually start at around £1,795 for two weeks in an inside cabin, but watch out for special offers and discounts. Also, the price includes all trips and tips, flights and transfers, and often wine as well on the formal nights. Plus, you get to meet and listen to world- renowned speakers who are experts in their respective fields. As usual, Swan delivered an excellent cruise experience, and I can’t wait to be back on board next year to sample the delights of a new, improved Minerva. 


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