Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea (Part 1)

So tell us all about your trip. So sayeth our well-meaning friends. Believe it or not, I have trouble dealing with that seemingly simple request. You expect me/us to encapsulate a twelve-day cruise – one in which we toured six ports of call in five countries – in the usual four minutes one is given before the conversation veers in another direction. That’s a tall order, my friends!

What I usually do is talk about the ship, Mano Line’s Crown Iris (the latest in a series all named Iris, after the wife of the current Mano), the vessel on which we sailed on ‘AACI’s Kosher Mediterranean & Adriatic Seas 12 Night Cruise.’ That I can do easily, well within the four minutes I know will be allotted to me. Start with this. Mano Lines is designed for Israelis, meaning that: The ship leaves from Haifa, so you don’t have to deal with Ben-Gurion Airport at 3AM. The cruises are relatively inexpensive – especially if you take an inside cabin (one without a window), which we didn’t. The accommodations are hardly deluxe, but the staff are well-trained and very helpful.

Most important, the food – served buffet style – is very good, with a lot of choices and variety from day to day, and that, as you might expect, is the main attraction. Barbara and I did something amazing. Neither of us gained any weight on the cruise; Barbara, because the desserts looked better than they tasted, me, because I was very, very disciplined, taking the smaller sized plate and never going back for seconds. Because I am my mother’s son, I have been trained to finish what’s on my plate. Many of our fellow passengers apparently did not have this kind of upbringing, or else they adopted an I-paid-for-it-so-it-doesn’t-matter attitude and put everything they saw on their plates, going back to the buffet for seconds in case they missed something the first time. Or they liked the pasta and French fries so much, they simply had to have another helping. And why not bring a heaping plateful of desserts back for the table? You get the idea. I’ll leave the post-cruise dieting to them, although for some of our fellow travelers, d-i-e-t is a four-letter word. Continue reading