Updated: Mar 10
In 2015, we went on our first-ever cruise for our honeymoon. We found ourselves aboard the aging Thomson Spirit cruising around the Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean. It was, at times, idyllic, other than one or two occasions where things didn't quite go to plan...
Pain and shock.
Perhaps a sign of its age, constructed in an era in which health and safety was less of a concern, some of the handrails on deck would be supported by metal posts that protruded inwards slightly one of which I walked into at full speed. What followed can best be described as a high-pitched squeal. Thankfully nothing was broken, it was merely agony.
Several minutes later we stood, arms folded around each other watching the ancient city pass before our eyes. It was a perfect honeymoon moment made even better as, one by one, the minarets began the call to prayer; something I have always loved. The calls receded as we sailed on towards the semi-completed Yavuz Sultan Selim bridge. As we approached, the ship's horn let off two sudden blasts, seemingly inches from where we stood, giving both an unexpected moment of fright. The beer that was intended for my mouth now splattered my shirt and the deck below.
Arriving in Odesa had been a slow and delayed process, and so, upon exiting the customs area, I was excited to see several men with stunning birds of prey about halfway up the Potemkin Stairs. Without thinking, just being happy to have escaped the ship for a few hours, I approached for a closer look. Before I knew it I somehow found myself with an eagle on each arm whilst being pressured to pay $100 for the privilege. I knew instantly I'd been stupid, I was being conned and the money certainly wasn't going towards the welfare of these magnificent animals.
Six large and intimidating men surrounded us to demand the money. I began to look around for help, my gaze settled on two local police officers just yards away who quickly made it clear they didn't care. The stalemate continued for some further minutes before the men relented, although still demanding we go to an ATM and return immediately. Yeah right!
We went onto have a lovely day in Odesa before taking a circuitous route back to the ship in order to avoid those lovely gentlemen.
Should anyone be interested, our cruise followed the following route:
Marmaris > Thessaloniki > Kavala > Chios Town > Izmir (Ephesus) > Patmos > Marmaris > Istanbul > Nessebar > Odessa > Mykonos > Marmaris.