What else was there? Ah yes, afternoon tea in the Palm Court on deck 12, with a different theme every day. The most outstanding was the Mozart tea, where the wait-staff dressed in brocade frock coats, satin britches and buckled shoes, just the way Mozart himself must have, while the girl staff were in flowing gowns. And I must say they are very pretty. Must I describe the food?

Add to that the Tastes bistro near the pool, the themed buffet lunches, Mediterranean, Asian, Italian, American.......and especially the Grand Gala Buffet where the tables and the food and the ice sculptures were extraordinary.

Of course we had our own private Elizabeth Adler events going on. But first let me tell you about Betty and Frank Morgan, our American Express Travel representatives, without whom none of this could have happened, and who remained calm and capable throughout. So if you need vacation planning, a cruise or a trip, you could do no better than to contact the Morgans, at American Express Travel, tel: 1-800-999-2599; or visit them at: www.amttravel.com.

Betty and Frank threw four special event cocktail parties - one with Bellinis (my favorite Venetian drink, fresh peach juice and champagne) in different locations on the ship. Plus of course there was the Captain's Cocktail Party. And our own Special Dinner that Richard and I organized, the menu for which I'm printing here.



Fresh Baby Artichoke

With Tomato Vinaigrette


Roasted Vegetable Soup

With Basil Oil


Linguine with Lobster

In a Light Lemon Butter Sauce, Flavored in Italian Parsley


Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

On Tomato Sauce with Broiled Monkfish Medallions


Fig Sherbet


Grilled Filet Steak with Fresh Goose Liver

Served with Roasted Potatoes, Steamed Vegetables and Madiera Truffle Sauce


Dessert Sampler

Suffice it to say, we staggered away from the table. But what an experience. The chef really put himself out to please us, as did the Hotel Manager and the Head Waiter, who made sure everything was perfect and that we had a lovely and exceptional dinner.

Now to the activities off the ship. First the surprise favorite and a new destination for all of us, was Taormina, Sicily .   We absolutely loved this little flower-filled town, right on the water, with narrow beaches flanked by cafés. The people were smiling and welcoming, the shopping was great (even some of the top designer names, surprisingly, for those who felt the need) but with wonderful local things. For instance I bought an unstructured, unlined white linen jacket and pants for the astonishing sum of 39 euros for the jacket and 27 for the pants. I just happened to see it hanging on a rail outside a little store, saw that it was cut as only the Italians can - and knew it was for me. I bought a fabulous fun black dress for my daughter in Max Mara at a fraction of the Rome prices (for some reason everything was on sale here) And when one of my friends bought a rather gorgeous and expensive bangle (her husband fell in love with it as well as with her) the saleswoman told us a place for lunch where the locals go. So we went. Its name was, unexpectedly, Tiramisu, and there we had a leisurely three hour lunch in a flowery courtyard, away from the crowds, managing to taste wild mushroom risotto as well as seafood risotto, and various pasta dishes.

By now you may be asking yourselves, did we do anything besides eat?

Yes, from the port of Sorrento, some of us visited Pompei, others Capri and the Blue Grotto. In Monaco, some gambled at the famous Casino, others lunched (oh gosh here we go again) at the fabled Alain Ducasse restuarant in the Hotel de Paris.   I stayed on board since Monaco is not my favorite destination - too urban for my taste. I prefer the smaller ports, like St. Tropez, which as you know from my novel The Hotel Riviera, is still my favorite destination, despite its bad rap for crowds and prices and glitz. I still think it's a charming village - and in fact I'm going back there in September when those crowds will be gone and we'll stay at the real version of the Hotel Riviera.


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