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October 18, 2012

On the morning we were to leave Istanbul, a few of us got up early to go see the Suleymaniye Mosque, our last must-see in the city, before our 1 p.m. departure for the cruise ship.  Some of our group slept in and skipped it, but I thought Suleymaniye was definitely worth getting up early for.

First of all, it’s beautiful, expansive and the architecture is different from the ones we had already viewed.  Second, it is a little more off the beaten path, so there were maybe 12 other people present when we arrived as opposed to 1,200.

Third, there were stores outside the mosque with beautiful pashminas that were the least expensive we saw on the entire trip.  Between three of us we bought about a dozen.  Whoops.

On a side note, I’d never thought I dressed like a hussy until I tried to find mosque-appropriate clothing for three days in a row.  Warm weather ensembles that cover your knees, shoulders and chest aren’t typically part of this American girl’s wardrobe.  Carefully draped pashminas help, but I’m pretty sure I looked beyond silly in a headscarf.  At least I was appropriate.

Afterward we boarded a shuttle over to the port to start our cruise.  I absolutely loved Istanbul, but leaving the hectic city for a cruise through the Mediterranean made it easy to say goodbye.

The last cruise I’d done was a Carnival cruise for spring break during my senior year of college.  It was essentially a week-long booze cruise with a few thousand college kids on a budget partying our faces off and sharing cabins the size of a shoebox with three of our closest friends.  Can you picture that?  Ok, good.  This was exactly the opposite.

The Silver Spirit, which was to be our home for the next week, is part of the Silversea Cruises fleet.  Silversea is a luxury cruise line (let’s just put it out there that I could never have afforded this trip had my parents not decided to spoil me), and the ship was nicer than any I’d ever seen.

The interior of the ship felt like a nice hotel and the cabin I shared with my aunt was at least four times the size of that Carnival cabin.  The shower was a separate entity that didn’t involve bathing over the toilet (luxurious on a cruise ship!). We had a couch and even a balcony.  I didn’t know how to handle it at first, but  I got used to it pretty quickly.

And then my sister stopped sharing her photos with me…

The service on the ship was also phenomenal.  The entire staff was gracious, helpful and just plain nice.  If you’re looking for a vacation during which you don’t have to lift a finger, Silversea is the way to go.  The only potential drawback was that my sister, her husband and I were practically the only guests under 50, and there wasn’t much nightlife to speak of.  I say it was only a potential drawback because it really didn’t bother us at all – our group needed no help entertaining ourselves, plus we met quite a few fellow cruisers who were a ton of fun.

I’ll resist going on and on about how nice the ship was because I want you guys to actually read this blog and not hate me for being a brat.  Seriously though, if I can ever afford to do one of these cruises again I will in a heartbeat.

After cocktail hour and a delicious dinner at the ship’s Italian restaurant, we ducked into the jazz club to listen to beautiful music performed by the ship’s jazz duo, Angela and Karlton.  The two of them played gorgeous music and were interesting, wonderful people to talk to.  We ended up returning there almost every night for the music and conversation.  And to feel super fancy and sophisticated for listening to jazz, if I’m being honest.

Then we tucked in for our first night at sea, all pretty confident that this cruise thing was going to turn out pretty fabulously.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Henne Rausenberger permalink
    October 18, 2012 3:00 pm

    Lauren, enjoyed the article and especially the pictures. Now, when your mom tells me about the cruise i will have a visual! Can’t wait to talk to your mom. Henne


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