ANZAC 2015: More than a cruise

unnamedJayne Calkin writes about her once in a lifetime trip on a Viaggio lifestyle vacation.

When asked what this vacation is all about, owner of viaggio lifestyle vacations, Lance Green, pauses for a moment before answering … and he has good reason to do so as there are so many aspects to what will be “a once in a lifetime experience.”

April 25, 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the landing of New Zealand and Australian troops – the ANZAC’s – on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

“We have privately chartered a 244 passenger ship from French Cruise Company Ponant” says Green “and created a 21night vacation cruising between Istanbul and Venice. The vacation in itself is split into two parts – the first being focused on Turkey with the build up to ANZAC day, and the second portion more focused on discovering primarily Montenegro and the Croatian coast.

“Another unique feature is that this will be the inaugural sailing of Ponant’s newest ship Le Lyrial – which in itself is very special” says Lance Green.

“The style of vacation that we are creating, along with the ambiance and style that is delivered by Du Ponant, is very much like being onboard a private yacht with a group of friends.”

The cuisine and wine offered by the company is outstanding and delivered with true French flair. A very different experience to what you will find with the main stream cruise companies. An added bonus is that Chris Upton, Proprietor of O’Connell Street Bistro, will be designing six Gastronomic dinners, with the Chef on Le Lyrial, featuring wines from some of Europe’s very special producers.

“This is a vacation which has a certain level of indulgence” says Lance Green. “And certainly one which we are confident will deliver wonderful experiences and memories which our Guests will talk about for years to come – and after all, is that not what a vacation is all about?”

What is your dream holiday?

Mine involves the sea, good food, fresh air, exercise, exploring new territories, friends and space to occasionally withdraw and escape into a great book. Where can one possibly find this in one package?

A few years ago my husband began planning our dream holiday, and I screwed up my nose in distaste, as it seemed to me a package for the aged and infirm. How wrong I was. When I stepped on to the balcony of our luxurious stateroom, our sanctuary onboard our cruise liner, I apologized profusely to my darling for all my ignorant negativity.

Having enjoyed a handful of cruises since then, I am now savvy enough to know that our next dream holiday will be a winner. Firstly it is a cruise extraordinaire, and secondly, because every detail is carefully planned by Lance and Lisa the husband and wife team owning viaggio lifestyle vacations. The viaggio experience is both personal and professional. Theres always the freedom to stop and enjoy the exquisite details of the journey. I have been privileged to enjoy the special company and creativity of this talented and caring couple on three previous holidays so I know that we are in for an experience with all the necessary ingredients for the dream vacation.

This twenty-one day vacation begins in Istanbul on April 18, 2015 and ends in Venice on May 9. Istanbul, Kusadasi, Mykonos, Dubrovnik, Split and Venice I have previously visited several times and as recently as a month ago. Im more in love each time with these beautiful, richly historic and unique destinations. The early morning stroll through the awakening streets of exquisitely picturesque Venice is imprinted upon my memory forever.

It was achingly beautiful. There are also fifteen other towns that I have never visited so intrigue and surprise are part of the appeal. I’m all for expanding my understanding of the history and people of new lands.

This cruise does have an extra special appeal. Included in the itinerary is the opportunity for us to take part in the ANZAC 100 year anniversary at ANZAC Cove, with our own Dawn Service onboard, remembering those who have fought for the freedoms we now enjoy. The next day we will explore the historical sites of the Gallipoli Peninsula. Prior to April 25th we will enjoy lectures and events on board which will inform and inspire us. The more I travel, the more I hunger to understand and appreciate the battles and sacrifices men and women before me have made. I have often been moved to tears by their tales. Those heart-wrenching and heart-warming stories will be part of our journey.

Another first for me is the experience of a “private cruise” on a yacht belonging to Compagnie du Ponant, with just over 200 guests, some of whom I have already had the pleasure of meeting over a “potluck” dinner where a group of future traveling companions decided to gather to learn more about their future holiday. It was a brilliant evening and a taste of the fun to come. Cruising with a couple of friends doubles the fun, but I’m sure from the experience of past viaggio vacations that even if you join the ship as strangers you will leave having made good friends.

Delicious food is a must on my dream vacation so I’m looking forward to the gourmet French-inspired cuisine with both casual and elegant options available, all accompanied by delectable wines. A nice added touch is the involvement of Chris Upton, of Auckland’s O’Connell Street Bistro, who will create six Gastronomic Dinners accompanied by wines and beverages from Turkey, Croatia, Greece, Portugal, Italy and France. He will do this in conjunction with the onboard Cuisine team. Chris’s knowledge and experience will enrich this aspect of the cruise for me. Imagine having your own restauranteur explaining the ins and outs of the wine and food in detail! No lining up at the smorgasbord on this yacht! Chris, who, in his early years worked on the QE II, has enjoyed four previous vacations with viaggio lifestyle vacations, as the host of Festa del Vino, but is particularly excited about twenty-one nights on a brand new ship.

There’s something special about the pristine beauty of new shoes, a new soft leather handbag, the feel and smell of a new car … well imagine exploring a luxurious untouched mega yacht. Your stateroom will be welcoming you as the first guests! New carpets, new beds, new bathrooms, new everything! I’ll be as excited as a kid at Christmas!

And like that kid I’ll be thrilled to bits as I unwrap every day of this cruise. A no pressures, please-yourself pace, enriched with exquisite wine and food, heart-stopping beauty and history to be explored, all taken care of by Lance and Lisa and the crew of Ponant.

Find out more at viaggio.net.nz/le-lyrial.