Inspiration Destinations Europe A Tale of Two Cruises

A Tale of Two Cruises

January 22, 2024
Virgin Voyages Valiant Lady

Travel show hosts Natalie Bassingthwaighte and Matt Le Nevez sail the Mediterranean aboard Silversea Cruises’ Silver Spirit and Virgin Voyages’ Valiant Lady.

Few things inspire more awe on Earth than the pyramids of ancient Egypt, and the Great Sphinx of Giza may be the most fascinating mystery of them all. It raises several questions: Who (or what) is it modelled after? How was it built? And what happened to its nose?

For actor and singer Natalie Bassingthwaighte, seeing the Sphinx was the highlight of her recent cruise trip across the Mediterranean Sea. “I could’ve just sat there all day and taken it in,” says Nat. “As a child I’ve always loved ancient history, it’s been a dream to see the pyramids and the Sphinx was just majestic.”

The Sphinx stands as the oldest known monument in Egypt and one of the world’s largest statues. With the body of a lion and the face of a man (believed to represent the pharaoh Khafre who reigned over the Old Kingdom), this 4,500-year-old monument is a constant source of wonder.

The lure of the old world is as strong as ever, in 2022 Egypt welcomed 11.7 million tourists from all over the world. This is true of cruising too, a style of travel reminiscent of times gone by. Back in the early 1900s cruising catered to the very wealthy, famous or royal, and evening dinners were a formal affair followed by dancing and a live music band.

Now, cruising has never been more accessible and passengers can experience everything from small-ship
adventures to big ship luxury cruising.

Aboard Silver Spirit with Silversea Cruises

The Silver Spirit, one of the Silverseas fleet, was the perfect setting for an episode of Luxury Escapes: The World's Best Holidays

Silversea’s elite fleet boasts ultra-luxurious facilities, all-inclusive drinks and dining and once-in-a-lifetime shore excursions. For Nat, the appeal of cruising starts with “not having to unpack and repack a bag. You walk onto a ship and everything’s included, the service is exceptional and the food is delicious. Then, you can stop off in ports and experience things that otherwise I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to.”

Following the jaw-dropping sites of Egypt, Israel was the next place to impress our host. “Israel was really quite beautiful and culturally and historically rich with its cobblestone streets, art and culture,” says Nat. If you’re seeking something truly wow-worthy, visit Israel’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed Bahá’í Hanging Gardens. Hailed as a spiritual beacon for Bahá’í pilgrims, the formal gardens are the final resting place of the prophet-herald of the faith, Báb. “Seeing the Bahá’í Hanging Gardens was spectacular,” Nat says, “I don’t think I’ve seen something so pretty in my life, and on such a grand scale.”

Natalie Bassingthwaighte and Matt Le Nevez admiring the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, where they visited while filming Luxury Escapes: The World's Best Holidays
Matt and Nat admiring the pyramids of Egypt.

Long days exploring significant sites call for moments of respite back aboard the Silver Spirit. “My cabin on board was super luxurious,” says Nat. “Having the bedroom all set up for me with my own lounge
area and a private balcony – and a bathtub – felt so spectacular.”

Most excitingly, each suite includes private butler service. White-gloved butlers are at your beck and call, stocking your minibar with your preferred drinks, serving canapes in your suite and unpacking your suitcase for you. “You press a button and someone comes running – it’s perfection,” says Nat on the joys of a private butler.

Silversea Cruises definitely set the standards high. I’m a converted cruiser now and I can’t wait to explore the rest of the world,” Nat says.

Aboard Valiant Lady with Virgin Voyages

An aerial view of the Virgin Voyages' Valiant Lady, one of the ships where Luxury Escapes: The World's Best Holidays was filmed.

After dabbling in ancient history and private butler service with Silversea Cruises, the team were ready for the next highseas adventure, this time aboard Virgin Voyages’ Valiant Lady cruising the Mediterranean Sea from France to Spain.

“This ship completely brought out my inner child,” says Nat. “We’re talking air hockey, foosball, Daytona, even a two-storey nightclub called the Manor. Plus, the music and performances on the ship are exciting and world-class.”

“Virgin Voyages is an insanely fun cruise that celebrates life through utter joy and inclusion,” says Matt Le Nevez. The entertainment onboard the Valiant Lady is out-of-this-world. “I truly had to keep pinching myself to remember I was on a ship,” says Nat. “Between the extraordinary Duel Reality circus-style performance, the Scarlet Night party, drag bingo, karaoke night and my favourite, Gene Simmons’s dress up VHS workout – I was living the dream.”

If you’re curious about what Scarlet Night entails, think of it as the most epic and immersive party featuring live music, dancing and guests clad in the signature Virgin Voyages shade of red. “I ended up
dancing fully dressed in the pool, so I can attest to how much fun it is,” says Matt.

Scarlet Night aboard the Valiant Lady, which was filmed as part of Luxury Escapes: The World's Best Holidays

You can’t deny the magic that comes with the shore stops along the Mediterranean. The Valiant Lady made its way to Corsica, an island off the coast of France with a mix of stylish coastal cities, sun-soaked beaches and rich history (it was the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte). Following on from Corsica was Portofino in Italy, the charming coastal town with a colourful village fringing the yacht-studded harbour. “Oh, my, did I love Portofino,” says Nat. “The history and architecture took me back to a time gone by. But it was the crystalclear waters that were the most spectacular. I will be back!”

For Matt, his Portofino highlight was simply “walking the back streets of Santa Margherita Ligure and eating incredible cacio e pepe.”

This is an abridged version of the original article written by Felicia Arhontissas. Read the rest of this article on page 88 in the second issue of Dream by Luxury Escapes magazine. Get your copy here.

Read more: Red Alert! 5 Things to Know About Virgin Voyages.

About Felicia Arhontissas
A keen traveller and a margarita enthusiast, Felicia is all about getting to the nitty gritty of each destination she visits and discovering its hidden gems (and then running home to write about it).

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