By Oceania Club Manager Neli Arias
Having just returned last week from our 14th Oceania Club Reunion Cruise in the Mediterranean, I’ve been reflecting on what a special voyage it was. I had the pleasure of co-hosting the sailing with our Senior Vice President, Nikki F. Upshaw and we both had a fantastic time meeting so many guests and enjoying explorations in this spectacular part of the world. From celebratory dinners at Toscana and La Reserve by Wine Spectator to cliff-side cafes in Santorini and floating in the Dead Sea, what I know will stay with me in the months to come is the feeling of camaraderie and friendship that you felt everywhere on this voyage.
We always have a few special shore excursions exclusively available during each Reunion Cruise. This year, with so many stunning destinations, it’s difficult to choose a favorite, but one of the many memorable experiences was our day in Limassol, Cypress. It was a full-day immersion into Cypriot life – filled with bread-making, fruit-picking, a traditional lunch and exploring ancient landmarks dating back to Roman times.
The lovely morning began at a local family’s home in the enchanting village of Agio Georgios tis Silikou where we learned how they make traditional Cyprian bread with olives. A member of the welcoming family, Arminia, showed us step-by-step how to make this beautiful bread that they always serve with meals.
We learned that the main ingredient is halloumi, a firm white cheese produced with goat and sheep’s milk. After kneading the dough, Arminia added olives, crushed tomato, fresh basil and scallions – all of which were wonderfully fragrant, freshly plucked from their garden. Then we watched as they slid the beautiful loaves into the traditional wood-burning oven outside. The smell that began wafting out a few minutes later was heavenly.
While the bread was baking, we took a stroll to a local tavern in the nearby village of Monagr. This place was so homey – it really felt like we were in someone’s kitchen. There we enjoyed the freshly baked bread along with local walnuts, dates, fresh mozzarella, delicious lemon-orange juice and later, a bit of ouzo. We clinked glasses in celebration of the day, delighting in the fact that we were fortunate enough to explore this historic island through these delicious local staples. What could be more meaningful than learning how local people make their daily bread?
Then we headed off to the ancient village of Kourion. Here we visited the fascinating Greco-Roman theater built in the 2nd century B.C., which has been restored and is now used for open-air musical and theatrical performances. We also visited the House of Eustolios, just east of the theater, which was originally a private 30-room Roman villa with exquisite mosaic floors. As you can see from the photos, the tilework really was incredible.
Fruits of the Cypriots’ Labor
From there, we continued the culinary adventure to another family’s home with a beautiful orchard. We picked oranges, tangerines and grapefruit from an abundance of lush trees. The atmosphere was just great – we sampled the fresh fruit and enjoyed an olive oil tasting on a picturesque terrace draped in grape vines. Then it was finally time for lunch back in Limassol’s Old Town. We rounded out the day’s offerings with delicious traditional gyros and toasted to the day’s adventures with the perfect local wine.
I hope to meet many more of you on next year’s Reunion Cruise, which we’re already planning! And check out more photos from my trip in the slideshow below.