On our Mediterranean cruise. | Peter Clover


It seemed like a really good idea at the time, two years ago, when we booked a luxurious Mediterranean cruise in the middle of July, taking in the Dalmation Coast, a short breath of Italy and several Greek islands. Of course, we totally realised when booking the said cruise, that it would be seriously ‘scorchio’ in these neighbouring destinations. Yet surely, we thought, not much hotter than here on our own sunny island of Mallorca?

And just think of the massive saving on electricity in our favour, if we took time out during summer, on board a ‘super-cool’, air-conditioned ship. Bliss! How were we to know that the mother of all heatwaves would be sweeping across Europe, sizzling everything in sight with record breaking temperatures which became seriously searing, and totally ‘off the hook’.

Being afloat on the water was a natural bonus, but any ports we hit were met with an unbelievable and unbearable heat surge that curled the toes! While the Greek islands were battling horrendous fires, and news outlets were warning people to ‘sensibly’ stay indoors and keep cool, hoardes of visiting tourists from across the globe were struggling against the heat, yet determined to see those sights they’d signed up for.

Thankfully, we had already visited most of the destination ports, or whereabouts, on previous holidays and cruises, so a quick local mooch around, followed by an ice-cold beer in some fashionably shady spot was more than enough as the world of ‘tourist’ struggled past, before our swift return to the soothing sanctuary of the ‘Oceania Vista’. No lengthy, insufferable sightseeing tours for us! Who wants to frizzle in Pompei, sizzle in Sicily, or melt in Montenegro, when there’s a luxury ship to explore offering paradise?

Sadly, many passengers on board, and indeed many land tourists were visiting Europe for the very first time, putting their comfort along with their health on the front line, to experience what they came ‘all that way’ to see, particularly visitors from USA who had travelled so far for some Mediterranean memories.

And it wasn’t just the unsurpassable heat which affected the anticipated dynamic of the Med vibe for those budding travellers, but rail strikes, flight delays and random cancellations which does nothing to enhance any holiday experience.

To combat that all too familiar prospect of luggage going astray, we now always travel with some clothes and essentials in our hand luggage allowance, literally, just in case! However, in keeping with current airport regulations, all liquids, creams, gels etc. must be carried in small quantities. So, with this in mind, prior to departure, we set out to buy a small tube of toothpaste, and were delighted when our local ‘farmacia’ gifted us with some free toothpaste samples in tiny tubes, which seemed perfect for the trip in hand!

However... fast forward to our first morning in Venice, when Other Half came rushing out of the bathroom in a slight panic. “There’s something wrong with this toothpaste,” mumbled significant Other Half through gritted teeth, which were becoming increasingly resistant to separation by the second. “It feels like I’m brushing with concrete!” The reason being, it wasn’t toothpaste at all! The helpful pharmacist had unwittingly, and enthusiastically, thrown a few tubes of ‘extra strength’ dental adhesive into the mix, and Other Half was quickly being cemented on the spot with teeth clenched and super-glued!

It took a good fifteen minutes of hard scrubbing and rinsing with very hot water to dissolve and remove the ‘extra strength’ fixative from OH’s smile. And it was days before the gums returned to pink and became normal. Unfortunately, the toothbrush didn’t make it through. The bristles set like stone. But we now have a handy, little toffee hammer to travel with on future holidays. And in future we will always read the small print! Keep cool!