What a weekend! I was recently invited to join Imagine Cruising for an exclusive event in Rome. It turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life and I will treasure the memories forever.
A massive thank you to Imagine Cruising for inviting me on the trip. (Just for disclosure purposes: Imagine Cruising have no control over my content. All opinions in this post are mine and mine alone).
Imagine Cruising – Katherine Jenkins, Rome 2019
The main event was a concert held in an Italian castle by a lake, the location couldn’t have been more magical. Mark Vincent and Katherine Jenkins were performing and the night was hosted by Jonny Wilkes. The whole thing was organised by Imagine Cruising and Katherine spoke a little about how she had worked with the company before and really believed in their brand. As well as the concert we also had an incredible dinner in a huge hall in the castle and had drinks and canapés on the lawn outside.
Who Are Imagine Cruising And Why Did They Invite me?
Imagine Cruising focus primarily on tailoring cruise-related trips which include pre/post-cruise stays. Their tag line is ‘more than just a cruise’ and I think this summarises their unique selling point perfectly.
Speaking to the other guests made me realise how flexible the trips offered by Imagine Cruising are. Some guests attended the concert before a cruise and some afterward, the length of stays also varied. Some guests just added a few nights at the end of the cruise (this is most likely what I’d do) and others had extended their trip by a week or two. Every member of the Imagine Cruising team that I spoke to was so passionate about the brand and I get the impression that the company genuinely cares about really looking after its guests (I know all companies should but some really don’t give me that vibe).
Imagine Cruising love their exclusive events and recently held a back to the 80s Festival in Bali which looked amazing! You can learn more about Imagine Cruisings events by clicking here: Imagine Cruising.
My Personal Preconceptions
Before this trip I did a little research into Imagine Cruising and I thought ‘that all sounds great, but I doubt anything will be within my budget’. Thankfully they do have packages that would suit me too! Admittedly I’d be more likely to be extending a cruise by a couple of days rather than a few weeks but I was still impressed with the variety offered.
Why Did Imagine Cruising Invite Me?
Imagine Cruising wanted to tell the world about their cruise packages and for me to show the world this amazing event. It could not have been more Instagramable. I feel very honoured that Imagine Cruising thought I was a good person to tell you all about the night! I hope I did it justice.
When we arrived in Rome we were taken to our hotel. We stayed at the Ambasciatori Palace and it was one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stepped foot in. I’m usually more of a budget hotel kind of girl but I could get used to a bit of luxury.
Our room was HUGE. Given how much floor space is at a premium in the centre of Rome I was really impressed. I used to live in a flat (apartment) which was smaller than our hotel room. I did joke that I could have stayed quite happily in the walk-in wardrobe and I’m sure I could have. The lack of toilet facilities might have been a bit of an issue but the room definitely was big enough to sleep in. Below is me in the walk-in wardrobe…
Some other Imagine Cruising guests were staying at the hotel and some were staying in different hotels depending on their budget. Another example of the flexibility there 😉
I adore Rome and I would 100% recommend a visit to anybody who hasn’t been. We had two days to explore and managed to cover a lot of ground. Rome is so easy to walk around and all feels so safe and clean, there are a lot of tourists in Rome so you will hear people speaking English wherever you go.
In shops and restaurants, almost all staff members will speak English.
We managed to see the Spanish steps, Trevi Fountain and even wandered as far as the Vatican! On the second day, we covered 18km. The thing that I love about Rome more than anything is that every street you turn down you’ll find amazing buildings. We had a map with the main sites marked on it and tried to see as many of these as we could but we saw so many other amazing things just by walking around. The streets are lined with interesting places to see and life is happening around every corner. People are out on the streets having a drink in the cafes or dinner in a nice restaurant. It was around 30c when we were walking around and I loved getting some sunshine.
Whenever I go anywhere I always end up in Mcdonalds. I am like a homing pigeon and just can’t help myself. Good news is that there is 6 or so Mcdonalds in Rome which meant that I was always close to getting my diet coke fix. They have the screens you can pay on too so you don’t even have to try and order in Italian. That said I think ‘McNugget’ is the same in every language!
Dinner – Casa Coppelle Ristorante Roma
We were treated to dinner in an incredible restaurant. The kind that I could never, ever afford to eat in. I’m not sure if it’s really a good thing for me to get a taste of luxury but I suppose I needed to for research purposes… Hard life eh?
The food was brilliant and it was great to get some spend some time with our host Karen and Paul and Carole. I totally see how the restaurant would be great for a special occasion, maybe a big birthday or an anniversary.
Approaching the castle was breathtaking. We walked up the red carpet as trumpets and drums were played. Flags were waved and I thought ‘I could get used to this’, we really were treated like royalty from the moment we arrived. I think in reality the trumpets would get annoying after a couple of weeks but id love them to follow me around for a while. If they could do that whenever I walk into work I’d be much more willing to go!
Drinks and Canapés
We were shown to the garden and invited to have a drink. There was a string quartet playing and it was honestly a bit overwhelming. It was very emotional, it isn’t every day you get to go to a concert in an Italian castle. The view over the lake was spectacular.
I met Kelvin Fletcher who played Andy in Emmerdale amongst other things. I used to watch Emmerdale a lot growing up so this was a massive highlight for me. He took the time to speak to us and seemed like a really lovely man. It’s always nice when you meet somebody ‘famous’ who is so friendly, it’s so hard to know what somebody will be like in real life, isn’t it!? Kelvin is taking part in Strictly Come Dancing so I will be cheering him on from my sofa.
Mark Vincent was performing with Katherine and we had the chance to meet him before the show. He explained how much of an honour it was for him to sing in this location and how much he was looking forward to it. I thought that it was lovely that he took the time to talk to us.
Flags Flags Flags
We headed back to the garden briefly before dinner and were treated to a flag-waving (and throwing) show. It was amazing. Imagine Cruising definitely don’t do things by halves. I did wonder how you get started on a flag throwing career though, it definitely wasn’t a thing I ever considered getting into! Never the less it was very impressive and very in keeping with the castle location. It was so strange to think that people were standing in this garden 300 years ago, maybe waving flags.
Dinner in a Grand Hall
Next, we were taken into a Grand Hall and served dinner. The venue looked beautiful and the attention to detail was amazing. There were fresh flowers on all of the tables and we had an amazing 4-course dinner. I mentioned to the staff that I didn’t eat dairy and they made my dish especially each time, Italian food it notoriously always covered in cheese but they modified the dishes for me without any problem. I wish that cruise lines catered as well for the dairy-free, as well as the castle, did!
Jonny Wilkes was hosting the evening and spoke a little about Imaging Cruising and our venue.
I’ve met Jonny Wilkes a couple of times before, he’s always willing to stop and have a chat which is lovely. He worked on ‘Astonishing’, a magic show for P&O Cruises with Stephen Mulhern. I liked the show so much I saw it twice in a week!
There was live music playing in the hall and it was so atmospheric. I’d definitely recommend having dinner in the hall of a castle if ever you get the chance… It was at this point that mum and I decided that this was definitely the fanciest event we’d ever been to in our lives.
On With The Show!
After dinner, we took our seats in the courtyard. I couldn’t believe it, we were in the 4th row! It was such an intimate concert with only 350 guests in attendance. They handed out blankets to us as we took our seats because it was getting a little chilly. I do love a good blanket and really appreciated it.
Mark Vincent’s Performance
Mark Vincent sang first and he was incredible. I have to admit that Opera definitely isn’t my ‘thing’ but I can still appreciate the incredible power and range of opera singers. Mark sang some songs from Operas and some from different genres. There definitely was something for everybody in his performance.
A quick shout out to the incredible pianist who accompanied Mark and Katherine’s performances. If you’ve ever watched any of my YouTube videos you’ll have noticed I do have a piano… not that that means I can play very well.
Katherine Jenkin’s Performance
Katherine’s performance began with her singing Hallelujah and gliding gracefully down the staircase to the right of the stage. She wore the most beautiful yellow dress and looked incredible.
Katherine was an absolute joy to watch perform. Her vocal talent truly is out of this world as I’m sure anybody who has heard her sing would agree. She interacted a lot with the crowd and seemed genuinely interested in talking to us. We even sang happy birthday together to a few members of the audience who were celebrating birthdays! I think technically that means I have sung with Katherine Jenkins? Wow.
Happy and Sad Tears
Her performance was so moving, a lot of the audience were in tears at various stages of the concert. Some happy tears and some sad. It really was an emotional roller-coaster.
When the concert came to the end Katherine sang ‘time to say goodbye’ which was very appropriate. I took a P&O cruise last year and as we sailed out of one of the ports the song was played. The song will always make me think of being on my balcony in Norway with my mum. Another emotional moment.
After the concert, we headed inside to a Q&A with Mark and Katherine. Both did a brilliant job and came across as very warm and friendly. They answered all of the questions that they were asked very well but I suppose they must be used to it by now. I’d be no good at all, if you put me on the stage I forget everything and talk complete gobbledegook.
Sadly all good things must come to an end. The entire weekend was amazing and I will treasure the memories forever. A big thank you to Karen and all of the Imagine Cruising team for pulling off such an amazing event. It could not have been any better.
If you would like to learn more about Imagine Cruising you can click on this link, it’ll take you to their website >>> Imagine Cruising.
Where To Next?
If you’re considering your first cruise, or would just like to learn a little more about cruising, this post is a brilliant place to start: 67 Cruise Tips From 67 Cruisers.
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