When you go on a cruise, it’s always the unexpected towns—not the big ‘uns you’ve heard about all your life—that wind up being the most charming. Our first stop on our Royal Clipper cruise through the Mediterranean was no different.
I’ve mentioned before that when I’m on actual vacation and not traveling for work, I do little to no research on the destinations I’m visiting, beyond travel and hotel reservations. Such was the case for Ponza, Italy. I knew precisely nothing about the town before we arrived.
But first, en route to Ponza, we detoured to Palmarola, an uninhabited island in the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The Royal Clipper had a tender going out for anyone who wanted to circumnavigate the small, craggy, spit of land, but we decided to admire its beauty from the deck instead.
Once we reached Ponza, we hopped the first tender to shore. My sister’s boyfriend, Josh, whom we all adore, had never been to Europe, so it was fun seeing his reaction to every place we visited, Ponza being the first.
And, of course, any trip is made significantly more fun with this goober in tow.
With no concrete plan and no destination in mind, we started to climb up the steep cobblestone ways that flanked the city center.
The island itself is quaint, charming and [insert all those positive adjectives one uses about Mediterranean towns here]—it reminded me of what I envision small Greek isles to have looked like before the tourist boom.
For those wanting to make it to Ponza from mainland Italy, there are hydrofoils and ferries that depart from both Anzio and Formia daily. Once on the island, there’s no shortage of places to stay; small inns and hotels pepper the main drag and its arteries.
Ponza is definitely somewhere you go to unplug. While there was plenty of tourist activity during our brief visit—then again, it was June, the height of tourist season—there aren’t really beaches per se (just rocky stretches of coast) and not a lot going on besides restaurants, bars and a couple short hikes.
Since Delta had lost our luggage and we had nothing to wear, we tried to shop in Ponza, as there were a handful of boutiques scattered about. Let’s just say Italian style is a bit different from our own.
Instead, we settled on spending our money on gelato. I made it my mission to have a gelato every day we were on land for the duration of our three weeks abroad. I think I nailed that (and somehow still lost three pounds! I need to figure out how to recreate this gelato diet in the States).
When we got back on the ship, Star Clippers was hosting a captain’s reception on the bow for all of us return cruisers, so we sipped champagne while watching the sunset, as Ponza melted away over the horizon.