Trying P&O Cruises’ amazing Ibiza excursions – including to the island’s first Michelin-star eatery

Trying P&O Cruises' amazing Ibiza excursions - including to the island's first Michelin-star eatery 2
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Inside Es Tragon, a former finca-turned-restaurant, plate after plate of exquisite little dishes are placed before us to collective gasps. We pause, fixated on the tiny works of art. The menu, we are told, is a trip around the Mediterranean that draws on the ingredients of ancient civilisations.

It offers confections such as suckling lamb ham, lemonfish in salted citrus, pigeon breast, sweet potato in Majorcan sausage and cococha hake barbell. What theatre, we say. What passion.

The Es Tragon team who wait on us are fitted with earpieces linking them to the kitchen for speed and efficiency (service!) and there are as many of them as there are diners. 

The Mail on Sunday's Sarah Hartley tested a number of excursions available with P&O Cruises in 2023, which included a multi-course feast at Es Tragon in Ibiza. Pictured, a waitress outlines the menu inspired by 'a trip around the Mediterranean that draws on the ingredients of ancient civilisations'

The Mail on Sunday’s Sarah Hartley tested a number of excursions available with P&O Cruises in 2023, which included a multi-course feast at Es Tragon in Ibiza. Pictured, a waitress outlines the menu inspired by ‘a trip around the Mediterranean that draws on the ingredients of ancient civilisations’

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Es Tragon was the first restaurant in Ibiza to be awarded a Michelin star. Pictured, an example of one of the dishes on offer

Es Tragon was the first restaurant in Ibiza to be awarded a Michelin star. Pictured, an example of one of the dishes on offer

Sarah said 'plate after plate of exquisite little dishes' were placed before her at Es Tragon

Sarah said ‘plate after plate of exquisite little dishes’ were placed before her at Es Tragon

Sixteen courses later and the finale to our lunchtime voyage of discovery is blue-sea lettuce cheese with goat’s milk plus peasant fig wine and fig-milk sorbet. This is serious business.

Indeed, Es Tragon was the first restaurant in Ibiza to be awarded a Michelin star and is perhaps one of the surest signs that Ibiza, cleansed of its reputation as a hotspot solely for clubbers and trippy trustifarians, wants to attract a more discerning visitor. 

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Property prices on the island now compete with London and the yachts, super or otherwise, moored in Old Town reveal that even without a Russian presence, Ibiza pulls in the mega-rich.

That’s not to say the island has been stripped of its charm or sense of fun – just nose through the bustling Hippy Market in Es Canar and you’ll come across quirky musicians and street artists performing in a haze of incense among leather stalls and rails of kaftans. Kit yourself out with a white broderie anglaise dress, fine gold jewellery and raffia basket and you too can look like your favourite influencer.

Free spirit: A smiling attraction at the Hippy Market in Es Canar

Free spirit: A smiling attraction at the Hippy Market in Es Canar

Sarah says at the Hippy Market 'you'll come across quirky musicians and street artists performing in a haze of incense among leather stalls and rails of kaftans'

Sarah says at the Hippy Market ‘you’ll come across quirky musicians and street artists performing in a haze of incense among leather stalls and rails of kaftans’

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The Cotton Beach Club features a 'dazzling white restaurant high above a sandy cove'

The Cotton Beach Club features a ‘dazzling white restaurant high above a sandy cove’

An example of one of the dishes on offer at the Cotton Beach Club, which features 'pretty special' views along with 'pretty special menu prices'

An example of one of the dishes on offer at the Cotton Beach Club, which features ‘pretty special’ views along with ‘pretty special menu prices’

For more sightings of beautiful people, head to Cotton Beach Club, with its dazzling white restaurant high above a sandy cove. It’s elegant and refined. Enjoy a dip in the sea before retiring to a super white lounger, fix a super white smile on a waiter and sip on a glass of cava.

Even on an overcast day you’ll need sunglasses to dine here to stop the glare from the sea and white tablecloths. It’s a pretty special view, with pretty special menu prices, but who could forget a Greek salad that comes stuffed in a beef tomato, the most succulent sashimi or monkfish baked in salt?

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The afternoon starts late in Ibiza and taking out a catamaran – skipper included – is easy enough, but you’ll get so much more out of it if you corral some friends. Our boat came with paddleboards and platters of canapes so we took it in turns to dive, swim and clamber back on board for refreshments until the sunset took a bow.

Surely on the best holidays there should be a single moment, a sensory climax where in that instant you wish everyone you know and love could be by your side. So if anyone ever invites you to Lio – snap up their offer. How to describe this oh-so-sexy, high-octane, super-luxe cabaret dining show, that’s part-Vegas, part-panto, and dynamically choreographed with total audience involvement throughout?

It says something that the only other table of English guests were on their feet (and chairs) lost in dance/exotic conga by midnight. Sure, there is flirtation with bondage and whips and fireworks from an ensemble who lead guests from ballad to drill metal via the Eurythmics, but the woman next to me yells over the music that this spectacle is even better than her wedding day. 

Atzaro is said to be the best rural luxury hotel on the island and where a day spa pass costs £88

Atzaro is said to be the best rural luxury hotel on the island and where a day spa pass costs £88

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Atzaro is the 'sort of hideaway that makes you move and speak more quietly', says Sarah

Set among orange groves and terraced gardens, you can swim in the pool or retreat to canopied daybeds

Atzaro is the ‘sort of hideaway that makes you move and speak more quietly’, says Sarah. Set among orange groves and terraced gardens, you can swim in the pool or retreat to canopied daybeds

P&O Cruises' flagship Britannia, pictured, will sail the Balearics and dock in Ibiza (as well as Palma, Majorca) until 2am, 'so the day and night are yours to enjoy with friends and family'

P&O Cruises’ flagship Britannia, pictured, will sail the Balearics and dock in Ibiza (as well as Palma, Majorca) until 2am, ‘so the day and night are yours to enjoy with friends and family’

And that was before a supper of tuna tartare, steak, lobster, and chips, washed down with a magnum of rose.

Your head will buzz the next day, so make like Justin Bieber and head to the soothing sanctuary of Atzaro, which is said to be the best rural luxury hotel on the island and where a day spa pass costs £88. Set among orange groves and terraced gardens, you can swim in the pool or retreat to canopied daybeds.

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Atzaro is the sort of hideaway that makes you move and speak more quietly. This is the life, you will say, if only to yourself.

Yoga is on offer and so are spa treatments, or you can stay in your sun dress and simply relax with lunch on the terrace beneath pomegranate trees where an orange, hazelnut and rocket salad plus squid with chilli fits in beautifully.

And where to stay? On board ship, of course. These excursions are all available in 2023 with P&O Cruises’ flagship Britannia when she will sail the Balearics and dock in Ibiza (as well as Palma, Majorca) until 2am, so the day and night are yours to enjoy with friends and family.

TRAVEL FACTS 

P&O Cruises’ 14-night Med cruise departs on July 23 from Southampton to Gibraltar, Ibiza, Majorca, Cagliari, Malaga and Cadiz. Prices from £1,399pp include full board and entertainment. Half-day excursions from £40, full-day from £60 (pocruises.com).

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