First time cruisers...will definately do it again!
I went with a friend on Ancient Wonders Cruise, Easter mediterranean in May 2012. The cruise went from Turkey, Greece and back to Turkey again. We did fly cruise and the cruise ship (even though we were the last ones to arrive from dalaman airport) was fabulous! First port of call after a day's sailing was Istanbul: Everything about Istanbul is a taste of the exotic. Fragrant bazaars echoing with the sound of haggling merchants, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace Hagia Sofia, Spice Market & Grand Bazaar. We chose to explore all the places independantly and it can be done- just be adventourous and use the tram stops to get from one to the next stop. Leave plenty of time for the Grand Bazaar! And haggle, haggle haggle.....
2nd port of call was Mytilene - LESBOS. We decided to do a half day tour. The weather was not good which kind of put a dampener on the day- It's a small island not much to see really - piece of history only and you get to see the port.
3rd port of call was Kusadasi - TURKEY. Again we took a tour to this ancient place to see Ephesus, the Mediterranean's best-preserved classical city. The ruins of this city and the enormous theatre offers up superb views over the city. Our guide was brilliant and very funny. Make sure you have a good pair of walking shoes! Marble stones are slippery. annoying thing is that Turkish photographer wants to take your pic all the time but you learn to ignore them...
4th port of call was Piraeus (for Athens) - GREECE. Again we did a half day tour as was torn between Corinth Canal and Acropolis. Acroplis won for me! Acropolis for great for some awesome views, & the the Parthenon perched at the top of Athens' most famous hill was stunning. Some 500 steps to climb here so wear some comfortable shoes so you dont slip on the marble steps+it is also very hot at the top and there is no shadey spot to hide under..... Acroplis is just that in the middle of a built up city so don't expect much else in Athens except traffic!
5th port of call Mykonos Town, island of Mykonos. Dont bother taking any tours. Instead take courtesy shuttle bus into the yown and walk. On sunday there are plents of taxis and public transport. We took a taxi to Paradise Island and a bus back and had plenty of time in the town to walk around in all the shops!
So all in all the ports of call were a good selection. My fave was Istanbul and least favourite Mytilene.
The Cruise Ship:
Thompson had a fantastic entertainment team. They did songs from west end musicals and other things for you to enjoy in the evenings. They even mingled every night with the guests so you definately got to know them. If you prefer a quiter evening you had choices of clasiical musicians and singing band in the bar which alternated in the bars and restaurants on different evenings. There were plenty of things going on during the day- kids entetainment, quizzes, Q&A with the captain and loads more. In the evening on board DJ partied with you until the early hours every night.
The ship itself had 9 decks, I was at the top! Every time we left port in the evening it was a great feeling to see the ship off. Saw some amazing sunsets as well. There are a selection of retaurants on board- The Lido is 24/7 and a Self-service buffet with an al fresco dining area, open 24 hours a day. International theme nights are held twice a week. We had mexican and traditional english!
If you wanted to be waited on go to The Meridian Restaurant: Serving breakfast, lunch and six-course dinner. All meals are served as open seating so you can dine when and where you please but check for times. And there is one Gala night: Weekly Captain's Cocktail Party and Gala Dinner.Time to get your glad rags on!
The Mistral's Restaurant is an stylish a la carte restaurant serves mouthwatering dishes. A cover charge of Â£20 pp applies and onboard reservations are required. We were happy with the Meridean restaurant instead of opting for Mistrals.
Onboard cinema showing latest releases is also great- showing are at least 3 times a day! a new film each day is shown. Everything you want to know about what is happening o the ship and hwere to dine is listed on the cruise news which is delivered to your cabin each night!
One of the best bits was the Oceans Health Club where you can relax and rejuvenate with the latest range of treatments in the spa and salon. New offers are advertised daily! christina the spa manager is absolutely brilliant at reflexology! The gym offers resistance, cardio and personal training with yoga classes as extra.
All the staff greet you every day whether it be noon or night. Everyoone is so polite and you get to know some of the characters.
A few negative points: Wifi should be free onboard rather than being charged to your onboard account. If destination services gave information on excusriosn with the options of courtesy shuttle service at the begiining og the trip as opposed to night before, then that would help you make a better decision whether to take a tour, do it independantly or not to bother.
Finally cabin stewards clean up after you and tidy your cabin twice a day. Beny was our one and he was brilliant. We miss you Beny!
To sum up, his was a brilliant first cruise and we'll definately come again. I have lost of stunning photographs and some wanderful memories to take away with me.