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Rude staff, expensive additional payments
Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
Before this cruise we've cruised with Carnival in the Caribbean and Costa in the Mediterranean. This cruise was a last minute cruise, we've booked only four days before departure.
Our Cabin was nice, but the cabin and the balcony were a lot smaller than on the Costa Magica. I think the Costa Magica cabin had twice as many closets as the Jade cabin. In the areas above the TV, there was a lot of dust. Also the carpet was dusty in areas that could not easily be reached by the vacuum cleaner.In the bathroom there are separate areas with a toilet, a washbasin and a shower, separated with sliding doors. The ship is build in Germany and has good German faucets.
The food was tasty in both the main restaurants and the buffets. There are a lot of specialty restaurants at this ship, but for every specialty restaurant you have to pay a cover fee (25 dollar per person average). This fact must be taken into account when considering going on this cruise.
The hostesses in the More
main restaurants were not friendly. They seemed hurried and didn't make you feel welcome. One of the hostesses was one time coughing unhygienically while receiving guests. Some of the waiters didn't speak sufficient English and appeared to be rude. Sometimes the wrong dishes were brought or they didn't ask us what we wanted to drink. I think the better functioning waiters and hostesses are working in the specialty restaurants.
One evening we were in the Starbar. Three times in succession people entered while they were actually looking for the Steakhouse next to the Starbar. After these people some people entered the Starbar and before they could open their mouths, the woman bartender in the Starbar was shouting loudly in a rude manner to these entering guests that they should turn around for the Steakhouse.
The entertainment was average. One big "Four elements" show with dancers, one "cirque du soleil" resembling show, one traditional circus show, a musical with four ladies and a magic show.
The shore excursions were disappointing. In Izmir we really wanted to go on an excursion but all the excursions included a mandatory one hour visit to a carpet factory. We didn't feel like buying a carpet, so we ended up with hiring a taxi for half a day, that turned out to be a good choice ( see port review). There was a total lack of non-cultural excursions. I only saw one sportive excursion in the excursion overview.
WiFi was very expensive 0,40 euro up to 0,70 euro per minute, so we didn't take it. On our Costa cruise we took WiFi but I remember that it was far less expensive.
Disembarkation was not a success because our flight was in the evening and it was very clouded in Venice. The last possibility to disembark was at 9.45 AM so we had a long day in Venice, in the rain first, later it was very sunny and humid. If you have a late flight, make some preparations. There are left luggage offices at Piazzale Roma, in the cruise building until 5.00 PM and at the Santa Lucia train station
Because of the rude staff and the adding up cover fees, I think we will choose another cruise line next time. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
We arrived in Piraeus, a very big cruise- and ferry port. In this port we would have liked to take a shuttle bus to the center of Athens, but these were not available.
Because there was much traffic in the port and we heard stories about traffic jams and bad taxi drivers, we choose to take the metro to the National Archaeological Museum. We consulted a girl from the Tourist Information near the ship and she said we could take a regular bus from the ship to the Metro and buy a public transport ticket in the bus. The bus driver did not sell bus tickets however and he said we had to buy tickets at a kiosk. The many kiosks did not sell bus tickets either so we ended up walking 20 minutes to the Piraeus Metro Station. At a machine we bought some tickets ( 1,40 euros per person for 90 minutes public transport). The metro has no air conditioning and goes a long way above the ground, so it felt more like a train. We went to Victoria Station.
We did not have a detailed map and there were no signs of the museum near the metro stop. There were lots of policemen so we asked where we should go and eventually reached the museum after a 10 minute walk.
Because it was World Environment Day we visited this museum for free (normal entrance is 7 euro). The museum is very large. It is better to visit it several times during a couple of days. Although it was June, the museum was only open until 3 PM.
Inside the museum we loved the prehistoric part the most. There are hundreds of well preserved statues from different eras. Descriptions are in Greek and English. The museum has got a good free wifi connection and also some free computers with Internet connection.
At 3 PM we walked back to Victoria Station. At that time the policemen were dressed like Riot Police. On the journey back we could catch a bus with the public transport tickets.
This is a typical example of a town that is too popular with tourists. There are a lot of regular busses from the cruiseport to the old town. A busticket that is printed in the bus costs 15 Kuna.
We were here on a Sunday. The old town is really nice but the whole area is geared to tourists. Almost all the people you see are tourists, icecream sellers and souvenir sellers. In a certain way it felt like walking in the open air museum of Arnhem (Netherlands) packed with tourists.
A walk in the town can be exhaustive because of the heat, the big crowds and the steep steps. This means you need a hat, a bottle of water and good walking shoes.
Izmir was one of our stops during our NCL cruise. We wanted to take an excursion from NCL but all NCL excursions included a obligatory one hour visit to a Turkish carpet factory. Ephesus is 70 kilometres from Ephesus, so the return journey takes at least 2,5 hours. Because of these two things, there would be little time left to visit the ruins in Ephesus. All NCL excursions except one do not include the Terrace Houses. This is logical because of the lack of time but this is the most extraordinary part of Ephesus.
In the Cruise Port of Izmir it was possible to get a return journey by taxi without guide for 120 euros (see photo). Outside the port we arranged a taxi for 100 euros. This was a Dacia without air conditioning and an extremely kind taxi driver, who did not speak much English. The journey, partly on toll roads, was easy and quick.
At the lower entrance was a traffic jam because the parking was almost full. We payed 25 TL per person to get in the open air museum. It is also possible to pay with euros. Behind the entrance there is a separate desk for audio guide rental (15 TL or 7 euros per audio guide). The audio guide was unfortunately rather limited.
We walked through the ruins with earphones on our heads and saw a play with actors dressed up as Roman warriors and Egyptian princesses. The "Egyptian princesses" were belly dancing and imitating the dance of the "walk like an Egyptian" song. This was funny.
At the entrance of the Terrace Houses we payed a separate entrance ( 15 TL, also payable in euros) and we saw some extraordinary mosaics and wall decorations. It was special to see the many archaeologists during their work. The path from the Terrace Houses exit to the main ruins is extremely unsuitable for people with walking difficulties.
Although it was not hot in Izmir and it was raining during the journey, the ruins were very hot. We really needed lots of water, our hats and sunglasses.
We choose to stay on board because the ship was tendering and we could not get tender tickets for an early tender. The weather was very nice and we had the pool to ourselves. If you want to get of the boat early, it is better to take an excursion. The tender boats are reserved for people on excursions during a certain time.
When arriving at the airport (Marco Polo or Venice Treviso), it is possible to take a bus ( ATVO or Barzi bus service) to Piazzale Roma. For one euro you can take the people mover to the Cruise Port, but you have to walk a considerable distance to reach the embarking building. From Piazzale Roma you can walk into Venice or take a vaporetto boat to piazza San Marco. There are left luggage desks at Piazzale Roma, in the cruise building until 5.00 PM and at the Santa Lucia train station.
Venice is an expensive city. The entrance to the Palazzo Ducale is 16 euros and the fee for the Vaporetto boat is 7 euros.