Embarking in Venice went smooth.
Everyone was curtious on the whole entire ship. People getting on the ship were clueless and trying to get away with cutting and not dropping their luggage off, but were stopped and informed of the procedures.
The ship itself is already showing wear and tear after only 2 mths at sea. The carpet in our room was snagged, there were missing tiles all around the pool. Stair edges worn down.
We had an outside window cabin. The window was large enough for an adult to sit in. We also had the 2 bunks down over the king bed and still felt like we had enough room. No memory foam as I have had heard mention. But we were also only Category 5.
Would have been nice to have a few more shelves in the closet, but we managed. The room cleaners worked aroudn the clock it seemed. The room was kept clean at all times from them. Having the Olympics on was a plus, even though it was in German it gave us something to watch aside from the 3 english speaking news channels.
We only dined in the main dining room for 3 dinners. The choices did not interest our family of 4. The first night we ate in the DR it was good. But the other 2 nights were not enjoyably edible at all. So we ate all our meals for the most part at the Buffet. My kids lived off French Fries. There were a few choices that changed everyday, but most stayed the same. Bacon every morning couldnt even be called a 1/4 cooked. It and the sausage were not edible. BF menu at the buffet was the same everyday aside from potatoes somedays, and hashbrowns other days.
Lunch and dinner at the buffet was the same everyday normally aside from the Ethnic corner and the daily specials. Some evenings there were a few choices on the buffet that were also on the DR menu or they would show up the next day on the lunch menu.
The couple times I tried to have steamed vegies, they were so laden with salt they weren't edible. Trying to find a place to sit wasn't to big of an issue aside from this morning at disembarktion. Other then that people just sat whereever and shared table space.
We chose not to do the Allegrismo drink package and did just the tickets. Purchased the European Beer package and was only allowed Heinken or Becks. Even though there was 8 different European beer choices. That is american beer to my husband. A couple times he was able to get good German beer, but it was a hassle. I also bought the basic water package of 14 bottles. It was the basic nasty San Benedetto. Called toilet water in our house. We also had the 7 free bottles for being americans and didn't need it all. The water at the buffet tasted great. So we drank all we could. I brought 6 liters home to feed my animals since they dont care where their water comes from and I payed for it.
The pools(small) were normally crowded, but you could get in them. We only got in 2X being that fresh saltwater is pumped into an empty pool everyday and it was freezing. Finding a chair was difficult at most times. A few times we saw the pool area bosses go through and do a sweep of 50+ towels off chairs as well as belongings because people would leave them "saved" allday. And they warn you it will happen if a chair sits idle 20-30 min.
The arcade consisted of 8 different games.
The slide is only open 2 times a day for 2 hrs. But children would congrigate at the bottom and not move, so it would take 10-20 min between each turn for others because they wouldnt move. My children found the whole ship boring(young teens).
Attempted to do the arts and class thing they had on the schedule each day and was told it wasn't for kids.
As for the stops. Bari Italy,Katakolon Greece,Izmir and Istanbul Turkey and Dubrovnik Croatia.
Bari: we chose to walk the pier into town. Even though we read that you werent allowed to. Many did it with no issues. Saw several of the main recommended sites and walked back. All at no costly excursions.
Katakolon: we went off reviews and chose not to go to Olympia. Instead walked through town and caught the little put put train up the road 15 min and got off at the beach(no jellyfish like in the waters by the ship). It was 6E for adults and 4E for kids.(An excursion to a different beach 30min away was 23E PA) There are multiple shops through out the town all selling the same stuff and extremely pushy people. One place we did business with and will do more if they ever get an internet business up called "Aristoteles Olivewood Workshop". About half way down the main drag on the left. Great non pushy folks that speak english. Awesome gifts to be had in there. As well as prices. We saw a few similar pcs in other stores for more.
Izmir we chose to prebook with Ephesus Deluxe tours based on reviews and wasnt the slightest bit sorry. Our Guide Bill(who also has his own side business guiding cant find his card at the moment) was awesome and SO knowledgeable. We were only in port for 6 hrs so they shortened it to 5hrs for the same prepay price it just wasnt suppose to include lunch and a rug demonstration. We were unsure of our time frame and so rushed through Ephesus un nessacarily, But still saw what we went for. Would have loved to tape all he told us. When we were returning I asked him about possibilities of seeing rug demonstrations in Istanbul the following day and he said we had time to spare and took us to a place that made them Even though he said they werent pushy etc. and wouldnt haggle the price was the price. They came down 2X for a total of 20% but we still did not buy. They were laying out carpets left and right and men kept coming from all over with more. We were just interested in how they were made.
Istanbul: We walked out to the main street and caught the tram to the Blue Mosque and all the surrounding tourist spots. It was definately tourist must see spot. We wandered the outside of places and then chose to go into the Cistern after reading many recomendations. While it is neat, I wouldnt recomend others go in. It isnt all "that". They have a photo gimmick set up with people drapping you in Turkish Royal garb and then you can buy the photos or a disk. Well I saw someone with a disk and they guy said 60 Lira. I said no I have 20 and he said 45 and I said no I have 20. Well needless to say, he took the 20 and I got a disk of 29pics of my kids. Unfortunatley not a large variety on it, But hey it was only 20Kuna. We then went onto the Bazaar. It is a maze of pushy people. Some willing to dicker and others not willing to budge. We got so lost we wandered till we got to the spice market. More pushy folks who are less willing to haggle, but I found a few who would. We were then just over the bridge from the dock, so wandered the Galtica Bridge back.
Dubrovnik: Even though Rick Steves says you will get tendered into the old city not true with the Divina and a couple other ships we saw there. YOu get tendered into the new port(We were given a ticket for tender spot and time. Most people werent there nor paying attention to directions, so we didnt have to wait for several tenders, we left on the second one by just walking along with the guide.)And have to make your way to the other side of town. Transfer was 10E PP. We chose to take one of the many taxis that was 10E total for 4 or 75 kuna. Dropped us at the wall. The views were nice on the wall but very hot on it. We then wandered the main streets. All the same stuff in most stores, but extremely high prices. Got 1 pizza for our kids and drinks for us 4 and it was 151 Kuna. In another part of Croatia we were in a few weeks ago we only payed 120 for 4 pizzas and drinks. Most things are in Euro and they have to stop and think when you ask the price in Kuna since that is what I had. The admission to wall included the fort next door on the hill. Dont waste your leg strength, not worth it.
We again listened to Rick Steves book and chose to take the bus back. He said it would be 10K but it was 15K a piece for us 2 adults and 1 of the kids. So total we payed just under 20USD on our own for transportation instead of the 49USD we would have payed with the Cruise transfer. You can get all the souveniers back at the pier. The ones under the huge building are cheaper then the individual tents set up on the outside.
The cruise ship is now at dock and you can walk on and not be tendered back.
As for disembarktion. The cafeteria wasa mob scene and no where to sit. Folks also just hanging out till there leaving time. It is done by floor. You have to be out of your room by 730. Since we were the bottom floor we were last. We were told to be at meeting spot at 945, they finally came for us at 1005. We walked down, got our luggage and walked the 25min walk to train station. Took a few min longer then when we came since 4 ships were also disembarking and folks were all over.
Hope this has helped someone!
The evening shows, even though enjoyable were only 25-30 min long and the finale on the last night was only 20min long. Great performers, but to short. Being that it was the only entertainment on the show aside from all the pianos playing in different lounges.
Mass mob scene of folks trying to get water transfers into Venice with 4 ships disembarking at once. Many dont realize that you can be to the island in a 20min easy walk.