Cabin review: AQ1518
Very close to spa area. Directly below the treadmills. We could hear it thumping regularly until about 11:00 PM, but it was a muffled, regular sound and easy to tune out. Not much hall noise. Low traffic area. Close to the relaxation room. Balcony ponded water every port day when they washed ship.
Port and Shore Excursions
Booked through our travel agent. They gave a free excursion, so we took the one that took us to Athens, stopped by the arena on the way for pictures. We had the option to ascend the Acropolis for a fee, or have free time in the Plaka. Had been to the acropolis before so we opted for the Plaka. Enjoyed lunch at an outdoor cafe' serving shaved pork. Did a little jewelry shopping.
Enjoyed time in Plaka. Opted not to climb to top of Acropolis. Ate at open-air cafe serving gyros. Nice authentic Greek meal. Shopped a little, too.
The tour was 1 day and 1/2 day. "Complete Istanbul" We were told over and over to be sure to have knees and shoulders covered for entrance in the blue mosque. However the tour description led us to believe that the mosque would be done on day 1. So we dressed with that in mind on day 1 and found out later that the mosque would not be until day 2. That was my only complaint. They had blue fabric wraps at the entrance. Many people tied one around the waist so that knees were covered and one around shoulders.
Enjoyed all the sites. Day one was exhausting, but I am glad we got to see so many things: Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Spice Market, Carpet Demonstration, Underground Cistern, Grand Bazaar.
Would have loved more time at the spice market. Found many of the same type shops as found in the Grand Bazaar. The shop owners were not as pushy as I expected. They wanted to engage you in conversation. My favorite pick-up line was,"I need your money." Never pay full asking price. Start by offering about half and bargain from there. When you reach your lowest offer and they don't counter offer, say no thanks and walk away. If they don't come down to your price, then you know they have reached as low as they will go. Note: If you want pashminas and little souvenirs, you can find the same things at Kusadasi (Ephesus) They have their own grand bazaar and they were cheaper.
The currency is Turkish Lira. They will take dollars but give change back in Lira. I tried to always pay exact. When buying Turkish Delight, they charged $19.00. I had them bag up $1.00 worth of cashews rather than have Lira.
Note: The Turkish Delight is available everywhere in Istanbul. I enjoyed trying several varieties and then having them create a box of assorted flavors I liked. He said it would stay fresh 6 months. Then after it was boxed, they vacuum sealed the box. We bought some pre-boxed flavors, too. When I got home, I found that the pre-boxed flavors don't have as many pieces as you would expect and a lot of the powder coating. They weren't quite as fresh tasting as the ones we had boxed ourselves.
Took the Ephesian Modus Vivandi tour. Included in our tour was the terrace houses. If you have to pay the extra money to see this, DO IT. Unbelievable what they have uncovered and the restoration going on. The mosaics are amazing.
Our boat docked at the pier, so we had to pay $7.00 per person (round trip all day) for a Celebrity shuttle into Mykonos. The shuttles ran continuously. DO NOT Walk to the town. The road is narrow and has no shoulder. I think there is a free shuttle, but I never saw it. If it does come, it is not as often as the Celebrity provided shuttles. The little streets are so narrow, and people still drive small cars and motorcycles right through the pedestrians. We went on a search for the public bus station to take a bus to Paradise Beach. The bus was $1,60 Euro one way. Cheap, but it took us an hour to find the bus station. Shop owners did not understand English well enough to give us directions and signage was not readily available. If I had it to do again, I would have seen how much a taxi would charge, and then take the bus back. We enjoyed the beach. Rented two chairs under a fixed umbrella with a table for $6.00 per person. Sand was golden and water was pretty clear. Lots of places to eat right at the beach, and they had restroom and changing facilities, too.
Long bus ride on narrow winding roads. We sat on the driver's side of the bus. If you don't get car sick, and want to see the views better, be sure to sit on the passenger side of the bus. Really enjoyed our stops in Sorrento for shopping, our stop for lunch, and the stop in Amalfi. Walked up the 60 steps to the Cathedral of Amalfi. If you enjoy cathedrals, this one is a must see. The admission was low. And the crypt of St Andrew was beautiful.
The buses were comfortable. We had ample time in Oia and at the Winery. Really nice pictures of the blue domed churches and the city. The drop off in Fira was great because we could spend as much time as we wanted before riding the cable car down.