What an experience. We flew from New Zealand to Rome with a one day stop over in Hong Kong to break the flight. Because we had been to Rome before we just explored on foot (very tourist unfriendly place). We decided to rough it and get the metro out to Civitavecchia which was a big mistake, but after 4 train changes (dragging luggage behind us) and one instance of being stuck in a small lift, we finally made it four hours later. The moment we stepped onto the Noordam, all the stress was gone, she was BEAUTIFUL!
The itinerary was fabulous, we visited some amazing ports and did 5 ship excursions, otherwise we wandered around near the port or went swimming at a beach(it was extremely hot).
The food was simply magnificent. We dined in both the formal restaurant and the lido (buffet), and twice went to the Pinnacle grill which just blew our socks off!! Lunch at lido was very good especially the tasty little deserts and king prawn and crab leg More
Entertainment was average, but on a port intensive cruise like this, it didn't really matter, because we had fairly early nights for early starts the next day. However, Diane in the Piano bar was fabulous. Best bar on the ship!
We subscribed for the thermal room and hydro pool extra, which was well and truly worth it, and great to relax after a hot, busy day sightseeing.
We had a free upgrade from outside cabin to veranda state room, which was ideal and spent many hours drinking bourbon in the evening on our own veranda and reflecting on the day we had just had.
All the staff were lovely, friendly and very attentive.
The only thing I could criticise is that on a 20 night cruise they had 6 formal nights which we thought was absolute overkill. We would have made the effort twice, but really couldn't be bothered getting glammed up 6 times and we noticed many others didn't bother either. It was a pity because formal night could have been very special, but it was watered down with too many.
HAL is certainly my cruise line of choice now, and I will be seeking out HAL cruises in the future. Less
Great port. We went to the acropolis were there was quite a wait to get in, but not too expensive. The ruins were very interesting and in excellent order. We then walked down the hill to plaka, the market area which was further than we thought. Taxi's wouldn't take us, saying it was just a short walk (but I think they wanted bigger fares). Anyway plaka was incredible, great shops and restaurants, lovely. We then got a taxi back to the ship. It was very easy to do your own thing here rather than a ship tour.
We walked into town and explored the old fort. It was extremely hot and we spotted a swimming hole where locals were having a dip, so walked down to the beach and stripped off into our underwear and had the most refreshing swim in the sea. Unfortunately the steps were slippery and I took a tumble, but was helped by a very good looking and attentive life guard who ensured I wasn't badly injured. The locals were amazing, so caring and friendly. We then dryed off at a lovely small bar/restaurant where we had a snack and a couple of beers, before making our way back to the ship. Beautiful!
I chose to stay on the ship as they said there was a lot of walking and my bruised buttock was still sore , but my Husband went on the tour which he said was quite good. He said the ruins were not in the best shape but the tour was fairly interesting.
We got off the boat and straight onto an open top red explorer bus which was leaving from the port and took us for a tour of about 1 hour around the area. You could get off and on as you wished. Excellent and cheap way to see everything.
My beautiful Santorini. We have been here before so knew what we wanted to do. As soon as we got to the top of the cable car into the township, we hired a small car and drove to the far side of the island (near the airport), to the swimming beach. We hired an unbrella and chair and spent the morning relaxing, swimming and people watching -great! We then had lunch at one of the lovely little restaurants lining the beach before taking a drive around the island and back to the boat. Lovely relaxing day in the most beautiful place in the world!