This was an Adriatic & Greek Isles itinerary primarily sailing from Venice to Civitavecchia (for Rome). We always choose our cruises for the itinerary, coupled with the cruise line & price. We are in our early 60s & are not retired. We have sailed the Greek Isles portion of this cruise in 2010 on another cruiseline & wanted to return to those same ports, plus see some new ports in the Adriatic. A week prior to departure we received an upgrade notice from inside to balcony on the same Riviera deck across the hall & down a few cabins.
We wanted Princess to book our flights because we were under the impression that if anything went wrong, Princess would be responsible for correcting the situation. We were to leave JFK on Nov. 7 at 7:50 in the evening to arrive for embarkation in Venice early p.m. on Nov. 8 with a full 24 hours to see Venice before sailing. Unfortunately, a noreaster was headed up the east coast & our flight was cancelled after several postponements late in More
the night due to 4 inches of snow. We were told to contact Delta (our booking airline) to reschedule our flight (some courtesy phones provided). I did call Princess & they could not be of any help in rescheduling, only Delta. After multiple calls to Delta & our private insurance company, we were finally able to book around midnight the same flight #86 out of JFK the following night Nov. 8 (they said we got the last two seats & we slept in the airport since the weather didn't look good for trying to get to a hotel for the night) which was scheduled to arrive in Venice at 10:15 am on sailing day Nov. 9. Sailing was scheduled for 1300, so everything had to go like clockwork for us to make the ship prior to sailing. There were hundreds of other pax stranded by the snowstorm as well & arriving at various times into Venice. We were in touch with Princess while waiting for our flight on the 8th several times & though they would not GUARANTEE that Princess would hold the ship, that is in fact what happened I believe because of the number of pax delayed. We actually boarded after 1315 along with many others & the ship did not sail until after 1345. We went to our cabin & our luggage had already arrived there & we heard the call for the emergency drill. We were told upon embarkation there would be another special drill for late boarding pax later, so we unpacked a few things & took showers. Upon getting dressed, we noticed we were moving & proceeded topside for the most beautiful sailaway.
We attended our M&G for Cruise Critic @ 3 pm & began to meet pax we had conversed with on the roll call board. The Capt. & his staff were not able to attend, probably due to the late departure from Venice.
Our first port of call was Dubrovnik the next day. We took a Princess tour since we had wanted to see a folkloric show & Princess had what we were looking for. (See port reviews separately). We also booked a Princess tour in Corfu the following day, primarily because there were two other large ships (P&O Arcadia & Cunard Queen Elisabeth) in port & we thought it would be crowded. We booked private tours in Olympia (Katakolon), Ephesus (Kusadasi) & Capri (Naples) through the CC board. The ship was not able to go to Mykonos (after Athens) due to high winds with gale force winds predicted so we had a day at sea, followed by Ephesus, Santorini & two more scheduled sea days before our last stop in Naples. We went to Capri as we had been to the Almalfi Coast & Pompeii previously. We also did not visit Rome, but returned home the day of disembarkation as we had seen most everything on two prior visits.
Cabin -- was as expected as we had sailed in the same category on the Ruby Princess (a sister ship) in 2011. Plenty of closet space & large enough bathroom.
Public areas -- We do not gamble & did not use the casino (smoking permitted), nor most lounges or the International Cafe. Theater -- Apparently Princess had received complaints on the lack of seating & scheduled 3 shows (as opposed to two) for production numbers, so there was ample seating available. Shows were good, but not great. We ate on the anytime dining schedule & usually went to dinner around 6:30 or 7 pm in Da Vinci or Michelangelo. After several nights, we came upon a waiter by the name of Zoron Vladoff from Eastern Europe, Croatia I believe) & frequently requested his table the remainder of the cruise. We were not able to be seated at his table the last formal night as a group had booked his table overlapping the time we would be eating. This gave us the best of traditional (same waiter/assistant) & meeting new people for dinner every night (anytime). Though we used the dining room on sea days for breakfast, we usually ate at Horizon Court (buffet) for breakfast & lunch. This works well for most people.
Activities -- since this was a port-intensive cruise, daily activities such as trivia, dance lessons, photography lessons etc. were minimal except on sea days. There was a port lecturer (the same one we had on the Ruby, Deborah), but we never attended her sessions since they were available on the room TV and we had been to half of the ports previously. There were two table tennis tables, but no shuffleboard since there was a Princess links putt-putt course topside. We used these two venues several times on sea days. Internet service on board was faster than any cruise we have ever taken. I had my tablet so I could log on in my cabin or anywhere else. There were dance demonstrations among other things in the early evening at the Atrium which were good but the limited space made it difficult for pax to watch (lined up along the stairs).
Crew -- We had the same CD we had on the Ruby, Samantha & she is excellent. Capt. Nick is a very easygoing leader, though we never had the opportunity to meet him -- our Capt. Circle invitation to cocktails got "lost" & it was for the night we boarded & we were too tired anyway due to no sleep in the airport at JFK. Since we had access to the rear pool on Riviera deck which I used several times for viewing the port side as our cabin was on starboard, we did not frequent the other main pools (the weather for swimming/sunbathing was cool & the sun does not get very high in the sky in November, but many people did use them. Steward was attentive to needs upon our embarkation & we usually connected with him (if only to say hi) on our way to dinner. All staff we encountered were helpful or got someone who was. Band Lots of Fun was good.
Summary -- Will probably enjoy Princess again since we are now upgraded to Platinum level if we find an itinerary we like. We will, however, make arrangements for an extra day at departure port (if we want to see that port) if we travel during possible snow times. Probably the best time for this cruise would have been October, but we were unable to go then for personal reasons. The tourist season is basically over in November so it was nice not to have lots of ships in port, nor hot summer weather, but it also meant many things were closed; i.e. in Capri. Less
Crown Princess Cruises to the Eastern Mediterranean
Booked private tour with 8 other CC members -- excellent tour of the island beginning with jetfoil trip from Naples. Minibuses are used for transportation around the island due to winding narrow roads (and of course walking). Visited the "Mamma Mia Road", Capri, Anacapri & the Church of San Michele (painted tile floor which is not tredded upon) & the Gardens of Augustus. Also took funicular down to return to Marina Grande for return trip to Naples. Tide level did not allow anyone to visit the Blue Grotto. There also is a chair lift to high point on the island, but fog had shut down the lift for most of the day.
We took a private tour conducted by Niki (of Rick Steves' show). She was excellent (her reputation preceded her). Olympia is well worth seeing as an Antiquity site. Katakolon is just the port with a small shopping area.
We took a private tour as we had already seen Ephesus & Virgin Mary's house in 2010. The reason we took it again was because we had not been able to visit the Terrace Houses in Ephesus on our previous tour -- this was worth the entire cost of the tour. We also stopped (new to us) at St. John's Basilica & viewed the remaining column of the Temple of Artemis, had a local lunch & went to a carpet demonstration at a SCHOOL which meant no sales pitch & more of a demonstration of how the silk cocoons are processed for the silk, among other things.
We had visited Oia & Fira previously & wanted to see Akrotiri archaeological site. The tour also took us to the Mt. of Prophet Elijah for fantastic views from the highest point on the island and left us in Fira for time on our own. Cable car return ticket was also included.