We never booked so many excursions, but with an 11 port itinerary all in new places, we had to do it. As a result, we had less time than ever to enjoy the ship, and with some excursions being 10-11 hours, we were worn out!
That said, we still enjoyed it immensely, but what I really wanted to post was information about our extra day in Venice after the cruise. I couldnt figure out how to put it in a more appropriate place on Cruise Critic.
We originally were going to fly home the day we arrived in Venice, but wouldnt have seen Venice at all if we did. Hotels around St Mark's Square were very high priced, and from what we could find on line, we were afraid we would not be able to get a boat to the airport on time for an early flight.
We booked Courtyard by Marriott near the airport and left the ship at 6:30AM, with an airport transfer booked on board for something like $34 each. The Service desk actually advised just taking a cab from the ship for less money, More
and we later met someone who did just that, taking the cab right to the Marriott for $45 with tip.
The bus ride to the airport from the ship was less than half an hour...maybe 20 min. Our plan was to pick up the hotel phone in the airport and have the Marriott free shuttle come and get us. We in fact passed the Marriott on the way to the airport...about 5 minutes from the airport. In fact we could see the airport from the hotel.
There was NO phone to call the hotel as I pictured, and there was noone at the Information desk, and after trying to call the hotel on an unfamiliar Italian phone with no success, we finally spoke to someone holding a Celebrity card, waiting for new arrivals transferring to the ship for the next cruise. She was very nice, but I misunderstood where she said to wait for the Marriott shuttle. To make a long story short, we spent 2 1/2 hours getting to the hotel instead of a half hour taxi ride.
By 10:30 we had checked in early to our VERY nice room, and were standing across the street awaiting public bus No 5 to take us to the center where we transferred to a Vaporetto (public boat) that would take us down the Grand Canal through Venice to St Mark's Square. I forgot to mention that the hotel was a reasonable $147, booked on line before we left. Tickets for the bus were purchased in the hotel for something like $2.60 (not sure if that one was Euros) round trip.
When we arrived at the other end of the bus 5 line, we were at the Grand Canal where we could get a Vaporetto ticket OR a "water taxi" which cost much more. The Vaporetto was 14 Eu round trip, so we got two 14 Eu tickets. You scan the tickets at a turnstyle and go through to the boat, BUT what we were not told was that one ticket was for both of us each way. By each scanning a ticket, we used up our return fare ...I felt this was an absolute scam!
Regardless the ride down the Grand Canal was very interesting. We got off at the other end at st Mark's Square in pouring rain. We toured what we could of the square,but the tower and church were closed. The square was so flooded, we walked atop 4 ft wide platforms raised about two feet, with two way traffic hoping we wouldnt fall off! after visiting a few shops and making a few purchases, and eating in arestaurant off the square, we bought our return Valparetta ticket for another 14 eu and headed back. Although we didnt get to walk around much because of the rain, I was satisfied that I saw enough of venice, contrary to what my wife thinks!
The bottom line...if you take a cruise ending in Venice, spend at least an extra day. Less
Celebrity Reflection Cruises to the Western Mediterranean
Ephasus was amazing. Enjoyed it very much but there was nothing I would eat in the restaurant that was included. Wife liked the fish.This tour was a surprise provided by our cruise travel agent and run by Vacation Vignettes.
We also stopped at Rhodes and Mikonos, where we could walk on our own from the ship without a booked tour, and we felt that was sufficient. In 14 days we stopped at 11 ports!
Ephasus was all we had to see at this port.(not the museum) We walked a mile through the remains of a city from 2000BC! (or was it 200? Anyway just facinating.
One last comment on excursions. I felt that all of the guides we had, though interesting, could have learned more facts by just reading on line about the places they took us. We could have done that too...before we left!
This was the highlight of our trip. After a 1.5 hour busride we toured the unbelievable Colliseum, had lunch as part of the tour in a 5 star hotel. toured the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and Basillica. Amazing places.