12 days in the Sun: Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review by Bebbyanne
Overall Member Rating
12 days in the Sun
Destination: Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
We booked a 3 hour tour with Barcelona Sidecars for an excellent overview of the city. With several stops where we were able to look around with our guide and take photos. The next day we boarded the Hop on Hop Off Bus to Parc Guell for the afternoon. This was a highlight and not to be missed. On embarkation day we arranged a 5hr tour to Montserrat with Barcelona Day Tours.This was excellent and provided a smooth transition with our luggage right to the ship and with time to unpack before the compulsory drill @ 4.30pm. With a short delay in departure we sailed off into the beautiful sunset bound for Toulon.
We hadn't booked a tour at this stop as we weren't sure how we'd feel after our 30hr journey to Barcelona and activities there. This was a sensible move More as we all needed a lazy day with 3 busy days ahead. We had a leisurely breakfast then took a stroll off the ship into the town. We weren't impressed with the town, the buildings were very tired looking and the area generally unappealing and was our least favoured port stop.
We were blessed with the best weather one could have for this cruise and apart from a strike which prevented our stop in Athens this itinerary couldn't have been better. In fact we loved Dubrovnik and weren't unhappy at all about missing Athens. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
As this was an unplanned stop due to the strike in Athens we didn't have anything booked. However this was very easy to do on our own. We tendered into the lovely walled city, stopped at the ATM then headed to the cable car. The views from the top were awesome and we walked along to visit the very moving museum. This highlighted the 1989-1993 war and provided a video and excellent static displays. After this we took the cable car back down into the city, had a nice lunch and a wander around this beautiful place. This was somewhere on my bucket list that I had hoped to visit one day so I wasn't disappointed that we hadn't made it to Athens.
This was a lovely day, the weather was perfect and we enjoyed the time spent in the little villages of Manarola, Vernazza and Monterrosa. This was the only cruise tour we took and it was the most expensive. We felt the day was well organised but would have preferred to spend more time in Vernazza our second stop and less in Monterrosa. The special treat we were promised turned out to be a glass of very over rated wine with average condiments at Monterrosa. However we enjoyed a lovely lunch which was not included in the tour.This area is beautiful and one of my favourite port stops.
We joined with a group from Cruise Critic and followed the instructions we had from a previous cruise critic member. This was to stop at the ATM's outside the port then catch the tram to the Hagia Sophia stop. We wandered around here then joined the queues and went inside for a while. After this we walked over to the Blue Mosque with our ticket that we had purchased online. Ours wouldn't work at the scanner along with several others so this meant a trip back to the ticket office to sort this out. We then joined the queue and thinking we were adequately dressed entered the mosque. I was wearing a longish dress but this was not enough and I was given a robe to hide the lower part of my legs. The Topkapi Palace was closed that day so we walked onto the Cistern which was well worth a visit. After this we walked to the spice market then went onto the Grand Bazaar. It was a hot day so we jumped on the tram back to the nearest stop to take us to the port. We ended up as a small group of 4 as we had lost the others along the way.
Archaeological Site of Ephesus
We used OTTI travel for a private tour to Ephesus which included a visit to the Terrace Houses, an included lunch, a carpet demonstration, souvenir shop and visit to the Temple of Artemis. We were a small group of 5 and had a wonderful guide and the best of tours. This was far better value than any of the cruise tours.
We tendered into the town and strolled around on our own. It was a beautiful day and the town is easy to experience without taking a tour. We walked right up to the top of the township for great views of the port and the windmills.
We stopped for a lovely lunch at Nikos, a recommendation from Rick Steves which didn't disappoint. We watched others swimming at the beach and lazily wandered through the cafes, spotted a Pelican in one which hardly seemed real until he moved. A pleasant stop with awesome photo opportunities on such a beautiful day.
We took a private tour with APT Tours arranged with a group from Cruise Critic. This was excellent and highly recommended. We spent 2hrs with our guide at Pompeii, then a lovely drive around the Amalfi Coast with photo stops before stopping at Positano. We were a group of 10 and this small tour allowed us to be dropped right in the village. After this we were taken onto Sorrento for lunch at a lovely restaurant and then into the town for sightseeing and shopping at the market. This again was a highlight.The bus provided free wifi on the way back to Naples and this was greatly appreciated. A wonderful day.
We took a day tour with Smart Cruise Tours which was incredible value for money. However the start was disorganised and delayed which meant we weren't able to stop at the Colosseum, although the bus took 2 turns around it which gave us a reasonable view. We meet up with our guide in Rome who was excellent and took us through St Peter's Basilica on arrival. Back on the bus for a tour of the sights then off again for a walk to the Trevi Fountain where we stopped for lunch. After this we walked to Navona Square then to the Pantheon.Having been to Rome previously I was happy with what I saw as it covered quite a few places including the Pantheon which I hadn't visited before. The stop at St Peters was better than I remembered from from previous visit although I did see the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel on that occasion. The distance to Rome from the port makes it difficult to see everything in a day and this was a good overview.
Venice Walking Tour
Cruising into Venice was just the most amazing sight. After docking we took the People Mover to Piazzala Roma. From here we had arranged to meet up with Venice free walking tours and with our map in hand headed off towards Campo San Polo. Unfortunately we seemed to take the long route and were 10mins late and our tour had left without us. We then headed back to the Rialto Bridge and watched the chaos of the boats on the grand canal for a time before heading to San Marco Piazza. We found it extremely hot and tiring walking around the crowded streets, so after visiting some of the sights around San Marco we caught the Vaporetta back to ship. We overnighted here so we enjoyed a pleasant evening onboard with friends.