The Greek islands and Eastern Mediterranean cruise we took in August 2013 was our 11th cruise and one of the best. We had previously cruised on Celebrity Equinox to Central America and knew what great ships the Solstice Class vessels are. Silhouette is 3 years newer and slightly better than its older sister but we believe they are the best ships we have cruised on. I had been competing at the World Masters Games in Torino and there were a lot of others on board who had WMG Torino2013 clothes
The crew were up to the usual high standard and hard to fault. The meals were definitely better than Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean and even Holland America. We didn't bother with specialty restaurants apart from the $5 crepe restaurant on Deck 5 because the Grand Cuvee MDR and Sea View Caf' were good enough to meet all our needs.
The stateroom was particularly above average. Our last cruise was on the Dawn Princess and I had to sit sideways on the toilet whereas the bathroom on Silhouette was almost up to hotel standard. The music was much better on the Dawn Princess, though. That was our only negative with Silhouette. A water slide would be fun but most of the guests were not really the water slide type. It was very hot for the entire 12 days and a water slide would have been great.
We have become select members of the Captain's Club and that had many advantages including internet discounts, $200 on board credits, discounted wine and 2 free functions. We got this by pooling our Royal Caribbean and Celebrity past cruises
The itinerary was very interesting if hard work. We boarded the ship at Civitavecchia . The train ride from Termini in Rome cost 5 Euro each and took a little over an hour. It is about a 10 minute walk from the railway station to the cruise shuttle bus and I can see no reason to pay for taxis or transfers.
Napoli (Naples) Archaeology Park of Baiae
Since we had already seen Pompeii and Herculaneum we did something quite different. We dived/snorkelled at the archaeological park at Baiae. We organised this in advance through http://www.napolidivingcenter.it/?id_lingua=en and were not disappointed. This is a sunken city complete with masonry, statues ( copies of the originals now in the Naples Museum) and mosaic tiles. Baiae provides English with the word 'Bay' and is truly a unique experience for both certified Scuba divers and snorkelers.
Valletta harbour was truly beautiful and we just did our own thing walking. I wish I had taken a Taxi to the aviation museum and blue grotto and will if I ever go back
We just caught a taxi to the Acropolis and walked down to the Plaka via the ancient Agora. You can catch the Metro between Piraeus and Athens but it is a long work from the station to the Cruse Ship Terminal.
Be careful if you buy a highly ornate T- shirt with Greek warriors on it. This is the Gay capital of the Greek Islands and just look under the warrior's tunic before you buy !
We took the cable car up to Fira then walked down through the donkeys after site seeing. We should have used the speedboat transfer to Oia which included a bus ride back to Fira and then the cable car back to the port, Next time.
We just walked through the old town. The highlight is the hospital of the knights of St John which is now a museum. The so called palace of the knights of St John is really a 1930's rebuild by the Italian Fascist governor and not really worth the entrance fee.
Our ship went to Chania instead of Iraklion. That meant that Knossos was too far away to visit. Just as well. Apparently it was rebuilt in the early 1900's and is almost as fake as the medieval palace at Rhodes. Chania was beautiful ' particularly the water front and Venetian areas.
We took a taxi and met our first unpleasant taxi driver. On this, I might recommend the cruise ship tour. Pay the extra for the terrace houses. The mosaics and wall paintings are fabulous and the Austrian archaeologists who are excavating are doing everything right.
I can't add anything to the millions of words written about Venice. The arrival early morning past the Grand Canal is a must ' go to the top deck with your camera. Don't sit down in Piazza San Marco or your coffee will cost 40 Euros. Use a cruise tour if you want to see the Doges Palace or prebook on the internet.