We were on the Royal Princess September 15th for 12 days from Venice to Barcelona.We flew into Venice, arriving at 6:30 pm. Princess was there for our transfer from the airport with no problems at all.The embarkation was a breeze. We went to dinner and really felt happy to be aboard this lovely new ship. It was truly a beautiful, massive ship with such splendor. We have been aboard the other Princess ships which we enjoyed too, but this one really was so lovely. The expanded atrium, the new additions such as Alfredos, the Gelateria with crepes and waffles (yum), and the Horizon Cafe and new Pastry Cafe, All came a notch above others. The style and grandeur of the Royal made us feel like we were really somewhere special.
We loved the usual Movies Under the Stars, the delicious international cuisine with Asian, Mexican, German, Italian, American, British, French and more. There are far more choices on this ship than we've seen before. We loved the entertainment, mostly the singers and dancers and also the shows in the Atrium. The casino was always abuzz and lots of fun machines to try as well as Black Jack sizzling tables. We visited the ports of Athens, Kusadasi (Ephesus), Istanbul, Mykonos and Naples. Our first port of Athens, unfortunately had strikers in the streets which caused our tour bus to detour en route to the Acropolis. Be sure to wear comfortable rubber soled shoes so as not to slip on the marble and stone ground in climbing. It surely was a sight to behold but very strenuous and exhausting for people who are not accustomed to physical activity. Kusadasi was a marvel with Ephesus as the star attraction. What a sight to behold! This Celsus Library is a must-see for first-timers. We returned after 17 years and still got a thrill. The Visit to "Mary's House," where Christians believed Mary spent her last days on earth, was a place for contemplation and reverence. The market for visitors, especially the Turkish carpet vendors, gave one so many ideas to redecorate with a beauty of one's own. Then on to Istanbul to visit the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, Topkapi Palace, Aya Sofya and Basilica Cistern, all the main sights of this interesting city of 15 million. We also loved the actual cruising, relaxing out on our balcony with a glass of wine. Very beautiful and relaxing. The Royal's clubs and music venues were all alive with laughter and cruisers delighting in the evening's gay atmosphere. We arrived in Mykonos, tendered in with ease by the Royal's crew. What a beautiful island! The shops and the vistas are worth the visit. We didn't take time to eat, just for a drink of the famous ouzo at a local cafe overlooking the teal sea.
Then it happened that the ship could not retrieve the anchor which weighs something near 30,000 tons. It took them about 5 hours to pull it up from the sea and set sail for Naples. Finally the ship set sail and all went well until the afternoon when the ship lost power. The captain kept us apprised every hour or so. It seemed that too much power was drawn from one area of use and it caused an outage. They had a backup generator so all was well within 5 hours time. The crew and the captain handled every detail with professionalism, especially the crisis points such as elevators and the kitchens. We didn't feel frightened but rather more curious about the situation. The excellent communication skills of the captain in total were astonishing. Services continued as well as they could with ease and smiles. After much deliberation, the Princess administrative network coupled with the maritime professionals decided to cut our cruise short by disembarking in Naples. Care coordinators were there every step of the way. Princess made sure everyone got to their final destinations safely. They made arrangements for some 3500 people to fly to their respective countries in a safe, timely manner. Unfortunately, many people had tours and longer stays in Barcelona post cruise where they needed to get to Barcelona to proceed onward. The problem for the others was that Barcelona had some 70,000 extra visitors from a pharmaceutical convention using the hotels whereby causing our people a loss of potential lodgings. Personally, we had been to Rome,Florence, Provence and Barcelona before, so we were not at odds about this matter. Many others didn't take their early disembarkation well. They flew in from places like Australia, NZ, China, Canada, South Africa, Russia, South America and more, and they wanted to visit these last 3 ports. Some people did pay their own way and others used the arrangements by the Princess. Many people disembarked on the Tuesday, depending on one's airflight situation. We spent Tuesday sightseeing all over Naples, since we took the Hop On Hop Off bus. The churches, museums and piazzas were all worth seeing. We went on the red and the green lines. The beach drive was more than we expected...just gorgeous! It was a beautifully sunny day, about 75 F. On Wed. we disembarked about noon time, and were almost hand-carried to hotel. Princess workers guaranteed our safety and comfort thankfully.
We settled in and relaxed with a delicious dinner at the hotel. The next day we had a full breakfast (complimentary of the hotel) then took a shuttle to a stylish shopping center with cafes and restaurants as well as designer hot spot outlets. We spent the afternoon there and dined at a traditional Neopolitan restaurant. Then the shuttle bus returned us. When we returned to the hotel the care coordinators were still working on all the arrangements. No stone was left unturned by Princess and their workers. They arranged for buses to leave from our hotel in the middle of the night for Rome's airport. They accompanied us to Rome, which was a three hour drive from our hotel. When we arrived, they escorted us to our respective terminal check-in points while assisting with our bags. They made a crisis situation into a pleasant one. While at the airport, we had breakfast and visited the many shops for last minute buys.
All in all the Princess Corporation handled this situation with professionalism and placing the cruiser's safety first. That was their priority. What surprised us most of all was the continuity of the care they provided us in this crisis.
This was a difficult climb for anyone. The stones are slippery and dangerous. The Acropolis is an amazing sight that it even exists, but the repairs and the crowds will make me stay away forever now.
Not to our liking. The tour guide didn't interest us at all. The climbing at the Acropolis with all the construction going on was a nightmare. It seemed very disorganized and hard to hear the lady. The city was in turmoil with strikers shutting down the streets. We didn't feel welcome there at all. The Plaka is not like it used to be. Overpriced items and shopkeepers not as friendly as I had remembered from the 90's. We ate in a Taverna recommended by the guide, and I personally got food poisoning. I returned to the ship with great pain and new what it was from the moment I ate the late lunch. I had to rest that whole evening in bed to recover.
After hearing so much about the Blue Mosque, I was disappointed. The people there were very rude and really didn't want us. The building itself was interesting but so was San Marcos with the beautiful mosaics in Venice! Don't bother, people.
I thought this place was disgusting with nothing but junk to buy. The merchants were so rude to us, in fact. One said, "you Americans should go back home. Don't buy here. We don't want you." And, we were with 2 others and we hadn't said a word! It was most disconcerting and upsetting. It is so dirty over there and not somewhere I would ever buy anything.
This is a must-see in Istanbul but not something I would return to.
The tour guide was knowledgeable and thorough but the city is not somewhere I would return to. It was very dirty and overcrowded and gave me a bad feeling.
The Cisterns were interesting, but again, not a place I would return to. It is always interesting to see how those of the past lived.
Most important and worthwhile experience from the Roman era.
This is a place where the Virgin Mary supposedly spent her last days. It is a place of tranquility and of prayer. It is a wonderful visit and one should do it for the spiritual value.
We had a group of 8 people booked privately. The tour covered everything we wanted to see again. We had been there 17 yrs ago, so this was a different experience. Ephesus is a must-see for everyone. And "Mary's House" is a place to visit for spiritual value. We had been to the Basilica of St John on our last visit which is why we by-passed it this time. Our tourguide was a sweet, young lady with great hopes for Turkey.
We think Mykonos is beautiful but so overcrowded with tourists and more. the other side is prettier with the beach. But,for us as we live somewhere warm, it really didn't matter. We walked around and looked in shops. Nothing much to buy at any decent rates. This was my last time there after visiting three times before.
Naples is a busy city but very dirty. We took the Hop On Hop Off bus and did enjoy the sights, but we chose not to get off. The one place we wanted to enter was closed that Tuesday. The flies are everywhere there and they are digging to build their Metro. It was an absolute mess! One can take a boat to Capri, Amalfi or Sorrento and that is the only reason to visit Naples.