It was a great cruise. This was our second Mediterranean cruise. This one was actually called Easten Mediterranean and Greek Islands. We started in Rome and ended with an overnight in Venice. Both embarkation and disembarkation were a breeze. I will say the only thing we didn't really enjoy was the entertainment most evenings. It was OK but nothing special. We did really enjoy a singing group called Sipra who often entertained in the central court area on Deck 3 almost every evening. The Cruise Director was excellent. It was not all about her like it is with some cruise directors. Lisa has a beautiful voice.
We really enjoyed the food. We ate breakfast in the dining room the first morning at sea but other than that we always ate breakfast and lunch in the Oceanview Cafe. The lineup for omelets was never long, even on sea days. We got creative and made our own egg mcmuffins with omelets and ham and a toasted English muffin. Yum. One day at lunch I saw a lady with a piece of garlic toast, some marinated cherry tomato halves, red onions, olives and feta cheese and she made her own brushchetta. I followed suit on a couple of occasions. Just add a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar for even more flavour. So get creative with all the offerings. They serve lovely pizza that is made in a flatbread shape. There is always lemonade available as well as at least one other kind of juice, even in the afternoon. At 4:00 pm they have scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream along with little sandwiches and sweets and of course tea and coffee.
We ate dinner every night in the MDR and got to sit with a group of the same people almost every night, even though we had chosen their version of anytime dining. I guess we just all ate at the same time. On the last formal night we booked a table for 10 so we would be sure to be able to all sit together. Such fun. The food was excellent, although my lobster was a little dry. They still have escargot on the everyday portion of the menu which has not been on other cruise line menus at all for the last couple of years. And they offer a wonderful creme brulee on that menu as well. From our experience, Celebrity has the best food in the MDR. I have felt let down by Priness and Holland America on our two previous cruises.
We chose this cruise based on the ports of call and the food.
NAPLES - We took a ship's tour to Sorrento, basically the drive there with a couple of hours on your own. We had been there 3 years ago and it was cloudy and raining but loved it. This time it was warm and sunny and we enjoyed seeing everything in a different light. A free gelato was part of the fare.
MALTA - Be sure to watch sail-in from an upper deck. We took a ship's tour and had an excellent guide. It was a Saturday and unfortunately the Cathedral closes around noon but the ship doesn't arrive until 1:00 so we didn't get to see it. We went into a little museum that was OK but that's all. The tour of the Palace of the Grand Knights was very interesting and at the Upper Baraka Gardens we saw a wedding in progress with a 7, 8, 9? gun salute afterwards. From there we drove to Mdina and it was neat to see as well.
ATHENS - We chose a ship tour to Ancient Corinth and the Corinth Canal and really enjoyed it. We again had an excellent guide. We had been to Ephesus before and Corinth is nowhere near as spectacular but we're really glad we went. It brings the Bible to life when you've been there. The cruise in the canal was lovely and a very nice lunch was provided. Loved the stuffed grape leaves. Be adventuresome and try everything. The canal is 6.2 km and we travelled both directions.
MYKONOS - We were there 3 years ago and it was cloudy and rainy that day. This time we took the ship's shuttle into town around 9:15 thinking the rain was finished. Well we had thunder, lightening, and pouring rain for about 45 minutes while we stood under an awning and watched the water gushing like a river down the narrow street in front of us. This was their first rain in months. By 1:00 the clouds had cleared out and it was a lovely hot afternoon so we got to see Mykonos in a different light as well. We loved just wandering around and getting lost.
KUSADASI - We took a ship's tour to Sirence and Tyre and enjoyed it as well. Sirence is a very small village way up in the hills/mountains and the kids were waiting for the school bus when we got there. There's not a lot to see but it was a neat experience. In Tyre we watched a felt making demonstration and when we walked to our bus we saw a gentleman sitting in his storefront making baskets for the donkeys to carry things up in the hills. Boy this is a different part of the world. We had quite a nice lunch at a restaurant in the hills (part of the price of the tour). Of course a carpet making demo is always part of a tour in Turkey and this was no exception, but these folks were really putting on the pressure to buy one. Not appreciated.
RHODES - Loved Rhodes. We walked and walked and walked from 9:00 til 4:00. We first went through the Palace of the Grand Masters which was great to see, then walked our feet off. Remember when you are in Italy and Greece there are lots of lovely leather products. We ate lunch in a lovely restaurant on a quiet street, away from the crowds, collected sea glass on the beach in front of where the cruise ship was docked, watched someone having a fish pedicure (I guess that's what you'd call it), and took lots of photos. Rhodes has only been under Greek rule since 1948.
SANTORINI - Oia is exactly what you see in calendar photos. You will take a tender to the island where you will either walk up 600 steps, ride up 600 steps on a donkey, or take a cable car up to Fira. Don't stay in Fira. Ask for directions (or check on-line) to the bus station. It's probably a 10 minute walk. Take the 20 minute bus ride to Oia and enjoy all the views. It was a cool and somewhat cloudy day when we were there. We got off the ship at 9:15 and were in Oia by 10:30. Best to be there early because when we left around 1:30 the town was really busy. You don't have to climb up and down all the stairways but that's how you get to see so much more than just the shops on the main "road". There are no cars in the main part of Oia, only around the bus stop.
CRETE - We had a great ship tour to the Botanical Gardens that were high up in the hills. First we learned a bit about the Mediterranean diet (they use LOTS of olive oil) and they made the most delicious tzatziki sauce I have ever had. Then we walked through the gardens and saw many interesting plants - both fruit trees and flowering plants. Then we went back to Chania where we saw the old Venetian port, the Greek Orthodox Cathedral, walked along Leather Street and then wandered through the covered market. This was the only day it was crazy at the buffett because everyone seemed to get back on board wanting lunch and it took us 10 minutes to find a place to sit.
VENICE - What can I say? What an amazing place. I'd heard that some people loved it and some people hated it. We're kind of inbetween. Be sure to get up early to watch sail in. It was cloudy the whole two days and drizzling part of the time so that might explain our thoughts. Also there was flooding on St. Mark's Square so we didn't get to walk all the way around it. The one thing we did wrong was -- We wanted to take the vaparetto all the way down the Grand Canal. We wanted to check out the train station so we knew where we were going on our last day, so we caught the vaparetto there. Only thing is, we didn't realize it was going to wrong way and we ended up going to St. Mark's Square via the port instead of the Grand Canal. Oh well, next time. You must see St. Mark's Basilica. It is amazing and no one enforces the no photography sign at the entrance. The lineup outside moves quickly and if it's aqua alta time they have raised platforms to line up on. Mostly we loved wandering along the narrow streets and canals. We actually saw two cement trucks being transported along the Grand Canal on a barge. I also loved looking at all the window displays of masques and leather goods. If you stay in Venice afterwards, don't leave your hotel windows open. There are lots of mosquitoes at night and my husband is still covered with red spots from all the bites he got in one night. Very itchy as well and usually he's not bothered by them.
I have to say the crew on the Silhouette was excellent. Everyone was very friendly and eager to please. The captain had a question and answer hour on the last sea day and we enjoyed that immensely. He also took part in a few of the evening activities as a judge. This was our third cruise with Celebrity and it won't be our last.