What the Aegean Odyssey and the Voyages to Antiquity concept has to offer, will more than meet your expectations if you are looking for a unque way to travel to the far-flung areas where the world's historical treasures are located.
This was my second cruise with VTA and I am already looking forward to planning a third. I even met people who had been on seven...so I have some catching up to do! This time I opted for the included 2 nt. pre- & post cruise hotel stays.
In Rome, the assigned hotel in my cabin class was the Cicerone, ideally located only a 20 minute walk from the Vatican walls as well as from many other "must see" sights in this city which is a living museum.
At my disembarkation port in Istanbul, I stayed at the Grand Hyatt close to Taksim Square. The location could not have been more fantastic. And the hotel facilities & our rooms...well, as one cruise-mate summed it up..."the bathroom is bigger than my cabin!"! As luck would have it, our last full day in Istanbul was Oct. 29th - a national holiday. We witnessed first-hand, the celebrations held, not only for the 90th anniversary of the Republic, but also for the opening of the new underwater subway link between the 2 continents.
My package also included return airfare from North America, all transfers & porterage from &/or to the airport as well as my assigned hotels and the ports where we would be embarking on or disembarking from the ship. The itinerary &/or the process in each instance was seamless & well-organized.
Most, if not all, of the shore excursions are included. The quality & scope of the excursions is consistently high, as is the expertise of most of the guides. Imagine being led through the Hagia Sophia by your guide who happens to be an Art Historian?!
Choosing to cruise on a small ship that is serving a niche clientele, has many advantages. But if your experience has been mainly on ships that are really more of a "floating hotel" variety, then the VTA concept will probably never measure up to that comparison.
Cabins are not "cookie-cutter" in size but are well-maintained & more than adequate to meet passenger needs. Staff are attentive in all areas of service-delivery. When you disembark, you feel like you're saying good-bye to family members!
While the dinning & most common areas are certainly a good fit for the size of the passenger group, the Ambassador Lounge, where the lectures & large group events take place, could use some changes to enhance the experience.
I was surprised to read the last review which spoke of the food as "bland". Most of my cruise-mates & I found the food to be varied, of very good quality with creative menus in all venues as well as with balanced flavour profiles. The "pasta du jour" station on the terrace deck was a stand-out feature with individual orders being cooked to taste & delivered to your table. We even had grown men, on more than one occasion, stopping by to tell us which dessert was not to be missed that day.
The VTA experience offers savvy sailors with a serious interest in history an opportunity to savour their journey ... in more ways than one!