I was on this cruise from Athens to Tampa which was known as the 29-Day Antiquities & Spanish Passage Collector, however the Ryndam broke it down to Athens Rome, Rome Barcelona, & Barcelona to Tampa. This is the 7 day Athens to Rome portion.
I spent several days in Athens, should have spent more & stayed at a cheaper hotel around less expensive restaurants.
In Jan. 2013 I cruised the Caribbean & on that voyage was the Mt. Laurel Autoharp Group. I overheard them say that their next cruise was going to be transatlantic. Well it was but for some reason they like the Noordam.
I was used to larger ships, also this was in the Mediterranean; I thought there could have been more but we had a port for each day; some passengers thought this too much.
I had cabin 030 on the Navigation Deck giving me use of the Neptune Lounge and breakfast at the Pinnacle Grill.
Werner Timmers kept us updated with navigational highlights & was often seen around the ship on special events & for lunch at the Lido. He was the first Captain I have seen not wearing a jacket; fellow officer were the same. Maybe this is what you get with smaller ships. The Captain’s humor, wit & knowledge were well appreciated. The fact that we had nice weather throughout the cruise probably had some affect.
Best bet here is to contact your local cell phone carrier. I was told to have airplane mode on, data off & fetch new data off. Of course turning your phone off is probably the best bet. I called my provider (AT&T) & asked for international calling for a month just in case of emergency.
Michael Langley; it took getting used to him for this was my first cruise to the Med. He was very knowledgeable of the different ports.
There was plenty of food but for me the selection was bad as I am a fussy eater. I have yet to have a tender HAL steak. This was the first cruise I chose anytime dining & I found it better than fixed for one is seated with different people each night.
There are various types, basically they are all the same. Either take a bunch of books or you can put them on an E Reader. In addition the E reader I took a Microsoft Surface tablet. A lot of people had IPads.
Embarkation & Disembarkation:
Embarkation was pretty swift. Disembarkation did not apply as I was going to Tampa.
The Ryndam singers & dancers were terrific as were comedian’s Kevin Devane & Scotty McLean. The volume in the Showroom at Sea was loud, always has been no matter what ship I’ve been on. Others agreed with me.
Fitness & Recreation:
Did not use
There were 2 formal nights. There were few tuxedos
For me the gratuity was $12 per day; for most people it was $11.50. This is deducted automatically & charged to your account.
There were washers & dryers on decks 9, 6, & 5; washing was $2, dryers $1, soap was provided free. What I did while the laundry was being washed was to sit in the one seat available & read my E-reader.
Navigational Sights & Scenery:
We had a somewhat younger crowd than the older over 60’s that one would expect, most of the children were from European countries.
I was in a Neptune Suite so took advantage of the free laundry & Pinnacle Grill for breakfast which I used only once since breakfast in the Pinnacle was at 8am & breakfast in the Lido began about 6-7 depending on the port visited.
DECK 8: Lido Restaurant: Here was breakfast, the advantage of eating here was it opened early.
DECK 8: Gym: Went here once at the beginning to the cruise to weigh myself.
DECKS 8-7: Rotterdam Dining Room: This is where I took evening meals on Deck 7 & Deck 8 for hi-tea at 3PM.
DECK 8: Explorer’s Lounge, Library, Internet, Puzzle’s & Game’s: I spent my time here while waiting for the dining room to open, using the internet, or just reading.
DECK 8: Pinnacle Grill: I had breakfast here once, but breakfast is reserved for Neptune Suite guests.
DECKS 8-7: Showroom at Sea: Where the shows are.
DECK 8: Shops: Purchased a pair of shorts here.
DECK 7: Wajang Theater: There were movies about 12 noon most evry day.
DECK 7: Front Office: Open 24/7 & I visited here a few times; Shore Excursions is beside it.
DECK 3: Tenders: decks B or 5.
HAL is known for their service. Everyone was very helpful.
The ship was relatively small & there are 2 banks of elevators 4 each or 8 in total. I found walking from bow to stern rather easy plus you really do not have any choice.
About the only place you notice this is in the Casino & here 1 side is reserved for smokers, the other side non-smoking. But a sign in the casino says "Smoking is permitted at designated slots & tables while playing only”. Outside the ship smoking is allowed. At the Sea View Pool on Deck 10, smoking is allowed on the starboard side only.
My stewards were Ari & Putu who were responsible for 17 Neptune Suite cabins.
For independent tours check reviews on Cruise Critic and Tripadvistor. Independent Tours are less expensive than ship’s tours. Taking a ships tour means that the ship will not leave without you; you lack that advantage with independent tours.
Olympia (Katakolon) Greece: tours available at the pier.
Kerkira (Corfu) Greece: tours available at the pier.
Kotor, Montenegro: available are taxi tours, tour of Walled City, walk to Kalemija mall.
Dubrovnik, Croatia: available at the pier taxi tours.
Naples, Italy: taxi tours available.
Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy: available
Olympia (Katakolon), Greece: available at various places.
Kerkira (Corfu), Greece: available in the terminal as you exit for the city.
Kotor, Montenegro: at Kalemija Mall, a short walk from the pier.
Dubrovnik, Croatia: Wi-Fi available at the pier.
Naples, Italy: Wi-Fi available at the terminal where the ship docks
Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy: available outside the terminal at restaurants
Value for Money:
I was very satisfied as I did not take this cruise for activities, but for the ports of call. It was an interesting cruise.
Athens: there are many tours in this marvelous city among them a HoHo (Hop On Hop Off) bus.
Katakolon (Olympia), Greece:
I took the ships tour "Ancient Olympia & the Village” but there is also the HoHo bus plus independent tours you can book; do a search on cruise critic or tripadvisor. Some people just walked around the city.
Kerkira (Corfu), Greece: Here you can also do an independent tour or walk around the city. I took the "Achillion, Kanoni & Corfu” ships tour.
Here I took the HoHo bus then walked to Kamelija which is the large shopping center, large according to Kotor standings. Montenegro was one of the best ports visited. There are also private taxis.
Here I took the "Panoramic & Traditional Konavle” ships tour. There are also independent taxis available.
I took the ships tour "Panoramic Naples” but there are taxi tours independent tours.
Ship tours are available as are independent tours.
Tuesday Oct. 15: Pre-Cruise: Boston, p/c
I took a taxi to Lufthansa terminal, checked in then went to the Business Class lounge. We boarded 1 hour late (the captain said it was a medical emergency). An hour after taking off we were served a sumptuous supper followed by lights out but I did not sleep a wink. Then a few hours later, before landing, we were served breakfast. Mind you the flight was only 7 hours long; how much food does one person need and the airlines are complaining about expenses?
Wednesday Oct. 16: Pre-Cruise: Athens, overcast, 70’s
After arriving in Frankfurt I went to the gate A18 for the Athens flight only to be told by an attendant that the Lounge was at gate 26. So I backtracked to 26, spent an hour in the lounge & returned to gate A 18 where we were bussed to the plane which seemed like 15 minutes. After boarding, Business Class was served yet another breakfast, & this was far better than the one from Boston to Frankfurt; Lufthansa outdid themselves. We arrived at Athens Airport (about a 3 hour flight) & I was surprised to see someone waiting for me after the fiasco with Princess Cruise Lines in Sept. 2012. When we got to the Ledra Marriott there was a long check-in line. The attendant could not find my reservation; to make a long story short everything turned out ok when the HAL rep finally cleared things up. I was told to have my luggage outside my door at 8am Saturday morning.
Thursday Oct. 17: Pre-Cruise: Athens, sunny in morning, showers in afternoon; 60’s, windy.
Caught up on sleep today with an occasional break for meals. The flight may be short but it takes a lot out of you. At supper tonight met Michele who works as an inspector for RCCL, Azmara and Celebrity cruise lines. She travels a lot and we talked about various things. She said the reason embarkation & debarkation is so good is that a terminal was specially built for the 6000+ passenger ships however she prefers the smaller ships.
Friday Oct. 18: Pre-Cruise: Athens, 60-70, clear, sunny, slight breeze.
Today I caught the 10:09 HOHO blue bus to the Acropolis; there the bus was emptied, I believe it was going out of service, & we were put on a red bus. There are two tours, the red which covers Athens and blue which covers Piraeus. On the red route we went to Syntagma Sq., Melina Merkouri / Plaka, New Acropolis Museum, The Acropolis and Parthernon, Temple of Zeus, National Gardens, The 4 Museums, Panathenaic Stadium, National Gardens / Attica Dept Store, National Library, Archaeological Museum, Omonia Square, Karaiskaki Square, Monastiraki / Thession station, Kotzia Square. At stop 8 I got off then took the Blue Bus to Marriott & Intercontinental, Planetarium, Municipal Theatre, Cruise Terminal, Lions Gate, Archaeological Museum of Piraeus, Votsalakia Beach, Mikrolimano Harbour, Planetarium, and Marriott & Intercontinental. You will notice that the bus stops at Marriott 2 times. (Note) Piraeus is a nice port area. We leave from there tomorrow. For lunch I went to Maeina, about a 2 minute walk from the hotel walking towards Piraeus on the same side as the hotel. I had a beef souvlaki wrap and bottled water for 2.20 Euro. There are 3 eateries all next to each other & very near the hotel. Back at the hotel I met Kris & Sheila, we went to the outside rooftop restaurant but it was rather windy with a good view of the Acropolis. About the tour, they give you these small headsets that fit in your ears & for the life of me I could not get them to fit in my ears.
Saturday Oct. 19: Athens, leave 4:30: 68F, sunny, Smart Casual.
After breakfast, with my bags packed I turned on the tube; the only channel of interest was the Japan one which seemed devoted to nature programming. I went to the lobby at 11am, did not see my luggage asked the HAL rep who said "well I hope not as it should be on the truck”. On the ride from the Marriott to Piraeus I noticed near the hotel walking towards the city on the same side of the hotel was a cinema. The ride took about 20 minutes & I was in my cabin by 12:30, unpacked then went to the Neptune Lounge for snacks also changed my dining from fixed to anytime. After you check-in at the dock & before you board the ship was a duty-free shop. There was not a desk in the cabin, so I ended up using the makeup table. Then I walked to the Drill & from there to the Sea View pool & the Sail-a-way party. The Halcats were playing & Kris and Sheila showed up, we ended to my cabin then to supper. After we had finished, I went back to have my zippered pants, jacket, and shirt laundered. Formal night is Monday but I will get the laundry back Sunday night. Tom & Shondra met me in the Neptune Lounge as I stopped in to have some sandwiches. Between that & herring I’m probably going to gain a few pounds. Entertainment tonight was "Listen to the Music” with Cruise Director Michael Langley & the entertainers of the Ryndam.
Sunday Oct. 20: Katakalon, Greece, 8am-6pm: 75F, mostly sunny; Smart Casual.
Calm seas from Athens to Katakalon.
In port today with Quest for Adventure.
Set a Wake-up call for 6am but also used the wakeup app on my iphone. Shaved, then went to breakfast, after which I returned to the cabin & finished getting ready for the day. I took a tour & we saw the site of ancient Olympia & the remains of temples, treasuries, porticoes and statues. We briefly stopped in an Olympia village then we walked to a renovated museum. Back to the ship, I walked around town. There are cars for hire at 35 Euro & various places have Wi-Fi. There is a duty free shop a stone’s throw from where the ship docks and many crew members go there for water. Entertainment tonight was "Rock Legends” with the Ryndam Singers & Dancers.
Monday Oct. 21: Kerkira, Greece, 8am-4pm: 68F, mostly clear, Formal.
Calm seas from Katakalon to Kerkira.
In port today with Splendor of the Seas and MSC Armonia.
Took a tour to Achillion, Kanoni & Corfu seeing the village of Gastouri, Achillion Place & the mansion built by Empress Elisabeth of Austria. At Kononi we saw the convent of Vlacherna & Mouse Island; followed by a guided walk through the narrow streets of Old Town Corfu with a stop at St. Spiridon Church. Tonight was comedian Kevin Devan, A few people left because some of his material was a bit risqué.
Tuesday Oct. 22: Kotor, Montenegro, 8am-11pm; 64F, clear, Smart Casual.
Calm seas from Kerkira to Kotor.
Ryndam was the only cruise ship in port;
There are taxi tours available, a HoHo bus tour & a guided tour of the Old Town. It’s about a 10 minute walk to Kamelija which is a large shopping center, It really is picturesque & (for me) the best stop so far. Took the HoHo bus & saw Bajova kula, Perast, & Risan. Then I walked to Kamelija which is touted to be a large shopping center & probably is by Montenegro standards; there is also Wi-Fi available. Entertainment tonight was "Going Global” with the Ryndam Singers & Dancers.
Wednesday Oct. 23: Dubrovnik, Croatia, 8am-5pm; 69F, clear, Smart Casual.
Calm seas from Kotor to Dubrovnik.
In port with Thompson Majesty;
I had a tour "Panoramic & Traditional Konavie” & saw Dubrovnik at a relaxed pace, drove through the Konavle Region to the old water mill, viewed the fully functional river-powered flourmill & had a local snack. Wi-Fi is available at the pier. Tonight was comedian Scotty McLean & he was good. Tonight was also the Filipino Crew Show; the Filipino & Indonesian crew shows are always good but the disadvantage is that they are usually at a late hour.
Thursday Oct. 24: At Sea; p/c, 73F, sunny, Formal
Decided to have breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill (Neptune Suites have that "Perk” for breakfast only). Then went back to cabin to get ready for the Mariner Luncheon which really was nothing to write home about. Next spent 28 minutes on the computer cleaning up email then went to the Lido Deck & purchased 2 T-shirts that were on sale (believe that & I have a bridge to sell you).
Friday Oct. 25: Naples, Italy; 8am-6pm: sunny, 70F, smart casual
Calm Seas from Dubrovnik to Naples.
In port with Norwegian Jade, Liberty of Sea & Mein Schiff.
I took the Panoramic Naples (through HAL) including the Royal Palace façade adorned with Greek, Roman, Gothic, Byzantine, Norman, Spanish, Bourbon & Italian statues. Saw San Carlo, one of the most famous opera houses in the world, the Mashie Angelino castle, Mt. Vesuvius, & Naples Bay. The tour was advertised as easy; some people disagreed with that. There was Wi-Fi at the terminal. Entertainment tonight was "Dancing with the Stars at Sea” starring some of our fellow guests who won various dancing contests during the preceding week.
Saturday Oct. 26: Rome (Cititavecchia), Italy, arrive 7am; 70F, sunny.
Calm Seas from Naples to Rome.
In port with Norwegian Jade, W Spirit, Lirica, Mein Schiff.
For this cruise we have had excellent weather & calm seas.
Captain: Werner Timmers
Hotel Director: Kees Van Santen
Cruise Director: Michael Langley
Chief Engineer: Pieter Engels
Purser: Moesa Djoemena
Guest Relations Manager: Christine Lubaton
Dining Room Manager: Pulung Baskoro
Executive Chef: Antonia Tudla
Staff Captain: Paul Adams
Culinary Operations Manager: Ruben Kooiman
Security Officer: Mark Miranda
Executive Housekeeper: Rita Lynch
Event Manager: Kristy Berlin