Took the 10 day cruise on the Jade out of Rome and back. The staff was excellent. For example, I asked for some vegetables not listed on the entree I wanted but was with another, and they brought them. Our room steward was the best. The entertainment and shows on board were top notch. They tried very hard to include the many languages on board with the shows.The free-style dining never made us wait for a table. There was always room for immediate seating. The theatre had many seats for the shows.
A few negatives (not many), 1. we wish there were more shrimp dishes on the menu. 2. The boat drill was tortuously long having to go through so many languages. By the end of it everyone cheered. I suggest putting those that don't speak English into a separate dining room, and giving them a separate boat drill. Most on board understood English. 3. Warn the passengers about the pickpockets in Italy. That was listed in the newsletter but it should have been included in the announcements. 4. Exchanging foreign money on board was a ridiculously bad rate. Best do that on shore.
We enjoyed this cruise and would recommend it.
We walked around Istanbul on our own. My sister and I visited a hamam for a Turkish bath. We loved the experience and highly recommend it. We took a cab to the Blue Mosque area. Saw the Aya Sofia church/mosque now a museum. We went through the Grand Bazaar where some of the sellers tried to talk us into visiting their rug store, but for the most part they were not aggressive. I expected them to be but they weren't. some shops have a set price on goods which we Americans are used to. The spice market was fun, and like the bazaar was cramped, but not overly aggressive on the sellers trying to get us into their shop. After the pickpockets in Rome we were wary of people, but actually felt relaxed in the city. The city is large and packed with crazy drivers, but the domed buildings are beautiful.
Izmir, with our trip to old Ephesus with a private guide, was our favorite port of call. We visited the House of the Virgin Mary, The Basillica of St. John,, old Ephesus to see the Grand Theater and the Agora, and we briefly stopped at a rug making place because our guide knew the owner. I must admit learning how the rugs are made was fascinating. We were not pushed to buy one, but if you do, please know you are helping the women that make them. We stopped at a local cafe for some kebabs, and then back to Izmir. The folks were very nice. The place clean. I'd go back!
Be careful in Italy. Pickpockets are rampant! Wear a money belt and you should be fine. Zipped coat and pants pockets are not good enough.
We did the day on our own. We rode the tram #1 which is just across the street from when you exit the cruise terminal. We took that to the train (passing a lot of sad-looking graffitti-painted walls, and rode out to Herculaneum (Ercolano stop ?). From there is was a short 8 block walk. Herculaneum was a fabulous place. Then we took the train back. Naples has a lot of trash alongside the streets. We saw random piles of folded clothes, bags, backpacks along the sidewalk. It's almost as though thieves grabbed a bag, took what they wanted, and tossed the rest. Like I said, be careful. Rome has pickpockets too. We escaped them, but twice someone had their hands in our back pockets. Perhaps the ship's excursion may be a better idea or at least a safer choice in Naples.