Have had a few requests for review...... sorry it took so long. After a terrible flight over on May 2nd (missed connections due to mechanical problems) we arrived in Rome 8 hours later than originally planned. Stayed 1 night precruise at the Albergo del Senato right next door to the Pantheon. Wonderful hotel in a perfect location. We walked all over that evening after a wonderful dinner at a cafe in the Piazza della Rotunda. We shared a ride with 2 other couples from our sailing with Romecabs and they picked us up promptly at 11:50. So easy.....didnt even have to load the luggage :)
Boarded Solstice on Monday May 4th around 2:00 pm and while there was a line at the port, it went very smoothly and quickly. We had previously sailed Royal Caribbean from the same terminal and their process was just as smooth and effortless. Once on board our cabin was already ready so went to check it out. The cabins are very nice. Modern decor but not "in your face" modern which I do not like at all. More of a "subdued modern" with earthy colors of tan, brown, burgandy etc. We found our cabin to be a nice size and room for everything - well most everything. I always take way too many pairs of shoes.... had those tucked everywhere. Our balcony was one of the "angled" ones right before the hump and it was HUGE ! Cabin 6214. The ship is designed very well so that most areas never felt crowded in any way. We found lots of areas where we could be all alone and have a nightcap or just sit and watch the sea go by way up top. Due to the port intensiveness of this cruise - we did not use many of the ships amenities....well except for the casino. Did not attend any shows, lectures or presentations. We used the sea days to "catch up" as we like to go-go-go in port. We cruise for the ports - not the ship.
Now about the ports.
Santorini was beautiful. We did not get up early to get our tender tickets and found ourselves with a high number which put is off the ship about 4 pm. With arrival time at 2 pm my advice is get in line early. We were there until 10 pm so that helped - but sunset at @ 8:30 that day so unless you want to wander around in the dark you will find yourself heading back to the ship right after sunset (which is what we did) All aboard was 9:30 anyway and with the cable car line you don't want to cut it too short. We hired taxi to take us to Oia, wait for us and return us to Fira for 50 euros. Had planned on taking the bus but didnt want to hassle with it as this was soooo easy.
Mykonos was ok. Altho our original itin said tender - we docked. Shuttle was provided into town for $ 10. per person round trip which we used. Ran all day regularly. Convenient. Mainly walked around the town area, shopped and had lunch. In retrospect wish we had of gone to Delos for the morning and spent just the afternoon in town.
Istanbul WE LOVED. After getting off the ship we exited the port area and found the nearest ATM and got lira. Then went to the nearest tram stop and bought tokens and took the tram into the old town area. Very easy, very convenient and very cheap ! 70 cents one way ride per person. Since we overnighted there and planned to use the tram again the next morning..... we bought our return tokens as well as round trip tokens for the next day so we wouldnt have to bother again. Just keep them seperate from coin lira as they look like coin money. Visited Hagia Sofia, Blue Mosque and Cistern all which we enjoyed alot. Missed Topkapi palace as even tho it is open until 7 pm they were not letting anyone in after 4:30. Oh well. Next trip. Next morning we did the tram back into town and did the Grand Bazaar, had a great lunch at Bodrum restaurant and then back to the ship to leave. Istanbul is clean, easy to get around in using the tram, beautiful park with fountian near sites..... people are reserved but helpful and friendly.
Kusadasi was also extremely nice. Resort area and has it all....mountains and water. We did the Jeep Tour with Ekol travel and wow..... what a day. Not for the faint of heart but if you like 4X4'ing, quaint villages and amazing ruins....this is it. Include the Terrace Houses - it is worth the extra cost. We were picked up at 9 am and dropped off at 6 pm.... then shower and change and back off the ship for dinner. We had a wonderful meal very near the ship right on the boulevard that runs along the waterfront. Kings Place. Look for the clock tower and to the left. We were in port here until midnight.
Athens. What can I say. I have wanted to go there since I was a little girl. While I am so glad I went - saw the Acropolis etc.... I did not like the city. Big, dirty, smoggy ! and graffitti on every possible surface you can imagine. We walked from the ship to the metro, took metro into Monistiki station then walked thru the Plaka up to the Acropolis. Enjoyed that for a while, came back down, shopped a bit and had lunch. Decided against the metro back (didnt want the walk at the other end) so took a taxi back to the ship for 20 euro.
Naples we had originally planned to do Capri as we did Pompeii and Amalfi coast tour last Europe trip. But since me and half the ship had head colds by this time we just stayed in Naples. Took a taxi to the National Archeological Museum and spent the morning there. Had the taxi meet us and asked for some "good pizza". He took us to a pizza place established in late 1800's. Pretty good too :) Then back to the ship. If we get back to Naples again - will not stay in town...... also big city, dirty and while we enjoyed the museum there is just too much other AMAZING stuff nearby to stay in Naples.
Back to Rome..... disembarkation was weird. We left our cabin and went to get a coffee at Cafe Boccio (as we did each morning) while there we heard a ships officer talking on a walkie-talkie.....he told someone to call our disembarkation color - so instead of going to the theatre we turned around and headed for the gangplank..... no one else was there. No line - zip zero nada...... talk about easy ! We found our luggage and went outside to wait for the other 2 couples who were sharing a ride with Romecabs back to Albergo del Senato. We stayed one night post cruise at this hotel and will do so again when we get back to Rome. Picked up promptly on Saturday morning by Romecabs with a smooth dropoff at the airport. Now, comes the sad part.....we then had to come home. OH well until our next trip !