A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum, oops wrong story. Well, we actually started our trip in Rome at a beautiful hotel called the Hotel Majestic. The hotel was wonderful and included an "American breakfast". Not really. European all the way with prociutto, baked cressants, sweet breads, eggs, fruit, yogurt and a choice of American or Italian coffee. You're kidding. Who would in their right mind would choose American coffee? Yuk I would highly recommend the Hotel Majestic and sitting outside to enjoy breakfast!
Rome was hot but still beautiful! We walked all over the city enjoying the various fountains, coffee, gelato, pizza and of course the sights. We were picked up the second day by Pepe, a fabulous driver from Limoinrome who gave us a quick tour of Rome before heading out to Civitavecchia Port. Wow, we really enjoyed our time with Pepe. He showed something we will never forget: "The Keyhole to Rome". Incredible. You'll have to meet him and ask to see it.
The Celebrity Solstice was beautiful. Extremely artsey ship. Our room was nice but I feel that after traveling on various cruise lines, the company scrimped on the ship's insulation between floors and rooms. We heard a lot of noise above and next door to us. We even heard the phone ringing next door and loud Italian voices coming from next door daily.The food was good in the main dining room but not anything to write home about. The specialty restaurants, especially The Murano were outstanding. It was so outstanding, 5 star all the way, that we ate their twice. The ship's shows were spectacular, best I ever saw on cruise ships.
The Greek Islands were nice but we enjoyed Turkey and the Amalfi Coast even more.We rented ATV's in Santorini and were advised to head to Oui. This is the most picturesque spot of Santorini. Well worth driving ATV's to see. It is true that the best time to photograph the Greek Islands are in the late afternoon. The sun reflects off the islands giving it a beautiful hue. Interesting, but Greek men in Santorini, Mykonos and Athens were quite grumpy and irritable (especially those in uniform). We didn't find this to be true about our Greek staff on the ship. As a matter of fact, the ship's captain was very funny.
We took Cruisecritic member's suggestions about Ekoltravel tours in Turkey and they were fabulous. I would highly recommend this company. The tour guides we had in Istanbul and Ephesus were great and so full of knowledge, patience and character.Ayzsequl Argaboglu showed us the sights in Istanbul for 2 days and we enjoyed her company and vast knowledge of her country and city. We highly recommend that you see the Dolmabace Palace which was more beautiful than the Topkaki Palace. Shopping in the Grand Bazaar was fun but not the highlight and yes, I love to shop. Going with a guide help matters as she was able to help negotiate. We took the ship's Turkish night club/dinner/show excursion. The food was unedible but the bellydancing made up for it. Be prepared to spend a lot of money on water and soda. The Turkish Baklava that our guide bought us was amazing! It made it all the way home and eaten a week later!
We were fortunate enough to see Ephesus, the showplace of Aegean archaeology with an archaeologist who Ekol gave us a tour guide. Bulent (Bill to us) Soysal was fabulous. What a way to see the ruins! I highly recommend paying alittle more to see the Terrace House. We had a authentic Turkish lunch in Selchuk followed by our very own fashion show in a Turkish Leather Factory/showroom. Turkish leather is gorgeous and 5 out of 6 of us came home with some treasures!We followed that us with a trip to see how silk is spun and more carpet demos. I suggest trying Turkish coffee for those coffee enthusiasts but I warn you, it doesn't taste like coffee...it's more like swallowing chewing tobacco. The Turkish apple tea offered was delightful! We spent the rest of the time at the Kusadasi Port which was beautiful. Our guide warned us to be aware of fakes in the bazaar.
Well, a funny thing happened on the way to the Acropolis...yes, I broke my toe on the ship simply catching my toe on a lounge chair on the pool deck. I still managed to climb the Acropolis though. I wasn't going to miss that. Be careful climbing as it is slippery in certain areas. But this was the highlight of our trip! Even with a broken toe. Wow! Breathtaking. The rest of Athens was interesting to see but just ok. Our driver was very negative about his city and the economics of their country. We enjoyed the best Greek lunch, Musaka, in the Platka area in a little Mom and Pop shop that we found on our own. I couldn't walk anymore after lunch but my friends told me the Platka was fun to shop and see.
The absolute highlight of this trip was the Amalfi Coast. We got picked up by Mario Giafalli, a true gentleman from Italylimouisine who delighted and entertained us as we drove the Amalfi Coast. We took his suggestion and drove the coast line first before we did Pompeii. Excellent idea as we had more time to enjoy the magnificent scenery and shop alittle in Positano, stop in Amalfi and lunch in Ravello. We then headed to Pompeii to enjoy the ruins there with a private guide. Our friends suggested not wasting time in Naples with our day and I'm glad to listen to their advise.
All in all, the trip was fabulous. The ship was beautiful with a few building flaws. The ship's spa was lovely. I enjoyed a Tai Pumice Message. My husband enjoyed his Sweedish messages. The staff was lovely too.