We have cruised on many ships before but this was our first with Royal Carib. We met many folks on the ship that are religiously devoted to this cruise line so I do hope I won't offend anyone if I sound a critical note here and there; in doing so, I hope to help other cruisers and also help the line improve where needed. That being said, I have mostly praise for the ship and the line. About 10-12 years ago, we did a similar itinerary, 18 nights, hitting the same ports as this itin, including more of the Greek Islands, such as Mykonos and Santorini,and Crete; however, at the last minute a spate of terrorism made the ship cancel the stops in Ashdod and Haifa, when we saw this itin, we jumped on it, and we got a great deal on the cruise and air from San Francisco.
So the itinerary, especially being able to spend 2 days each in Egypt and Israel,was for us the highlights of the trip. Through Cruisecritic Boards, we arranged for a group of 10 people for a two day tour in Israel;same driver picked us up in Haifa and Ashdod;only mistake I made was that I should have tried to arrange an overnight in Jerusalem,it is such a fascinating city; for Egypt, we joined with a veteran Cruisecrtic member who arranged for a two day tour of Egypt,with an overnight stay in Cairo-not only does that give you an evening in Cairo, but we also had the opportunity to see a little of Alexandria,(thanks Joannie T).No need to talk about those ports; just a word about the others, which we did with another Cruisecrtic member,who did all the work(thanks Barb). RHODES: lush,beautiful mediter Island:if knights and forts are your thing, you could well spend a day walking through the old city.The cruise line does a bus tour to LINDOS, another beautiful little town ruined by being over-touristed, I thought it was dreadful: however, it is well worth a visit if you walk up to the Acropolis or take a donkey-wonderful views of the Island, very interesting and to a great extent has a lot of intact remnants of what was once a grand place to live. KUSADASI's big pull is Ephesus, a wonderful remnant of a once powerful port city-best I have seen since the Roman Forum: ancient history buffs(but only buffs) might want to bypass Ephesus,(which we did) and visit the ruins at Didyma,Miletus and Pereus(spelling?).CYPRUS: another beautiful Medit island:cruise line does a bud tour that takes you to Omodos, a lovely village but again, overtouristed, though it does have a lovely monastery church, said to be over a 1,000 years old.We had hoped to drive through the Troodos mountains to visit some out of the way wineries and monasteries but our driver was afraid to go there as it rained in the area.
THE SHIP,SERVICE,ETC. Our air arrangements via Royal CArib and Delta were excellent:sfo-jfk-athens// return: istan-jfk-sfo: a better itin from west coast would have been direct to Athens, but at the price we got for air, who wants to argue?
LEAVING THE SHIP WHEN IN PORT: Of all the cruises we have done, (11), I never saw a better organized departure from the ship:those on the cruise line tours had to assemble in the show rooms, but for those of us who made their own arrangements, we were able to walk off minutes after the ship had been cleared.
Disembarcation at the end of the cruise was also excellent, efficient and fast. I thought quality and selection of food in all the venues we sampled was excellent. As has been stated in other reviews, the area for buffet dining, most expecially for breakfast, is just too small to provide seating, and there is much bumping and colliding with others-at times it was dreadful. Even more frustrating on days in port was the service in the main dining room that was just too slow, although they did have their own buffet there.Our inside stateroom(L) was fine,had everything we needed. I have never been on a cruise where I saw longer lines at the service desk;with some exceptions, the usual number of staff there was only two, sometimes one. I thought the lounge music was a bit below par but we did not attend any of the shows since we did all the ports, we were usually in bed by PM. One of the areas we had trouble was that communication between our travel agent and ship really broke down: I had to wait in lne for customer service three times because the staff could not find records of some of the ammenities we had been promised by the cruise line and/or our travel agent, even though I presented the staff with a printed confirmation from the travel agent. They were either unable or unwilling to contact the agent; in the end, I did get what I had been promised-pre-paid gratuities(which works well) and $ 200 credit for the cabin. I thought the ship was spotless, everything had the feel of being new; we enjoyed the 2 swimming pools, spas and gym; I noticed that the covered pool did not attract the large number of cruisers as the outdoor pool.