We cruised the Mediterranean Legacies itinerary on Celebrity's Summit sailing October 17-30, 2009. With it being our first time in Europe, we were greedy for as many ports of call as possible, and we booked the ship's shore excursions at many of the ports. By the end of the second week, we were exhausted, and WHEN we do this sailing again, will be a bit less adventurous in the ports and may stay on the ship on some of the port days. By the way, we are a couple aged 47 in pretty good physical shape, but 5 extensive port days in a row later, we needed a rest!
When we landed after our red-eye from JFK, which offered very little sleep time as we were delayed on the runway for almost two hours and weren't fed until 10 pm by the flustered crew on our Delta flight which had newly installed lie-flat beds (the seating arrangement seemed to give them fits)Anyway, after only 3 hours of sleep, we arrived in the Venice airport with no transfer arrangements since we had used frequent flier points for air travel. The Celebrity people hooked us up with a local taxi, and 50 Euros later, we were at the ship well ahead of the other people on our flight.
Embarkation was a breeze, and when we boarded the ship, we went to our cabin first thing and were allowed access, so we did a quick unpack, then off to explore the ship. We had hoped to explore Venice that day/night since we were over-nighting, but were too tired, so we opted to sleep for 4 hours. Smart move- we awoke refreshed and ready to meet our dinner companions, which is always an anxious part of cruising, but we were very lucky. Seated at a table for 8, we met a couple in their mid-fifties from Chicago, and honeymooners 25 and 32 from Toronto. The 4th couple never showed up at the table, and the dynamics between the rest of us were great. We made fast friends, closing down the restaurant most nights (8:45 pm seating). The food was really good on some nights, not so great on others, but I would say overall very enjoyable. Our Sommelier Sheldon was terrific, and our head waiter Hernan and assistant Ishmael were the best we've ever had.
Our cabin was nice and roomy compared to most we have had, with a balcony large enough to accommodate a large table, 2 upright chairs and a small table - we enjoyed breakfast most mornings on our balcony - in late October! The best thing I packed for the trip was a cheap hanging shoe bag which I cut to fit the bathroom door and held all of our necessary toiletries nicely. Our friends had one of the cc cabins at the back of the ship with a HUGE balcony, which I will definitely try for the next time I book ( I think it was #7203)- seriously, the balcony was as big as the room!
The ship constantly had tastings and workshops and lectures and other activities - plenty to do on board. The shows were pretty good, and there is a disco for the young and young at heart - although we enjoyed Katie Guglielmo in Michael's Club as much as anything. We loved the wine tastings, and especially loved the Riedel Workshop.
2 weeks of constantly going in ports goes by way too quickly, and we hated for the cruise to end. I packed way too much clothing going for the layered thing I thought we would need in October's climate. We had their version of Indian Summer most of the trip, and a few more short sleeve shirts would have been nice! My advice: stick to one basic color, pack for one week and just launder the repeats. Travel packets of laundry detergent will do most of the job, and the ship's laundry service can do the rest...
We ended up in Barcelona, and took the Shore Excursion transfer tour which was a great way to hit the Highlights of Barcelona, and they dropped us off at our hotel Casa Fuster which was very nice. We didn't think to bring a European adaptor for our phones/curling iron, but the front desk happily supplied us with one. I need to address 3 ports here as I only have options for six ports below.
Venice: Rating: 5+ - We just walked off the ship and rambled around for the day, doing some shopping and sightseeing and cafe stopping. Had a blast! Very beautiful city and one of our faves - 1.50 euros for very nasty public toilets the only downside. Just go to a cafe and sit and enjoy a cappuccino to take advantage of their bathrooms - it is what we did in every port thereafter and had fun people watching.
Barcelona: Rating: 4 - They have a hop-on hop-off bus which hits all the major sights and is a very good value. Gaudi architecture is really something to see. Las Ramblas is hopping and vibrant, but we really enjoyed having dinner in the Gothic quarter (and getting lost trying to get to the restaurant). Alfresco tapas at a little place called "Taller de Tapas" was excellent - especially the shaved artichokes and sauteed mushrooms polished off with a very good wine - Yummy!
Athens: Rating: 1 - A very large and modern city- not really to our taste. Graffiti and zooming traffic everywhere. We took the ship's tour which took us to The Acropolis exterior, then on to the Plaka for shopping. Was glad to get to see the Acropolis and Plaka, but after a while all the shops seem the same. We found a little restaurant off the beaten path, ordered Gyros (slightly different from what we know here in the states) and good wine.