Booked and got a good price on balcony cabin with some perks added. Embarkation was fairly easy, you got a number and the process moved smoothly. Our cabin was towards the rear of the ship and a good size for a standard balcony cabin. The ship was pretty easy to get around in once you figures out all the nautical terms: fore, aft, port, etc. We enjoyed use of the pools and hot tubs, the gym and (on a short Port day) had the best massage and facial ever! Our stewards were attentive, quick to respond (especially when we locked ourselves out of the cabin on the balcony) and left delightful towel"animals" each night. Meals were good, the additional price meal at the Pinnacle Grill was well worth the very reasonable expense. Service everywhere was very good and we have no complaints about the ship, staff or service. Everything ran quite smoothly, something I have come to expect from Holland-American as this is the 3rd cruise on HAL.
Ports of Call: Took only one HAL tour at More
Katakalon to Olympia. Excellent guide. Managed either by walking from the pier (Corfu) or taking public transportation (Dubrovnik and Piraeus/Athens) to get everywhere we wanted to go. In Santorini rented a car, smart move- got to the back beach and a fab winery as well as Oia with its whitewashed buildings with blue roofs. In Ephesus had arranged prior to sailing online thru Ertunga guides a tour with Emel (a professional guide , firstname.lastname@example.org) who picked us up at the pier and took us thru Ephesus and other nearby sites. Very knowledgable, very personable.
Our only disappointment was that in Sicily, Palermo was substituted for Messina and there was flooding in that area. Would have much rather gone to Messina! Less
You can walk to the Metro from the pier. Don't forget to stamp your ticket before getting on the train! Stops right behind the Acropolis or near the Plaka. Acropolis easy to see on your own, just be prepared for a lot of steps and a lot of walking. We used Rick Steves guidebook (xeroxed from the Library) and pretty much got a good understanding of what we were seeing. Always crowded. Don't miss the new Acropolis Museum nearby.
Dubrovnik: don't bother with a tour. You can get everywhere in town simply walking. Do not miss Walking-The-Wall! It is still possible to see signs of the Serb bombardment during the Balkan war. Buy some of the lavender packets wrapped in the lace pouches from the elderly lady street senders. Eat down by the waterfront at the old harbor. We had seafood risotto at Lokando Peskarija. Don't miss the second oldest Synagogue in Euope, 13th century. You will need to exchange Euos for Kuna to ride the bus, but easy to do right by the bus stop.
This is Ephesus, the largest Roman establishment outside of Europe and it is very large. Highly recommend reserving a guide ahead of time. We went through Ertunga.com (recommended by Rick Steves and others) and got Emel. a professional tour guide who spoke excellent English and was very knowledgeable, explained everything, took us everywhere, inc.The Terrace House - the most magnificant ruins in Ephesus- Virgin Mary House, St. John Basilica and even took us into a Mosque where we met the Iman.