I am glad that I went to Egypt, it is certainly unforgettable. However, I will never go there again. Do not waste your money on the Nile River Cruise, the food was awful, the bellydancer okay, and the Nile itself (not that impressive from the boat).
Shopping is excellent - Greeks love Americans, and will generally shower you with complements to get your business. My husband and I were kissed by an 85 year old shop keeper who sold us everything in her store for 60% off the price listed. Needless to say, some of the best souvenirs you can buy will probably be found here.
We rode the Metro back to the main terminal and because of the rain, took a taxi from the Metro Terminal to the Cruise Terminal for $5.00. Further note, wear good shoes -- the Acropolis and the Parthenon are uphill, on uneven ground, and there are frequent pools of standing water and dog poo to negotiate. Athens and the Acropolis have packs of wild dogs that live on the street and on the ancient sites, they are all well fed, vaccinated, and cared for, but generally leave a bit of a mess.
The Turkish people, as they are quick to tell you, abhor being identified as Arabs. They generally speak perfect English, love Americans (they are one of our most powerful allies in the Mid-East and are members of NATO), and seem genuinely fascinated by American culture. They are also trying to become members of the European Union.
Everywhere you go, expect the shop keeper to offer you Turkish Tea which is excellent. Many of them will actually have you sit and sip your tea, while a parade of everything from watches to carpets will be rolled out in front of you.
We found Turkey to be the greatest surprise of the entire trip and look forward to spending a week exploring her treasures on our next sabbatical abroad.
The excavations at Ephesus rival those of Pompeii, in fact they may even surpass it in its historical significance. Ephesus is difficult to walk around -- if you have physical limitations, you will definitely find this site a challenge, if not physically impossible. The ground is uneven, with solid slabs of marble for sidewalks (very slippery even when dry).
It is also one of the most beautiful ports I have ever seen. It is extremely easy to navigate the island, aside from an efficient bus system - taxis are plentiful and usually very reasonable. We hired a private driver for 4 people for 50 Euros for 3 1/2 hours. Many people make the mistake of staying in Valleta, which certainly is fabulous -- but, they never go to the other side of Malta, near the cliffs. On your way, make a stop at Mdina and stroll through the Silent City. Make your way to Bastion Square in Mdina, pick up your lunch to go (7 euros for a delicious sandwich and a box of chips) and have your driver take you to the cliffs and the Blue Grotto for lunch.
It is absolutely necessary that you study a bit of Maltese History including the significance of Malta in the Last Crusade and World War II in order that you may truly appreciate the historical significance of this very tiny island nation BEFORE YOU GO. A number of people we met on the cruise ship showed complete studidity about this place, don't be one of them. The history of Malta is almost as fantastic and fascinating as the scenery.
Do not miss: Cathedral of St. John in Valleta, the Blue Grotto, Mdina, and take a pit stop at Malta Glass Works near Mdina. Don't bother booking an NCL Tour for Malta -- simply hire your own taxi and they will take you on your own tour.
This is my second trip to the Eternal City. Previously, I have spent 4 nights there. Because of the complexity, cost, and distance from where the ship docks to Rome, I would advise you to consider an NCL tour.
Rome has one of the worst reliability records for mass transit, and this includes the train from Rome's central train station to Civettechia where the ship is docked. Furthermore, Rome is very difficult to navigate on foot. Buses are often crowded and limited, the Metro often breaks down and does not run at all on some days. Italians are generally friendly, but often don't know enough about the metro or mass transit (other than it is terrible) to help you if you get lost. Most of them have a very limited understanding of English.
There is so much to see in Rome, you are really better off organizing your own tour in advance or simply let NCL handle the details for you. Either way, expect to pay the same amount.