We took a Alilaguna red water bus to the Molino Stucky Hotel which took over 1 hour but was a great way to see the outer areas of Venice like Murano, the cost was 15 Eur. each. After checking into the hotel we took the free shuttle to St Marco, walked around the square and then had dinner a few streets behind St Marks Basilica. We walked to the Rialto bridge, all light up it was beautiful to photograph.
The next morning we took the free shuttle over to Vattere, walked to the Academia Bridge, St Stefanos Sq, the Salute church ect. We had drinks and a snack at the Skyline rooftop terrace at the Stucky. We took the 42 water bus to Piazza Roma and then walked 10 minutes to our ship. Easy and inexpensive!
We watched the sail away from the Aft bar, the sun had come out and the sail away was beautiful.
We have decided that the way we make anytime dining work for us is to budget for the extra restaurants, this allows to plan a dinner time and also get to know the waiters and them us. We ate twice at LeBistro and both times the food was salty. Service was good but in this day and age there is no excuse to have such salty food, we are not on low salt diets or have to watch for blood pressure and we still found the food "salty". We ended up eating at the Italian restaurant 5 days on our 2 week cruise. There is a new menu and new restaurant manager (Italian) and this restaurant was so much better than last year. We loved the waiter Paul Jorden and his wife Vanessa, they were really awesome waiters and lovely people. We never had a bad meal at LaCucina and we tried many of the entrees and almost all the desserts and the appetizers. We had one dinner at Tequila's which was good, I am just not a big Mexican fan so preferred to go for Italian.
We went to the Aft bar almost every day and the bartender Melvin looked after us very well. There was usually food out there also. The meals at the Grand Pacific were hit or miss and service was mostly miss. I think they need a new menu at Blue Lagoon, I find the food there almost disgusting and only went a second time because my husband suggested it. After our second lunch there he said "wow the food is so bad here, lets go to the buffet".
We took a day pass for the Spa on our last sea day and that was 20.00 well spent, so relaxing.
Found the entertainment repetitive, same shows as last Nov. The musical entertainment was not nearly as good as the "Dawn" in Nov/09. The pool band was OK but the female singer was not very good. The guitar player was not as good as the Dawn and the piano guy or the duet singers were not nearly the calibre of "Bernie Martini" from the Dawn.
The first week the CD was Brett and the second week was Gary and neither one is any where close to John Ibrams from the Dawn, no energy no enthusiasm and generally just not visible. The assistant CD Ken worked very hard and seemed to be "running ' most of the show.
We went on this cruise for the ports and they were all tremendous! Our NCL shore excursions were good value and ran smoothly.
Split - Trogir and Ancient Solona was great. After the tour bus dropped us off near the Palace so we could spend almost 2 hours wandering this beautiful town.
Corfu- rented a car from Sunrise car rental, they were at the port with a sign welcoming us. Driving was very easy here. Also spent about hours wandering the streets of the port town.
Santorini- get a tender ticket early. We had made dinner reservations a Vanilia and we had the best table in the house. Wonderful sunset and great food.
Mykonos-rented a car and then spent time at the windmills and walking Little Venice
Crete- did the Knossos/ Typical Village Ncl tour and it was good, very hot at the ruins
Dubrovnik- we did a private walking tour which was very informative, then we went to the Rectors Palace. Walking the wall of the old town is a must!
Athens- spent the morning at the Acropolis and other sites then our guide took us down the coast for a seaside lunch and to Cape Sounion to the Temple of Posidion. A very good tour, I would have been disappointed in just staying in Athens , it seemed like a busy big city not really tourist friendly like say Paris or Rome.
Izmir- Turkey was the surprise of our trip. BEAUTIFUL, clean friendly! Ephesus was amazing, our Ncl tour was so good and only 59. 00 for over 6 hours. A real highlight of the trip.
Nafplion was a short stop. We split a taxi to go up to Palamidi castle, walked , shopped and took many pictures of this pretty flower filled town.
There are many more expensive cruises to the Med, but the NCL Gem gave us two weeks at a very affordable price to have what may just be a "trip of a lifetime".