Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
My husband and I are busy bodies. Who wants to be stuck on a ship? The idea of a cruise was not in our vocabulary, in fact we used to make fun of cruisers. How wrong we were!!! Our cruise with Holland America through the Eastern Med definitely corrected us. Now our regret is that we didn't discover cruises earlier.
From the moment we met the HAL agent at the airport, we knew we had chosen the right cruise. The lady was very good at corralling us and keeping us on track without us feeling like cattle. The check in was fast and easy as was the first lunch and room settle-in. This set the tone for the rest of the trip. It was so easy. All the ports were spectacular (we had chosen the Eurodam because it hit all the ports that we wanted to visit in the Eastern Med). The ship's staff was extremely helpful with all our needs. The best part of this trip was I only had to do as much as I liked. Although, my husband and I like to go-go-go, we somehow found things to do on the ship and More
we didn't even get to use all the offered classes. We definitely liked the opportunity to participate in the Breast Cancer Awareness walk and the fact that we could attend church services.
At first we were uncertain about the evening shows, but we found them quite entertaining. The fitness center was great! We never had a problem with getting any of the machines and discovered how fun it is to run while leaving the ports or during a little rough seas.
The food was outstanding! It was a good thing we worked out! By the end of the trip we didn't want to get off. If we didn't already have travel plans for next year, we would have booked our next cruise!! We are already researching for the next one and hope to bring family and friends on that one. We want to share the experience with others. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
By George's recommendation, we booked with Fotis Taxi Tours. Definitely the way to go. Fotis had the timing down so that we were at the sights at the perfect time and even took us to a great overlook of the city. He even hooked us up with the opportunity to see the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier. Fotis took us to one of his family's favorite restaurants...very, very good. We waddled out of the restaurant. The food was outstanding. And then he let us wander the shopping areas at our leisure before returning us to the ship. Fotis was fantastic as a tour guide. We highly recommend.
Corfu is beautiful. We opted for a 4-Wheel tour booked through the Eurodam. It was a lot of fun. The little town we stopped in was really nice, though quiet. Just be prepared for a full lunch meal waiting for you at the top. We were expecting just a light snack. (Not complaining, just an awareness to not have a full stomach when you arrive.) The final stop included good ice cream and beautiful view of the island. It was a great way to end the tour.
We enjoyed Dubrovnik, but if you don't do any tours, we found we covered the walled city in just a few hours, covering the entire wall, plenty of pictures and seeing everything we wanted to within the walls. It is very pretty and quaint. Very easy access by walking from the ship. We recommend as an easy port to visit and we only needed half the day.
For Katakolon, we booked through George's Taxi tours. What a fantastic tour with George. Highly recommend to others. He offers up some historical information about the area and since his family is from there, he gave us some cultural information and a unique perspective from our "one-on-one" that I don't think you could get anywhere else. It was incredible to be able to go to Olympia, but there is a lot of ruins to see. You can make it as long or as short as you want it. We opted for short so we could explore more of the region since we had a personal tour guide. George also took us to a winery that also had an olive press. We missed a formal tour, but since he knew the owners we had a mini-private tour. And for lunch he took us to a little shop where we indulged in some yummy slouvaki really cheap. We highly recommend.
We loved our tour guide. For only $120 for my husband and I, we had a private tour with Volcan that covered all the stops and lunch. He spoke very good English and provided a lot of historical information and cultural insight. The meal he had arranged at the Turkmen carpet business was fantastic. And the tour of the carpet factory was great! We had heard of others being pressured into buying, but they did not treat us that way at all. We learned so much from that tour. Visiting Ephesus was incredible. Being able to walk the ancient roads and envisioning life back then was just out of this world. What a great tour.
Our favorite!!! We loved this port. We skipped the donkey experience and went on the tram (faster). When we got to Thira, we were mildly overwhelmed with the options of what to do. After about a half an hour of exploring we decided it would be most efficient to rent a car for only $50 for the day! The car rental provided a recommended route that we followed. It was so beautiful and very relaxing. We spent some time just hanging out on Black Beach for the afternoon, then we drove to Oia, where we shopped and enjoyed the beautiful little town. We cannot wait for the opportunity to return to the island.