Aegean Odyssey Cruise Review by timber1: Great trip at a great price
Great trip at a great price
We had taken a previous "Voyage to Antiquity" in June when the ship and itinerary were still quite new. There were several complaints from passengers on that cruise. Since then, however, the quality of the food,logistics in getting on and off the boat, power problems, plumbing and air conditioning all seem to have improved a great deal.
Embarkation was quick and easy with the luggage arriving promptly. The ship was very clean with no musty odors as had occurred in June. The ship's dining facilities were adequately staffed with extremely friendly waitstaff who kept our wine glasses full during dinner with very good quality wines (included in the price of the voyage). We preferred the casual Terrace Cafe to the Marco Polo dining room and ate all but 2 of our meals there. The weather was absolutely beautiful the whole time (until the last day when it rained), so we preferred to eat outside on the Terrace Cafe deck. The food, while better than last trip, was still inconsistent in More quality. We had several soups and fish dishes that were excellent, however. The Marco Polo dining room is on the lower deck and has no windows, so seems dark and closed in to me. Plus, I didn't feel the quality of the food was any better than the Terrace Cafe the few times we ate there.
The ship's library is outstanding with great selection of books appropriate to the theme of the voyage...history and archaeology of classical civilizations. There were several lectures geared to the sites we were visiting as well as general history and geography of the area. Most of the lectures were quite informative and interesting. The shore excursions (also included in the price), included (mostly) excellent local English-speaking guides. A couple included lunch at local restaurants, which were very nice.
Our accommodations were spacious and included a balcony, great for viewing a smoking volcano (Stromboli) as we sailed on our way to the Amalfi Coast from Sicily. A mini fridge included water and soft drinks, plus a bottle of Epernay champagne (very good!). There is no clock in the staterooms, so be sure to bring your own or turn on the TV where the ship's channel has the time. In the bathroom, the shower seemed to leak as puddles of water soaked the bath mat just about every time a shower was taken.
High quality, but not a luxury ship, we felt overall, this is great value for the experience gained. Though it does not have big show-style entertainment, casinos,children's facilities or big spa/gym facilities that other larger cruise lines have, it is a great trip for those who appreciate what it does offer: a caring crew, clean facilities and accommodations, and really great educational, interesting itineraries with lectures and shore excursions to match. We would definitely consider another "Voyage to Antiquity". Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
The Athens shore excursion covered the Acropolis and the recently opened Acropolis Museum. We had been to Athens before, but this time there was hardly any scaffolding covering the Acropolis structures and the Temple to Nike was now viewable (lovely). Also, the new museum was very nice to see. The guide was knowledgeable and the Quiet Vox system let me roam around a bit while still able to hear our guide. The crowds were terrible, surprising to us for this time of year (end of Sept). We spent the morning there with the afternoon free to explore on our own. We sailed at night to Nafplio, a lovely Greek harbor town. From Nafplio we had a shore excursion to Mycenae (@1600-1300BC), city of Agamemnon and mentioned in Homer's Illiad. Though we had been here before on our own, the guide was excellent and we learned a great deal and appreciated the site much more through this excursion. We also visited the so-called tomb of Agamemnon, a wonderful beehive structure with towering dome. The afternoon was spent visiting the Archaeology Museum in Nafplio and wandering around town. Highly recommended.
The visit to Herculaneum, despite protestations of the guide to the contrary, was much better in terms of what we got to see. Maybe that's because it's a much smaller area to see(Pompeii is over 160 acres, visible excavation in Herculaneum are so much less because the new town is built over most of the ruins)and the upper stories survived, unlike in Pompeii. But, the wall paintings and mosaics were much better preserved. Plus, by this time, we ran around seeing as much as we could, whether our guide was going there or not! I highly recommend Herculaneum and be sure to visit the House of the Mysteries for wonderful wall paintings.
Overnight in Palermo, next day excursion to Monreale and the Cathedral with its 12thC mosaics covering over an acre of wall space. Lovely cloister also. Also be sure to view the bronze doors behind the church.
Overnight sail to CEFALU. Really pleasant holiday hill town located on a headland overlooking the sea. Lots of Byzantine sights including a couple of impressive cathedrals. Stroll through the narrow streets, but beware of cars even on so-called pedestrian avenues. There are some very nice shops for surprisingly high-end fashion, shoes, kitchenware and jewelry.
Due to weather conditions, was unable to visit Sorrento as tendering was not safely possible. The ship relocated to Naples instead.
Midnight sail to SYRACUSE. From there -excursion to the Greek theater, Tomb of Archimedes, Roman amphitheater, and the Archaeological Museum in the morning. In the afternoon, excursion to the island of Ortygia where we viewed the Temple of Apollo and a Norman cathedral built into a Greek temple.
Sail to AGRIGENTO: Excursions to breathtaking sights in the Valley of the Temples of virtually intact Greek temples about 5thC BC. In afternoon, cruised the Sicilian coast, viewing Eghadi Islands and arrived at TRAPANI in pm. Next day excursions to Segesta, Selinunte and Marsala, where we viewed temples, cathedrals and had a lovely lunch and wine tasting at the Florio winery. Great guide all day, fantastic sights, esp. in Selinunte with its 8 Greek temples and ancient fortification systems. Highly recommended.
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