The Best Ever - Everyone said so
Europe - Western Mediterranean
Where to start? What did we like the best?
The first thing that comes to mind, is what is missing. What is missing is someone trying to get in your wallet 20 times a day. Wine is poured liberally at lunch and dinner, coffee and treats are complementary all day, all over the ship, there is a complementary laundromat. On other cruise lines, we have felt less than comfortable. I feel that given no options, 7 or 8 dollars is a lot to spend on the "house wine". Ships that leave the gratuities to the passenger, often have overzealous wait staff, and maitre D's. There is a tackiness in all of this.
The second thing we liked the best was the crew. Yes, Yes, all cruise ships have friendly crews. But this one tops them all. These people are really, really, friendly, and because it is in their nature, they already have the tip (it is included in the fare).
The third thing we liked best was free shuttle buses from the dock to the central city in each port. This More
not only saves money, but cuts down on the aggravation and stress factor tremendously.
The fourth thing we like best was the fellow passengers on the ship. These people were more interested in the ports, than in their clothes. Very comfortable.
And lastly, the food. Everyone we talked to on the boat agreed that it was the best of all ships. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
Corfu is much more cosmopolitan than many of the Greek Islands on Cruise tours. The seaside central square is huge, and lined with cafes. Bustling with yes, natives. Jolly, chatty, loud, happy, families and crowds. All enjoying a beautiful day, and each other. Yes, there is a charming warren of shops for tourists as can be expected, but the pleasant ambience is cheering.There are many special photo ops of the temple and old fort. But we found the people to outshine the landmarks.
We were not expecting Dubrovnik. Wow, it blew us away. The incredible walled old city is overwhelming. The old wall provides a wonderous view of the sea, and city. We found just walking around the alleyways and plazas a wonderful way to spend the day. We enjoyed a delicious meal of local foods off to the side of the main areas. The prices drop as you get away from the main street. There are no cars in the old city. Musicians in medieval dress were playing Bach in a cloister. It is a UN Heritage site, and as always, bustling with tourists. We loved Dubrovnik.............
Sorrento has something for everyone. Capri, Pompeii, the Amalfi coast, and a beautiful cliffside setting. We chose to take the train to Erculeneo as we had already visited Pompeii. (both sites are on a local line called Circumvesuvio). Very easy to do on one's own. It is also possible to go to the top of Vesuvius. That will have to wait for the next trip. Erculeneo is smaller than Pompeii but is far more preserved. As it was totally buried, the ruins have not suffered as much of the ravages of time as has Pompeii. There are many frescos, floor tiles, second stories and artifacts.
A charming hillside town with many upscale shops and flower covered cafes. The day we were there, Mt Etna was standing proudly by, but whisked into the clouds later in the day. An excursion to Mt Etna was one of the highlights of our cruise. The guide was a volcanologist, and included was a very short, very easy walk to many of the smaller side vents (no longer active). Take a jacket. Very cold, and very, very interesting.
Venice is truly beautiful, and everyone should see it once. They didn't all have to see it on the same day as we did. Venice is overcrowded with tourists, and overpriced. A quick cruise ship stopover was a really good way to "get in and get out". The dock is good 30 minute walk to St Marks, and there is a boat bus (vaporetto). The cost of the vaporetto is 6 and a half euros each way per person. You can't tell me that Venetians pay that everyday to get to and from work.............. Anyway it is a must see.