A bit of background first
We have done 4 cruises now, first time with Royal Caribbean all other cruises were with Ocean Village, which we loved, so we can only compare with one other cruise line that sadly does not exist now.
We are both in our 50’s, not into dancing the night away or drinking lots. Go on cruises to visit a variety of countries and like the ease of unpacking just once.
We had a lovely time with RC and the ports of call have been great, this is just a diary of what we did and how we felt about our holiday.
Would we return to RC, maybe, maybe not, might try other companies as well.
East Med Itinerary August 2011
Sunday 14th Aug-Packed in the morning and set off at 2pm, on the way saw a car catch fire-one of the most awful things I have ever seen! As the lady pulled over to the hard shoulder the flames engulfed the car, I couldn’t look, hubbie said she and a young girl got out safely. Then an accident on jun. 5-6 of M25 slowed us down. Arrived at APH by 3,30ish the on bus to North Terminal to Sofitel Hotel, relaxed. Out to Easyjet in evening to book priority boarding as I was fretting about getting pushed etc. when getting on plane. Ate at Giraffe (lamb burger & BBQ chicken wrap) picked up stuff for breakfast juice and pastries back to room by 7.30pm. Arranging to get up at 5.30am.
Monday 15th Aug- Very hot & sunny/no wind.
Travel to Venice, Slept ok was up at 5am, boarded plane at 8.50am that went ok. Arrived Venice at 11.30am (hour ahead) onto coach and processed onto ship, needed more people showing you where to go-no one there just followed other passengers! Fairly quick processing then went to cabin and onto Windjammer for some lunch. Decided to set off into Venice at 2pm, still no cases, but had change of clothes in hand luggage so changed and set off. RC were running a shuttle boat after 4pm till 10pm at $20 each, but we went to the people mover and onto the vaperettos (18 Euros each for a 24hr pass)as we have used these before. Got off at Academia stop and wandered the back streets then over to St Marks Square & walked to Rialto bridge, was going to wait for darkness (photo would have been nice) but sun very late setting and we were very tired after early start. Got back to ship 7pm approx, so had missed our first night of dining (our time was 6.30pm!) so went to Windjammers after a shower and then to the 42nd Street Theatre for “Welcome Aboard show” at 8.15pm, lots on Italians onboard-show was poor, included shadow puppetry which I haven’t seen for years, was a little old hat, too much talking about what was happening during the week etc, very little “entertainment”. No one serving drinks before or during show. Walked around top deck before back to cabin 10pm-knackered!
Tuesday 16th Aug-Very hot & sunny/no wind.
Half day Venice. Up at 7am, awake at 6am! Had breakfast then walked to people mover & vaperettos (had a 24hr ticket) 8.30 ish up to St Marks Square, lovely and quiet. Queues already at Basilica, but we had pre-booked online (1euro) also pre-booked Doges Palace tickets too (made good use of our limited time) so after a quick rekkie of entrances we entered the Basilica (opens around 9.45am)-a little disappointed, lots of gold but dull & dark. Spent about 20mins in there then onto Doges Palace, again straight in skipping queues. The palace is well worth a visit spent a good 2hrs in here, very pretty and interesting. Headed back to the ship walking some of the back streets, back onboard about 12.30pm, went to eat-so had everyone else! No seats wandered the Windjammer like many other people waiting for a seat, finally got one and there was a BBQ going on outside to so had some meat from that-lovely-watched sail away, great atmosphere lots of dancing & singing, once out of Venice we had a lifeboat drill, took ages as some people were missing, strange we didn’t have to wear our life jackets, on our others cruises we had to put them on. Relaxed on deck 4 before returning to cabin to get ready for 1st formal night. The evening was lovely, great company on our table although Hubbie hated wearing tux in such hot weather! He changed straight after dinner then we watched “Soul Satisfaction” in theatre-very good. Two shows one at 7.15pm and one at 9.15pm. Again only about 2 staff serving drinks before show and no one during show-missed getting a drink. Returned to cabin 10.20pm and to find a towel rabbit on bed-pretty.
Wednesday 17th Aug- Very hot.
Half day Kotor. Up around 7.45am, leisurely start, do miss not having kettle/coffee in room. Hubbie not feeling well, bad stomach cramps, I had breakfast then onto top deck for photos as we sailed in to Kotor-very nice-Hubbie came on trip as it was too late to cancel & we would lose our money unless he visited doctor, so he struggled on. At 12.30pm met in Top Hat for tender in, travelled to Budva (approx half hour) had a short guided tour and time to wander before returning to Kotor. Had another guided tour of Kotor checking out the Maritime museum and churches. Hubbie really struggling so headed back to ship soon after tour finished. Went to Windjammers at 5.25pm found out it closes at 5.30pm and doesn’t re-open till 7pm! So didn’t get anything to eat, other people moaning at staff. Went to cabin to relax as very hot, went back to Windjammers at 7pm so Hubbie could choose what he wanted, as stomach still unsettled. Then onto top deck to watch sailing out & sun setting, nice & quiet very enjoyable. There was one show tonight but we did not go, it was the incredible world of magic and illusions at 8.15pm. Coffee then bed around 10.30pm.
Thursday 18th Aug- Hot & sunny
Day at Sea. Awake at 8.15am, although watches go forward one hour so it was 9.15am. Went to shower while Hubbie went to find sunbeds, no water pressure/no shower! So joined Hubbie on deck, Windjammers very busy for breakfast, a few arguments over sunbeds during the day too, people taking other peoples while they were off eating or whatever. Stayed on deck till 4pm before getting ready for 2nd formal night in the King & I. Evening meal okay-lobster sauce, duck/beef some portions were very small, others were enormous, didn’t make any sense. Saw a bird resting on the ships railings, must have been tired. The entertainment in the 42nd Street was a violinist string virtuoso Vincenzo Gentile, it seemed a little strange and a lot of people walked out. We stayed and enjoyed it even though we are not into the classics/orchestras, a few more staff tonight serving-so got a drink early! Two shows tonight one 9.15pm the other 11.00pm. Booked the Athens museum trip tonight, they were not running the transfer to Athens on your own or we may have done that. Noticed all food places closed by 9.30pm, think you could get burgers/chips etc in Solarium, or room service I suppose-just not used to using room service, Hubbie wanted cheese & crackers/coffee but didn’t bother.
Friday 19th Aug- Extremely hot/sunny.
Athens. Awake at 6.30am, had breakfast in King & I, strange arrangement so much space not being used, we were just using one side of the dining room. Onto our tour of Athens museum & the Plaka, spent about 1 ½ hours at the museum, I really enjoyed it. Then a quick drive around the sites of the city(we had done Athens 2 years ago) before getting ¾ hour shopping time in the Plaka, not long enough really, but got a taste of it-we hadn’t visited the museum or the Plaka area before, so would have liked more time to shop! Back to ship by 1.15pm-lunch in Windjammer, not too busy today, but Hubbie complained about a dirty glass he had (he never saw it at first, I pointed it out). Phoned Mum & then sun bathed till 5pm. Left Athens a bit late, casual dress for dinner tonight, had a lovely brie & asparagus tart, crab/shrimp salad and a trio choc dessert. In evening watched “The Adjustment Bureau” in 42nd Street at 8.15pm, quality not great but okay, strange no staff in serving/offering drinks. Cabin & coffee (we were on the same floor as the coffee shop so got it on the way back to cabin) There was a monkey towel in room-very nice. There was no show till 10.45pm tonight, too late for me as up early for trip tomorrow.
Saturday 20th Aug- Very, Very Hot!
Kusadasi. Awake 7am, trip to Ephesus started at 9.15am. Have been to Ephesus 2 years ago, but not done terraced houses. Ephesus is still wonderful, a marvellous site and the terraced houses did not disappoint! We didn’t go to the craft exhibit at the end of the tour, just told guide we wanted to go off on our own into Kusadasi town. Wandered towards Pigeon Island, found somewhere to have a drink & snack on the way, it was a lovely walk although extremely hot! Back to ship about 3pm, had a drink & went to the jacuzzi to cool down & relax, thought the pools were a little small for swimming in although I am not a great swimmer. Hubbie not feeling great again today, he had a constant running nose, wasn’t sure if it was a cold or “hay fever” type thing! Relaxed back in cabin as too hot outside, before dinner at 6.30pm, casual night again. Then went to the show at 9.15pm “Dancing Thru the Movies Show”-very good, there was another showing at 11.00pm. Back to cabin about 10.30pm.
Sunday 21st Aug- Extremely hot!
Bodrum. We were going to lie in but I woke at 7am and we were walking in to Bodrum by 9.15am. We had found out a shuttle boat (not run by the ship) would be running from port to town but we couldn’t find it-later found out we were too early! And looks like it only runs once every few hours. Walked to the castle, they only take lira for entrance fee so Hubbie found an ATM to get some, did wonder afterwards if they would except a credit card-but too late-Castle well worth a visit, it took a good few hours to wander around and had some lovely views. Tracked the shuttle boat to the nearby harbour, but next one wasn’t for near 2hrs, had just missed one! So after a drink of cold beer we walked backed to the ship slowly, a delicious cake helped me along the way. Back in cabin around 3pm, Hubbie still not feeling great, felt very hot so relaxed in cabin had coffee/cookie mid afternoon. Down to dinner at 6.30pm, the waiters sung to us tonight, very enjoyable. We did not go to the show tonight it was Mario D’Andrea guitarist entertainer, there were two shows one at 9.15pm and the other 11.00pm. Watched the sun go down and back to cabin as tour starts at 7.15am tomorrow and Hubbie not feeling well!
Monday 22nd Aug- Hot & sunny
Santorini. Arranged to have room service breakfast as Windjammers does not open till 6.30am and felt it would be too rushed for us. Although we couldn’t have cooked breakfast as not available till 6.30am! As it was, we never got it till 6.30am and we got the cooked breakfast, plus fruit instead of a fruit yogurt-but it was enjoyable-and we had been able to shower etc while waiting. Onto tender just as the sun was rising over Santorini, beautiful. We visited Oia first, pretty little village then on to Santo winery, another enjoyable place and to see the local farmers bringing their grapes in to the winery was great, we even got to try some of the wines (liked the dessert wine best!) with nibbles as part of our trip. Then it was on to Fifa the main town, where the guide left us to wander and enjoy this beautiful place. Had a drink in a cafe overlooking the bay and wandered the many shops before heading to the cable cars, only 2 ships in so the queue was short, the cable cars travel very fast! We were ready to return to the ship about 2.30pm & get a drink and something to eat. A few hours relaxing on deck & enjoying the view before dinner at 6.30pm. Then it was the “Ballroom/Musical Show” in the theatre at 9.15pm, it was also on at 11.00pm. Bed at 10.30pm.
Tuesday 23rd Aug-Very windy/hot & sunny
Mykonos. Slept soundly, up at 7am, slowly got ready. We would have tendered in today, but the captain had got a mooring as the wind was really bad and thought tendering would be dangerous. I think this happens a lot; it does not say on their itinerary about strong winds and we may not tender though, and as the dock is a fair distance from the town (no path to walk on either) they run buses for passengers, but, it costs $10 each! For as many trips as you want, I felt that was very expensive, especially as if we had tendered it would have been free, alright the waves were bad but it was another expense we were not expecting. Mykonos is ALWAYS windy so it’s something to be aware of. Think a Thomson ship didn’t stay as they felt it was too rough so their passengers didn’t even get off their ship, so it’s difficult to argue the toss, just felt it was very expensive for the shuttle buses. Mykonos is not very big and is easily walked once there, we walked to the windmills and around the pretty streets, popping our heads into a couple of small churches on the way. Sadly did not see the pelican, although some fellow passengers saw him later in the day. Back to the ship late morning for coffee on a very windy deck! Tried to find a spot out of the wind for a bit of sunbathing but was not easy to do. Got very red-think more wind burn than sun burn! Dinner at 6.30pm, waiters sang again tonight. Then at 9.15pm we watched the “Crazyeehorse Show” very good acrobats, very supple! The same show was also on at 7.15pm. Bed around 10.30pm.
Wednesday 24th Aug- Warm/sunny
Day at Sea. Awake just before 8am. Hubbies lip had swollen up overnight, he is never usually ill can’t understand what’s causing his problems-is it a cold or reaction to the sun/heat. While he visited the doctor I watched the towel animals demo, it was good fun and hopefully I can try one or two. Hubbie got some balm for his lip, doctor had nothing else she could give & she wasn’t sure what was the cause, so, we decided to stay out of the sun and next tried our hand at napkin folding, Hubbie was the only man there but again it was a laugh and I very proudly made a bird of paradise, a rose, a boot plus a few others, for both the towel & napkin folding we were given leaflets to take home. The crew did a parade of flags on the pool deck so we watched that in the shade before having lunch in Windjammers. Hubbie found a shady spot & watched the crew vs. passengers volleyball while I took a dip in the Solarium jacuzzi, tried the pool in the Solarium but it was very cold! Later in the afternoon met up for a coffee before getting ready for formal night number 3, this time Steve on our dinner table was not feeling well but he got through dinner before returning to his cabin. While Hubbie went to change after dinner I watched the sun going down and to my surprise saw dolphins (approx 15) cross in front of the ship, other passengers saw them too and we were all very excited, just a fantastic memory-wished Hubbie had seen it to. Went to 42nd Street theatre to watch “Abba Max” show at 9.15pm, that was a good hearty sing along show. The same show was on at 7.15pm too. Back to cabin, had to put watches back one hour.
Thursday 25th Aug- Very hot & sunny
Split. Awake at 6.30am and got ready-doing our own thing today so no rush. Walked in to Split old town, about 10 mins. all flat. A lovely town with lots of old character, walked to the main square & went into tourist office, they had a mapped walking tour we could do on our own, or with a guide so we gave it a try on our own. Well worth getting the free map to help make the most of the town. Very hot top end of the 90’s found some shade half way round & phoned Mum, Hubbie changed some money to Kuna so we could get something to eat & I could visit the cathedral, don’t seem to like Euros. Had a lovely lunch of strudel and iced coffee before buying gifts for family back home, once we finished our wanderings of the old town came out the Silver Gate to a fruit & veg market, quiet large and certainly worth a wander. Back to the ship before starting to pack some of our things. Dinner at 6.30pm Steve’s cold was a little better but his wife had it now, waiters sang to us again, took photos of our waiters and gave out our pre-paid “tip” vouchers-strange they were already assigned to certain members of staff like head waiter, waiter, assistant waiter and room attendant-would have preferred to give nothing to head waiter but couldn’t see any other option. Said our goodbyes to staff & fellow passengers before watching our last show in the theatre “Los Pampas Gauchos”, very good. Two shows on at 7.15pm other at 9.15pm. Took lemonade (no orange) and some cookies back to room for breakfast, because again we were up early & Windjammers didn’t open till 6.30. Put cases out and finished packing most hand luggage. Bed at 10.45pm.
Friday 26th Aug- Hot & sunny
Returning home. Up at 6.30am but had a restless night. Checked bill that came under door at 6am then got ready to meet in 42nd Street by 7.45am, some left at 7.15am how they would have got on for breakfast I don’t know. After picking up our luggage in the terminal had to ask where we went next, no one directing, a walk to the buses waiting with our cases in tow was unexpected, how elderly people manage heavy awkward cases on their own? We were at the airport by 8.45am our flight was not till 12.15pm and we couldn’t book our cases in till 10.15am, so sat outside (only place there was a seat) with the smokers till it was time. Once bags checked in joined long queue through security-everyone uses same queue, just had time to go to loo & grab a bottle of water before boarding started at 11.45am, a little late taking off about 12.30pm and a short delay in landing-think it was a heavy rain shower-before picking up car and braving the M25. Back home after very heavy traffic about 4.45pm, had a take-away for tea before crashing in the chair.
Ship runs smoother/quieter than OV.
Free soft drinks available all day.
Room service-if they get it right!
Itinerary ran on time mostly.
Lifts to the different decks were fast.
Free ice cream.
Food good-could have been better in main dining room.
RC website very difficult to navigate.
Cabin smaller, bathroom very small.
No kettle or fridge in cabin.
Flying Easyjet-luggage limitations lower than most other airlines, plus no seat allocated.
Windjammer did not have enough seating for everyone.
Formal nights in hot weather.
Windjammers not open early enough or for long enough.
Transfer to/from airport was not clear; staff were there but only offered help if you asked.
Expensive shuttle bus transfer in Mykonos.
Smoking in casino-although we never used casino we had to pass through it to get to the theatre sometimes.
Entertainment was poor to start with, improved as the week went on.
Lack of waiters at beginning of week, improved as week went on.
One day 6.00am -11.00am (Athens)
Six days 6.30am-10.30am
On sea days 7.30am-11.00am
Afternoon arrival in Kotor 7.30am-10.30am
Seven days 12.00 noon-3.00pm
Three days 11.30am-3.00pm
Every evening 7.00pm-9.30pm. (Starboard-not sure if this means starboard side of ship only-half of cafe)
King & I
Three days 7.00am-8.30am
Three days 6.30am-8.30am
One day 7.30am-9.00am
One day 8.00am-9.00am
One day 9.30am-1.00pm brunch
One day 9.30am-12.30pm brunch
Dinner 6.30pm-last seating 9.30pm
Solarium snacks only
Four days 5.30am-6.30am
One day 5.30am-6.15am
Two days 6.00am-7.00am
Three days 6.30am-7.30am
Two days 11.00am-7.00pm
Two days 11.30am-7.00pm
One day 1.30pm-7.00pm
Two days 2.00pm-7.00pm
Four days 3.00pm-7.00pm
Ten days 9.30pm-2.00am
One day 9.30pm-11.30pm
Ten days 3.30pm-5.30pm
listing the open times like this has made me realise how confusing opening hours were, you need to read you cruise compass each day to get the timings of the food places-that was not always possible if you had gone out and not taken it with you.