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Holland America Noordam Mediterranean 10-Day Roman Empire
Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
We were completely "blown away" with the quality of cruise experience we had on the Noordam.
Not one staff member would get less than outstanding ratings. The staff was excellent at remembering you as a guest - was very personable - and made great recommendations. The casino staff was beyond courteous - and even though we didn't win much - were always encouraging and inquiring about our day. :)
We participated in the "Chef's Dinner" which was restricted to 24 total guests. It was one of the best experiences! Kinda "Iron Chef" meets cruise. The Wine Cellar Master participates and this would be my #1 recommendation to participate on the ship.
We ate at the Pinnacle Grill and the food was fantastic. I would put the Grill up against any Steakhouse. The seated dining experience was excellent too.
We only participated in the buffet dining during breakfast.
The rooms were cleaned spotless everyday - and our Steward was fantastic More
Overall - I will - moving forward - only travel on a Holland Cruise. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
We went out to Cape Sounion to visit the Temple of Poseidon. It was fantastic. We then went to lunch and to the Acropolis. It was fantastic.
I think because we hit the Acropolis late in the afternoon - the crowds had thinned out and it actually was not as hot as I expected it to be.
Again, I think the tour guide makes or breaks the excursion. We had a great tour guide.
Corfu was a wonderful experience.
After researching all ports and experiences on Cruise Critic - we decided to utilize corfutaxitours.com. The driver, Alex, was fantastic. He took us to very beautiful sights throughout the island and was entertaining. He stopped at olive trees and explained the olive oil process. He stopped at his Uncle's vineyard and explained the wine making process. He actually took us to his village and showed us the village museum. It was extremely interesting. He made us feel like we were old friends - and were very comfortable asking him many questions about Corfu. He stopped for us at some small shops to get our olive oil soap, & olive oil. He then drove us by the fort and told us the history of the city.
Highly recommend this as an excursion!!!
We took a bus into Old Town. It was EXTREMELY crowded. If you are not good with crowds - go early. We took the cable car to the top - would highly recommend that for the view.
We took a cab to Cavtat - a wonderful seaside town where we sat and had a local beer and lunch. The seafront is filled with shops and wonderful restaurants. You can watch private yachts come and go along the strand.
We returned to Old Town via a ferry boat. It was beautiful. You could see the destruction from the water from the 7 month war in 1991. Several bombed out luxury hotels and buildings were visible from the sea. Heavy damage from shelling.
It was fun to watch the boat actually "turn around" in a very tight place to head out to sea.
We opted out of going to Olympia and went to the beach. The cab driver was really driving too fast through town and made is very nervous.
We went to the beach of Agios Andreas. It was a bit rocky and you had to really pay attention to how the "local" folks got out to the water because of the rocks. Once out - it was very nice to float in the water.
Because it was a Sunday - the beach restaurant was closed so there weren't any ammedities.
We went back to the town - and had a nice quick bite and headed back to the boat.
Friends raved about Olympia - and if we came back - we would probably take that in.
Ephesus is a MUST. We went to Mary's house and to Ephesus - then to a Turkish Rug place. We spent some time walking around town. You will be highly pressured to enter stores. Negotiate on everything you are interested in buying.
We took an organized trip through Holland. We had an excellent guide from Athens that grandmother had grown up on Thira. We went to Oia and it was a beautiful as expected.
We went by a winery and this would be the stop that I would eliminate. It was extremely crowded and people were fighting over the olives and bread.
We also had a great "greek lunch" and spent time on our own in town watching the donkeys (really mules) and the sun setting. We took the cable car down which is recommended.