Med. Cruise 9/25-10/7-AWESOME!
After months of research and some anxiety we sailed away on Sept. 25th out of Venice. The sky was a beautiful blue, temp was in the 70s, Celine Dion & Andrea Bocelli were singing, and we were finally departing on our dream cruise through the Mediterranean. I felt if we were in the video for PBS visions of Italy.
We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn one night and then moved over to the Molino Stucky the 2nd night, we used our Hilton Points. The Garden Inn is very nice and there is a bus stop out front that takes you into town and the hotel sells passes. The Molino was gorgeous and we were upgraded to a suite. You can now catch a water bus from the Molino to the cruise port for 8 Euro each, suitcases are 1 Euro each unless they are big than it is 3 Euro. The water bus takes you right to the cruise ship.
This cruise was our first time in an inside cabin, I was a bit nervous about it but it turned out to be just fine and we would definitely book it again. The big reason why it worked out for us was due to our placement on the ship which was purposely planned. We were on the Rivera Deck AFT, so each morning I would step out of my cabin and within a few steps I was on the back of the ship-that was my balcony. I would walk up to the Caribe Caf make my tea & get some breakfast and sit outside and enjoy the view. The room was great for sleeping because it was nice and dark. Occasionally we would hear wheels rolling from upstairs but it was so light that it never bothered us.
We are always pleased with Princess- great food and service, clean and always so much to do. If you didnt like your food you just ordered something else so no complaints there. We did notice staff very eager to sell to you just about everything they can. A crew member shared that their sells determine their dime off, if this is true how sad is that.
Bring a digital alarm clock- the clock in the stateroom is on the phone so you have to get up to see the time.
I am a big tea drinker and I like my tea out of a ceramic mug, not plastic. I purchase s souvenir mug and bring it up to the caf each day. This cruise I learned that the cabin steward can clean my mug each day because they have a dishwasher on each deck. So every day I had a clean mug returned to my cabin-Magic.
We brought a duffle bag folded in our suitcase. Upon departure we filled it with dirty clothes and had room in our big bags for souvenirs, and we didnt have to pack so tight.
Ports of Call
Our group was a party of 8, we met on a cruise several years ago and have remained friends. We made arrangements (months of research) for tours on our own. We had beautiful weather for the whole cruise temps, in the 70s & 80s.
What a beautiful country, we all said we would like to come back for a longer stay. We didnt have a tour planned as we were just going to walk the wall and hang out there. Two taxi drivers met us and asked if we would like an hour tour around the area before being dropped off at Pile Gate, we all said yes. What a great decision that was, our drivers were full of information and had such passion for their country. They drove us above the town and we looked down at the walled city, it was a breathtaking view. Our driver Mikele asked if we wanted more time and they would drop us off some place nice for lunch, we all agreed. We drove to what once a beautiful resort area on the beach, all the hotels had been bombed from the war and have been untouched for 20 years. We went to a small village (Cavtat) on the water and had lunch with gorgeous views, I wanted to stay. Our drivers drove us to Pile Gate, we didnt have much time inside the walls as I was on a mission to find Buza 1. I had read about this Taverna on the water and saw it on YouTube, and said this is a must see. We found the hole in the wall and walked through and went WOW. I called it the Pub on the Rocks, it has different levels of seating on the rocks overlooking the sea. We sat and had a drink while listening to Diana Krall and taking in this awesome view, it was a pinch me moment. I asked my husband if he arranged to have Diana playing and of course he took full credit.
We had hired a driver because I wanted to go to Paleokastritsa beach which is a 45 min. drive, and someone else wanted to see the big Pink Palace- a hostel where their son had stayed. We first visited the Achilleion Palace, the house was crowded so we didnt spend much time in it. We wandered out to the gardens, beautiful with breathtaking views. We drove to the beach I wanted to see and had wonderful lunch on the water, it was great. Marie the owner of Aladino took good care of us, great conversation and she treated us to her homemade desert.
At this port we did book an excursion through Princess because they had what we wanted. We went to Olympia for 2 hours and then were driven to a beach for 3 hours where we had lunch overlooking the water.
Beautiful place, we walked into town and browsed the shops for a wee bit and then found the bus station. We took the local bus to a quiet beach, Agios Ioannis, and had a bite to eat at Hipie Fish on the water.
We had arranged for a driver to meet us and drive us to the sights we wanted to see, that helped save time and Petros was wonderful and shared a wealth of information about his country. We drove straight to the Acropolis and spent 90 mins We then drove to the Olympic Stadium, then over to Arch of Hadrian and then up Lykavittos Hill. The views from here are amazing, from my understanding this is a place where the big busses cant go. We walked up to the top of the hill to St. Georges church, you can see all of Rome from this view, it just goes on & on. There was a protest going on but our driver avoided it. We got dropped off at the Plaka for lunch and a walk around the shops. We had an hour left and the group wanted to get back to the ship just in case there would be traffic, our driver was disappointed he couldnt show us more. We were so glad that we planned a private tour.
We had arranged a private tour to take us to Ephesus. At 8:00 am Murate met us at the ship, he was our private guide, and we had a driver as well. Turkey is beautiful, it reminded me of Colorado mountains and blue sky. The ride to Ephesus was about 30mins. We spent about 3 hours with Murate explaining all the history to us as we walked, again such a wealth of information. Murate said he went to college for 4 years to become a guide. A highlight of Ephesus was the Terrace Houses, people have mentioned that there are a lot of stairs, we didnt think the stairs were that bad, you walk a few stairs and then there will be a platform area that you walk on before more stairs.
After the Ephesus we were asked if we wanted to go to the carpet factory, we said no. We were asked if we wanted to go to a leather factory, we said yes as someone in our group wanted a leather jacket. When we arrived we got a private show with models walking down the runway wearing the leather jackets.
We went back to the port area for lunch and shopping but we found the vendors so pushy that we just went back on the ship.
We didnt have plans for Rhodes so we just walked into town and did a little touring on our own. Walked around the shops a bit and had lunch in a beer garden before heading back to the ship.
This Port is the main reason why I planned this cruise and I was not disappointed. We got the first tenders out around 8:15am and we took the cable car up and our friends rode the donkeys. The shops were quiet when we first arrived but that changed fast as there were 6 ships in Port. We met up with our friends and found the bus station, we immediately headed for OIA, about a 20 min. ride. We walked around OIA taking breathtaking photos, it was absolutely gorgeous. We found a restaurant overlooking the water and the blue dome churches, it was another pinch me moment. We took the bus back to Fira and found the line for the cable car, it was over an hour wait to get the cable car back to the ship.
We had a private tour booked to take us to the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii. We didnt do this tour as planned due to half of the part y had been to Pompeii and didnt want to see it again. So we drove along the Amalfi Coast, stopped in Positano for an hour, had lunch in Sorrento where one group took a boat back to Naples and the rest of us went on to Pompeii. Everything was wonderful but to rushed, we didnt have enough time in each place especially Pompeii. In hindsight I should have just had the other group book their own tour and then we could have taken the tour as to how it was designed- Pompeii in the morning and Positano in the afternoon.
We had a wonderful 3 days in Rome at the Rome Cavalieri again using our points. The Cavalieri is 20 minutes outside of Rome but they have a shuttle that takes you back and forth.