We booked with Context Travel. We did the Acropolis, New Acropolis Museum and Plaka. These places we visted were excellent but our guide was average. Would not use a Context Travel guide again for Athens.
The Plaka Walking Tour Rating:
We booked with Context Travel. We did the Acropolis, New Acropolis Museum and Plaka. These places we visted were excellent but our guide was average. Would not use a Context Travel guide again for Athens but would highly recommend these places. It was just the right amount of places to try and cover with one day in Athens. We prefered this instead of running all over Athens trying to see everything.
Izmir - We went to Ephesus with a private tour with Ephesus Shuttle. I had asked for a guide that would be great for families. We had Mr. Bob (Babar). He was excellent!! You could tell he does this because he loves sharing the information and has a passion for his country. We had to squeeze in the Terrace Houses since we were only in port 7 - 1 but I am so glad we did because my kids loved them. He zigzagged us through the crowds of large tour groups. He also talked to us the whole way there and back about his country, people and anything we wanted to know.
Terrace Houses Rating:
Very impressive and our kids ages 11-18 enjoyed them also.
Beautiful place. Highly recommend. The line to get in moves very fast. You need to cover your head with a scarf.
Grand Bazaar Rating: Not Rated
Did this was a private guide and felt like we learn about it's history and got to see more of the athentic vendors. Our kids loved it here. Get some turkish delights here. Our kids enjoyed trying these.
Hagia Sofia Rating:
Very impressive but this was our kids' least favorite stop in Istanbul. Amazing history. I would recommend a good guide for this place. Also, having a private guide allows you to skip the very long lines to get in.
This is my review from above:
Istanbul - We all loved it! We did a Context Tour and this time, the guide was excellent. She met us at the ship and we took the tram into Old Town. I am glad we had her because it was not as straight forward finding the tram from the ship. It wasn't difficult but we would have wasted time without her getting us there. We did have Lira with us that we ordered from our local bank. So glad we did this. We need it for the tram and all entrances, but the Turkish Bath House took or credit card. Here, we did Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Underground Cistern, lunch at an art school/handicraft center called Caferaga Medresesi (great!), Grand Bazaar and my girls and I did a bath at the oldest Turkish Bath House called Cemberlitas Hamami, built in the 1500's. You can get the shortest option, which takes about 1 1/2 hours but you need to tell them you are on a cruise and have limited time. This was an experience we will always remember. It was recommended to us in a "port talk" that was given before each port of call on the Spirit.
Turkish Bath Rating: Not Rated
We are go glad we did this. I did this with my girls ages 11,13,and 15. It was a very unique experience, one the will always remember. We went to Cemberlitas Hamami. It was built in the 1500's.
Underground Cistern Rating: Not Rated
Our kids favorite! Loved this stop. It is unique and has a unique history. I highly recommend this.
Mykonos -We had great weather. This is a beautiful island but there really wasn't enough to do here on our own, at least with active kids. We walked around in the old town, went to the windmills and Little Venice and shopped a bit but the water was too cold to swim. Also, finding the bus station and figuring out the bus schedule to get to the main beaches mentioned here was not easy. We tried but the bus schedule didn't work out to make it worth the ride to get there and back. We hung out at the nice cafe area right where the ship tender lets you off (we were supposed to be docked at Tourlos but that changed last minute) after our walk around and we had dinner. Also, for those wanting to use their Iphone with free WIFI, make sure the wifi works before ordering food or drinks. For some reason, not all places that state they have WIFI actually work. There was no rhyme or reason to the WIFI situation. Sometimes it worked on our IPhones and sometimes it didn't. Sometimes others were using the same WIFI for for Iphone users it didn't work. If too many people were trying to use it at one time, it didn't work. This was the same situation for all ports in the Med.
Naples - We used All Around Italy and had the owner Fabrizio, as our driver. He was absolutely amazing. He was funny from the start and immediately connected to all of us. My kids will always remember him. He probably knew as much as a licensed tour guide but he did hire a licensed tour guide for us for Pompeii, and this was necessary in my opinion. We went to Positano first and stopped along the way for pictures on the Amalfi Coast. We had about 2 hours in Positano then lunch at a restaurant he suggested with the most beautiful view. Then we went to Pompeii for 2:30 and by then, the crowds were very thin. This was a great day! If the weather is good and sunny, I recommend Positano because you get to see the Amalfi coast but you are not driving as far to get all the way to the town of Amalfi. It was a good compromise and not as long in the car. They also have a beach in Positano, which is a great break for kids.
Rome - We used Fabrizio for an all day tour to Rome. He again was amazing, getting us to where we needed to be, driving us right up to the places we visited and getting us into Coliseum with no lines. We did St. Peter's first and did climb the dome because the line was short. We did not go into the Vatican Museum because we knew it was too much with our kids. They enjoyed St. Peter's and having a guide inside this church was great. It gave us structure and made my kids pay attention to what we were seeing. We went to the Coliseum next with the same guide then for the rest of the day, we had Fabrizio only. We had lunch at a Pizza cafe, and then went to the Pantheon, church with the skulls of the monks, Trevi Fountain, a special secret spot that Fabrizio wanted to show us, and then had gelato. He knew the best order of things to visit, how to get to them with the least amount of traffic and was able to drive right up (something big buses can't do). He is a great guy and we would use him again for sure. We would also use his other drivers if he was booked because he spoke highly of them and he is a smart business man, knowing how important good guides and drivers are for his reputation (He and my husband talked a bit of business since we own our own business).
We had a private transfer to the airport with Juan at Auto Vilar, www.autosvilar.com. We got up early, did the self disembark, and went to the Sagrada Familia church first. We did a tour of the outside with Runner Bean for one hour then went inside when it opened at 9:00 for 45 minutes. I am glad we made this effort. My teens thought it was the coolest church they have ever seen. Having a guide for the outside was very helpful.