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Home > Member Reviews > colbuck's Port Reviews of Athens (Piraeus), Izmir, Istanbul, Naples, Rome (Civitavecchia), Florence (Livorno)

colbuck's Port Reviews of Athens (Piraeus), Izmir, Istanbul, Naples, Rome (Civitavecchia), Florence (Livorno)
Norwegian Spirit cruise in August 2012
Member Name: colbuck
Cruise Date: August 2012
Embarkation: Venice
Destination: Eastern Mediterranean
Member Review: colbuck's Norwegian Spirit Review
Athens (Piraeus)
Temple of Poseidon Rating: 2.0 out of 5+
The Temple is located in a lovely scenery and really deserves a visit, especially if you have seen Athenms already (it was my 3rd time there). However, the excursion offered by NCL was quite disappointing as we spent more time at a bar near the beach in Vouliagmeni (without the chance to go into the sea, though!) than at the site of the temple itself.


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Izmir
Port Rating: 3.0 out of 5+
Having been to Ephesus already (which is not to be missed!) we opted for a tour of Izmir which is a huge and modern city.

At first we wanted to hire a taxi but, leaving the port gate, we saw horse-led carriages and hired one.

The carriage took us along the waterfront to the agor, to the bazaar, to Konak square and back to the port. We had the opportunity to go on and off the carriage to take pictures and to go shopping in the bazaar. The tour lasted 2 1/2 hours and costed 50 euros for the 3 of us.

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Istanbul
Port Rating: Not Rated
It was very easy to reach the main square by tram. Being there during a national holiday following the end of Ramadan, most shops and monuments were closed. But the city was far from empty: Turkish families were enjoying their free day strolling through the city and eating at food stalls. We followed suit and had pomegranate juice, sesame bread, pastries with honey on the street, too.

Bosphorus cruises were literally packed and that was also interesting to see.

On the way back to the ship we walked over the Galata bridge, took the funicular to Galata Tower (the view from there is impressive, so do not miss it) and from there walked thropugh small alleys to the port.

We never felt unsafe and really had no problems getting around.

On a side note, something that really well impressed me is that there are public toilets at every touristic site!

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Naples
Mt. Vesuvius Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
We took the NCL arranged tour to Vesuvius and Pompeii was good. The guide spoke a terrible English and was not very knowlegdeable but I had my guide books and did not need to listen to her.

The hike up the crater was heavier than expected: it is very steep and it was extremely hot. So it took us 1 hour to reach the top instead of the 25 minutes anticipated by my guide book.

The view of the crater is impressive and also the view of the gulf of Naples was nice, although it was hazy.

We reached Pompeii at 1 pm: it was breezy and not overcrowded so we had an excellent visit. Obvioulsy you can't see Pompeii in 2 hours but we had the opportunity to go inside a house, see the basilica, some shops.

By 3.30 pm we were back to the port and had time to visit the central square of Naples, the galleria, via Toledo on our own.


Pompeii Walking Tour Rating: 5+ out of 5+
We took the NCL arranged tour to Vesuvius and Pompeii was good. The guide spoke a terrible English and was not very knowlegdeable but I had my guide books and did not need to listen to her.

The hike up the crater was heavier than expected: it is very steep and it was extremely hot. So it took us 1 hour to reach the top instead of the 25 minutes anticipated by my guide book.

The view of the crater is impressive and also the view of the gulf of Naples was nice, although it was hazy.

We reached Pompeii at 1 pm: it was breezy and not overcrowded so we had an excellent visit. Obvioulsy you can't see Pompeii in 2 hours but we had the opportunity to go inside a house, see the basilica, some shops.

By 3.30 pm we were back to the port and had time to visit the central square of Naples, the galleria, via Toledo on our own.


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Rome (Civitavecchia)
Port Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
In Civitavecchia we hired a Fiat 500 at Hertz (located 2 mins walking from the pier) and drove to Tarquinia to see the Etruscan burial site and the archeological museum. The small town of Tarquinia is also a beautiful medieval place to visit with interesting shops and a quite atmospehere.

After some shopping, we drove to Tarquinia Lido and hired a beach umbrella and 2 sunbeds for a couple of hours.

The day was extremely hot so a plunge in the Tirrenian sea was more than welcome.

Tarquinia lido is a very relaxed seaside resort, very good for families with children.

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Florence (Livorno)
Port Rating: 1.0 out of 5+
The port of call for Firenze and Pisa is Livorno.

It is an old port town and the crisis that struck Italian port activities shows here more than everywhere else. The town is dirty, the so-called little Venice of Livorno is nothing more than a few filthy canals with crumbling buildings.

Note that you cannot walk from the ship into town on your own. We were forced to choose between NCL arranged bus to the train station (costing 12 USD per person) or the port shuttle to the town centre (costing 5 Euro per person).

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Venice
Port Rating: 5+ out of 5+
Venice is one of the most places in the world.

Avoid the crowds at San Marco and take the vaporetto to see amazing sights. Do not miss Burano, an enchanting little island 50 mins from Venice.

Reaching the port from Venice railway station is fast but hard. The new bridge that crosses the Canal to Piazzale Roma is made of steps...so if you have luggage be prepared. There are unathorised porters (irregular immigrants from Eastern Europe) at the bridge that offer themselves to help you carrying your luggage. If you want to use this option, negotiate the rate before handing them your suitcase and have a few euro coins available, so you won't need to open your wallet in front of them. You'll never know.

From the bridge, you have to cross the piazzale (busy with buses) and take the people mover which is located at the far right of the square.

The people mover is very efficient and clean and takes you to the port in a couple of minutes. Once off the people mover, we found out that our ship was docked at the end of the new pier, so we had to walk a good 10 minutes (with luggage) to get there. No porters were available this time.

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Barcelona
Port Rating: 5+ out of 5+
A magnificent city for architecture lovers.

We took the hop on hop off bus and drove both itineraries. Highly recommended.

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