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Home > Member Reviews > ozeannie's Port Reviews of Istanbul, Santorini, Kusadasi, Athens (Piraeus), Mykonos, Naples

ozeannie's Port Reviews of Istanbul, Santorini, Kusadasi, Athens (Piraeus), Mykonos, Naples
Celebrity Equinox cruise in October 2012
Member Name: ozeannie
Cruise Date: October 2012
Embarkation: other
Destination: Eastern Mediterranean
Member Review: ozeannie's Celebrity Equinox Review
Port Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
We just did our own thing on foot and it was easy and less expensive than a ship's tour. The trams are a breeze to use and very cheap. I was under the impression that there was free wifi to be had at McDonald's and/or Starbucks but this wasn't necessarily the case. We eventually found a regular turkish cafe that gave us free wifi after we made a purchase. We skipped the Grand Bazaar because we thought it would be too pushy but we enjoyed the spice markets which were actually not just spices but clothing and a variety of other goods as well.

In the streets around the spice markets you can pick up very cheap clothing and accessories as well.

Everywhere warned about having head coverings for the Mosques and though I had also read scarves would be provided for ladies I took my own. In the end I just wore a hat and was dismayed and the large number of women not bothering to wear any head covering at all. I believe we should show respect in another country's culture. However no-one seemed to be bothered about it.

They did however insist on removing shoes though plastic bags were provided to carry these around.

Be warned you may need to pay for toilets as in many Eurpoean cities.

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Island Tour Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
We went on this tour as a "blind date" with 8 other people from Cruise Critic. We had basically the same group again for 2 other tours and despite the misgivings of whether it would work or not, on this occasion everyone got along really well and it was definitely the better option over a ship's tour.

We were to meet Dimitri at 3pm, however we got a very early tender and were able to get to the top at 2.30 - our group leader rang ahead and Dimitri was there not too long after us. We had a good overview tour of the whole island which included Santos winery, Ana's homemade stall, the Black sand beach and of course Oia. We didn't see too much of Fira at the start as we took off more or less straight away.

One of our group was an older lady not as sure on her feet and there was a bit of a steep walk down stairs to where the van was parked, but she managed with help. Be aware that all the streets are uneven and there are many stairs everywhere.

Dimitri was very affable and gave good local inside information on the workings of the island. The van was very new, air-conditioned and extremely comfortable.

We felt though that we probably spent a bit too much time in getting to Oia which is after all the highlight of the trip. It was already getting dark when we got there and whilst we were wanting to see the sunset, it would have been good to have arrived a little earlier to get some brighter pictures as well.

The only thing we would change would be to request more time in Oia. We then returned to Fira but not really with any time to see it or do any shopping before going back to the ship. Would like to have spent more time in both places.

If you are coming via cruise ship, try your best to get one of the early tenders. Dimitri's wife had another group and they didn't start their tour until a couple of hours after us as they got a much later tender off the ship. They basically went straight to Oia as there was no time for anything else, at least I assume so as they were already there when we arrived.

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City Tour Rating: 5+ out of 5+
This was the second of 3 tours we organised via Cruise Critic peers. Our guide was Tan, and he was fabulous. I was particularly impressed because not only was he good with his historic knowledge, he was a good guide logisitically. He anticipated needs and possible problems and always gave us 3 or 4 important tips at each stop before we started, including clear instructions on when and where we would meet, toilet facilities and any other special information that would ensure an enjoyable unhindered tour for everyone. He paid particular attention to getting our group into shaded areas for each of his talks, an important point at Ephesus as so much of it is exposed out in the sun.

The van was clean and comfortable and air-conditioned. We visited Ephesus, the Terrace houses (a must, don't miss these, they are the highlight of the Ephesus site and if you don't see these, you haven't seen Ephesus IMHO), the house of the Virgin Mary, and the Basilica of John the Baptist, plus of course some excursions through the towns that lie in between these. There was also the one remaining pillar of the Temple of Artemis but as it stands sadly alone in a paddock of weeds it is a rather feeble hurrah to say you have seen it.

An absolute highlight though was our Ottoman lunch. Sadly I don't recall the name of the restaurant but it was out in the country and we had a smorgasbord of goodies and it was all delicious.

I think the guide did a great job and covered everything really well and allocated time well to each place. A most enjoyable day.

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Athens (Piraeus)
Port Rating: 3.0 out of 5+
We had previously been to Athens so we just did our own thing and caught the train in to the city and went to Lycobettus Hill for a 360 degree panoramic view over the entire city. We had an enjoyable walk around Anafiotika and Plaka but a rather disappointing lunch. Athens is essentially a large city like any other large city but there is some good shopping to be had if you know where to find it. I've rated it down a little because we only had a day stop there, and it's not long enough to see it properly so anyone who had not seen Athens before would be a bit disappointed I think in what they were able to achieve in the time frame.

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Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
A fascinating place, you can't take a bad photo here. So picturesque. There is a dual-edged sword here however. There are a plethora of shops everywhere with the most wonderful treasures but it almost gets to the point where Mykonos seems to exist for the tourist shops and nothing else. I can imagine before the souvenir shops took over it really was heaven on earth.

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Port Rating: 3.0 out of 5+
Can't really rate Naples as we didn't do anything but pass through it en route to Sorrento, Positano and the Amalfi coast. However we did visit Pompei on the outskirts. This was as part of our tour to Sorrento and further south. Naples itself is a busy industrial port, nothing glamorous in that although I believe it has some good shopping. Pompei was one of those things you "have to see", and it was worth seeing, but after having seen the Roman ruins and the Acropolis and Ephesis the impact starts to get lost.

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Amalfi Coast Rating: 5+ out of 5+
Best tour of the cruise. Sorrento and Positano are just breathtaking and the shopping is excellent. Places we would definitley go back to see again as the time we had was just not enough. We had a beautiful meal on top of the Positano cliff at a restaurant that coudl only be reached by minibus, not a tour bus as the roads are so narrow and twisty. LOVED this place!

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