We loved Venice and would like to return one day. It was the most expensive stop but we expected it to be and didn't let it ruin the experience. We splurged on lunch at a charming restaurant instead of the gondola ride, had bellinis at Harry's Bar and felt it was worth it for the experience. We were lucky that it was not too crowded when we were there so we enjoyed it a lot more than I'm sure we would have during the peak season.
We booked a private tour in Dubrovnik. It is a beautiful coastal city but the political climate is a little dicey. The cable car that goes to the top of the mountain overlooking the city was fun and we got wonderful pictures walking the wall. There's a museum honoring those killed during the Balkan conflict that is very moving.
We booked a private guide and driver and had a great time. Loved Ephesus, the House of the Virgin Mary, and the site of the Temple of Artemis. Our guide took us to a wonderful local restaurant and the Populer Leather factory which was really fun. The two of us had a runway fashion show all to ourselves!
We booked this tour with Cunard because we were not comfortable going on our own in this somewhat hostile environment. The lower rating is not really Cunard's fault. Egypt just isn't a very nice place to visit right now. It takes a 6-hour round trip bus ride from Alexandria to Cairo, so we didn't have a lot of time to see much other than the Pyramids, Sphinx, and Solar Boat. The Nile Cruise was pretty dull. The only people we met who enjoyed Egypt had done an excursion to another site where they were actually able to see decorated burial chambers (the Pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo are completely stripped of decoration). We did get some good deals on personalized gift items and felt safer in the big group, so we probably would still have done a ship tour, just not the Nile Cruise. The lunch at the "5-star" Hotel was awful in our opinion but a number of the other guests thought it was okay.
Hired a taxi driver to take us around the island. Very enjoyable day. Palace of the Grand Masters and the Acropolis at Lindos were highlights. We rode the donkeys to the top which was a treat as our feet were beginning to feel the pain of so much walking over stone and cobbles!
Stayed at the Hotel Attalos which proved to be an excellent choice. The location allowed us to see the sights even when the transit strike hit. The hotel arranged for a private car for us to the airport. Don't miss the National Archaeological Museum, the Acropolis, and the new Acropolis Museum. We thought the food in Athens, even in little kabab shops, was excellent and very reasonable.