This port is a large complex with its own shuttle bis to take you to the ship from the main gate. The problem is that if you take the train from Rome, which is cheapest way, you have to walk a good 1000+ feet through city streets with luggage to get to the shuttle bus. Also if the train from Rome stops in one of the inner platforms, you haver to haul your luggage down up through a tunnel to get to the street as there are no lifts. We took the train from Termini to get to the port but on the way back we needed to got the airport. Instead of taking a train and changing to another train to get tot he airport, we bargained with a shuttle bus operator at the port gate and got a straight ride to the airport.
This is a simple port with no customs or immigration checkpoints. We decided to go on our own to the olympic site as that was the primary tourist attraction here. There is a direct train tot he Olympic site but most people advised against taking it as there were so many strikes going on. We walked over to a bus operator and took a bus to the site. The Olympic village and the adjoining museum were really wonderful. Our bus driver left earlier than what he told us and so we had to wait for another bus to be arranged which still got us back to the ship well ahead of time. There are two parking lots in the Olympic village, one of them close to the museum and make sure to ask the driver as to the pick up point.
The Acropolis was not as difficult to climb as some of the literature had indicated. One gets excellent view of the city and even the cruise ship from the top of the hill.
City Tour Rating:
We took a tour package that we had booked independently as many private companies offer shore packages to meet cruise ships. The guide, bus and the tour was very good. There was even free wifi on the bus and the port terminal that was useful as the cruise ship wifi through satellite is very expensive.
We took a package tour that took us to Ephesus. It is a worthwhile excursion where they even reenact a scene from Cleopatra's life. The tour guide took us to a carpet store and also to a specialty turkish delight store. It is better to do shopping for both here rather than in the hustle and bustle of Istanbul.
Istanbul port is on the European side, very close to all the important sites. The tram line runs outside the port. One has to go about 300 feet to the right to get to the tram station. Tram tickets are dispensed through machines and then put through a turnstile to get onto the platform. There are no currency exchange places near the airport so your best option is to use an ATM to get local money. Taxi drivers charge you exorbitant amounts and that too in Euros! It snowed on both days that we were in port but we still managed to visit all the important sites.