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Home > Member Reviews > etoileballerine's Port Reviews of Rome (Civitavecchia), Katakolon (Olympia), Athens (Piraeus), Izmir, Istanbul, Naples

etoileballerine's Port Reviews of Rome (Civitavecchia), Katakolon (Olympia), Athens (Piraeus), Izmir, Istanbul, Naples
Norwegian Jade cruise in March 2013
Member Name: etoileballerine
Cruise Date: March 2013
Embarkation: Rome (Civitavecchia)
Destination: Eastern Mediterranean
Member Review: etoileballerine's Norwegian Jade Review
Rome (Civitavecchia)
Port Rating: 5+ out of 5+
There are fast and local trains from Roma Termini to Civitavecchia. The fast train is significantly more expensive, although I had booked online weeks ahead for only 9€ per person. Once you arrive at Civitavecchia train station, there will be a few cab drivers offering to take you to the port at a fixed price. My parents and I walked down the street to the port gate. This is a manageable walk, about 1/2 km, and everyone else was walking with their bags that were much heavier than ours. As soon as you arrive at the port gate, there are friendly NCL drivers ready to help you load your bags and get you to the cruise ship.

Check-in and check-out are flawless and hardly take any time at all. When we left our ship, the NCL bus took us back to the Port gate. There was a 12€ bus waiting for us right there ready to take us straight back to Roma Termini in a nice air-conditioned bus. We didn't want to lug our heavier bags to the train station when it would be 15€ and limited seating back to Roma Termini. Bus dropped us off at Termini, we walked and checked into our hotel.

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Katakolon (Olympia)
Port Rating: 1.0 out of 5+
Katakolon/Olympia: When you get off the ship, there is an info kiosk. They provide you with train times, but the number of trains going to and from Olympia are limited. As soon as you pass the info kiosk, there is a CHEAP 10€ roundtrip bus! The company drives you to Olympia, drops you off right at the entrance, gives you two hours to sightsee and brings you right back to port. We left Katakolon around 10:30am, arrived in Olympia at noon. The Greeks were on strike 8 Mar, so we hiked the perimeter and even had time to look through the shops. Olympia is slightly larger than Katakolon and has a better selection of souvenirs. We left Olympia around 2pm and were back to Katakolon port around 3:30pm. We grabbed a bite and headed back to the ship. I noticed the businesses were really hurting and hardly anyone sat down for food or drink at the local restaurants. I would recommend enjoying the local flare and the peace and quiet as Athens is the polar opposite!!
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Athens (Piraeus)
Port Rating: 5+ out of 5+
Athens: My 4th visit to Athens, I would have rather skipped Katakolon and spent two days in this magnificent city. There is way too much to do and see in Athens and we only had time to hike the Acropolis (without even seeing the new museum), have lunch and head back to the boat. When you exit the cruise terminal, there will be enthusiastic cab drivers ready to take you into the city. I've backpacked all over Greece and everyone is kind and very fair. The prices they offer are not to rip you off. The city center is 40 mins or so from Piraeus port. We were walking to the Piraeus metro. It was quite a hike so I stopped at a magazine kiosk, bought a transportation ticket for 1.8€ per person, hopped on bus 834 which dropped us off at Line 1 Piraeus metro stop (first stop on line 1). It is a straight shot to the city center but very slow. You must get off Monastiraki and hike to the top of the Acropolis. I recommend hiking down the opposite way to get the full Acropolis experience. Have a frappe (traditional Greek Iced Coffee) and walk around Plaka for some awesome souvenir shopping (Greek magnets, olive oil soap, key chains, many stores selling for as cheap as 1€). You can visit the Mitropoli on your way back to the Monastiriki metro Line 1. After we got off at the last stop Piraeus, the Bus line 843 was running behind. My parents and I hopped in a cab for 5€ which dropped us off at the door to the cruise terminal. Remember to ask the price before you hop in a cab.

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Izmir
Port Rating: 1.0 out of 5+
Izmir: My mom and I backpacked through Greece and Turkey during summer 2002 and already have seen the magnificent Kusadasi and Efes. We elected to stay back and explore Izmir. Once you walk out the cruise terminal, you will have to walk outside the fenced terminal perimeter to grab a cab. There was no public transportation running on Sunday, so that was the only option presented to us by the info kiosk, 20€ cab to the city center. Right outside the cruise terminal is the Izmir hop on/hop off bus which was a great option at 10€ per person. It was very beautiful outside and we went with this option. Izmir is the 3rd largest city in Turkey. We covered the Agora, 2 Mosques, Clock tower, Fruit-Vegetable market, Train stations, KulturPark. Stores and Kemeralti Bazaar were closed. It was a nice beach town but there was not much to see and buy here. All the stores that were open only sold knockoff clothes and purses, no traditional Turkish pottery, foods, etc. You won't have to wait more than 10 mins to be picked back up from one of the official route stops.

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Istanbul
Port Rating: 5+ out of 5+
Istanbul: This is my 2nd visit to Istanbul. After exiting the cruise terminal, go left. You will walk 1/2 km to get to the nearest tram stop. This was not clearly marked, so we kept walking and sightseeing until we saw the stop. There are several Turkish banks and ATMs along this route, so be sure to withdraw Turkish Lira asap. You feed the metro machine Lira for the number of tickets you need and it will spit out one token per person. You can also buy a tram ticket from a magazine kiosk and they issue you a magnetic paper ticket. The Hagia Sophia is closed on Mondays; Topkapi Palace is closed on Tuesdays. The tram will drop you off in the center of all the sites as they are lumped together (Topkapi, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar all at the same tram stop). We went to Topkapi our first afternoon and it was as magnificent as I remembered. However, admission was equivalent to $15USD per person (only $3 in 2002). They only accept Turkish Lira, hence my advice to withdraw local currency from an ATM as soon as you get off the boat on the way to the tram stop. Topkapi can take all day to walk through. We arrived around 2pm and the site closed at 5pm. From there you can walk across to the Blue Mosque. The tourist entrance is in the back of the mosque. You will have to place your shoes in a plastic bag and they may offer women a skirt. Please respect tradition, take a seat on the carpet inside, look up and marvel at the architecture. They are closed at certain times throughout the day due to prayer hour. From the Blue Mosque, it is an easy walk to the Grand Bazaar (to the right of the Mosque). When I visited Istanbul in 2002, the Bazaar was open at all hours of the night, even 3am in the morning. This was a very different experience as the lights went dark around 7pm and they were kicking everyone out for prayer hour and dinner. We grabbed a Tavuk Sis at one of the stands and bargained on some pottery. The next day (Tue), we spent time at the Hagia Sophia and back at the Bazaar. Since we had more time to walk around the Bazaar, we found stores that clearly labeled their prices. I didn't have to spend an hour bargaining down the pottery I wanted to $20USD as it was clearly marked for cheaper at some of the stores. The stores that clearly mark their prices won't pressure you. I highly recommend this to save time and hassle.

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Naples
Port Rating: 3.0 out of 5+
Napoli/Pompeii: I've never heard anything nice about Napoli from all my peers. Once we docked, we walked out to the main street. There is a magazine kiosk and you can buy an all day round trip ticket to Pompeii for 8€ per person which includes the tram to the train station, and local train to Pompeii. It was very easy; the tram dropped us off at Piazza Garibaldi and from there, a straight shot to Pompeii. Pompeii was magnificent and after being tired from the all day hike, we decided to grab a quick bite at 1 of 3 cafes across from the entrance. Food was DISGUSTING and an insult to Italian cuisine, expensive, and they charged a 15% service fee. The train we took back to Napoli dropped us off at the main Napoli train station, so it was a little confusing how to get back to Tram Line 1 back to 'Porto.' An older Napoli local explained that we were on the right tram, but then followed us to the port, all the way to the cruise terminal door. This was unusual, so I alerted a security guard who told me this was strange and to not trust the old man. Overall, Pompeii was a gem and highlight of our trip. For Napoli, I wouldn't know what to recommend seeing there except that it is a large, bustling city!

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