We did a private tour with other CC'ers with Rome in Limo. Our guide was good, although we felt everything was condensed into too short a time. We saw all the major sights, had time for a quick pizza and local beer, and a had very good tour of the Vatican with a private guide. We really would have loved having a week in Rome.
In Athens we decided to "do our own thing" and took buses and trains to the Acropolis until the rain started, then we went to the Old Market @ Monastiraki, shopped a little and then spent part of the afternoon at a sidewalk cafe trying some Greek foods and beer, and of course, in Greece we had to try the Ouzo. We sat and did some people watching before finding our way back to the ship.
We had for years talked of visiting Turkey, so did a private guided tour for just the 2 of us. We had a great guide from Go Ephesus, and we greatly enjoyed the drive and the beautiful green countryside from Izmir to the Virgin Mary's House, and loved the experience of Ephesus, especially the Biblical history there. Our only complaint would be the trip to the rug factory and the "hard sell" tactics there. We weren't there to buy an overpriced Turkish rug, as beautiful as they may have been. We did, though, love Turkey and hope to be able to return to spend more time there.
In Cairo we did another tour with fellow CC'ers, this one with Memphis Tours. Our guide was good, but I do think in Cairo the guides are pressured to take groups to the Papyrus Institute, Cartouche Makers, and Rug shops, all who try to use high pressure sales tactics. Once our guide knew we were unhappy with this it went better. We did have 2 in our group who wanted Cartouche necklaces made, so this stop was worthwhile, although some in other groups were able to order and get their jewelry later, while we had to wait for it to be made. Standing in front of the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx was almost surreal...we all grow up seeing these things in pictures, but to be there in front of it was incredible, and something we will always be grateful for having the opportunity to do. We also enjoyed seeing Sakhara. The Khan El Khalili Bazaar was a must see for us, and it didn't disappoint. I think there were some in the group who were a little frightened - or intimidated, though I never felt threatened in any way. Don't pay more than about 35% of the asking price! Bargaining is part of the fun! The Bazaar dates back to the 1300's and should be experienced. The Nile Dinner cruise was all right, but for me the best part was the "whirling dervish" - the rest was just OK, and we were all a little tired besides. Staying at the Oberoi Mena House was incredible, it is a beautiful and comfortable hotel with Pyramid views and a great breakfast buffet, unfortunately we had too little time to enjoy it. The second day we really enjoyed the Alabaster Mosque and the Egyptian Museum, especially for us the Tutankhamen exhibit, complete with Death Mask, among other great sights. It was amazing to see! The Cairo experience is something else...from the horrific traffic, with cars and trucks, horse carts, to motorbikes with 3 or 4 people on them weaving through traffic and sharing the road in a mix of the ancient and the modern.
Malta was, (and I quote Dennis because it was so fitting) "a soft landing" after the other ports, especially Cairo. Malta is beautiful, clean, and charming. The entry into the harbour affords amazing views as does the exit after dark. We took a HOHO bus, spending 15 minutes at the Mdina (I'd have liked 4 hours). I had looked forward to buying a brass door knocker for which Malta is known, for a new house we are building, and was happy to find one I loved at the Mdina. We rode the bus partway back and got off to see St. Paul's Co-Cathedral and Museum, which was well worth the stop. After a local beer and snack at a sidewalk cafe we made our way back to the ship. We would gladly spend a month relaxing in Malta.