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Home > Member Reviews > alabill1's Port Reviews of Naples, Jerusalem (Ashdod), Haifa, Kusadasi, Athens (Piraeus), Crete (Heraklion)

alabill1's Port Reviews of Naples, Jerusalem (Ashdod), Haifa, Kusadasi, Athens (Piraeus), Crete (Heraklion)
Mariner of the Seas cruise in October 2011
Member Name: alabill1
Cruise Date: October 2011
Embarkation: other
Destination: Eastern Mediterranean
Member Review: alabill1's Mariner of the Seas Review
Naples
Port Rating: 5+ out of 5+
We had never been to Pompeii and Herculaneum and were excited to see this cruise stop at Naples. We chose to walk to the Circumvesuviana train station based on Internet reports. This worked extremely well for us and cut the cost of a ship provided tour by 70%. One note. This is not as short walk as is depicted by some writers on their travel blogs. It is a brisk 45 min. walk to the station. If you have anyone who is not able to walk about 1 1/2 miles each way to the train station and walk about 2 miles at excavation sites I would take a taxi to the train station. People were negotiating taxis for 10 Euro each way. 10 could be a good investment if your legs aren't up to a three mile round-trip walk to the train station. Additional note. Buy a ticket for both Pompeii and Herculaneum at the Pompeii entrance. The combined ticket reduces your cost by nine euro for each person in your group.

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Jerusalem (Ashdod)
Port Rating: 5+ out of 5+
We visited Jerusalem by stopping at the port of Ashdod. We used a private tour from a company called Cruising excursions.com. Our tour guide was named Udi. This tour was fabulous and we saw many sites in the city including Mount of olives, the Church of Gethsemane, the old city of Jerusalem and the old city of David and many others. Most Jerusalem tours require a significant amount of walking and Jerusalem is an extremely hilly area. If you are not capable of walking several miles with some of that walk being on steep hills then you need to inform your tour operator. Tours can be set where the tour van can drop people off at certain locations and pick them up prior to having to make extremely strenuous walks. People needing this service may not see absolutely everything, but it is better to let the tour guide know of physical liabilities rather than find yourself needing medical treatment in a foreign country. Note. If you plan a private tour from Ashdod port make sure you understand where your tour guide will pick you up. Some buses and vans are allowed close into the ship while others are kept at a holding area. Royal Caribbean charged a $10 fee to get to this holding area by shuttle bus. The Israeli authorities will not let you walk to this area. This didn't present a problem but is something that needs to be understood. Additional note. If you are going to book private tours make sure you have a cell phone that works in all the countries you intend to stop. A quick cell call can fix confusion immediately.
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Haifa
Port Rating: 5+ out of 5+
We also used Cruising excursions.com for this tour. Our tour guide was Jossi and he was excellent. We were able to see the entire Sea of Galilee area, Nazareth and the Jordan River along with a trip to and lunch at a kibbutz. Fantastic insights into the biblical history of the area.

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Kusadasi
Port Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
Kusadasi is a Turkish port. Cruisers usually take excursions to the ancient Roman ruins of Ephesus. These ruins are special because they are far more preserved than either Pompeii or Herculaneum. At the height of the Roman civilization Ephesus was the second largest city in Rome. We had a private tour scheduled that failed to materialize so we booked an excursion through Royal Caribbean. This excursion was good but nowhere near as good as our previous excursions to Jerusalem or the Sea of Galilee. The reason this excursion was not as good comes from the fact that private excursions normally have at most 12 participants. This excursion had at least 50. There is no way a tour guide can be as personal with a group of 50 people as he or she can be with a small group. Additionally, one third of this tour was devoted to a carpet shopping sales pitch. It seemed a little tacky for me to pay to have someone try to sell me something I don't want.

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Athens (Piraeus)
Port Rating: 5+ out of 5+
From the Athens port of Piraeus we chose to walk to the train station and take the train to the Acropolis. This walk is extremely easy, especially compared to the walk to the train for Pompeii and Herculaneum. We bought all day tickets for five euros in case we got lost or wanted to go other places in Athens. A simple 1.70 round-trip ticket would've sufficed. The trains ran on time and were extremely clean. Remember, when changing trains that cross tracks, trains are on different levels of the subway system. If in doubt, ask anyone and they will gladly help you(at least from my experience). The walk up the Acropolis is extensive but not as bad as the walking in Jerusalem. I was told that there is an elevator available for the handicapped. I didn't see it but I would ask, if it was needed. After climbing the Acropolis and looking at the Parthenon we had lunch. Lunch in this area appeared to run 15-20 per person. To save money, eat from street vendors. We had 3 gyros and three diet Pepsi's for a total of 10. The key to eating cheap in Europe is to not sit down at a restaurant. Eat street food and find a place under a tree to sit on a curb or on a park bench. You'll save money and the experience will be better.

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Crete (Heraklion)
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
We stopped at Crete for about five hours. There was a local bus that served as a shuttle bus from the ship to downtown. This bus cost 1.5 Euro each way. When downtown, we jumped on the hop on/hop off bus and toured the area. This bus cost 15 each and was worth it in that we saw the old port, much of the city, old churches and mosques and fabulous views of the port from high hills. We also heard much about the history of Crete. People who just walked around town saw and heard none of this. After the tour we decided to get the bus back to the port. There was a problem in that there was a demonstration by striking police and firemen in the square where the bus stopped to pick up people. This caused a delay in buses and crowds built up at the bus stop. When buses pulled up there was a pushing and shoving match to get on the bus. When you were in the crowd it was impossible to withdraw from it. You just had to let the wave of humanity push you to an open bus door. Luckily, no one fell or they would have been trampled.

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