Before Athens we went to Olympia, however it is not listed as a port of call. so this review is for ports 1 and 2. We used Athens Taxi for our tours and booked them ahead of time. We used Athens Taxi for both days and got a very good deal. Having this tour gave as a more intimate experience and our drivers Nick and John were the best.
We saw a 13th century Turkish castle before anyone got there, got a private tour at a small winery, Nick gave us his wife's home made Baklava (WOW), we even got to tour a WW1 Greek battleship and see a replica of an ancient Greek warship. The restaurants we went to were small, intimate with just the right atmosphere we were looking for. Plus the food was unbelievable. Thank you John and Nick for memories we will never forget.
For this tour we used Ephesus tours. Our guide was Banu Akin. She was very knowledgeable and we were never rushed. For those reading this make sure no matter what company you use to do the "Terrace Houses" at Ephesus. This is not to be missed, they are the homes of the super rich of the day with indoor hot and cold running water, saunas, and even an indoor bathroom. A must see trust me it is worth the extra couple of bucks.
Lunch was at an outside restaurant where the food was out of this world. Watching how rugs were made was amazing even though we did feel a little pressured to buy a rug. We did buy a small one which is OK as it is unbelievable and we did get a good deal. We don't go on vacation to just buy the Chinese made tourist crap.
We also got to see a fashion show for leather coats, which is something I never thought I would enjoy. The place we went for that that had incredible leather coats and jackets at a good price but we were not pressured into buying anything. Thank you Banu for a great tour.
For this port we used Memphis Tours and did an overnight in Cairo. Our guide was Tarek and we had the time of our lives. We felt very safe with Tarek as he was a former Egyptian bodybuilding champion. He is very knowledgeable and always protected us from being harassed by vendors. He introduced us to a trusted vendor where we negotiated a fair price for pictures with camels by the Pyramids ahead of time and did not worry about losing our camera or get overcharged to get off the camel.
After this we went to the Sphynx and then to the step Pyramid. We also went to a small restaurant for lunch where the food was out of this world. He took us to trusted shops for souvenirs where we were not pressured at all and the prices were more than fair. The Nile dinner cruise was OK but not what I expected.
We stayed at the LeMeridian Hotel in Cairo which was incredible. The next day we went to the museum and again we felt very safe and were not rushed at all. After an amazing lunch on the banks of the Nile river we wen back to the ship.
Our driver was Ahmed and I can not thank him enough for the great driving. For those reading this that have never been in Egypt, a great driver is as important as a great guide trust me. Thank you again Tarek and Ahmed we will never forget you.
We stayed in Rome for 3 days after the cruise and pretty much did things on our own. We did use Dark Rome tours for a tour before we left. We went to Pompeii and Mt Vesuvius which was a great time. Our guide was Ashley and she did a great job. 1 other tour I did with Dark Rome did not work out as well.
We stayed at the Hilton Rome Airport for 2 nights prior to our cruise and Sheraton Roma for 2 nights after. Both hotels were nice but the Hilton was a bit far from downtown.
Rome was, well what can you say incredible. Be prepared for a lot of walking but you can see everything in a couple of days as long as you don't want to go into the Sistine Chapel. You will need 1 day just for that, the lines are very long.