Lands of Time: Barcelona to Istanbul on Marina: Marina Cruise Review by Bashful3

Marina 5
Member Since 2012
41 Forum Posts

Overall Member Rating

Lands of Time: Barcelona to Istanbul on Marina

Sail Date: September 2012
Destination: Middle East
Embarkation: Barcelona
I can't believe I am the first to review this fabulous cruise! Been home four days, and am still glowing.

Background information: I am a mobility challenged traveler, but very adventurous. Being dissatisfied with Oceania shore tours on two previous cruises, I arranged private tours for us in most ports, but my husband did take 2 Oceania tours that I did not.

Getting to the port of embarkation, Barcelona from our lovely quiet Hotel Gaudi was a snap of a short taxi ride. Embarkation was handled smoothly, including getting our luggage to our room in good shape promptly. No fuss; no hassle, great lunch awaiting us 12 ish.

Our Stateroom, 8125 was not far from the rear elevator, which turned out to be a big plus for me: most dining spots, the bridge/card room were located in that end of the ship. This was the largest, nicest stateroom of our three Oceania tours, and we didn't even use all the storage space for a change.Dining? As close to perfection as More you can get, including the Terrace Cafe, all four specialty dining rooms, and the Grand Dining Room.For a foodie to make that statement is saying a lot. Tasty, varied menus, consistency, hot food hot, cold food cold; from soup to dessert the food was top notch. We enjoyed eating alone sometimes, but whenever we wanted a table for 4 or 6, we met interesting fellow travelers. Service was outstanding in all respects.

The ports on this cruise were much to our liking: Malta, Rhodes, Barcelona, Israel, Crete, Cyprus, and the crown jewel: Istanbul, where we spent 4 days on our own, post cruise. I'm going to mention the private guides we had in most of those ports before I get to the criticism of the Oceania shore tours. made Istanbul come alive for us; can't recommend him highly enough. (Ramazan Guloglu)We took taxis everywhere in Istanbul, and they were comfortable, very inexpensive and fun. In Malta: Rita Fsadni:; in Rhodes: Nicholas of Rhodes (taxi) nick-ax@rho.forthnet; in Israel: Mickey of all did a super job of catering to my mobility limitations while giving grand tours for our small groups we put together, using cruise critic to get other passengers to join us. A quick word about our one complaint: my husband's Oceania tours in Emphasis and Knossis in Crete were sadly lacking. Other passengers complained bitterly about the ship's tours in other ports. One Canadian friend we met muttered "never again!" after an extensive tour of Istanbul at the end of the cruise. There were so many complaints about the quality of the tours that the expensive side of them didn't get as much mention as the poor quality.

Back to the positives:a new feature on this cruise were the Culinary Center programs. I took two, and enjoyed the chef/intructor, the recipes, the facility, the reasonable cost of 69/small group hands-on instruction. Other passengers were very pleased with the entertainment; we were just too tired by the end of dinner to partake. String quartet aboard was excellent; we enjoyed the tea most afternoons. Tiny complaint: the chairs in the Marina Lounge were too low and could use replacement.

Service on this ship was outstanding in all respects: friendly, helpful, cheerful. We had a prepaid gratuity credit from our travel agent, but we did tip in addition due to total satisfaction with our cabin attendants.

Disembarkation handled smoothly on the ship, but it was a madhouse waiting
for taxis that we were not involved with, as our Istanbul arranged for a private pickup for us.

A caution re Israel: Jerusalem is quite far from Ashdod port; private tours
with small vans can get into places the large buses cannot. The Egyptian ports
were cancelled due to caution on Oceania's part, but Cairo is VERY far from Port Said, and imho only Oceania tours would be a good idea for future Lands of
Time sailings.

We've done about 15 cruises previously, but for us, this was the best overall.
The ports were wonderful without exception, and no tender service was required.
Oceania's Marina crew had its act together, and that added to the experience. Less

Published 10/22/12

Cabin review: B28125 Verandah Stateroom

8125: close to rear elevator bank. Ideal for a handicapped traveler; close to dining sites. Ample storage space, great balcony, quiet, great views,

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Port and Shore Excursions

WE had been to Barcelona several times before; recommend Hotel Gaudi for location and great breakfast. Easy cab ride to port.
Read 1749 Barcelona Reviews

Again, we had a private arrangement with a taxi company. While not guides, our driver did an excellent job and I enjoyed the experience hugely. Would definitely recommend taxi touring in Crete.

Wonderful tour of Safed; private tour made the whole difference here. Sorry can't remember details, but it was great, other than the restaurant choice. Food tasty, but very expensive. May have been someone's relative!
Read 141 Haifa Reviews

We just walked around briefly; saving our energies for the rest of the cruise.
Read 95 Ibiza Reviews

The Best! By Far! Spent 4 days post cruise, and cannot be highly recommended enough to you. He catered to my mobility limitations; was a gifted guide who helped us get to know Istanbul despite my inability to climb stairs or walk well with my walker on cobblestones. We are where locals eat (example: $25 for exquisite lunch for 3); got to talk with four young female college students, visited the Jewish Museum, a real gem, relished the Janissary Concert at the Military Museum where the military history of Turkey was brought to life for us by Ram. He even picked the HOtel Sura, which was an excellent choice for us: close to all the action, and with one of the few disability access rooms at a reasonable cost in Istanbul. He would help you do want you want to do, regardless of your interests, just as he helped us. I consider him a friend, not just a guide. Truly caring.
Read 403 Istanbul Reviews

Unfortunately our tour was scheduled for a Friday, and also during a festival, Succoth. This led to unusually crowded conditions with street closings at 4pm. The large buses could not have access to the inner city as our small van did. Would recommend highly. Jerusalem is quite far from the port of Ashdod. Yad Vashem was difficult to take, but a must. I was not able to keep up with our group, and had to return to the bus with my husband, but our group had a wonderful experience in the inner city.

This private tour was arranged to accommodate my walking difficulties, avoiding stairs, museums, churches and palaces. Malta is a hilly place; I enjoyed Rita's tour thoroughly, but others would wish to see the palace, museums and churches.

Our taxi driver, Anthony was enthusiastic about Rhodes, fluent in English, knew how to make the 4 1/2 hour tour zing while accomodating my mobility limitations. While they are not permitted to be described as 'guides' I sure couldn't tell that: Anthony was superb. We saw a lot, and it was an exciting experience. Many photo stops, but I didn't have to climb any stairs and it was a treat. Motivated us to want to revisit Rhodes. Jewish Rhodes was included, at my request.
Read 390 Rhodes Reviews

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