We have cruised frequently but this was the first time on a smaller ship. We were on the Pacific Princess and we loved it! The ship was intimate and luxurious in an understated way. We had cabin 327 (ocean view porthole) and we found our cabin very comfortable. We liked the ease with which you can move around a smaller ship and how uncrowded it felt. The only drawback was the lounge where the entertainment was held. It was hard to see because of the lack of slant. The best kept secret was the lovely lounge on the 10th floor forward. It had very few passengers in it and was a great place to meet friends and play games. We flew into Rome early and utilitized Romecabs (www.stefanorometours.com). They were great - they picked us up at the airport and delivered us to our hotel. The next day they drove the group of 5 of us to Tivoli for Hadrian's Villa and Villa d'Este. The fountains at the Villa d'Este are spectacular and well worth visiting. The following day, they picked us up and delivered us to the port. The drivers were all excellent, timely, and knowledgeable. I highly recommend the use of this company. They were also reasonably priced.
Our first port was Sorrento. We independently took a ferry over to Capri which is a lovely island. We enjoyed taking a taxi to Anacapri and taking the gondola up to the top of the mountain for the view. After taking the ferry back, we enjoyed walking around Sorrento for a brief time and wished we had spent a little more time enjoying Sorrento.
After 2 days at sea, our next port was Istanbul. I had made arrangements with Daily Istanbul Tours (www.dailyistanbultours.com) for a private tour for each day that we were there. On the first day, we visited the Hippodrome (too much detail from the guide - should have been 10 min at most, guide spent about 45 min), Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, Topkapi Palace, had lunch at a great place, Underground Cistern, and Grand Bazaar. Our guide was very nice and very knowledgeable but not flexible and was on his own agenda. We would have liked to have spent more time at the Grand Bazaar.