We embarked on the ship in Heraklion, having flown in from London. We travelled as a family of 3 (myself, my wife and my 10-year old daughter, who is in a wheelchair). The embarkation in Crete was what I would consider to be the worst part of the cruise. Heraklion is not really geared up to be a cruise port but more of a ferry terminal. The small embarkation building meant that some people were queuing outside in the heat for more than an hour before being able to enter the building. The whole process was very slow, a bit chaotic and quite uncomfortable.
Once onboard the ship things improved considerably. We were able to go straight to our cabin and our luggage joined us almost immediately. The interior of the ship is beautifully decorated and, although 10 years old, did not give this impression.
The cabin was quite small but was cosy and served our needs. The cabin steward kept the cabin immaculately clean and our only gripe (other than perhaps the size) was that the air conditioning was not very effective, meaning that the cabin (being an inside) was a bit warm for us at night, especially as there were 3 of us in the cabin. The beds were, however, comfortable.
The cabin was quite small but was cosy and served our needs. The cabin steward kept the cabin immaculately clean and our only gripe (other than perhaps the size) was that the air conditioning was not very effective, meaning that the cabin (being an inside) was a bit warm for us at night, especially as there were 3 of us in the cabin. The beds were, however, comfortable.Despite the small size, we were able to pack the luggage in the wardrobes and had just enough space to park the wheelchair without folding (we had requested a wheelchair accessible cabin but were told these were all booked, despite the ship only being 60 to 65% full).
We embarked in the port of Heraklion. The town itself is quite nice, but the cruise port was not really geared up for cruise ships, being more of a ferry terminal, barely able to cope with the volume of people embarking on the cruise. Some people were queuing outside in the heat of the sun for well over an hour to go through the small building and then being transferred by bus to the ship.All in all the worst embarkation experience we have had in all the cruises we have taken.
Santorini (Thira) is a very picturesque port with the dramatic backdrop of almost sheer cliffs up to the town of Thira, with spectacular views from the summit of the submerged volcanic crater.The cruise ships anchor offshore in the crater, with tender boats transferring passengers to and from the port.We had planned to go on an excursion here but were told by the excursion desk that we would not be able to with the wheelchair. They even advised us not to go ashore as they had 'no facilities to cope with wheelchairs'. Our cabin steward, however, told us that the cable car to the summit had facilities for wheelchairs and we would be able to get around at the top, albeit in limited areas.We decided to go ashore and were pleased we did. The staff were very helpful with assisting us get our daughter on and off the tender boat. Once ashore, we looked around the few souvenir shops before taking the cable car to the summit for the specatacular views. Again, the staff on the cable car were very helpful, although I thought the price of 4 Euros per person each way was expensive.We were able to have a walk around part of the town before returning to the ship.
Izmir is a large bustling city, being the third largest in Turkey.We disembarked and were able to walk to a long pedestrianised street with plenty of shops (about 10 minutes from the ship). There were also plenty of street traders selling fake branded perfumes and clothing.Excursions to the historic site of Ephesus can also be taken from Izmir, although we did not attempt this due to the steps and the site not being suitable for wheelchairs.
Piraeus is a huge, sprawling and very busy port with easy access to Athens. When disembarking we had to get a free port bus from the ship to the port entrance.Unfortunately the day we visited Piraeus it was a public holiday in Greece, and most of the shops and businesses were closed. We got on one of the open-top sightseeing buses which was a few minutes' walk from the port. The bus costs 10 Euros per person and you can hop on and off as many times as you want.The route took us from Piraeus in a loop around Athens, the whole trip taking just over an hour. Due to the public holiday several roads were closed and the bus had to take some diversions to the usual route. This service is convenient for the Acropolis as it drops off within a few minutes, walk, although we did not get off there.
Katakolon is a pleasant little village which is a base for taking excursions to the historic site of Olympia.On the day we called at this port, there were 3 other cruise ships there, meaning that we had to anchor offshore and the ship's lifeboats were used to tender passengers to and from the port.Being only a small village, the main street was extremely crowded, although we were able to stroll around and look in the many different souvenir shops. There are also plenty of tavernas on the waterfront where you can have something to eat or drink. A train service runs from the far end of the village to Olympia, for those wishing to make their own way there rather than joining excursions. The train apparently takes about 40 minutes and is not expensive.
We disembarked in Savona, about 40 minutes' drive from Genoa. Disembarkation was very smooth and efficient in Costa's dedicated cruise terminal. We took a transfer bus to Genoa, a large port situated in a very mountainous area and quite picturesque. We spent a night in a hotel in Genoa before flying home.