We've done quite a few cruises on Celebrity so knew what to expect but we had one really fabulous surprise and that was getting one of those elusive upgrades. We originally booked Concierge cabins but after the final deposit date the price for a guaranteed suite dropped a little below what we paid so we switched. We had 3 cabins and they were assigned to Sky Suites. Shortly before departure I printed our Express Passes and saw we all had been upgraded to Royal Suites! That was a fantastic surprise and it was wonderful since we were celebrating my mother's 80th birthday on this trip.
The ship has been Solsticized complete with the Martini bar. We ran into one of our bartenders from last year's Panama Canal cruise which was fun. This time out, we decided to do the open dining. With all the stops we didn't want to be locked into a particular dining time. It turned out really well but if you want to meet other people, be sure to tell them you want to be seated with others or they will seat you with just your party. They also lead you to believe you should make a reservation but it wasn't necessary. We never waited more than a few minutes. We tried both specialty restaurants since they were included with our Royal Suite. The food was great and so was the service. We went early both times and the dining rooms were not well attended. They might pick up later in the evening. If you have a special occasion it might be a nice upgrade for the evening, otherwise I'm not sure I would be willing to pay the extra $40 per person when the food and service in the main dining room is quite good.
This itinerary has many stops with only 2 sea days out of 12. We went ashore at all but one. We did not get off in Rhodes. It rained all day so we decided to skip it and relax on the ship. We only did a couple of excursions with the cruise line. Those were in Istanbul, Ephesus, and Marmaris. At Kusadasi, almost all the tours go to Ephesus and that is worth the trip. It's an amazing place. In Marmaris, we did the Turkish Bath tour and that is another one you have to do if you go to Turkey. It was an option at most stops in Turkey. Although they listed it as a co-ed excursion it is not co-ed inside the bath. They take all the women then they switched and took the men. The pool area, where everyone wore swimwear is co-ed.
This cabin is fantastic! It was selling for around $5,000 pp which is entirely too much for my wallet but we got the all elusive upgrade and we were loving it! Living room / dining room, bedroom with dressing area, full size bath with shower and separate whirlpool tub, and balcony with another whirlpool. And we had a butler named Alfred. I believe he was from India so I suspect he picked an English name but it was definitely Batman-esch cool! It also included 2 liters of alcohol, 2 nights at the specialty restaurants, reserve seating for the shows on formal night, and we dined at the Captain's table on mother's birthday. If you get this room, you will not be disappointed!
Stops: carpet demo, Grand Bazaar, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia and included lunch and city tour.This was an expensive tour and I wasn't very pleased with it. On Friday morning the Blue Mosque is closed so they took us to the mandatory carpet demonstration and then cut us loose to shop in the Grand Bazaar. The guide did not take us to the Bazaar. She just gave general directions. We later learned that we missed it completely! All the attractions were in the afternoon and they were packed. The lunch at Topkapi Palace was nice. I may have felt differently about it if we hadn't had to change the schedule.On the day of disembarkation we had hired a private guide and went to the Basilica Cistern and to the Grand Bazaar. Worth it! And we got to see the Bazaar after all. She took us to lunch at a local spot that had no tourists. You wouldn't even know it was there. The food was really good!
At this stop you had to pay a little extra to ride a bus from the pier. Once there, we just got off and walked around. It was beautiful. I liked it better than Santorini. Many people stopped to eat at one restaurants right at the edge of what appears to be the main area of town. It was packed and they had only one server. Don't stop there! There are several restaurants right by where the bus stops. We went to one that was on the second floor and had a fantastic open air dining room that looked out over the water. The food was great and no crowd.
You have your choice of riding a cable car or taking a donkey. We didn't really want to smell like donkey's so it was the cable car for us! At the top of the cable car is a labyrinth of shopping. Eventually, we grabbed a cab and they took us to a black sand beach and came back. We had lunch at a little hole in the wall called Lucky's. The gyros were excellent and we can recommend it. And it was inexpensive, too.
We took a taxi tour in Crete. It was nice but I think we were a bit weary by this point. We visited the German and the British cemeteries and then straight back to the ship. One lady went into town for shopping but the rest of us just wanted some down time.