Holland America enabled us to enjoy a first class, once-in-a-lifetime adventure for my daughter (graduating High School) and the total cost was less than one might expect to spend for a week in Europe. The service was excellent throughout the ship with delicious food, tasteful decor, great entertainment and a fun teen club for my daughter (17). With so many exciting ports to explore (18 ports in 22 days!) my only complaint is the cost of the ship sponsored excursions. The cost was about triple or quadruple what you would pay if you arranged the tour yourself. We had a FANTASTIC onboard location expert, a Holland America employee. She gave us expert advice and thanks to her we visited unforgettable places that we certainly would have missed. We primarily took subways, buses &/or trains to go it alone and met up with other fellow travelers doing the same thing. In Tunisia we even took a local train to the Medina and that was an experience we'll never forget!
We found the lowest cost for us to get to Europe was via Munich so we got to Venice via Deutschebahn train and it was a nice scenic trip (for the part we didn't sleep through!). Ordering the train ticket was fairly easy online--although the tickets were issued in German so we had to do a Google translate to be sure we understood what it said so we got to the correct platform to catch the train.
In Livorno a goup of us caught an immaculately clean minivan taxi (with Wifi, too) directly as you exit the ship. It took us to Florence and then Pisa. At a cost of $80 per person this was a third of the cost of a Cruise Sponsored similar tour.
Comfortably designed and spacious layout. Excellent service.
Venice is even more beautiful than the photos! We took the local vaporetto boats to get to St. Marks square and enjoyed a glass of champagne with a scenic canal background. To get to the port of Venice we took a taxi from our hotel and it was very expensive. Not sure if Uber or Lyft is available in Venice but may be worth trying to save significant money.
The subway is excellent and about a 20 minute walk from Piraeus. The hike up the Acropolis is something everyone should see. Then lunch in the Plaka was a delicious whole fish with a guitarist playing in the background.
My daughter took a donkey up the mountain with her new friends she met onboard. I went with the parents on the trolly instead. Santorini has the unforgettable white and blue homes and scenic views. We enjoyed appetizers and local beers overlooking the sea. We tried the overly sweet Vinsanto wine and cannot recommend it.