Imagine Cruising sourced this vessel for our 60th birthdays. Package inc 2 nights in a hotel that felt like it was located in Albania...so far from old city Istanbul was it.Joining the ship was a bad experience but on reflection is probably in keeping with a 3rd world country. After scrambles and much queuing we got our cabin on deck 7. It was fine considering this is not a young ship. Yes we were warned by the ship that there would be plumbing problems & so it was but once reported were soon fixed. There was an odd smell but it was starboard side so we avoided that. The other difficulties revolved around dining & accessing seats/loungers on the sun decks. Nice people don't obey the rules: hog seats/loungers all day even if not using them...in fact gone ashore for the day. The rules are writ large for all to see but rules are for losers & not enforced. We'd anytime dining meaning queuing more than average. (900 for 300 seats allocated for anytimers we were told) Main dining in the Stinging Nettle or Edelweiss restaurant was designed (3 courses of OK - drinkable coffee 8USD extra) to force you to choose the 3 speciality restaurants which charge significantly. The food was better there. The buffet was like eating in a supermarket before a national holiday. In proper cruising the evening meal is the main social event. But you only felt that in the specialities. In the Main you were out in less than an hour. The food was described by RC as "sumptuous....gourmet" ....they must've been having a laugh. The wine was expensive and all bottles we got were plonk complete with blinding headaches.
Excursions were beyond our budget. Entertainment was cruise typical & OK. Pitch-selling onboard was a bore as was photos. 2 pools, too small & boiling like broth with kids. Yet the Greek isles were wonderful & worth the ordeal. Next holiday land based......likely the Greek Islands...Santorini...Rhodes....Mykonos....Crete.....
Fine and well kept by the cabin boy Daniel. Located midships with usable balcony. Fridge with minibar but too expensive (500ml of ordinary water: 6.5 USD)
This is carpetland...all excursions visit carpet factories and some also include leather goods factory and a few will go on to the china goods one...possible total of 3 in one excursion. So your visit to historical sites will be curtailed accordingly as your guide will rate these less important than the former. Traffic is awful & taxis expensive if caught up in it. Remember: you are a walking dollar sign to these charming, generally friendly people.
Easy to access from the ship using shuttle which was cheap. Loved the easy ambiance of the Greek people. They are charming and courteous and if you don't wish to buy, that's OK. So refreshing after Turkeyland.
Tendered ashore which went surprisingly well. Cable car to town above: Thera. You can use 5oo+ steps to top but you'll need a shower after and maybe even oxygen. There are donkeys to take you up them if you are without a heart. Got public transport to small town of Aio. Wonderful place. It's a must visit. Getting back on the bus was hell due to over loading and no air-con. Returned to tender via the steps owing to cable car having a mile long queue. I was distressed to see the donkeys suffering without water. It spoiled the fun somewhat.
Got hop-on-off from port. Good. Athens was unbearably hot for me. The Acropolis is a must but an exacting walk with steps and huge crowds. Outside of that there isn't a lot else. Athens unlike other historic cities is not sign-posted for tourism. We didn't get the value of our hop-on-off as by the afternoon we were suffering from heat exhaustion. Thankfully chilled bottled water is plentiful & cheap.
Water-bused into old port from ship in cruise port. Good & frequent service. Port was good with cheap refreshments. Got the boat to Delos island to see extensive archaelogical site. Wonderful but demanding walking to see it all under a punishing sun and no shade. A tavern there selling chilled beer. Delicious.