I've lived in several cruise ports, so because of my "disdain" of how busy and crowded places get on cruise ship days, I've always been reluctant to go on one.
This time however it seemed like the best way to explore some Mediterranean islands, without hopping on and off planes and ferries. I am so glad I did! It even turned out to be timed just right to be a very special 30th birthday celebration.
If you are looking for activities and entertainment, this may not be the cruise for you, as it doesn't appear to have as many programs and onboard entertainment as other cruises I've looked into. I however was looking for peace and quiet, so it suited me perfectly.
My husband participated in the table tennis tournaments, the fencing lessons (both free) and the watercolor class ($35 for 3 lessons but provides the materials which he then took home). He was looking forward to the bridge lessons, but missed the first lesson and wasn't able to pick it up later. There were also some dancing lessons and other events, but I wasn't interested so I can't remember them all.
I loved my first cruise experience. It was wonderful falling asleep and waking up in a new port and not having to had navigate buses, trains, boats or planes to get there.
Highlights of this cruise would be the ample time in ports (morning arrival, evening departure) to discover the locations and the high tea everyday at 3pm! Though it may sound strange, another highlight was the laundry room! Free laundry (including soap) and ironing facilities, but also a great place to make friends!
The standard food is English, which I preferred, but may not be everyone's cup of tea (don't expect hot dogs and hamburgers). Fellow passengers were mostly retirees from the UK, but that meant they had a wealth of knowledge and were very pleasant cruise companions. The staff was very friendly and helpful, and felt like family by the end of the cruise.
I really enjoyed my first cruise experience.
Clean and beautiful. I actually don't like having my room cleaned every day at hotels, so I hang the do not disturb sign on my doors, but on the ship the Steward would wait in the hallway to make sure to schedule a time that would suit us, so I gave in and just let them clean!
This was my first cruise so I don't know how the size compares, but it felt very spacious to me. More than enough space to hang all our clothes. Nothing stood out as inconvenient or negative. On our arrival there was a faint odor of cigarette smoke (someone obviously didn't take to heart the do not smoke on balcony rule before us), but a quick call to the steward and it was fresh again.
Beautiful, wonderful experience.
Only chose to spend half the day here. Not much to see and do in the main town, so it is quick to go through all the sites.
Heraklion is quite a busy city, not much to do close to the port. We however took the public bus from outside the port straight to Knossos, which was a much cheaper and easy to do option (the last stop is Knossos, so you won't get lost). As it was a cruise ship day (ours) it was packed at the site and so the line to get in was very long and then teaming with people inside also.
I could live in Rhodes, I loved it so much and wanted to spend more time there. The port is so close to the old city (Medieval) and not too far you can also visit the ancient Greek ruins of Rhodes. It's a truly amazing city, you feel you've stepped back in time when the Knights lived there and called it home.
I was going to book an excursion, but none of them went to all of the places I wanted to see, and only those places. So instead we rented a car and my husband had fun driving in Turkey. The car cost US$30 so for the 4 of us (plus baby) it was by FAR the cheapest option too!
Drove to the ruins of Ephesus and St Johns Basilica, took a peek at the 7 sleepers caves and stopped and went when we wanted to. It was a great experience.
The port is very far from the city of Athens (and very far from the train). Don't walk to the train, just catch a taxi to your hotel or the main city, it's not that expensive! My sister is very frugal, there is a bus to the train, and she didn't even want to take that, so we walked a very long way to the train station with all our luggage in tow. Trains are not incredibly cheap and often crowded so for not very much more it would have worked out so much better to catch the taxi! Lesson learned.
Athens itself is an experience. I don't think I spent enough time to fully grasp all there was to love about Athens, but the food was AWESOME!