We really enjoyed this cruise especially the sail out of Venice. I have sailed into and out of Venice with Princess before and it's a real delight - do it while you can, it may not always be an option with the potential sinking of Venice! The overnight in this port gave us the option of seeing the city at night too - it's a wonderful place, easy to get around with lovely buildings and canals at every turn. This was a busy itinerary, Istanbul, Mykonos, Athens, Naples, Rome, Florence, Toulon & Barcelona, but great if you have the stamina for busy, cosmopolitan destinations. The embarkation and disembarkation we extremely well manged, full points Princess.
In Istanbul, Athens, Mykonos, Toulon and Barcelona we did our own things, partially because I had visited several of them previously but we did the Rome on you own, using the ships private train excursion because Rome is so far from Citavecchia. This was comfortable, relaxing and convenient, much better than taking a bus on the busy roads. We had a guide who took us into St Paul's Square and gave us great tips, a map etc. and then we were left to our own devises. We chose to simply orient ourselves, use the underground and see the places rather than waste time in the many long queues for the major attractions, planning to come back on another occasion when not so pressed for time.
We did a similar thing in Florence, but this time it was on your own by bus but again our tour guide John did an excellent job in orienting us, giving hints and tips for Florenece - he was so amusing! We chose to visit Herculaneum using the ship's excursion - a sound decision and hugely more interesting than Pompeii. We had an archaeologist who worked on the site to show us around. A very good half day tour. Prior to this in the morning we simply walked off the ship and into Naples town a mere 5 minutes away. Toulon was perhaps the most disappointing visit. There isn't a great deal there and as others have said the place is closed on Sundays, although there is a market open and a small tourist train operating. However, the beaches are in easy reach by the tourist train, by bus or taxi only minutes away, although from the ship a water taxi is necessary to the main town area.
After the cruise we spent a couple of days in Barcelona; TIP using a Hop-on Hop-off bus go straight to the tourist office in Plaza Cataluna, they are really helpful, and pre-book times for busy sites (any Gaudi venue) to organise your day effectively. MAJOR TIP FOR PIRAEUS/ATHENS - as others have said getting into Athens is cheap and easy via the Metro (15mins from Piraeus), about 1.5 euros per person each way, however, getting to the Metro, which is in the main train station depends on where your ship is berthed. We were berthed at the Themistokleous Pier Terminal B which is beyond Gate E12 of Piraeus Harbour and the furthest away. The main train station/Metro is between gates E5 & E7 on the opposite side of the road. Gate E6 is a Pedestrian bridge over the busy main road but this is closed for repairs! From Terminal B to the Metro is a good 50 mins walk at a goodly pace and remember it's the same coming back, one could perhaps take a taxi or public bus there. Don't bother with an all day ticket on the metro, once in the city, if you start at the Acropolis buying the 12 euro all venue ticket, you can easily work back towards the direction of Piraeus without using the metro again - we walked to the New Acropolis Museum, to Hadrian's Arch, through the Plaka and onto the Roman Agora before catching the Metro back from Monistiraki and all for less than 23 euros each! Istanbul too is easy to negotiate by tram, follow recommendations that you can find on-line from the port of Salipazari. Mykonos is very easy to visit on foot from the water shuttle stop.
It's a while since we used Princess Cruises, a few things have changed but not sufficient to disappoint us. We were very pleased with the food, service, entertainment etc. Like I said - a great cruise.
No problems with the cabin, save it said partially obstructed view and it was in fact almost totally obstructed, which didn't really bother us, we're even happy with an inside cabin, but you may want to consider this.
If arriving by train to Santa Lucia Station, walk to the People Mover station, 5 mins on foot and only 1.5 euro which takes you directly into the port. For instruction look on-line using either Santa Lucia or Stazione Marittima.
Using the tram is an excellent way to see Istanbul, unless you have mobility problems - no need to use a ship's excursion as everything is very close together, the Blus Mosque, Agia Sophia, Topkapi. Tip - download instruction for Jeton Machines and Tram map and go to Tophane stop where there is a Jeton machine, left out of the port and a 5 - 10 min walk. The tram line runa along the middle of the road and the stops therefore are in the middle too. When you purchse the ticket, it is a red token which is used to enter the tram stop. It takes only 5-10 mins to the tourist center.
A charming island, so pretty and easy to wander around, it's not very big, difficult to get lost and you can easily get to the windmills either through the town or around the headland. Some lovely little tavernas on the waterfront at Little Venice but beware the sea lashes again the wall so don't sit in the closest seats. Watch out for maniacs on scooters and cycles on the tight little streets too.
If you aren't able bodied, perhaps a ship's excursion would be best or the Hop-on Hop off bus or Excursion bus X80, both of which are just outside of the terminals. Note: the all-site entry ticket is 12 euros for Athens main historical sites but over 65s get in half price.
Wow, wow, wow! We had seen Herculaneum on television just a couple of weeks prior to sailing but it took our breath away. Here you see real skeletons in situ, just as the eruption had left them, buildings still with frescoes, pavements, streets. Ancient scenes brought to life. Highly recommended. Our guide was most knowledgeable!View All 79 Herculaneum Reviews
To put it briefly, the train was excellent, clean, comfortable, quick and within 10 mins walk of the Vatican. Great information from the guide and plenty of free time to look around.View All 37 Rome / Private Train Reviews
Bus straight into Florence and only 10 mins walk from the centre. The guide was informative and very funny. It was lovely just to wander the streets and take in everything. NB if you really want to do the Uffizzi Gallery you must go straight there otherwise you won't have enough time because of the queues.View All undefined undefined Reviews