A group of family members with differing needs were going on this cruise so I needed something that would suit several age groups. I also wanted something in Europe but going to countries that would be interesting to the group. The itinerary of this cruise suited us, as did the Freestyle cruising.
Embarkation went smoothly with a pickup from the airport (£10 one way) straight to the boat. Check in was fine but we had booked two suites and these guests apparently did not have to queue but unfortunately this was not made clear until they had got to the end of the queue! Wheelchair assistance was made available when I asked even though I had not booked in advance. Luggage arrived very quickly to the rooms and was already there when we boarded. However, I understand that this may sometimes take longer.
Older members of the group enjoyed being taken care of and felt special with the helpful and friendly staff on-board. They had mobility issues and were always helped on and off the boat and in restaurants. The service in all areas of the ship was excellent. The only issue was that some disabled toilets were kept locked and it was difficult to find someone to open them.
We had both 10594 and 10592 which had a connecting door. These rooms are midship and right by the lifts which made them very accessible. It was very easy to get to most of the main public areas and to disembark the ship. The only downside of the location could be noise from late night revellers returning to their rooms but I did not find this a problem.
We had twin beds in 10594 which was find. However, the space between the beds is very narrow so be clever about who gets which bed. In 10592 the sofa was also pulled out to make a bed. As we literally only used the rooms to sleep and shower we had plenty of room. However, I think the balconies really helped to make the rooms feel more spacious and were nice areas to relax in and watch the views.
The shower rooms contained a shower cubicle with dispensers for shampoo and shower gel and a rack to keep your own items. The toilet was in a separate cublicle and inbetween the two was the sink. Soap was in a dispenser as well as a bar and body lotion was also provided. The shower room is small but adequate. It was a little worn though with cracks in the sink toilet seat. However, it was kept very clean.
The cabin itself has the beds, a table, a couch and a coffee table. There is a safe, a mini bar (which you can ask your steward to empty), wardrobe space (with plenty of hangers), drawers, a TV and a little filter coffee machine. The coffee isn't very nice though and I preferred to get it from the Garden café instead. There is also a hair dryer. Generally I think that this is a very good room.
Just went from airport to port. However, the luggage for two members of the group went missing. The ship was informed of this and they liaised with the airport until the luggage was returned (in Santorini). There were other people on the cruise that this happed to and NCL were so helpful and provided complimentary laundry to all those affected.
It was easy enough to find the NCL staff waiting for us at the airport but the walk from the airport to the bus, although only five minutes can be long if you have mobility issues. Make sure that the wheelchair takes you all the way. The bus transfer staff were very helpful and friendly.
Loved this city although it was very busy. You will need to find a way to get to the old town as it is too far to walk. NCL charge $15 for adults and $10 for return tickets which is what we did. However, there are taxis outside the port if you prefer. The bus drops you off by the Pile gate to the old town. Here you can find the tourist information including tickets to the cable car. This was €16 which I felt was too much so didn't go on it.
We paid 120 kunas to walk round the city wall (there are discounts for students and children - you can also pay by credit card but not in euros). The walk was brilliant with great views. However, in the hot sun it can be hard going for little ones so take plenty of water and be prepared to buy lots of ice cream. Ice cream has different prices depending where you are buying it (10 - 15 kunas) and water along the wall is 20 kunas (which is about £2.50). If you are stopping to take lots of photos, then going all the way round will take you about an hour and a half but it can be done in an hour.
When retuning by bus look for a NCL banner near the tourist office and bus stop. We missed it despite standing right next to it! We were looking out for our bus rather than a queue of people!
This was my least favourite place perhaps due to the fact that my expectations were very high. It is an unusual place in that it is a town built on a volcanic rock, but once you've gone to the top and seen the views there is not that much else, unless you like shopping. Santorini is not great for people with mobility issues and I would suggest that they take in the views from the boat but remain on-board for the day.
You need to get a tender (a small boat) to take you on-shore. There are timed tickets for this but we just waited until this ended and did not have to queue before we left the boat. We took a donkey ride up from the port to Fira. There are different opinions on whether one should ride the donkeys but I found them to be big and healthy and did not have any qualms about riding one. The donkeys do what they want though so just sit and let them get on with it.. Once they went as far as they wanted to, you can then walk higher up popping into the various lovely shops that are there. If you want to go to one of the beaches (red or black sanded ones) you need to take a bus or taxi from Fira. Bus is cheaper and probably more reliable as there are only 30 taxis for the whole of Santorini (I was told this but don't actually know if this is true!).
We went to one of the black beaches near the airport. It was okay but the water was warm and very still so the children enjoyed it. Don't try to get to the beach from the port as you have to go up and then down the other way.
We then came back to the port via the cable car. This only takes 3 minutes but you can be queuing for up to an hour. The line does move quickly but in the hot sun it can be difficult to stand around and if you pop out of the line to get a drink you may find some irate people behind you thinking that you are trying to queue jump. Nonetheless, it is probably easier than trying to walk back down with the donkeys and stepping into the donkey poo. It is nice and you get good views of the island. It cost €5 for an adult, children are €2.50 and under 5s are free.
I booked the Piraeus express bus tour before going on the cruise. This cost us €35 with a guided tour of the Acropolis. The bus picked us up and returned us to the port and we go a bus tour of all the main sites of Athens as well as a chance to do some shopping and have a Greek lunch. The Acropolis was brilliant and our tour guide was very knowledgeable and gave us lots of information about the site really bringing it to life. We ate and shopped in Plaka where the shopkeepers were very friendly. They all knew Anna, our tour guide well and were very helpful to us. I even got a good discount on some dresses for my nieces because they had good Greek names! The same dresses cost €5 more in Santorini.
Another city that I loved but due to circumstances I couldn't spend as much time in it as I would have liked. It is about 10 minutes walk from the port to the town centre but bear in mind that getting out of the port can be a long walk. For people with mobility issues this walk can be quite long but there are a few taxis which will take you in. Once in the town it is very easy to just walk around and see the beautiful old city and Palace of Diocletian. You can get a cheap walking tour of this area (10 kuna) which takes about an hour. The Bacvice beach is very nice and is close to the port and has wheelchair access.