Let me start by saying how great this site is. It was a huge help to us in planning our port days/shore excursions! I have never written a travel review but felt if I could pass on any helpful tips to someone I should try! We were first time cruisers and sailed the Med.on an 11 day cruise on July 6th. What a Beautiful Ship! Everyone that we talked to that has cruised in the past told us this was their favorite ship and although I have no other cruising experience I have got to believe this is true. It is very clean and modern and although It was completely booked you never felt crowded.We are a couple in our late 30's-40 and we traveled with our 11 yr. old son. One thing that I had a difficult time finding on this site were reviews that matched our age group, especially reviews from people traveling with children. I was nervous that my son would not have many other kids to interact with but no need to worry. There were many kids on the boat (One parent said 500, I am sure during the school year this number drops.) There were kids of all ages on the boat and my son had a wonderful time. They have a great kids program with organized daily activities that my son enjoyed participating in on sea days. Scavenger hunts, art projects, bingo, video games, foosh ball, etc. (They have organized activities daily but he did not participate on port days.) There are so many things to do on the ship! There is something for every age. We enjoyed the pool,(on sea days you do need to be there early for chairs...they go FAST) health club, and the glass show. Try to get to at least one glass show, I thought it was so relaxing to watch...the girls are so talented and do such a nice job describing the art of glass blowing. We thought the food was good. We loved the crepe place (bistro on five) worth the $5.00 charge and we also loved Silk Harvest. This was the only specialty restaraunt we ate at and were very glad we did. The food and service were great! We went to three shows on the cruise and enjoyed each one. They do a great job with the shows, there is a woman who impersonates other singers that we really enjoyed...try not to miss her...very funny and talented!PORTSThis is the portion of cruise reviews that I was always most interested so I will try to be detailed and pass on useful information!Civitavechia: We arrived at 12:00 and got right on the ship. Took a tour and had lunch. We stayed in Rome two days prior at the Caesar house. Nice accomadations close to the Colloseum but a bit expessive. We stayed at the hotel Canada Best Western two days after the cruise and this was very nice too but much less money. We met three other couples at our hotel who were also going on the cruise. We shared a van to the ship at a cost of 50e per couple, arranged by the hotel.Santoroni: I got up early and went down to get tender tickets.(7:30a.m.) just a few other people were down there but within half an hour people were lining up quickly, we were able to get off at 2:00. What a Beautiful island! We rented a car on our own and were so happy we did. We took the cable car into Fira and rented a car from Motor Inn. The man who helped us was so nice and gave us a map and suggestions on beaches. We spent a few hours at a beautiful beach enjoying the perfect water and black lava rock beach (our 1st) the water is clear and so blue, it was so peaceful. We the drove to Oia...do not miss this area...it is gorgeous! A good place for a nice walk, cute shops and restaraunts and great picture taking. We drove back to Fira, dropped off the car and got in the line for the cable car (allow plenty of time for this.) A great peaceful day.Mykonos: Another beautiful island and another rental car! Once again we were so happy we rented a car. We took the bus transfer into town and tried to find the car rental place, we ended up taking a taxi to the rental place and did not know that they (the car rental place) would have had a car waiting for us at the port. If you think you want to rent a car book it in advance and have it waiting. It will save you time and the expense of not needing the bus transfer. We rented a jeep from Kosmos. The man who helped us was fantastic, very accomadating with suggestions and when we dropped off the jeep they drove us to the port so we did not need to use the bus transfer. We walked around Mykonos and then drove down some narrow winding roads to Super Paradise! WOW! This place is great...I could spend a few days there. Beach chairs/umbrellas for rent with an outdoor restaraunt/bar. We loved this beach! We wished we had started for the beach earlier and spent more time here.Istanbul: What a unique city. We decided to do this on our own and had no problems. The only time we needed Lira was for subway tokens, so be prepared with a bit of Lira before you purchase tokens, we just got a bit of money at the cash machine in the subway and then purchase our tokens. Using the subway was not difficult at all, a bit crowded at 7:00p.m. (this is there rush hr.) otherwise not an issue. We went to the Topkapi Palace and also purchased tickets for the Harem rooms. I really enjoyed the tour of the Harem rooms. (On a side note, there is a vendor who sells icecream a little walk before you get into the Topkapi Palace. The icecream there is made with a product that allows it to stretch a bit and when you get a cone he does a little show..flips the cones, etc. my son loved this.) We went to the Grand Bazaar after the palace and although I am glad we saw it, it was way to much for me. You get approached constantly asking "Where are you from?" to start a conversation and everyone wants to sell you there rugs, jewelry, etc. not at all relaxing. We planned to eat in Istanbul for dinner but we were all so tired we went back to the ship and had dinner on the boat. The next morning we took the Subway back to Haghia Sophia (gorgeous) and then went to the Spice Bazaar. This was much more enjoyable. People aren't as aggressive and we were able to purchase a few souveneirs.Ephesus: We loved our day in Ephesus! This port is very nice and clean and has nice shopping (including a starbucks) right at the dock. We arranged a private tour with Ekol travel. A very sweet girl named Phylis (hope I spelled her name right) was waiting for us with our last name on a sign. I knew it was going to be a great tour when I saw her smiling face and her bright red hair...she was great and gave us so much insight into the lives of people from the area. There was a driver who took us in a van while Phylis would give us history/information on the way to our tours. We were so happy to have this private tour...many times you see large numbers of people following someone with a paddle. I am not saying that these aren't good tours too but for the same cost you can do your own private tour and have someone answer all your questions and stop when you want to look a bit longer, etc. I think it is a great way to see a port and learn more about the people who live there. We went to the ruins of Ephesus and toured the terrace houses. This is a must! This was an amazing tour. We never went to Mary's house but many people on the ship said the same thing about that. We drove to a little village called Sirince where local women made products and sell them, along with other vendors, on the streets. We ate lunch there and did a bit of shopping, this was a very enjoyable stop. On the way back to the ship Phylis gave my husband the name of a place to have a Turkish Bath. My son and I did some shopping in the port while my husband had his turkish bath..he was glad he tried it. Athens: This is another port that we did on our own. We used the subway system (which was the most confusing public transportation we used...it isn't impossible but you make 3 transfers to get to the Acropolis) We took a taxi back which cost 8e (on the way out of the port they wanted 25e, taxi drivers are hoping to pick people up at a higher cost...ask before you get in....once you are away from the port it is much cheaper.) We walked around the Acropolis, went into the beautiful new museum and walked around the Plaka...all this is in easy walkable distance of one another.Naples: We booked a private tour with AP tours. We had another wonderful day with our driver/tour guide Victorio. He was very charming and sweet and always asked if we wanted more time for sights or if we wanted to stop to take a picture, etc. On the drive he would give us lots of information on the people from the area, tourism, the cost of living in the area, he was very easy to talk to and we enjoyed his company. We started our tour with Pompeii. Victorio dropped us off and told us he would be waiting.we decided that 2 hrs. would be sufficient. (There is absolutely no way to see all the ruins in 2 hrs. but we also knew we wanted to see the Amalfi Coast and honestly we were a bit "ruined out". We got to see about 1/3 of the ruins...it is a large area...and we were fine with that. Some people may want to make an entire day of this and then you would want to look into touring just Pompeii.) We then took off on a lovely drive to Positano...what a beautiful little town on the cliffs of the Amalfi coast. The Amalfi Coast is absolutely beautiful and I am so glad we saw it. We did a bit of shopping and walking around and then we drove to the top of a cliff and ate at a fantatic Italian restaraunt called La Tagliata...if you go bring your appetite. They keep bringing food and it is all delicious! After lunch we drove to Sorento and walked around the town a bit...also a beautiful area. Victorio then drove us to the Hydrofoil in Sorento and we took it back to the Ship. A Super day! Another option to this...our table mates had seen Pompeii so they weren't doing a tour. They took the Hydrofoil from Naples to Capri and had a wonderful relaxing day. It would be impossible to do all these things so it is important to decide what is most important and plan from there. Maybe we will be lucky enough to visit Capri at another time!No matter what you choose to do during your port days you will have a great time. This is a beautiful Cruise and I hope your trip is as enjoyable experience...it is a trip of a lifetime!
1662..great room with a nice balcony..nice view..at the end of the hall.