I chose this cruise for the ports of call. I've been interested in Greece for a long time. My passion for Greek history and culture began with two Classical Civilizations courses in college. This was to be a vacation of a lifetime for me. Athens was my number one bucket list destination.
This cruise was my first time aboard a Royal Caribbean ship. I researched a ton about this cruise and its ports. In my research I saw NOTHING about weather related issues in Venice, Italy. Future cruisers BEWARE of any cruise out of Venice. Heavy fog can and WILL delay your travel plans and arrangements. Our flight to Venice from Philadelphia had to be diverted to Milan due to heavy fog and poor visibility. We were required to sit on board the plane on the runway in Milan for around 2-3 hours. No one was allowed out of their seats because the plane was refueling. I was freaking out because our flight only left a cushion time of around 5 hours before the ship would be finishing up boarding. When we finally landed in Venice I was alerted through Royal Caribbean that the cruise was delayed due to fog.
The cruise terminal in Venice was horrible. If you are used to the comfort and amenities of Miami's cruise terminal you will be shocked at the terminal in Venice. It reminded me of a livestock auction house. There was not seating for 2400 people to wait for 6 hours for the ship to return. Not even enough seating for half that amount of people. There were inadequate restroom facilities for 2400 people. There was one place to purchase food and it looked sketch as hell. The security was laughable. There was a guard armed with an AK47 "guarding" the cruise port terminal entrance...he was actually just playing angry birds on his phone and not even looking at people's ship cards and passports. Royal Caribbean staff were begging people to go "see the city" while the ship was delayed. We decided to venture out into Venice. It was beautiful but difficult to enjoy after being awake for nearly 31+ hours due to traveling. Too exhausted to even sight see we immediately came back to the terminal and took a nap on the ground.
Our ship was finally permitted to enter port and we started boarding at around 9:00 PM. There were not enough agents working to handle that amount of hangry, cranky, fed up people who all didn't want to wait in line and follow the rules. They had maybe 6 staff members checking in cruisers. I have never seen a line that long in my life. People were shoving each other, breaking in line, fighting, etc. It was the most awful embarkation experience of my 7+ cruise history. Royal Caribbean staff had ZERO control and it was a scary situation. I began feeling light headed---there was no water for the passengers during our delay. They finally rolled out a water station table around 10:00 PM. We walked onto the Rhapsody of the Seas around midnight. The muster drill was around 1:00 AM.
We awoke on the first morning of the cruise and realized we weren't moving. We actually hadn't even left overnight. Again, there was heavy fog and we weren't given clearance to leave the port. We were finally permitted to leave port around 11:00 AM...exactly 19 hours after our scheduled departure. I knew there would be dire consequences for our itinerary because of this significant delay. They ended up cancelling two of our Greece stops...Mykonos and Corfu. I honestly almost cried when they announced this. They added Split Croatia to the cruise. What a disappointment that ended up being. Our only compensation was a $127 account credit.
I enjoyed the Windjammer buffet on this ship. It had plenty of seating and tables and a lot of different stations for food that required people to spread out. I rarely waited in line at this buffet the entire cruise. Breakfast was the best meal by far. I really enjoyed the Belgian waffles.
Our favorite spot to hang out was the Solarium. It was so comfortable and a really enjoyable space. This ship overall was lacking the fun atmosphere that most Carnival ships have. Good luck finding decent (free) food after 8:00 PM on this ship. About all you could get was a grilled cheese sandwich and some soup at the Solarium cafe after 8:00. On the first night we were starving and decided to order room service which is free. It was like a combination of gas station food and Chef Boyardee.
The main dining room was hit or miss. There was always a long wait and the food wasn't usually worth waiting for. Service was bad compared to other cruises I've been on.
There was a wide variety of different people on this cruise with us. We bumped into and spoke with people from many different countries. We met people from England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Italy, and several others. Everyone we spoke with was very nice and enjoyable to speak to. This cruise had the best "fellew cruiser crowd" of all the cruises that I've been on.
Now for the whole reason of this trip:
Athens, Greece - An amazing experience that I will always remember and dream about going back. We got a taxi from the port in Piraeus to the Acropolis. We toured the Parthenon, Theatre of Dionysus, Odeon of Herodes Atticus, and all the historic sites at the Acropolis. We got there very early in the morning, before 9:00 AM. Spent several hours there and when we were leaving, the line to buy tickets was ridiculously long. If you want to go to the Acropolis then get up early so that you can enjoy it and not spend half your day waiting in line. We walked to Hadrian's Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus and spent an hour or so there. From there we walked to the Hard Rock Cafe and had lunch. We shopped around in that area and saw all the other sites that were within walking distance. To finish out the day we had some snacks and drinks at a cafe before heading back to the ship. We did a ton of walking and were exhausted but it was so worth it.
Kotor, Montenegro - This stop completely surprised my husband and I. This place was absolutely stunning. The port is flanked on all sides by mountains. The view is breathtaking. You do have to tender at this port. We walked to the old city which isn't very far at all. We decided that we wanted to attempt to climb to the top of the old fort and ramparts. This cost a few Euros each. This hike was very challenging and physically demanding. Most of the journey is an old narrow set of steps. In some places is just a pile of rocks. We started out with a lot of people in front of and behind us. We about gave up several times but kept pushing forward. Slowly by slowly most of the other groups and couples gave up and turned around. After we finally reached the top we were so thankful that we didn't. The top of the old fort gives you the most incredible view of the city and the port. It was an accomplishment and special memory. We ended up loving Kotor. After the climb back down we went shopping and had some wonderful gelato before heading back to the ship.
Argostoli, Greece - Beautiful location. We took a taxi to Lassi Beach. This wasn't a scheduled port day for a ship because we were so delayed and our itinerary was reworked so the restaurants, bars, and shops were mostly closed. Sadly we couldn't enjoy food or a drink at the beach. It was still beautiful though. We picked up lunch at a restaurant that was open near the port.
Split, Croatia - The buildings adjacent to where the ship was docked looked like they had collapsed a few decades ago. The port was smelly and underwhelming. I tried so much to think positive but I didn't enjoy this place. The people for the most part were extremely rude and standoffish. There were a couple of friendly people we came across. We walked to Diocletian's Palace from the port. They tried to nickel and dime you to go into any of the rooms or structures of the palace. You couldn't just pay one price and explore on your own. This was disappointing. The street vendors were sketch and tried to rip us off. Extremely disappointing. Only thing we bought was a necktie from Croata ties...very nice quality and very friendly folks in that shop.
Overall this cruise was a disappointment. Instead of four stops in Greece we got only two. The ship is very lacking in dining options. My husband and I both continually yearned for a cheeseburger or pizza from one of our Carnival cruises. We might try Royal Caribbean again in another 30 or so years when we retire. Maybe then it will be more our style and pace.
The large oceanview cabin was a decent size but I wasn't a fan of the layout. The bed was under the window instead of against one of the walls. Due to this, you couldn't lay in bed and look out the window unless you put your head at the foot of the bed. We usually enjoy laying and bed and watching our arrival and departure from ports. The bathroom was modern and clean and had plenty of storage. The stateroom was lacking in storage compared to other ships we've been on.
You do have to tender in Kotor but its a very short boat ride. This is one of the most picturesque ports I've ever visited. I was pleasantly surprised with how beautiful it was. We walked to old town and decided to hike up to the old fort and ramparts way up on the mountainside. It cost a few Euros per person. Make sure that you have water, GOOD shoes, and sunscreen. The stones you have to walk on are pretty slick, narrow, and uneven. If you make it to the very top you are in for the view of a lifetime. This was an inexpensive but challenging activity and was a wonderful memory with awesome pictures.
We took a taxi to the Acropolis very early in the morning. We opted to get the expensive ticket at the Acropolis ticket booth that got us in to multiple other historic sites across town. I believe it came out to be over 100 Euros total. The views of Athens and Piraeus from the Acropolis were simply breathtaking. We really enjoyed walking around the grounds of the Parthenon, Temple of Athena Nike, The Erechtheion, Theatre of Dionysus, and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. We spent several hours at the Acropolis before leaving. By the time we left around lunch time, the line at the ticket booth had hundreds of people in it. We didn't even wait in line early in the morning. We walked to the site of Hadrian's Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. This structure was absolutely huge! It was simply amazing to walk around at sites that are over 2400 years old. From there we walked to the Athens Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. After lunch and some shopping in the Plaka we also visited the Roman Agora and the Horologion of Andonikos of Kyrrhos. I wish we would have had more time to go to a couple of the museums but we had to get back to the ship.
We took a taxi to Lassi Beach from the port. The beach itself was beautiful. The water was pretty chilly. We visited Argostoli on a day that originally wasn't suppose to have a ship at port. For this reason, a lot of places weren't open. There was a bar / restaurant at the beach that never opened. There was no place to get food or drinks at this beach and nowhere to rent chairs or umbrellas. We made due with the ship towels and still had a good time. There were plenty of places in the town and close to the port that were open. We had lunch at a restaurant that overlooks the ship. The food was very good. Try some Ouzo while you are there!