We chose this cruise based on the itinerary as we wanted to get to Greece and wanted stops at least in Mykonos and Santorini and this cruise included both. We wanted a little more than a week, and the length of the cruise was perfect for us. We loved all of our stops! The weather was perfect the entire cruise, very hot but we had plenty of sunscreen and light clothing. The cruise ship offers a water package which we skipped and just got bottled water in our travels.
For a smaller ship there were plenty of places to go. We liked the Galaxy of the Stars lounge for music the best. The pool is a decent size with 4 hot tubs and there is a children's pool as well. There were plenty of lounge chairs throughout the ship, but of course if you want to be close to the pool you need to get there early. We were fine being in a quieter area of the ship and had no trouble finding 2 chairs together mid-morning. The public areas of the ship were well kept, and empty bottles and dirty cups/glasses were cleaned up pretty quickly.
The food was mediocre at best. The buffet was disappointing and always crowded so we ate breakfast at the dining room most of the time. We usually had lunch off the ship. Dinners in the main dining rooms were good but not as good as it could have been. We did have the drink and a 4 dinner dining package (came free with our booking just had to pay the tips) so we were able to eat at Teppanyaki (make your reservations on the first night as it's only 1 hibachi table), Le Bistro and Cagney's Steakhouse twice. Cagney's was amazing, we loved it so much we canceled our Italian restaurant reservation to go back. We also like Shogun and ate there twice. Dress code is casual but men must wear pants in Le Bistro and Windows Main Dining Room.
Ports and Shore Excursions
We did some shore excursions all on our own through different companies as they were smaller in size and more affordable than what the ship itself offered.
We were shuttled to the old port from the new port. It was a little hectic with all of the people leaving the ship, and we were warned by the cruise director to wait about an hour to avoid the crowd. We wanted to go to Paradise Beach so we wanted to get our early. I would suggest booking a private transfer to the beach as they were available this way you do not waste any time. Cabs are scarce, hard to find and expensive. We took the bus which was fine, but they only run about every hour, and we had just missed the last one leaving the port. Walked around town while we waited for the next bus for a few minutes but did not see much other than the beach on this stop which was gorgeous.
Booked a car through Welcome Pickups to pick us up to drive us to our free walking tour of Athens www.athensfreewalkingtour.com. Was 25 euro for a guaranteed ride who was waiting for us. Car was clean, air conditioned and the driver gave us bottled water. Walking tour was just what we wanted, all of the basics but did not go into any of the sites. Guide was very informative and the tour lasted close to 3 hours. We walked around and explored for a bit, stopped for lunch and stopped somewhere else for loukoumades, a delicious dessert! We then found a cab to bring us back to the ship at the end of our day which only ended up costing us 10 euro.
This stop was a pleasant surprise! They had a nice beach about a 15-20 min walk away, with all of the amenities. Two chairs, umbrella and table were only 10 euro. Elli Beach. We spent a few hours on the beach and then walked back through the town. Tons of shops, restaurants. Beautiful stop with so much character. Talking to other cruisers none of us knew what to expect and we all enjoyed this stop!
This stop requires a tender boat to get to the port. We booked an excursion through www.greektravelling.com which too us to Oia, a winery with wine tasting and ended in Fira. Our tour of 14 people and a guide took us on a boat ride from the port to a private small bus. The guide gave us history of the island throughout the ride. We were given time on our own in Oia to explore the beautiful town and have lunch. From there we got back on the bus and stopped for pictures overlooking the island. We then went to a winery to sample 3 wines (we were the only group there) and had cheese and olives and learned their process for growing grapes in a very dry climate. We then finished up in Fira where we took the cable car down back to the port. The line for the cable car was very long, took us about 30 - 40 minutes to get on, and there are pick-pockets scoping out the area. Watch out for young girls trying to fan you (they look like tourists with a sling bag and shopping bag) or kids with puppies and playing the accordion. We did hear of a few fellow cruisers being pick pocketed this day and I imagine this is where it happened. It is a very tight and crowded area.
Chiana, Greece (Crete)
Another pleasant surprise but a short stop, Only there from 7:00 am to Noon, and we got a late start thinking there wasn't much to see or do. Took the bus into town, very easy to do and less than 5 euro round trip for the two of us. Walked through town looking at the shops and then went to the Venetian Harbor. Buses run frequently directly to and from the port. The bus stop is clearly labeled in town.
We weren't sure what to do this day, took a Hop On/Hop Off bus that I would not recommend for 15 euro each. The best thing to do which we did when we returned was to take the lift (1 euro each round trip) to the center of town and explore. There is so much history, shopping, restaurants. The port area is beautiful to see. You can walk to the lift from the port.
Booked a private tour using viator.com for this one for a boat ride to and around Isola Bella and Taormina. There were 11 of us in this group. Started with a bus ride and a stop with some history from our guide. We then went to a port in Taormina and took a 2 hour boat ride to Isola Bella. On our way back to the port we had some time to stop and swim. Boat captain brought out some fresh fruit and almond wine to sample. The water is crystal clear. We then got back on the bus to the town of Taormina and had some free time to sample some amazing food and walk around and explore. I do not remember the name of the place but we had a great rice ball at the first place we passed right after the post office on the right. Delish!
We took the fast ferry from the port to the Island of Capri, I pre-purchased online before we left. We did a "Capri On Your Own" tour that provided us with a boat ride around the island. We made a stop at the Blue Grotto but the wait was close to 3 hours and being on the cruise ship schedule we didn't want to stay, but they brought a boat by for those who wanted to get on it and wait to go in the grotto. From there they provided us with funicular tickets up to the top and back, along with lunch at a local restaurant. The food was okay, this seemed to be the place all of the cruise excursions eat as well. We did see groups from Norwegian there. Lunch took us a while since we were only 2 and there were much larger groups there. We walked around a bit and then headed back to catch the funicular down and the next ferry out. Pre-buy your ferry tickets as soon as you get there to avoid lines. You can buy a ticket for a later boat but get on earlier as long as there is room. Also make sure to give yourself extra time to take the funicular back because of lines.
Room was fairly clean and a decent size for the two of us. Not a ton of storage space but that is to be expected and the closet is a decent size. I lived out of my suitcase while my husband filled the drawers and closet. This ship needs to upgrade their linens and towels, as they are not the freshest looking anymore. The carpet looks fairly new and was clean. We also thought the bed was quite comfortable and slept like a rock every night. The bathroom is larger than I'd expected, with a separate space and sliding door for the toilet on one side and the shower on the other with a sink in the middle. The bathroom is however quite worn out and stained and could use a renovation. There is a very old hair dryer installed that didn't have much power and would have taken me hours to dry my hair, and the outlets could not handle my straightener. There is a soap dispenser at the bathroom sink and the shower has a body wash and conditioning shampoo dispenser inside. Our room had a door that connected it to the room next door. We could hear our neighbor's TV at night and cell phone alarm every morning, and if their balcony door was left open, it often sounded like a tornado.