First time with HAL and our longest cruise to date, we did back to back cruises covering ports in Italy, the Adriatic and Greece. We selected the cruise for the itinerary as it visited some bucket list places such as Dubrovnik, Malta and Santorini.
As first timers on HAL we were very impressed with the ship. Loved the public rooms and decor particularly around the pool areas, the Crows Nest and the cafe. We were also happy with the entertainment but don't expect spectacular shows as the focus was more on the music walk. We found the standard of entertainers on board much better than on other lines (Princess and NCL).
We ate mainly in the Lido and the main dining room. There is a huge choice of food on offer in the Lido but you have to wait at busy times as at most stations you cannot serve yourself. This is great for hygiene but some impatient people still try to reach under the glass to grab food! Food in the dining room was generally good but service was lacking on many occasions. Also the menu on the second leg of the cruise was the same as the first. The few times we ate breakfast in the dining room the service was very amateur - slow then food arriving all at once.
Our first time in an ocean view rather than a balcony and we were very happy with the cabin. It was a quiet location with the only noise from the dining room (above) every evening at about 10.45 for 5 minutes. Good bathroom and great shower.
Amazing city with so much to see and do. Only downside is the distance to the port and the crowds.
We walked along the coast and found the WWII memorial to the Italian soldiers killed by the Germans. Carried on to resort of Lassi and caught a cab back to Argostoli. The town is small but has a main street of tourist shops and restaurants, some good tavernas overlooking the water and some lovely bakeries! You can also walk around the lagoon and see a sea turtle if you are lucky.
The sail in was spectacular. Loved the town. Walked around independently and visited the cathedral. One of our favourite ports. If you want to go on the hop on hop off bus do so in the morning - when we were there the last bus was 2pm.
We had a Dubrovnik pass which we bought online and this was very good value - includes bus travel, entry to the Walls and museums in the old city. The port is a good 30 - 40 mins walk from the old town so we got the bus. Expect crowds on the bus however we thought the price charged by HAL for their shuttle was extortionate. The walls are very crowded and there are a lot of steps. We did not find the local people very friendly - I think they are probably over all the tourists.
We booked a private walking tour of the old city (Diocletian's Palace) and it was well worth it. Very much enjoyed this port as it was an easy walk to the town and had a real Mediterranean feel. Enjoyed local food and wine in a restaurant on the Riva.
Took a ship's tour to Taormina which we really enjoyed. Wished we could have spent more time there. Back in Catania we decided to walk into the city from the port as the ship was not leaving until 11pm. Catania has a faded grandeur and a grey patina on the buildings legacy of the ash from Mt Etna. Would like to see more of Sicily.
Loved Malta! Got up early to experience the sail in and it was well worth it. We took an hour taxi tour to Rabat/Mdina - to the left of the where the ship docked under the walls there were many tour touts and taxis available. Stopped at some lovely gardens and had time to walk through the wonderful Silent City of Mdina. Walked the streets of Birgu and Valetta and visited the St Johns Co-Cathedral. This is spectacular and a must see.
This was an overnight visit. We have been to Athens several times and have done the Acropolis so we got the HOHO bus (Grayline - two days for the price of one deal) to the excellent Archeological Museum. There are 3 HOHO bus options and the stops are close to the cruise terminals. Had two enjoyable days walking the streets, eating Greek food, shopping and exploring under and around the Acropolis.
Marked down due to lack of transport options at the port. Could only get the water bus to the town, there were no taxi or local buses to be seen. Ended up getting an overpriced local tour operator to take us to the beach and pick us up. Very little free beach space available. Expect 20 - 40 Euro per couple for beach chairs and an umbrella on the beach for the day. Mykonos town is charming with many bars and restaurants and high end shops.
Another favourite port and very easy to do on your own. The ship docks a short walk from the old town and you can see everything on foot.
Santorini is spectacular and I am so glad I have seen it but it is not well equipped to deal with the huge influx of people it receives. This makes it problematic to visit on a limited day trip. Whether you are independent or on a tour you will have to get back down to the tender port either waiting in a long line for the cable car or walking (or donkeying) down the stairs. We took the Oia transfer by boat to Oia port with bus to the village and bus back to Fira. Good value but somewhat chaotic organisation to get the bus back for Fira. No clear instructions or any signage about where the bus would stop lead to very frustrated cruisers worried about missing the bus. Back in Fira we walked back down the steps - you need to have good shoes and watch your step all the time but it is achievable with a few rest stops. The edges of the steps are more slippery than the cobbles and the dried donkey poop gives you some traction!