We booked the cruise about a month before directly via NCL. Booked the whole package including flights and transfers which is the best way to book in the current covid climate. Got the cruise at a really good price and the original itinerary was to start from Athens, go to Cyprus, Israel, Turkey, few Greek islands and return back to Athens. The main reason for booking the cruise was to spend 2 full days in Israel.
A few weeks before the cruise, we got an email from NCL that Israel was taken off the itinerary as the Government of Israel were not still letting cruise ships into the country. We were very disappointed to hear this as that was one place we were really looking forward to. We were given option to cancel and get full refund back. However, the email also stated that should we go ahead with the cruise, they would refund 25% of the cruise price back. After some thinking, we decided to go ahead with the cruise as the new itinerary had 3 days in Turkey (including an overnight in Istanbul) and one more Greek island added which tempted us to go ahead. However at time of writing this review, we are still waiting for the 25% refund.
On the day of the cruise, we flew to Athens from London Heathrow via BA. Our flight was delayed by half an hour so and landed at around 2pm. There was a long queue at immigration in Athens as quite a few flights had landed together. After nearly an hour, we were able to collect our luggage. On leaving the terminal, we found NCL reps who took us to the coaches and advised us that we would be first visiting Intercontinental hotel in Athens for our rapid covid tests. As there were many coaches, the queue for testing was long. Took us an hour before we got our negative results. Once everyone in our coach had their results, we were asked to get back into the coach and were taken to Piraeus cruise terminal at about 5pm or so. Everyone was hungry but no snacks or drinks were provided at the hotel. Once we arrived at the terminal, we had to show all the relevant paperwork like covid passports, etc. We were asked to check in at one of the counters where there was no queue as we were quite late (ship was supposed to depart at 6pm). They quickly took our credit card details, took our photo and were handed our cruise cards and asked to proceed to the ship. At no point were we informed about another big change in the itinerary (more on that below).