First time Seabourn cruisers. Went with another couple of best friends. The Seabourn experience for us was a splurge and was a wonderful experience. From the roomy cabins to the excellent food. We loved the smaller ship size (500) passengers and the ease of walking to various places on the ship instead of relying on elevators.
Embarkation was a little weird. They gave you numbers and were told to sit in the sitting area but never really called numbers and we finally just had to ask and then they just checked us in after we asked. Was not very organized but once you were past that step the rest of embarkation was smooth and it was nice being able to go directly to the cabin.
The Food was pretty phenomenal at every meal and multiple venues available to suit your needs. Service is impeccable as well. Every need will be met. We loved the all inclusive pricing and not worrying about getting nickel and dimed for everything and loved the in room mini bar stocked at all times with our favorite alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages. We were bummed we didn’t discover the Earth and Ocean earlier. Smaller venue, outside and great service and food. Thomas Keller was great but honestly the food at the main restaurant was just as good. Our friend is GF and she had a dedicated food concierge who brought her menu each night for the next evening and she could choose which dishes she wanted them to make GF. The only food area lacking for me was the coffee bar. The service was great but felt the specialty coffees were not that goo. Not sure if its the milk they use or something else and they only had one sugar free syrup option which they ran out of three days in.
Very spacious cabins. Will be hard to go back to regular ship cabins. The bathroom was huge with both tub and shower and the standard Molton Brown products replenished daily if necessary. The walk in closets are huge and its so nice to tuck everything away in there out of sight. Beds were comfy and the veranda nice. We had connecting rooms are were able to open our our verandas to make one larger one to enjoy.
The was the pre-cruise port for us and arrived a day early. We waked on our own from Hotel Bretagne to the shopping area and then on to the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum. The Acropolis is pretty cool to see but does require some uphill hiking. The museum was recommend by the hotel but honestly we found disappointing and was mainly just a bunch of statues but the short film was good. Had a great meal in the Plaka district. Lots of local souvenir shops as well as gelato shops and restaurants.
My least favorite port of call on the trip. While the stone winding streets are adorable and the windmills are nice it was crazy busy and hard to walk anywhere due to the masses in port that day. We chose to go the far side of the port and sat and just enjoyed lunch in the port. There is a great bakery called Attica also on that port end if you want to get some Baklava or sandwiches.
Hired a personal guide for Kusadasi and Cesme (same guide) so we were able to personalize the tour for what we wanted to see. Ephesus is amazing and probably the most well persevered Greek/Roman ruins. We also went to St John’s monastery ruins where he us purported to be buried. Had lunch in the hillside village of Sirce and then visited a local ceramics shop (Lotus) where we saw pottery being done in the traditional style. Place is family owned and has studio as well with some of their amazing potter including Moonstone which glows in the dark. We also did a side tour of a leather factory but we laughed so hard at the over the top runway show they put on for us. Definitely was not our scene but if you like leather probably worth a visit as the goods themselves were really nice.
We had some tour guide as we had for Kusadasi. Cesme is a smaller port but has a castle nearby that is easy to visit. Also beaches if you prefer. We drove to Alcati to see the wind surfers and then were taken to a small Mosque converted from a Greek Orthodox Church that still functions as both. Loved the town of Alcati where we sat and tried Turkish coffee with mastic and a local dessert as well as Turkish tea. Also visited a well known Turkish delight shop. Visited the windmills there and then had the guide drop us off in Cesme at local restaurant where he ordered for us a bunch of local food which was really good. The Turkish version of Pizza was a favorite.
While a small port it was very quaint. We did the hike up to Chora and the Monestary. The trail is available on All Trails to follow along. It starts at the back end of the village in the port and winds its way uphill from there. The rating was easy for this hike but I would label it as moderate because much of the terrain is uneven stones and its all uphill and quite steep at times. Chora is a cute village at the top. We did not visit the monastery but instead took the extra hike through the village to the windmills on top of the hill. There are amazing views to be had here. The hike down of course was much easier and we stopped at the cave of St John’s were he wrote the book of Revelations.
A film site for some of the Mama Mia scenes which you will see advertised in town. We choose an excursion offered by our ship (Seabourn Encore) which was a beach and boat tour. This took us to several remote beaches , of which Lalaria only accessible by boat. They would pull up close to shore and drop a ramp out to exit the boat. Allowed about an hour and each location. The second stop was another beach with ruins at the top of the hill. We hiked up as far as we could but ruins were undergoing repair. They also had a beach bar there. The last stop was on the Greek mainland at a small village. Had lunch there and was quite crowded with locals. The trip there was also very choppy. The leeward side of the island is chock full of calm amazing beaches. If we were to ever visit again we would probably park ourselves on one of those for the day.