Upfront, I'm not posting to boast about my dozen cruises this year... or my usual suite accommodations... nor do I have any hidden agendas that others seem to list "between the lines." This is merely my perspective in comparing Celebrity today with the Celebrity I previously loved 3 years ago.
Some, most, or all who differ with my assessment will probably want to use the ramifications of COVID as an excuse. In the end, it's still just an excuse.
This was my first cruise since the viral outbreak. I didn't choose the Apex, Celebrity did. I chose the destination. Very few cruises seem to go to Israel and of those, we each decide which company deserves our business. I was wrong.
This port is part of Turkey, or should I say Turkiye?
As expected, there are a lot of shops. Just to get from the cruise ship dock into the city, you have to pass through a gauntlet of shops, manned by Turks who endeavor to get a customer into their shop for a sale.
Once in the city, there are many streets full of shops and restaurants and, more than I can count, Turks that hassle the customer and won't accept a polite, "No, thank you" response when they try to coax you inside. The strategy is always the same. They attempt to make small talk, like "what are you looking for," or the more personalized "where are you from." Their strategy, I believe, is to form a personal relationship with you so that you will find it harder to walk away without at least going inside to look.
To the tour guide, this sales pitch is known as "Ali Baba" - the pushy Turk that hassles the customer into submission.
I have no doubt that there is quality to be seen and had, but trying to determine that is overshadowed by the cultural differences that are experienced long beforehand.