Greek Islands Odyssey: Oceana Cruise Review by mriedlsp

Oceana 5
Member Since 2010

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Greek Islands Odyssey

Sail Date: September 2010
Destination: Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
Embarkation: Athens (Piraeus)
I am 73 and this cruise was to celebrate my wife's 70th birthday. My wife wanted to go on a luxury cruise for the sake of the experience and I was attracted by the port cities and beyond to see historic sights I had read about for years. This was a perfect choice. The Nautica was large enough to be very comfortable and yet we rarely had the feeling of being amongst the masses.

Our travel agent encouraged us to book Oceania cruises on the grounds that they were well-run and one really wanted to see what was available beyond walking distance from the points of disembarkation. From reading on-line reviews I realized that we could see quite a number of the places I wanted to see on our own, better and less expensively than booking the Oceania excursions. I will comment on what we did where below. An excellent policy of Oceania is that they let you cancel an excursion reservation up to 48 hours prior. We ended up taking only two of the many excursions we had booked in advance. More

Oceania has a great reputation for dining. Our evaluation was that the food was always good and in Polo Grill and Toscana many of the courses were outstanding. At least a third of our evening meals were outside in the informal Terrace at the stern of the ship. Buffet --- good--- with a WIDE selection of courses. Another thing that we really liked was that if we didn't finish a bottle of wine, we could just ask the staff to put it away for us and we were able to have it brought out at another meal. We particularly like the fact that you can go to the Grand Dining Room anytime you want. You can choose to sit with others at a table for 8. This is a great way to meet other people, or you can choose to have a quiet evening meal alone.

We also thoroughly enjoyed 2 for 1 drinks from 5-6 in the Horizons bar at the front of the ship. The view was great, frequently as we sailed out of a port. I enjoyed my double ouzo, befitting the location, and my wife ordered two glasses of wine, one which she took with her to dinner.

Finally, in the way of general comments, our concerns about washing clothes were unwarranted. The laundry is small, but if one thinks a bit about when it is likely to be less crowded, it was always possible to do our washing. The embarkation procedure in the Piraeus was well handled and the mandatory drill assembling at the life boats was the only time we felt that this was mass tourism. We set sail in the evening and at dinner in the Grand Dining Room accepted seating at a table with an Aussie couple with whom we hit it off and enjoyed a number of common experiences on the rest of the cruise. We anchored about 7 AM the next morning at

Port One: Nauplion.

We chose to do the Oceania excursion here to Mycene. This is a site that I have wanted to visit since I read about Arthur Schliemann in my second-year German reader over 50 years ago. At other archeological sites along the tour it was possible to find a guide at the entrance, so that setting up one's own excursion using a rental car was possible. I didn't notice any guide available here, so that might not be a possibility. The excursion guide was excellent and the group was small. Seeing the bee-hive tomb and the shaft graves where Schliemann thought he had found the death mask of Agamemnon was truly exciting.

At the end of the bus trip we also visited Palamidi Castle which has a gorgeous view of the bay. Port Two: Zakynthos

We reached Zakynthos by an over-night cruise, arriving around 7 AM. We were exhausted after a plane flight that had stretched from 1 PM on a Tuesday California time to 1AM on Thursday Athens time. The description of the port didn't sound particularly interesting and we didn't want to spend the money for one of the excursions, so we just spent the day on board -- did our laundry and read. The island appeared to be beautiful and I can imagine renting a car and driving around -- visiting some of the reputedly beautiful beaches.

See below for specific ports which cruise critic provides for on this form.

Port Five: Monemvasia.

We anchored here around 8 AM after a gorgeous cruise while it was still light from Corfu. The port itself is just a small town. A major reason for spending the day here is the opportunity to take a bus excursion to the Byzantine town of Mystras. This is certainly a worthwhile site to visit, but we had visited Mystras 25 years ago and chose to just spend the day in Monemvasia. The real attraction here is the walled-old town which sits along a gradually rising road above the water. The views were spectacular and it was a lovely way to spend the day. Less

Published 11/03/10
3 Helpful Votes

Cabin review: Ver6000

Our cabin was fine. The bed was fantastic and I wish I could buy one for home. I am big man -- 6'1' --220 lbs and found the shower JUST barely large enough. The bathroom in general was small, but well laid out so that we were able to find places to put everything. My suitcase has large wheels and the space under the bed to store it was too low. My wife's more conventional suitcases fit fine.

Port and Shore Excursions

This was actually our third port.

Here we decided to just walk the old town with our new Aussie friends and took a local bus to an overlook above the airport. We intended to stop at a beach on the way back, but walking to and from the bus and then getting back to town seemed too much of a hassle. We ended up back in town walking around. Here, also, I would think renting a car for a drive around this gorgeous island would have been a good way to have spent the day. Corfu Town is a great place for shoppers. We were not.

People who took the Oceania tour seem to have been happy they did.

Read 508 Corfu Reviews

Our port here was Aghios Nikolaos, although we didn't really see much of the town. Our goal here was to visit the archeological site of Knossos. I had learned from our guide at Olympia that there would be guides available at the gate to the site, so I canceled the Oceania excursion I had made and arranged for a rental car through the concierge on the ship. We shared the cost with our Aussie friends (Euro 22.50 per couple) and I drove to the archeological site. We indeed were able to put together a group for the cost of Euro 10 per person. The guided tour was good and we had the advantage of being able to visit the Archeological Museum in Iraklion as a bonus. Here many of the treasures excavated by Sir Arthur Evans are displayed and are spectacular in comparison to the copies that are on site.

Katakolon was our fourth port.

It is actually the jumping-off point for a trip to Olympia. We had visited here twenty-five years ago in a pouring rain and were excited to see the ruins in brilliant sunny weather. We were not disappointed. This is an impressive and compact site devoted to the games and the religious institutions surrounding them. Furthermore, the archeological museum is outstanding.

We took the Oceania excursion here and again the group was small and the guide excellent. I believe it would be possible here to join a guided tour at the entrance and therefore travel by rental car to and from Katakolon for significantly less money than Oceania charges for the excursion.

Kusadasi was actually our 9th port. The city itself is a large, modern tourist destination with a lot of carpet shops on the side. The purpose of visiting Kusadasi is to take the excursion to Ephesus. Here I was guided by an on-line critic who recommended using Ekol Travel Service Turkey to arrange for a private tour. The cost, as I recall was $83 for the tour of Ephesus including the Terrace Houses. The same tour from Oceania on a bus would have been $119. Ephesus is a spectacular archeological site and the Terrace Houses, still being excavated are a wonderful addition. The latter we saw, because of our private tour, practically alone.

The only thing I would caution is that our guide would take payment after the tour only in USD. I had been promised that I could pay with a credit card, but the guide said since it was a Sunday that she could only take cash. After our return I emailed Ekol and they said they would look into that.

Read 614 Kusadasi Reviews

Mykonos was our 10 and last port. The positive feature of this day was the several hours we spend on the island of Delos. No uninhabited, this was the treasury of the Delian League during the golden Age of Athens and the archeological remains of the greatness of the settlement there are remarkable. We also go off the ship in Mykonos, but found what was around the port to be so unremarkable, that we quickly returned to the ship to read and relax.
Read 838 Mykonos Reviews

Rhodos was actually our 7th port. After reading Frommer's guide to the Greek islands, I decided that there was so much to see in Rhodos that it would be a mistake to try and undertake more. We decided to do our own walking tour with the help of Frommer and were not disappointed. We saw people on tours all over town and enjoyed the freedom of movement that we had instead. The Grand Masters' Palace, which is one of Oceania's tours for $99, is worth a visit, but can certainly be seen on ones' own. It is actually not the original palace, but a reconstruction done in the 20th century, substantially by Mussolini with interesting mosaics, furniture, etc. that he had looted from elsewhere. A high point for me was to walk down the street of the Crusaders and to be able to look in to some of the courtyards of their inns. The Archeological Museum is a wonderful building to visit. It was the hospital of the Knights and the items displayed are of modest interest.

It was a great day ---- 6 hours of walking and exhaustion.

Read 390 Rhodes Reviews

Santorini was actually our 8th port. This is an island that is worth visiting just for the views one gets from what was the rim of this blown-out volcano. For us, the major attraction was the spectacularly beautiful village of Oia at the north end of the island. After wandering around there for an hour or so, we drove our rental car to the beach at Perissa. We rented our car from Tony's on the basis of a recommendation from CintiPam on-line. She was absolutely right. Tony sent me a map on how to find him in advance and provided me with a clean, reliable car that accommodated our group of four just fine. Once at the top of the funicular that takes you to Thira, it is a short walk to Tony's. He has signs about every 100m so it is impossible not to be able to find him.

My disappointment was that the archeological site at Akrotini was closed. I was informed it would be open again in 2011.

We didn't soak up much culture here, but the beauty of the place and the swim in the Aegean made it a day to remember.

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