We've done multiple cruises in the Caribbean and to the Bahamas, as we live in central florida, and it just makes it an easy vacation. We decided to go for this Mediterranean cruise, as we were already planning an Italy vacation, but wanted to cut the cost a bit. This cruise fit the bill, and then gave us a lot of wonderful surprises!
First off, we were in Rome for a few days before departure. If you are looking to do that, here is what we did, and what I recommend:
Fly into FCO (Fiumicino airport), and after you get your bags, follow the signs (or pictures actually) for the train (little black and white image of a train car overhead as you walk through the airport). At one point, you hang a left, and go down some escalators, and on for a few minutes- then up another set, and you'll see signs that you are leaving the airport and entering the train station.
We were on deck 8, Cabin 1353. It's an interior cabin, not too far from the stairway and elevators at the back of the ship.Highly practical, as all of the dining rooms and windjammer are at the back of the ship, along with the photo gallery, ice rink entrance, elevators that go to the Viking Lounge/Cosmopolitan Club, and pool. The cabin was a typical interior cabin- we love them, simply because if we want to turn off the lights and take a nap at 2pm, we can, and it's pitch black. Bathroom is small, yet efficient. The shower doesn't soak the floor and sink area, as the shower has doors that close, unlike some older ships. The closet held all of our clothes just fine, but we tend to pack light. If you like to bring loads of clothes, then bring some hangers too.. although I bet you could just ask your stateroom attendant for more. :) Very sound proof-we didn't hear anything from the hallways or neighbors- not even the announcements from the Captain that I was trying to hear- I had to open the door to listen. The only thing we heard, with the TV off in the room, was a ringing phone from somewhere, maybe our attendant's station?
Messina Sicily- Panoramic SicilyMy Etna is the main focus, going up to the craters. The colors up there are amazing- deep black rocks and dirt, yet red and brown too- and here and there you get bursts of yellow or green plants. It was cloudy when we were there, so we didn't see down to the ocean, but it was AMAZING! I wish we'd been able to do both this and Taormina, but not enough time in the day!
Athens- Athens & Cape Sounion with Lunch - PR03You go straight to the Acropolis, which is great for missing some of the crowds. Once some time went by though, it got really crowded, and we were ready to go after getting some great pictures (although I wish they didn't all have tons of people's heads in them). Then we went through Athens by bus (those bus drivers must have magic wands or something, I don't know how they maneuver as well as they do!), seeing some major highlights along the way (like the 1st Olympic stadium), and then had a fantasticcccc lunch with wine at at local hotel/resort. Amazing food, really. A buffet was out, and you just helped yourself, and the servers offered water, soda and wine- red and white, complimentary.Then the highlight for us turned out to be Cape Sounion! We really didn't know much about it, but were game, since hey- when are we going to be there again right?? We were in awe of some of the views on the drive out, and even though I live in Florida and have been through the Caribbean and Hawaii, I've never seen water like this. By the time we got to the Cape, we just about ran off the bus to start soaking it in.... that place is perfect! We want to go back! Poseidon's temple is something else too! If we weren't so high up on the cliff, I think we'd have jumped in the ocean for a swim, clothes and all!
Kusadasi, Turkey- Ephesus, Didyma & Miletus with Lunch - ****BEST PORT****Even with the sales pressure when you go into stores, this port was by far my favorite! You just have to keep moving, and just keep saying NO as you move through the shops (exiting the port back to the ship is like a maze of shops!), unless you are just trying to walk away as a bargaining tactic. :) If you want to hone or test your bargaining skills, this is the place to do it!Ephesus feels like it still has a soul- and when you are there, you are sharing it with all of those who have lived there in the past. You see homes, store fronts, forums, and even bathrooms! They do a little cheesy show of Cleopatra and Mark Anthony too, but it doesn't take away from the place. We saw an amphitheater in Miletus that was also amazing.. and HUGE! I made friends with one of the local kitties there too. :) There's a stone chair smack in the middle of the upper deck, facing straight out the opening of the theater. Sitting there made me wonder, who sat here when this place first was built? Hmmm...The Temple of Apollo at Didyma blew our minds. It was like the temple was built for giants...and we were just little bugs visiting in comparison. The detail in the carvings, and the stories it all told... it was beyond words. It was better than the Acropolis, hands down. We had lunch near by, all good food again, and got some souvenirs before getting back on the bus to go back to port. I got a small onyx cat to remember the Turkish kitty I made friends with. :)
Crete- no excursion! ****2nd favorite port****Well- the port itself is Souda, an industrial port, and makes you wonder if you should just stay on the ship. DON'T! GO TAKE THE CITY BUS!We took the city bus in to Chania (super cheap and with loads of other RCCL pple), walked around the town and checked out the local market first. We aren't shoppers, but we did get some great olive oil, and some other cooking items, as well as some inexpensive but good quality gifts for our nieces and nephew. We then walked through the harbor, and all the way around and over to the light house, and back. It takes more time than it looks to walk around the harbor. It's amazing to stand up on the wall, which divides the ocean from the harbor, and see how different the two bodies of water look! In the harbor the water was pretty choppy, so these waves would randomly jump up over the edge of the walkways and cover a few feet of ground, and the occasional tourist posing for a picture. ;)We sat down at an outdoor cafe that had 2.50 Euro-priced BIG Mythos beers for happy hour! If you like beer, try Mythos when you are there, it's great!We can't wait to come back here!! The only thing we didn't like was that we had to leave so early, typically All Aboard was around 5:30-6:30- but this port was 2:30! We'll be back another time, maybe on our own to explore Crete some more.