Oceania Nautica - Greek Isles Odyssey, 9/19/11: Nautica Cruise Review by dmbten

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Oceania Nautica - Greek Isles Odyssey, 9/19/11

Sail Date: September 2011
Destination: Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
Embarkation: Other
In 2010, we cruised on the Azamara Journey which is an identical ship to the Oceania Nautica. Both ships and cruise lines are very, very good. Food and cabins were quite comparable on both ships - both were superb. Oceania crew might have been very slightly better trained. Azamara provides complimentary wine with meals and gratuities are also included whereas both are extra on Oceania. Both cruise lines are recommended. Let itinerary be your deciding factor. We had veranda cabins on both ships and recommend that - very spacious.

Oceania crew appeared to wake up with a smile on their face and stayed that way the entire day. Ship was very clean. Soft drinks are complimentary and cabin crew kept our refrigerator stocked with Diet Coke as we requested.

Both specialty dining rooms are excellent. Main dining room is also very good. After some long days of touring, we chose to eat at the Terrace Cafe where we could dine in our shorts. Food is essentially the same More as the main dining room but served buffet style. Eat outside on the rear deck if there is room - very nice eating out there.

Waves Grill on the pool deck right outside the Terrace Cafe serves lunch until 4:00. This location make a good hamburger and an excellent panini. And their french fries are fantastic - your cardiologist would not approve but the fries sure taste good!

In general, I recommend that you consider skipping all ship excursions and arrange your own private tours. With only two people, private tours are similar in price to ship excursions but more flexible. With two couples, price is cut in half. It is very easy to make all arrangements ahead of time via the internet. Note that most of these guides want to be paid in cash.

Ship's first port was Nauplion (a.k.a. Nafplio). Patty Staikou (pstaikou@mail.gr) was recommended by Rick Steves' guidebook. She also agreed to give us tours of both Mycenae and Epidavros whereas ship excursions made you choose one or the other. Patty arranged for a taxi (we paid driver separately) to pick us up at the ship. Taxi was a very clean Mercedes and driver drove us to meet Patty. The latter is a superb guide.

Zakynthos was next stop. We took ship excursion, Panoramic Zakynthos. Very disappointing. Can not recommend that excursion. Some friends took a private tour and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

Monemvasia was another port. Here it is recommended that you walk to the town of Monemvasia. Lower city is quaint and easy to walk. If you are up for the hike, travel to the upper town. The latter is mostly ruins except for the 12th century Hagia Sophia. Now, if you are still energetic, you can continue up to the Citadel. Note that these "trails" are not particularly easy to traverse and you must be very careful coming back down. There are numerous very slippery rocks that must be negotiated and it is slow going. But the views are excellent.

Kusadasi (Ephesus) is a great stop. You must go to Ephesus. We prearranged a tour through www.ephesusshuttle.com. The latter provided a very clean van with separate driver and guide. Haluk Caliskan was our guide and was quite good. This company was very flexible. Ship docks for a shorter time in Kusadasi than other ports and there is a lot to see. Ephesus Shuttle modified one of their standard tours in order for us to see what we wanted to see on the time we had. They are also reasonably priced and accepted credit cards.

Other ports are discussed in the sections below this. Less

Published 10/28/11

Cabin review: A37115 Concierge Level Veranda Stateroom

We booked a B2 Veranda cabin on Deck 6 and before we left found out we had been upgraded to an A3 Veranda on Deck 7. Our cabin was second to the last on the starboard side. All veranda cabins are the same size and quite spacious. We had a queen size bed, built in closet with good handing space and four drawers. Room also had a small sofa, small round coffee table and desk with additional drawers and a refrigerator. Veranda had two chairs with small table in between. Bathroom had a shower but no tub. Lots of storage shelves in the bathroom. Even though our room was at the rear of the ship, we never felt any motion that caused us any concern at all. And the walk to the rear stairs was not very far - main dining room was down two decks and Terrace Cafe was up two decks. Noise was a non-issue. We never heard any noise.

Read All Concierge Level Veranda Stateroom (A3) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

Two couples rented a car and drove to Paleokastritsa. Maps were relatively easy to follow. Scenery around Paleokastritsa was spectacular. We also visited the Achillion Palace. After returning the car, we walked around Corfu city. This is an easy port to do on your own.
Read 499 Corfu Reviews

Note that ship docks in Aghios Nikolaos. Lefteris Nikiforakis (www.greecetravel.com/crete/taxitours) had been recommended to us. Lefteris was already booked and arranged for one of his associates to be our driver/guide. We were disappointed in that our guide's English was not as good as we were led to believe it would be. We recommend that everyone agree on what sites to visit in advance. There was also some confusion here. Our recommendation is to consider renting a car and driving yourself for a tour on Crete. Roads are quite good and easy to negotiate. The Palace of Knossos is the main site to visit on Crete. Knossos is an absolute "must see". Two couples traveled together and chose to hire a private guide at the entrance to Knossos. Strongly consider doing this. It is worth the money. Also allow time for the Archaeological Museum in Irkalion. It is under renovation and only one floor is open but some of the best items in the museum are on display. Palace of Malia is closer to Aghios Nikolaos. However, the ruins are not in good shape and save time by skipping this site.

Two couples rented a car and drove to Olympia - very easy drive. I prearranged an Avis car rental before leaving home. Avis office is only a five minute walk from the location where the ship docks. There are several other local car rental agencies right in the same area. In retrospect, I would have rented from one of the smaller agencies and saved some money. The Olympia Archaeological site is very large and a private guide is highly recommended. Prior to leaving home, we had contacted Niki Vlachou (niki@olympictours.gr) who was recommended in Rick Steves' guidebook. Niki was already booked the day we were visiting and arranged for one of her fellow guides, Ionna, to be our guide. Ionna was superb. It is recommended that you also use the guide to give you a tour of the museum. It is worth the extra cost. Olympia is a great site to visit and should not be missed.

Two couples prearranged for a tour through www.rhodesprivatetours.com. Michael was our driver and had a very nice Mercedes taxi. Michael was a great tour guide. He first drove us through the Old City because driving is forbidden after a certain time each day. Then we visited where the Colossus of Rhodes once stood and a few other sites in Rhodes City. Next came the Temple of Apollo with its theater and stadium. Then we toured the Acropolis at Lindos. The latter is great to visit if you have the time. It is a good hike to the top or you can ride donkeys. We tried the latter and it was a "hoot". We finished by walking through the Old City on our own.
Read 382 Rhodes Reviews

Pretty place but very touristy. Ship anchors off Fira. Take vernicular up to the city. Find a map and walk to the bus station and take a bus to Oia. The latter is the place where all of the "photos of Santorini" are taken. If you go to Santorini, you are kind of obligated to go to Oia.

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