405 Istanbul Cruise Reviews

A great city and a great stop. We had a pre booked 9 hour bus tour that went to all the expected sites and allowed about one hour free time in the Great Bazaar. To be honest the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, while outstanding historical ... Read More
A great city and a great stop. We had a pre booked 9 hour bus tour that went to all the expected sites and allowed about one hour free time in the Great Bazaar. To be honest the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, while outstanding historical sites, didn't blow us away. To some extent the Blue Mosque was a letdown because of the sheer number of tourists there (I do recognise we were two who added to the crush). The Great Bazaar was amazing but unfortunately one hour to wander lets you see about 5% of it. There is a lot of repetition in the market stalls but we did not feel under pressure to buy. The market holders seemed to take a gentle barter and let them leave approach if the barter went too low. Part of the bus tour, as I understand it is with all bus tours, was to visit a carpet demonstration (with of course options to buy) but again no real hard sell. Loved Istanbul Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
What can I say about somewhere as legendary as Istanbul? We were able to visit Topkapi Palace (and see the diamond, and the emeralds), Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque - not as blue as I expected and with a very soft carpet - and the Grand ... Read More
What can I say about somewhere as legendary as Istanbul? We were able to visit Topkapi Palace (and see the diamond, and the emeralds), Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque - not as blue as I expected and with a very soft carpet - and the Grand Bazaar. From our balcony I watched the second busiest waterway in the world (the busiest being the English Channel) and listened to the call for prayer from the different mosques..fantastic Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
This day was planned with military precision as there is so much to see and do, if your fit and healthy I would recommend going independent if your not great walking and standing for long periods of time book a trip as a group we were on ... Read More
This day was planned with military precision as there is so much to see and do, if your fit and healthy I would recommend going independent if your not great walking and standing for long periods of time book a trip as a group we were on our feet the first day for 6 hours the only reprieve was a £3.50 Bosphorous river cruise for 1.5 hours. The second day we were at the Topakei Palace at 9.00am big queues form here later on in the day but we just walked straight in everything is very close together but to get to see everything in a day and a half is hard work but well worth it, just remember to take Turkish Lira as all the main sights only accept this currency. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Very interesting city at which we we docked overnight. I wasn't keen but my husband loved it. Very lively and lots to see, but sadly the Grand Bazaar was closed for a public holiday, but the Spice Market was good fun and the Turkish ... Read More
Very interesting city at which we we docked overnight. I wasn't keen but my husband loved it. Very lively and lots to see, but sadly the Grand Bazaar was closed for a public holiday, but the Spice Market was good fun and the Turkish Delight is yummy !! Lots of street sellers who do pester you a bit (which I don't like) but the Blue Mosque and the New Mosque was stunning and I really enjoyed seeing such wonderful sights. Would definitely go again to explore more - and buy even more Turkish Delight :-) Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
It's huge! There is no one you can see or appreciate all this city has to offer in the short time the cruise ship is there. Istanbul is a city that needs at least a week to see everything. It's crowded, it's busy, people ... Read More
It's huge! There is no one you can see or appreciate all this city has to offer in the short time the cruise ship is there. Istanbul is a city that needs at least a week to see everything. It's crowded, it's busy, people are everywhere. We took public transportation, the tram, which was clean, fast, and timely. We also did alot of walking, first along the seafront, then to the bridge that will carry you toward the Blue Mosque. We caught the Tram at the bridge and it carried us to the area of the Blue Mosque. There are many attractions in this area, such as museums, the Palace and of course the Blue Mosque. Entrance to the museums and the Palace wasn't free but the price wasn't expensive, but the line to the Palace was very, very long. You can visit the Blue Mosque for free but depending on the time of the day it can be a pretty long line also. Getting around in Istanbul is easy. Their Tram system is extensive and you an reach almost any destination by using the Tram. If not, then they have tons of buses and taxis. We didn't feel in any danger as we walked along the busy streets and no one bothered us at all. We skipped the Bazaar in Istanbul which many people had recommended to visit, but since we had already visited the Bazaar in Izmir, we didn't feel the need to visit this one. Besides we were tired at this point from visiting so many other places in Istanbul that we just passed up the chance to see their Bazaar. We loved Istanbul and it should be on every one's place-to-visit in the future. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Great place. We came in a day early. We did the Bosphorus cruise, a day long tour of the Old City with a small private group and a day alone walking from the cruise port across the bridge into the old city and up to the Hagia Sophia. We ... Read More
Great place. We came in a day early. We did the Bosphorus cruise, a day long tour of the Old City with a small private group and a day alone walking from the cruise port across the bridge into the old city and up to the Hagia Sophia. We used Backpackers for airport transport and the Bosphorus cruise and stayed at the Doubletree Old Town. The arrangements perfect. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
A wonderful city. We came into Istanbul a few days early because we had so many things we wanted to see. You need at least two days to even see the hightlights of this city.  
A wonderful city. We came into Istanbul a few days early because we had so many things we wanted to see. You need at least two days to even see the hightlights of this city.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Amazing! People are very friendly! Sit on a bench in a busy area, and you will make friends with people. We saw the spice market, the Grand Bazaar, Topkapi palace, the Blue Mosque, and Hagia Sophia in two days without any trouble. ... Read More
Amazing! People are very friendly! Sit on a bench in a busy area, and you will make friends with people. We saw the spice market, the Grand Bazaar, Topkapi palace, the Blue Mosque, and Hagia Sophia in two days without any trouble. Make sure that you know that the spice market possibly and DEFINITELY the Grand Bazaar are closed on Sundays. Plan accordingly. Don't waste money on a tour here. Just get off your ship, turn right and exit the port, turn right onto the main road and very close to your ship is a very convenient tram station called Findikli station. Just look on the map to see which direction you need to travel. Rick Steves Istanbul guidebook will tell you which stops you need for which location. The tram goes to all of the stops nearby for tourists and costs only 1 lira each time you use it. We were happier with doing this ourselves using the tram than the people we met who booked a tour. We had no problems- they had traffic and frustration. Istanbul is beautiful and safe. Have no fears. We loved it and will go back. Food was great! Take lots of money for the spice bazaar. We bought Turkish coffee, spices, and Turkish delight as gifts. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
This was our favorite. The tram stop, Findikli, is about a couple hundred yards to the right as you come out of the port. Ride the tram to Sultanahmet square. Tokens are required and are purchased near the ticket turnstile. Only Turkish ... Read More
This was our favorite. The tram stop, Findikli, is about a couple hundred yards to the right as you come out of the port. Ride the tram to Sultanahmet square. Tokens are required and are purchased near the ticket turnstile. Only Turkish lira can be used. I didn't notice any exchanges around so if you stop somewhere else in Turkey first exchange a little money. In Istanbul all the exchanges we saw took no commission and gave us a better rate than the bank in Ismir. Our ship did not have any Turkish currency. The tram was easy to use, 1 token of 2 jetons (about 1 Euro)took us to the Museum and bazaar area. Trams were very full but still the best way to get around. One of our new friends was charged 20 Euros for a taxi from the bazaar. This port had no shops in the vicinity other than convenience stores so be sure to buy what you need before returning to the ship. We found ourselves with left 25 lira and nothing to buy with them. The blue mosque was very nice and the Topkapi Palace excellent, worth its 20 Euro entry fee. One of the museum rooms has religious artifacts, some known to be authentic and others thought to be so. The Hagia Sophia was also very nice. The grand bazaar was interesting with its many shops. Lots of vendors sell the same type of things so find one who you can bargain with but be prepared to walk away if you don't get your price, you will get it from someone else. They had no problem taking Euros in the bazaar. There are lots of cafes for lunch and everybody wants your business, prices are similar. We stopped at one and enjoyed Lamb kebabs. The check came to more than we expected but I think they add a service charge. There are some lovely looking pastry shops but were too full to try them. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Istanbul is lovely and I'd recommend everyone goes there - although I think you need longer than the few hours that a cruise allows to visit all the sites. Its probably worth noting that Topkapi palace closes on Tuesdays - so if ... Read More
Istanbul is lovely and I'd recommend everyone goes there - although I think you need longer than the few hours that a cruise allows to visit all the sites. Its probably worth noting that Topkapi palace closes on Tuesdays - so if you want to go there you need to go on a tour. Opening times/days for the palace are on their website. The Harem is a separate ticket and wasn't included in our tour (so worth looking for one that also includes that if you go on a cruise tour as its supposed to be lovely). There were lengthy queues for the blue mosque and st Sophia so be aware of that also the Blue Mosque closes at prayer times Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Ancient port of call. Lots of history, great views of the Bosporus. Take a tour so that you can gather as much information during your visit. We LOVED the cisterns, as well at the Topkapki Palace. Good street food as well. Spice Market was ... Read More
Ancient port of call. Lots of history, great views of the Bosporus. Take a tour so that you can gather as much information during your visit. We LOVED the cisterns, as well at the Topkapki Palace. Good street food as well. Spice Market was also a plus, but the wife was put off the the aggressive vendors in the Grand Bazaar, the largest in the world. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Istanbul is a very vibrant city. Again we did our own thing. Outside on the main street were the ship docked we caught the hop on hop off bus. These gave us an tour of the city and an explanation of what there was to see. After ... Read More
Istanbul is a very vibrant city. Again we did our own thing. Outside on the main street were the ship docked we caught the hop on hop off bus. These gave us an tour of the city and an explanation of what there was to see. After disembarking from the bus at the main stop we visited the Blue Mosque and also the underground water storage called the Basilica Cistern but nothing can prepare you for the Grand Bazaar. This exciting network of shops is a shoppers delight and you could easily spend days there exploring each section of it. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Istanbul was remarkable, although it seemed somewhat intimidating due to its size. We only had a few hours here, arriving at noon and disembarking the next morning. We did enjoy seeing some of the famous sites, including the Blue Mosque ... Read More
Istanbul was remarkable, although it seemed somewhat intimidating due to its size. We only had a few hours here, arriving at noon and disembarking the next morning. We did enjoy seeing some of the famous sites, including the Blue Mosque and the Spice Market (we were there on a Sunday, so the Grand Bazaar was closed). We would like another opportunity to visit this city on a future cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
quite far from center and unfortunately with our flights and last port we didnt get any time here except airport,but am told beautiful place,perhaps visit another time,traffic awful ,just so busy and that was at 10.30 in morning,long drive ... Read More
quite far from center and unfortunately with our flights and last port we didnt get any time here except airport,but am told beautiful place,perhaps visit another time,traffic awful ,just so busy and that was at 10.30 in morning,long drive to airport thru center,and once at airport not worth risking going to bazzars unless you have about 5 hours to spare. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
It would be 5+ if it wasn't for the crowds. We sailed in at lunchtime - best arrival I have experienced in any port as you sail close to all the main sights. Lots to see and do but incredibly busy everywhere. Blue Mosque, Topkapi, ... Read More
It would be 5+ if it wasn't for the crowds. We sailed in at lunchtime - best arrival I have experienced in any port as you sail close to all the main sights. Lots to see and do but incredibly busy everywhere. Blue Mosque, Topkapi, Kariye Cami, Grand Bazaar all well worth visiting but Yerebatan Sariye (the underground cistern) is the highlight for me! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Great city excellent tour of Palace Blue Mosque and Bazaar a Bosphorus cruise is a must to see the views along the shore towards Black Sea A visit to the spice market is a must as we bought some great spices to take home It is a huge city ... Read More
Great city excellent tour of Palace Blue Mosque and Bazaar a Bosphorus cruise is a must to see the views along the shore towards Black Sea A visit to the spice market is a must as we bought some great spices to take home It is a huge city and we only saw a fraction of it Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Our tour included the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and the Grand Bazaar. The guide was very good. Hagia Sophia was amazing,and our guide pointed out the restoration of the Christian parts of the building. The Blue Mosque was very beautiful. ... Read More
Our tour included the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and the Grand Bazaar. The guide was very good. Hagia Sophia was amazing,and our guide pointed out the restoration of the Christian parts of the building. The Blue Mosque was very beautiful. You do have to take off your shoes to visit this site. Shoulders and knees also have to be covered. We were then taken to the Grand Bazaar. This included a carpet demonstration, but we skipped that. The Grand Bazaar was loud and filled with a lot of gold shops. We did not enjoy this and ended up taking a shuttle back to the ship. This was our least favorite port. I have no desire to go back to this city. However, I know others really enjoyed it so it is a matter of personal preference. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
In Istanbul, there's a cheap, simple-to-use tram service on the bridge just beside the dock, which the tour advisors didn't tell us about. Stick a note into the machine beside each stop, push a button, and it'll give you a ... Read More
In Istanbul, there's a cheap, simple-to-use tram service on the bridge just beside the dock, which the tour advisors didn't tell us about. Stick a note into the machine beside each stop, push a button, and it'll give you a little red token (or more than one) and change. pop the token into the stiles and hop n the next tram. The line runs from the dock area up through the centre of the city, passing the Hagia Sophia and the Grand Bazaar. Very easy to use, and runs every five minutes or so. (There is also a hop-on, hop-off bus which can be caught from the opposite side of the Galatea Bridge to the docking area - but it only goes every hour). There are also appalling queues for entry to some of the attractions, notably the Hagia Sophia museum and the Topkapi palace, which the tour advisors also didn't tell us about, and which, ironically, would have been a very good reason to take one of the organised tours they were selling. (While gazing aghast at a two-hour queue for the Hagia Sophia, we were accosted by a Turkish tout who offered us two tickets and a guide book for 30 euro. Since the tickets cost 10 euro each, we took this deal and jumped the queue. We felt a bit guilty about this, but what the hell -it worked! There was also a very slow queue for entrance to the Topkapi palace, and another when you get inside for the Harem area. There is a special ticket window for official tour guides - might be worth taking one just to avoid queueing. Also beware - you must have Turkish Lira at these ticket windows: no credit cards, dollars or euro will do, so if you haven't enough Lira, off to the ATM, and then back to the back of the queue! Best moment: a snack in a beautiful Turkish cafe in the city, just down the street from the Hagia Sophia. Recline on great piles of cushions and sample the 'Dolmi' - great! Istanbul is a stunning city, and the highlight of our cruise. I could have done with three days rather than one-and-a-half we had. It deserves to be savoured at a less rushed pace than we saw it at. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
We walked off the ship at Istanbul straight on to a double decker tourist red bus waiting outside which only cost 20 euros for a round trip of the city stopping off at various points where you could rejoin. This was after having to fight ... Read More
We walked off the ship at Istanbul straight on to a double decker tourist red bus waiting outside which only cost 20 euros for a round trip of the city stopping off at various points where you could rejoin. This was after having to fight off the taxi drivers trying to get us to go with them. We were determined not to do so. After all we discovered it was possible just to walk to the palace by turning right. We walked back from the palace and where the boats go from by getting off the tourist bus there. So we saved a massive amount by not going on the excursion organised by the cruise company which was a massive price and not at all what we wanted. We saw the blue mosque, fish market, all other parts of the city anyway on this bus. We went to a palace ourselves and saw the changing of the guards, and sat in a cafe over looking the Golden Horn where east meets west. We enjoyed walking back to the ship along this stretch which only took half an hour. It was very interesting seeing Turkish people in the park sitting there, seeing cats, kittens, all the bustle. We could use euros and got change in lire which I spent on a cheap cappacinno on the way back and an ice cream. I had time to paint the wonderful view of the domes and palaces from the crows nest of the ship by getting back early. My husband did not want to go to a spice market nor did I want to go inside a mosque having done so before. We were happy just to look at the city. We had an English running commentary by ear phones which could decide to use or otherwise. Someone else told us they went on the cruise excursion and hated it as they were forced to watch a carpet making demo. We would have hated that. So glad we saved all the money to spend on going away for the weekend back home. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Hagia Sophia and blue mosque - wow! We had a private guide again with a few people from CC. Had a fun time, but everything is so crowded - not so much fun. The grand bazaar was fun, but I much prefer the Spice Market Shopping is better in ... Read More
Hagia Sophia and blue mosque - wow! We had a private guide again with a few people from CC. Had a fun time, but everything is so crowded - not so much fun. The grand bazaar was fun, but I much prefer the Spice Market Shopping is better in Istanbul than in Kusadasi, IMO. We spent the next day just wandering around and that was a lot of fun. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011

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