277 Istanbul Cruise Reviews

Istanbul: We used Daily Istanbul Tours for the first day which included a private van, driver and guide. It worked fine. We saw the Topkapi palace, Hagia Sophia, Cistern and walked through modern Istanbul. Felt very safe at all times. ... Read More
Istanbul: We used Daily Istanbul Tours for the first day which included a private van, driver and guide. It worked fine. We saw the Topkapi palace, Hagia Sophia, Cistern and walked through modern Istanbul. Felt very safe at all times. Istanbul has very young population, very busy city and port. I didn't care for the Turkish coffee. The second 1/2 day; 8 to 12 noon we used Tours by Liz, email guideguliz@gmail.com. My wife and kids really like Liz. She took us around by public train and ferry to Asia side of Istanbul, so it was very affordable. She also took us to many mosques and historical sites. You can look her up on TripAdvisor, Daily Private Tours by Liz, (something like that) My kids wanted to go to Asia, so we took a ferry across and walked thru some interesting streets with open markets where the everyday Istanbul folks live. Both companies will accept US dollars, euros or Lira. You really don't need a private van if you are seeing the historical area. We were there on a Friday, so all the Mosque are closed until about 2 pm and the lines are long, so we saw the Mosques on Sat and did other stops. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
A great, vibrant city. We had a private guide take us to the Hagia Sophia and on a tour of the Cisterns, followed by Topkapi Palace. This was our second visit to Istanbul and we want to go back again!
A great, vibrant city. We had a private guide take us to the Hagia Sophia and on a tour of the Cisterns, followed by Topkapi Palace. This was our second visit to Istanbul and we want to go back again! Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We were in Istanbul for 6 days before Coming in on Sunday at 200pm with the Grand Bazar closed, Mosques closed for prayer, the Hagia Sophia under restoration was unfortunate for a lot of cruisers. This was by far, one of my most favorite ... Read More
We were in Istanbul for 6 days before Coming in on Sunday at 200pm with the Grand Bazar closed, Mosques closed for prayer, the Hagia Sophia under restoration was unfortunate for a lot of cruisers. This was by far, one of my most favorite countries to visit. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
While it may seem like a maze, it is. but you don't need to see all of it. Many of the shops are just branches of the same store in another part. Haggling was fun. Got some nice stuff for a great price. Haggle.
While it may seem like a maze, it is. but you don't need to see all of it. Many of the shops are just branches of the same store in another part. Haggling was fun. Got some nice stuff for a great price. Haggle. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Another very easy port to DIY. The tram is a short walk from the port and the major sites, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, and Blue Mosque are all right next to each other right on the tram line. All of these sights are definitely worth ... Read More
Another very easy port to DIY. The tram is a short walk from the port and the major sites, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, and Blue Mosque are all right next to each other right on the tram line. All of these sights are definitely worth visiting and all were very crowded. I've never seen so many people in one area in my life. It was Saturday, and the day before was Turkey's labor day, and apparently everything was closed that day, so crowds were extra heavy. We waited a good half hour in line to get into each place, but they were worth the wait. Make sure you include the Harem when you visit Topkapi, it costs a little more, but its worth it. When we returned to the ship around 5pm, the trams were jam packed with people, and very few who were waiting to get on could get on. It was kind of scary as people tried to squeeze into an already jammed tram car, but we did make it back ok. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We went on our own with another couple, taking the tram to Sultanahmet. We were "helped" by the usual number of carpet salesmen, but one actually did help us, showing us where at the Hagia Sophia to find the shortest line to get ... Read More
We went on our own with another couple, taking the tram to Sultanahmet. We were "helped" by the usual number of carpet salesmen, but one actually did help us, showing us where at the Hagia Sophia to find the shortest line to get tickets and go right in. He probably saved us an hour of standing in line. After the Hagia Sophia we toured the Basilica Cistern (excellent). Then we stood in line for the Blue Mosque. In the Blue Mosque line there were several groups who tried to sneak in line out of turn and were caught and turned away by the guards. We had brought our own headscarves, but they do have coverings (body and head) you can borrow if you are not appropriately dressed. There were plastic bags to carry our shoes in. From there we walked to the Grand Bazaar (a fair walk uphill but doable if you are in good health for walking) and spent a half hour being dazzled and buying souvenirs. It would take weeks to see the whole thing. Then we walked back to the tram stop at Sultanahmet and got on the very very very crowded tram. When we reached our stop, one of our party was stuck in the middle of a group of locals and we had to hold the tram door open and literally pull him out. The locals were not helpful. Overall, we're glad we saw Istanbul but will not be going back. The attitudes toward Westerners are not particularly friendly, and the young women will try to obstruct you on the sidewalk and can be openly hostile. My husband saw a local woman literally push a young Western-dressed woman into the street in front of a tram. We did not encounter hostility like this in Kusadasi and were surprised to see it in Istanbul. The second day in Istanbul we stayed on the ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Beautiful city - spotlessly clean and full of amazing flower beds in parks. April is a good time to visit as it was pleasantly warm but not too hot for sightseeing and Tulipls were in full flower. Visited all major sights except the Topaki ... Read More
Beautiful city - spotlessly clean and full of amazing flower beds in parks. April is a good time to visit as it was pleasantly warm but not too hot for sightseeing and Tulipls were in full flower. Visited all major sights except the Topaki palace as we arrived to late to make entrance fee worthwhile. The Blue mosque and St Sophia's were spectacular. Short queues to get into latter - go early to avoid long waits. Both Bazaars were interesting but had little to tempt us if you dont want carpets or tourist tackl. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Again, no excursion. Off the ship and into a HOHO ( hop on hop off ) bus just outside the port. Early morning so the streets were still quiet and what a clean and beautiful city. Amazing and when we arrived the tulips were flowering so the ... Read More
Again, no excursion. Off the ship and into a HOHO ( hop on hop off ) bus just outside the port. Early morning so the streets were still quiet and what a clean and beautiful city. Amazing and when we arrived the tulips were flowering so the streets were blazing with colour. We went to Egyptian markets as the Grand markets were closed, but we're not disappointed, they were wonderful. Markets not to be missed in Istanbul. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
Took the public tram from the cruise port to the important sites and the kapali karsi or Grand Bazaar (tram lets off near gate 5). If you want to buy jewellry, this is the gate you want to enter. The best shops are to the down and left ... Read More
Took the public tram from the cruise port to the important sites and the kapali karsi or Grand Bazaar (tram lets off near gate 5). If you want to buy jewellry, this is the gate you want to enter. The best shops are to the down and left of the first cross lane inside of gate 5. Buy the multi use tram ticket. 6 rides for 13 Turkish Lira. The Blue Mosque was interesting, even if it a little off putting. The Turkish people are very kind and gracious to strangers. Please reciprocate in kind, you will not be disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
Fantastic, long walk, but walk to all the interesting places, the bazaar, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, The Royal Palace and gardens, The bridge over the Bosphorous, the spice market. You can do it in a day, the cruise ship charges you £150 ... Read More
Fantastic, long walk, but walk to all the interesting places, the bazaar, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, The Royal Palace and gardens, The bridge over the Bosphorous, the spice market. You can do it in a day, the cruise ship charges you £150 p.p. for a similar trip with a bit of lunch. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Great port of call. Easy to et around on your own. Take tram into old town/ main attractions for 4 TL each per journey. Pay stations next to every tram stop. Tram stop near the port gate exit. Big Bus operates two tours, covering main ... Read More
Great port of call. Easy to et around on your own. Take tram into old town/ main attractions for 4 TL each per journey. Pay stations next to every tram stop. Tram stop near the port gate exit. Big Bus operates two tours, covering main attractions on both Asian and European sides. Tickets operate on a true 24 hours from time of purchase but we found operator was flexible and we managed over a day and a half for the 24 hr ticket. Plenty of nice restaurants around, to expensive.Two tips1. don't visit the Blue Mosque early, queues are horrendous. Touts will try to sell you the shortcut for 40 TL per person. We went back after lunch, no queues and free.2. Walk over the Galata bring towards the ship, at the end turn sharp left into the small fish market, continue through and you will be rewarded with an abundance of small, basic, rustic venues, facing the river and serving fresh fish, grilled or BBQ'd with cold beers and fantastic views over Istanbul at night.Felt safe wherever we walked, little bit of sales pitch but rally enjoyable.Spice market is probably better than the main Bazaar! Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Day 5 Ephesus morning onlyWe did a priceline shore excursion for $55/person to Ephesus. The excursion staff met us as we stepped off the port, they put us on a bus straight to the ruins. It was a great investment. It's hard to ... Read More
Day 5 Ephesus morning onlyWe did a priceline shore excursion for $55/person to Ephesus. The excursion staff met us as we stepped off the port, they put us on a bus straight to the ruins. It was a great investment. It's hard to appreciate all those rocks and fallen pillars without hearing what it was like and what the meaning was. Utterly amazing. Afterwards, they took us to attend a carpet demonstration but we didn't mind. Free wine and beer was served.Day 6 IstanbulWe sailed right past the blue mosque and Hagia Sofia beautiful to see in the morning and at night as we sailed away watching these same beautiful monuments. Getting from the port to the city is a very long walk, heading left as soon as the port is exited to get to the bridge- at least 20 min at a fast pace. We were up for it and didn't wait for the tram, but looking back, that would have been a good idea. We didn't want a taxi but it was hard to know where the tram was. The blue mosque and Hagia Sofia are up a steep hill, as soon as the bridge is crossed we got onto the tram. You have to buy red tokens to get on the tram. Only the spice market was open on Sunday- the Grand Bazaar was closed. We had Turkish coffee and Turkish ice cream, which was better the gelato in my opinion. The tourist line to get into the Blue Mosque is difficult to find and is not the same entrance as those going for prayer. By the time we found it, the line was to long to be able to go in before the next prayer time (they shut down the mosque) and make it back to the ship. Women need a head scarf to get in. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
The sights, sounds and intoxicating smells of this amazing city draw you in and it's hard to leave this exciting place buzzing and alive with colour. Its easy to overload the shopping bags here, bartering is a must ,a most enjoyable ... Read More
The sights, sounds and intoxicating smells of this amazing city draw you in and it's hard to leave this exciting place buzzing and alive with colour. Its easy to overload the shopping bags here, bartering is a must ,a most enjoyable pass- time and quite expected by the vendors . There are so many magnificent buildings to enjoy here , all within easy reach on the good old bus . The mighty Bosporus is surrounded by two countries and its rather special to enjoy the best of both of them here . Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
We exited the port and took a tram, 4TL any journey. You put the coins or note into a machine which dispenses a jeton and change. Insert jeton into turnstile and wait for tram. We got off at Eminonu and walked up to the Sulemanye Mosque. ... Read More
We exited the port and took a tram, 4TL any journey. You put the coins or note into a machine which dispenses a jeton and change. Insert jeton into turnstile and wait for tram. We got off at Eminonu and walked up to the Sulemanye Mosque. Lovely mosque, no crowds and free, clean toilets. Cover legs, arms, heads(women). We then walked downhill towards the Grand Bazaar, lots of shops with quite persistent shopkeepers. Walked on towards Hagia Sophia and it was an easy walk. Line was quite short so we only queued for 10 minutes or so, admission 30TL. After that we walked across the street and visited the Basilica Cisterna, adm. 20TL. By then, prayers were over and we could visit the Blue Mosque, free but cover up, shawls are provided at the mosques. Easy to get the tram from Sultanahmet, near Blue Mosque, back to Tophane, the stop for the port. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We chose to use a private guide. She was a PhD in Art with an emphasis on the Ottoman Empire. Inci was fantastic! We saw everything in a comfortable manner. Enjoyed a beautiful lunch overlooking the Blue Mosque. Also enjoyed a mid morning ... Read More
We chose to use a private guide. She was a PhD in Art with an emphasis on the Ottoman Empire. Inci was fantastic! We saw everything in a comfortable manner. Enjoyed a beautiful lunch overlooking the Blue Mosque. Also enjoyed a mid morning break at a wonderful restaurant near the baazar. I can't recommend our private guide high enough. Our day and a half with her was a pure pleasure. Her knowledge on all the museums and points of interest was amazing. We shared the experience with two ladies we met on the ship. After sharing all costs, the per person amount paid for everything was LESS than the Celebrity alternative.It was a no brainer going this route. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We spent some time before the cruise in Istanbul in Sultanahmet. Very good, nice things to see. A pity that the shop owners and restaurant owners all try to get you into their business. Very annoying. Taksim Square not so good, I have seen ... Read More
We spent some time before the cruise in Istanbul in Sultanahmet. Very good, nice things to see. A pity that the shop owners and restaurant owners all try to get you into their business. Very annoying. Taksim Square not so good, I have seen much more better squares than this one. Galatay bridge is nice, remember if you want to visit Blue Mosque (not so blue) you have to wait for at least 90 minutes. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
They encourage you to take a shuttle bus to the Grand Basar..this is not necessary...its possible to walk from the ship to the Basar in 15 mins..its just over the bridge..and i walk slowly----the excursion we saw was lots of people being ... Read More
They encourage you to take a shuttle bus to the Grand Basar..this is not necessary...its possible to walk from the ship to the Basar in 15 mins..its just over the bridge..and i walk slowly----the excursion we saw was lots of people being rushed around the sights of Istanbul..then hoarded into more shops that MSC have a deal wwith...avoid it..take a hop on hop off bus..do your own thing. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
May 6 – Istanbul, TurkeyAfter spending the majority of the day at sea cruising through the Dardanelles, we approached Istanbul from the west at about 3pm. The approach into Istanbul was beautiful, and I enjoyed pointing our parts of ... Read More
May 6 – Istanbul, TurkeyAfter spending the majority of the day at sea cruising through the Dardanelles, we approached Istanbul from the west at about 3pm. The approach into Istanbul was beautiful, and I enjoyed pointing our parts of Istanbul to my girlfriend, Aunt, and Uncle. I previously spent time in Istanbul about a year ago, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Because of this, I really looked forward to returning on this trip.We ultimately didn’t dock until around 5pm due to high winds, but when we did my girlfriend and I disembarked and walked into town directly to the Galata Bridge. We had the fortune at docking at the cruise ship birth closest to the Galata Tower and Bridge, so the location was extremely convenient. After viewing the fishermen from the Galata Bridge, we proceeded to the Egyptian Bizzare – or Spice Bizzare to see the sights, sounds, and smells of the place. Overrun with spice merchants, vibrant colors and smells filled the air making for a pretty intense setting. Ater this, we walked back across the bridge, and up the hill to Galata Tower for a panoramic view of Istanbul. As the timing worked out, we were up on Galata Tower right around sunset, which made for some amazing pictures.We then continued up the hill to the Galata area. We explored the side streets full of bars and cafes, and came upon a few of the bars that I’d been to last year on my trip to Istanbul with friends. We started back towards the ship before stopping for a Turkish dinner of kebab and Turkish pizza. It was tasty as always. We returned to the ship around 9:30pm where the ship was putting on a Turkish Bazaar dinner up on board – they really did a nice job with it though we did not partake.May 7 – Istanbul, TurkeyThis was a unique port of call for a cruise since we were docked in Istanbul overnight. The overnight call aspect of the cruise was one of the most attractive features of the trip for us. Having been to Istanbul before, I had a pretty good idea of a proper tour itinerary for my girlfriend, aunt, and uncle that next morning. We decided to take the tram to the Sultanahmet stop – a short, ten minute trip (for €3 per person, each way). Here, we toured the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, and Sistern Basilica. Entrance to the Blue Mosque is free, but we did have to wait in line for about a half an hour before being allowed to enter and take pictures. The view inside was amazing as usual, and reminds me of the cover of my high school World History textbook. Next, we walked over to the Hagia Sofia, but decided not to enter due to the massive line to get in. Entrance would have been €10 per person had we decided to brave the line. I did go inside the Hagia Sofia on my last trip to Istanbul, and in my opinion, it would have been worth the wait.Alas, the rest of the group didn’t want to wait, so we headed across the street to the Sistern Basilica. Entrance to the Sistern was also ten euros per person. I quite enjoyed this last time, and I did on this trip as well. It’s a dimly lit cavern full of water and yellow and red lighting. We then proceeded to the Grand Bazaar, which was only about a ten minute walk from the Sultanahmet area. As usual, the Grand Bazaar was utter chaos – not quite my cup of tea, but the ladies wanted to get some shopping in. We took a quick break for a lunch of doner kebap before taking the tram back to the ship in time for our scheduled 5pm departure. The sail away from Istanbul was simply beautiful as we passed Istanbul landmarks like the Galata Bridge, Topapki Palace, Hagia Sofia, and Blue Mosque. That evening, we enjoyed appetizers in the room before our dinner at Tamarind — the specialty Asian Fusion restaurant onboard. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
did my homework...take turkish liras...the tram car is right outside of pier..3 liras buy a ticket...jump on tram ..get of at sultan ahamet stop...and all the sights are there...ask anyone ...they speak english...forget going to the ... Read More
did my homework...take turkish liras...the tram car is right outside of pier..3 liras buy a ticket...jump on tram ..get of at sultan ahamet stop...and all the sights are there...ask anyone ...they speak english...forget going to the bazaaaar..thats a waste of time...spend quality time looking at those historic structures...jump back on tram..and you are back at pier...just search nternt all info there. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014

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