81 Istanbul Cruise Reviews

ISTANBUL Istanbul is huge. On the cruise ship, passengers are strongly encouraged to take a shore excursion. We opted to explore on our own. Doing this requires walking through a crowd of 100 aggressive taxi drivers promoting their ... Read More
ISTANBUL Istanbul is huge. On the cruise ship, passengers are strongly encouraged to take a shore excursion. We opted to explore on our own. Doing this requires walking through a crowd of 100 aggressive taxi drivers promoting their services. At the end of them, turn left and walk for 15 minutes where there is a bridge going towards the Grand Bazaar/Blue Mosque area or turn left and cross the street, climb 200 stairs, walk straight turn right after 10 minutes and you'll be heading towards Taksim Square which seemed to be just a busy area. We stopped at a little place on the way for lunch, pide and a gyro. We took a taxi from Taksim Square to the Grand Bazaar. The taxi driver was the taxi driver we have ever had. He offered us coffee of tea in his car. He had a little pot connected to the cigarette lighter in the car for heating water. He also offered us pastry and candy. It is nice to find people who take pride in their profession. Later in Istanbul we had the worst taxi driver who took us on a 30 minute/30 lira ride to nowhere. For dinner we chose the Ciragan Palace at the Hotel Kempinski. The hotel is partly in a renovated Ottoman Palace with great views of the city on the banks of the Bosphorus. It was very opulent. The dining room of the restaurant is in the old palace and serves traditional Ottoman food. Service was good, but not as good as service in Blu. I enjoyed their tasting menu with wine pairings and found Turkish wine appealing. Food is served on plates covered by ornate silver domes. Dinner for two with my wine pairings for me, a glass of champagne, and one other wine by the glass was $300. We arrived before the restaurant had opened and they served a us a glass of Champagne and a vodka tonic. I felt that we were gauged by the price of the glass of Champagne at 72 YTL or close to $50. It was only Moet & Chandon and the glass was not filled and the bottle was not fresh. I complained and paid anyway. The lesson to take from this is not to order Champagne by the glass or any other drink without viewing a menu in an unfamiliar place. The Grand Bazaar is indeed grand and overwhelming. We bought Turkish delight, some tiles, and some jewelry. The shopkeepers are very aggressive in pursuing business. At first this is a fun, new experience. Eventually it becomes tiring. We purchased a wool/cotton carpet from Simsek Aynacioglu at KEMAL EROL, saynacioglu@gmail. He apparently owns four stores in the grand bazaar and was very nice and courteous in his sales approach. We started in one of his stores that specialized in all silk carpets. We found the prices for those carpets to be more than we wanted to spend ($4,000 to $6,000). Rug merchants are willing to unroll 100 carpets or more in order to find a carpet that a customer will want to buy. The merchants will serve a customer apple tea all day if they feel a sale can be made. On a $6,000 carpet, I offered $500 and that did not stop the carpet unrolling or the apple tea. It was suggested that we visit their other store to accommodate our budget. Once we found a 6' x 8' Ushak carpet with colors that we liked, Simsek negotiated a good price with us for it ($1,500 - $3,000). To get a lower price we agreed to send him a subscription for 1 year of Mac World magazine. He had just purchased a new iPhone and is a big fan of Apple. The next day, he shipped the carpet by DHL to us and e-mailed me the tracking information. His store was not a Celebrity guaranteed store, but I think we were able to get a better deal because of that. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Istanbul had long been on our list of places to visit. We were not disappointed at all. In fact, due to rough seas we had to bypass our stop in Chios, but that turned out to be a benefit as it gave us more time in Istanbul. The city is ... Read More
Istanbul had long been on our list of places to visit. We were not disappointed at all. In fact, due to rough seas we had to bypass our stop in Chios, but that turned out to be a benefit as it gave us more time in Istanbul. The city is remarkable as it manages to blend the very old and the modern together. Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque are not to be missed. The tram that runs not far from the cruise ship docks was easy to use and took us right to the Hagia Sophia. From there we walked to all the other sites. One of the sites that we visited that may not be on the regular tourist checklist was the Bascilica Cistern. It was an amazing site to see the underground cavern system. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
Istanbul is quite interesting. Unfortunately we hit some terribly cold and rainy weather. It is fairly easy to get around on the tram, but once off the main streets there is insufficient signage and what there is is hard to read. We had ... Read More
Istanbul is quite interesting. Unfortunately we hit some terribly cold and rainy weather. It is fairly easy to get around on the tram, but once off the main streets there is insufficient signage and what there is is hard to read. We had better luck walking around in Cairo! The Grand Bazaar is not as intimidating as you might think. This is a port you can do on your own, although with luggage you will want a taxi. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
Great city, great tour of all the main points. Visit to Carpet Sales presentation a bit annoying and not properly advertised. DO not be afraid to say no to sellers, they are not aggressive. Bargaining is par of the course.
Great city, great tour of all the main points. Visit to Carpet Sales presentation a bit annoying and not properly advertised. DO not be afraid to say no to sellers, they are not aggressive. Bargaining is par of the course. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
We highly recommend using Ekol Travel to book tours in Istanbul. Istanbul is extremely crowded city with 15 million people living in it. Way too much traffic but having a private car was great to get in and out of traffic. The taxi cab ... Read More
We highly recommend using Ekol Travel to book tours in Istanbul. Istanbul is extremely crowded city with 15 million people living in it. Way too much traffic but having a private car was great to get in and out of traffic. The taxi cab drivers are quite brazen! Ayzsequl Argaboglu showed us the sights in Istanbul for 2 days and we enjoyed her company and vast knowledge of her country and city. We highly recommend that you see the Dolmabace Palace which was more beautiful than the Topkaki Palace and not on the ship's or Ekol's itinerary. I read alot about seeing the Harem in the Topkaki Palace which was not available to us due to construction. Our guide told us to see the Harem at the Dolmabace Palace instead. Viewing the 68 carat diamond at the Topkaki Palace blew me away! The Blue Mosque was beautiful. We had to take our shoes off and women had to wear shawls. Shopping in the Grand Bazaar was fun but not the highlight and yes, I love to shop. Going with a guide help matters as she was able to help negotiate. The carpet demos were interesting but everyone is trying to sell you their wares. Beautiful if you're in the market for a carpet. The turkish coffee is muddy chewing tobacco but the apple tea is delightful! I was surprised to see someone carrying a Starbuck's coffee cup. We took the ship's Turkish night club/dinner/show excursion to Kervansaray Restaurant. The food was unedible but the bellydancing made up for it. Be prepared to spend a lot of money on water and soda. The Turkish Baklava that our guide bought us was amazing! It made it all the way home and eaten a week later! Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
The Grand Bazaar is overwhelming with sales people trying to get your attention.The crowds are large. Don't miss the spice market which is near the Grand Bazaar.
The Grand Bazaar is overwhelming with sales people trying to get your attention.The crowds are large. Don't miss the spice market which is near the Grand Bazaar. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009

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