This is the 3rd time for us aboard the Star. She's an older ship who is starting to show her age. It was purely coincidental that we were on her 3 times (Pacific Mexico cruise out of LA, Baltic Cruise and now the Adriatic)... just ... Read More
This is the 3rd time for us aboard the Star. She's an older ship who is starting to show her age. It was purely coincidental that we were on her 3 times (Pacific Mexico cruise out of LA, Baltic Cruise and now the Adriatic)... just worked out that way. The crew said that she'll be entering dry dock next year, and some of the systems and furnishings are past their prime. Ship-wide water pressure failed 3 times (once when I had shampoo in my hair), there were 2 major sewer blow-outs that stunk the whole boat up, but at least it didn't catch fire and sink! Overall, the cruise was exactly what we wanted, an economical way to get to see a wide variety of interesting places.
The view of Venice upon departure was worth the whole price of the cruise. We've been to Venice several times before, but it just gives you such an awesome perspective to be 10 stories up above the water, looking at the leaning towers and narrow alleys of Venice.
Ravenna - meh... not sure why they stop there. So-so place, with a little bit of history, but by far the least interesting place. We just took the shuttle (rip-off, should have called a cab) and walked through the old town. Good gelato at Sorbetteria Degli Esarchi https://goo.gl/maps/gSVhCbXyz8r
Olympia - probably our 3rd-favorite stop. Skip the ship's excursions and call Andrew (AKA Andreas) at Tours by Locals and he will show you an awesome time. https://www.toursbylocals.com/Olympia We spent under $250 for a whole day as a family with him as a private driver and he custom-built the tour for us around the island. Of course we hit the archaeological site, but then he took us to Klio's bee farm and we had a lovely time with her. Klio gave us a private tour of her little beekeeping operation, shared some fresh apricots with us from her orchard, and then gave us some spoon sweets that she makes. Very relaxing but awesome experience. http://www.klioshoneyfarm.com/
Athens - goodness that place is an armpit. If not for their Acropolis, that place would be a festering garbage pit. We've traveled all over, and you know it when people despise you. That's how we felt when we got off the boat. The taxi drivers were fighting with the port security staff over where they could park and how they could approach passengers. We fought our way through the riffraff and caught a cab to downtown for 20 euros, then met up with another Tours by Locals guide who walked us through the old town. We connected with Chantel as our guide and it was fun to have her perspective as she walked us through the market and directed us to an awesome restaurant. Her attention to our experience made up for the bad experience at the port. Again, we paid a fraction of the ship excursion price for an awesome experience. https://www.toursbylocals.com/TBL/WebObjects/ToursByLocals.woa/1/wo/ZIYaCYNiaKqi9XHSZVPXFw/184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11
Montenegro - 2nd favorite port of call on the trip. Such the complete opposite of Athens. People who are glad you're there, very open to outsiders and very hospitable. We met an extraordinary woman cab driver just by chance and she did a great job serving as our guide for the day. We spent an hour walking through the walled city, and we were lucky because it was a weekend day and the green market was in full swing. I would highly recommend Movida Beach as an awesome, family-friendly spot. The food that we ordered from the nearby restaurant was world-class in its freshness and technique in preparation. Best food we had on the trip, hands-down. https://goo.gl/maps/1rzRqRsy5mB2 Order the shrimp in busara sauce... life-changing seafood dish.
Split - best port on the trip. The Roman history is just so, so awesome. Best part of the day for us was finding a little shop that rented Roman togas for ladies and soldier's armor for guys. They let you walk around for 15 minutes and take as many pictures as you want. So, so worth the 80 euros we paid to rent 4 outfits. The place that rents the clothes is right outside of the Ethnographic Museum https://goo.gl/maps/14NcMFUZtq82 Again, we were lucky to be there on a day when the street market was in full swing. Bought some cool Nazi silver coins and made a connection with some interesting antique dealers who sell cold-war-era memorabilia. Food was not as good as Montenegro, but still interesting and decent.
Bottom line, if I had to go back to anywhere, I'd be spending weeks in Croatia and Montenegro. Awesome, awesome places filled with hospitable people. Economic prices for everything and really cool history and food. Read Less