Recently back from my first ever Mediterranean cruise, but my 5th overall European cruise, on the Royal Princess. A little background; I am 55, DH is 59. This was our 26th cruise. Previous cruises have been Princess (13), Carnival (4), ... Read More
Recently back from my first ever Mediterranean cruise, but my 5th overall European cruise, on the Royal Princess. A little background; I am 55, DH is 59. This was our 26th cruise. Previous cruises have been Princess (13), Carnival (4), Holland America (2), Viking River (2), and one each on Royal Caribbean, NCL, Celebrity and the American Queen.
We booked this cruise in mid July, having lucked into a flash sale that was offering guarantee Obstructed View Balconies for the same price as interiors (Which were at a great price). About 10-days before we sailed we got our cabin assignment and we were upgraded to a deluxe obstructed balcony. We bought our airfare through Princess EZ Air and we got fares that were better than what I could do on our own. This cruise was a 7-day, Athens to Rome, to which I added independently a day extra in Athens, and two days in Rome.
For our day/evening in Athens I went to Hotels,com to find a hotel. Pickings were slim as I wanted something nice, in the Plaka District. I finally settled on the Electra Palace. Even though a little pricey I loved the fact it had a rooftop pool, and indoor pool and spa, and very important, a reputation of comfortable beds. We got into Athens around 10:30am, and went through passport control rather quickly. I had arranged for a taxi from the airport to our hotel through a company called Welcome Pickups. The taxi was waiting for us, and in no time we were on our way to our hotel. After checking in we took a short walk around the Plaka, getting a quick bite to eat, before going back to the hotel for a nap to recover from jet lag. Later we would walk some more around the Plaka District and get dinner at one of the many cafes and do some shopping.
The next morning, after checking out of our hotel we went on the HOHO bus for a quick tour of Athens. After one complete loop, we rode around again, this time getting off at the Acropolis (20 euro pp) and the Temple of Zeus (6 euro pp). It was about 1PM, and time to think about getting to the ship. At the Temple of Zeus there were plenty of taxi drivers and we negotiated with one of them to drive us first to the hotel to pick up our luggage from luggage hold, and then continue on to the pier. For 35 euro our driver did both, and in no time we were at the pier.
Embarking was very fast. We had priority boarding, but the line for priority was just as long as regular boarding. We waited maybe 30 seconds before we were getting our boarding cards. Within minutes we were on board. First stop was to the Spa (Deck 5) to see about passes to Enclave (Thermal Suite). The cost was $149pp for week long passes. I loved the fact that the Enclave was opened until 11pm, except the final night when it closed at 10pm. Then it was off to the Sanctuary to see about getting cruise duration passes to the adult only enclave. The cost was $210pp for the week. Then we were off to our cabin.
Our cabin was E509, an obstructed deluxe balcony. We were fortunate as our obstruction was the top of a lifeboat, obstructing the bottom ¼ of our view. The location was fairly near the center bank of elevators. I was pleased with the layout and location of our cabin, and we received very good service all week long from our room steward.
Finally we went to the Horizon Court (Buffet) for lunch. The Horizon had an amazing array of food, something for every taste. Most of it was good, and there were enough waiters to get tea/water and to clean away dirty dishes.
When traveling in Europe we cruise for the ports and a chance to relax, using the ship as our traveling hotel. Keeping this in mind, we didn’t go to any shows, preferring to spend our evenings in the Enclave. Most dinners were at the buffet, but we did eat twice at Alfredo’s (A fee free causal restaurant on deck 7 that serves pizzas and a few other items), and one night at the Crab Shack ($29pp).
Overall I thought that Princess gave us an excellent cruise, and good value for what we paid. The only area I felt was a little subpar was the shore excursion desk. We had an issue with our tour guide in Santorini and brought it to their attention after the fact, and didn’t get a response until 6 days later that was basically a “so sad, too bad” response. The day we were in Elba, a tender port, even though we had a shore excursion booked through the ship, no effort was made to ensure we got on a tender to get to shore, even though there was still a long line of independent passengers waiting to get off, and they were given priority to get on the tender. We very nearly missed our tour because of this.
The original itinerary of this cruise underwent several changes due to overcrowding at ports, and the unrest in Turkey. Originally we were to go; Athens, Santorini, Turkey, Malta, Sicily, Naples, and Rome. We ended up with Athens, Santorini, Kotor Montenegro, Corfu Greece, Sicily (Time in port was shortened by 3 hours), and Elba, and Rome. Both Kotor & Corfu were beautiful, but Elba was a poor substitution for Naples IMO. There was nothing wrong with Elba, but it just can’t compare with what Naples had to offer.
If interested in seeing any photos from the trip feel free to check out my web site; www.thegrandtour.simplesite.com Read Less