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14 Rome (Civitavecchia) to Middle East Cruise Reviews

The itinerary was truly spectacular. A "bucket list" for us and our traveling companions. For us, every port from Cyprus to Dubai was a new adventure, and even several ports in Italy and Greece offered new experiences. [The ... Read More
The itinerary was truly spectacular. A "bucket list" for us and our traveling companions. For us, every port from Cyprus to Dubai was a new adventure, and even several ports in Italy and Greece offered new experiences. [The ports were Rome, Naples, Messina, Piraeus, Kakolon (Greece) Cyprus, Haifa (Israel) Aqaba (Jordan) Safaga (Egypt), passing through the Suez Canal, Salalah and Muscat (Oman) and Dubai. 21 days from October 30 to November 20, 2016.] [I praised several officers and wait staffers as well as our cabin steward] We enjoyed having a mini-suite, especially the relatively commodious bathroom, but closet space was at a premium and open shelving around the room should be replaced by drawers. The cruise trend is toward smaller balconies and our cabin fell right in line with a postage-sized balcony. The offering of bridge instruction and duplicate bridge play was a terrific plus. Steve and Donna did a great job and they attracted a large, enthusiastic group of both beginners and intermediate players. We purchased a four speciality restaurant dining package. Cagney's Steakhouse was wonderful, dining there twice. We also dined at Moderno, a thoroughly enjoyable and different dining experience, and at Le Bistro. We had differing opinions of Le Bistro. Having lived in New York most of our lives (and having taken a number of trips to Paris), we are especially conversant with "gourmet" French food. Le Bistro does not offer a "gourmet" experience and this was particularly disappointing. I won't spend the time critiquing each dish (ranging from quite good to awful). That said, service in each of these restaurants was very, very good. Also on the positive list was O'Sheehans and the Ginza restaurants, for the food and availability, not necessarily for the quality of service. What's a cruise ship without the dining experience comprised of food, service and ambiance? The quality of food was more than adequate, if somewhat repetitious and lacking in sophistication of preparation. Meat dishes were good and frequently offered, but fish dishes were inadequate both as to paucity of variety and frequency of offering. Food was often overly salted and occasionally greasy. We ate the majority of our meals in Versailles having dined once in Aqua which we likened to a high school cafeteria. The less said about the buffet the better (your huddled masses yearning to eat free), although neither better nor worse than any other cruise line. The decor in Versailles is not to my liking (it looks old and tired), and unfortunately the noise during dinner approaches a level that makes simple conversation at a table for four quite difficult. The real problem on the ship is the dining room service. Service is haphazard and appears to lack coordination between the servers and their assistants. This often leads to long waits between courses, or even a long wait before receiving the initial course, and food arriving not exactly as ordered for want of better communication. Better training would help alleviate this problem! Lastly, the uniforms worn by the servers are very unimpressive and often look sloppy -- more akin to dress for a Caribbean cruise. Why would a ship place its more expensive cabins (mini-suites) under the public areas where noise from these areas emanates day and night? We often heard noise from above throughout the night with some negative effect on our sleep. Our traveling companions with a mini-suite on the other side of the ship had similar complaints. Onboard entertainment is a very mixed bag ranging from the bizarre to the wonderful - the ridiculous to the sublime. On some occasions we would leave the theatre scratching our proverbial heads and muttering "Where did they find that?" On other occasions we would remain in the theatre giving an enthusiastic standing ovation to the marvelous singers, dancers and show band following a terrific production show. One minor quibble -- the sound level for the singers was often too loud and perhaps over modulated. Tintinnabulations: Why encourage passengers to purchase stock of NCL and then tell them after purchase that the on board credit is nonrefundable? Why is NCL the only cruise line, I think, that charges for room service? Why does NCL "nickel and dime" you (more like $5.00 and $10.00) with regard to bringing wine and/or water aboard. Other lines permit several bottles of wine and water to be brought aboard without charge. If you have an announced dress code policy in only two restaurants (Versailles and Le Bistro) at least enforce the policy. Shorts and flip-flops are not appropriate evenings attire. Lastly, you may wonder whether we enjoyed the cruise? Did the positives outweigh the negatives, the huzzahs top the disappointments? The answer is a resounding YES. The fabulous itinerary trumped all. m&pops P.S. We only took private tours which ranged from average to excellent. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Itinerary Rome-Naples-Messina-Katakolon-Athens-Limassol-Haifa-Aqaba-Safaga-Salalah-Muscat-Dubai 30October 2016 Norwegian Star. CHECKIN at Civitavecchia and bag delivery score a 10 for ease, promptness and friendliness. There is no ... Read More
Itinerary Rome-Naples-Messina-Katakolon-Athens-Limassol-Haifa-Aqaba-Safaga-Salalah-Muscat-Dubai 30October 2016 Norwegian Star. CHECKIN at Civitavecchia and bag delivery score a 10 for ease, promptness and friendliness. There is no welcoming committee as you board the ship, just the unfriendly dour faces of security. Norwegian have an inconsistent policy of removing all beverages at every port, regardless if you have purchased a bottle of water on the ship and then tried to bring it back onboard with you. This makes Norwegian the Masters of Nickel and Dime. Norwegian takes the phrase to new heights. THE CABIN Not all cabins are created equal. Apart from the bed, it contained a rather large bathroom, a shower for two!!, a separate basin and toilet. The usual TV and writing desk along with a vanity area. A very small closet space largely due to the mini bar. The cabin also has a sofa used as another bed. There are always remnants from previous guests, the usual fingerprints around doors, splash marks on the mirrors and art work. Coffee stains etc. Although the ship is regularly washed on the outside, no attempt is ever made to clean the balcony and the salt buildup. ENTERTAINMENT The production shows are always performed with great energy and vigor no matter how long they have been around for. The comedians still make fun of the buffet, people arriving late and leaving early. Same old Mary jokes from the cruise directors. I would like to see a full 45minute act which does not involve audience participation. DINING The ship has several complimentary dining areas. The Market Café for all meals – I have experienced more choice and ambience in a Westfield Food Hall. O’Sheehans bar and grill, always open, good service, simple tucker. Versailles main dining. A rather spectacular dining room that rivals any on the high seas. Its let down by patchy service. One does not serve across the table but usually from the right, or give a guest a knife and fork to eat ice cream to be replaced by a teaspoon. Also complimentary are the Aqua and Ginza catering to the very large number of Asians on board. What is considered normal fare on some cruise lines Norwegian charges a supplement. There are six specialty restaurants where a cover charge applies. DECK All decks tend to flow very well with deck 7 being an all around walking deck. Three huge water slides occupy a large amount of deck space which I assume would be busy during school holidays. There is a large kids/teen space. Apart from the library there is no nooks and crannies to hide and read. SHORE EXCURSIONS As seasoned cruisers, you know where to look for shore excursions. FITNESS One of the best well equipped gyms on the high seas, but wait inline behind the crew . CREW FRIENDLINESS Cabin stewards and dining staff are friendly. The team is let down by those that should no longer be there. There is a lot of passenger side stepping to let crew pass. DISEMBARKATION Could not have been simpler and there is committee of crew to wave you goodbye. First impressions always count and last longer. CONCLUSION There are lot of factors to consider when choosing a cruise. Cost, season, itinerary, ship. Norwegian reminds me of a low cost airline, you pay extra for everything. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
These comments are provided from the perspective of a mid-60’s retired couple who have ocean cruised on 10 previous occasions mainly on Princess and Celebrity. The primary objective was to sail through the Suez Channel and have the ... Read More
These comments are provided from the perspective of a mid-60’s retired couple who have ocean cruised on 10 previous occasions mainly on Princess and Celebrity. The primary objective was to sail through the Suez Channel and have the opportunity to experience the Middle East countries. We chose NCL because of itinerary and price. I found the website easy to use; as we like to pre-register, confirm ship/cabin layout, pre-book our dining, wine and excursions. Having the “shopping cart” time out after 15 minutes was annoying and allowed limited review of the various excursions offered. Why are the “wine packages” not available on the internet? Locating the ship at the Civitavecchia (i.e. near Rome) was a challenge as the signage was sparse. Once in the appropriate area there were ample shuttles to the ship. Unfortunately, these shuttles changed pickup and drop off locations without the knowledge of the passengers. Embarkation went smoothly with a tolerable wait time of approximately 45 minutes. The ship staff appeared genuinely friendly and helpful. Several of the Guest Services staff went to great lengths to expedite our delayed luggage arrival. We also found the tour desk staff very helpful and accommodating. The ship common areas were generally very clean and well maintained. The hull colors are attractive. The décor of the atrium and Versailles dining room impressed us. The washrooms near the dining area often required servicing during mealtimes. This line may wish to consider a full time attendant, during mealtimes. This resolute walker enjoyed the full length (a rarity) cork floor promenade deck. The fish orientation on the hallway carpets and the dissimilar colored stairway carpets made orientation easier. Major ship features were easy to find. There was an ample supply of sun deck loungers. Access to the hot tubs and pools was also readily available. Early in the cruise, the gangway location was poorly signed or not an each floor. Most of our breakfasts and lunches were eaten at the buffet. The buffet area was Spartan with worn furnishings and awkward chairs – didn’t appear to have been refurnished at the time the remainder of this ship was updated. This area lacked sufficient seating; although, the adjacent pool side seating was used as an appendage. Service in this area was also hampered by a drink dispenser that was inoperable for the entire voyage and closing one of the two serving lines during demanding times. The food was tasty, good quality and ample variety. On three occasions, we lunched at O’Sheehan’s. Twice the food and service were great. On the other occasion, the staff was overwhelmed by the client numbers - a ¾ hour wait for a lukewarm hotdog! The majority of our suppers (18, I think) were acquired in the Versailles dining room. Generally the food and service was good to great. I particularly enjoyed a number of fish dishes, the tiramisu and the chocolate volcano dessert. Our one marginal waiter was more than outshined by Nilish, Krissy and Phil. We did not use the specialty restaurants. We took four ship organized tours and did the remainder on our own, using the Hop On Hop Off Bus or Big Bus service. We found the ship tours generally well organized, interesting, at a great pace and only once late. We enjoyed our tour to Olympia. This hearing disabled person appreciated the voice box and the great guide. The tour to Petra (near Aquaba), one of the wonders of the world, was a disappointment. A huge amount of walking (~ 25 kms. I won’t recommend the available rides!) to see things we didn’t understand as presented by a disinterested guide and detracted from by commercialization. A long (12.5 hours) but enjoyable trip to Luxor along the Nile delta with a super guide, Cherry. Bought a cartouche from her! A great tour, but long (13 hours), to Jerusalem and Bethlehem with a wonderful guide. Also enjoyed our tour to Job’s Tomb near Salalah. The scenery was wonderful and the camels friendly! We took in almost all the evening entertainment and found it to be very enjoyable and unique: a comedian juggler, humorous classical music performers, humorous ventriloquist and a comedian acrobat. This hearing impaired person found the volume levels in the theatre to be much.. much too loud; even with the aids turned off. We did not patronize the Casino or Spa. We appreciated the less aggressive marketing tactics for photos and liquor sales on this line. Now for what some will believe to be bigoted remarks! Our enjoyment of this cruise was diminished by the offensive mannerisms of the Asian (I believe Chinese and possibly half the total) passengers. While the cruise staff cannot be held responsible for this group’s crude table manners, the staff can be admonished for allowing this group to disregard queuing lines, impeding traffic in pedestrian areas (holding group activates in walkways, simply blocking walkways to gain an advantage for tours,reversing the travel direction on the promenade) and generally being uncooperative to fellow passengers. This behavior is so directly opposite to that I experienced while I worked in China in the early 90’s. The NCL announcement of additional catering to this ethic group will make us re-evaluate any future travel on this line. In summary, we were pleased with what we received for the price we paid. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We joined the Ocean princess after being asked by Princess to consider swapping cruises,(overbooking??) we had been booked on the Dawn from Sydney to Rome .Maybe it wasn't such a good deal? 48days instead of 32 on a smaller ship, I ... Read More
We joined the Ocean princess after being asked by Princess to consider swapping cruises,(overbooking??) we had been booked on the Dawn from Sydney to Rome .Maybe it wasn't such a good deal? 48days instead of 32 on a smaller ship, I would not do it again. While the Ocean Princess is still a lovely ship, in spite of her age, I felt that it was too small for this cruise. Only 1 MDR and the Buffet ;the Steakhouse and Sabatini's were only open on alternate days, and not always then, which made dining choices limited. Only one Show lounge meant that on the 2nd half we had the same shows repeated, and there was no alternative .The daytime entertainment program was boring, too many repeated activities, films and lectures. The Ent. Director was a waste of space, no personality and we felt a definite sense of strain between the Director and the rest of the cruise staff. The shows were ok but improved at the end, possibly due to being one dancer short until a replacement arrived during the 2nd half of the cruise. It was obvious that some of the entertainers were not happy. The Library was excellent, good selection and great place for peace and quiet. Tahitian room had great views, we enjoyed the Trivia and dance classes. It should be NON Smoking!! Front desk not up to standard, some of the employees had a "not interested "attitude, we found only one who seemed to know what he was doing and wanted to help. We were not impressed by the Shore tours lecturer, her information seemed to come straight off Google and she had a boring voice. Food. We mainly ate in the MDR at night and the buffet at breakfast and lunch. Food was good and plentiful, but repetitious, our wait staff (ALL of them) were wonderful. Professional, helpful, friendly...not enough good things to say about them. They helped MAKE the cruise for us. I am having ongoing communication with Princess about the medical care so will not say anymore. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
My friend with whom I have traveled many times told me she had booked a trip on the Ocean Princess and would I like to accompany her. I checked the website and told my husband in complete dismay that the trip was TWENTY-EIGHT days. He ... Read More
My friend with whom I have traveled many times told me she had booked a trip on the Ocean Princess and would I like to accompany her. I checked the website and told my husband in complete dismay that the trip was TWENTY-EIGHT days. He said, "Go. Go. Have a good time." And to show what a great guy he is, I was gone for our 25th wedding anniversary, and he gave me the trip as a gift. I can't begin to describe what a wonderful time it was. The Ocean Princess is a smaller ship and seeing so many people so often made it seem like one big family. The ports of call were wondrous. I did very little homework in preparation for this trip, so seeing the Lost City of Petra in Jordan and Luxor, Egypt with no expectations made it more amazing for me. Almost all of our ports were Princess Excursions and they were all well done. The staff of the ship could not have been better. I even got a haircut in the salon and swear it was one of the best haircuts of my life. We had many sea day, and the ship planned so many fun events. I joined the pop choir and had so much fun. I love to sing, and we performed at one of the last shows. I also feel that seeing the Middle East in this way was safe and educational. I had such a fabulous time that I booked a trip for my husband and I while on the ship for our 26th wedding anniversary. We are sailing transatlantic this October from Northhampton to Fort Lauderdale. My husband loves history and we will take the Princess excursion of Normandy. We also both love the sea days and cannot wait to see what Princess has planned for us this trip. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
A couple of weeks ago we returned from Holy Land cruise (September 3, 2011 - September 15, 2011). We booked this cruise 3 weeks before sailing through Online Vacation Center and this included cruise, flights, 2 days pre-cruise hotel in ... Read More
A couple of weeks ago we returned from Holy Land cruise (September 3, 2011 - September 15, 2011). We booked this cruise 3 weeks before sailing through Online Vacation Center and this included cruise, flights, 2 days pre-cruise hotel in Rome, some OBC and all transfers. While the booking process was easy and painless we ran into some issues afterwords. I specifically asked about the location of the hotel since my husband had some mobility issues and we needed a place where we could go out, walk a little bit and get back to the hotel without having to deal with taxi or any kind of transportation. The agent assured that the location of the hotel would be "central". However, when we received the package we found that we were staying at the hotel way far away from the center. Online Vacation Center tried "to sell" this hotel explaining that Rome has a very good public transportation system. After a few phone calls and emails they straightened this out and we stayed at Forum hotel which is really in the center of Rome and a walking distance almost to everything. The hotel was very nice with a friendly and helpful staff and complementary breakfast: very basic (juices, tea, coffee, pastries - very good pastries), but good. The transfer from the hotel to the port was something we didn't expect. The bus driver had to pick up 8 more people besides us and all of us were staying at different hotels all over Rome and leaving on different ships. My understanding was if the transfer is included it means the transfer from the hotel door to the pier. However, the transfer mini-van dropped all of us with our luggage in the middle of the port and we had to drag the suitcases to the bus shuttle stop. The embarkation Not sure if we arrived at the bad time or good time, but seems like the long lines were everywhere: to get and to sign the "Health Form" and to check in. Check in lines moved much faster though because they categorized them by the Captain Club membership and stateroom categories. However, they merged all these lines into one long line for Italian and Israeli immigration check. Bottom line: it was the most disorganized and noisy embarkation in my experience. The ship The ship is absolutely beautiful! Since our booking was done at the last minute we had a GTY veranda and got a wheelchair accessible room. The room, the bathroom and balcony were huge and very well designed. We had plenty of room for storage and enjoy our space a lot! I personally think it's not fair to judge and to rate a brand-new ship. Of course, it will be clean and nice and comfortable and shiny and loaded with all new IT or design features. The staff The staff was excellent: very helpful and friendly. However, the MDR staff I think was a little bit overwhelmed. Our waiter was nice but constantly rushing. He was running from person to person with the questions "How is your fish? How is your steak? How is your chicken?" without even listening to our comments! Appetizers, soup and salad were served promptly, but we had to sit and wait for the entree for 45-50 minutes. The food It was very good during breakfast at the Oceanvew Cafe and even excellent at Aqua Spa Cafe. Lunch was good as well - lots of choices and quality of food was very good. However, food at MDR during dinners was not just hit-and-miss, but in most cases it was very disappointing. Very rarely we enjoyed our meal, and very often the whole menu was very disappointing. Lobster was horrible, frog legs tested like KFC, steak was from the cow that died at the age of 87. The biggest disappointment was dinner at a specialty restaurant Qzine. They use iPods for their menu to impress the guests, but they should work on the food quality instead. Food was either blah or salty. Steak was tough. Even cheese cake didn't taste like cheese cake. We wanted to order wine which I liked and it was on the menu. But it happened so that they were out of it. Then I asked for another wine which wasn't on Wine Menu in Qzine, but I knew it was on Wine List in the MDR. 10 minutes later the sommelier informed us that they were out of this wine as well. Then they tried to push some wine I didn't even want to drink (leave alone paying for it). But the "Sea Day Brunch" was the best I ever had on a cruise! The food choices, the presentation and the quality of food were just great! Even the service was outstanding considering the number of hungry people trying to get food at the same time. The entertainment Unfortunately, we haven't seen a single evening show. The cruise was so port intense and busy and we were so tired at the end of every day. So I can't comment on this one. Excursions Rome: For one full day we booked a private tour with RomeInLimo. And it was the best decision on our side. They were very prompt in correspondence and the service was fantastic!!! Our driver/guide for the day was Stephan. He was very knowledgeable and helpful. In one day we managed to see what we wouldn't be able to see in 5 days on our own. He took us to the sights that were not even included into the itinerary. When we were visiting churches or museums and the parking wasn't allowed near by Stephan was giving us his backup cell phone in order to notify him when we were done with the tour and in 3 minutes the car was near the church or museum to pick us up. We had a problem with lost luggage on the firs day of our trip and had to spend a few extra hours at the airport. As a result we missed pre-booked and prepaid tour at the Coliseum. Stephen was able to arrange a tour for us without additional pay on that evening!!! When we mentioned that we needed to get a few cases of water for our cruise he offered to buy it for us while we were on a tour at the Coliseum and to deliver it to our hotel! What a service!!!! I will absolutely use the service of this company again if we are back to Rome! Israel: We booked tours with Moti Bar Tuv company for all 4 days in Israel. I can say only wonderful things about Moti and his business. He was very prompt and flexible. All tours were well organized. I wanted to include or to modify some tours based on our interests and desires and Moti was very understanding and tried to accommodate all our requests. Our guides Tal and Daphna were amazing! We managed to see and to learn a lot. I even had to add some shopping detour. We stayed 2 days in Haifa and 2 days in Ashdod. On the first day in Haifa we visited Caesarea, Jaffa and Tel-Aviv. On the second day we saw Nazareth, Capernaum, the Galilee, the Jordan River and the Mount of Beatitudes. From Ashdod we had a tour to Jerusalem and Bethlehem. And on the second day we visited Masada and the Dead sea. Our plan was very ambitious and aggressive, but still we enjoyed all 4 days, were very satisfied and our experience was wonderful! Turkey - Kusadasi. We booked a completely private tour just for 2 of us with www.ephesus-turkey.com. I would like to point at a few things that were promised in the offer, paid for but never provided. We booked a full day tour that included: the visit of Ephesus with Terrace Houses , Temple of Artemis, House of Virgin Mary, Church of St. John and some shopping facilities (such as jewelry, clothes...). All the entrance fees, an exclusively private air-conditioned VIP van providing cold water for your party, Turkish village style lunch (4 different daily vegetable starter plates, salad, grilled beef meatballs and chicken served with Turkish rice and daily fruits),cold water and exclusively private English speaking lecturer guidance for your party are included in the above rate. The first negative thing: the tour guide was late! We had to wait for 30 minutes at the port entrance for her hoping that she would show up and would make up this time at the end. As a matter of fact there was another couple from the ship who booked a private tour with the same company and their guide was late as well. I guess it's just the way they run their business. Our guide was a certified archeologists and she knew a lot about Ephesus and its excavations. We really enjoyed the tour, but the visit of Terrace Houses was skipped! It was clearly stated in the contract that our tour should be 6 hours. However, it ended up in 3 hours after a stop at the leather factory. We were not planning on buying anything - it was just a pure curiosity and explained clearly on our side. Obviously, the visit of any shopping facilities in Turkey means you have to buy something. To make this long story short it got very tense and uncomfortable in our car after we left the leather factory. It got to the point that we had to cancel our lunch, dismiss the guide and turn our 6-hour tour into 3-hour excursion. Greece - Mykonos. We didn't book any tours and decided to explore the place on our own. Mykonos is so beautiful! We took the first shuttle bus to the town ($7 per person round trip) and wondered around the town while it wasn't crowed yet. Plenty of opportunities for pictures! The place has its Greek character, so clean and has lots of beautiful views! Naples: We booked a private tour for 6 people with www.tourofitaly.com (Giovanni & Giancarlo (son) Giovanni. Honestly, it was the worst tour I've ever had! EVER! They promised a lot but in reality the whole tour was a big failure and there was nothing positive about it. The tour didn't have that "personal" touch they were talking about. Our guide Giancarlo was just a driver, very mute, with zero communication skills and he was constantly isolating himself from the group, avoiding conversations and being very brief in his answers. We were promised plenty of opportunities to stop at the most beautiful sights to take pictures, but during the ride along Amalfi Coast (which IS really beautiful) the driver slowed down twice for 2 seconds and only person sitting up-front was able to take pictures. We received no information about the history and the culture of the region. The first and the last sentence we heard from our guide was "Welcome to Naples!". Pompeii tour is a whole new story. They offered us a tour with a trained historian for 2 hours in Pompeii. The cost was 100 EURO for the whole group + the cost of tickets. Based on 2 hours of the tour our guide Antonio looked like knowledgeable guide. However, he was constantly timing us and himself. He was on the clock and there was nothing personal and private about this tour. Seven years ago I took Pompeii tour with Costa Fortuna cruise ship. I saw and learned more with a group of 50 people than on September 14 with a group of 6. The guide was circling around the same area and we saw only 1/3 of what I saw 7 year ago. I expressed my opinion to the group so they were aware of what they paid for and what they missed. The ride up to Mount Vesuvio was included into our tour - the guide forgot about it!!! One more and a very disappointing stop of our tour was visit a Farm where they make Mozzarella cheese and Olive oil and to have an organic lunch there. While the lunch was overpriced and the location wasn't private (there were 3 other big groups having a tour and a lunch there), we ran into one more issue: a charge for a tour we didn't expect. So it added more to the cost of this very cripple tour. We all were looking forward to that last day of our cruise as the most beautiful ending of the voyage. It turned out to be a complete disappointment for all of us. We could hire a taxi and get better service from a stranger than from a company being in business for so many years. I just want to make sure other potential guests are aware of the service and business they provide. Disembarkation: We were out in 4 minutes. We had a transportation arranged through Online Vacation Center and this time it worked just fine. Summary: In general the cruise was fantastic! We didn't experience any problems with misbehaved kids and didn't see any issues round the pool as it was reported in the reviews dated in August. Celebrity was and still is my favorite cruise line. Will we sail with Celebrity again? Absolutely! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
As a little background, we are a couple in our 40s with three children and we live in the mid-Atlantic. We also brought along grandma, who is 70 years young. We have been on all four Solstice class ships, and are seasoned cruisers. ... Read More
As a little background, we are a couple in our 40s with three children and we live in the mid-Atlantic. We also brought along grandma, who is 70 years young. We have been on all four Solstice class ships, and are seasoned cruisers. We ventured onto the Celebrity Silhouette after spending three and a half days in Rome; and had a lovely time visiting all the sites, with the highlight of our pre-cruise trip being Chef Fabio's Cooking Day in Rome. We stayed at the InterContinental Hotel de la Ville - a perfect location, adjacent to the Spanish steps. For our transfer, we used Rome Cabs from the airport to our hotel and had a private driver take us on a half day of sightseeing and then to the port of Civitavecchia. We arrived at the port a little after 1 pm and were on the ship 45 minutes later. We went straight to our cabins, freshened up and enjoyed a lunch at the Oceanview Cafe. The Silhouette felt like coming home for us. We had been on the Eclipse last summer during our Baltic cruise and the ships are nearly identical: from the magnificent design and layout to the same cruise director, many of the same featured entertainers on board, and some of the friendly staff that were on our previous sailings. The only changes we saw between the Silhouette and previous ships were the color scheme and the substitution of the Corning Glass Museum for the Lawn Club grill. Speaking of the grill, we ate there twice during the cruise. The kids loved the make-your-own flatbread and the staff was the best we have ever experienced on a ship. It was an outstanding meal. We also enjoyed Tuscan Grille and Qsine, which we had dined in previously on our last two trips on the Eclipse and Equinox. We do miss Silk Harvest and hope Celebrity considers putting it back in future ships. We chose select dining the rest of the trip and found the food good but not great. We rarely had to wait for our private table for six except the few nights when we arrived after eight. The brunch was by far the best part of the non-specialty meals. Additionally, the chicken soup ordered for room service was delicious. Since we have a six, 10 and 13 year old, our kids participated in three of the five kids club groups. They met some fabulous friends and rarely wanted to join us for dinner or evening performances as they preferred to hang out at the kids club. Most of the friends they met were from the United Kingdom or the United States. The staff was always engaging and knew all of our kids' names by the second day of our trip. In all, our kids felt this was one of the best kids club experiences they had ever had on any cruise. We chose the exact same cabins we had previously on Equinox, which again helped make the trip comfortable immediately. We had two connecting balconies, which connect both on the balcony and through a small hallway in the front of the room. We found the bathroom space a little tight, but we made do with what we had. We did not take part in any of the Celebrity excursions and instead we used cruisecritic and tripadvisor reviews as a great source for private tours. Also, since there were six of us, it was easy to book an entire van, and have a comfortable non-crowded tour of some of the most amazing places in the world. The following is a recap of our experience in Santorini, Ephesus, Jerusalem, Haifa, Athens and the Amalfi coast. Santorini My husband and I have been to Santorini before and we decided to book a private tour for our family with Ocean Wave Tours. Dimitris was originally suppose to meet us in Fira, but we were delayed by high winds and the tendering process for two hours, and instead his German wife, Patricia, waited patiently for us at the top of the cable car station. Celebrity's continued rudimentary approach to the tendering process created unnecessary delays - it remains a shame that a cruise line with such creativity cannot evolve a better solution to its old-school tender process. Patricia waited for us and showed us a nice time in Santorini. First, she drove us to Oia, and described the highlights of each village. In Oia, we stopped in a fast food shop for some surprisingly delicious gyros and then hit the black sand beach, and then back to the ship in plenty of time. I would recommend Ocean Wave Tours for larger groups. As for a smaller group, the area can easily be done on one's own, as my husband and I did previously. Ephesus We have also done Ephesus before, but grandma had never been, so she shared a tour with some folks on the cruise critic board. Although exhausted from the all day tour and the oppressive heat, she had a good time and met some nice fellow cruisers. Jerusalem As I mentioned, we are experienced cruisers, who have done nearly 60 excursions. Some have been over the top great, most good, and a few very poor. Guided Tours Israel would fall into the last category. Zamir, our guide seemed like a nice individual, but someone missing the basics of providing a professional tour. Yes, he could tell you the plants with the white stuff on top were cotton, and trees were almond, avocado or orange and some basic stories from ancient history, but he generally waited until we had questions to point anything out. Most of the time, he was listening to the Israeli news station on the radio or taking calls, which he always put on speakerphone as he and the party conversed in Hebrew. Ironically, although he was taking many calls, he refused to provide me with his cell phone number. For obvious logistical and for potentially unexpected situations, having the guide's cell number, even if never used, is something I consider basic protocol. Even if his phone blocked international calls, not giving your clients your cell phone number is an odd decision for someone whose clients only have international lines. As our travels continued, it was also clear that our guide had a touring agenda. We had expressed a preference for certain places and sites. No matter, we were seeing sites he wanted to take us to -- even when we affirmatively identified a disinterest in the place. When we got to our preferred attractions, it appears that such was no more than a coincidence with his agenda. For example, we expressed a desire to ride a camel and he said he knew of no place where we could find a camel. However, when we stopped at one of Zamir's designated sites, a gentleman was offering camel rides. We spoke to the gentleman and rode his camel - an individual that Zamir says has been offering such rides in that location for more than a dozen years. At times, we felt hostage to this driver and his own personal plan. Day 3 in Haifa was the worst. The day prior and at the start of day three, we expressed a desire to go to the beach, even if it was for a short time. He told us that the kids would better like Rosh Hanikra grottos, where a cable car takes visitors to see grottos formed by the sea. Therefore, he took us there, despite a continued press for time at the beach. The cable car ride experience: 1 hour drive there, 45 minutes in line outdoors in the heat with some shade produced a grand total of 75 seconds in the cable car, and the grottos themselves are interesting, but nothing worth spending a half day getting to for a short time of exploration. There was no plan B. We had scheduled these days way in advance. At that moment, we tried to look for the positive and conclude that the driver was having an off day. The final insult was the repeated denial of our request to go to a grocery store. The driver continued to identify that he did not know where one was, despite our passing some on main roads. At the very end of our tour, he took us to some trashed out bodega a few blocks from the ship -- and when the bodega did not have what we needed, our guide was out of solutions. Therefore, we asked to return to the ship, a few hours before our time was to expire, paying him for the unused time. Toward the end, the guide kept hounding us to send an email to his bosses letting them know what a great job he was doing. He wanted us to do it from his van on our smart phone - an interesting request from a guide who never gave us his cell phone number. In sum, this may be one of the worst excursions we have ever taken, and certainly the most expensive bad excursion we have ever taken. Athens Our tour guide in Athens, Paul Kalomiris, was a sharp contrast to our horrible experience in Israel. We booked a half-day Athens tour. Paul picked us up in his large air-conditioned van and was extremely friendly and accommodating to our requests. He dropped us off at the Parthenon, armed with refrigerated water from Paul's cooler, and we spent about an hour touring the monuments. He then drove us around the city pointing out various sites and dropped us just before noon at the changing of the guards. He picked us up 15 minutes later and we headed to a locals restaurant with delicious Greek specialties. After lunch, we stopped and walked around La Plaka, bought a few trinkets, then asked Paul if he knew of a good bakery. Paul took us to a recently opened bakery named Konstandinidis that was magnificent. It almost reminded me of the ship. There was a pianist playing music in this beautifully decorated bakery with shelves filled with baklava, almond cookies, cakes and an assortment of delicious treats. We bought a few items and then Paul took us back to the ship. My husband and I had been to Athens before, so we had a good understanding of what the larger group would be able to achieve, and Paul helped make this happen. Naples/Capri Unfortunately, this was another sub-par tour experience. We chose tourofitaly as our tour guide, a father/son tour group. We wound up with the father, Giovanni, instead of the son, Giancarlo, with whom I had been trading emails with when planning this trip - bait and switch. At first, we thought, Giovanni's cranky personality was humorous and playful, but as the trip wore on, we found out that his abrasive manner was not playful, but rather hostile and unrefined. For example, he kept inviting the women of our group to sit in front, and then promised not to touch them. The first time he said this, it seemed playful, the second, third, and fourth time, it was simply creepy. Giovanni's driving was as enjoyable as the man himself was. His driving was beyond even the acceptability of the local driving style -- all three complained of motion sickness during the ride, and al three kids threw up due to motion sickness at different times during his ride. As expected, Cranky Giovanni went nuts -- I will not provide detail into the carsick events, but the kids gave plenty of indication of the motion sickness they were experiencing. We ended this one early too. My husband and I had shared a tour (via cruisecritic) a few years prior and had a lovely time. Unfortunately, that company was not available. On a good note, the Amalfi Coast is still one of the most beautiful places on the planet. In all, we had a great time on the Celebrity Silhouette. We met interesting people, enjoyed many fine meals, and saw lovely sites. The large stage shows were impressive, the smaller shows felt like watching America's Got Talent. Even though the ship was crowded on sea days and it was difficult finding available pool lounges, we often found a good place in this gorgeous ship to lounge and take in the views. We will definitely be back on Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Our primary reason for booking this trip was the itinerary and it did not fail us. It hit all the places we hoped to see someday all in one trip. While you really can't see a country in one day, you can get a feel for it and the ... Read More
Our primary reason for booking this trip was the itinerary and it did not fail us. It hit all the places we hoped to see someday all in one trip. While you really can't see a country in one day, you can get a feel for it and the desire to return to see more, which is what we hope to do. We absolutely loved their itinerary. For us, it made up for the food in the dining area. The second reason for booking this trip was that the price was very good, about half the going rate at the time of booking. I know a lot of others on the ship must have done this for the same reason. I was told by someone on the ship that they usually cater to Europeans and that there were a lot of Americans on that cruise. The ship itself was beautiful and clean. Our room was wonderful, probably about 20 or 25% bigger than other balcony rooms that we've had on other cruise lines. The man who took care of our room was extremely helpful. I think there's a few things they could do to make the ship 'better', by maybe redoing some of the things they have. It would be great if they had another specialty restaurant on the ship. How about a seriously Italian restaurant? And please, boot up the entertainment. There's a 'disco' room that I saw consistently empty. How about a small theater (like maybe use the lame disco room) with large screen and do really recent movies for a fee? How about doing a wine tasting room, come in and do a 'tour of Italy' (or a tour of France, etc.) wine tasting for a price? I think that would be a good money maker. LOVE their chocolate bar! It was the only spot on the ship to get decent hot chocolate. Wish they would start serving that yummy hot chocolate before 9. My husband's favorite was Rick's bar. Very attentive and stocked. Here's the bad. The food in the dining rooms is not up to what we've had on other cruise line dining rooms. Not even close. We were told that it's because we're American and are not used to what Europeans eat. This is what the young woman from Costa told us when we were all given the review sheets to fill out. I found that comment to be very condescending. We can't figure out what they eat in Rome? We've been to Rome and loved their restaurants and the ship dining rooms don't hold a candle to that. Dining room staff also seem to not remember requests or maybe they didn't always understand them, not sure. If you got there 15 minutes before they are scheduled to shut down, they don't hide trying to rush you. We had also heard that Costa had cut crew (this was obvious in the dining rooms), plus they had deleted the chefs that did the sauces and the salads. Not sure if THAT was true, but the salads (and choices of dressings, salad add-on's) were pretty sad. IF this was true, it was a bad choice. A hash cook cannot compete with a saucier. Costa Pacifica has two specialty restaurants, Blue Moon and Samsara. Samsara is supposed to be ONLY for the Samsara Spa guests (not sure if that is a big money maker for them. Why not just do a 'spa package' separately like their drink packages?). However, it is possible to eat at the Samsara Restaurant and pay the $20 extra without being a Samsara guest. Wow, what snobs in there. Definitely got the whole, 'And what are YOU doing in here?' vibe when we had dinner in there, so we didn't return. Blue Moon was wonderful. And the maitre d', Samuel, had a lot of class without being a snob. He made sure everything was fine; his customer service skills are excellent. After being told by someone that we should try dinner at the dining rooms because the formal nights food would be better, and found that they were only barely better, we spent most of our dinners at the Blue Moon. They use 'molecular cooking' to make fresh ice cream on the spot within just a few minutes. That was always fun to watch and tasty to eat. Again, $20 extra per person and well worth the expense. (A caveat: meat tended to be overcooked; please consider only ordering medium rare to rare) The rack of lamb (just a half-rack) was my favorite. The buffets were acceptable and we ended up eating our day food there instead of the dining rooms. The only downside is that the buffet has hours of serving, not like other cruise lines who basically have no hours on their buffets. The excursions were fine and competent, if not spendy; but the truth is that excursions are ALWAYS spendy on cruises. This is a way for them to make up money that they didn't receive by getting people to book with lower rates. I get that. Overall, a good cruise, a great ship, and fantastic choices for ports of call. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
This was our second cruise with Seabourn, the first being the larger Odyssey. Unfortunately our arrival was something of a disaster. We had to unload our luggage at the port gate and drag it to the ship, which was not visible from where we ... Read More
This was our second cruise with Seabourn, the first being the larger Odyssey. Unfortunately our arrival was something of a disaster. We had to unload our luggage at the port gate and drag it to the ship, which was not visible from where we were, nor were there any direction signs. Fortunately we met three members of crew and asked if they would help. On board we were efficiently issued with our boarding passes and found our way to the cabin. It was clean but there was no indication that they were expecting new passengers. The bar was not stocked, no welcoming champagne, fruit, choice of soap in the bathroom. etc etc. This was mentioned in a questionnaire we were asked to complete a few days later - no explanation nor apology was forthcoming. A bad start. After the first day, things improved. The bar staff quickly learned what we preferred to drink. The staff are very friendly without being over familiar. The suite was up to the usual Seabourn standard. However the 'balcony' is really an opening window, being only about 12 - 18" deep. The bathroom was good although the shower is in a rather peculiar position being placed at the side of the bath rather than at the end. We arranged two trips with the ship - the first to Cairo to see the Pyramids and the Sphinx and the second to see Petra in Jordan. Both were good. On our return from one of the trips the staff were waiting with 'welcome home' signs, champagne and canapes, complete with the band. Lovely. One underused place was the front of deck 5 where there is a whirlpool and loungers, complete with case of soft drinks on ice. Lovely to have a quiet read or snooze. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
We decided to go to Venice and Florence for a pre-cruise vacation prior to embarkation. Venice was as magical as we remembered and our stay at the Locanda Orseolo was perfect. This was our second stay, and the owners and staff are the ... Read More
We decided to go to Venice and Florence for a pre-cruise vacation prior to embarkation. Venice was as magical as we remembered and our stay at the Locanda Orseolo was perfect. This was our second stay, and the owners and staff are the consummate hosts. The hotel is in a great location being in a quiet area right off of St. Marks Square. Florence was a nice stay at the Hotel David. The hotel is a very good value, extremely clean with lots of hospitality touches. The location is a little off the beaten path. It was fine for us because we are avid walkers, but it might not be for those with mobility issues. The train ride from Florence to Civitavecchia was easy. Upon arrival in Civitavecchia we caught a cab to the port. Embarkation was smooth. There was a separate line for guests in Aqua Class, but it seemed that all lines moved efficiently. We were a bit concerned about having to check our passports with the ship, probably more out of fear that we would lose our claim checks than of the ship losing our passports. We always travel with multiple copies of our passports, so in the event we would have to get replacements it might help. Since our itinerary included stops in Egypt and Israel, we understood the reasons for the passport collections. Our first impression of Equinox was WOW! The ship is stunning;every attention to detail was made. The ship is sleek, modern, sophisticated and has an understated elegance. The centerpiece of the atrium is a huge tree suspended in a gorgeous colorful crystal planter. It combines art and nature and it made me smile every time I rode the glass elevators and read the signage "Here Comes the Sun". We were so happy we booked in Aqua Class. We enjoyed the private access to the spa and the Persian Gardens were wonderful. The little perks (daily bottled water, fruit, flavored teas) were nice, but the best part to us was dining in Blu. We absolutely loved it. The cuisine was a bit lighter than what is typically served in main dining rooms. The fish entrees were divine and the intimate setting had us hooked. It was evident that the staff worked as a team, but kudos to Gusti and Artur who were generally our head waiter and assistant. They were exceptional and made our dining experience outstanding. We had one little hiccup with the sommelier, but it was quickly and courteously corrected. The ambiance in Blu is beautiful and we looked forward every evening to eating there. Our cabin was extremely comfortable. The bathroom was spacious and felt full size. The vessel sink, glass tiles, fantastic shower all gave it a "spa" feel. We also liked the fact that the automatic fan kept the mirror and glass shower from fogging which added to the spacious feel. The bed was great and the linens are of high quality. Our cabin stewardess Elvie worked very hard to make sure everything was perfect in our cabin. She was delightful to talk to and made us feel like we were coming home every time we saw her in the hall or near our cabin. Some of our favorite spots on Equinox were Bistro on 5, we ate lunch there multiple times and loved the Parisian crepe for dessert. My husband, who has a sweet tooth also enjoyed the desserts at the Cafe Al Bacio along with a specialty coffee. The cruise director, Drew Pavlov was the best one we have had on all of our cruises. He was funny, articulate, and informative. We enjoyed his MC'ing, his silly nightly jokes and the late night game "Liar's Club". We also enjoyed the battle of the chefs. I got to be a "Celebrity" judge which was a lot of fun. The entertainment on the ship was mostly hits with a few misses. The West End show singer was very good, as was the violinist. The stage shows were average, and the comedienne was not very funny. The Cirque de Soleil show looked to be spectacular, however the theater was packed and even though we arrived a few minutes before the late show started we ended up having to stand and really could not see much. My suggestion would be to have reservations, or some type of ticketing like RCL does for their ice shows. We attended the hot glass show and it was very interesting. I wish the glass items could be sold but understand that it is a non-profit. We can not say enough great things about Equinox. The staff was unbelievable, friendly, polite, hard working and attentive. The ship is beautiful, and pristine. We will definitely be back for future vacations. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
DINING:The food was absolutely amazing. Due to the itinerary of this trip, I could not eat some meals in the dining room as I had early sitting. We had a table of 8 fixed early and our table companions were fabulous. We got along great. ... Read More
DINING:The food was absolutely amazing. Due to the itinerary of this trip, I could not eat some meals in the dining room as I had early sitting. We had a table of 8 fixed early and our table companions were fabulous. We got along great. All different ages and from Canada, East Coast US, West Coast US and the Southern US. We would be still sitting there when they were getting ready for the next sitting.Now the food - the menu was quite extensive with something different every night of the 14 day cruise. They also had some items the same for those that were not as daring to try different types of food. The cold soups were the best I have ever tasted anywhere. Due to the itinerary, we only ate breakfast in the dining room twice and the lido a couple of times. Most times we ordered room service for breakfast so we could be getting ready. The room service came on-time every day except one and the food was great.I did not try the Pinnacle Grill as the other food choices were substantial. The chocolate chip cookies are to die for!!!!!CABINS:Our cabin was an SS cabin and was an upgrade. It was fabulous. We had a two section bathroom (toilet and sink in one section & bathtub and sink in the other section). This was great. We had a nice walk-in closet. Beds were very comfortable. Fresh fruit delivered daily (per our request at no ENTERTAINMENT:The shows were typical Vegas type shows but were well done. The crew show was well worth watching. Some very talented people here. The cruise director and DJ worked at keeping everyone involved. SPA & FITNESS:I did not use the pool or gym as I found there was little time. I did have a massage on my last of 4 back to back long shore days and it was great."Elegant Explorer" Prinsendam was great. The size off the ship meant you met many people and it was great. As I am in my early 40's, I did find that most of the people on the ship were older but I still had a great time and would travel on the Prinsendam again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
We selected Azamara based on the recommendation of our T/A. We have sailed HAL numerous times, and Princess cruises once. The Azamara Journey was presented as a 'boutique' cruise line, similar to Oceana Cruise Lines. ... Read More
We selected Azamara based on the recommendation of our T/A. We have sailed HAL numerous times, and Princess cruises once. The Azamara Journey was presented as a 'boutique' cruise line, similar to Oceana Cruise Lines. Here's the down and dirty: Cruise ship was great; small and intimate. Very well maintained. Ports were fabulous! Holy Lands were a once in a lifetime experience. A must see for everyone... Staff was very courteous and gracious. Food was generally excellent. The main restaurant as well as the two 'special' restaurants were VERY GOOD. We did not care for the food in the buffet area. Quality in the buffet area was generally lacking. Coffee was uniformly AWFUL. Azamara really needs to pay attention to this detail. Entertainment: Orchestra was very good. Very! Singers/Dancers..well, they did what they could. Some of them were rather long of tooth and appeared to be arthritic.. While the entertainment was not great, it was passable. Cost: very competitive. We feel it was a very good value. Shore excursions: Staff was very helpful. Prices were somewhat high IMHO. Would we go again: Perhaps...maybe...probably.. DW and I do not think that Azamara is quite as good as Holland America. HAL's food is consistently superior, in the buffet section as well as their main restaurants. Staff on HAL were much more 'personable'. We noted that while the staff on Azamara was very good and courteous, they were not as warm or friendly as the HAL staff. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Most of the passengers that we spoke with, like ourselves, chose this cruise based on the outstanding itinerary - Rome-Naples-Alexandria-Port Said-Ashdod-Haifa-Ephesus-Patmos-Santorini-Athens. We could not fault the itinerary - where else ... Read More
Most of the passengers that we spoke with, like ourselves, chose this cruise based on the outstanding itinerary - Rome-Naples-Alexandria-Port Said-Ashdod-Haifa-Ephesus-Patmos-Santorini-Athens. We could not fault the itinerary - where else can you take in the ancient civilizations of Rome, Egypt,the Holy Land, Turkey and Greece all in one trip. We spent the 3 days prior to the cruise touring on our own in Venice and Rome using the rail system for transportation between cities and the metro for transportation Rome. We also used the railway for our transfer to the port. The port is a short walk from the railway station however there were no taxis to be found. Not a major problem unless you have lots of luggage. Once you reach the port (about 1000 yards) there is a shuttle bus to the ship. Embarkation went smoothly. We arrived about midway through the allotted time and walked straight up to the desk and were onboard within 10 minutes. We were greeted by a staff member on arrival and given directions to our cabin. We were not escorted to our cabin as we have been on some other lines. Cabin was as expected however proved to be very noisy. This particular cabin has a door to the adjoining cabin. Not sure if this was the problem but it was almost like being in the same room as our relatives who were in the adjoining cabin. Note to self - no more connecting cabins! Food onboard was average to good. I have had better on Princess in the past. The menu was not as rich as on past voyages on larger ships. We did try the Sabatinis Italian and it was up to the usual high standards and was surprisingly almost empty. We did not try the Steakhouse. Royal Princess is not your typical Princess ship. She is considerably smaller (around 670 passengers) and hails from the Renaissance Cruise lines R series of ships of which Princess has 3 (Royal and Tahitian being the other 2 with Tahitian being renamed Ocean in 2009). The ship is small and intimate with almost no lines other than for tenders. This also translates into not a lot to do when on sea days unless you like bingo, trivia etc. In fairness we had not so great weather (rather cold) so that pretty much eliminated any poolside activities or use in general. Entertainment was average at best. Due to small size, there is no Theater but rather a cabaret lounge. Entertainment troupe was very small (8 members). They were very good but you get tired of the same faces! Orchestra is a quartet who were also very good. Not much opportunity for dancing (ballroom). We did check out the disco a couple of nights. Music left a lot to be desired, I think in part as the DJ was not western (probably Filipino) and did not seem to be in touch with western tastes. We left the village people etc in the 70s. Not what we want to listen to today. They did cater to requests which my wife kept them busy with! Other entertainers were mixed in quality. Ports of call Naples: we took the ships excursion to Pompeii which was very good other than the rain!. Note that this as is common with most excursions on this voyage has a lot of walking over uneven surfaces and a lot of stairs and small hills. Not handicap friendly at all. This was not a problem for my wife and I but grandma had some trouble with this but did very well overall. Be careful to check this out before spending a lot of $$ on these excursions. Alexandria: we organized our own excursion with www.temotours.com and were delighted. We did an overnight to cairo including hotel for under $300 per person, rejoining the ship the next day in Port Said. Good thing because there were no excursions offered in Port Said by Princess and those who did not book overnights were very disappointed in Port Said. We saw the Pyramids, Sphinx, Step Pyramid Mohammed Ali mosque, light show, Egyptian Museum, bazaar and had a Nile dinner cruise. All went well. Don't be alarmed at the armed police escort that joins the convoy of buses part way on the trip to Port Said. This is normal. Ashodod: we took the Princess Grand Overland excursion and stayed overnight in Jerusalem. We entered the West Bank uneventfully to visit Jerusalem and also took in all of the major Holy Land sites in Jerusalem, Galilee and Nazareth, returning to the ship in Haifa. Ephesus: we did the Best of Ephesus excursion through Princess which was very good although very similar to Pompeii. Patmos: we did the Best of Patmos excursion which was good but probably not worth the money as there is really not much to see. Santorini: we passed on the organized excursions and spent the day wandering in the quaint villages. We took a cab up to Oia where the views are magnificent. Athens: we booked with Georges Taxis for transfers and an 8 hour tour by taxi. Service was excellent and we were able to see all that we wanted in one day. We stayed two days in Athens but could have seen what we wanted to in one. All in all a vacation to remember and one that we would highly recommend. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008

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