The cruise was wonderful for us!! The weather was good all the way, about 60-75F most of the time. This was the first time we’ve travelled on a smaller ship, about 670 passengers and 300 crew. Other times we’ve been on ships with 2000 – 3000 passengers and + 400 crew. It certainly wasn’t as hectic on the smaller ship as the larger ships. Getting on and off the ship at each stop was much easier and less crowded. The dining areas didn’t seem as crowded, nor the entertainment areas. At the same time, each of these areas was not as big either. There may not have been as many activities on this smaller ship as there would be on a larger ship either. Although I’m sure that’s a direct factor of size of the ship.
It’s tough to say which was our favorite port stop. Each had their own delights. I’d have to say Yalta was one of the better stops for us. It wasn’t a huge town and so wasn’t as busy. It was a beautiful setting with mountains in the back, forest nearby and the coast. The history of the Yalta Conference, WWII, Churchill, Stalin, Roosevelt getting together made history come alive a bit more. We didn’t see much of the city but got to see the palaces where each of these leaders stayed and met to make major decisions of WWII. I think the city may not have been as easy to walk around since it was a bit more hilly than other places. From our bus tour I didn’t see any central place with many shops for tourists. Maybe it was a different part of the city.
We enjoyed Istanbul, Santorini and Naples/Sorrento as port stops also, probably in that order but it’s a close call. The least favorite was Constanta, Romania. There was very little to see or do there. We did walk around the city but found it very dull. Admittedly it was a Sunday but we didn’t see very much available to see or do. This city also had the fewest possible excursions to offer. We heard several people on the ship wonder why the ship even stopped there. I think some people would have wanted to ship to forget about Constanta and spend an extra day in another port, such as Santorini, Naples or elsewhere.
There is one thing that our group found a bit perplexing. Our ship had left Santorini, Greece headed to Sorrento, Italy. We had a day at sea. That evening (the night before stopping at Sorrento) it rained about an hour and was windy. In the early morning (about 6 am) an announcement came from the Captain saying he felt the wind was too much to stop at Sorrento. We would have to take tender boats from the ship to the docks at Sorrento. As a result the Captain sailed a bit further to Naples where we parked along the dock area. We docked in naples about 8 am. The weather there was cloudy but certainly not too windy. We could see Sorrento from where we docked in Naples. What seemed puzzling to us was why the Captain bypassed Sorrento for Naples. We didn’t think it was that windy in Naples, nor did the water seem rough. The couple from England that was with us said this was their third trip in the Mediterranean where they were supposed to stop in Sorrento but went to Naples instead.
I will have to say that the Skip-the-Line tour of the Vatican Museum was well worth the money. The lines to get in were long (at 10 am) even though this was probably past the peak tourist season. Our guide was very good and got us in right away. it was a lot of walking and standing on hard floors though. Regardless it would have been a lot more time and a lot more standing if we didn’t have those Skip-the-Line tickets.
We enjoyed the three major cities, Athens, Istanbul and Rome!! Any one of those would be worth spending more time. This cruise gave us a taste of each one of them.
Both hotels, Fresh Hotel in Athens and Domus Romana in Rome were clean, quiet, safe and in a good area for us.
Thanks for your help!!
Brian and Barb K. & Charlie & Cecelia B.
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