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  1. We are sailing on Odyssey of the Sea for a 7 night Greek Isle cruise out of Rome in July and I am thinking of doing Oia on your own or Fira on your own. The Fira on your own starts at 4:30 and I don't want to start that late. Oia starts at 1:30. I am not sure what time we arrive or leave port that day. I will be traveling with a 13, and 16 year old, my husband, and my 78 year old mother. So we have a variety of interests, but we are all capable of walking (maybe not the whole path between the towns). Any suggestions on which would be better or if we should do one on our own? Thank you
  2. I toured with another cruise line but booked tours on my own and we had an amazing time! Athens There is a 30€ package available that bundles several ruins/historical sites together and is of great value. Seeing the Acropolis alone is 20€ so for 10 extra bucks you can see 6 additional sites. We were able to see the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Acropolis and slopes, Ancient Agora and Hadrian's Library in the span of 4 hours or so. Once you are in Plaka, all of the sites are easily walkable. The Uber from the port of Piraeus to this part of Athens was around 15€ and took about 10-15 min. I recommend visiting the Acropolis right at 8am when it opens to miss the heat of the day and the majority of the crowds. As we were descending at 9am, the crush of people just entering was crazy! For restaurants, I recommend the Anafiótika Cafe Restaurant on the stairs (has a Cycladic feeling in the big city) and Strofi Athenian Restaurant (amazing Acropolis view). Also be sure to try souvlaki (kebab style) or gyros meat (shaved) from any of the hole-in-the-wall type spots, the meat was amazingly tender and tastier than any of the major restaurants we tried it at. Thessaloniki We did the hop-on hop off bus tour that circles the city and hits a bunch of important sights. The White Tower, Gallerius Arch, the Rotunda, the remaining city walls to name a few. The waterfront is easily walkable from the port and leads you straight to the White Tower. Departing from under the tower are a couple floating bar cruises I definitely recommend. They cruise the harbor in 30 min intervals and the only ticket price is buying a drink! (4€ without consumption). We took the Klio cruise bar and had a great ride. Kusadasi (Turkey) We toured Ephesus via the cruise line but I know Royal does the same as I saw RCCL lanyards/Whisper ear pieces on a ton of guests. I definitely recommend a hat and/or SPF umbrella to protect you from the unrelenting heat! There is no shade to be found at the ruins. (Thanks to @FionaMG for this idea!) Also, if you're planning to buy a guide book, buy it at the starting point on top of the ruins. Once you get to the bottom/exit and decide you want one, they are priced 5€ more than at the top! There are a couple nice seaside restaurants/bars walking distance from the port. Everything is priced pretty cheaply. Try an Efes beer, made in Turkey and my favorite of all the Greek beers we tried. Rhodes In Rhodes we toured the old town and the Citadel of Knights on our own and took a walking tour of Lindos and the Acropolis through GetYourGuide. The old town is easily walkable from the port and has lots of shops and restaurants. There is also a small beach right by the port and a nicer beach about a 20 min walk away. Lindos is about a 50 minute ride from port but the Acropolis view was worth it! You have to walk up about 300 steps from the town and maneuver along a winding path with no handrails. Heraklion (Crete) We toured the city on our own since we had a short stop from 7am-12pm and skipped visiting Knossos. The city was about a 20 minute walk from port and was flat to the old port with the fortress and up a slight hill to see all the shops and the historical Bembo and Morosini Fountains. The city is heavily influenced by Venetian architecture. Santorini We took an excursion via the cruise line to Megalochori and Oia in order to be among the first tenders from the ship. On excursions you get a bus ride up the hill from the new port and return via pre-paid ticket on the cable car to the old port. Sunset in Oia was nice but the crush of people was unreal! I recommend finding a spot at a restaurant to escape the crowds during the prettiest part. Restaurants will ask you at the door if you intend to eat, SAY YES! Even if you just order an appetizer.. if you say you just want drinks they'll lead you straight to the back tables with no views. We ate at Thalassia and had a gorgeous view, tasty wine and sampled the Moussaka (eggplant lasagna) and Keftedes (meatballs), all was amazing. Mykonos This was my favorite port stop. Our cruise line provided a free shuttle from the dock at the new port to Chora old town (Odyssey guests got to use a sea bus instead, Brilliance guests tendered right to town) and it was super easy to walk around and see the alleys, Little Venice and the windmills. We also took a tour that included a stop at Kalafatis beach and in the small central town of Ano Mera, it was worth it to get to see the countryside and all the rounded off houses/tiny trees! Wind speeds can reach 70km/h so all the buildings and landscape reflect this. If your cruise departs late, I absolutely hands down recommend a reservation at 180º Sunset Bar on the hill above the old port. The views are spectacular and it makes the minimum spend pricing worth it. If you want to try and walk in (no minimum $), be there right at 6:30p when it opens to access a spot at the bar. The place gets jumping and we could hear the music even after walking all the way back to town (easy 5 min downhill stroll, we took a taxi uphill - 20€). Milos You can easily walk around the port town but the best views are found in the town of Plaka (Plaka Castle) at the top of the hill. We did a boat tour to the pirate sea caves in Kleftiko from Agia Kiriaki beach (Zephyros Milos Tours) and it was absolutely jaw dropping! They provide masks, snorkels and noodles and you get to swim through the caves. We also had another deep blue swim at a second location. The tour provides raki shots after! We also visited Sarakiniko beach on the north side of the island, the lava flows are stark white and feel like a moonscape, definitely instagram-worthy. Chania (Crete) We took several tours while staying at a beach resort in Kolymbari, all booked via Viator. The first was a boat tour to Balos beach and Gramvousa island. We were bussed from hotels to the port at Kissimos and took the Gramvousa ship to these 2 locations. The ship had food and drinks for sale and rented beach umbrellas (5€ rental + 5€ deposit) which were absolutely necessary at both beaches since there is no available shade. At Balos, the ship docks directly onto the rocks and you wade across the lagoon to access the beach side. The lagoon is less than a foot deep all the way across and was very warm, perfect for young kids. The beach side has a very rocky coral entry so I recommend water shoes or bringing a float to cross the area "croc-style." Gramvousa is also very rocky so don't plan to lie comfortably on the sand. There is a castle on the top of the hill at Gramvousa if you crave a hot uphill hike to get a beautiful view! Our second tour was a snorkel adventure with Chania Diving. We met the tour in Marathi beach (although they offered pickup) and walked easily to the dock for our boat. The tours are very small with no more than 10 guests for snorkeling or scuba excursions, offered at the same time on separate boats. We made two stops and got to see some pretty interesting stuff at both including some debris from a sister ship to Titanic that was shipwrecked in the early 1900s. The first stop had an interesting effect in the water where 3 freshwater springs poured into the sea creating a "blurry" effect in your mask and a flipped water temperature phenomenon that had the hot water trapped below a layer of cold fresh water. We also had goat onlookers on the cliffs surrounding us! This tour provided your equipment as well as wetsuits and the mask/snorkel was the best quality I've ever encountered on a tour. The third tour was from Georgioupolis Safari and had us riding automatic ATVs across the valley from the beach to the mountains and included an exhilarating amount of pouring rain on our ride back down. The tour provided rain jackets which were much appreciated, I believe it was also supposed to stop at an olive oil farm/factory but this was skipped due to the rain. I still loved this tour as the views were incredible and I liked riding through all the tiny hillside towns you'd never get to see in a car. Let me know if anyone wants links to the exact excursions we booked, I enjoyed all of them. Here are some pics because who doesn't like those? Athens Acropolis from MS Roof Garden bar Acropolis (Parthenon) from the site Thessaloniki White Tower (AKA Blood Tower because they used to chop off heads at the top and let the blood rain down the walls!) Klio Cruise bar in Thessaloniki Library of Celsus in Ephesus, Kusadasi, Turkey (There was a brothel next door so men would tell their wives they were "heading to the library" ) Citadel of the Knights in Rhodes old town View from the Acropolis of Lindos. Rhodes Oia, Santorini, looking back towards Fira Little Venice, Mykonos 180º Sunset Bar, Mykonos Sea caves in Kleftiko, Milos Balos Beach, Crete Gramvousa Island, Crete Elafonisi Beach, Crete Snorkel stop near Marathi Beach, Crete ATVing near Georgioupolis, Crete PS, last minute Athens hotel recommendation for Coco-Mat BC... it has a roof pool with stunning Acropolis views!
  3. My daughter is graduating high school so we booked a Greek Islands cruise on Jewel of the Seas, June 23 - June 30, 2019. This is our first time to Europe and my mother in law (who has never flown or been out of the Southeast US) is also going with us on this girls trip. What are the must sees and do's? We'd like a nice mix of historical sites, beaches and landscape sightseeing - without paying a fortune. At this rate, our flight may be more expensive than the cruise. ? Any other tips or tricks? Any must do's on the cruise ship? Thanks yall! 3
  4. Hi everyone, I'm a multiple time Royal Carribean (RCCL) cruiser here (we love RCCL) and I thought I'd share that I took my family of 7 (80 yr old in laws, wife and 3 teenagers) in July 2018 on a Mediterranean cruise with RCCL and it was a great cruise with only one problem that our three sleeping cabins got flooded one day at 4:00 am when a pipe burst in the hallway. However, RCCL gave us all a fair cruise credit for the inconvenience and overall we still had a great time. We drove from Portland Oregon to San Jose, CA flew to London England where we spent a couple days in London and then flew to Barcelona spent a couple days there then departed on RCCL ship and ours stops where Cannes, Florence, Rome, Athens, Mykonos, Santorini and Malta. RCCL ship and staff were fantastic with great customer service, nightly shows, tasty food and smooth sailing. Tip! In July much of the time and some of the places we toured it was hot in the 90s F (32c) and lots of walking in hot sun on marble tile so if you don't like hot weather go earlier in the year! We loved seeing all the history in the buildings and people we saw and met on this cruise. We think we could skip Malta Valletta as we didn't like it there as much as the other stops. I did make 12 vlogs of our entire trip if you are interested in seeing where we went and hearing more commentary. However, I don't know if it's allowed to post a link here to my Youtube channel so I'll just say you can go to Youtube search for RockstarBruski and click on the the cruise playlist, scroll down and look for the 2018 Europe Mediterranean family vacation vlog series of 12 videos. I included a pic of my whole family in front of the ship pose. So cheesy but so fun! Cheers and keep on cruising! ? RockstarBruski
  5. This is my first cruise and I have had a lot of advice to not book through the RC website and instead to explore on our own. However, there seems to be very limited information (or maybe just too hard for me to find) in regards to the ports, and how far the different sights to see are and where else you could book them through that are reliable. Does anyone have advice on these places of where to look for other options? Specifically if you have been to these ports and had good experiences with them. Or if we can just grab a cheap taxi and head to the local spots? We are young newlyweds and want to explore the local communities and eat local food and not just shop or sit around (unless it is on a beautiful beach :) ! Also, how/when would we be able to get our money converted so we can use it? Appreciate any advice as this is our first cruise outing and it is our honeymoon! Thanks, Jennifer
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