Sail Dates: 10/17 /13– 11/04/13
Cruise: Eastern Mediterranean Cruise
Embarkation & Disembarkation Port: Rome
This was my first cruise with Celebrity, and I was very impressed. The cruise was round-trip Rome in the eastern Mediterranean, and although I had been to Italy a couple times this was my first time in Istanbul and on the Greek Islands Mykonos and Santorini. We really loved our hotel in Rome: The Majestic. I would recommend staying there since it is in a great centrally-located area between the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps.
The highlight of the trip for me was Istanbul. We had one and a half days to explore the Bosphorus, the strait which joins the Sea of Marmara with the Black Sea in Istanbul, and separates the continents of Europe and Asia. The city is so beautiful, and the food was great too. We bought two rugs there and I can’t wait for them to arrive.
Another highlight was how friendly the people were, especially on the Greek Islands. On Mykonos we took a private car tour with a driver, and enjoyed the picturesque towns and shopping. We did the same thing in Santorini as well, exploring the beach towns and seeing the famous white-washed buildings. I think the most picturesque town we saw was Oia. After you dock in Fira, getting up to the town is fun because there is a big cable car that takes you to up the mountain (the other options are to ride a donkey or walk!).
Of course we stopped at The Acropolis in Athens, and the ruins in Ephesus were also amazing. Our guide took us to a local restaurant not frequented by tourists and we had fun trying all the different Turkish foods which thankfully the guide ordered for us. He explained all the different foods, which isn’t an experience you would have if traveling on a bus tour. I really enjoyed the kofte, which is a patty that can be made of potato, lamb or chicken served with pita bread. We also tried cherry juice mixed with carbonated water, which was delicious!
We again took a private car tour in Positano, a village on the Amalfi Coast in Italy, and enjoyed limoncello, an Italian lemon liqueur mainly produced in Naples. Not only was the food we tried in port great, we also really enjoyed the options on board. Celebrity has some great specialty restaurants and the martini bar was always packed. I especially liked Qsine, where you can order dishes from all sorts of countries via iPad.
Janna’s Tips for this Trip
I would definitely recommend budgeting for some private guides if you can. It really changes the experience from having to pile into a bus with a large group, to a more customized, intimate experience. Guides often allow you to bypass lines, and help you find great local places on your own schedule.
Istanbul is a place I would love to have spent more time, so I would recommend a pre or post cruise stay there if it is your port of embarkation or disembarkation.
In Rome we used a service called Bob’s Limousines to transfer to and from the ship. This really saved us a lot when compared to the cruise line’s transfers. Be sure to consult your advisor when it comes to private guides, transfers etc. Often times we can find something that is more unique or saves you money!