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Old April 13th, 2008, 03:00 PM
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Day 2 – April 13 – Izmir, Turkey – By Kuki
It’s been a whirlwind and eventful beginning to the adventure. The Jade docked in Izmir today, and I had booked the ship’s tour to Ephesus. We had just recently toured Ephesus in May ’07, when we sailed the NCL Jewel, but it’s such a spectacular site that I thought it was well worth another visit.

To back up just a bit…This morning I enjoyed one of the new Freestyle 2.0 upgrades; a sit down made to order breakfast in the overflow room of Cagney’s (which is normally the surcharge steakhouse in the evening). This is available to those guests in the Garden Villa, Courtyard Villas and Suites. Though I’m not in a stateroom in those categories access has been extended to me. The shipboard charge card, and cabin door key, is coded to also gain electronic access to the room. The room is lovely, and the service was superb. I’m not normally a breakfast person, but I admit I could get used to this! I am in a standard balcony cabin, and it’s equipped with a coffee maker, which I did use to make a pot of coffee even before I went to breakfast.

At 8:45 A.M. I headed to the showroom where we were to meet for our tour. They had more than 800 guests going out for morning tours, yet the process went surprisingly smoothly, and I was on our bus, ready to go, shortly after 9:00 A.M. As many of you who read my “ramblings” probably know, I’m not normally one for organized ship excursions, preferring to venture off on my own much of the time. However, since Mrs. Kuki isn’t along on this part of my adventure, I’m traveling solo, so thought I’d have more fun doing a group tour.

I have to say the tour, along with our guide, Levant Kaptain, was excellent. My biggest complaint about large excursions is that you only move as fast as the slowest person, but today’s tour did not suffer that fate. The pace was excellent, and that was somewhat surprising considering the extensive amount of walking required when touring Ephesus. I contribute much of this to the electronic equipment given to all participants in the tour. We were each given a small listening device with ear phone, with which we could listen to the guides narrative as we toured. The added bonus, when we were to move along the guide was able to verbally notify everyone in the group. Even where we given some free time to explore or shop, Levant simply directed us when it was time to get to our meeting place to re-board the bus.

Ephesus is a MUST SEE for anyone sailing on this itinerary! This was an ancient city of nearly 400,000 people, and the archeological and historical significance of the area is not only important to understanding civilization, but it’s also breathtaking to see and experience.

Upon returning to the ship I called Guest Relations to inquire if they’d received any information on which itinerary my suitcase might have chosen, and if it was enjoying itself as much as I was. Sadly, there was nothing to report on its whereabouts yet. The good news is the clothing I had sent to the laundry was back already tonight. So, while I won’t get to show off my astonishingly good fashion sense until we’re reunited (it just seems so appropriate to use that word over and over again, since it was United who sent my luggage on a different vacation than me), it doesn’t appear that I am going to be making my fellow passengers ill by running around naked.

One other little problem developed related to my missing suitcase; the chord that connects my camera to my laptop is stored in its depths as well. I did have my camera and it’s charger in my carry-on bag, but not the “magic” chord. The folks from NCL and the ship have been great about assisting, and found a chord from a Canon camera that I thought was going to fit, but sadly it’s the wrong size. I’ll try again tomorrow to see if they have another one. This time I may even be bright enough to show them the camera.

This evening we dined at Cagney’s Steakhouse, and the meal and the service were once again outstanding. We’d had a rather late lunch on our tour today, so I limited myself to Caesar Salad, Filet Mignon (cooked exactly how I like it – though the chef probably cringed when they saw my order), baked potato, onion rings, and finished it off with a hot apple crisp with ice cream. Just a light cruise ship dinner.

When we finished dinner there was just enough time to get to the showroom to see the Production Show, ShowDown. As we were making our way to the showroom, we passed by Medusa’s Lounge, where the Second City Troupe was giving a participatory seminar on “Improv”. This is part of the “NCL U” Freestyle 2.0 upgrades. They were already midstream or I may have stopped to participate. I’ll look for it again later in the cruise.

For me the initial pace of this trip, with all its missteps, has left me feeling a bit like a whirling dervish. I’m hoping by tomorrow I’ll catch my breath, and my mind will catch up, even if my luggage does not, and I’ll begin to go into more in depth information about many more of the Freestyle 2.0 upgrades. There really is a lot to tell, but I want to clarify all the details before I attempt to share more of them with you.

Tomorrow morning we arrive in Mykonos, Greece. On our last visit here I toured quite a lot of the island. To try something different this trip, I’ve booked a ship’s excursion again, but because the ship is in port until midnight, the tour I’ve booked is in the evening. It’s called Street Party… so I’m thinking I could be for a fun Greek style street festival.
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