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Old May 10th, 2007, 03:37 AM
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Default May 9 - Virtual Report - Corfu, Greece

Virtual Cruise - NCL Jewel
May 9 - Day 2 - Corfu

We woke up this morning docked at the pier in Corfu, Greece, and a short time after our arrival the Oceania Nautica pulled into her berth.

Once again we had our breakfast from the buffet, out on the stern, aft of the Garden Café. Aside from the various buffet stations indoors at the Garden Café, as well as a station mid-ship by the pools, there is a buffet area out by the stern as well. There’s simply no waiting anywhere, and it truly is impressive how well these buffets handle the traffic.

In the terminal there is one car rental outlet (though there are others down the street outside of the terminal gates). A decision was made my Mrs. Kuki, and our cruise companions, that the people of Corfu would remain safe, if I wasn’t behind the wheel of a vehicle on their island. There are plenty of taxis available at the pier offering tours for the day, half day, etc. Each seemed to be offering very similar rates of $40 -$50 Euros per hour (for the car, not per person), so this is the route we chose to go. We talked to several drivers and chose one who seemed personable, and negotiated a rate of $150 Euros for a tour of at least 3 hours, and to be dropped in Old Town afterwards. The tour actually took almost 4 hours, but the driver asked only for the $150 Euros we’d agreed to.

By the end of the tour we were very glad we had chosen this option, rather than the rental car. The island didn’t appear that difficult to get around, as signage was good, but with a rental we’d have most assuredly stuck to the main routes, and missed many of the “side areas? that only someone with knowledge of the island could have taken us to. Many of the roadways are narrow, particularly through some of the mountain villages, and it’s surprising how some of these trucks and tour buses navigate the areas. But climbing through the mountains we were treated to some spectacular views of the seas and the countryside.


Tourism is the main industry of Corfu, and Greek Olives and the products derived from them,(even Olive soaps and lotions… not just oil) are also a large part of the economy here. Many of the locals have olive trees in their yards, as well as quite a number we saw who grow grapes to make their own wine - mainly for their own consumption, not for resale.

After touring through several mountain villages with multiple stops for photo ops of the breathtaking vistas, we made our way to Paleokastrista - a high traffic tourist beach area. From here boat trips to tour the caves are available for $3 Euros per person, but we didn’t go there. Did talk to some others on the ship later who did go see the caves and enjoyed it.

From Paleokastrista our driver made his way back to town, and dropped us in Old Town as we requested. We had the opportunity to stroll the narrow streets, do some window shopping, and I bought some of the wonderful Greek pistachios to take back to the ship to snack on later (like you need to bring food back to a ship.. Duh), and we stopped at café for a drink.

While In Old Town we visited a 300 year old synagogue which still has an active congregation of 60 Jewish people living on Corfu. The attendant explained that prior to World War II Corfu had approx. 3000 Jewish people amongst its population. By the end of the war there were none left alive on the island, though 150, who had been freed from interment camps in Germany and Poland did return to Corfu after the war. Today there are 60 Jewish people left on the island, and they are the ones maintaining the synagogue as an active congregation.

From Old Town it’s about a 25 minute walk back to the cruise terminal, or one can get a taxi for $10 Euro. We chose the stroll to see a few of the sites along the way.

Once back to the ship, there was yet another pool-side barbeque, and combining the food with a hot sunny day, the pool deck was definitely active once again.

People watching by the pool while snacking on the barbequed chicken I noted that there is a wide cross section of age demographic onboard. On longer itineraries I’ve come to expect a bit of an older crowd, but on this cruise that’s not the case. There’s even a surprising number of children onboard. It’s just a guess but I’d put the average age of passengers onboard to be in the mid 50s.

When I returned to the cabin, and we prepared to shower and get ready for dinner, to our surprise we had no water- in the toilet, sink, or shower. After about an hour the water service was restored, and we continued to clean up and get prepared for dinner. Talking to our friends, who are staying one deck below us, we knew they had no water either. I don’t know if the outage was ship wide, but I presumed it was. During the outage we did wonder how the galleys could operate if the water problem persisted. Thankfully we didn’t have to find out.

This evening we decided to dine in one of the ship’s two “main? (cost included) dining room; Tsars Palace. This is the larger of the two dining rooms, and unlike the ship’s alternate restaurants, the menus change nightly, and both these dining rooms do not accept advance reservations. There was a bit of wait to get in just after 8 P.M., when we arrived, but within minutes the line was gone and everyone seated. Tsar’s Palace seats over 500 passengers, and it is somewhat noticeable in the noise level within the restaurant.

Once again dining service was very good. For entrees tonight, my pork loin was very tasty. Mrs. Kuki enjoyed a New York Strip steak, and we shared a truly tasty Spaghetti Carbonnera. One of our tablemates ordered the salmon, which was tonight’s “chef’s recommendation?, but our companion said the fish turned out to be quite dry. After 3 days this was the first dish that any of the four of us felt there was anything at all to complain about, so that’s actually a pretty good satisfaction rating, considering we haven’t missed a meal yet! The waiter noticed, and immediately offered to replace the meal with another choice but our cruisemate refused the request, for some reason.

With the water issue we got to dinner a bit later than planned, and got done with dinner a bit to late to attend the comedy show in the Star Dust Theater. Instead we went to spend some time in the casino. I was really surprised to find several blackjack tables with $100 minimum bets, and the lowest minimum we saw was one $10 table. On the other major cruise lines I’ve found you may come across one table with a minimum bet of $ 25, but generally any higher limits must be requested. NCL must assume they have some high rollers on this cruise, but so far I’ve only seen one person playing at either of $100 tables.

I am a member of NCL’s “Players Program? - Casinos at Sea - so I do earn some perks throughout the cruise with my casino time. So you can get a little bit of your money back, even if you lose.

I spent about an hour or so in the casino, and then decided to make it an early night, and returned to the cabin before midnight. The staff throughout the ship’s public areas have been wonderful. They are friendly, seemingly happy, and helpful to a fault. A couple of quirky things have occurred with our cabin service, which have left me more stumped than displeased. The last couple of nights when returning to the cabin we’ve found those cute towel animals waiting on the bed to greet us. But oddly, the cabin staff seem to be using one of the two clean bath towels they leave to make them, leaving only one towel in the bathroom. It’s certainly not a huge issue, but I wanted to ask them about it, since it doesn’t make much sense, but I didn’t see them in the hallway tonight to satisfy my curiosity.
On the other hand I can’t complain about the way they’ve cleaned the cabin. That aspect has been just fine.

Tomorrow is our first sea day (one of only two on the entire cruise), as we sail our way to Alexandria, Egypt. We’re very excited about visiting the Pyramids, but also eager to enjoy a day to sleep in, and relax.
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