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Old July 14th, 2008, 04:35 PM
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Default Eastern Mediterranean ports of call...

We are going on an Eastern Mediterranean cruise in early 2009, and I was wondering if anyone had any good tips for the following ports of call:

1. Rome

2. Athens

3. Izmir, Turkey

4. Alexandria, Egypt

5. Malta

We would love to "do-it-yourself" as much as we can...any helpful hints/tips would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks so much!!
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Old July 14th, 2008, 07:59 PM
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Default Re: Eastern Mediterranean ports of call...

OrangeKitty.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
We are going on an Eastern Mediterranean cruise in early 2009, and I was wondering if anyone had any good tips for the following ports of call:

1. Rome

2. Athens

3. Izmir, Turkey

4. Alexandria, Egypt

5. Malta

We would love to "do-it-yourself" as much as we can...any helpful hints/tips would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks so much!!
I don't have any specific recommendations for Izmir, Alexandria, or Malta, but I can tell you that Athens and Rome are great destinations!

>> In Athens, the Acropolis is a "must see" destination -- and I strongly recommend a tour because the guides do a great job of explaining everything. Most of the ships' tours offer a "stay in town on your own" option, and you can take the Metro back to Pireaus. If you opt to stay in Athens, the Platka (historic market district that's still the center of the city) is in a very central location, easily accessible on foot from the drop point.

>> Rome is about an hour and a half from the port of Civitavecchia by motorcoach. Here, I recommend taking one or another of the ship's shore excursions for three significant reasons.

(1) If you attempt to go to Rome and back on your own, you will either spend a fortune (about 90 Euros each way) on taxis or you will be futzing around taking a taxi to the train station to wait for a train and, conversely, you will have to leave the city early enough to get a taxi back to the pier when the train returns to the train station. You'll easily lose an hour in Rome this way, not counting the time you have to allow for delays on the return trip.

(2) Rome's major attractions, including the Vatican Museum (which is home to magnificent art), tend to have VERY long queues (2-3 hours is typical) for general entry. If you attempt to visit these attractions on your own, you will lose half the day waiting in line.

(3) If you go to Rome on your own and you encounter unexpected delays due to weather, traffic, or other circumstances that cause you to miss the ship, you will be responsible for your own transportation to the next port of call and your meals and lodging ashore until you rejoin the ship. If the ship's port agent makes such arrangements for you, the cost plus service charges will appear on your shipboard account. If you go to Rome on an official shore excursion that encounters the same delays, either the ship will make alternate arrangements to get you back aboard or the cruise line will provide thansportation, accommodations, and meals for you. At the price of European restaurants and hotels, it simply is not worth the risk.

If you really want to see Rome on your own, look for a shore excursion named "Rome on Your Own" or something similar that basically consists of motorcoach transportation between the pier and a downtown location in the Eternal City. On this excursion, the "guide" gives a brief orientation and instructions as to where and when to meet to return to the ship upon arrival at the drop-off point, then sets you free for the whole day. This excursion will maximize your time on your own in Rome, without the risk of missing the ship due to unforeseen delays.

Have a great cruise!

Norm.
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Old July 15th, 2008, 01:41 AM
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In Malta you could spend your time wandering round Valletta, going to museums, stopping off at cafes. The centre is about a 10 minute walk from the cruise ship terminal. If you're there on a Sunday not much is open until about 11am.

For views the Upper and Lower Barrakka gardens in Valletta should not be missed

There are hop-on hop-off open top buses that leave from the main bus station in Valletta. One does the north of the island the other does the south. The North has more scenery, the south has more interesting places to get off and have a look around. Each bus takes about 2 and half hours to do it's complete loop (if you get off at a stop I think it's an hour before the next bus comes by)

Malta is a very small island so if there was somewhere you particularly wanted to go the bus services from Valletta are frequent and cheap.

Andrio
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Old July 15th, 2008, 07:16 PM
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1. Rome – One of our favorite ports. I really recommend using a driver especially if you’ve never been, you can see so much more. But here's some info to take the train from Civ to Rome:
www.trenitalia.com
http://www.europeportreviews.com/Rome2.htm
Buy a BIRG ticket for €9. It covers all your local travel in Rome except the tourist bus.
If you plan to tour the Vatican Museums, you should schedule a tour via the Vatican official site. (vatican.va) Doing so will allow you to bypass the long line.
If you don't do a private tour & want to see the Colosseum & the line is long there, go across the street to the ticket booth for Palatine Hill (it's in the Forum) & buy your ticket there. It's the same ticket you buy at the Colosseum & is good for Palatine Hill & the Colosseum on the same day. After buying the ticket, go back to the Colosseum & stay in the line for those with guided tours/those with tickets.
Another way to see Rome is to take the HoHo (hop-on/hop-off) bus. It is the #110 red double decker. Stops at most of the tourist sites; takes 2 hours full round trip.

2. Athens
Have lunch at Thanasis in the Plaka; 69 Mitropoleos, actually many of the best restaurants in the Plaka are on Mitropoleos St.
Have sandals made by the "THE POET SANDAL-MAKER OF ATHENS”. The address is at 2, Aghias Theklas St., in Monastiraki . By foot. Getting there is very easy. The store is within a walking distance from Syntagma Square (The main Square of Athens). You just walk down Ermou Street, past Kapnikarea Sq, till you reach Athenas St (on your right handside), and Monastiraki square (on your left handside). Aghias Theklas Street is the 2nd right after Athenas St. (the first being Miaouli St).
By train. If you are not in the mood of walking you can take the metro to Monastiraki Square. When you exit the station you head towards Ermou St. Aghias Theklas Street is the 2nd right after Athenas St. (the first being Miaouli St).

3. Izmir, Turkey
I’d hire a driver/guide because there’s so much to see.
www.toursinistanbul.com and www.leventsolmaz.com

4. Alexandria, Egypt
If you don’t want to stay in Alexandria, you can take the train to Cairo and see the Pyramids.

5. Malta
Definite DIY. Visit Sliema by boat or bus from Valletta. Sliema has nice restaurants, a beautiful promenade, and shopping.
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Old July 23rd, 2008, 04:58 PM
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Default Re: Eastern Mediterranean ports of call...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev22:17
OrangeKitty.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
We are going on an Eastern Mediterranean cruise in early 2009, and I was wondering if anyone had any good tips for the following ports of call:

1. Rome

2. Athens

3. Izmir, Turkey

4. Alexandria, Egypt

5. Malta

We would love to "do-it-yourself" as much as we can...any helpful hints/tips would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks so much!!
I don't have any specific recommendations for Izmir, Alexandria, or Malta, but I can tell you that Athens and Rome are great destinations!

>> In Athens, the Acropolis is a "must see" destination -- and I strongly recommend a tour because the guides do a great job of explaining everything. Most of the ships' tours offer a "stay in town on your own" option, and you can take the Metro back to Pireaus. If you opt to stay in Athens, the Platka (historic market district that's still the center of the city) is in a very central location, easily accessible on foot from the drop point.

>> Rome is about an hour and a half from the port of Civitavecchia by motorcoach. Here, I recommend taking one or another of the ship's shore excursions for three significant reasons.

(1) If you attempt to go to Rome and back on your own, you will either spend a fortune (about 90 Euros each way) on taxis or you will be futzing around taking a taxi to the train station to wait for a train and, conversely, you will have to leave the city early enough to get a taxi back to the pier when the train returns to the train station. You'll easily lose an hour in Rome this way, not counting the time you have to allow for delays on the return trip.

(2) Rome's major attractions, including the Vatican Museum (which is home to magnificent art), tend to have VERY long queues (2-3 hours is typical) for general entry. If you attempt to visit these attractions on your own, you will lose half the day waiting in line.

(3) If you go to Rome on your own and you encounter unexpected delays due to weather, traffic, or other circumstances that cause you to miss the ship, you will be responsible for your own transportation to the next port of call and your meals and lodging ashore until you rejoin the ship. If the ship's port agent makes such arrangements for you, the cost plus service charges will appear on your shipboard account. If you go to Rome on an official shore excursion that encounters the same delays, either the ship will make alternate arrangements to get you back aboard or the cruise line will provide thansportation, accommodations, and meals for you. At the price of European restaurants and hotels, it simply is not worth the risk.

If you really want to see Rome on your own, look for a shore excursion named "Rome on Your Own" or something similar that basically consists of motorcoach transportation between the pier and a downtown location in the Eternal City. On this excursion, the "guide" gives a brief orientation and instructions as to where and when to meet to return to the ship upon arrival at the drop-off point, then sets you free for the whole day. This excursion will maximize your time on your own in Rome, without the risk of missing the ship due to unforeseen delays.

Have a great cruise!

Norm.
Ephesus is 55 miles ow and the site should be visited with a guide.
nejat incedogan
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Old December 7th, 2008, 05:02 AM
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Just came back from a 12 day Med. Cruise. We tend toward doing most of the ports ourselves, and hiring private guides if necessary because we enjoy researching the ports and like the flexibility and efficiency of a private tour (we have found it to be cheaper than the ship’s tours as well).

Rome/Civitavecchia. After much consideration, we decided to book a private full day tour in Rome visiting some of the familiar places and including a few new ones. After researching companies to use, we decided on LimoinRome - Claudio Caponera (www.limoinrome.com) as our driver/guide for the day. We shared this tour with 3 couples from our roll call. Our itinerary included The Roman Forum, Coliseum, Mouth of Truth, Circus Maximums, the Key Hole (Sov Mil Ordine Di Malta), Palatine Hill, Baths of Caracalla, The Catacombs, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Capitol Hill, and Gianicolo (great views of Rome from this spot) and Borghese Gallery. Claudio arranged for our lunch stop at Ristorante Massenzio. Good meal. If we could have eliminated one thing in the itinerary it would, in our opinion, have been the Borghese Gallery. After a full day of sightseeing, I for one was on "information overload". I would suggest that the Borghese Gallery be done by itself or perhaps along with a walk through the garden areas.

Athens. We hired a taxi driver from Spiros at spirostours@yahoo.com for the day (8:30-2:00) Spriros at spirostours@yahoo.com . This ended up being a boon – it costs 25 euro each way from Piraeus on the meter anyway, and saved us hundreds of steps in the heat. He parked at the back side of the Acropolis (it is not necessary to climb the hundreds of steps from the Plaka) and waited for us, then took us to the old Olympic stadium (actually pretty impressive), the Temple of Zeus, to the President’s house in time for the changing of the guard (actually worth the stop), the Parliament building, the Roman Agora, and then the Greek Agora and Plaka. We zipped through it all – again because we got out early I think, and were driving instead of walking – and were back on board by 2, exhausted.

Ephesus. We hired a private tour guide for this port -- Denizhan at ephesustours@yahoo.com . We combined with another family I met on our Roll Call. I join the list of Cruise Critic people that highly recommend him. He was knowledgeable, personable, proud of his country, and completely professional. We started early and were through most of Ephesus by the time the first tour bus arrived. Since it reached 105 degrees that day, we were EXTREMELY grateful to have gotten to see it before the hottest part of the day. Be sure to also see the ruins of St. John’s Basilica. Denizhan also took us inside a local and historic mosque and explained a lot about Islam and Turkish politics. Lunch was the best of the trip. We also visited the museum in Selcuk, which was fine, although it is hard to compete with the Vatican, the Egyptian Museum, and others on this trip. Definitely try apple tea if you can – hot or cold, it’s delicious. All in all, a great stop.

Alexandria/Giza. You definitely need a guide/tour for this stop. Most passengers ponied up for a RCI tour of some sort, and I was a little nervous not to, reading all the postings about police convoys. But having a private tour guide (we used Rasha El Ashmawy at www.egyptdailytours.com) worked out great, and we were very happy with the day. We didn’t have to wait for the convoy (and I felt safer, being less obviously a tourist in a small vehicle), we lingered at things that interested us, and went quicker through things that did not. Price for a family of four was $100 for adults and $90 for kids; a group of seven was $80 for adults and $70 for kids (solar boat museum, going inside the pyramids and mummy room at the Egyptian museum extra, but lunch included). Keys to this day are FLEXIBILITY and HUMOR, and you should realize that even if you do it with RCI there might be glitches – for example, the entire bus that took the RCI Nile trip got sick, and cartouches ordered on a different RCI tour turned black when they were worn into the pool back on the ship. However, on the whole we heard that the RCI tours were pretty good. Our tour included the Giza plateau, where we walked around near all three pyramids, drove to a vista, drove back to go inside the medium sized pyramid (Kefern) and then visited the Sphinx. Lunch was a quick falafel sandwich, and then we went to the Egyptian Museum (including mummy room) and back out to shop at the Khan Al Khalili bazaar in Islamic Cairo. We left the bazaar at 6:00 sharp, and pulled up to the ship at 9:25 (had to be back onboard by 9:30, so you really do have to watch your time). Rasha did not travel with us, but checked in with us all the way back to make sure that we made it back on board. Tips about this particular Giza/museum/bazaar itinerary: 1) change money before you get off the ship if possible because Euros/dollars are not accepted until you are at the bazaar; 2) take toilet paper in your bag – bathrooms are often bare; 3) take small change for the bathrooms; 4) resist resist resist people offering you anything (even people that claim to work for the sites you are visiting) – you will suspect it is a scam, but then you will not want to offend them, so you will go along, but it will end up being a scam at the end. We had a number of people flat out lie to us – “I work for the government, not a tour guide, come see, I don’t want to take your money” – and then demand “baksheesh;” 5) take water and umbrellas – Giza plateau is really exposed; 6) at the bazaar, decide what you are willing to pay and stick to your guns – as a rule of thumb, Rasha told us to chop their asking price in half or more – if you can’t settle with the first guy, you will probably see the same thing a few stores away; 7) about going inside the pyramids – a claustrophobic, hot, crowded, and stinky experience – but my family was glad they did it. The middle pyramid (Kefern) offers much the same experience as the largest pyramid (Khufu), but priced at about $6 instead of $20. The experience takes ten to fifteen minutes at either pyramid; 8) The Museum – so many treasures crammed right next to each other, it’s overwhelming – read a little before you go so you can sort out the experience before you’re there. There are actually two mummy rooms to see for the additional admission price of $20 – if you’ve seen a mummy before, you can honestly give this a miss, but if you haven’t, it is fairly interesting. If the line is long, see the rest of the museum and check back in later – it fluctuates depending on tour groups; 9) Get to Islamic and/or Coptic Cairo if you can – much more atmosphere than downtown where the Museum is; 10) Do NOT eat at the bazaar – most expensive (and worst) “snack” of the trip; 11) DO try mint tea mmmmmm.

Valetta. This is the one port where we decided to do one of the ship’s organized excursions, a “jeep adventure” tour of the island. Having just recovered from a pinched nerve in my back, I don’t know what possessed me to book this excursion. The ride is VERY bumpy and rough, especially around the limestone quarries, so if you have any back or neck problems, you should opt for a different tour. That being said, the “Malta Jeep Adventure” is a good way to see a lot of the island. Each vehicle is an open-air jeep with seating for four people. There is a recorded guided tour playing in English to explain the various monuments or sights as you pass them. The last stop was at Golden Bay where we had free time to swim or lounge on the beach. Again, we are not big on organized tours, but this one was a good value for the money. Something that we found surprising was that all the signs were in English.
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Old December 31st, 2008, 07:24 AM
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Default Re: Eastern Mediterranean ports of call...

Quote:
Originally Posted by OrangeKitty
We are going on an Eastern Mediterranean cruise in early 2009, and I was wondering if anyone had any good tips for the following ports of call:

1. Rome

2. Athens

3. Izmir, Turkey

4. Alexandria, Egypt

5. Malta

We would love to "do-it-yourself" as much as we can...any helpful hints/tips would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks so much!!
Take a taxi just out side of the ship, go to Piraeus metro station (it is only 5 minutes by taxi 5euros) and from there you can go to down town of Athens in Acropolis station (0, 8 Euro) the most historical place of Europe. From there you can visit Acropolis, old town of Athens, the flee market.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 11:09 AM
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I'm guessing you are leaving from Rome/Civitavecchia. Are you coming in early? If so that I would save money and do Rome on your own, before the cruise. The Vatican is closed on Sundays so keep that in mind. Here is a link to buy the Vatican Museum tours directly from the Vatican. http://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/...?weblang=en&do
"The tickets may be reserved (with a maximum of 10) from 60 days before the date of the visit and they are not refundable."

There is also something called the Scavi tour, which you can also book direct. The Scavi tour goes beneath St. Peter's Basilica to the tomb of Saint Peter. This is a very limited tour. If you are nervous in enclosed spaces, this is a not a good tour for you. Here is a Vatican link to this tour. You can only book the Scavi Tour directly with the Vatican.
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/in...040112_en.html
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Old January 9th, 2009, 07:02 AM
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My wife and I are cruising on the Norwegian Jade on February 15th with the exact same itinerary. Here is what we are doing at the ports (probably)...

Rome- Enjoying quiet time on the boat! We were just there in October.

Athens- It's simple to take the metro into central Athens from Pireaus. I've been there before and will take my wife on a half-day sightseeing tour of the Parthenon and the Plaka area.

Turkey- Hang out in Izmir. We may go to Ephesus, but I doubt it. It's easy enough to take a bus to Selcuk (Ephesus) and do it ourselves, but we don't want to do anything too strenuous.

Egypt- We were in Cairo 4.5 years ago and loved it, so we will take the train from Alexandria (under 3 hours, 1st class travel is under $10) and overnight in Cairo since our boat stops there for 2 days. Islamic Cairo is a tangled warren of streets with surprises and amazing architecture around every corner- our favorite part of town. We will probably go out to the Pyramids as well though since it is such a special place.

Malta- We've never been here before and will probably just casually stroll through Valetta which appears to be a very beautiful city.
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Old January 11th, 2009, 11:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lofton26
My wife and I are cruising on the Norwegian Jade on February 15th with the exact same itinerary. Here is what we are doing at the ports (probably)...

Rome- Enjoying quiet time on the boat! We were just there in October.

Athens- It's simple to take the metro into central Athens from Pireaus. I've been there before and will take my wife on a half-day sightseeing tour of the Parthenon and the Plaka area.

Turkey- Hang out in Izmir. We may go to Ephesus, but I doubt it. It's easy enough to take a bus to Selcuk (Ephesus) and do it ourselves, but we don't want to do anything too strenuous.

Egypt- We were in Cairo 4.5 years ago and loved it, so we will take the train from Alexandria (under 3 hours, 1st class travel is under $10) and overnight in Cairo since our boat stops there for 2 days. Islamic Cairo is a tangled warren of streets with surprises and amazing architecture around every corner- our favorite part of town. We will probably go out to the Pyramids as well though since it is such a special place.

Malta- We've never been here before and will probably just casually stroll through Valetta which appears to be a very beautiful city.
Quote:


IZMIR

Ephesus isdefinately strenous.lots of walking uneven surfaces and steps
Nejat incedogan
nincedogan@yahoo.com
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