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  #61 (permalink)  
Old May 15th, 2007, 07:03 PM
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Default Re: Weather and visas

Quote:
Originally Posted by cruiser2007
What temperatures has the weather been? I'm really struggling with what to pack and wear in the ports. Is it warm enough to go in the pools or ocean? We are on the May 31st sailing.

Any word on the visas (Egypt and Turkey) and what the ship charges? We are a family of 5 so that adds up quick
I cleared this up in discussions with the Hotel Director today. Egyptian Visas are free (a representative boards the ship in Greece, examines the passports, and stamps them).
In Turkey everyone has to purchase a Visa when they get off the ship. The cost varies by country of residence, but for US and Canadians, the cost is $20 US in cash.

The weather has been INCREDIBLE. We had a slightly overcast day in Cairo, with a few showers. The balance of the cruise we've seen sun and temps in the high 70s to mid 80s F. You can definitely go in the ship's pools. I'm told the seas are still a bit chilly.
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  #62 (permalink)  
Old May 15th, 2007, 08:17 PM
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The pictureof the village on the hillside is my favorite so far..Stunning!

This sure seems like"THE" dream cruise !
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  #63 (permalink)  
Old May 15th, 2007, 10:00 PM
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Thank you for the decription of cabin and some of the public area's. When you have time can you look into internet facilities as well as laundry. Also in the room you have, I notice that it seems pretty tight, out of curiosity, how much room is there between the wall and the bed, I see the other side of bed is pushed against the sofa.

Trip, can you guess which is my FAV. pic?
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  #64 (permalink)  
Old May 16th, 2007, 09:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trip
The pictureof the village on the hillside is my favorite so far..Stunning!

This sure seems like"THE" dream cruise !
Trip.... it's truly has been a a DREAM itinerary. It's so spectacular that I wish you ALL were here, and I'm trying my very best to share the experience with all of you.

Thanks to NCL supplying complimentary internet to help make it possible. I think I've already burned through over 1000 minutes between uploading pictures and sending the written reports.
If I was paying for it, I'd need to take out a mortgage

I just loaded today's pics, and I'll be back this evening to write about the day.
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  #65 (permalink)  
Old May 16th, 2007, 09:59 AM
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NCL isn't charging for this postings internet service is great!. I'm impressed with NCL. Are they doing it just because you know some of the higher staff or are they doing it as a service to future customers to see what goes on during one of their cruises?

In any event, we are all just happy you are sharing your trip with us... we leave on in 2 weeks...
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  #66 (permalink)  
Old May 16th, 2007, 10:06 AM
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I'm enjoying reading as you cruise.

Fav pic so far has to be the one yesterday of the dog with his head on the the step, quietly guarding the paintings. Definitely a pic not everyone would take and that is one reason I like it so. Of course the pics of the views are great, too.

Don't know that we will ever do a cruise like this, but can only hope.
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  #67 (permalink)  
Old May 16th, 2007, 10:22 AM
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You know you got my attention when you said that
"Armando De Silva, from Madeira Island" My dad "winemaker" is from Camacha. Can you ask Armando what city he is from if you see him again. We could be related. My maiden name is Goncalves.

I enjoying reading and seeing the pictures from your trip I had never cruised on Norwegian but seeing your posts makes me want to take the Jewel to Greece.
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  #68 (permalink)  
Old May 16th, 2007, 10:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jefarl
NCL isn't charging for this postings internet service is great!. I'm impressed with NCL. Are they doing it just because you know some of the higher staff or are they doing it as a service to future customers to see what goes on during one of their cruises?

In any event, we are all just happy you are sharing your trip with us... we leave on in 2 weeks...
Nope, it's definitely not service they're providing to all passengers.

They've provided it for me because I'm a writer for CruiseMates, and it would be cost prohibitive for us to do this on our own.
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  #69 (permalink)  
Old May 16th, 2007, 10:34 AM
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Quote:
Fav pic so far has to be the one yesterday of the dog with his head on the the step, quietly guarding the paintings.
Nancy,

Though there's many I like, that is most certainly one of my favorites too!!!
It was just so relaxed; original art work and the beautiful dog.
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  #70 (permalink)  
Old May 16th, 2007, 10:53 AM
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Default Re: Weather and visas

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuki
Quote:
Originally Posted by cruiser2007
What temperatures has the weather been? I'm really struggling with what to pack and wear in the ports. Is it warm enough to go in the pools or ocean? We are on the May 31st sailing.

Any word on the visas (Egypt and Turkey) and what the ship charges? We are a family of 5 so that adds up quick
I cleared this up in discussions with the Hotel Director today. Egyptian Visas are free (a representative boards the ship in Greece, examines the passports, and stamps them).
In Turkey everyone has to purchase a Visa when they get off the ship. The cost varies by country of residence, but for US and Canadians, the cost is $20 US in cash.
First of all, let me thank you Kuki for this amazing "virtual cruise." My spouse and I will be sailing the identical itinerary on May 31st and I think we've learned more from this thread than any of our other research. Just a fabulous job you've done here!

Now for my question regarding Egyptian visas. Does what you've written about visas being prestamped apply to all passengers or only to those booked on the NCL sponsored tours? We've booked our overnight in Cairo through Decastro Tours and my understanding was that we'd have to get the visa stamp when we docked in Alexandria. Hopefully the procedure has changed for everyone given what you've been informed, would sure make it easier on tour day.

Thanks again for the awesome thread, can't wait to read your next entry.
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  #71 (permalink)  
Old May 16th, 2007, 12:51 PM
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I really enjoy reading about your cruise. For me as a European it´s kind of funny when you are talking about a DREAM itinerary and exotic! I think that a cruise out of Miami or New York is much more exotic!

Have you ever done a cruise on the Baltic sea, my "homearea"?
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  #72 (permalink)  
Old May 16th, 2007, 01:23 PM
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The dog picture is my favorite too. But I am blown away by the beach pictures. I never realized that the beach was so beautiful there. It looks as nice if not better than the Caribbean! I always pictured the beaches there to look more like the red sand beaches in Italy.

Thanks Kuki............
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  #73 (permalink)  
Old May 16th, 2007, 05:39 PM
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Quote:
Now for my question regarding Egyptian visas. Does what you've written about visas being prestamped apply to all passengers or only to those booked on the NCL sponsored tours? We've booked our overnight in Cairo through Decastro Tours and my understanding was that we'd have to get the visa stamp when we docked in Alexandria. Hopefully the procedure has changed for everyone given what you've been informed, would sure make it easier on tour day.
Everyone's passports get the Eygtian visa stamp on the ship, and it's returned to you before you disembark, whether you're on a ship excursion or not.

There still seems to be some confusion on the Turkey visas. For our fist stop in Izmir tomorrow, everyone is given a landing card, and apparently that's all we need. The landing card must be returned when returning to the ship.

Then "apparently" before we arrive in Istanbul a Turkish representive will be onboard and stamp everyone's passport with a visa. There's still been no firm information on costs. Some people have been told the cost will automatically be billed to the shipboard accounts. BUT there's been no clear communications via announcement in the daily paper, or on the PA.
I guess I'll have the final answer on the procedure in the next day or two.
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  #74 (permalink)  
Old May 16th, 2007, 05:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erikhag
I really enjoy reading about your cruise. For me as a European it´s kind of funny when you are talking about a DREAM itinerary and exotic! I think that a cruise out of Miami or New York is much more exotic!

Have you ever done a cruise on the Baltic sea, my "homearea"?
I'm sure it does sound a bit odd to those cruisemates from Europe, but a majority of the mass market cruises are in the Caribbean, so that's relative in my comments.
I've sailed the Baltic several times, and have had wonderful cruises. Which part of the Baltic do you call home?
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  #75 (permalink)  
Old May 16th, 2007, 06:33 PM
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NCL Jewel Virtual Cruise
May 16 - Mykonos

Unlike the other Greek Islands we’ve visited, Mykonos is more desert like, and much less lush with vegetation and greenery. We saw a fair bit of cactus in our wanderings. During today’s visit I don’t think I saw one olive tree. The island is very much a resort island, and favored by the rich and famous, as well as young low budget traveler alike.


The Jewel docked in Mykonos, quite a fair distance from the main town of Hora (or Mykonos City), but free shuttle service was provided to a bus station closer to the town, along the sea wall. When we went to catch the shuttle this morning, there was Captain Fafalios watching the shore excursions leave, and talking to passengers.

From where the shuttle dropped us off, we went up one street, and saw several car rental companies. This time I walked into a couple of agencies to check on pricing, and we settled on a 4 door Ford Focus, for $62 Euro for the day, including full insurance coverage from EuroCar. This vehicle even had some gasoline in the gas tank, and we were instructed to return it with approximately the same levels. Split 4 ways this was a very reasonable per person cost for a day of touring.

Finding our way around this morning was not quite as simple as in Santorini. The map we got was in Greek, and the most of the road signage was also only in Greek. I got some very general directional information at the rental shop, and we headed out to get lost, find our way, get lost again, and explore. So, for this island, going off as we did you need a bit of a spirit of adventurer, but don’t worry, eventually every road leads to somewhere.


We discovered some very narrow, and “interesting? roadways, but always eventually came to a more traveled path that lead to places we could actually find on the map. After a couple of somewhat harrowing driving maneuvers (harrowing for my passengers, not me. I drive like a Greek), we found our way to several beautiful beach and resort areas. We saw one hotel/ resort, with signage clearly indicating it was for those 18-35 only. It looked like party central. Oh to be young again.

By accident, looking for Paradise Beach, we stumbled onto Super Paradise Beach.


If you’re looking for signs, realize that these two are NOT the same beach. Though both are quite beautiful.

I preferred Paradise Beach, as the views are magnificent, there’s a variety of bars and restaurants to chose from, and bathroom facilities are clean.




We enjoyed a very nice lunch, with huge Greek salad, calamari, suvlaki in pitas, and drinks for $65 Euro for the 4 of us, with views of the ocean as delicious as the food. When we first arrived the beach was almost deserted, and it was quite magnificent. As the day passed the beach got a quite a bit busier, but not packed. Lots of the ship’s crew were there, so we kind of knew we’d picked the right beach. Well, it was the Captain who recommended it.

This was really the perfect time to sail this itinerary. During the high season - June thru August- many ports on this itinerary will be crowded to overflowing, making covering all the ground much more difficult. By the luck of the draw, I suppose, we’ve had absolutely gorgeous weather.

Even here in Mykonos we lucked out. Mykonos is known to be a very windy island. In fact the residents build rock terraces in the countryside to help prevent top soil from being blown away. During our visit today the winds were almost dead still, and there wasn’t a ripple in the seas surrounding the island.

After Paradise Beach we returned the rental car, and strolled through the town of Hora. There are a multitude of tavernas and restaurants overlooking the bay for those who want to venture no further out of town, and of course the ever present shopping opportunities. There’s not many bargains here, it is after all a part of the European Union.



Mykonos apparently had a very vibrant night life, and the ship did stay at the dock until 9:30 P.M. tonight. The real night life didn’t start by then, but many passengers went off to have Greek dinner on land.

The day before yesterday the “daily? had information regarding disembarking procedures. Anyone not using NCL transfers (considered independent travelers) could simply go guest relations and chose their disembarkation time, and receive luggage tags to match. On NCL you’re not treated like old fish on the last day, and thrown off. Passengers are allowed to have breakfast, even room service breakfast, and stay in their cabins until their luggage tag colors are called. I’m sure it created extra work, but it’s such a civilized way to end a cruise I’m shocked more cruise lines don’t follow suit.

I have obviously been spending a considerable amount of time on the Internet, filing my stories each night, and uploading pictures to the galleries. I’m well over 1000 minutes of Internet time, and I can tell you the speed of the Internet service has been excellent. Often when I write these virtual cruise reports I have to battle to post just a few pictures and each day’s report. This trip was the easiest yet, though still plenty of work and time spent. I am delighted to have been able to share this fantastic experience with everyone back at CruiseMates.

I have to thank NCL for the complimentary Internet time. I’d have to have taken out a mortgage on Mrs. Kuki if I was paying, but for regular users they do offer time packages of varying lengths, and you can use the ship’s Internet Café by the art galleries, or your own laptop with wireless service from any of the public areas, or as I have done, bring along an Ethernet cable and have the service directly from your cabin. I have my laptop out on deck and used it as well. With your package you can log in to your account either way; in cabin Ethernet, or wireless in public areas. Connecting speeds were about the same each way.

A bit of a hiccup arose tonight in that we’re not really sure how the Turkish Visas are being handled. There was a note tonight, in the daily for tomorrow, saying we’ll be getting Turkish “landing cards? tomorrow, and must return them when returning to the ship. But there was no comment made about when, how, etc. we’ll be getting these landing cards. There was also no note or announcement about the Visas that will be required to enter Turkey the next day, when we arrive in Istanbul. Guest relations is telling those who’ve asked that the Visas will be in our passports when they are returning before disembarking in Istanbul, and the charge will be applied to the passenger’s onboard accounts. But those who didn’t ask are left in the dark, and there seems to be some misinformation going around the ship from those who did inquire. A more detailed explanation of the process in the daily would have been most helpful, and avoided much of the speculation.


Knowing the Jewel would stay docked in Mykonos until 9:30 P.M. tonight we thought it would be a great opportunity to get some CruiseMates together, and enjoy dinner on the portion of the aft deck, on the stern, that Mama’s Kitchen uses for al fresco dining in the evening.


We enjoyed a delightful evening, on a warm night, dining, socializing, and just having fun while enjoying the view of Mykonos at night off of the stern.

Mama’s Kitchen is one of the cost included restaurants.

During our last visit to Mama’s Kitchen we’d met Klaus Baumgarten the Executive Sous Chef on the Jewel. He’s basically responsible for all the food preparation of all the food outlets on Deck 12. We were delighted to learn that tonight he had personally cooked all the meals for our group of CruiseMates. And I can tell you it was an outstanding meal. Everyone in the group was licking their plates, and the service team we enjoyed tonight in Mama’s kitchen was a delight as well.


The combination of the food, service and setting, while dining with such nice people made for a terrific night. So good, that even though we got there at 8 P.M, we were still “gabbing? until 10:30, and missed the comedy show by the Second City Troupe, who I would have liked to see. But I’m really not regretful having spent a lovely evening with new friends.

It is shocking to me that this cruise is coming to an end. It’s happening much too quickly! Tomorrow our stop is Izmir, Turkey, where we have a private tour booked for us and four other CruiseMates.
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  #76 (permalink)  
Old May 16th, 2007, 06:33 PM
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NCL Jewel Virtual Cruise
May 16 - Mykonos

Unlike the other Greek Islands we’ve visited, Mykonos is more desert like, and much less lush with vegetation and greenery. We saw a fair bit of cactus in our wanderings. During today’s visit I don’t think I saw one olive tree. The island is very much a resort island, and favored by the rich and famous, as well as young low budget traveler alike.


The Jewel docked in Mykonos, quite a fair distance from the main town of Hora (or Mykonos City), but free shuttle service was provided to a bus station closer to the town, along the sea wall. When we went to catch the shuttle this morning, there was Captain Fafalios watching the shore excursions leave, and talking to passengers.

From where the shuttle dropped us off, we went up one street, and saw several car rental companies. This time I walked into a couple of agencies to check on pricing, and we settled on a 4 door Ford Focus, for $62 Euro for the day, including full insurance coverage from EuroCar. This vehicle even had some gasoline in the gas tank, and we were instructed to return it with approximately the same levels. Split 4 ways this was a very reasonable per person cost for a day of touring.

Finding our way around this morning was not quite as simple as in Santorini. The map we got was in Greek, and the most of the road signage was also only in Greek. I got some very general directional information at the rental shop, and we headed out to get lost, find our way, get lost again, and explore. So, for this island, going off as we did you need a bit of a spirit of adventurer, but don’t worry, eventually every road leads to somewhere.


We discovered some very narrow, and “interesting? roadways, but always eventually came to a more traveled path that lead to places we could actually find on the map. After a couple of somewhat harrowing driving maneuvers (harrowing for my passengers, not me. I drive like a Greek), we found our way to several beautiful beach and resort areas. We saw one hotel/ resort, with signage clearly indicating it was for those 18-35 only. It looked like party central. Oh to be young again.

By accident, looking for Paradise Beach, we stumbled onto Super Paradise Beach.


If you’re looking for signs, realize that these two are NOT the same beach. Though both are quite beautiful.

I preferred Paradise Beach, as the views are magnificent, there’s a variety of bars and restaurants to chose from, and bathroom facilities are clean.




We enjoyed a very nice lunch, with huge Greek salad, calamari, suvlaki in pitas, and drinks for $65 Euro for the 4 of us, with views of the ocean as delicious as the food. When we first arrived the beach was almost deserted, and it was quite magnificent. As the day passed the beach got a quite a bit busier, but not packed. Lots of the ship’s crew were there, so we kind of knew we’d picked the right beach. Well, it was the Captain who recommended it.

This was really the perfect time to sail this itinerary. During the high season - June thru August- many ports on this itinerary will be crowded to overflowing, making covering all the ground much more difficult. By the luck of the draw, I suppose, we’ve had absolutely gorgeous weather.

Even here in Mykonos we lucked out. Mykonos is known to be a very windy island. In fact the residents build rock terraces in the countryside to help prevent top soil from being blown away. During our visit today the winds were almost dead still, and there wasn’t a ripple in the seas surrounding the island.

After Paradise Beach we returned the rental car, and strolled through the town of Hora. There are a multitude of tavernas and restaurants overlooking the bay for those who want to venture no further out of town, and of course the ever present shopping opportunities. There’s not many bargains here, it is after all a part of the European Union.



Mykonos apparently had a very vibrant night life, and the ship did stay at the dock until 9:30 P.M. tonight. The real night life didn’t start by then, but many passengers went off to have Greek dinner on land.

The day before yesterday the “daily? had information regarding disembarking procedures. Anyone not using NCL transfers (considered independent travelers) could simply go guest relations and chose their disembarkation time, and receive luggage tags to match. On NCL you’re not treated like old fish on the last day, and thrown off. Passengers are allowed to have breakfast, even room service breakfast, and stay in their cabins until their luggage tag colors are called. I’m sure it created extra work, but it’s such a civilized way to end a cruise I’m shocked more cruise lines don’t follow suit.

I have obviously been spending a considerable amount of time on the Internet, filing my stories each night, and uploading pictures to the galleries. I’m well over 1000 minutes of Internet time, and I can tell you the speed of the Internet service has been excellent. Often when I write these virtual cruise reports I have to battle to post just a few pictures and each day’s report. This trip was the easiest yet, though still plenty of work and time spent. I am delighted to have been able to share this fantastic experience with everyone back at CruiseMates.

I have to thank NCL for the complimentary Internet time. I’d have to have taken out a mortgage on Mrs. Kuki if I was paying, but for regular users they do offer time packages of varying lengths, and you can use the ship’s Internet Café by the art galleries, or your own laptop with wireless service from any of the public areas, or as I have done, bring along an Ethernet cable and have the service directly from your cabin. I have my laptop out on deck and used it as well. With your package you can log in to your account either way; in cabin Ethernet, or wireless in public areas. Connecting speeds were about the same each way.

A bit of a hiccup arose tonight in that we’re not really sure how the Turkish Visas are being handled. There was a note tonight, in the daily for tomorrow, saying we’ll be getting Turkish “landing cards? tomorrow, and must return them when returning to the ship. But there was no comment made about when, how, etc. we’ll be getting these landing cards. There was also no note or announcement about the Visas that will be required to enter Turkey the next day, when we arrive in Istanbul. Guest relations is telling those who’ve asked that the Visas will be in our passports when they are returning before disembarking in Istanbul, and the charge will be applied to the passenger’s onboard accounts. But those who didn’t ask are left in the dark, and there seems to be some misinformation going around the ship from those who did inquire. A more detailed explanation of the process in the daily would have been most helpful, and avoided much of the speculation.


Knowing the Jewel would stay docked in Mykonos until 9:30 P.M. tonight we thought it would be a great opportunity to get some CruiseMates together, and enjoy dinner on the portion of the aft deck, on the stern, that Mama’s Kitchen uses for al fresco dining in the evening.


We enjoyed a delightful evening, on a warm night, dining, socializing, and just having fun while enjoying the view of Mykonos at night off of the stern.

Mama’s Kitchen is one of the cost included restaurants.

During our last visit to Mama’s Kitchen we’d met Klaus Baumgarten the Executive Sous Chef on the Jewel. He’s basically responsible for all the food preparation of all the food outlets on Deck 12. We were delighted to learn that tonight he had personally cooked all the meals for our group of CruiseMates. And I can tell you it was an outstanding meal. Everyone in the group was licking their plates, and the service team we enjoyed tonight in Mama’s kitchen was a delight as well.


The combination of the food, service and setting, while dining with such nice people made for a terrific night. So good, that even though we got there at 8 P.M, we were still “gabbing? until 10:30, and missed the comedy show by the Second City Troupe, who I would have liked to see. But I’m really not regretful having spent a lovely evening with new friends.

It is shocking to me that this cruise is coming to an end. It’s happening much too quickly! Tomorrow our stop is Izmir, Turkey, where we have a private tour booked for us and four other CruiseMates.
__________________
C U @ C,
Kuki
CruiseMates' Staff Writer
- The Kuki Side of Cruising-
A new Blog post every Wednesday
http://www.cruisemates.com/blog/author/kuki/
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  #77 (permalink)  
Old May 17th, 2007, 04:27 AM
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The port closest to my home you have been to on your Baltic cruises is Stockholm, I assume you have been there even though not all Baltic cruises stop there. I live about 1,5 hours by car north of Stockholm.

I think that the area outside Stockholm, with all the islands, is very nice and I have cruised there a few times on short cruises to Finland and Estonia. When I think about cruises, I really don´t think about cruises to Finland and Estonia because they are to short and nothing like "real" cruises. For example the food isn´t included in the price and the cabins are like shoeboxes!
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  #78 (permalink)  
Old May 17th, 2007, 05:59 AM
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Default Thank you cruisemates for this blog!

Kuki thanks for the continued informaiton about the visas. Your blog and pictures from the greek island stops are fantastic! I'm glad you are having great weather and how nice of NCL to allow you to post for free! My family is getting more excited by the day and can't wait to try NCL for our first time!

Where were you in Mykonos in that picture with the wicker furniture with white cushions just by the sea? Amazing!
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Old May 17th, 2007, 08:57 AM
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Hi Kuki. This Virtual tour is great and has provided a lot of good information! I can't wait to go on this cruise on the 31st! I have a questions for you:

1) At the car rental agencies you have dealt with did you need an international drivers license to rent the car or did you just use your normal license?

2) Do you think that Alexandria would be a reasonable city to navigate on your own? We are debating hiring a guide or just doing it ourself. It looks like on the map that a lot of the sites of Alexandria are not that far from the harbor (short taxi ride) and are within walking distance (although a lot of walking) from each other. If you went back would you do it yourself or still hire a guide?
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Old May 17th, 2007, 09:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by klab04
Hi Kuki. This Virtual tour is great and has provided a lot of good information! I can't wait to go on this cruise on the 31st!
Hi Klab04- are you signed up to our Roll-Call for the 31st sailing on the other site? If not, and you need help joining our group, email me at JEFARL@aol.com
Jef
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Old May 17th, 2007, 05:54 PM
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NCL Jewel - Virtual Cruise Report
May 17 - Izmir, Turkey

Izmir is a port of call I also didn’t research too much in advance, other than checking on some private tour guides available. We knew we would be spending the greater part of our day here touring Ephesus, so arriving here I didn’t know what to expect. Izmir is a huge city, with a population of 4 Million people. I was so pleasantly surprised to find a clean, modern city, with very tourist friendly people. We certainly didn’t see all that much of the city itself, but even during sail-a-way this evening, from the ship we could get an idea of the splendor and beauty of the city.

The cruise terminal facilities at Izmir’s port were very crowded this morning, as the Carnival Freedom pulled into port shortly after the Jewel. This terminal and parking are quite cramped, with little space for all the tour buses necessary to service excursions for both ships. Because of the chaos we did have a bit of a hard time connecting with the private guide we booked for 6 of us today, from Meander Travel, here in Turkey. After a bit of scrambling we did meet up, and we set off for the day. They had sent a 14 passenger mini bus for the 6 of us, so we had lots of space to spread out and enjoy the transportation.

For information purposes, if you’re booking tours for 2 people they’ll send a car, 4 or more they send this mini bus, and have buses for 22 and another that will seat up to 45.

I chose Meander Travel in large part because of the name. The word Meander has several meanings, and one of those describes what we like to do on our tours; meander. I believe Meander Travel was named at least in part for the same reason, and also after the Meander River here in Turkey.

Our guide for today was Hakan EDIRNE, who is a university graduate with a degree in Archeology. He still works as an Archeologist, as well as working a tour guide. By the end of the day we felt we had lucked out having Haken as our guide. Aside from sharing his archeological knowledge about the sites we visited, our conversations through the day were telling; showing us his passion for his country and his community.

He skillfully told us the stories of the archeological sites at the House of the Virgin Mary, Ephesus, and the Temple of Artemis. Then he also explained how diverser the economy of Turkey is. There’s a large automobile construction industry here, though they are building vehicles for major auto manufacturers like Toyota, Renault, etc., not any vehicles under a Turkish brand name. Agriculture is very significant here as well, as he told us that just about everything grows here.

With our curiosity of the recent stories of the million person demonstrations here, our conversation turned to political life in Turkey for awhile. Haken explained that the majority of citizens in Turkey are very proud of their secular society. The population is by far, mostly Muslim, but has a history of being very accepting of others since the revolution, and rise of democracy and secularism. They believe every religion should be allowed, respected, and treated fairly.

As is the case with over zealousness of any religious or political extremes, they fear trouble if the countries leadership leans to those types of extremes, and attempts to make drastic changes to their society, which they feel is functioning so well at the moment.

The first stop on our tour was the home of the Virgin Mary, a small building, which is of importance to all Christians.

There’s also a wall here where visitors place notes with their prayers and wishes.

Our stop here was short, and we moved on to the amazing archeological displays at the ancient city of Ephesus.

Haken kept us riveted with his educational talks about the important historical value of the site, as we moved through.

The most obviously visually stunning and impressive structures are what was once the Ephesus library, and the 23,000 seat ancient amphitheater (that was used as late as last year for an Elton John concert).



The Ephesus site was very busy today, and I can only imagine how crowded it will get as things more “into the season?.

It was VERY warm at Ephesus today, and we saw several people either fall, or feel faint, probably because of a combination or lack of hydration, and not wearing hats. Be sure to wear a hat, and carry plenty of water with you.

From Ephesus we headed in the direction of the site of the Temple or Artemis. On the way we stopped for a traditional Turkish lunch, at a “traditional? Turkish gas station restaurant. They served a buffet lunch that was surprisingly good. The Temple of Artemis site no longer has many ruins, as they’ve crumbled and fallen, but there were still some interesting tidbits, and a photo op.


We were then taken back to the pier, and we were back onboard by 4 P.M for a 5 P.M. sailing. The sail-a-way from Izmir reveals a pretty dramatic showcase of the modern Izmir.



This evening we decided to have dinner in the Azura Dining Room. The Azura is the smaller of the two cost included main dining rooms. We had no reservation, instead we just showed up at 7:30 P.M, and there was no wait for a table. The service was excellent yet again, and the food was very tasty. The four of us were commenting at dinner that overall we can’t recall encountering such an over all friendly crew. Every crewmember we’ve spoken to over the course of this cruise seems to have a smile on their face, and a moment to chat.

Tonight’s showroom entertainment was the Jean Ryan Production Company’s Cirque Bijou, and it was really entertaining. The troupe received a well deserved standing ovation from a packed house.

Later this evening the Second City Comedy Troupe were doing an ad lib adult show in the Spinnaker Lounge on Deck 13, and there was a Chocoholic buffet at the Garden Café. Having spent a full day in the sun, I didn’t attend either, coming back to the cabin to send in tonight’s report and get some sleep instead. Mrs. Kuki did go see Second City, and reports that the show was quite entertaining.

Tomorrow we arrive in Istanbul around 12 Noon, and overnight there until we disembark on Saturday morning. I’m not sure when we’ll have time to pack, but we’ll have to fit it in somewhere.
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Old May 17th, 2007, 06:07 PM
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Default RE: the House of the Virgin Mary

When you have a chance can you tell a bit about this site. I've never heard of it and would like to know more.

From all you have said about this cruise it is making me more excited for our cruise on the Pearl in Oct. Though we are only on for a 5 night and not a longer one.
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Old May 17th, 2007, 06:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by klab04
Hi Kuki. This Virtual tour is great and has provided a lot of good information! I can't wait to go on this cruise on the 31st! I have a questions for you:

1) At the car rental agencies you have dealt with did you need an international drivers license to rent the car or did you just use your normal license?

2) Do you think that Alexandria would be a reasonable city to navigate on your own? We are debating hiring a guide or just doing it ourself. It looks like on the map that a lot of the sites of Alexandria are not that far from the harbor (short taxi ride) and are within walking distance (although a lot of walking) from each other. If you went back would you do it yourself or still hire a guide?
I just need my regular driver's license.

To be honest I don't think I'd venture off on my own in Alexandria, and we've gone wandering in many cities around the world.
At the very least I'd get a private guide.
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Old May 18th, 2007, 12:35 AM
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Well Kuki we will be on the May 31 cruise , never have I have been as excited or prepared with knowledge etc as I will be on this cruise. as I have done the travel arrangements etc for our party of 7, you have helped to take a lot of the aprehension & guesswork out of my task!!!thank you very much for the time & effort that you have donated to all of us who have been eagerly traveling along with you I sent your reports to friends in the UK who I am trying to convince they should go on a cruise . if they don,t book after reading same I give up!!! If you have chance could you let me know whom & how I should contact a person on The Jewel for a meeting place for our Roll Call, May I wish you & your lovely wife a happy visit to Istanbul & a safe & pleasant journey home. my e-mail is www.margaret_hinklley@yahoo.com
Jean
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Old May 18th, 2007, 03:52 AM
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Thank you so much for your travel log. I'm on the May 31st cruise and can't wait! (for those on the May 31 roll call, I'm listed as general judy). One question I hope you can help on. In my research, it indicated that men (and also women) could not be wearing shorts to be admitted to churches and mosques. It appears from many of your pictures, that you are. In fact, many sites advised women to wear skirts doing the day as shorts are generally unacceptable in Europe. Can you clarify, I don't want to be denied access? (In fact, I was once denied access to St. Peter's in Rome and don't want to repeat that)
Thanks again for all of your efforts.
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Old May 18th, 2007, 10:51 AM
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Questions.

The internet room, how is it compared to DAWN in size and comfort?

The teen and kids facilities, can you decsribe them a little.

Rock climbing wall, is there a charge to use, can you give impressions on this . Is it on Jewel or is this a new feature to PEARL and GEM. ( asking because Jewel is sister to these two other ships).

Bowling lanes- are they on this ship or is it just PEARL and then GEM that will have it? What do you think of them. what is charge to use them.

Space between the bed and the wall, one side of bed is up against sofa, how much space is there between wall and bed on the other side.

Reservations for dinner...a phone call....line up in AM at reservation desk? through interactive TV?

How do you think the pool's all work in the same area? As opposed to an aft pool that was for kids and centre pool on NCL . Apparently kids pool area is now in same area as adult area's as opposed to being AFT.

Thank you.
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Old May 18th, 2007, 02:02 PM
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Kuki,

Thanks for the great job. Both my wife and I have greatly enjoyed reading this. We wish we could have been there with you. This is your best "Virtual Cruise" yet.

Thanks,
Mike and Betty
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Old May 18th, 2007, 05:34 PM
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NCL Jewel Virtual Cruise
May 18, Istanbul, Turkey

***First off*** - an answer to an important question about the Visas for Egypt and Turkey.
Egypt - as I reported earlier, they collect everyone’s passport at embarkation, and return them to passengers before arrival in Alexandria. It appears there is NO charge for this visa.

Turkey - for the first two days, while you’re still returning to the ship from land visits, on the gangway you are given Turkish landing cards, and there’s no charge for those. The last night onboard they return your passports, with the Turkish Visa stamp, and apparently (I haven’t checked my bill yet) there is a $60 charge for this (at least for Canadians).

It’s nice that it’s handled by the ship, but I think passengers should be aware of the procedures and costs in advance. The lack of advance information on this is somewhat disconcerting. The information really should come with your cruise documents, or be posted when you fill in your online registration.

Those flying into Istanbul would obviously purchase their visas at the airport on arrival, but someone doing that will have to report on the actual cost.

Now… on to our day in Istanbul. To be succinct, INCREDIBLE. Just the sail into Istanbul (from the port side of the ship) is almost worth the cost of the cruise in itself. What a site!!!!

And the city itself, from the little we saw today is truly quite beyond superlatives. We had pre-booked today’s tour with Meander Travel again, and our guide today, Seda Erigin, was a delight!!! She’s a beautiful young women, with a very pleasant sense of humor, and I thought she had a very “Turkish look? about her (if there is such a thing).

As she was mentioning our planned itinerary for the day, she said we’d get the opportunity to sample some Turkish Delight. I said we already had some on the bus.

We really packed what is designed as a full day tour into 5 hrs. plus travel time. Our stops included the famed Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia Museum, and Topkapi Palace, and of course some time at the Grand Bazaar.

The Jewel pulled in to her berth at 12:30 P.M., but was not cleared until about 1 P.M. We left as soon as we could and Seda was waiting for us outside of the cruise terminal building, and we were on our way. All the sites we were visiting are within a short distance of each other, and we walked between them, with the exception of getting to the Grand Bazaar. Traffic was at a total standstill on our return to the ship, and a 15 minute ride took almost 2 hrs, so our estimated return time of 7 P.M. became 9 P.M. , despite the best efforts of our driver.

We returned to the ship VERY tired, and quickly called the restaurant where we had an 8 P.M. reservation, Chin Chin, to see if they could accommodate us later. There was no problem, so we quickly showered and went for an enjoyable Asian dinner, as I’d missed this restaurant the night wasn’t feeling well.

I returned to the cabin very tired, and we had to get our bags out in the hall tonight; really sad moment.

I am much too tired to give today’s port visit justice this even, or load all the pictures I have into the galleries. So… I’m going to post a few, and hopefully give you an appetizer for the stories and photos to come to finish of this adventure in a day or two. We are staying in Istanbul for one night post cruise, and then since we’re already all this way over here, we are heading to Israel for a 1 week land cruise.

You really should check out the pics in the photo gallery already, and I promise many more to be added.
http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/view.php?id=3428
And I'll summarize the trip, with yet more details, but I have to get to bed.
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Old May 18th, 2007, 10:06 PM
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thanks again ever so much for the daily briefings... If you get a chance to post again, let us know what they ended up charged per person for the trukish visas for americans.

Any other way back to the ship to avoid the traffic or is there a better time of day that won't be so crowded. looks like you started back around 7pm?
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Old May 18th, 2007, 10:14 PM
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great posts thanks for the view into your cruise, the pictures are great.
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