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  #91 (permalink)  
Old May 19th, 2007, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by traveling judy
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.
We didn't visit many churches, but each Mosque was a bit different. The basic rule was women had to have shoulders covered, and knees covered. So no sleevless shirts, but capri pants are fine for women. The Blue Mosque required men's knees to be covered. Where dress was inapporpriate, the mosque gave out sheets with velcro strips for men and women. So, you're covered, so to speak
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Old May 19th, 2007, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by jefarl
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?
The Visa was handled by the ship. Egypt was no charge, Turkey was $60 US per person charged to your shipboard account.

As to traffic.... our guide said it's always bad, but Friday's are the worst (and of course we were there on a Friday). Our driver tried short cuts, but nothing worked.

However, just make a later dinner reservation. NO WAY to do you want to rush back to the ship in Istanbul, from such a short stay. The Grand Bazaar closes at 7 P.M.
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Old May 19th, 2007, 10:09 AM
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Default We're in Istanbul

It's 4 P M Istanbul time. Disembarkation went smoothly, we had breakfast, said goodbye to friends, then sat in our cabin until our color was called.
Took a taxi to our hotel, the Ottoman Hotel Imperial (not to be confused with the Ottoman Hotel). A boutique style hotel (as most in Istanbul are), located immediately next to the "Sophia" Museum. All the sites in the area are very close, and about a 15 minute casual stroll to the Grand Bazaar.

The room is excellent, and stylish, and offers complimentary wiireless, and breakfast is included... we booked online for $109 Euro.

When we arrived we checked in, but our room was not ready. We left the luggage and went to the Grand Bazaar, as we'd done the Mosque, Museum, and Palace yesterday. Strolled in the Bazarr for hours, and I managed to find the ONLY shopkeeper in ALL of Turkey who wouldn't negotiate price! AMAZING Tough because I really liked what I was negotiating on.

Did get to enjoy the negotiating on a nice leather jacket for Mrs. Kuki. Just to give you an idea of where to start... they were asking $750 US. We ended up at $200. For that it's cute enough, that even if it ends up being plastic it's worth the money and the bargaining experience.

From there we walked back to the hotel. We're heading out shortly for Taxim... which is on the Asian side of the Bosphorous, where most of the locals live. Our guide had told us there's a wonderful pedestrian promenade there, with many cafes.... so we'll likely have dinner there.

I will fill in and update yesterday's Instanbul report later. Just too many good stories to not tell them... but need some time to write them.

Just before midnight last night, as we sat in the harbor there was a large fireworks display at the center of the Bay. It was the beginning of Turkey's Independance Day Celebrations.
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Old May 19th, 2007, 03:48 PM
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NCL Jewel - Virtual Cruise Report
May 18 & 19- Istanbul

When we disembarked from the ship today, at the bottom of the gangway there was the Captain shaking wishing a bon voyage to everyone. I’ve never seen that before, and I thought it was terrific.

I’m going to backtrack just a bit here, but Istanbul is just too special to pass on with the brief report I sent in last night.

Istanbul is the only city on earth that sits on two continents. Asia on one side, with bridges connecting to the part of the city that is in Europe. I’m not going to go into a detailed explanation of the history of the city, as I know I wouldn’t do it justice. But it’s important to know that it’s been a part of the Byzantine, Roman, and Ottoman Empires through it’s history.

Our guide for the day, Sada, had a difficult time passing on all the details of such a dramatic history in just a few hours, but she did an admirable job.

Today Istanbul has a population of approx 16 million, with 20,000 taxis. Traffic is quite amazing, and even a hard core pedal to the metal kind of guy like me would hesitate driving here. Though, the traffic on Saturday (for our post cruise stay) was much lighter, and less problematic than our tour yesterday.

Of the three major sites we visited (Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia Museum and Topkapi Palace, the Palace was the most interesting to me. All are amazing to visit, but the Palace, which began being built by the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire in 1470, and took 14 years to build, is breathtaking. Even though I’m generally not a “museum? kind of guy, I could have used more time here. The Palace and grounds once covered 6,300,000 sq ft., and at one time housed 33,000 people. The opulence of some of the original antiquities here will take you breath away. Be sure to visit if you can!

As we made our way through the day, touring with Seda, we passed a McDonalds, and she told us they refer to it as the “American Embassy?.

The Grand Bazaar has over 5000 shops within it’s walls, and surrounding streets… but there are many other shopping streets in the area, as well as other areas of the city. Sada explained that even the locals go to the Grand Bazaar to shop for jewelry, but for other items that Istanbul is well known for, like carpets or leather goods, in the bazaar you never know the quality you’re getting. And she reiterated that negotiating price is a MUST!!!…. Though in one jewelry store I came across what I’m sure is the ONLY jeweler in the Bazaar who would not negotiate at all; the price was the price. Oddly I bought something there, because it was the only ring I saw that I really liked, and it was almost comforting when he said that he could ask for double and then bargain. Of course, after I left he probably went to his neighboring stores to tell his friends he fried another one.

I saw the ring yesterday, and we went back to the Bazaar today to see more of it, and at the end I made my decision about the purchase.

This evening, on the recommendation of Sada, we visited Taksim, on the Asian side of the city. She had told us this was where the locals went, and when we arrived it looked like they were ALL there. It was perhaps even more crowded than the Grand Bazaar. Quite incredible to walk through, but these are not shops with “bazaar? pricing. It’s very European, and very high end. We just window shopped and found a spot for dinner.

Simply put, I LOVE Istanbul!!

We took taxis too and from Taksim, and you have to be careful about the taxis here, because some will try and rip you off. Taxis are metered, but in Turkish New Lira. KNOW your exchange rates. There is also a day and night rate (night rate kicks in after midnight). If you are traveling in the day, the meter should show the #1 on the left hand side.

Taxis at the pier are also a bit of a trick. If you get a porter to help with your bags they’ll take you to a gated area, and if you are not going far enough the drivers there will turn you away. You are far better off turning to the right as you exit the terminal, and walk to the taxis just outside the gate!

I apologize if I’ve repeated some information on the last two days. It’s been a very hectic time, and I can’t deny it’s been as tiring as it has been exhilarating.
At times through the trip I’ve felt I’ve absorbed so much I don’t know anything anymore.

If you have any more questions, please feel free to post them here, and I’ll do my very best to respond. I’ll be writing a full review of the ship on my return, so haven’t gone into minute detail here with a lot of that… but it will follow.

There is a new photo gallery with pictures from today’s adventure, and I personally think they are well worth looking at.
http://69.63.134.90/gallery/view.php?id=3430

Overall I thought the combination of this ship and this itinerary were outstanding. There were glitches of course, and others returning may have a different perspective on some aspects of the trip.... but if you haven't cruised NCL I recommend trying out the experience. And if you've sailed them previously but not the Jewel, Pearl, or upcoming Gem, jump onboard!! I don't think you'll be disappointed!

As I'm ending this report tonight, there's a fireworks display going on right outside my window 8) 8)
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Old May 19th, 2007, 06:11 PM
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Again your report on Istanbul is very informative. Can't wait to get there next September spending 5 nights before the cruise. I have one question about disembarkation of the ship. You mentionned that you had to wait in your room until they called your colour. I had the impression you cpuld disembark at your own pace until noon or so. Could you please enlighten me. Thanks and enjoy the rest of your wonderful trip.
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Old May 19th, 2007, 09:17 PM
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Kuki, you've been so wonderfully descriptive that I feel like I was on the cruise with you. Would you mind telling me what type of camera you use to take such great pictures (I'm still stuck in the 35mm film world and it's time to learn how to take real pictures).
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Old May 19th, 2007, 10:51 PM
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Kuki, Thanks for the great trip, I hope I can take the same one some day.
The blue skirt was very becoming on you........................
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Old May 20th, 2007, 02:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Papillon
Again your report on Istanbul is very informative. Can't wait to get there next September spending 5 nights before the cruise. I have one question about disembarkation of the ship. You mentionned that you had to wait in your room until they called your colour. I had the impression you cpuld disembark at your own pace until noon or so. Could you please enlighten me. Thanks and enjoy the rest of your wonderful trip.
I said you COULD wait in your cabin, NOT that you had to.

You get the choice of departure time.. but you have to chose that time in advance, to get the appropriate color luggage tags.... unless you are carrying off all your own luggage.
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Old May 20th, 2007, 04:47 AM
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After reading some of your entries in this thread, especially those about the friendliness of the staff and officers, I am definitely gonna be booking an NCL cruise in the near future. That freestyle dining is something that I definitely want to try too.

Thanks so much for pointing me in the direction of a new cruising experience, Kuki!

Blue skies ...

--rita
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Old May 20th, 2007, 09:21 AM
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The Visa was handled by the ship. Egypt was no charge, Turkey was $60 US per person charged to your shipboard account.

.[/quote]

about a week ago you posted that
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.

Now you said they ended up charging you $60 dollars each not $20?
and they never told the passengers until it showed up on the bills???
that's outragous... i read somewhere on the internet that the visas' were obtainable at the pier thru Customs for $20. Did you see anyplace to get them ourselves and save $80 a couple or are we stuck.
Did NCL give you any explaination from what the Hotel Director today you and what he charged you?

Will keep looking for you response and any more follow up on your wonderful cruise!
thanks again...
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Old May 20th, 2007, 03:49 PM
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Now you said they ended up charging you $60 dollars each not $20?
and they never told the passengers until it showed up on the bills???
that's outragous... i read somewhere on the internet that the visas' were obtainable at the pier thru Customs for $20. Did you see anyplace to get them ourselves and save $80 a couple or are we stuck.
Did NCL give you any explaination from what the Hotel Director today you and what he charged you?
I agree that it wasn't correct to not inform passengers earlier about the cruise, and I think I stated that quite CLEARLY in an earlier post.

I didn't see anywhere, or anyone at the cruise terminal where you could purchase a visa. The only personnel were security.

I didn't see my bill until the morning we departed the ship, so I didn't get a chance to discuss the visa issue again with anyone, though I will try and follow up on it when I get home.... which won't be for another week.

I suggest when you get onboard, go to Guest Relations and ask them their policy on this...... or perhaps, someone from NCL will see this thread, and make sure the info is made public early in the cruise.

BTW, I said earlier the Hotel Director had told me the visa price varied depending on what country you were from... and I didn't go into detail on what the costs for the various countries would be.

The whole Visa issue is confusing, but honestly if that's the worst thing I had to complain about on a cruise, it simply "ain't so bad."
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Old May 20th, 2007, 03:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BornToCruise
Kuki, you've been so wonderfully descriptive that I feel like I was on the cruise with you. Would you mind telling me what type of camera you use to take such great pictures (I'm still stuck in the 35mm film world and it's time to learn how to take real pictures).
I normally use a Nikon D70, digital, which I have a couple of lenses for. This trip, to save on weight, I brought my much smaller Sony DSC-T100. with a 4 gig memory card... but I've been uploading pics and video from it to my laptop each day. Does a pretty decent job.
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Old May 20th, 2007, 04:25 PM
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Hello to everyone ,who's been reading along, from Israel. We're now "camped out" on the 20th floor of the David - InterContinental Hotel overlooking the Mediterranean.

Just a word to those who'll be flying out of Athens on their return flights home. It's QUITE the airport. Security check before you even enter the building, then check in, then passport control, then security again before entering the gate areas. LOTS of great restaurants and shops, and a duty free shop the size of a department store. A beautiful airport.

Service at the airport was exemplory.

We were flying business class on Turkish Airways to Israel, and to use their executive lounge, and it's amazing---- like a Sultan's Palace.
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Old May 20th, 2007, 05:06 PM
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It sounds basically like the VISA thing was the only thing that maybe wasnt the best way in terms of information, if thats the worste complaint, then it is a pretty good cruise I would say.

For getting off the ship. Because we are Canadians and have to wait for passports, we could not get off early ourselves. On DAWN and SPIRIT that arrived in NEW YORK we were not able to choose our departure time UNLESS you had proof of a flight to catch. We were assigned a color and were called when it was time to get in line, starting from the upper decks and working the way down. The Americans get off first, and then those with non American passports were next. Unfortunately, in our last cruise, on DAWN , people being people did not do this and stood in line creating total chaos, in the end, what did they save? 20 minutes or so? We went for a lazy nice breakfrast, sat out on deck, and then went to our cabin and did a few things ( calibrate the GPS to go back home etc) and when our color was called we went down, got the passport and left. Life is to short to worry about getting off an hour earlier or later. What is nice with NCL is you have the OPTION of staying in the cabin till you are called............as opposed to sitting in a lobby or theatre waiting for your time or color.
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Old May 20th, 2007, 10:18 PM
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You mention the Athens airport, thank for the information as that is where we will be flying into (we're on the May 31st cruise). Did you happen to hear how early passengers with flights out of Istanbul were able to disembark? I just today read (on Delta's site) that we need to be checked in for flights at the Istanbul Airport 3hours and 15 minutes prior to the flight. As we have a 12:30pm flight, I'm somewhat concerned. I booked the transfers through NCL, so I'm having my TA call and double -check. I've always taken my time getting off with NCL, but this time it won't be an option. Thanks again for your wonderful posts.
Judy
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Old May 21st, 2007, 02:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by traveling judy
You mention the Athens airport, thank for the information as that is where we will be flying into (we're on the May 31st cruise). Did you happen to hear how early passengers with flights out of Istanbul were able to disembark? I just today read (on Delta's site) that we need to be checked in for flights at the Istanbul Airport 3hours and 15 minutes prior to the flight. As we have a 12:30pm flight, I'm somewhat concerned. I booked the transfers through NCL, so I'm having my TA call and double -check. I've always taken my time getting off with NCL, but this time it won't be an option. Thanks again for your wonderful posts.
Judy
That was a big OOOPS on the airport. I MEANT TO SAY Istanbul airport. So sorry. .. a TYPO of the mind.

There were people leaving the ship as early as 4 AM to make flights. It's not a problem. It is a REAL shame you're not going to spend some pre cruise time in Istanbul. I wish we'd have move time there.
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Old May 22nd, 2007, 10:28 AM
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hopefully you get this email and can help us.. about a week ago, one of you roll-call asked you for a contact name for NCL Jewel to help set up a room for our meeting on the May 31st sailing. Maybe you missed the question...

Do you have any idea who we contact, either email or phone? we are up to 40 people so far and have set the Spinnaker Lounge on deck 13 to meet after day 2 sailing but would like to try to get a room...
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Old May 22nd, 2007, 05:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jefarl
hopefully you get this email and can help us.. about a week ago, one of you roll-call asked you for a contact name for NCL Jewel to help set up a room for our meeting on the May 31st sailing. Maybe you missed the question...

Do you have any idea who we contact, either email or phone? we are up to 40 people so far and have set the Spinnaker Lounge on deck 13 to meet after day 2 sailing but would like to try to get a room...
I'm afraid I don't have a contact name that I can pass on for you to get ahold of in advance. I'd suggest the Star Bar though..this spot is intimate enough, but rarely used. Once onboard you could certainly drop a note at Guest Relations to Armando Da Silva, the Hotel Director, to let him know you're planning a get together.... or Ruth, the Concierge onboard, who was very helpful with organizing anything we requested.
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Old May 22nd, 2007, 05:32 PM
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thanks but while i was waiting i saw earlier posts and took a chance and emailed to shipcoordinatorjewel@ncl.com and it worked!
Mayra Mateiro, the Norwegian Jewel Ship Coordinator, got back to me and we are working on setting up a meeting with some sip's officers attending too.

Thansk and hope you are enjoying Israel!.

Shalom
Jef
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Old May 23rd, 2007, 08:25 AM
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Ypur've done a great deal of work on this and I congratulate you for it, I knew you were on board as I saw your "card" but never got to catch up and meet each other-I did ask Klaus where he last saw you but you were gone ! lolololol
We get back on the Jewel for Back to Back 8th Oct Istanbul - Miami with a fabulous 2 day stop over in Venice and is with Kuki, you wont get a better deal on any ship than the over all deal and Intenary this ship is giving and I have been asked already what was the Transatlactic croosing like, the Jewel not only has great stableisers but a unreal computer wave hull that makes cruising a pleasure, in fact the one single night it was a little rough and not all that bad anyway was in the Mediterranean-.....who would have ever thought!!!!
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Old May 23rd, 2007, 04:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jefarl
thanks but while i was waiting i saw earlier posts and took a chance and emailed to shipcoordinatorjewel@ncl.com and it worked!
Mayra Mateiro, the Norwegian Jewel Ship Coordinator, got back to me and we are working on setting up a meeting with some sip's officers attending too.

Thansk and hope you are enjoying Israel!.

Shalom
Jef
Jef.. glad to hear you got something set up. If the Hotel Director, F & B Director or Captain show up be sure to say Hi from Kuki.
ENJOY!
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Old May 23rd, 2007, 04:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dropanchor
Ypur've done a great deal of work on this and I congratulate you for it, I knew you were on board as I saw your "card" but never got to catch up and meet each other-I did ask Klaus where he last saw you but you were gone ! lolololol
We get back on the Jewel for Back to Back 8th Oct Istanbul - Miami with a fabulous 2 day stop over in Venice and is with Kuki, you wont get a better deal on any ship than the over all deal and Intenary this ship is giving and I have been asked already what was the Transatlactic croosing like, the Jewel not only has great stableisers but a unreal computer wave hull that makes cruising a pleasure, in fact the one single night it was a little rough and not all that bad anyway was in the Mediterranean-.....who would have ever thought!!!!
Sorry to hear you were onboard with us, and we never met. I'd love to be doing the crossing back in the fall. Enjoy all those 25 hr days
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Old May 23rd, 2007, 04:42 PM
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Jef.. glad to hear you got something set up. If the Hotel Director, F & B Director or Captain show up be sure to say Hi from Kuki.
ENJOY![/quote]


they know you as Kuki?? not your real name?

Jef
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Old May 23rd, 2007, 08:17 PM
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you could also ask the Aussie Julia who is the person that does the Freestyle Daily
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Old May 24th, 2007, 03:16 PM
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Quote:
they know you as Kuki?? not your real name?
They kept calling me Mr. Blitt, so I kept looking around for my father

But they know me as Kuki too, and certainly will remember if you mention CruiseMates, and reading the reports.
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Old May 25th, 2007, 01:41 AM
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Default Great information + Alexandria question

Kuki--thanks for the good prep for our 31May cruise.
- Alexandria: is it possible to disembark at 7am and catch the 8am train to Cairo. We're meeting a friends friend and want to give him a time.

You're whet our appetite!
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Old May 25th, 2007, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by california50's
Kuki--thanks for the good prep for our 31May cruise.
- Alexandria: is it possible to disembark at 7am and catch the 8am train to Cairo. We're meeting a friends friend and want to give him a time.

You're whet our appetite!
hallie
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I'm not at all familiar with the train in Alexandria. I don't even recall seeing the train station, so can't be of much help. I'd be surprised if you even get off the ship too much before 8 A.M. since you have to wait for it to be cleared.
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Old May 26th, 2007, 07:34 PM
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Default Re: Great information + Alexandria question

I am travelling on the May 31 Jewel cruise and have so much enjoyed your commentary.. I cruised on Jewel at Christmas and was quite excited to be able to return for this really exotic cruise.
I loved the ship and the free style concept. What did you think of the main dining rooms?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuki
Quote:
Originally Posted by california50's
Kuki--thanks for the good prep for our 31May cruise.
- Alexandria: is it possible to disembark at 7am and catch the 8am train to Cairo. We're meeting a friends friend and want to give him a time.

You're whet our appetite!
hallie
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I'm not at all familiar with the train in Alexandria. I don't even recall seeing the train station, so can't be of much help. I'd be surprised if you even get off the ship too much before 8 A.M. since you have to wait for it to be cleared.
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Old May 27th, 2007, 06:13 AM
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Default Re: Thank you cruisemates for this blog!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cruiser2007
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!
Thanks for the final reports with Istanbul, we are very excited to leave in a few days now! Also what was the name of the restaurant you were at in Istanbul (the one from the pictures you posted).
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Old May 27th, 2007, 10:42 AM
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Default Re: Thank you cruisemates for this blog!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cruiser2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by cruiser2007
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!
Thanks for the final reports with Istanbul, we are very excited to leave in a few days now! Also what was the name of the restaurant you were at in Istanbul (the one from the pictures you posted).
Quote:
Originally Posted by cruiser2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by cruiser2007
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!
Thanks for the final reports with Istanbul, we are very excited to leave in a few days now! Also what was the name of the restaurant you were at in Istanbul (the one from the pictures you posted).
I'm sorry, neither Mrs. Kuki nor I remember the name of the beach in the picture. BUT, there was 1 NCL tour bus leaving when we got there, so you might look at where the NCL tour in Mykonos goes.. it was a hotel beach.

In Istanbul, the restaurant was in Taksim, along the pedestrian promenade, on the left hand side about 1/2 mile or so up from the square where it starts... believe it was called Del Rio (or something similar).
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