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Old March 21st, 2006, 08:41 PM
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Default Grand Mediterranean on Princess

Has anyone been on the Grand Mediterranean 12-day cruise on Princess? This one starts in Venice, goes to Athens, Kusadasi, Istanbul, Mykonos, Naples/Capri, Rome, Florence/Pisa, Marseille, and ends in Barcelona. This is our first cruise and we would welcome any thoughts and advice - especially on what to expect on a Princess cruise, shore excursions, and just general helpful hints. Thanks!
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Old March 21st, 2006, 09:52 PM
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anonimoun,

Has anyone been on the Grand Mediterranean 12-day cruise on Princess? This one starts in Venice, goes to Athens, Kusadasi, Istanbul, Mykonos, Naples/Capri, Rome, Florence/Pisa, Marseille, and ends in Barcelona. This is our first cruise and we would welcome any thoughts and advice - especially on what to expect on a Princess cruise, shore excursions, and just general helpful hints. Thanks!

I did a similar itinerary aboard MV Grand Princess in 1999, and enjoyed it very much in spite of the poor layout of the vessel.

Most European ports have relatively few shore excursions from which to choose, but most of the shore excursions tend to be "all day" affairs with lunch included because there's so much to see. They are not cheap, either (typically in the vicinity of $120 per person), but you'll see a lot more on a shore excursion than you can possibly see on your own because the shore excursions have reserved times at museums and other attractions and thus bypass the two-hour or longer lines awaiting admission. Make sure that you are well rested at the start of the cruise and that you have a couple days to rest after you return home because the only restful days during the cruise will be the days at sea -- and you won't have very many of them.

I also recommend avoiding the Mediterranean in late June, July, August, and early September because the climate tends to be very hot -- way too hot for sightseeing, which is what you will be doing when the ship is in port. May is a good time to go anywhere except Venice, but the best time to go to the Medieterranean is late September, October, and November.

Have a great cruise!

Norm.
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Old March 23rd, 2006, 05:10 AM
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Have done the Med several times in a variety of itinerary combinations. Am doing it again this summer from Venice to Athens on the Grand, June 9.

Here are my thoughts, definitely take excursions if possible. As said, alot tend to pack a full day, but not always necessary.

In Naples, Pompeii in the morning, then back to the ship for lunch, then Herculaneum in the afternoon. Doing that again this summer.

Athens, at minimum, the 1/2 day to the Acropolis, Platka, etc. However, I've been to Cape Sounion for Poisedons Temple and it is a most beautiful spot, if you don't mind a full day, as they have one that combines both.

Kusadasi, of course, Ephesus is the #1 tour here, not a full day stop. If you have never been do the St. Johns Basicallica in combo with the Ephesus tour. I am going to Epheses (been before) but on the tour that has the Terrace Houses. Last time I was there, they were just excavating them.

Istanbul, most definitely want to do the Mosques, and Topkapki. Then maybe head off on your own to the bazaar.

Civatevecchia, do an all day Rome.

Livorno, since you are close, it'd be a shame not to see Pisa and Florence, the all day combo is the best option here.

Mykonos, never been.

Venice, we are going in early, but taking the Doge palace and San Marco tour since they'll have the tickets.

Any questions specifically, ask away.

When are you sailing?
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Old March 23rd, 2006, 01:51 PM
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Thanks Norm & CruiseAholic! We are going May 16th, so hopefully we will miss the big crowds and hot weather.

Is Ephesus that great? I've heard some people say that they think it's better than Pompeii. We are going to Pompeii, but I wasn't sure about Ephesus, especially since I thought there was enough to do/see just by walking around the main part of town.

Any thoughts on the actual ship? I've heard so many mixed reviews...
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Old March 23rd, 2006, 02:03 PM
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As an alternative to Pisa and Florence, the Luca tour is great. The Pisa thing is a waste of time IMHO. Take the picuture and walk 30 minutes back to the bus.

If you have never been to Florence, then I would do that all by itself.
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Old March 23rd, 2006, 07:38 PM
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anonimoun,

Thanks Norm & CruiseAholic!

You're welcome!

We are going May 16th, so hopefully we will miss the big crowds and hot weather.

Good. The weather should be reasonable for touring then.

Is Ephesus that great? I've heard some people say that they think it's better than Pompeii. We are going to Pompeii, but I wasn't sure about Ephesus, especially since I thought there was enough to do/see just by walking around the main part of town.

Yes, the tour of Ephesus is terrific!

I totally disagree with the recommendation on Pompeii, though. Rather, do the full day excursion to the Isle of Capri from Napoli. It's a magnificent spot with quaint towns, rugged terrain, magnificent sights, fabulous dining (the tour includes a classic Italian lunch), incredible shopping (don't miss the wood inlay products in the town of Anacapri -- the craftsmanship is stunning and the prices are quite reasonable), and an interesting history of its own. The view from the funicular returning to the dock from the town of Capri alone is worth the trip!

I also disagree with the recommendation on the tour of both Firenze and Pisa from Livorno. That'ss way too much to cram into a single day, so you won't have time to see either very well, and it ended up being the only disappointment on the whole cruise. Since you are going to both Civitavecchia (for Roma) and Napoli, where you'll have full day tours, your best bet from Livorno probably is the half-day tour to Pisa so that you'll have a bit of "down time" in the midst of several ambitious ports of call. If you must see Firenze, though, skip Pisa and see Firenze well.

Norm.
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Old March 24th, 2006, 12:28 PM
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Yes, Capri is beautiful also, really, a very hard decision, but I guess for the first time, seeing the ruins was important to me.

Ephesus is outstanding, I have pictures of the prison afar off that we were told was the one, in which Paul was imprisioned, the earth quake came and the prisoners stayed behind as the jailer was going to kill himself.

One of the highlights I've ever had was in Naples, when I did the Med (Istanbul to Barcelona) on the Millennium, I was invited to the bridge for sailawy from Naples. It was quite a thrill!
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Old March 26th, 2006, 10:39 PM
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Okay, I think we're definitely going to go to Ephesus - Everyone just raves about that place (even on other message boards)! That is so cool about being on the bridge.
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