I'll be seeing the Greek ports and one or two Turkish ports for the first time soon. If you're familiar with Princess Cruise's stops on their 12 day Rome to Venice, which ports would you say are cities where you can just enjoy the port city, and which would you definately recommend taking an excursion? What's not to miss? Thanks for your insight.
No problem, although that's why I was addressing those who might have gone because it doesn't change much. And I imagine if you've been on Princess' Greek Cruise, you'd never forget the itinerary. But just incase:
I'm skipping Rome and just going straight from the airport to Civitavecchia. What I'm most curious about - not so much the Italy ports, but the lesser obvious ones. Ephasus, Corfu, Can Oympia be seen without booking anything? And what about Mykonos. That's the stuff I'm most anxious to glean from someone's experience.
I'm skipping Rome and just going straight from the airport to Civitavecchia. QUOTE]
Kusadasi (Ephesus) - you need a tour, ship or otherwise.
Mykonos - you can do it on your own unless you want to see ancient Delos (need a tour.)
Athens - you can do it on your own. Modern metro is right at the port and stops everywhere you want to go (well, close anyway.)
Radiance of the Seas - Nov 2006
Legend of the Seas - Jun 2007
Costa Fortuna - Mar 2008
Legend of the Seas - Oct 2008
Celebrity Constellation - July 2009
MSC Orchestra - Jan 2009
Navigator of the Seas - March 2009
MSC Poesia - November 2009
Jewel of the Seas - June 2010
Ok, lets talk about those ports. Kusadasi is about 15 minutes from Ephesus which is one of those "don't miss places." In fact, IMHO Ephesus may be the most interesting ruins in the world. The other competing ruins (Pompeii) can also be visited on your cruise from Naples. To properly absorb Ephesus you should take a tour for your first visit. If you do not want to book the cruise line tour, than I would strongly recommend you find a local tour operator (you can do this on-line). If you wait until you get to the port, there will be taxis that will take you to the ruins, but you might have a problem finding a real competent guide. There is also an interesting street bazaar located across the street from the port where it can be fun to bargain.
Corfu is the largest and most important island in the Ionian chain, and its a very tourist friendly place. You can walk around the Corfu Town on your own, where you will find decent shopping and plenty of good cafes/restaurants. This is a good port to rent a car and simply drive around the island. If you Google the place you will find out about the highlights, but we just enjoy the entire atmosphere of driving this place.
Mykonos is primarily a beach resort island and you can easily explore the town on your own (they have some excellent jewelry shops) and perhaps take a local bus out to one of the major beaches such as Paradise. The beaches here are actually nice and sandy, the water is very clean, and their are decent facilities at the main beaches. The buses to the Paradise beach area leave from the bus station near the windmills (easy to spot in town).
As to Olympia, its quite a distance from Katakolon (a small fishing village) so you will need to either take a tour, rent a car (I have heard that there is now a small rental car agency in the town) or hire a taxi (not cheap but comparable to tours if you have 4). Personally, we find Olympia to be somewhat disappointing. Its pretty much a grassy field with a couple of ruins, but they do have a decent small museum adjacent to the site.
Hope this helps give you some ideas. Just shout if you need more specific details.
Oh man you have no idea!! Thanks to both of you. Your description of Olympia reminds me of the Stonehenge experience. You have to really care about the history to stand in the cool, clammy air all morning and stare at some stones. Although, I must say, I did ... and do ... and will! Great advice folks!
Mykonos is one you can do on your own. It's a small fishing village. We did the whole town on foot.
Santorini - DH & I did two different things, neither of us would do them again. DH did the volcano walk. It was a really difficult walk for him. I did Village Of Oia & Santorini Island. We had olive and wine tasting at before 9AM! Next time, we will ride the tram up and explore the city on our own. Lots of interesting shops, churches, cafes and views in Santorini.
Katakolon - Here we did the Olympia Museum & Folkloric Show. The museum was OK. The best part was the show. Wonderful dancing and music coupled with ouzo. Need I say more?
Corfu - We did Achilleion Palace & Corfu Town. The palace was lovely but we wished we'd taken a taxi to the old fortress and Old Corfu Town. The shopping there was great there.
Kusadasi - We took a Princess tour to Ephesus and the Terrace Houses. We felt a little rushed and wished we'd taken a private tour to allow more time. The port area was loads of fun for shopping.
You didn't ask about Venice but I wanted to share a couple things we did. We took one of the first ferries to St. Mark's Square. There we got an inexpensive gondola ride - yes, we asked for a reduced rate and got it because they weren't busy yet. In the evening, we did the "After Hours" Private Visit To St. Mark's Basilica. We both thought it was the most impressive shore excursion we'd ever been on. It was the perfect way to end our cruise.