by K Pasacreta
November 11, 2009
We just returned from our cruise to Naples, Messina, Alexandria, Limassol, Maramaris, Santaorini & Katakolon. We had the best time & adventures we had ever had. If you are not into exploring, experiencing other cultures and food then this is not for you. We have traveled on RCCL, NCL, Holland America & Princess and Carnival. But this was the most interesting off all the cruises we have done. The ship was the cleanest we have ever been on. We had a 1st time tour of below the decks & galley, it was spotless no matter where we went. This was the first time they were able to do this as we were a small group. There were only 56 english as a 1st language speaking on this trip. There was a large french travel group that took up about 2/3 of the group then german & italians. Although we found them to be rude at times we learned very quickly what to do if they butted in line. Leave no space in-front of you, if you do they will fill it.
The buffet was open only for breakfast & lunch so you had to go to the dining room for dinner. We tried foods that we would never of had before, like swordfish and cuttle fish. I was on a gluten-free diet and a special menu was presented to me for every meal. I never expected the foods like I had, thinking it was going to be bland and lifeless I was very much surprised. I experienced no problems and was looked after very well.If you want to avoid the buffet at breakfast/lunch them go to the dining room as it is open seating.
The ship was finishing this cruise and going into dry dock for two weeks of renovations, but even to the last night before things stayed the same everyone was cleaning as if it was normal & no operations ever failed to be provided.
In Naples we took the tour to Pompei it was fascinating. We had a very knowledgeable guide, who walked us through and explained everything, well worth it.
In Messina our tour was canceled due to not enough people wanted the english tour so we took another tour to Mt Etna. This can happen but on there european tours so just go with it. Our tour was in both spanish & english. But be cautioned if you get car sick take something before had as this is a very winding road up the mountain of switchbacks.
At Alexandria we took the tour out to the pyramids with a jeep & camel ride. An what a ride it was we left the dock in caravan style with several other buses and an armed guard with a automatic gun. This is standard procedure do don't be alarmed. Our guide was also very good she explained things along the way and as we went through the different areas at the sights, and they were unbelievable to see. If your into shopping then bring lots of 1.00 euro coins as this is the place to do it However be warmed the vendors are very aggressive DO NOT give your camera to anyone to take your pictures in Egypt period. "No problem lady I take your picture no charge", yeah no charge but they won't give back the camera until you pay them and expect to give them up to 50.00 euros. If you must have a picture of yourself standing in front of them then make arrangements with someone on the tour bus to do it.
Also they will try and grab you and put you on a camel or donkey for a ride. The free ride will cost you too, in more was that one. The lunch at the country club was pretty good. After lunch we got into jeeps for a ride out onto the desert. It was like a KIA commercial IEEEEEE!. They dropped us off at the camels and we rode them back to the hotel. That was fun and no one fell off. The camel drivers will take your picture but because they have been contracted it's ok to give it to them. They do expect a tip at the end we were told by the guide only to give them 2-3 euros only as they are getting paid. They wanted more and the don't want any egyptian money. We ended that long day at the Papyrus Museum and did some shopping there, no hassles.
In Limassol we took the Kourion Appollo tour. It took us around the island and up to Apollos ruins then ended in a village to do some shopping.
In Marmaris we chose to wander around on our own. What beautiful port very easy to get around. There is a large market with lots to buy but after a while everything looked the same. We found the best shop beside the tourist center to buy pashminas (shalls), called Carmen Silver. When we walked around they had the most beautiful ones. When in rome do as they do we had lunch at the bazaar at a typical Turkish restaurant and was it ever good. It was so different and isn't that why we took this cruise in the first place but to see and do new things. We had tea from one of the shop owners and bought way too much Turkish delight, remember to have room to pack all your goodies to bring home.
At Santorini we did the same wandered the town streets, we stopped to have coffee at the top looking down on our ship and lunch on a cliff. Santorini is above the sea and you have to either take the cable car up or the donkeys, cable car it is.
In Katakolon we took the your out to the Olympic site. Vancouver is hosting the 2010 winter games and we wanted to see the site where it all began.
At the beginning of the cruise we stayed in Genova at the Bristol Hotel for three nights before, it is very central and a good base as the train station is only 10 minutes walk away. Genova is best explored on foot we walked and walked exploring every alley eating our way through this city. We also adventured out on day trips on the train to the Cinque Terra and Bergamo to see my husbands mothers home town.
If you looking for a typical cruise them stay at home of go back to Caribbean or Mexico if not then explore the world. We read mixed reviews on Costa but as I say we had no complaints and would recommend this line to anyone as a matter of fact we are planning our next cruise with them now to return next year.