Review of Venice Cruise to Greece with Pre and Post stays in Venice

Dear Dave,

I’ve decided to stay in the Milan hotel while my husband goes to work today. (I went into the city center yesterday.) We head back tomorrow, and I thought this would be a good time to write up some feedback for you so you have more information to advise future travelers.

Buying the train tickets in Milan wasn’t a problem, but it helped that I had been there before. Other people may not want to bother with that. On two out of
the three trips we took, every seat was taken, so it definitely pays to book ahead of time.

First, the city tour in Florence was nice. It was good to hear the commentary, see the statue of David, and also get away from just the inner city where we had been walking to see a view from the nearby hills. The hotel there, Hotel Pitti Palace al Ponte Vecchio was really nice, only about 10 steps away from thePonte Vecchio. The rooms were nice, the view from the breakfast terrace was great, and it was the only place where unlimited internet access was included in the price of the room. The other places we had to pay by the minute. Internet access was particularly expensive on the cruise ship, but I guess one would expect that.

We also liked the first hotel in Venice, Casa Verrado. The vaparetto #1 was crowded and made many stops, but it got us where we needed to go. The hotel was a little hard to find (as many things are in Venice), and the room was a little small but nice. Also, it was very close to St. Mark’s Square as you know.  The guy at the desk gave us a really good tip about getting to the site of the cruise ships from the hotel. At the San Marco vaparetto stop, there is another line called Alilaguna that sails directly from there to where the cruise ships are for 6.50 Euros. You can also take it as you return from the cruise ship site to the San Marco stop. We enjoyed Venice a lot. It’s so much fun just to walk around.

The Royal Caribbean cruise was great. You definitely got us a good stateroom with a nice, large window. The room was bigger than I expected. The food was excellent. It would have been interesting to compare it with one of the Italian cruise lines. When we were looking online, we read some comments about the Costa one which said that the food wasn’t that great, that there was more smoking than they wanted and that the entertainment was really geared toward Italian speakers (as one would expect). Of course, it might not have been that much of a problem.  We certainly might try an international cruise line some day.

One specific question I had asked you was about how you get back to the ship when it is docked, specifically in Athens. What I can tell you is that in all the ports except Athens, either the boat was so close, you could walk back or there was a shuttle pick up, which was free if you had gone on one of their shore excursions or available for a small fee, e.g. 5 euros, if you had not. In Athens, the shore excursion bus would bring you back, or if you wanted to stay and shop, you were expected to get a taxi back, as you had said, I believe. We decided to go on back to the ship on the excursion bus, but I believe the taxi was only about 10 – 15 euros.

Speaking of excursions, I really didn’t see how one would take an excursion other than the ones offered by the ship. You suggested others, but I didn’t see how you would find a different one when you got off the boat.  The ones from the ship seemed very well organized, though the Athens one was so crowded that they had a little trouble. Your group was organized while you were on the ship, and then you were led directly to your bus.

We loved Split. After a walking tour through Diocletian’s palace, which basically is a small town in the middle of the city, we took a walk up to a place with a beautiful view. It was recommended in a little tourist flyer that we happened to see. We were a little disappointed in Corfu, though perhaps we could have taken a better excursion, I don’t know. We also loved seeing the Acropolis and Parthenon in Athens.

I think our favorite place was Mykonos. Our excursion was to the island of Delos, which has the ruins of an ancient Greek city along with some temples, and also areas that were developed during early Roman times. It was a beautiful 20-miute ferry ride from Mykonos and the sea breeze and white sailboats on the

turquoise water was really breathtaking. Mykonos itself was also gorgeous. We ate a seafood lunch in the “Little Venice” part of Mykonos under the shade overlooking the water and saw a huge pelican wandering around. They are taller and whiter than the ones we have in Texas. I later picked up a little knick-knack of a pelican as a memento. 

In Katakolon, we took the excursion to the site of the ancient Olympic games. I guess you can figure out that we’re most interested in historic sites.  I enjoyed hearing about it and seeing the structures and the field of competition, but I was disappointed that we didn’t have more time on our own in the museum. I think we saw the most important parts, but it would have been nice to have more time there. The Olympic site and museum were about a 30 – 45 minute ride from the ship, so I don’t know if it would have been possible just to do the trip there on your own, just reading the information plaques or not. I must admit, I enjoyed the shopping as well.

Back in Venice, the Hotel Bonvecchiati was in a really nice location and was nice from the outside, but the room/bathroom was a little disappointing. It was OK though. We really loved shopping in Venice. That Murano glass is really something.

This is probably more information than you are interested in, but hopefully you can help some future travelers with it. Thanks for your help with our vacation.