Holy Land cruise - nice Itinerary
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|Reviewed By: Cox, Winscombe on 6th Jan 2010|
|Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean Cruises||Times cruised before: 6-10|
|Cruise Ship: Vision of the Seas||Sailed: October, 2009|
|Destination: Mediterranean||Age: 56-65|
|Cabin: Suite||Occasion: Birthday|
Cruise - Holy lands ; Ship Vision of seas ; Date of cruise 30th Oct -9th Nov 2009 reason 60th Birthday
Chose this cruise on basis of destinations ( Turkey , Rhodes ,Israel Egypt) and timing based on special occasion - my 60th birthday in November
Precruise - RCCL sent tickets / documents to the wrong person but we used online check in for tickets and flight seats OK. We had to fly to Istanbul a day early using an RCL recommended hotel ( extra cost ) but RCCL failed to provide transport to hotel or ship . Note 29th Oct is a National day and there can be disruption to transport - the firework display on the bosphorous is good
Check in at Istanbul dock was very smooth ( contrast other cruisers experiences). No assistance onboard in getting to Suite or map of ship however
Ship ( Vision of Seas) is spacious but getting " tired" in some areas and little details like broken balcony door lock and defective kettle did not impress. Note full Suite benefits ( as advertised) not available on this older ship
We paid our gratuities in advance( discount) and booked tours online ( payment in English pounds - note they will take it from the credit card even before you sail but it is ca 5% cheaper than booking onboard. Drink ( ban on bring drinks onboard rigourously enforced) is expensive .Wine >$ 25 / bottle , cocktails >$7 each - all +15%
.Service was reasonable good and prompt , food OK if unispiring ( we dined 2nd sitting , 8.45pm , table for 8 - excellent company) . Communication onboard was poor - they missed my 60th birthday ( perhaps a bonus given the usual excrcuating crew rendering of Happy Birthday) but more seriously advice as to collection of Israeli visas was poor - all persons must attend onboard immigration.
Tours were good ( if expensive) at all ports
Note the weather was poor in Turkey but improved from Rhodes onwards - suggest doing this cruise no later than mid Oct ( variable weather in Eastern Med after this time
Excellent tours of Istanbul and Ephesus ( Kusudaci) , apart from the rain . Sun all the time on tours at Rhodes , Acre ( from Haifa Israel) and Jerusalem ( from port Ashdod) , From Port Said Cairo and pyamids excellent but lon coasch ride ( 3.5h each way) , Alexandria is an interesting city spoiled (as is all Egypt) by general rubbish in the streets and the canal. Hotesl and restaurants are immaculate - unlike public toilets - avoid!
After a day at sea finally onto Athens - as usual the ship is keen to disembark passengers early to allow cleaning for next cruise but unless your flight is later than 3.30pm there are no tours and you may find yourself kicking your heels at Athens ( new) airport. You could use taxis - the airport is ca 1h outside Athens . At theairport the bonus isthat there are BA online checking booths - which if you can work them avoids the queues
NOTE Flights out from Heathrow and back by BA was by 757's whose overhead luggage cabins are small - beware!
I strongly recommend the itinerary but check your time of visit , make your decision re trips - you could book separately in advance - not practical at dockside. I l liked the size of the ship which , apart from the irritations was overall spacious ( plenty of lounges with sea views). The usual "in your face" attempt to extract extra $ was not as bad as I expected but do budget for additional costs of booze and trips. photographs and videos were expensive - the latter is NOT worth it. Avoid art auctions - apart from the free champagne
Any other queries ?
I R Cox
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