June 2014 - Norwegian Spirit to Europe - Mediterranean
This is a fantastic cruise. Not only do you see the greatest cities of the ancient world, walk where Aristotle and Caesar walked...you can see, taste, touch, and smell the places they lived. The ship is awesome in its own right. Not so big and so many people that every day off the gangway seems like a cattle call, yet big enough to offer something special and to the liking of everyone aboard this small town afloat. The crew is courteous and spirited and they aim to please...to make your journey relaxed and compfortable. You will work harder on this vacation than you are accustomed to at home unless you are a gym rat. There is so much to see you will not want to miss anything, so get out the walking shoes and do a couple of miles a day in preparation for this journey through time. The food on the ship is outstanding and the variety incredible...you will gain weight even with all the walking.
I have done 6 Med cruises, and for itenerary, amenities,ships cleanliness, ship size, time in port, and staff friendliness...this trip is the best by a significant margin! You get to see St Mark's Square and the canals of Venice and even take a water taxi or a Gondola ride. You get to stand atop the Acropolis and see the Parthenon and the Temple of Nike. Walk where Paul the apostle preached and Aristotle taught philosophy to Plato. See the last reputed residence and home of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ. Walk the Marble streets of Ephesus and touch the facade of the ancient library of Ephesus. Stroll the exact same street on which Cleopatra and Marc Antony walked in procession into the great port of Ephesus and stand in the Ampitheatre where Paul was arrested for preaching the gospel. It is reputed that he penned his first letter to the Corinthians while imprisoned in Ephesus.
Your boat will take you on a passage through the Dardenell straits and the Gallipoli battlefield where the allies fought Turkish forces at the end of World War I, a struggle bourne out in a movie of the 80's bearing the name of that strategic penninsula of land. See the city of Istanbul and the Blue Mosque and Haggia Sophia. Take a boat ride up the Golden Horn or up the Bosphorus to the gateway to the Black Sea. See the Grande Bazzar and the Egyptian Spice Market. The tastes and smells are amazing alone. Istanbul is an experience in and of itself and yet just another of the incredible and vibrant cities you will see on the cruise.
You will see Naples and if you want the Isle of Capri, or Pompeii and Herculaneum. If that is not enough adventure, take an afternoon ride along the Amalfi coast, lunch in Sorento and take a quick swim in the sea to cool off after your trek through the ancient city in the wee hours of the morning. Oh, did I forget to tell you how beautiful it was to cruise through the Greek Isles and the straits of Messina on the way to Naples? My heavens, the view of Mount Aetna and the trip past the island of Sicily and the tip of the boot of the Italian mainland...beauty on both sides. And by the way, just out of the Straits you cruise just pass the Island of Stromboli and its active volcano. It will sometimes provide a fireworks experience rivaled only by a 4th of July spectacular.The rear deck of the ship behind Raffles provides excellent viewing.
Your day in Rome will be what you make it. The Vatican and the Sistene Chapel, and the Pantheon, it simply is not to be missed. I wept when I saw it the first time. Not an overly dramatic person, but to see such beauty and brillance over 2000 years old and still an active catholic church...the open roof, the frescos, the tomb of Raphael....Did I mention the Colliseum, the house of Ceasar, the old ruins of Rome, the Circus Maximus, The Cathedral of St. John and the Escalara de los Santos( the steps Christ allegedly ascended on his climb up Calvary to the cross on the day of his crucifiction). Rome is truely " The Eternal City ".
Florence, the home of the Rennasiance. See Tuscany and Pisa's leaning tower.... that is much more amazing in person than could ever be revealed in a photograph. See Florence and the Duomo and its dome that architects can only speculate still as to how it was made and created. See the Palaca Vecchia the home of the Medicci family and frequented by Machivelli, Davinci and Michaelangelo. Go see the jewelry on the Punta Vecchia Bridge.
See the sites and taste the wine of Provence in Toulon, or do a day at the beach. Then there is Barcelona. The Sagrada Familia Cathedral by Gaudi, the Picasso Museum, Salvadore Dali, La Rambla. The nite life begins at midnight and concludes with breakfast. The Art and vibrance of the city are palpable.
This is the cruise of a lifetimes worth of travel adventure in one cruise sailing. You will not replicate this itenerary, this luxury travel, this level of entertainment, and this much exposure to the culture of the Med anywhere for three times the price. This is a travel value! I am going back and see it all again next summer. Hope that I see you there, I will be the crazy American with a camera in one hand, a map in the other and a check list of places to see and things to do today.