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Archive for June, 2010

Here’s what clients who recently returned from an anniversary Mediterrenean cruise aboard the Crown Princess with an extended stay in Rome & Vencie had to say about their trip.

  

Where do I start…..our trip was AMAZING!!!!  All went well with our flight to Rome and our transfer to our hotel. The driving in Rome was a little scary, but we made it to our hotel just fine! Our hotel was teeny tiny but nice…I would dare to say that our room was smaller than our room on the ship, but we didn’t mind since we didn’t spend much time there!!! Upon arrival we dropped our bags, took a quick nap and then headed to the Colosseum. Before we left we downloaded a bunch of Rick Steve’s podcasts which ended up being great! We just walked in to the Colosseum, put on our headphones, hit play & got a step by step tour guide from Rick Steves….we would highly recommend this for future travelers!! After the Colosseum we headed over to Vatican City, as you recommended it was best to go there late in the day..that was great advice, we were able to walk right in, put on our headphones & do our own tour. We heard from a lot of our friends on the ship that they waited in lines that wrapped around the square!!! That evening we enjoyed a great meal and then walked in the rain around Rome, had gelato and saw the Pantheon & Trevi Fountain. The next morning we got up early to go to the Roman Forum where we once again did the Rick Steve’s tour & then grabbed our bags and headed to the train station. The train to Civitavecchia was confusing but we managed to make it to the port eventually. The walk to the port was also confusing, but we followed the crowds…the craziest part was the steep staircases we had to lug our luggage up & down!!  (Note from agent: we strongly recommend all our travelers pre-book car or shuttle transportation to and from the port to avoid such hassles).
 
Princess Cruises was all that I hoped for and more. H. and I were both curious about what we would think about cruising & both of us ended up absolutely loving it! The service, atmosphere, prices, entertainment & food were all excellent!! We ended up becoming friends with a few other couples and really enjoyed sitting on their balcony each evening before dinner while drinking wines that we had bought at port!  The first three days of the cruise were exciting as well as exhausting since we signed up for full day excursions in Cannes, Florence & Naples. After the back to back excursions we made some changes to our plans so we had more free time on our own for the future ports…we were glad we did this, but wish we had downloaded Rick Steve’s podcasts for those locations.
 
I would have to say that we loved the island of Santorini the most. Corfu, Capri & Sorrento were all close to the top as well, but riding a donkey up the cliff in Santorini, eating delicious Greek food & riding four-wheelers all over the island led to Santorini winning out!  We were fortunate to not see any strife in or around Greece considering we were there right around the time of the riots.  Athens was quiet since we were there on a Sunday!  
 
Ending the trip in Venice was wonderful….what a beautiful, unique city!! We had a very smooth transfer to our hotel by utilizing the vaporettas. Our hotel (the Casa Verardo) was nice & the location was ideal. We spent the day & night getting lost as well as hanging around St. Mark’s Square…seeing it flood at night was wild!
 
The next morning we had breakfast & headed out to the airport. The flight back was great & as much as we loved our vacation, it was nice to finally be home!
 
Thank you for all of the time that you spent helping us plan this once in a lifetime vacation. Your planning and advice fit just right with what we were looking for in a 2-week European getaway! Thank you for helping to make our dreams become reality! By K.C.L.

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Azamara Club Cruise from Athens (Piraeus), Greece to Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy aboard the Azamara Journey:    A fantastic cruise filled with seeing wonders of the ancient world. 

A wonderful cruise in the Mediterranean aboard the Azamara Journey began in Athens (Piraeus), Greece.   Arriving a day early to Athens gave us time to relax and enjoy the sites of this large, historical city before boarding the ship for our seven-day cruise.  There are many places to enjoy in Athens from the Plaka area to the Parthenon (all are accessible without a guide; just make sure to have a map and information on the sites).  Getting around by foot or the metro are both quite easy.  A highlight is watching the illumination of the Parthenon at dusk.

Leaving Piraeus, we set sail aboard for Kusadasi, Turkey.  I chose to take one of the shore excursions offered by the ship, which included the House of the Virgin Mary and Ephesus.  Both of these sites are quite crowded tourist attractions so I definitely recommend going with a guide.  If you have never been to the area before, these are definitely worth visiting (Note:  remember to bring water and wear sunscreen and bug spray).  The ruins at Ephesus are in amazing condition.   There are many different tours offered by the ship.  I chose a half-day excursion so that we could have a leisurely afternoon on our own in Kusadasi.  There are many shops; Turkish rugs and lamps, silver, and leather seemed to be the most common purchases (Note:  U.S dollars were accepted in most shops).  The shop owners will try to entice you into their shops by offering apple tea or Turkish wine.  I recommend trying both while in Turkey, but make sure you are ready to negotiate (shop owners will try to get you to purchase something). 

Our next port of call was Bodrum, Turkey.  A relaxing change from the hustle and bustle of the big city of Kusadasi!  This seaside port was just what we needed after a previously busy day.  The sailboats and the clear waters of the Mediterranean are absolutely beautiful here.   We chose to take the shore excursion offered by the ship to St. Peter’s castle; however, you certainly could do this on your own (pay in Turkish currency only, no Euros or U.S. dollars accepted).  The castle is worth touring to see remnants of the medieval crusade period and the influence it had on this city.  The afternoon in Bodrum was quite relaxing.  We enjoyed walking the small streets, stopping at tavernas (cafes) along the beach for drinks and lunch, and shopping (no pressure from shop owners here).   A beautiful, friendly city that I will definitely visit again!

Docking the next day in the town of Rhodes, Greece, we chose to walk and see the medieval castle and town on our own.  Meandering through the castle and down the streets within the walls was wonderful.  Shops were scattered throughout and everyone was very pleasant.  After shopping and sightseeing all morning, we walked to the beach in town to enjoy lunch on the water.  An appetizer of tzatziki and a Greek salad was just perfect! 

Along the harbor are the deer that guard the city where it is thought that the Colossus of Rhodes (one of the ancient wonders of the world) may have once stood.  There is much to see on the island of Rhodes, so pick and choose a sampling of sights to see and know that you will want to come back to Rhodes again. 

Cruising the Greek isles is something that should not be missed.  The clear, smooth waters are beautiful.  Make sure to be on deck each evening for sail away and sunset if possible.  Both are amazing!

Our next port of call was the small island of Mykonos.  Arranging a taxi on your own to take you to any of the many beautiful beaches is quite easy (the taxi stand is in the center of the harbor).  Another option is to spend the day strolling through town.  Mykonos has over 400 small churches, each unique.  The small streets can be a bit confusing; however, if you always keep the sea in sight or navigate back to it, you really will not get lost.  Early mornings are very quiet as you walk the town and see the shop owners washing the streets in front of their shops.  Of course, a walk to the windmills is a must.  I suggest heading there first and then wandering your way back through town towards the ship.  You will find so many wonderful restaurants and clubs with great food and drinks.  A great appetizer to try is saganaki.  If you are lucky, you will see the Mykonos mascot, an albino pelican; he is known for “hanging out” near restaurants for fishy treats.  This port of call is such a relaxing day that you will understand why it is often a destination for three to four-day vacations. 

Our last port in Greece was the town of Katakaloon where I chose a shore excursion to Olympia.  The ruins for the ancient Olympics are so vast and impressive!  It is a must see!  The amount that has been excavated and the condition of the pieces inside the museum are quite amazing.  Sprinting from the starting blocks at the Olympic stadium is a photo moment!  The town of Katakaloon is quite small, so do not worry about most of your day being spent in Olympia. 

Sailing from Katakaloon you leave the last of the Greek isles to head towards Rome.   The last day is a relaxing day at sea.  You will definitely want to get up to see the sailing around the boot of Italy, a beautiful view of the coast of Italy and Sicily.   There are many things to do on the ship on the last day:  relaxing at the pool or spa, playing in the casino, enjoying a wine tasting or onboard entertainment to name just a few.  I recommend the wonderful therapeutic spa; it is a great for the muscles and tired legs. 

We disembarked in Civitavecchia.  We decided to extend our trip and stay an extra night in Rome.  It was wonderful to sightsee in this Italian city.  A bit more of history brought to life from the Colosseum to the Roman Forum or the Spanish steps.  More than a day’s worth to see, after all Rome was not built (or toured) in a day!

The entire trip upon the Azamara Journey was wonderful.  The size of the ship was quite nice, as you were able to easily get around on board and able to get into smaller ports of call.  The crew was extremely friendly and willing to assist in any way possible to make your cruise more enjoyable.  On board entertainment was mediocre; however, the days in port were quite extensive and we did not need nightly entertainment.  Instead we chose to enjoy a longer, relaxed dinner with other passengers we had met, followed by music and dancing in the Looking Glass Lounge.  The food was quite good in the dining rooms; we also enjoyed dining in both of the specialty restaurants on board. 

If you are interested in a relaxing way to see many of the sights of ancient history, I would certainly recommend this cruise!  By H. McKenzie.

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A client recently traveled to St. Lucia for a romantic honeymoon. Here is his review of wonderful Calabash Cove. “K. and I really enjoyed our stay at the Calabash Cove.  It was exactly what we wanted for our honeymoon and would recommend it to others as well.  We really enjoyed our swim-up suite room, along with the nice beach and pool.  We used the kayaks on the beach a few times, which was a fun way to see some of the island from the ocean.  The staff was very friendly and helpful as well.  We became friends with a few of the staff members, which made us feel more satisfied to be at their resort.  The food at the resort was great as well.  We had dinner at the resort restaurant 5 nights and loved all of our meals.  The menu had great dinner specials that changed ever night and the view from the restaurant was always outstanding.  The front desk did a great job helping us plan day trips, in-which we traveled out of the resort on three occasions.  Overall, we really loved the private and “laid back” feel to the resort, along with great accommodations/amenities and a personal touch in service.  We were very relaxed at the end of our stay and did not want to leave.  Thanks for your help in planning our honeymoon and recommended a great resort!” By M. Greiner.

  

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