Jody from our Vacations Division recently went on a 7-day Mediterranean Aegean Cruise with Princess Cruise Line. Hear all about Jody’s experience:
Day1- Frankfurt, Germany- We arrived at the Frankfurt airport and discovered that we had an 8 hour layover so we decided to take the train to Frankfurt. This was a super easy, inexpensive option to spend some time outside of the airport. All you have to do is exit the airport, purchase your train tickets at the kiosk right at the station for 8 Euro round trip and 20 minutes later you are in Frankfurt city center where you can shop, dine or grab a fun German beer….we did all 3!! On the return trip back to the airport and entering customs is a breeze. I would highly recommend this to anyone with a long layover in Frankfurt.
We arrived in Venice at 11:30pm and chose the Best Western Titian Inn which is an airport hotel. They offer complimentary airport shuttle which was very convenient at midnight. The hotel is simple and clean which is all we were looking for and includes a wonderful daily breakfast. We decided to stay here for our 3 nights as it was most convenient for our itinerary for the week.
Day 2- Venice, Murano and Burano- We purchased round trip bus tickets from the front desk for 9 Euro round trip per person. The bus stop is about 3 blocks away and very convenient. It takes about 20 minutes to get to the island with about 7 stops along the way and you stay on the same bus the entire time… very simply and efficient!
Many people ask me where my favorite place to travel is and after walking over my first bridge in Venice….this is my favorite place. Every corner you turn is a new adventure whether it leads you to the smells of a bakery, the clanging of wine or the beauty of the floral boxes hanging out of someone’s window. I couldn’t keep the smile off of my face and will never be able to explain the peace in my heart.
Since we were here for 2 full days we decided to take a 4 hour tour and visit the islands of Murano and Burano for 32 Euro per person. I would highly recommend this as an option. In Murano you will see a glass blowing demonstration and it’s amazing how they can create a sculpture of a glass horse in just five minutes. Murano was nice in the sense to say that you saw it but Burano was a place that I would go back and spend the night. Burano is known for their lace and the town square is quaint, friendly and colorful. Each house or building is painted in a different color and it just makes you smile to be there. It’s a simple water taxi away for my next visit to this area.
Day 3-Venice- We got lost in the streets of Venice and had a blast doing it! We found some of the best food, drinks, and shopping off the beaten path. It’s easy to get lost but just as easy to find your way out as the signs either direct you to the Rialto Bridge (center of the city), San Marco Square (waterfront) or the bus/train station which leads you out of the city. We opted to purchase a gondola ride from one of the gondoliers outside of the busy area of San Marco square. The price was the same at 80 Euro per person but the ride was longer and quieter as you weren’t fighting for space in the canals with the other gondoliers. In the San Marco square area you will find lines waiting for the gondola ride due to the cruise ships in port. Share with your clients to enrich their experience and to reserve this ride. We grabbed a couple of glasses of wine and enjoyed the peaceful canals of Venice.
Day 4- Regal Princess Cruise– This was the maiden voyage of the Regal Princess and home to us for the next 8 days. The ship is new, clean with ample staffing and service. More about the ship to come.
Day 5- at Sea- Some of the things that sets this ship apart from some of the others that I’ve experienced is the fitness facilities. They offer a ton of classes (surcharge for most) such as Zumba, Pilates, PX90, Yoga, Kettle bell class, and state of the art equipment. The classes were always full convincing me that people will pay the extra for fitness. On deck 18 they have the outside jogging track that includes equipment on the deck for ab work. The ship also has an outdoor theatre which they play movies or videos all day long starting at noon. This was a big hit as this area was always filled with passengers. If you wanted to find peace and quiet, they did offer an adult only pool area that you could get away from the busy pools and noise.
Day 6- Corfu, Greece-Set up on the hillside the size of Alabama. While there are many tour options of churches and palaces we opted to venture on our own and stroll through the city to get to know the locals. We visited with one very friendly local who shared with us Kum Kouat Liquor. This is a citrus fruit that only grows in Corfu and has the consistency and size of a prune without the pit. While we didn’t really enjoy the fruit, we did enjoy the flavor of the liquor. We also sampled Ouzo which is clear licorice flavored liquor. The ship offered bus transfers to town for 1.5 Euro one way per person. The streets are filled with vendors and shops with much of the local wares of rugs, linens and pottery. Once outside the city center you will find the amazing views from this cliff top village.
Day 7- at Sea– my observation with the Regal Princess and many other cruise lines are the surcharges for dining, fitness, spa, etc. You have 13 different dining options with 6 of those having surcharges of $20-$25 per person some of which are a Seafood/Sushi Bar, Crab Shack and Gelato restaurants. They were most often empty from what I observed. They do offer an all-inclusive drink package which we did take advantage of. The cost is $49 per person/per day and includes the 15% gratuity. Anything that you can sip is included, even the specialty coffees. You also get 40% off of your bottle of wine with dinner if you opt for this instead of a glass of wine.
Day 8- Istanbul, Turkey- Holy People (both figuratively and literally!). Over 13 million people in Istanbul and I think they were all out shopping at the Bazaar this day. We did not do any guided tour; however we did take the bus transfer to the famous Grand Bazaar which is a maze of 4,000 shops, cafes and restaurants. This is market type shopping in which you can negotiate pricing for souvenirs, carpet, clothing, jewelry, etc. We ended up taking a hop on/hop off bus for 3 hours which I would recommend as this will give you the most freedom and flexibility while still learning about the sites as you will have headsets that you can listen to pre-recorded facts about the history and highlights. The cost is 16 Euro per person for 1.5 hours and 18 Euro for 3 hours. You can also choose a 24 hour or 48 hour ticket which is nice; especially if you are Istanbul for more than the 24 hours. We stopped at the famous Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia.
Day 9- Istanbul, Turkey- The ship is docked on one side of the Straits of Bosphorus and the previous day we went to the “touristy” side and today we decided to visit the “local” side and absolutely loved it. We hiked up the hillside (about 1 mile) and as you crest to the top it leads you to this incredible square with a huge park, restaurants, shopping, a mosque and less people. We had a wonderful lunch of beef, chicken and pork Kebabs along with the local beer called Efes Pilsener and just sat at the outside café for people viewing. By visiting both sides of the straits, I feel that I got a great overview of the area and could accommodate the interests of any traveler.
Day 10- Mykonos, Greece– Well, I started this trip with my new favorite spot being Venice and ended my trip with another new favorite spot of Mykonos. It is literally a picture out of Mamma Mia with the white stone buildings and colorful shutters and doors. The colors arranged from pink to green to blue to purple and you couldn’t feel anything but happy. The streets are narrow and winding and house all sorts of shops and restaurants with every turn being as colorful as the last. Mykonos has a very cosmopolitan and chic feel to it. A nice walk up the hill you can visit an old church and see views of the various windmills in the area. The coastline has over 20 accessible beaches, some of which are clothing optional! You can easily rent a 4-wheeler or a car if you wanted to explore the island on your own for the day. Otherwise the boardwalk overlooking Tourlos Bay is very active and picturesque with a great stop for an ice cream treat!
To learn more about Fox World Travels Mediterranean Cruises click here.