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My VERY late review of our Eastern Mediterranean cruise onboard the Navigator!

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You might ask, "Why now, after all of these months would she do a review of a cruise she took way back in May of last year?". Well, after reading so many great reviews, I got inspired! Plus, I do believe that if you are interested in doing a land adventure with your cruise, getting in as much as you can with a short amount of time, I might be of some help. Just ignore all of those people that tell you that you need to take it slowly & only choose one or two areas to explore & enjoy. If you are like me, you don't make it to Europe every year. When I am there, I want to make the most of it!...AND WE DID! IT WAS AMAZING!

 

Ok, a little background....I am Joanna. I am 41, never married, no children. In my late twenties, early thirties, I rarely traveled anywhere because I thought I needed to wait on my future husband to travel to all of those places I wanted to see. Well, in 2009, I decided I wasn't going to wait any longer.....for the travel part, anyway! In July 2011, I started planning this adventure with my youngest sister (Katie) who was 26 at the time and single and hard working, and my niece (Corrie) who turned 22 during the cruise and is student at the University of Alabama. Let me sidetrack here. If you from the South, been to the South or have heard of the South, you know of the Alabama/Auburn rivalry. Well, most of my family are Auburn fans, since 2 of my sisters (including Katie) and my brother and his wife went to Auburn. Corrie disgraced the family and followed her bf to Alabama....kidding (a little)! :) They are engaged now, and we do love them both even though they scream those curse words, "Roll Tide"! I am a true Auburn fan and will forever scream, "War Eagle"! Ok, back on topic....This cruise departed out of Rome, or Civitavecchia to be specific. My original plan was depart a couple of days early and spend some time in Rome before the cruise. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to experience. This ended up being our itenerary...

 

May 18: Fly out

May 19-21: Venice, Italy

May 21-24: Florence, Italy with a side day trip to Siena, San Gimignano and Pisa

May 24-25: Pompeii and Sorento, Italy with a trip down the Almalfi Coast

May 25-27: Rome, Italy

May 27: Embarkation Day

May 28: Sicily, Italy

May 29: Sea Day

May 30: Athens, Greece,

May 31: Ephesus, Turkey

June 1: Souda, Crete

June 2: Sea Day

June 3: Debarkation and spending the day in Rome

June 4: Fly Home

 

This was a lot, and we knew it going in. LET the ADVENTURE BEGIN!

 

I got home from a work trip on May 17th, the day before we were to fly out. Thankfully, my flight didn't leave Pensacola until around 12:30 in the afternoon. This gave me time to pack, repack, weigh luggage, unpack, weigh luggage, unpack, weigh luggage and unpack some more. Thankfully, I got on the plane with my luggage weighing in just under the 50 lb. weight limit at 49 lbs.! I was meeting Katie and Corrie in Miami, as they were both flying out of Birmingham, AL. From there, we were flying Iberia Airlines to Madrid and then on to Marco Polo Airport in Venice. The one thing about Iberia is that you cannot request a seat in advance. We tried getting them together once we got to the gate, but the plane was completely full. This was a bummer, but we were hoping to sleep most of the way, anyway. Unfortunately, our plane was late leaving Miami. We didn't make up the time on the way, and I believe almost everyone on the plane missed their connecting flights out of Madrid, including us! Now, you have to realize that with us being on a tight schedule, this took a big chunk out of our time in Venice, as we were stuck in the Madrid airport for HOURS....

 

......and jet lag had set in.

 

 

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This was after a little nap.....Still smiling!

 

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P.S. This is my very first review on CC. I know it will take days, but I do plan on finishing it!

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Finally, hours late, we made it to Venice. I had prebooked a water taxi from Venicelink for 85E. They are located right outside the luggage area and were very easy to find. We checked in, and they pointed us in the direction where we were to go to catch our taxi. We were on our way...

 

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We stayed at the Hotel Paganelli, and I highly recommend it. The room was very spacious for the 3 of us, and the bathroom was huge. We didn't opt for a view to keep the price down, but we weren't in the room much, so that didn't matter. The hotel is very close to Piazza San Marco. We never used a public restroom here. We just ran back to the room!

 

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Our room....

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The bathroom...

 

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Sorry for the mess. I remembered to take these right before we left!

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Our plans for when we arrived were to freshen up and then head out to Basilica San Marco. Alas, that didn't happen due to our missed connection in Madrid. Instead, we freshened up and headed out to walk around, take in some sights and have our first taste of real Italian food! I cannot for the life of me remember where we ate or what we ate. I do remember Katie's still having the heads on it, which was quite interesting. The other thing I do remember was the owner....

 

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He "entertained" us our entire meal. We finally decided that he bought the place just so he would have somewhere to sing!:)

 

A couple of other snapshots from the day....

 

This statue was right in front of our hotel.

 

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After dinner, we headed back to the hotel for what we wanted to be a peaceful nights sleep. Fast forward to 4:04 a.m. Katie and I were awakened from our jet lagged slumber by a 6.0 magnitude earthquake that was centered near Bologna! At the time, we had no idea what was going on. We are from Alabama. We don't have earthquakes! Plus, we were too out of it to care! My half awake explanation to her was that the building must be moving because it was built in the water. It's just rocking! It wasn't until the next day that we overheard a conversation about the earthquake did we know exactly what we had experienced....oh, and BTW, Corrie slept through the entire episode! Oh, another little tidbit of information....don't sleep with your window open in Venice. These little creatures called mosquitoes will feast on you all night!

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I will be taking this cruise May 3 on the Navigator and appreciate the time you are taking to write the review and post pictures. You may consider it late, but I think it is very timely and helpful considering I will be leaving in 78 days. You are doing a great job, looking forward to more.

Thanks

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I will be taking this cruise May 3 on the Navigator and appreciate the time you are taking to write the review and post pictures. You may consider it late, but I think it is very timely and helpful considering I will be leaving in 78 days. You are doing a great job, looking forward to more.

Thanks

 

Thanks, I look forward to reliving it! You are going to have a GREAT time! If you have any questions, such as the private tour companies we used during the cruise, let me know. We did private tours in every port but Crete with CC members, and 2 out of the 3 were great! The 3rd was entertaining but not always in a good way! I plan to post more this afternoon.

Joanna

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Welcome, everyone from my alter thread!? I hope you found this one! I have a little time, so I am going to continue on.

 

Sunday, May 20th.

 

We started our day having breakfast the separate annex of the Hotel Paganelli. It was just around the corner and included in the price of our stay. They served the basic fare...croissants with something we thought was cream cheese (but maybe not), cakes, juice and coffee. It was pretty good. We then set out for the Doge's Palace for our Secret Itineraries tour of the Doge's Palace that I had booked through ticketitaly before leaving. We weren't allowed to take pictures of the inside, but here are a few of the outside and of the ceiling going in...

 

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This is my sister & I...

 

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I highly recommend the secret itineraries tour. We got to go into rooms that you don't get to see on the regular tour of the Doge's Palace, including the torture room and the actual room where Casanova made his daring escape. These were by no means luxury accomodations!

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This is great, enjoying it very much! I will be doing the same itinerary on October 20th so this is perfect timing for me. Looking forward to hearing/seeing more.

Trixie :D

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This was right where we entered the Doge's Palace. It was the Mouth of Truth letterbox. People would anonymously place their accusation letters of others in the mouth.

 

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Oh, I left out the pictures of what we saw walking into Piazza San Marco....

 

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Basilica San Marco....

 

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The Doge's Palace was next to all of this.

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Thanks for doing a review! I'll be doing some of the ports you did this coming October! Looking forward to hearing about Ephesus, Athens, Rome & Florence!

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Ok, when we last left off, we were on our Secret Itineraries Tour of the Doge's Palace. Here is just one more pic from the outside.

 

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On our tour we walked the Bridge of Sighs, where many people saw the last glimpse of their beloved city before being sent to prison. Here is the Bridge of Sighs, as taken from a window in the Doge's Palace.

 

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Another view from the Doge's Palace window...

 

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Once we finished our tour, we had time to climb (or rather ride the elevator up) to the top of the Campanile before our private tour of the Torre dell' Orologio, or easier to say, Clock Tower.

 

Campanile...

 

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Standing in the line to go to the top of the Campanile and then riding the elevator all the way to the top was very hard but worth the views! (I hope you heard the sarcasm in my voice about it being difficult. We didn't know this then, but we should have really appreciated this elevator they decided to add when the bell tower fell!)

 

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I started to say that I couldn't remember where we ate lunch, but I ashamed to say that I do!....The Hard Rock Cafe'. I wanted a shirt, and in all honesty, Venice was the one place that we found it hard to find a some where to eat. I am not sure if it was because we were intimidated by the language barrier and being the ones that were strangers, but up until this point, it had been difficult. I left this out earlier, but I did some research on where to eat in Venice before I left home. We actually did find one of the places the night before, but they were kind of rude to us, so we left. Anyway, we ordered burgers and Coke Lite at the Hard Rock. We had to wait quite a while to get our food, so we had almost had to run to make it to our private tour of the Torre dell' Orologio. Now, unknown to me when I booked this tour, we booked for the Day of Ascension, one of only two days of the year that the Madonna is greeted by the Magi! This made this tour even more special for us. There was only us and one other couple on the tour. The guide was wonderful! She told us all about the clock tower and how the bell had been rung by the same family for years, up until a few years ago when a member of the family decided he no longer wanted this responsibilty and the responsibility of the upkeep. He passed it on to the government. This is why it is now open for tours. You do have to prebook, and you can book this tour online as well at ticketitaly. If you are afraid of hights, I would not recommend this tour. We took a cramped spiraling staircase all of the way to the top. Once we got outside, there was barely a railing, and it had started raining a little. The views, however, couldn't be beaten!

 

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Thank you for the great review. We will be on the NOS in May along with a stop in Venince, Florence and Rome before the cruise. I'm always happy to see great reviews where everything went well.

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You are doing a great job! Thank you for sharing, even if it is late. I am also on the May 5 with the same itinerary. I love that you ate at Hard Rock. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do! ;)

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Ok, I am back! I had to take a dinner and The Amazing Race break! If any of you are watching The Amazing Race, this couple from Alabama portrays only a small percentage of Alabamians. Every state has to have a couple of rednecks, right? Say yes just to make me feel better!

 

On another note, I might start posting replys more quickly. For some reason Photobucket and CC are not happy being open at the same time and one or the other gets hung up. CC did it before I took my break, and it wiped out a few pictures that I had linked.

 

Now, on with the story....

 

After the clock tower tour, we wanted to catch a Vaporetto and go down the Grand Canal. Gondalas were just too expensive for us. Well, the Vaporetto is the one thing that I didn't extensively research, which turned out NOT to be a good thing! We got our tickets, but then we didn't know which one to take. We were at a stop and just decided to hop on the first boat that pulled up. (Notice here that I said, "boat".) We were at the end of the Grand Canal, and we (or rather I) thought it would turn around and go back up the canal. Well, it didn't. We started out into the open water! We had no idea where we were going, how long it was going to take to get there, or how we were going to get back! We (or rather I) thought that it would just circle the islands from the outside and stop where we started. Well, it didn't. People say you should get lost in the streets of Venice. That is all well and good, but I don't advise getting lost in the opens waters of Venice! We made a stop and sat there. We then made another stop at another island. This is where the crew started looking at us strangely and wanting to know what we were doing. This is one of many times God was with us during our trip! We told them we were lost. They told us we needed to get off the boat. We got off, found a ticket counter and there, at the stop was the most beautiful Vaporetto I had ever seen....beautiful because it was our boat "home"! It was like they were waiting for us. We were literally the last 3 people to get on. We got on, and they untied us from the dock. Finally, we could take a breath! Lesson learned here...DON'T GET ON A BIG BOAT IN VENICE if you want to go up the Grand Canal! Here we are once we were going in the right direction....

 

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Now, because we had lost so much time, this turned out to be a dusk/night tour of the Grand Canal. Here are some of those views.

 

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The Rialto Bridge...

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It was actually past our dinner time, so we decided that we were going to try and find this little pizzeria place that I had read about during my research before the trip. We got off at the right Vaporetto stop (imagine that!), but we then had to navigate the pitch, black streets of Venice. So, we took the advice of so many visitors before us and decided to get lost! Yes, it was a decision. One that was decided for us, but still a decision! Here we are trying to read our "trusty??" map.

 

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It was a little scary at times!

 

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Not only were we lost, but it was starting to rain, again, and it was getting kind of chilly. But we rounded a corner and what did we find????

 

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We each got a pizza of our own, and it was ssssooo good, and the people there were so nice. If you ever are in Venice, this is a MUST!

 

This was the only picture I got of our food. It really was great pizza. It was the best we had in all of Italy.

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Thanks everyone for all of the nice comments. It really does give me motivation to continue . I had a battle with CC and Photobucket today, but I am so glad I got through Venice.

All of you that are doing this cruise, I think you are going to LOVE it! All that are just thinking about it, BOOK IT!

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Thank you a million times over. You are not even on the ship and I am hooked on your review. Family of 20 going on this same trip in June. well rome for a few days then the ship. will let you finish but sure I will have some questions to pick your brain eventually if you don't mind.

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Subscribing! Thank you so much for taking the time to write this review. I love it already!

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I am loving this review!! It makes me want to book a trip to Venice right now!! Can't wait to hear how the Florence segment of your trip was!!

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Ok, I am back! I had to take a dinner and The Amazing Race break! If any of you are watching The Amazing Race, this couple from Alabama portrays only a small percentage of Alabamians. Every state has to have a couple of rednecks, right? Say yes just to make me feel better!

 

Haha! We are huge Amazing Race fans. So happy it started back up last night. Ummm...that guy's hair is permed right? That can't be natural. Those 2 are something else.

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Thank you a million times over. You are not even on the ship and I am hooked on your review. Family of 20 going on this same trip in June. well rome for a few days then the ship. will let you finish but sure I will have some questions to pick your brain eventually if you don't mind.

 

 

 

Wow! 20!! Are you all planning to split up? It is going to be hard to keep up with that number pf people in those crowds!

 

You are so welcome! Go ahead and fire away! Maybe I can be of some help!

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Wow! 20!! Are you all planning to split up? It is going to be hard to keep up with that number pf people in those crowds!

 

You are so welcome! Go ahead and fire away! Maybe I can be of some help!

 

 

Ha ha this is our 4 cruise or so as a group this big and age range is 4-70 so we eat dinner together (or in this case at several tables) besides that tends to me small groups when we get off the ship.

 

Thank you for the offer will start a short list of questions but I'm sure you will answer most. If not will ask when your done.

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Haha! We are huge Amazing Race fans. So happy it started back up last night. Ummm...that guy's hair is permed right? That can't be natural. Those 2 are something else.

 

I was too mortfied thinking about how this couple was the example for Alabama to even think about whether it was permed. Now that you mentioned it, his wife probably does it for him. It would be funny if they won, though, since you can already tell the other racers are stereotyping them as being dumb. And what's up with that hillbilly music they play when they feature them?

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Thanks everyone for all of the nice comments. It really does give me motivation to continue . I had a battle with CC and Photobucket today, but I am so glad I got through Venice.

 

All of you that are doing this cruise, I think you are going to LOVE it! All that are just thinking about it, BOOK IT!

 

I am really happy that you are fighting your battles and winning! My husband and I are taking our two kids--son age 26 and daughter 24--on this exact same itinerary at the end of October. This is going to be our first family cruise and I am so excited about it that I will probably drive everyone crazy until then!!! In the meantime, I am gobbling up everything you have to say and I'm cluing in the kids about your review as I know they'll like the perspective, as a young person, that you have to offer. Keep it coming please! (oh, as a side note, we're Amazing Race fans too; we even applied one season on the advice of a friend who was a contestant. Remember the "Glamazons?")

Edited by dln929

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I am really happy that you are fighting your battles and winning! My husband and I are taking our two kids--son age 26 and daughter 24--on this exact same itinerary at the end of October. This is going to be our first family cruise and I am so excited about it that I will probably drive everyone crazy until then!!! In the meantime, I am gobbling up everything you have to say and I'm cluing in the kids about your review as I know they'll like the perspective, as a young person, that you have to offer. Keep it coming please! (oh, as a side note, we're Amazing Race fans too; we even applied one season on the advice of a friend who was a contestant. Remember the "Glamazons?")

 

 

What a great family cruise! I drove everyone crazy with my planning as well. That's part of the fun, right?! If you have any questions, let me know!

 

I would love to be on The Amazing Race. I have watched every season, so if I saw your friends, I would probably remember them!

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I last left you with us having had great success finding our pizzaria! It really was yummy! After eating, we caught the Vaporetto back to our hotel. While we were waiting for the vaporetto we ran into another couple that was actually going on our same cruise! I hate to say, but we didn't see them again. We made it back to the hotel and went straight to bed. We had to catch an early train that was to take us to Florence. BTW, I prepurchased all of our train tickets on the Trenitalia website before leaving. This saved us a lot of money, in some cases over $50 each.

 

Monday, May 21st

We woke early and ate at the annex at the hotel again. We then checked out and made our way to where we were to catch a water taxi. The previous day, I had asked the guy at the front desk if we needed to call and reserve a taxi. He didn't speak much English but from what I gathered it was, no, we didn't. Well, we drug our luggage to the taxi stand, only to be asked if we had a reservation. I started freaking out. We HAD to get a taxi soon, or we were going to miss our train! What were we going to do?? Also, did I tell you it was FREEZING! This just made things worse, because I am not a good cold weather person. Well, finally, to our relief, other water taxis started arriving. We actually got ours before the people that made reservations! Thankfully, we got to sit inside the boat, and we took our last little journey down the Grand Canal.

 

We made it to the train station, found our car and put our luggage in the storage area in the front of the car....More success! We can do this!

 

We found our seats and could relax for a while...little did we know that getting off the train would not be so easy!

 

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Once we made it to Florence, so many other people had boarded with luggage that ours was now buried in a sea of suitcases and, y'all remember that when I left the U.S. mine weighed 49 lbs. It now weighed more, since I had emptied my carry on stuff in it. Katie's and Corrie's weren't much lighter. What made the situation even worse was that there was also a limited amount of time for us to dig and retrieve it, since others were trying to get on while we were trying to get off. We were again panicing! Katie was the first to retrieve hers. We told her that we would pass ours to her as she got off. Corrie's was the second we retrieved. People were boarding. We were digging. Unknown to Corrie and me, when Katie got Corrie's and had her own as well, she got off balance and if not for the wonderful people of Florence, she would have done a face plant on the tracks! Those waiting to get on actually caught her and then passed her luggage (including Corrie's) down to her! Relief, we had made it to Florence and with no facial injuries!

 

Waiting for our taxi to take us to our hotel.

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