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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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