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Ireallyneedavacation

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

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From there, we headed to Castiglione where we took in amazing views of the Alcanta Valley and a Greek Fortress. In this small town, we were the ONLY tourist. We didn't even see that many residents. We just walked along the streets and took in the moment.

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This is Steve Dos and me with our guide. BTW, our guide was not hard on the eyes at all!

 

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This is Steve dos running up the stairs of the church and pretending he is Rocky!

 

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We then made another stop at a very, very old church that is no longer in use and in somewhat of disrepair, but even in this state, still very beautiful.

 

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From here, we had great views of snow capped Mt. Etna.

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My highlight of the day was our stop at the Gambino Winery where we had lunch...WOW! We were seated inside but with a view of a portion of the orchard. They have a set menu, but you are given a choice of how many selections you want. Each course is paired with a different wine. I am not a big wine drinker, but even I thought about bringing a bottle back with me....that is how good it was!

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Yummy!!

 

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This one shows a little better view of one of the orchards outside.

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Our van...

 

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During the entire day Toni had joked and talked about the Godfather and the mob with our driver. Her nickname by the end of the day was Toni "Gambino", and Chris was going to be the first ever Mafia husband. When we got back into the van from lunch, the driver had music playing from The Godfather. She loved it! (BTW, Sicily Limo Svc does has a Godfather tour if you are a Godfather fanatic). Let me sidetrack and talk about our driver...I so wish I could remember his name. Needless to say, he was a big hit with us, so nice and attentive. By the end of the day we felt like he was more of a friend than a tour guide!

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From lunch we went to Piazza Belvedere for a quick photo stop. And who did we see there, but the group from our roll call that had ridden to the cruise port with us!

 

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Here we are with our guide. I told you he wasn't hard on the eyes!;)

 

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There is a Greek Amphitheater that is supposed to have wonderful views of Mt. Etna, but we opted not to pay to go in. We spent our time shopping instead.

 

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The funny story of Taormina...I went to pay to go to the restroom. Like in most places, men and women are in the same line, with an attendant that takes your money and directs you where to go. Well, it got to be my turn to go, and she pointed to where the men had been coming out. I pointed to me, then the restroom and said, "I go in there". She said, si. I went in and went into the stall. When I was done and about to go out, I opened the door slightly and there was a man standing at the urinal! I immediately closed the door. I stood for a moment until I thought he would be done. He wasn't and another man was coming in! I just made a run for it....And made NO eye contact! I did go into the girl's and wash my hands! So, lesson here, don't listen to the attendant if she tells you to go into a room where lots of men have been coming out!

 

 

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After Taormina we made our way back to the ship with plenty of time before sail away.

 

I cannot say enough about Sicily Limousine Service. Their excursions are much more affordable than the ship excursions, and they take you places that you would never see on a ship tour. We had such a great day!

 

People runnning to make the ship.....

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Sea Day!

 

Yay! Rest day! We slept in, then went to the Windjammer and had Nutella stuffed crouisants for breakfast. We then went back to the room to get ready for our roll call's meet & mingle. RCC scheduled it in the WORST location on the ship....The Dugeon. It was very, very dark, and you really couldn't see. They gave us the custom notepads and pens. No one really came to represent RCC. There was an emergency, so we were kind of on our own.There was someone that came and told us thank you and told us how much time we had. She then did some drawings for door prizes, but I really don't know what they were, because I couldn't see (and Corrie, Katie and I didn't win!) They did have hors douevers, but they looked like they were left over from the night before. I don't think anyone ate anything. We were told a photographer was coming to take our picture, but no one showed. A few of us brought gifts from our home states, and we did a "Dirty Santa" exchange. I got some chocolate and a travel cup from Cheryl and Mike from Mississippi. We only had about an hour for the get together, but who needs RCC to take your picture. We got out of the Dungeon and stopped someone to take it! Here is our Cruise Critic group!

 

 

 

 

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After the meet and greet, we went back to our cabin and changed into our swimsuits. We planned to lounge, but first we were going to the dodge ball competition that Toni and Chris had entered. Once we got there, Corrie got the fever and decided to sign up to play as well, but because she signed up so late, she was on a different team than Toni and Chris. Me? I am too old to compete at anything that requires exerting a ton of energy very quickly!

 

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Toni and Chris' team won the entire competition. Corrie's team came in second but would have done much better had they not had a guy that kept throwing the ball over the side of the ship! If someone did that, the team automatically lost!

 

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For the rest of the afternoon, we ate and lounged. This was the first formal night, but at this point in the trip, Katie and Corrie were getting sick of me taking their pictures. They wouldn't even pose for the photography staff. :( This blurry one is the only one I have from that night...and yes, Corrie is hiding her face with her hair. Oh, and I have to say that most people did not dress very formally. We didn't since we were having to pack for so many days. I don't recall seeing any long dresses or tuxes at all.

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That night we went to the show in the Metropolis Theatre. It was singing, but I can't recall exactly what. I don't remember it being horrible, so it must have been pretty good!:)

 

Our next port stop will be Athens, Greece.

Edited by Ireallyneedavacation

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You are welcome! How did I decided? Well, I didn't think we were going to stay as long as we did, so I wanted a 7 day cruise. Carnival doens't offer 7 day cruises, so we narrowed it down to RCC. Also, to make it easier on my other co-workers (and they do the same for me), I try not to take off between the 6th and 13th working days. This narrowed it down more. I also wanted to see lots of different countries, so I chose this one. Not until we booked did I look at my calendar to see that we could fit a lot more in, based on my work schedule! I knew I wanted to go to Venice, and I had heard amazing things about Florence. I had watched Rick Steve's Amalfi Coast on TV, so I wanted to add that as well. I am not disappointed that we did any of it....well, except maybe the bike tours! You need to do it! As for the schedules, I know Norwegian has theirs out through April 2015. RCC and Carnival don't even have their 2014 schedules out yet. I am waiting on those to decide which one to take next year! My oldest sister (Corrie's mother) has never travelled outside the country. She always could come up with an excuse on why she couldn't go....usually because her high school son has some kind of practice or game. She is also a school teacher and is the senior sponsor, so that limited her time as well. Well, her son graduates in May of 2014, so I am planning June of 2014! I asked her again the other day if she was still planning to go, and she said she was! I have already gotten Katie on board as well. We are hoping to get our other sister and mother to join us too! Planning is half the fun, along with the anticipation! I don't blame you for buying Rick Steve's books. I have so many travel books, I could open my own travel library!

 

I am so glad that I found your review! It is so enjoyable & makes me smile :) I'm thinking of taking my daughter next June/July for a graduation present from high school. Right now, we are looking at NCL 12night med. cruise. Lots of similar ports. Can't wait to read more!

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I am so glad that I found your review! It is so enjoyable & makes me smile :) I'm thinking of taking my daughter next June/July for a graduation present from high school. Right now, we are looking at NCL 12night med. cruise. Lots of similar ports. Can't wait to read more!

 

She would love that and would remember it for the rest of her life! You make such great memories. Even the ones you think are bad when they are happening, more times than none turn, out to be humorous later on! We had lots of those! I will have to look at the NCL cruise you are talking about since I am planning for June 2014. Maybe we will end up on the same cruise!

 

Thank you for all the kind words. I am planning to post more tonight.

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After reading your review of Sicily Limo Service I requested a quote from them. I have already booked with Coop Sicily Life but I can always change.

 

I wanted to ask about paying for your tours. Did you have to pay in cash? Also, how did you go about exchanging your money. We need cash for every tour and that adds up in a hurry. I hate the toughts of that much cash to carry around. We have four people to pay for. I would hate to lose it.

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The morning of our Athens stop was pretty interesting. I forgot to set our alarm to coincide with the time zone. We wondered why they brought our breakfast an hour early! Chris called our room when we didn't show up at our meeting time for our tour. Corrie literally got out of bed to answer the phone. When we realized we were late, we scrambled to get ready. We had never dressed so quickly! The day before, I had actually taken some of those Nutellas stuffed crouisants from the Windjammer and put them in a Ziploc. We were all glad I did! As that ended up being our breakfast, as we didn't get to enjoy our "early" breakfast that was delivered to our room!

We booked with Greek Taxi to do an all day tour of Athens. For this tour, we added another couple from our roll call, Rae and her husband, Keith. Since we were late, we quickly made our way off the ship. Thankfully, Paul from Greek Taxi was there waiting for us!

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After reading your review of Sicily Limo Service I requested a quote from them. I have already booked with Coop Sicily Life but I can always change.

 

I wanted to ask about paying for your tours. Did you have to pay in cash? Also, how did you go about exchanging your money. We need cash for every tour and that adds up in a hurry. I hate the toughts of that much cash to carry around. We have four people to pay for. I would hate to lose it.

 

 

You would love Sicily Limo Service!

For our tours, we did have to pay in cash, but it was in Euros. For exhanging money, you will get the best rate at ATMs. I took my bank debit card but had read that some people had trouble, so I also got a prepaid debit card through CapitalOne as well. However, I got a letter the other day that said they were discontinuing that service. I didn't have any trouble with either one. Since there were three of us, we each held a portion of the cash, and used our safe in the cabin, so we didn't always have it all with us, once we got on the ship. Oh, we also invested in some small purses that have safety locks, so we would not be as easily pick pocketed. We exhanged for the final time in Rome before getting on the ship. Hope this helps! The tour companies you book with should tell you in your confirmations how they expect to be paid.

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Our first port stop was the Acropolis. We went straight there and beat all of the cruise tours! It was very nice to be able to explore without tons of people. We met many of those tours on the way back down!

 

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Edited by Ireallyneedavacation

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We then made our way to the Temple of Zeus....

 

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While here, we ran into our dinner buddies from our roll call, Cheryl and Mike!

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The Acropolis from the Temple of Zeus...

 

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Loved all of the Italy photos - really brought back some good times. Loving the review!

 

And, my mother had a similar bathroom experience in Positano. She was not phased at all, but I'm sure my reaction would have been similar to yours!

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Katie and Corrie decided they were going to "break the rules" while we were there and touch broken pieces of the temple. They thought they were busted when right after they committed their crimes, a stern-looking, determined woman started heading their way! It turns out, she only wanted directions. They were so relieved! Here they are committing their acts....

 

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Next up, the 1896 Olympic Stadium....

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Loved all of the Italy photos - really brought back some good times. Loving the review!

 

And, my mother had a similar bathroom experience in Positano. She was not phased at all, but I'm sure my reaction would have been similar to yours!

 

Thank you!

I know things are a little different in Europe, as far as the bathroom experience goes. I had learned that earlier in the trip. However, I was still shocked to come out of the stall and see a man standing there!

BTW, it is time for you to book another cruise!:)

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Your review and photos are fantastic. I know how much time this takes and I'm so glad you decided to do it. Flying in early and touring areas is certainly worth it. How did you decide on your hotels and tour guides? Did you have recommendations from the boards or use Rick Steve's books?

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Your review and photos are fantastic. I know how much time this takes and I'm so glad you decided to do it. Flying in early and touring areas is certainly worth it. How did you decide on your hotels and tour guides? Did you have recommendations from the boards or use Rick Steve's books?

 

Thank you! You are right. It does take quite a bit of time, but I am enjoying reliving the memories!

 

I wanted hotels that were close to many of the main attractions, because I wanted to be able to walk to most places. I mainly used Trip Adviser. I read and read and read different reviews. I then had to stay within a reasonable price and hotels that could accommodate 3 people. I loved all of our hotels except the one we used the very last night near the airport. Hey, but 4 out of 5 isn't bad! Actually, a Rick Steve's group was staying at our hotel in Florence, but it wasn't his recommendation that made me choose it.

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Enjoying your review. Will be traveling the same route from October 6th. Will have my 2 children though so doing hours of walking won't be on the cards.

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Enjoying your review. Will be traveling the same route from October 6th. Will have my 2 children though so doing hours of walking won't be on the cards.

 

So glad you are enjoying the review! Sorry I can't give you any tips for traveling with kids.

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