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chipmaster

First time info NCL Star & Greek Islands Cruise Tips: Must do/don'ts and secrets?

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Posted (edited)

After a long absence from cruising coming back and doing the Star: Venice, Kotor, Corfu, Thira/Santorini, Mykonos, Argostolion, Dubronvnik, Venice.

 

This will be our first time on NCL, previously almost always Princess and a couple on Disney and Carnival

 

We are fit and will be with kids 18/22 and are okay with a mix of DIY  and Tours

 

Any obvious tips of must do/ watch out etc.   for both the ports, as well as newbies to NCL what to pack, what not, and of course tips about the ship and NCL experience coming as long-time Princess 

 

Thanks ahead of time to any tips as well as links and resources.

 

Cheers

 

Edited by chipmaster

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Watching this thread...we are taking this trip in June as newbie cruisers as well.  Looking forward to some great tips!  

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Posted (edited)

Kotor is the most beautiful sail in and sail away, be sure to be up early to see it, it is spectacular.

We used toursbymilo.com for our tour and really enjoyed it.

 

Venice is also a fabulous sail in too of course and a beautiful city.

 

I don’t know Argostolion but do know the other ports reasonably well. All of these places can be done on your own, they are great ports to walk around. Corfu and Dubrovnik you may want to get a tour depending upon what you want to do and there are plenty of independent tours out there. Check out Ports of Call on CC and of course Trip Advisor.

You don’t say when you are going but it will be pretty hot from June through September.

Cant give you any tips re the ship as next month will be my first time on NCL.

 

Enjoy, you are going to a wonderful part of the world.

Edited by Deeliteful

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The STAR is a small ship.  NCL is casual all the time, shorts are good for most dining options at dinner. Only one specialty restaurant and the aft dining room *usually* require pants.  Being in Europe the passenger mix will be more diverse, and you might find Europeans dress a bit better for dinner.  Dubrovnic has some of the best beaches in Europe, might plan a beach day.  Walk the walls as well.  There is a resident poster for Dubrovnic on the PORTS OF CALL board for Europe (Other Mediterranean Ports). 

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We did our 1st NCL Cruise last year on the Star to the Greek Isles.

 

We found  it impossible to change any specialty dining reservations once onboard but we were not haven guests.

 

The Greek celebration tour by NCL in Santorini was worth the high price tag and by far a family favorite - including meal, dancing and plate smashing.

 

The thermal spa pass was a win-win for relaxing after long port intensive cruise days. It was never busy. I only ever saw 4-5 people max. If more than 2 people sharing room (someone can always save time and get ready in spa - shower and do hair).

 

Cagney’s was amazing. Actually tried to book a 2nd night but was booked.

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Also following this thread.  We sometimes take outside excursions (after doing extensive research on TripAdvisor) but are leaning towards NCL excursions - especially in some of the tender ports.  How was the tendering process?  We were also thinking of taking the Opa greek celebration in Santorini - happy to see you liked it.

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We are doing this cruise in September.  Have booked a tour in Dubrovnik which will keep us busy for the short time we are there (6 hours!).  Interested in other folks tendering experiences in Santorini - and wondering about the merit of booking one of the ship's tours (Oia at AUD 101 each) just to get off earlier and an easier transfer to Oia - we have booked a dinner in Santorini following recommendations from friends.

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Bring comfortable, closed toe shoes and a water bottle with a strap.  For a few euros,  go climb the hill at Corfu - watch your footing.  Also, bring coins for the bathroom and an ice cream cone in the old town ... they will short change you.  In Corfu, take the bus downtown and walk to the forts and poke around the market.  We also took a dip in the water to cool down.  I didn't bring a towel so it was drip dry after a fresh water rinse.  We didn't feel either port needed an excursion.

 

In Santorini, we took an excursion because it got us off the ship and on a bus to the Oia much faster and gave us a view of the island.  The guide was very knowledgeable and gave a running commentary of sites.  We wish we could have spend more time in Oia, especially around sunset.  The bus takes you back to Thera.  We choose to walk down the donkey trail because it was faster than waiting for the cable car.  Wear old shoes, no sandals, because your feet will end up in donkey manure and urine.  I grew up in a rural area so the odor did not bother me.  

 

In Mykonos, we took an excursion to Delos ... a very cool, cultural archaeological site.  Having a guide really added value for us.  Afterward, there was ample time to poke around the town.  

 

In Dubrovnik, we took the GoT tour, which was quite informative.  Lots of steps.  Afterward, there is time to walk around the walled city.  You need Croatian money or a credit card ... most vendors will not take euros.  We did find one off the beaten path that took euros for some water, but don't expect change.  The very nice aspect of this excursion was that we had a dedicated bus to pick us up and take us back to the ship.  NCL and Royal also had drop off/pick up buses, but the lines were very, very long. 

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Taking this cruise in June on the Star.  Keep the information coming.  Thanks to all.

 

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We took a shared water taxi from VCE to St Mark's Square.  Do your research ... the place to buy tix in the airport was hard to find.  Our hotel was near the Square so we did the "bag drag" through the crowds in the Square ... I would re-think that approach if I had to do it again.  Definitely get "skip the line" passes for the church, bell tower, and Doge ... best investment because the lines were loooooog and people were cranky.  With the passes, you can get tours included.  We took the water bus from St. Mark's to the cruise ship dock.  I think it was Sunday morning so there were no crowds to contend with.  You have a ways to walk from the dock to the ship.  There is a tram for a few euros ... definitely a good choice and it cut down in the walking.  

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Posted (edited)

Spent 25 days on Star last fall (TA B2B Southern Caribbean) and no real secrets to share. I will say we found the Garden Cafe (buffet) a bit crowded at breakfast and started toting our buffet food out to Spice H2O which had a few tables. It’s a little bit of a walk but not too bad (unless you forgot something!)

 

If you elect to so Santorini on your own I HIGHLY recommend that you find PitaGyros Traditional Grill In Oia.  We spent four nights in Santorini for my 60th last year and ate here at least three times. The horizontal spit is different than other places -don’t know if it’s that or what by OMG so delish. Pictures below. There is no view from here but I’d suggest eating here and then heading up to the Main Street and there is a bakery that has terrace seating with a great view of the caldera while you have baklava and coffee. 

 

Have a great cruise!

 

3FB0982A-67AC-4445-BF66-DDF15C40F286.jpeg

937CF02F-F882-4A3F-BAED-81882D3C212A.jpeg

Edited by Clay Clayton

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Aus ATC said:

We are doing this cruise in September.  Have booked a tour in Dubrovnik which will keep us busy for the short time we are there (6 hours!).  Interested in other folks tendering experiences in Santorini - and wondering about the merit of booking one of the ship's tours (Oia at AUD 101 each) just to get off earlier and an easier transfer to Oia - we have booked a dinner in Santorini following recommendations from friends.

I haven't done Santorini on NCL but have with RCI and would definitely recommend an excursion. With RCI the people on shore excursions were all tendered off first to a different dock where you skipped the cable car altogether and just got on a bus to Oia. If you don't do a ships excursion you may not get off the ship as early as you'd like (and then of course you have to either wait for the cable car or get a boat over to Oia). You still have to get the cable car back down from Fira (where they drop you off) though. I wouldn't recommend the steps - they're very slippery, so do make sure you're at the cable car much earlier than you need to be back on board as the lines can get pretty long.

 

We're doing this cruise in August so if you're on it before us, make sure to come back and give tips of your own! First time on the Star for us!

Edited by cloud_nine

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20 hours ago, chipmaster said:

After a long absence from cruising coming back and doing the Star: Venice, Kotor, Corfu, Thira/Santorini, Mykonos, Argostolion, Dubronvnik, Venice.

 

This will be our first time on NCL, previously almost always Princess and a couple on Disney and Carnival

 

We are fit and will be with kids 18/22 and are okay with a mix of DIY  and Tours

 

Any obvious tips of must do/ watch out etc.   for both the ports, as well as newbies to NCL what to pack, what not, and of course tips about the ship and NCL experience coming as long-time Princess 

 

Thanks ahead of time to any tips as well as links and resources.

 

Cheers

 

 

Chip - when will you be sailing?  We are on the 9 June sailing, but will spend a week in Italy after.  I'll post our review when we get back the last week of June if that is not too  late.

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A lot depends on your mobility for Santorini, I ran up the steps and beat the wife who took the cable car, (did the same thing on the way down) you can also still take donkeys up the steps.  The best part about Santorini is the view and little walks, shops at the top of the caldera and yes finding a great gyro (I am really frugal I almost never buy food ashore but had to do it, so authentic)  a ship Excursion -  man I aint seeing it.

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4 hours ago, Stealthdog said:

 

Chip - when will you be sailing?  We are on the 9 June sailing, but will spend a week in Italy after.  I'll post our review when we get back the last week of June if that is not too  late.

Sailing 6/23, getting excited!

 

To all those posting little tips, THANK YOU 

 

Keep them coming, this is what makes CC great 

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Has anyone done the hop on- hop off bus in Corfu?  Were thinking of doing that  just to get a taste of everything.  In Argostoli we were thinking of taking a taxi to Makris Gialos beach. (have to experience at least one beach in Greece!)   In the other tender ports looking at ship excursions - tuk tuk tours in Kotor and Dubrovnik, charming Oia village or the Opa dinner in Santorini, perhaps Delos in Mykonos.  We travel with our special needs adult dd who has no physical disabilities, but sometimes overheats due to her meds, so we don't want to do hours and hours of walking in August temps.  Know to bring hats, sunscreen and tons of water with us!

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Thank you for the posts.  We are also on this cruise in August and would love to hear everyone's opinions.

We have booked excursions in all ports except Mykonos where we will walk around town and go to the beaches.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Walks of Italy has a 20% off promo code. Is good until Monday 5/20/19. I have used promo code for Rome in October.

MAYSALE20

 

We used this company last year in Venice. In Venice, I highly recommend Exclusive Alone in St. Mark’s & Doge’s Palace Tour. 

AB4AC0F1-3495-4953-8042-7DFE8DF73BA0.jpeg

178DAB44-88C7-4DD3-9593-A78CF0182939.jpeg

70C4BCE3-5FEF-4E05-9948-BD303B89E3B9.jpeg

Edited by Rsparis
Add promo code

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On 5/13/2019 at 10:26 PM, Say811 said:

Watching this thread...we are taking this trip in June as newbie cruisers as well.  Looking forward to some great tips!  

 

I am joining you watching the thread.  I am going mid-September so any tips throughout the summer will be welcome.  I prefer DIY days.  We are not good at hanging around with 50+ people.  

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Son of a son, you are right.  I have looked at these guides for Western Med but not the Eastern.  On my To do List.  🙂 

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On 5/16/2019 at 1:33 PM, Rsparis said:

Walks of Italy has a 20% off promo code. Is good until Monday 5/20/19. I have used promo code for Rome in October.

MAYSALE20

 

We used this company last year in Venice. In Venice, I highly recommend Exclusive Alone in St. Mark’s & Doge’s Palace Tour. 

AB4AC0F1-3495-4953-8042-7DFE8DF73BA0.jpeg

178DAB44-88C7-4DD3-9593-A78CF0182939.jpeg

70C4BCE3-5FEF-4E05-9948-BD303B89E3B9.jpeg

Thanks for the tip, just book our Venice excursion with the coupon code.  Awesome 

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