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Arizona340

Viking Istanbul Tours

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Planning 2 day post cruise stay in Istanbul. Has anyone ever done this?  As it stands the Sky arrives in port on Day 14 @ 7:00 am with no tours offered. On day 15 we tour the city and then to the hotel.  The post extension shows 2 tours but the literature mentions a day on your own. Viking said excursions are identified on the website but seemed confused.  Are we wasting our time staying over 2 days in Istanbul?

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ISTANBUL’S MAJESTIC WATERWAY

DURATION: 4 HOURS      

Sightseeing
UNESCO
Easy*

EXPLORE THE BOSPHORUS STRAIT AND THE RÜSTEM PASHA MOSQUE

See Istanbul from the waters that divide Europe and Asia, and visit a beautifully tiled, seldom-seem mosque. Join your local guide for a scenic drive along the ancient Walls of Constantinople. You will stop at the Rüstem Pasha Mosque, built in 1561. This is one of the city’s hidden treasures, often ignored in favor of the “Blue Mosque” that towers alongside it. Inside, you will find exquisitely colored İznik tiles of blue, red, green and purple covering the entrance, the pulpit (minbar) and its columns. This is the most richly tiled mosque in Istanbul; its facade is similarly decorated. Nearby, on the bustling and exhilarating banks of the Bosphorus, you will embark a local sightseeing boat. As you ply this famous waterway, you can admire mansions, mosques and palaces along the shores and the towering Bosphorus Bridge that links the continents.

We are booked on a tour starting in Athens April 25, 2021 (Ancient Mediterranean Treasures) that ends in Istanbul. We have booked the two day post cruise extension, and I agree that the website information is confusing. When booking, I asked and was told there will be an included excursion on the day we arrive in Istanbul, with departure from the ship the next day. I don't have that in writing, and I know Viking agents don't always have the correct information on such matters.  However,  based on Viking's usual itineraries  when there is an overnight in a port, I am expecting the included excursion shown above that is listed for the same cruise in the other direction. This, of course, could be wrong.

 

The two day extension still seems worthwhile to me. There is so much to see in Istanbul, and I am planning on using the free day to go to the Topkapi Palace. I only expect to get there once in my life, and I want to see as much as possible!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I could easily spend a whole day in the Grand Bazaar or in the Spice Market. Or the Hagia Sophia with my own guide. Our whole day Celebrity tour included these, plus Topkapi, the cisterns, Blue Mosque, and lunch. Quick visit, back on the bus, on to the next attraction.

 

There are a number of boat tours which give City Lights cruises. Many older palaces are illuminated at night.

 

I would go back in a minute, and probably ride the tram system, too.

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I have been to Istanbul 4 times and each time I go I find more that I missed in previous visits.  However, I have a good friend who lives there who takes us off the beaten track.  
 

I’ve been to all of the places mentioned above, some multiple times.  So much to see....so little time!

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8 hours ago, Arizona340 said:

Planning 2 day post cruise stay in Istanbul. Has anyone ever done this?  As it stands the Sky arrives in port on Day 14 @ 7:00 am with no tours offered. On day 15 we tour the city and then to the hotel.  The post extension shows 2 tours but the literature mentions a day on your own. Viking said excursions are identified on the website but seemed confused.  Are we wasting our time staying over 2 days in Istanbul?

 

NO!!! You are not wasting your time staying extra time in Istanbul. Constantinople/Istanbul has a very long history and has been a key player in the history of both Eastern and Western civilization for millennia, sitting as it does with its feet on two continents.The architecture is amazing  -- Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia and the mosaics in the Chora Church are top of my list. We visited Istanbul 20 years ago with Renaissance cruise line and loved it. We had three days in Istanbul and I have always wanted to go back to see more of the city and of the country.

 

Also, I can't believe that if the ship is arriving at 7am on day 14 that there won't be tours offered that day. I would check with Viking and ask if that is correct; mistakes do happen on the website. Viking uses generic pages for the ports of call and it is easiest enough to load in the embarkation/disembarkation day page instead of the full day in port page for the same city.

 

Between  Day 14 and the extension, you have three days to check out Istanbul -- which is two more days than if you did not include the extension. If you don't think that two extra days is enough --and if you are comfortable doing it on your own -- you could do your own extension. You can still use Viking Air (which, until we get over this Covid thing, is probably the best way to handle flights) by simply paying the deviation fee to depart on the day of your choice (no transfers if you deviate).

 

As for the descriptions of the tours and extensions, you have to read between the lines. Viking has its own vocabulary and just because it is mentioned in a description does not mean that you are going to stop there for a tour of the site.

 

FROM VIKING WEBSITE:

Day 1 - Istanbul

Disembark your ship and enjoy a guided tour featuring many of Istanbul’s landmarks. See the remains of the Hippodrome of Constantinople, a sports complex that was once the center of Byzantine life. Admire the azure İznik tiles that adorn the interior of the “Blue Mosque” and marvel at the iconic Hagia Sophia. Visit the Grand Bazaar for a presentation on Turkish carpets and browse its many stalls. After, check in to your hotel. The evening is yours to spend at your leisure.
 
 

Day 2 - Istanbul

Enjoy a full day to explore Istanbul on your own. Stroll through the Old City’s narrow cobblestone streets and perhaps visit one of the many vibrant local markets. Or stop by a cozy café for a pot of Turkish coffee with some Turkish Delight, a tasty confection. A Viking Host is available to help you plan your time in Istanbul so you can make the most of your visit. (B)
 
 

Day 3 - Istanbul

After breakfast, check out of your hotel and proceed to the airport for your flight home. (B)

 

This is what I read: Day 1 -- disembark the ship (no later than 9:45 am but no guess as to how early) and board a bus. Tour includes three stops with 2 interior visits (Blue Mosque (make sure you have socks on your feet since you will have to remove your shoes to enter) and the Grand Bazaar (skip the carpets unless you are buying). The Hippodrome is outdoors no matter what. Hagia Sofia reads like it will be a drive-by and not an interior visit. My guess says that you will arrive at the hotel after 3 pm, since that is when rooms tend to be ready for check in. I don't see any mention of lunch on the description; you will need to check with Viking to see if lunch is included or if you will have to take care of it yourself. (BTW, Viking will also work in needed bathroom stops; they know where the good places are).

 

Day 2 is much easier to figure out: you are on your own. IMHO, hire a guide to take you to the places you want to see. Check out the ports of call section of these boards for recommendations.

 

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Istanbul is one of my favorite cites and I'm so glad that Viking is going there.  It's been several years now since the cruise ships have visited and it's such an interesting, vibrant port.  You are spoiled for choice as to what to see!  You've already gotten some good advice about that and only you know what interests you most.  The only suggestions I would give you is to wear comfortable shoes as it's very hilly and whatever else, don't leave Istanbul without eating at a restaurant.  Or two or three.  Turkish food is delicious and service is gracious.  Oh, and if you want a souvenir, on the low end of the scale the pottery is gorgeous and on the high end, textiles, including rugs of course, also are well worth considering.

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We are on the Ancient Adriatic Treasures Cruise on Sky which is Venice to Istanbul April 18-May 2 2021.  We  have the extension pre-cruise in Venice so that we can explore Venice and rest after flying from California.

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Istanbul is phenomenal! 

 

The Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and the Basilica Cistern are all within a five minute walk from one another. The Grand Bazaar is a bit further away - ten to fifteen minute walk. Would definitely check out the Cistern if you have time. 

 

There are also restaurants nearby if you need to grab lunch: https://www.tripadvisor.com/RestaurantsNear-g293974-d294495-Blue_Mosque-Istanbul.html

 

For exploring on your own, I would definitely recommend a hop-on, hop-off Bosphorus cruise. There are many interesting mansions and sights to see: Rumelihisari, Beylerbeyi Palace, etc. It's also fun to walk around some of the more upscale areas: Bebek, Etilar, etc. 

 

If you're into dance at all, the Whirling Dervishes Show is magical. Or you can ask the hotel concierge to see if Abdullah, the male belly dancer, is performing anywhere; it can get a bit rowdy though. 😂

 

 

 

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Two days post cruise is no where’s near enough time to see Istanbul! Stay longer in a hotel of your choice and hire private guides if you don’t want to explore on your own which is what we did.

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