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Sea Diamond Louis Helenic


spenser

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:) My wife and I sailed on the Sea Diamond on its Oct 9 - Oct 13 2006 voyage. We were part of a small, unaccompanied group that had booked a land and sea cobination through Gate1. The The bus arrived at the terminal at about 10. Boarding took a little while because two ships were being loaded, but the lines moved faster than at airport security in the US. Once on board we were accompanied to our room.

 

We had a category B cabin (a porthole) on the 3rd deck. Although small, the cabin was adequate and we were glad to have the contact with the outside world that the porthole provided. The cabin service was fine, although there is no room service (we missed being able to have coffee in our room before facing the buffet).

 

The ship was full and the public spaces were much more crowded than on Holland America's Vandam (the only other cruise we have taken) but this is primarily a cruise to get a small taste of some Greek Islands and Ephesus, so there was not a lot of free time on the boat anyway. Also, the weather, which was fine for sight-seeing, was a little cool for sunbathing, so almost everyone was indoors. If the scores (hundreds?) of lounge chairs on the top deck and near the (small) pool had been in use, the other rooms would have seemed more empty. On the other hand, because of the season Mykonos and Santorini were far less crowded than at peak times.

 

We found the food better than expected. The buffet had many choices and the dining room gave a quiter place for lunch. Coffee is not available in midafternoon except for purchase at about 2.50 E a cup. Alcohol is reasonably priced (4.50 for an Irish Coffee). The line's literature says you cannont bring alcohol onboard, but the luggage screeners do not seem to take it out (two couples we were traveling with had some in their baggage). I bought a small bottle in Rhodes and was not asked to surrender it when I returned to the ship. I asked earlier at the duty free shop if a bottle would be held for me until departure or if I could take it to my room. They said it would be held. But on the last evening when I bought some for gifts I was told I could take it to the cabin and could have at any time. Perhaps my question had not been clear.

 

We took the late, 9:15, dinner seating because two of our stops were in the evening. As a consequence we went to only one show, singers covering various pop stars; it did not tempt us to stay up late, but as I said the purpose of the cruise was to see some islands. One person did tell us that they enjoyed the magician. I read a lot, so for the hours that we were at sea I was usually stuck in a book. There were many activities, though, and one couple said they enjoyed the Greek dance lessons. There was little gym equipment; just three arobic pieces of equipment (track, cross ramp, eliptical?) and, I think, free weights.

 

As for the shore excursions, the ones we took were well done. We took excursions on Ephesus, Rhodes, and Crete. The last seemed especially important because the ship docks at 7:30AM and leaves at 10:30 and we wanted to see the Palace of Knosos. Althogh the palace is very close to the dock, we were concerned about getting stuck in traffic on the way back and wanted to take a ship's tour so that we could be sure of getting back on board. As it turned out, the tour (which also includes the museum) did run a little late, but that seemed to be a matter of course as no one was much concerned. Another of the cruise line's ships, the Perla, was in port at the same time. This made the touring very crowded, but we did see what we had hoped and found that there were brief moments between the crowds when we could get closer to the more celebrated objects. The cruise director had said in the first meeting describing the excursions that Crete would be very crowded.

 

The stops at Mykonos and Santorini are also very short, just 4 hours. At Mykonos, you need to take a bus (8 E) or walk to the main town. It's not much of a walk, but you would have to be sure to allow enough time to return. We walked around Mykonos and ended up enjoying a waterside table in the Venice section and were surpised to find that we were much further from the bus stop than we had thought. If we had had to walk back to the ship we might have been late.

 

Santorini presents a logistics problem that the cruise director was not forthright enough about. We took the funicular up, waiting about a half hour on line, enjoyed a small bottle of wine and a classic sunset, walked around the town a little, and decided to head back to the ship early. When we got back to the funicular, we saw a line winding around the square and heading down one of the streets. It took a hour and a half to get back down. Louis Hellenic Cruises has 3 ships in port at this time and all the passengers are to return about the same time, so this back up evidently happens every week. In summer, one could walk down, but we did not want to do so being unsure of the lighting. We were told by traveling companions that it was fine. I should point out that the ships are not likely to leave without the passengers. Each ship has people at the top of the funicular who go down the line and find the last passengers for their ship. So you are not likely to be left (as long as you make these people aware of your presence) but you still have a long wait. We were thinking it might have been better to take one of the Santorini tours, because those passengers were tendered to buses for their tour and so were on the top of the island much more quickly, but all of them also had to take the funicular down and had the same problem with waiting.

 

Disembarking was very fast. We were on a bus to the airport within 45 minutes of leaving the boat and would have been on our way even sooner if we were not part of a group.

 

All in all, we were very pleased with the trip. We knew we would not have too much time anywhere (except Rhodes, which is a full day) and that the ship was not likely to be the same as Celebrity or Holland America, but we found it a good value.

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