While we were travelling in the Netherlands, we were offered a fantastic deal on some cruises. We had never cruised before, but wanted to give it a try. The deals we were offered made the decision a no-brainer. We had a list of about 15-20 different cruises offered by Celebrity throughout the month of May. We ended up booking 2 cruises: 11 Nights on the Eastern Mediterranean (covered in this post) and 10 nights in the Norwegian Fjords (which will be covered in a later post).
The Eastern Mediterranean cruise started from the port of Civitavecchia, Italy, which is near Rome. We had flown from Amsterdam to Rome the day before (see the Rome in a Day post), so on the morning of the cruise, May 6, we took a train from Rome Termini station to the port. At the port, we boarded the Celebrity Reflection, which is one of the newest ships in the Celebrity fleet.
Reflection At Sea
The cruise left from the port at Civitavecchia on May 6 at 5PM. The check-in process was very quick as we had already gone through most of the process online a few days prior. We really liked our stateroom on Deck 7 near the back. The room was larger than most of the hotels we have stayed in throughout Europe. It also had a nice veranda where we could sit and enjoy the sea.
The ship, Reflection, was amazing. The Grand Foyer (picture on left) had a huge atrium going from deck 5 all the way up to deck 14 with 2 sets of 4 glass elevators running up the sides. The main theater covered the fore section of decks 4 and 5 where they had stage shows nearly every night. The main dining room (Opus) covered the aft area of decks 4 and 5. It has some huge chandeliers and a 2 story wine rack. There was always plenty of food available in the Oceanview cafeteria and there are a number of other “specialty” restaurants on board (which we did not try).
During the cruise we had 3 At Sea days. The sea days were Day 2 (May 7), Days 5 (May 10) and Day 10 (May 15).
All the photos of and on the ship are in the album Celebrity Reflection.
On Day 3 of the cruise, May 8, we arrived in Santorini, Greece and were in port from 1-9PM. We had not had much time to research what to do so we signed up for one of the shore excursions offered by Celebrity. Since the port at Santorini is too small for the ship, we had to take tender boats to shore. The excursion we booked visited the Santo Wines Winery, the town of Oia and the island’s capital of Fira.
The winery stop was not too exciting. There was a mad rush on the wine and cheese samples as 2 or 3 tour busses arrived and were served in a matter of 15 minutes. The wines were not to my taste, but the views from their cliffside location were nice.
It was raining by the time we reached Oia at the tip of the island. Oia is the town with the picturesque blue domes (pictured above right). The rain and the limited time allowed by the tour made this stop a bit less nice than it could have been, but we made the best of it.
Fira (pictured left) is near the middle of the crescent shaped island. The rain was letting up a bit, so the visit was more pleasant. We stopped for a bite to eat at one of the many cafes. We visited a couple churches and walked around the town.
On the way back to the ship we took the cable car rather than walking or riding down the donkey trail.
There are more photos in the Santorini album.
Mykonos and Delos, Greece
On Day 4 (May 9) we arrived in Mykonos and were in port from 7AM to 6PM. Again we had decided to take one of the shore excursions offered by Celebrity. We opted for a visit to the island of Delos and the ancient ruins there, including the famous lions of Delos (pictured on left). The weather was much nicer while we were on Delos. We had a guided walk through the site then a visit to the archeological museum. After the tour we had some time to explore the site on our own.
On Mykonos we only visited the main town. It’s another cute island town with white buildings and winding alleys. We spent some time wandering through the alleys and visiting some churches. We also walked out to the windmills (pictured on right).
There are more photos in the Delos and Mykonos albums.
Days 6 and 7 (May 11 and 12) were in Istanbul, Turkey. We were in port from 7AM on the 11th until 1PM on the 12th. This was the longest port stop on the cruise itinerary. For this port we opted to visit on our own. We were able to walk out of the port and catch a tram to the center of Istanbul. From there, over the day and a half, we were able to visit the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, Grand Bazaar, Spice Market and Topkapi Palace.
Sailing in and out through the Dardanelles was also quite scenic.
There are more photos in the Istanbul album.
Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey
On Day 8 (May 13) we arrived Kusadasi, Turkey and were in port from 8AM until 5PM. The main attraction in this area is the nearby ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus (pictured on right). Not knowing how to visit, we once again opted for a Celebrity shore excursion. The site is quite large and is still being excavated. Sadly it rained during most of the visit which certainly dampened (figuratively and literally) our experience. The site is quite amazing, and we especially liked the visit to the Terraced Houses area, where excavation and restoration is still in progress.
After returning to Kusadasi we visited a Turkish rug shop and walked around the town before returning to the ship.
There are more photos in the Ephesus and Kusadasi albums.
Athens (Piraeus), Greece
On Day 9 (May 14) we arrived in the port town of Piraeus and set off to explore Athens. We were in port from 6AM to 6PM. We walked from the port to the metro station and took the metro in to Athens. Our first stop in Athens was the Archeological Museum where we saw a number of ancient statues and other relics. Our main focus for the day was a visit to the Acropolis. We had beautiful weather for seeing the Parthenon and other ruins of the Acropolis. We didn’t have time to see much else and had to head back to Piraeus to board the ship.
There are more photos in the Athens album.
Pompeii (Naples), Italy
On Day 11 (May 16), after the final sea day, we landed in Naples, Italy and were in port from 7AM to 6:30PM. There are a lot of options from this port, but not a lot of time. We opted to visit Pompeii. We walked from the port to the train station and took a train to the Pompeii Museum site. It was quite hot but we walked around the ruins for many hours. Afterward we stopped at a nearby cafe for a cold drink and pizza. By the time we got back to Naples we had to board the ship so didn’t have any time to explore that city.
There are more photos in the Pompeii album.
On Day 12 (May 17) we arrived back in Civitavecchia, Italy at 5AM. We had our final breakfast on board, caught a train to Rome then connected with another train to our next destination: Venice.