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Trip Report Norwegian Jade Adriatic Cruise

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As first time cruisers, we weren’t sure what to expect, but by the end of our two weeks, we were very pleased with our choice of cruise companies and the itinerary. We are usually independent travellers who like to spend several weeks in the one place, so for us to be constantly visiting new countries and cities made quite a change.

We had a mid-ship balcony cabin (with full length window and room for 2 chairs), on deck 9, port side. This proved to be a great position – handy to everything, and gave us fantastic views of the sunset over Venice as we left on our first night.

There was a vast array of places on board to dine, plenty of organised on board activities for those who wanted them, and quiet spaces for those who didn’t.

Our cruise was the last week in September and the first week in October. This timing worked well; the worst of the summer crowds had left, yet the weather was still warm and comfortable.

The 14 day journey began and ended in Venice, with stops at Dubrovnik, Split, Katakolon, Mykonos, Santorini,Corfu and Izmir. We missed out on the planned stop for Athens, due to a general strike on that day, but were given an extra stop in Mykonos instead.

At most towns the ship either tied up at the wharf, or if not, tenders transported us instead. If the wharf wasn’t close to the tourism attractions, free shuttle buses were provided – these ran continually, so it was easy to stay as long or short a time as we wanted in each place. At all times there were staff members there to help with whatever was needed, making getting on and off the tender vessels very easy.

The process of unloading passengers each day was extremely well organised; generally we arrived in port well before the due docking time, so all the port formalities were over by the time we were due to leave the ship. Always those taking ship-organised tours left by one exit, and the rest of us by another, so there was no long delays anywhere.

Most days we did our own thing, meaning we could come and go from the ship when it suited us, rather than being tied to a group itinerary. Often we came back to the ship for lunch and a quick refresh, then ventured out again to see another part of the town.

On Santorini we did book up the tour to Oia; I had read that this is the best part of the island, and we were so glad that we took that option. It is possible to do by public transport, but we would have wasted a lot of time working out where to go, and would have missed out on the commentary provided by our guide. Once we reached Oia, we were free to do our own thing, so weren’t trying to negotiate those narrow passages as a large group.

On Mykonos we went from the ship by tender into the small harbour, and had a lovely morning getting completely bamboozled in all the tiny, winding streets. After a couple of hours we decided to return to the ship for some lunch and R&R, then back in again in the afternoon for some more wandering. The walk around the Little Venice area and up to the windmills is very easy to find, and the views are excellent.

I can see why Mykonos is such a popular place - it's so picturesque with all the white buildings, cobbled streets and deep blue sea. You'd have to be a local to find your way around easily - none of the tiny streets have any names!
Everything leads eventually back to the harbour, so it would be difficult to get really lost.

When we got back to the dock, the crew had ice cold hand towels, iced water, fruit skewers and icy poles for us before we hopped on to the tender; they certainly do pampering with style.

On this first visit to Mykonos we discovered that there is a local ferry that travels across to Delos, so we opted for that trip on our second day there. Once again, we weren’t tied to the large groups that tended to move en masse – we took off in the opposite direction, and avoided the crowds altogether. The signage at the site was perfectly adequate for us to understand what we were seeing. Cost was 17 Euros for ferry and 5 Euros for entry to the site, compared with 67 Euros for the ship’s escorted tour.

In Dubrovnik we were bussed to the old part of the town from the port. There's a walk around the ramparts of the old town that we did; a couple of hours up and down flights of stairs, with great views over the orange roof tops. The combination of orange-red roof tiles and the deep blue sea is quite stunning. There were plenty of interesting little shops in the town, but being a Sunday afternoon, the crowds were heavy so we didn’t bother; our ramparts walking had tired us out sufficiently for the day.

At Corfu I think we really needed two maps, one in English and the other in Greek. None of the street signs are in English, so we needed the first to know where we wanted to go, and the second to work out where we actually were. With 5 cruise ships in port the streets were packed with people; the car traffic was going nowhere, and I'm sure we walked around in several circles.
We had planned to go and see the Palace built for Sissi (she of the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna), but by the time we found the right street to catch the local bus from, and that it didn't run very frequently, we would have been cutting it too fine to get back to the ship in time.
So instead we walked around the old fort and new fort, and past some lovely old buildings. There's a very French / European feel to the city, with wide streets lined with large trees.

The only disappointment of our itinerary was the day in Izmir. We had never been to Turkey, so decided to spend the day in the town, rather than do the long day trip to Ephesus. As we walked around, the town was not very clean, and the two museums we tried to visit were closed. In the afternoon we decided to take the hop-on-hop-off bus, and our experience there wasn’t much better. The timber slat seats were most uncomfortable, and the audio recording didn’t match up with what we were driving past. The driver didn’t stop at every marked stopping point, and the pavement signs weren’t numbered, so it was very difficult to work out exactly where on the route we were. Cost was 10 Euros for a 1hour round trip.
Talking with those who took the Ephesus tour showed that their day wasn’t much better. They were given a very short time at each site they were taken to, then had to spend an hour and a half in a Turkish rug shop . . . not exactly what they were expecting either.
With hindsight we would have done better to take one of the taxis that were plaguing us to join them at the dockside – we could have negotiated what we wanted to see, and how long we were prepared to pay for.

For the day at Katakolon, we took the local bus for a 30 minute journey to the site of Olympia, then wandered at our own pace around the site. The signage and map provided give plenty of information about what there is to see. We also visited the museum – all for 19 Euros per person.

Having a sea day here and there between places was a welcome break. Turns out DH loved the sea days, whereas I was keen to visit each new place . . . at least we were both happy most of the time!

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