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Trip Report Royal Princess Black Sea Cruise

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We had a wonderful voyage on the Royal Princess just this Sept 2009. We started off in Venice and stopped in Istanbul, Sochi (Russia), Yalta (Ukraine), Odessa (Ukrain), Varna(Bulgaria), Volos (Greece), ending in Athens. The ship is small-under 700 passengers, but is very easy to get around and is well designed and outfitted. The staff was very friendly and helpful. The fitness center was well-equipped, even though I could do without wall to wall carpeting when I sweat! We had a veranda cabin, which seemed smaller than what we've had on the larger ships, but it was fine and everything fit. The ports were interesting, but not too exciting. Many people did not speak English and did not take dollars or euros. Makes it difficult to purchase anything when some places don't even take credit cards. We did exchange a small amount of Euros for Ukraine money, though, and that was helpful. The only port we took a ship's tour was Sochi, just to avoid the hassle of getting a visa. That was the only country that required a visa, so we just went off on our own in the other ports. We felt very safe and had no problems merely walking the streets and taking pictures. Athens, our ending port, turned out to be much nicer than I expected. Of course the Acropolis was marvelous-even nicer at night when it's lit up. We stayed at the Electra Palace in the Platka area-a great location. We were in Athens for 3 days-one of those days we took a boat trip to 3 islands-Hydra, Poros and Aegina-very worthwhile even though we were island-out by the end. We also took one the hop-on/off buses around Athens which was a great idea to acclimate ourselves to the large city. Also-don't miss the New Acropolis Museum and the Archeological Museum--both are must sees along with the Acropolis, of course. A good tip is to go to the Acropolis late in the day to avoid the crowds. Same thing with the Acropolis Museum.