Eastern Mediterranean & Greek Isles on Celebrity Reflection
Written by Carolyn Hedley of The Luxury Holiday Company
Cruising the Med is something that has always been on my bucket list, particularly on a luxury cruise ship. There is now a tick beside this having just returned from the magical Mediterranean.
Cruising the Eastern Mediterranean with Celebrity – a cruise and holiday experience
We boarded the Celebrity Reflection in Rome and had the luxury of a Celebrity Suite as there were 3 of us including my 17 year old daughter. Wow, I would definitely travel at this level again, the inclusions more than made up for the additional cost and the extra comfort of having a separate lounge/bedroom was well worth it.
When you are in a suite on Celebrity you have access to a private lounge with your own Concierge. Now being a travel agent I thought I wouldn’t need one of those but we were in that lounge nearly every day making use of her for things like the swipe card stopped working, asking little things we weren’t sure about, arranging for a private chat with the Shore Excursions Manager to make sure we booked the excursion we really wanted and just having a chat with her as she was so nice. It was just lovely being pampered and not having to queue for anything. at the normal counters.
Our Mediterranean cruise and holiday itinerary
The Greek Islands
Our first port of call was Santorini and having been there as a backpacker in my 20’s I was looking forward to returning to this stunningly picturesque Greek island. We visited the village of Oia which I hadn’t really heard of before but if I return to Santorini I am going to stay there. It was a quaint town on the cliff edge (as everything is on Santorini) stunningly beautiful with the houses and hotels dropping down the cliff edge. The shops were modern and so were the walkways, everything felt clean and new. We had some time in Thira before boarding the ship which is where I had stayed before and I wouldn’t bother spending any time here again.
After a day at sea we visited Istanbul and had a full day and night here. Some people booked 2 day tours but we booked a private excursion as there were places we weren’t interested in visiting. I had been to Istanbul in my 20’s but it is now a much cleaner place than it was then. It was great having a private guide as we were able to move quickly through some places and spend more time in others. He showed us a great little place for lunch and we were able to squeeze in some shopping time at the Grand Bazaar and also have time for a quick scenic tour of Istanbul which wouldn’t have been possible on a general tour.
Our next port of call was Kusadasi and still in Turkey. The main point of interest here is Ephasus which is an amazing historical site. Bear in mind the heat though, it was extremely hot here and make sure you have a hat and water if you visit in July like we did.
We couldn’t wait to get to Mykonos and get to a beach which is course of what Greece is famous for. We wanted to hire a car so we could get around and visit more than one place. Hmm, not the best idea I had. We had to get into town on the shuttle and find a rental car place ourselves which was easy enough I guess but took quite a lot of time. Once we got the car and directions to the beach we ventured out and found ourselves at the same beach as people on the ship were at and they had been there much earlier than us. We grabbed some lunch and then found some loungers under the umbrellas, bliss. Be prepared to pay for the luxury though, we parted with 10 euro each but that was for the day and you could stay for as long as you liked. We were a bit back from the water due to our late arrival but we ventured in for a swim and I was surprised how cold the water was but it was refreshing as we were so hot.
We then had another day at sea which was great as we got to sleep in and have a generally relaxing day on the ship which you really needed after all the sightseeing we were doing.
Next port of call was Naples and I hadn’t really heard much about this place apart from this is where you get to see Pompeii. We decided not to do this as my husband and daughter were ruined out and we just wanted a scenic tour day so we again organized a private guide. He was great (and good looking!) so we managed to squeeze in a very busy day. We went to Capri on the ferry, he had organized a taxi to meet us and we visited the village at the top of the hill. This place is beautiful and where movie stars and celebrities stay so it is also very expensive but lovely to visit. Next we were back on the ferry and off to Sorrento where we had lunch in a gorgeous restaurant and tjen quickly back on the road to Positano. I am definitely going back there, the drive along the Amalfi Coast is everything you have heard about it and more, truly spectacular and beautiful. It is a scenic and steep drive into town so I don’t think I want to walk uphill ever again. Parking here is a challenge so we paid for parking and walked into the pedestrian village, all downhill past some beautiful shops where we bought my husband some gorgeous cotton shirts. I wanted to buy too but I was just too hot to try anything on, so we walked all the way down to the beach and back up again to meet the guide and driver.
Sadly our cruise came to an end the next day in Rome. We had a wonderful holiday on the ship and left us wanting more that is for sure.
The Luxury Holiday Company – The fine art of travel.