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Old 01-31-2013, 12:41 PM   #1
nzdisneymom
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All things GREECE and TURKEY port excursions

Hi all. We are so excited to be on one of the two Magical sailings that will be porting in Greece and Turkey this summer. We wanted to have a place for discussion of the shore excursions, not just those offered by DCL but what might be put together for private tours, do-it-yourself activities, etc. from other DISers who may have been to these ports with other cruise lines or in their own land-travels.

So if you have experience in any of these ports, please chime in and share your experiences, tips, advice, what to watch out for.

These are the ports:

Piraeus (Athens), Greece
Mykonos, Greece
Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey
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Old 01-31-2013, 01:07 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by nzdisneymom View Post
Hi all. We are so excited to be on one of the two Magical sailings that will be porting in Greece and Turkey this summer. We wanted to have a place for discussion of the shore excursions, not just those offered by DCL but what might be put together for private tours, do-it-yourself activities, etc. from other DISers who may have been to these ports with other cruise lines or in their own land-travels.

So if you have experience in any of these ports, please chime in and share your experiences, tips, advice, what to watch out for.

These are the ports:

Piraeus (Athens), Greece
Mykonos, Greece
Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey
Thanks so much for starting this, Cindy! I will say that my middle daughter has been to Athens twice, in a collaboration with the American Community School there. She says it will be very easy to take the subway from the port and end up at the Acropolis, and then to wander around the Plaka area for shopping and eating (she stayed in Plaka when there). She also says that no Athenians pay to ride the subway, and that if we do, we will be labeling ourselves as tourists! That being said, the subway system is very inexpensive and certainly not worth risking any trouble by skipping out on a fare (as I told her). If they are on strike, I will negotiate with a taxi at the port.
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Old 01-31-2013, 05:19 PM   #3
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Does anyone know anything about the Water Park in the Kusadasi excursions? Is it better just to find a beach to go to nearby or do you think my 9 and (almost) 7 year old would like this?
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Old 01-31-2013, 08:10 PM   #4
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What to do in Mykonos? Pretty slim pickin's on the excursions! A family of 5 has to get a 15 seater mini-van which is super expensive, but we're too big for a sedan.

What is everyone else doing?
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Old 01-31-2013, 09:44 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by slg
What to do in Mykonos? Pretty slim pickin's on the excursions! A family of 5 has to get a 15 seater mini-van which is super expensive, but we're too big for a sedan.

What is everyone else doing?
We are a family of 4 with the same issue. I like that Malta excursions have an in-between option.

For Mykonos, we are going to go into town on our own. I haven't looked to see if we dock or tender. If we tender, they drop us off right in Old Town, and if we dock, it's about a mile and they usually have a shuttle. At least that's what I have read so far.
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Old 01-31-2013, 10:33 PM   #6
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Does anyone know anything about the Water Park in the Kusadasi excursions? Is it better just to find a beach to go to nearby or do you think my 9 and (almost) 7 year old would like this?
Great question! I am wondering the same thing. My husband thinks I am crazy for wanting to go to a water park when in Turkey, BUT with the heat and the long touring days, I think the kids would love to do Ephesus in the am, and then the water park in the afternoon. A nice mix of fun and educational stuff...
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Old 02-01-2013, 05:03 AM   #7
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Great question! I am wondering the same thing. My husband thinks I am crazy for wanting to go to a water park when in Turkey, BUT with the heat and the long touring days, I think the kids would love to do Ephesus in the am, and then the water park in the afternoon. A nice mix of fun and educational stuff...
I am trying to focus the hard core touring stuff on Rome and Athens days, and let the kids have a break for the other ports. It's Europe - there is history everywhere. If we try to see it all they will end up like me and my siblings when we used to live there and my mom dragged us in every church in every town...bitter and uninterested! We also have 4 days in Paris post cruise, so I really don't want them to be sick of touring. So we will be doing nothing but the beach in Mykonos, and possibly not much more than a quick wander in Malta followed by swimming as well. I figured the water park might mix it up a little bit...

I haven't had time to go through them in a lot of detail, but I am disappointed that there doesn't seem to be an excursion that does both a stop at the Olympic stadium and the Acropolis. Seems to be one or the other. If only we could do the ABD add-on for Athens and Rome only!
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Old 02-01-2013, 07:20 AM   #8
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Thanks so much for starting this, Cindy! I will say that my middle daughter has been to Athens twice, in a collaboration with the American Community School there. She says it will be very easy to take the subway from the port and end up at the Acropolis, and then to wander around the Plaka area for shopping and eating (she stayed in Plaka when there). She also says that no Athenians pay to ride the subway, and that if we do, we will be labeling ourselves as tourists! That being said, the subway system is very inexpensive and certainly not worth risking any trouble by skipping out on a fare (as I told her). If they are on strike, I will negotiate with a taxi at the port.
Yes, it is true that it is easy to use the subway system to get to the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum (Closed Mondays). It is about a 20 minute walk from the cruise port to the train station (Get off the boat early and wear a hat and copious amounts of sunscreen, you are probably not used to the heat here). From there, you will take the train (You don't have to worry about which train, the port is the terminal station so all trains leaving go in the same direction) up to Monastiraki station (All stations labeled in Greek as well as English). At Monastiraki you will switch to the Red Line towards Ag. Dimitrios and get off at the Acropolis stop. It really is very easy.

What isn't true is that Athenians do not pay. The truth is, most of us have a monthly pass. I recommend getting a daily pass for 4 Euro. This will cover all trains and busses for the day. It pays for itself from the third time you use it. Both a one-time use ticket and a Daily pass ticket need to be validated before you enter the platform area. You really cannot miss the validation machines. Just put the ticket in and it comes back out. You only have to validate the daily pass once, it is good for the rest of the day.

Have fun in Athens! I may come and oogle at the ship when she comes in!
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Old 02-01-2013, 07:31 AM   #9
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I haven't had time to go through them in a lot of detail, but I am disappointed that there doesn't seem to be an excursion that does both a stop at the Olympic stadium and the Acropolis. Seems to be one or the other. If only we could do the ABD add-on for Athens and Rome only!
There isn't a whole lot to 'see' at the Olympic Stadium. It is really easy to do on your own, time willing. The Acropolis will not take up much of your time but the museum will

To get to the Olympic Stadium, you take the 'Green Line" trains (Metro Line 1) towards Kiffisia and get off at the Eirini stop. It is right there in front of you. To get back to the port from there, get on the same train line going towards Pireas and take it to the end. This train is a little slow, though, because it is the old line. Figure on it taking an hour. I am not sure about that time, though. I may try to time it one day, but I won't have time to do so until June (I work 7 days a week).

Perhaps more interesting is the old Olympic Stadium? I would look them up on the Internet and see what looks more interesting.

Something else that might be fun and is VERY easy with the metro system is the guards at Parliament. The Metro lets you out right outside. The Syntagma metro station is itself a 'sight' because there is a cross section of the wall that shows one of the skeletons they found as they were digging.

Monastiraki station also has some ancient dig sites, I believe.
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Old 02-01-2013, 07:55 AM   #10
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There was a bombing at the US Embassy in Turkey yesterday with 3 killed...wonder if this will alter any of the Turkey excursions?

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Old 02-01-2013, 08:22 AM   #11
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Debsters41 - thanks for chiming in! It's great to have someone local "on the ground" to help us with our planning.

We've narrowed down our DCL choice for Athens but I have a question - one goes to the National Archaeological Museum and the other similar excursion goes to the New Acropolis Museum. Which would you recommend for a first (and maybe only) visit to Athens?
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Old 02-01-2013, 08:22 AM   #12
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If you go to Ephesus, I highly recommend Kusadasi Tours You will see more and do more than with a ship's excursion. The operator is fantastic.
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Old 02-01-2013, 09:34 AM   #13
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Does anyone know anything about the Water Park in the Kusadasi excursions? Is it better just to find a beach to go to nearby or do you think my 9 and (almost) 7 year old would like this?
We are doing a Med cruise with RCCL in June, and they also list the water park as an excursion. We had considered going for our kids (14 and 10) to give them a break from the ruins, but if you read Cruise Critic, so many people say that Ephesus was the highlight of their cruise. I am concerned my kids might have ruins fatigue by then, but I would also hate to go all the way to Turkey and miss Ephesus if it is that impressive. We are doing a private tour of Ephesus and the terrace houses, then shopping in the afternoon.

I hadn't considered trying to do the water park in the afternoon - that might work. The RCCL excursion page says this:

OVERVIEW: Designed for those seeking fun and excitement, this tour includes a water park adventure at Aquapark. HIGHLIGHTS: After your transfer to the park, enjoy the day at one of the most well-known water parks in the Mediterranean. Enjoy the multiple pools and more than 12 slides designed to delight children and adults. NOTES: Due to safety and security issues and due to the nature of the venue, guests are fully responsible for potential incidents in the park. Other activities such as swimming with dolphins, the dolphin encounter, the shark dive, and the coral reef snorkeling are available at an additional cost and can be booked at the park.

It sounds kind of like a cross between Atlantis and Typhoon Lagoon. While it would be cool to say we went to a water park in Turkey, it also sounds like an experience we can have several other places.
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Old 02-01-2013, 09:37 AM   #14
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I haven't had time to go through them in a lot of detail, but I am disappointed that there doesn't seem to be an excursion that does both a stop at the Olympic stadium and the Acropolis. Seems to be one or the other. If only we could do the ABD add-on for Athens and Rome only!
We have booked a private tour in Athens with Athens By Taxi - I read about them on Cruise Critic. We are doing the Acropolis, Panathenaic Stadium, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Changing of the Guard in the morning, then driving to Cape Sounion in the afternoon. A mix of ruins and beautiful countryside. They also go to the New Acropolis Museum, but I think the kids will enjoy the Panathenaic Stadium and Changing of the Guard more than the museum. The only way to do it all in Athens was to not do Cape Sounion, and we thought a full day of ruins and museums might be too much for the kids.
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Old 02-01-2013, 10:19 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by StitchandPooh'sMom View Post
We have booked a private tour in Athens with Athens By Taxi - I read about them on Cruise Critic. We are doing the Acropolis, Panathenaic Stadium, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Changing of the Guard in the morning, then driving to Cape Sounion in the afternoon. A mix of ruins and beautiful countryside. They also go to the New Acropolis Museum, but I think the kids will enjoy the Panathenaic Stadium and Changing of the Guard more than the museum. The only way to do it all in Athens was to not do Cape Sounion, and we thought a full day of ruins and museums might be too much for the kids.
I went to the Athens By Taxi site, but couldn't find this tour. Sounds good to me! How did you find it and how much was it, if you don't mind my asking.
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