The Complete Guide: Celebrity Edge 11-Night Cruise, Amalfi Coast and Greek Isles
If you follow me on Instagram you know Andy and I went on a pretty epic cruise vacation last month. It was one of the best trips either of us have ever been lucky enough to go on so I really wanted to assemble a complete review for the whole cruise and itinerary—both as a guide for anyone considering the same trip, but also—selfishly :)—as a personal journal and photo album to look back on (there are well over 100 photos in this post)!
As the title reads, this blog post is specific to the Celebrity Edge’s 11-Night/12-Day Amalfi Coast and Greek Isles itinerary. This post is huge, so I’ll attempt to break it down: I’ll start with the cruise itself, how I think it stacks up again the other ships I’ve been on (you’ll be surprised how many of those there are!), and where I think it’s best to spend versus save when booking. Then, it’s all about the travel: where we went, what we saw, and what we ate—I’ll link out relevant sites and restaurants as I go.
A few last things before I get going…
1) As I know you value transparency as much as I do: this post is in partnership with Celebrity Cruises, but as is always the case with any content I share with you guys, absolutely ALL thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
2) The photos in the albums have captions—hover to read them!
3) The photos are high-res so if anything appears pixel-y or blurry at first, give it a second to load. :)
4) Many of the destinations on this trip were inhabited by stray cats. You probably know by now that Andy is a major cat person, so spot his cute interactions with the many kitties. 😻
5) ***UPDATE 07.24.19: If you’re interested in my fashion in these photos, head on over to my What I Wore fashion breakdown!
I’ve been on my share of cruises. My first was at age 12, when my parents took us on Royal Caribbean’s now-retired Legend of the Seas through Alaska. At age 14, it was the Carnival Destiny, sailing through the Caribbean. At age 16, it was the Grand Princess, through the Mediterranean. As an adult, in 2007, it was Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas, through the Bahamas. Finally, in 2015, Andy and I joined my parents on the Norwegian Getaway, a one-week sail in the Eastern Caribbean. Suffice to say, it’s not my first cruise rodeo and I like to think I know a thing or two about cruising.
Even as a longtime cruise-goer, my impression of cruising was always that it was the type of vacation best suited for eating, drinking, relaxing, and people-watching. As a kid, I enjoyed meeting others from walks of life I’d never been exposed to. The convenience of a cruise is unparalleled—there is nothing like spending a day in a foreign country, yet returning to your own room on the sea, your home base, not having to repack and unpack and lug your suitcase to every destination you visit. But, truthfully, I never considered cruising a “real” way to see the world, nor did I consider it a truly luxurious way to travel. It felt like a great choice for people who aren’t great vacation researchers—especially those with children—as just about everything is done for you (especially if you opt in on excursions). Not knocking this by any means, as I myself am not a great vacation researcher!
I maintain my opinion that cruising is good for non-planners like myself, but the Celebrity Edge really did change my outlook on the luxury and seeing-the-world aspects. Instead of just hopping from one beach to another, we managed to immerse ourselves in cities big and small, each with its own distinct feel and culture. In some cases, we felt we’d gotten our fill of the city by the end of the day. With others, a day wasn’t enough, but it was enough for us to make an informed decision in potentially going back one day. In that sense, while I’m not going to pretend you can do everything there is to do in one day in some of these places, this particular itinerary felt like a sampler pack of sorts. For example, Andy and I never really had Greece on our radar. We of course had heard great things, but I’d be lying if I said it was even in the top 10 of our bucket list destinations. (In fact, what initially drew us to this particular itinerary was the Amalfi Coast!) But Greece ended up being a MAJOR hit for us. It was one of our favorite places we’ve ever visited and there is no question we’ll go back. With a whopping FIVE Greek ports on the itinerary, we got a real feel for the flavors of each destination, informing any future travel plans to Greece we may make (whether or not by cruise). In that sense, I LOVED this itinerary. It was less about superficially hitting as many countries as possible and more about really getting a taste of the ones we did visit. Quality over quantity!
As I said above, I’ve been on my share of cruises and I am not exaggerating when I say the Celebrity Edge is in its own league. It helps that the ship is brand new, but in general, the finishes, decor, and amenities were on another level. It felt more modern and creative, rather than predictably kitschy, like so many other ships have been. (Think hip NYC boutique hotel versus dated Florida timeshare.) It wasn’t the biggest ship I’ve been on in terms of size (a good thing—less overcrowding), but it was as though the overhyped bells and whistles you don’t care about were scrapped in exchange for elevated features that you do care about (a rooftop garden, a peaceful solarium, a bustling coffee shop, a bar on the exterior of the ship—the “Magic Carpet”—that actually moves vertically between the 2nd and 16th decks, like an elevator). Literally, the only thing I felt was missing that I’d had on other ships was a pool table. (I love playing pool with Andy despite the fact that he slaughters me every time.) For a pool table to be the only thing I missed is pretty darn good.
The food was on average a full notch or more above the next best ship I’ve been on (Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas), sometimes even reaching Michelin star level. The entertainment, too, was on a different level. I’m not going to lie, cruise ship entertainment is sometimes a little ho-hum and, especially when you’re spoiled by living within walking distance of NYC’s theater district, sub-par. But the shows on the Edge were more refined and varied (there was a different show every night). And—particularly with the performances featuring multiple singers, dancers, and acrobats—talent-wise, they were easily on par with many Broadway shows I’ve seen of late.
An aspect of this particular cruise that deserves its own paragraph is the service. Again, I’ve been on several cruises, so I know what a typical cruise’s service looks and feels like. Simply put, cruise service is always good, but I’ve got to say the service and attention to detail on the Edge was on another level… like, an almost freakish level. When Andy asked for an IPA at dinner, the Sommelier (yes, Sommelier—this wasn’t even his JOB) hunted down that particular beer in another restaurant, on a different floor, on the other end of the ship to get it for him. We fell so in love with an amuse bouche (a pear sorbet with horseradish—TO DIE FOR) during our first meal that when we later asked about it, the chef actually made us the sorbet (like, FROM SCRATCH) to enjoy at our next meal. When our butler (yes, butler!) observed that we weren’t drinking the champagne he’d been leaving for us in our room (we’re both not big champagne drinkers), he took note of what we did drink and began leaving IPAs and Tito’s instead. Like I said, freakishly good service. I said in an Instagram post that I felt like a legit celebrity on this ship. I was not exaggerating.
Finally, I want to take a moment to zero in on sustainability, and this is something I’m in no way required to mention but really want to. I’ve been very vocal about my efforts to use less and waste less, and let me tell you, it’s something I really notice no matter where I am. Cruise lines have had a bad rap in the past for their environmental impact. Therefore, I LOVE that there was not a single plastic straw on the entire ship. (This was probably the longest I’ve ever gone without even seeing one!) Their water bottles are made of recyclable aluminum, and the seafood they serve is sustainably sourced. The company spends billions on developing and implementing advanced solar panels, energy-efficient lighting and appliances, and water purification systems. They’re partnered with WWF, and their parent company, Royal Caribbean, founded Save The Waves. And for the record, THEY DON’T EVEN ADVERTISE THIS. While most companies would brag about this because it’d make them look good, at no point during our cruise was this information shoved down our throats. (Andy and I actually found out most of this by asking.) Turns out Royal Caribbean and Celebrity are the most eco-friendly cruise lines in the biz.
Andy and I knew from past vacations that we have different strengths when traveling: Andy’s great at researching and planning the sites we’ll see, as well as the logistics of how we’ll get there, while meal-planning and documenting (aka photo-taking, or as I call it, “memory making”!) are my responsibility. We balance each other out nicely in this regard.
As I said, Andy and I have been on one cruise before, where we did do a couple of excursions. However, this itinerary’s destinations are more about historical sites and culture rather than swimming with stingrays. Also, and perhaps this is a function of living 40 blocks from Times Square, but we’re both a bit allergic to “tourist attractions” and the traditional tours that take you to those places. We HATE crowds and not being able to move at our own pace.
Thus, for this particular cruise, we forewent excursions entirely, opting to research and take on each city individually. On the Celebrity Edge, you get a newsletter the night before each port, giving you the rundown of each city as well as the docking times. Armed with that and a few Google searches, we put together some well-balanced and remarkably thorough itineraries, of which I’ve got to say I’m quite proud. In the Destinations section below, I’ll outline our schedule for each port, as well as what I think we missed or should have done differently!
SPEND VS SAVE
I know by now that you guys appreciate my candor when it comes to money and cost. And you guys know by now that I’m a price-conscious shopper and like to feel that, regardless what I’m spending, I’m getting good value for my money. Therefore, for anyone seriously considering the Celebrity Edge, I wanted to be transparent about what I felt were the best returns on investment with this vacation, in true “Lust vs Must” fashion!
These are listed in order of priority…
SUITE CLASS: If you can justify the cost, get a suite. Of course, if you’re on a budget, a stateroom is still super nice and you can absolutely enjoy the Celebrity Edge in all its glory. That said, Andy and I found having a suite (we were in a Sky Suite) to be downright transformative to the cruising experience. First, and possibly most importantly, having your own private deck is huge. The feeling of waking up to the view of a new island and just walking out into the sea air (with or without your clothes on 😂) is priceless.
Beyond the niceness of the room itself, there’s a domino effect of perks throughout the cruise, making it the gift that keeps on giving. You are deemed “Suite Class”, giving you access to the “Retreat” areas (Suite Class-only areas) of the ship. These make up a surprisingly large chunk of the boat and, given how beautiful and sparsely populated they were, they ended up being our main hangouts: the Retreat Lounge (a spacious, soothing lounge with 24/7 tea, coffee, wine, and beer; I wrote my recaps here :), the Retreat Sundeck (a huge and luxurious—and practically empty (!)—pool and deck area), as well as two whole restaurants, Luminae and Blu, which are some of the best on the ship. Long gone are the memories of too-loud, overcrowded lounge and pool areas on cruise ships. The Retreat areas were always peaceful and classy and not at all what you imagine when you think of a cruise with thousands of passengers on board. At times they felt private!
Service-wise, with a suite, you have an actual butler (for real), as well as a Suite Class-specific concierge that you can go to for literally anything (aka, you don’t have to wait in line with everyone else on the ship). Being Suite Class made our experience go from respectable luxury to legit celeb status treatment and amenities. Andy and I agreed that if and when we cruise again, we will never be without it. Priority level: 9/10
SPECIALTY RESTAURANT PACKAGE: With menus changing daily at every regular restaurant, there’s honestly no need to purchase the Specialty Dining Package. However, while every meal we had was excellent, some of the Specialty Restaurant meals were legit knocks out of the park. (And this is coming from two snotty New Yorkers who fancy themselves foodies.) And even if a meal was a 9 instead of a 10, the experience was always next level, including entertainment interwoven with the meal. Our two favorite meals of the entire cruise experience were at Le Petit Chef (exceptional French bistro fare intertwined with a super cool digital dinner show) and Fine Cut (a steakhouse—and we don’t even eat meat!). Again, this isn’t an absolutely necessary add-on, but I recommend it and would book it again. Priority level: 7/10
PREMIUM BEVERAGE PACKAGE: Depending on how much of a drinker you are, this could fall in the “Save” category. Some people LOVE their drink and one of their favorite things about cruising is drinking with abandon. As for us, and maybe this is #marriedlife talking, Andy and I aren’t huge drinkers. We’re similar in that we tend to opt out most nights, saving up to party hard once in awhile.
However, I’ve got to say: the ability to order wine with dinner or a cocktail at one of the many cool onboard bars and lounges—without even thinking about it—is delightful and feels very vacation-y. It It really is the difference between the cruise feeling like all-inclusive resort, versus an à-la-carte experience where you have to keep an eye on prices. Priority level: 4/10
These are listed in no particular order…
EXCURSIONS: If you’ve been on a cruise before you’ll know excursions can rack up the $$$ quickly, so this is a meaningful place to save. And on this particular cruise itinerary, I swear you won’t miss them. As you’ll read in my breakdown of destinations below, there was only ONE city where we wished we’d gone for an excursion. Given the types of cities we were visiting, it rarely felt like there was an activity an excursion could provide us that we couldn’t provide ourselves. For example, seeing everything we wanted to see in Athens just meant two taxi rides and walking shoes. We could chart our own course, unhindered by the pace of the slowest tour group member. In some cities, we rented cars or buggies, which made for beautiful scenic drives, but without the tight timeline restrictions many tours have. We crave the freedom to come and go as we please, to linger at some sites and bypass others.
Another thing worth mentioning is that Andy and I are not afraid of walking A LOT. We live in a city where we’ll easily rack up 10,000 or more steps in a day. In that sense, if you don’t have the interest (or physical ability) to walk an average of 10-15K steps a day (as we did almost daily on this trip), excursions where you’re bussed from site to site might be better suited to you.
The one time we regretted not doing an excursion was in Naples. We wanted to see both the city itself and Pompeii, a 40-minute drive away. Wanting to see more than one area, each of which is quite far from the other—and in one day—was complicated to say the least. The roads in Naples were terrifying so I wouldn’t let Andy even consider driving. We ended up taking a few taxis and everything turned out fine, but Pompeii was daunting in size and scope, so we ended up sort of speeding through it. I think a straightforward, all-day excursion, complete with a formal tour of Pompeii, would have made for a better, more thorough, and more relaxing way to cover all the things we wanted to see.
However, with the exception of Naples, we didn’t regret opting out of excursions. We avoided touristy overcrowding wherever possible (within reason—obviously it was unavoidable at sites like the Acropolis!) and rarely got stuck moving slower than we’d like.
Generally, I tend to think when excursions are activity-related (snorkeling, zip-lining, etc), as opposed to tour-focused, they can be worth it. But if you’re not afraid of a little research and planning (and walking!), as we evidently aren’t, you can save a LOT of money. Plus you’re freer birds without them. Think Choose Your Own Adventure versus One Size Fits All.
SPA SERVICES: I’m not the kind of person who needs to layer luxury on luxury. I’d rather sprinkle luxury throughout my year (facials, massages, etc.) rather than blowing my whole wad on one vacay. In that sense, I don’t personally think it’s necessary to book a massage or other spa service during an already incredibly luxurious, relaxing vacation. (I would rather save it for when I’m having a stressful week back home!) Trust me, I was so content the thought that a massage would somehow make the vacation better never once passed through my mind. So yeah, this kind of add-on might be worth it for some, but for me the money here is far better spent going towards an ocean view stateroom or suite!
Port 1: Catania, Sicily
This will be a recurring theme throughout this post, but one of the biggest takeaways of this particular itinerary was how it brought us to destinations we absolutely, 100% never would have visited. Not only was Catania not on my radar, I’d never even heard of it. We got a bit unlucky with weather as most of our time there was spent in drizzling rain, but it was still an utterly charming city with tons of history, character, and arguably the best meal of our entire trip.
The biggest catch of this port was that we didn’t dock until noon, meaning not only did we miss out on the option to check out the city’s famed fish market, but we also had to wait until 4pm for the famous Cattedrale di Sant’Agata to reopen.
Thus, we first strolled through the main square, the Piazza Duomo, on our way to Il teatro romano di Catania. It was beautifully crumbly and well worth the visit. We stopped by Trattoria Giglio Rosso for lunch, an adorable spot I cannot recommend highly enough. We researched this heavily as no meal in Italy should go wasted. The space oozed charm and authenticity, and the pasta was knock-your-pants-off good. (Order the Pasta alla Norma. Andy almost cried.) No matter where you dine, be sure to get the local dessert, the Minne di Sant’Agata. (With my sweet tooth, it was my turn to almost cry.) We then visited Castello Ursino, a 13th century castle turned museum, before finally heading to the famed cathedral and then back to the ship.
No coulda-woulda-shouldas with this day itinerary. We did everything we could given the timing, weather, and size of this city!
Port 2: Valletta, Malta
I’m embarrassed to admit I knew nothing about Valletta. I wasn’t even aware Malta a country (I embarrassingly thought it was in Italy!), making it another destination I was unlikely to have visited without this cruise. That said, it is utterly beautiful. You feel like you’re walking through a movie set, and indeed, it turned out TONS of movies and tv shows (including Game Of Thrones, NBD) have filmed there.
We walked a LOT in Valletta, first making our way to and up the Barrakka Lift (€1). It was up there that we got great views (I took this photo there), including a view of the Saluting Battery, and we watched the cannon firing (12pm and 4pm daily).
We then headed on foot towards Merchants Street in search of the restaurant we planned on visiting, Soul Food. Sadly, they were closed for construction (if anyone does go to Valletta, please go and let me know how it is!), so we instead dined at nearby Ambrosia, which was excellent. We then visited the big “must” of Valletta, the spectacular St. John’s Co-Cathedral (€10). If you go, do NOT miss the Caravaggio Wing!
There was some good shopping to be done here, so while Andy ate up the National Museum of Archeology (€5), I dipped into a few stores we don’t have at home. We got gelato, walked back to the ship, and it was a delightful day! No edits to this itinerary. :)
Port 3: Santorini, Greece
Santorini was the destination I was probably most excited about and let me tell you, it did NOT disappoint. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it was our favorite stop on the entire cruise. It was our first introduction to Greece and completely swept us off our feet with its food, history, and beauty.
The ship anchored near Santorini Old Port, super close to Fira which is conveniently in the middle of the island—great for going just about anywhere. The one necessary evil was the cable car to Fira (€5), for which there was a big line, but once we got past that it was smooth sailing.
Andy had spent hours strategizing how we’d tackle Santorini. We knew the “It” part of the island was Oia, but we also knew it would be the most touristy and congested, especially given there were a few cruises docked. It was also on the exact opposite end of the island of the other things we had on our hit list. Thus, we committed to a plan that involved seeing every other thing in Santorini we wanted to see and, if there was time remaining, to head to Oia last.
After the cable car, we immediately rented a car for the day (€45 at Tony’s, which I recommend) and headed in the opposite direction Oia, to Pyrgos Kallistis, a medieval settlement famous for its historic beauty and for having the highest point on the entire island. This was a GREAT move. Not only was it one of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever been, it was also almost completely empty (unheard of for an island with a couple of docked cruise ships!). It truly was like walking through a postcard. We got our first Greek salad (and arguably the best of the ENTIRE TRIP) at Botargo, while enjoying their unbeatable view. We then hopped back in the car, heading for stunning Emporio Village, the island’s largest settlement. We strolled around, grabbed an epic Greek yogurt at To Kafenedaki tou Emboriou, and hopped back in the car.
We knew due to time constraints that it was going to be EITHER the Red Beach or the Perissa Black Beach. After asking around, we got the gist that the red beach was truly unique to Santorini. Plus, we really wanted to see the prehistoric town of Akrotiri (also known as “Greek Pompeii”), which was super close to the Red Beach, so we chose that direction. We visited the Akrotiri Archeological Site (€12—recommended, but a tour guide would be handy for this), then hit the beach. The Red Beach was a bit uncomfortably crowded but very pretty. At this point, we were at the polar opposite end of the island from Oia and knew we wouldn’t have time to see it, which was a bit of a bummer. (And for what it’s worth, we found out later from friends we made on the ship that they’d gone to Oia and it was dreadfully congested.) We got a late lunch at Avocado, and made our way back to the ship.
I’m torn on our Santorini schedule because there was still more we wanted to see, but we also feel we did a TON with the day and really made the most of what we had to work with. This is just a function of cruise travel; sometimes a day simply isn’t enough. Needless to say, Santorini is at the top of our “To Return” list, and we wouldn’t know that if it weren’t for this cruise.
Port 4: Athens, Greece
Remember how I said I went on a Princess cruise through the Mediterranean? I was still pretty young and don’t remember details, but Athens was one of the stops. To be completely honest, I don’t remember loving it (according to my parents I was quite grumpy); we were on an excursion that consisted of a basic tour of the Acropolis. I was too young to really care about the history and we were there during peak hours, during peak season, during peak heat.
My memories were remedied by this visit; a singer friend of mine who’d lived in Athens for a year flew down to visit and play tour guide (now that’s friendship!) It was quite the luxury to have someone who’d spent so much time there showing us around. We started off in the morning, meeting at the entrance to the Acropolis ($20). It was already PACKED, but would only become more packed as the day wore on, so seeing it sooner than later was the lesser of evils. According to Ambur, it’s spectacular and sparsely populated in the evening, so that’s a good travel tip if we ever go back for a longer period of time.
After scoping the Parthenon, we headed out and down Adrianou Street to get lunch at Antica, home of the absolute best Dakos salad of the whole trip. (I’m so mad at myself for not taking a photo of it!) We then headed towards Hadrian’s Library, just off Monastiraki Square, to Pandrossou where there was shopping to be done. (Ambur picked up Grecian leather sandals and I got the woven hat you see here and in Katakolon photos.) Andy needed his caffeine fix so we stopped by the very cool Ergon Agora for a Greek coffee. We then headed to the center of the city, Syntagma Square, through the gorgeous National Gardens, to the Panathenaic Stadium. Realizing we were too pooped to go on, we backtracked the way we came and headed to the Hotel Grand Bretagne to enjoy Aperol Spritzes on their rooftop bar, famous for its view of the Acropolis.
Obviously, Athens is completely impossible to seriously visit in only one day. Ambur knew this and gave us an excellent, well-thought out itinerary of must-see sites combined with scenic walks and good food. I think it says something that I took by far the fewest photos on this day; I was too busy strolling and joking around than I was hustling to capture everything. (Of course, now, I regret not taking more photos!) Being a city girl, Athens was a highlight for me. Knowing full well from the get-go that we couldn’t see everything somehow took the pressure off. I have no doubt I’ll be back at some point and explore the city more thoroughly, but I think we did in one day as well as anyone could!
Port 5: Mykonos, Greece
I was very excited about about Mykonos and it was one of my top two most anticipated destinations, second only to Santorini. From what we’ve heard, Mykonos is the “party" island and really comes alive at night. Of course, on a cruise, that’s not really an option. When we do go back we’ll definitely make staying in Mykonos for at least a night or two a priority, but thanks to the cruise we now have a good lay of the land, so we know where we’d stay if and when that time comes.
We knew Mykonos had a tendency to be hyper touristy, especially anywhere near the cruise ports, so our plan was to rent a car or buggy and get out of the main traps.
We started off on foot, walking along the water, past the many, many enticing shops—I made mental notes of which stores to return to. We first made our way to the Church of Paraportiani (where a lovely stranger offered to take our photo) and then got a bite at Kastro’s (excellent). We visited the famed Windmills of Kato Mili on our way to the car rental place Andy had researched. (His resesarch paid off—there are bunch of rental spots on the way but seriously, if you hold out for just a few blocks, you’ll pay half the price.) Andy had promised me a secluded beach, so we headed to Houlakia Beach. This was a bit of a trek but the drive was so beautiful (a perk of driving), and we were LITERALLY THE ONLY TWO PEOPLE THERE! (That said, if you want a traditional sandy beach, skip Houlakia—it’s spectacular but it is a pebble beach, so not ideal for laying out or frolicking.) We then drove to our carefully researched restaurant, Joanna’s Nikos Place, which was very good but a teensy bit crowded for comfort.
After lunch, we made our way back to the rental place, returned the car, got gelato, and hit the shops. The shopping is touristy but still excellent because it’s not only kitsch and souvenirs; think fabulous beach accessories (the totes and kaftans were to die for) by local designers, and amazing fine gold jewelry. I was glad to have held back on shopping on the trip because Mykonos was really where I let my shopping flag fly. I splurged on my big souvenir of the trip here—a gold snake ring from legendary Greek designer Ilias Lalaounis—before we made our way back to the ship.
This itinerary may be perfect depending on what you’re looking for in a beach. Houlakia was gorgeous and very romantic given it’s secludedness, however, for the amount of time it took to get there, you might be better off hitting a lesser crowded but still relatively nearby alternative. (Getting there and back was a bit of a time suck and meant missing out on more traditional sight-seeing.) We loved our day’s schedule, however, and it was perfect for what we’d wanted out of Mykonos!
Port 6: Nafplion, Greece
Nafplion wins the award for the destination we were least likely to have ever visited in this lifetime—we’d both never even heard of it—but with which we fell in absolute love. It’s a quiet seaport town that is understated and very special. I find it cool that the Celebrity Edge goes there because it became very obvious very quickly that it’s not one of the more “famous” Greek destinations; indeed, we were the only cruise ship docked there. But, especially right after Athens, Nafplion was the perfect respite. There was no overcrowding, no tourist trap vibes. In fact, a good chunk of the tourists there were actually Greek, a VERY good sign. Being in Nafplion was easily the closest we ever came on the entire trip to feeling like locals.
Andy was so proud of his schedule for Nafplion that he bragged about it during the whole tender boat ride to the port, and I’ve got to say, he knocked this one out of the park. I should warn you, though, that Nafplion was a 18,000-step day for us. When you go, wear your walking shoes!
We first strolled through the picturesque Old Town to climb our way up Akronafplia, where we got killer views and were able to get our bearings. We descended in the direction of our carefully researched restaurant, and by lucky chance, the journey took us through the Farmer’s Market on Martiou Street (Wednesdays and Saturdays), where we ogled the best looking produce we’d ever seen. Andy became so enamored with a certain perfect tomato that the vendor insisted on giving it to him for free. :)
We grabbed an excellent lunch at Pidalio Mezedopoleio (the research paid off) and then embarked on the 999 step climb up Palamidi Fortress (€8). It is absolutely worth every step; the views are breathtaking and the castle itself is INSANE—if the prison quarters don’t give you chills, nothing will. (Travel tip: Bring water as there is nowhere to buy some when you get going!) On the way down, towards the bottom, we swung a left (instead of going right, from where we came) to head to Arvanitia Beach. My biggest regret of Nafplion was not bringing a swimsuit because this beach—particularly further out, where it was more rocky than pebbly—was one of the most beautiful I’d ever seen.
After the beach, Andy dug into his tomato like an apple, and then we headed back into the Old Town. Andy hunted down the Agios Spyridon Church while I shopped authentic Grecian sandals for souvenirs at the Sandal Workshop. We then got gelato (obviously) and headed back to the ship. This was a PERFECT itinerary for one day in Nafplion. Very proud of this one. :)
Port 7: Katakolon, Greece
Katakolon was another city with which I was unfamiliar. Based on Andy’s research, we knew the thing we had to see is Ancient Olympia, dedicated to the worship of Zeus dating back to 1500 BC, and the site of the original Olympics. (Yes, THOSE Olympics!) In terms of being thrilled by ruins, this was one of my two favorites (along with Pompeii); I went through a Greek Mythology phase in high school and if you have the slightest interest in that, Olympia is UNBELIEVABLY cool.
We rented a car right at the entrance to the port, at Dias (€35 for the day), got some gas 10 minutes into our drive (€5), and set for Olympia, a lovely 25-30 minute drive. Parking in the town of Olympia was easy and we got lunch at Zeus.
Frankly, though the food was good, I wouldn’t recommend it. I don’t know if it was because it was a Sunday or what, but it took nearly an hour to get even a glass of water. The waits were just way too long and it put us in an anxious mood because we hadn’t even seen the sites yet!
After lunch, we walked to the Archeological Site of Olympia (€12 for the whole area, a total steal). It did not disappoint. We spent most of our time there, saving an hour for both the Archaeological Museum of Olympia and the Museum of the Olympic Games, respectively. If you do this trip, do not skip the former; the history stuffed into that small museum is astonishing. (Travel Tip: Bring a water with you. The vending machines were empty and the café was abandoned, a sad reflection of the state of Greece’s economy. We were parched by the time we got to the first museum and ended up having to lap up water, like puppies, out of our palms in the bathroom. I am not kidding.) Leaving ourselves an hour before the “All Aboard” time, we drove back, returned the car, and hopped back on the ship. Easy peasy. I loved this day!
In case you’re wondering about the cost of a car versus the many buses that are advertised at the port: In Katakolon, one way on a bus from the port to Olympia was €5 per person (not via a cruise excursion), making the roundtrip for a couple €20. Our car was €35 to rent for the day, and the freedom (and privacy) of having our own vehicle and timeline was priceless.
Port 8: Naples, Italy
To me, Naples is the PERFECT place to visit on a cruise. I say that because, frankly, I didn’t (and still don’t) see myself flying to Italy to stay in Naples specifically. It’s a cool city, and I’m glad I’ve now been there, but there are just other parts of Italy in which I would sooner stay if I were making the trip. Therefore, I’m especially happy it was a stop on this cruise.
As I said above, Naples was our big "things we would do differently” port. It was tricky because it landed on a Tuesday. So, in the AM before leaving, I had to write my Flare Bachelor recap and record my accompanying The Morning After video. So right off the bat, we got a much later start than we would have liked. If you do go—and hopefully you won’t have the work commitments I had—get an early start!
Our first stop was the Castel Nuovo (€6), which was right by the port as we entered the city. Honestly, given the time constraints, we wouldn’t do this again. There was too much too unpack and we were distracted by all the things we still had to hit. This is more of a staying-in-Naples site, IMO.
We made our way on foot into the city’s historic center, authentic Neapolitan pizza being a top priority. Andy had researched both a first choice (Sorbillo) and second choice (La Figlia del Presidente). Sorbillo was WAY too crowded (there was a line for the line!), so we headed to La Figlia del Presidente, which was so insanely good that I am pretty sure we both shed a tear or two. (The caprese salad was easily the best of my entire life.) After lunch, we made our way to Sansevero Chapel Museum (€8), which unfortunately ended up being closed on Tuesdays. This did, however, allow us time to see the very cool Napoli Sotterranea, or “Underground Naples” (€10—includes a tour), before making the trek to Pompeii.
We hailed a cab (€100 roundtrip; this includes the driver waiting there for up to 2 hours) and booted it to the Pompeii Archaeological Site (€11), but time was sadly too tight for us to really soak it in. Funny fact: We prioritized seeing the brothel as Andy had been before and really wanted to show it to me. 😂 We had to wrap up sooner than we would have liked, meeting our driver and heading back to the Naples port.
Overall, this was our weakest itinerary of the trip. We were kind of running around like chickens with their heads cut off, and at 20K+ steps (more than any other day), it was just exhausting. Andy and I agreed that if we were to do this again, we’d choose an excursion that combined both the Naples city center (preferably with some time off to go get pizza) and a tour of Pompeii, just so we didn’t have to worry about so many logistics. Learn from our mistakes!
I hope this post proved useful to anyone planning to sail on the Celebrity Edge (especially anyone eyeing this the Amalfi Coast/Greek Isles itinerary!), or even to anyone considering cruising for the first time.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve been on a cruise and what you thought of it. I would love to hear your own vacation stories and plans!
Thanks for stopping by!