Mediterranean Trail plus 3 day Greek Island Cruise » Review by Explorer1156342
Not taking tours anymore. I didn't spend loads of cash to go all the way to Rome, only to be rushed through the Vatican Museum by a man who wouldn't stop talking on his cell phone. I literally had to JOG and was out of range of his mic radio device for most of the "tour". I was again rushed in Pompeii and various other amazing sites that I'll just have to go back to again on my own time. The night tour of Rome was neat with the lights on the fountains but I couldn't believe I saw the Pantheon for all of 8 mins, at night after it was too dark for pictures, AND it was closed. The tour pays for many sites around Athens then proceeds to only go to the Acropolis. They then leave you to do what you like around Athens (a terrible city) and neglected to tell you that Greeks like to close at 3pm (sometimes noon). This includes the national museum which was one of the tickets you paid for but never use and a host of other ruins around the city such as Hadrian's Library. The guard was nice enough to let us in after hours for Hadrian's Library. One of the best parts of the tour was when a ferry screwed over our schedule and I ended up renting a car and just driving around Corfu. Totally unplanned and totally awesome. Turns out Greeks aren't bad drivers after all.
SKIP THE CRUISE! It's utter garbage (actually you should skip the whole thing and plan your own trip). The ship is a sardine tin of fat apathetic walking wallets and that's how you're treated. The food was awful, it might as well not have a pool unless you like being crammed between the rolls of 300 pound men and women, and the excursions were VERY expensive and many were useless. The introduction to the cruise was a Contiki tour guide telling us that every single excursion we were excited for wasn't really what was described in the literature and would only result in disappointment. Seriously. She told us the only worthwhile excursion was an $80 Greek dinner - our bottom choice.
Don't go to the Palace of Knossos. Just go to the wikipedia article and you've had a better experience than actually going there. It's all a concrete reconstruction, all the real pieces are in the National Museum in Athens (the one you paid for but never visit). Sailing around Santorini was also crapped on by our guide but we went anyways and it was a the highlight of the trip. It's a motorized tall ship and the volcano isn't nearly as active as the brochure suggests but it's beautiful. Don't be an idiot - bring socks and covered shoes for the hike (it's really just a walk but flip flops are not appropriate (ever)). The hot springs are just kind of luke warm but it was really cool as was riding a donkey down to the ferry.
To top it off, the Contiki rep we called to ensure we were booking flights for the right days was fooled by their own trick! THIS IS NOT A 14 DAY TOUR. It assigns 2 whole days for just flying to and arriving in Rome. It's underhanded to consider arriving as a part of the tour but TWO DAYS!? It tricked the rep too and we ended up booking flights a day late on the way back. I ended up finding a hotel in Athens much cheaper and better than Contiki's and in a MUCH less sketchy part of town (seriously, you won't want to be around there at night). Then we went to the National Museum we paid for and never got to!
If you're a frat boy or sorority "woo girl" that wants to blow a stack of cash going on a "wicked sick" Europe trip, you might actually like this. If you're remotely grown up and want to go to Europe to enjoy Europe instead of get shitfaced then please, save your money and frustration and book your own trip. Europe isn't like Africa - you can safely research and find places to do and see without the aid of a tour group or travel agent. I learned that the hard way.
Review written Sep 2011event 0.3