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Captain‘s Blog

Celebrity Reflection - Greek Isles - September 2022

Captain‘s Blog – Celebrity Reflection, September 5, 2022

Our wonderful Greek Islands and Turkey cruise began on September 5, 2022 (Labor Day in the United States) out of Civitavecchia, Italy. Many of our group had spent some time in Rome prior to the cruise and had not traveled on an overseas trip since the “hiatus”. The trip had been postponed for two years and people were now ready to enjoy this amazing itinerary on the Celebrity Reflection.

As is customary on a Pied Piper cruise, we began our official group activity with the welcome party, where our group got to meet one another and forge friendships for the cruise or longer. As if on cue, the sunset was visible from our Sky Lounge venue and then proceeded to set as our party was ending. Most of our guests dined together at the late seating the main dining room and we had several tables in one area for our group. Our sommelier offered a tour of the two-story glass wine cellar that is the centerpiece of the elegant modern room designed by Adam Tihany. The itinerary was jam-packed with amazing ports and only two sea days. We began with the port of Messina on Sicily on our first full day on the Reflection. Many of our group took the recommended Taormina on Your Own tour and enjoyed this charming town by walking around on their own and visiting the Roman theatre with amazing views. Our first sea day was next and people got to relax and enjoy the ship, as many were still a bit jet-lagged. We then visited Santorini and Mykonos, which are best visited independently. Santorini was crowded with five ships in port, but we were lucky to have a 10 p.m. departure, by which most of the other ships had departed, and could enjoy an evening sunset meal on this island. Mykonos was less crowded and our guests enjoyed this energetic island with walks around the maze of pedestrian streets.

Our next port, Istanbul, was the highlight for many on the cruise with an overnight stay in port there. It was a long day with an eight hour tour of the bustling city with some of the most beautiful and historic sites, including Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque (unfortunately under construction) and the Hagia Sophia mosque. There was even time to visit the Grand Bazaar and do some shopping and bargaining at this huge shopping landmark with the smells of spices and the stall owners pleading with you to buy their wares. Some of our guests even had time to purchase carpets to be sent back home. The new port in Istanbul is probably the best terminal I have ever experienced with its modern facilities and wall that is raised when a ship is in so that you enter the totally underground terminal. The have created a modern shopping center above this with wonderful shops and restaurants. Most of our guests were so tired after the first day in Istanbul that they just went as far as the terminal and did some shopping.

Our next port of Kusadasi was the stepping off point for tours to the ancient ruins of Ephesus, a must-see when you are there. Those who did not venture there could remain in Kusadasi and shop and find some bargains in the market area and shops selling “genuine fake” watches. For the departure from Kusadasi, I arranged a special sailaway event, usually only offered to suite guests and VIPs, on the helipad at the bow of the ship.

We returned to Greece with a stop in Piraeus, the port city for Athens. Many went in Athens for visits to the visit the amazing Parthenon at the top of this historic city.

The next day on our cruise was a sea day, a much-needed relaxing respite after some very busy days of touring. I was able to get a special backstage tour for our group and this was greatly appreciated. Our group had a Italian aerialist, who was 46 years old, but as passionate about her work as could be. She really made the tour so much better because of this.

We also had an exclusive tour of some of the vacant suites, including large two-bedroom Reflection Suite. It was like a private episode of something on HGTV.

Our last port was Naples, Italy, the port for many varied excursions, including Capri, Pompeii and the Amalfi Drive. For some in our group, the requisite was a pizza lunch in Naples, where the world favorite Italian dish was said to be invented. The lunch for some was the only activity as it was the day before disembarking in Civitavecchia. As this was our last night on the ship, we said farewell to each other at our customary last event, the farewell party. Even though it was goodbye, it was a time to embrace our new and old friends. I know that many people booked a future cruise onboard and will return to Pied Piper in the future.

Your PIED PIPER host,

Bruce

See you onboard!

Editor‘s Note: Please join us on our June 2023 group cruise to the Greek Isles on the brand new ship, Celebrity Beyond! Information at the following address: June 2023 Greek Isles cruise on the Celebrity Beyond!