Ariff M

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Ariff M

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Sep152012

Tour/Activity

2-Day Italy Trip: Naples, Pompeii, Sorrento and Capri

Rome, Italy

My Rating
3 star rating: Worth doing

My Review

The main reason we booked this tour was for the Hotel in Sorrento and for the Blue Grotto portion of Capri. Those are the only reasons to do this tour. Both portions are incredible (especially the hotel in Sorrento. in our case Hotel Minerva). We went during a very busy time of year (mid-Sept). The hotels in Sorrento were all booked; and, the tour companies were obviously running cloise to capacity. Carrani tours out of Rome was our tour operator. They were aweful with Viator customers. It was very obvious that they treated their own customers better then the Viator customers. A couple of examples include the fact that we switched buses no less than 8 times in the 48 hours that we were with them. After we booked the tour, we asked Viator if we could get picked up at our hotel (not one on the list; but well within one of the zones); and, I am sure they checked with them before agreeing. On the way back, they refused to drop us back (suggesting that it was something that needs to be discussed with Viator). At the end of the day, we just jumped off at Termini and took the metro back to our hotel. We had no issue; as, we were able to store our luggage at the hotel; but, if we were not able to do that, we would have been very unpleasantly surprised. Who agrees to pick you up but not drop you off?! The Naples and Pompeii portions were useless (and a complete waste of time). The lunch at Pompeii arranged by them was below average. The meals at the Hotel in Sorrento were awesome. Due to rough seas we could not see the Grotto but the boat tour was good.

Sep132012

Tour/Activity

Naples Shore Excursion: Private Tour to Sorrento, Positano, and Amalfi

Naples, Italy

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

We met our driver Rosario in the parking lot of the Naples port at approx 9:15 AM. We tried to include another couple that we met on board our ship; but, the car was not large enough to accomodate all of us (it was a Mercedes but would only accomodate 3 adults with our driver); so, it was just myself and my wife. It was a rainy day. We started in Sorrento. We did not want to spend much time in Sorrento; as, we were coming back there in a few days (after our cruise). From Sorrento, we drove to Positano and then Amalfi. We stopped for lunch in Amalfi. Rosario took us to a nice place at the top that had a great view of the whole area. The restaurant served great food. They also provide a Limoncello to end your meal (local drink). The lunch is not included in the tour price; and, be warned that you wil be charged a cover charge (for the view, I assume). Overall it was worth it. We asked our driver to also take us to Ravello which he was able to squeeze into our day; but, that would anly allow us a short visit to each area. Rosario took the back roads to cut through the mountains in an effort to get us back to our ship for around 5:30 PM. He is a very good driver. We did not buy a tour guide; so, Rosario tried his best to explain as much as possible. He did a good job. His driving skills were tested however (some crazy driver in that part of the world). Overall it was a great way to see the Amalfi coast (weather permitting, of course).

Sep102012

Tour/Activity

Athens Hop-on Hop-off Tour

Athens, Greece

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

For us, we loved the hop on hop experience. We had already been to Athen before; and, we have already seen most of the tourist sites; and, we were back on a cruise. We left our ship after lunch and then caught the hop on hop off bus at the port. It is worth noting that the port of Athens is in Piraeus; and, the stop for the port is on the blue line. To see any of the major attaractions in Athens, you have to transfer to the red line bus. The transfer point is at the Acropolis stop. The travel time from the port to the transfer point is about 25 minutes. If you were buying the red line only, the prices is $18 Euros. For both lines 22 euros. That was the question our bus driver asked us when we boarded at the port stop. We did not know; as, Viator only offers one price for the hop on hop off. Thankfully for us, our driver did not make a fuss; but, it is worth confirming that you did buy for both lines; as, if you do not, you will need to find your own way from the port to the Acropolis stop.

Sep072012

Tour/Activity

Istanbul Shore Excursion: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour

Istanbul, Turkey

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

Our local tour operator was Neon tours. Our tour guide Seviley was very good in explaining the local attractions and history. We took this tour as a shore excursion on the Celebrity Equinox with 5 other couples (we are from Canada, as were 3 of the couples. The other 2 being from California). We enjoyed our group so much that we hung out with some of them later on in the trip (we met them all on this tour). They try to keep these tour groups small. The tour takes you through the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace. All of them are spectacular; but, towards the end of the day, they do start to look the same. The lunch was good. It was at the patio style restaurant at the Best Western Hotel with a view of the river. If you are exposing your elbows or knees, keep in mind that you will be asked to cover them up with a blue cloth in the mosque. You will also be asked to remove your shoes (bags to carry them will be provided). The tour ends at the Grand Bazaar. You have 1 hour on your own to explore the bazaar which is not enough time. If you are trying to buy something, the negotiations could take some time. Keep in mind that if you do not negotiate (bargain) with the vendors, they do get insulted. Overall, it is a great way to see the city in one day. We really enjoyed this tour!

Dec152011

Tour/Activity

Miami Arrival Transfer

Miami, Florida

My Rating
3 star rating: Worth doing

My Review

We arrived in Miami on a late flight (around 11:30 PM by the time we received our luggage). It was very easy to find the Supershuttle counter. We had to wait about 30 minutes before we got into one of the vans; and, we were the 4th or 5th to get dropped off; so, we arrived at our downtown hotel close to 1 AM. We expected a quicker transition. We paid $24 inclusing taxes; and, that was cheaper then a taxi; but, if you are coming in on early or late flight, it may be worth it for you to consider a taxi (unless time does not matter) or if you have a larger group (taxi rates include up to 5 people on a flat rate to downtown).

Aug272011

Tour/Activity

Skip the Line: Vatican Museums Walking Tour including Sistine Chapel, Raphael's Rooms and St Peter's

Rome, Italy

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

Before rating the actual tour, can I recommend you take the Metro to get there, if you have time, of course. We were running late from the airport, if you can figure that out. We had 4 hours between our flight landing and the tour and we still had to instruct the cab driver to get us there "Pronto." We checked into the hotel first (not a normal process for North Americans). Anyway the tour starts across the street from the entrance to the museum (a great meeting place). You meet the coordinator and then they hook you up with your guide. We had a Scottish gent who's name started with a "D." He was very informative and he came with a sarcastic sense of humor to make it more entertaining. He was very knowledgeable about the history of the art, the popes, etc and he would provide rest stops and breaks along the way to make it more of a pleasant experience. The fact that he took the clients comfort into account was a huge plus for us after coming off an 8 hour+ flight across the pond. A great tour that was not just a boring afternoon of information overload. A2Z approved!

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