At the moment my freighter is scheduled to depart from Bristol on 28th September - 7 days later than I booked. Since I booked the departure date has changed 7 times and I have been switched from one vessel to another and lost a week of my itinerary. As a result of this I now plan to disembark in Piraeus, Greece and make my way to Istanbul from there rather than sailing on to Cyprus as originally planned.
This has also resulted in me having 2 different flights booked Cyprus to Istanbul (due to changes in freighter schedules) which I now have to cancel and will get only about 30 Euros per flight back. I have also had to pay to change my flight out of Istanbul in order to gain back 4 of the 7 nights I lost....so all in all it has been an expensive exercise.
I booked through The Cruise People and I can honestly say that I will not use them again. For the level of service they have given me, I may as well have just booked it direct with Grimaldi in Italy. They have not been aware of any of the schedule changes until I contacted them, having seen the revised schedules online, and today when I called to ask what I should expect from them in the way of documentation, she said "What do you mean, documentation? You mean a ticket or something?"
As a travel consultant myself, I guess I expect better, but having paid over 1,400 Euros I think I can expect a little more than being made to feel like an awkward client every time I ask them a question.
My post on Couchsurfing.org (which I used very successfully during my road trip in the USA in 2010) has resulted in about 60 boys/men who want to meet up with me and act as my guide in Istanbul! They range from students to retired gentlemen. I have received 2 messages from Turkish ladies who want to meet up, and I will certainly take advantage of that, and also meet one or two of the guys who sound interesting.
We are due into Piraeus 15th October and I am looking forward to the freighter experience and the various ports of call along the way.
My hotel in Istanbul is booked, as is my flight from Athens to Istanbul - I have allowed 3 days beyond the expected arrival date and pray that there are no more major changes to the sailing schedule!
Insurance in place, currency ordered and on its way - all that is left to do once I get a firm sailing date is arrange transport to Bristol, an overnight hotel there and then taxi to the port.
11 days to go and counting!
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