Cruising: shore excursions

Surreal setting ... the ruins of Ephesus in Turkey.

Surreal setting ... the ruins of Ephesus in Turkey. Photo: John Huxley

"Our arrival was timed so that we would be there just in time for sunset, as the last light illuminated the Temple of Artemis.

"We were driven up there on buses, which took about half an hour from the ship, and when we arrived they had a red carpet out and there were arches covered in flowers; it was just beautiful.

"We walked up the red carpet, among the famous columns of the ruins, and were handed a glass of champagne, which was a lovely way to start the evening.

Enchanted evening ... Rhonda Barnett and husband Ian Hyslop at the concert.

Enchanted evening ... Rhonda Barnett and husband Ian Hyslop at the concert.

"Many of the other passengers had been to Ephesus during the day to have a look around but I had been there before and wanted to avoid the heat during the day so I had waited until the evening excursion.

"If I hadn't been to Ephesus before, I would have definitely spent the day wandering around there, as we didn't get a chance to do that on the evening excursion.

"The concert was put on exclusively for our ship; they had closed the ruins for the day and it was a private function.

"Most of the passengers from the ship had opted to go, so there were several hundred people there.

"They had set up tables and chairs among the ruins and there were waiters wandering around topping up the champagne glasses while we listened to well-known classics played by a local orchestra.

"It was quite surreal, accentuated by the fact that it was not available to the general public.

"It is not something you can do if you go to Ephesus in any other way and it does make you feel special that you have been singled out for an experience like that.

"The ship sailed just as we got back from the concert and the concert was a great memory for us to take away."

Value for money

Most excursions are optional extras on Silversea cruises but the Ephesus concert was included for all passengers on Rhonda's cruise.

Rhonda says that while an included excursion would not sway her towards booking a particular cruise, it was a welcome bonus.

"It was something that turned out to be particularly lovely; a valuable and memorable experience for us," she says.

WHO Rhonda Barnett, of Cremorne, Sydney, on her 10th cruise.

WHAT A private classical music concert at Ephesus, Turkey.

WHERE Ephesus was an ancient Greek (later a Roman) city that is now a famous site just outside the town of Selcuk in western Turkey. Rhonda travelled to Ephesus from the cruise port of Kusadasi on Turkey's Aegean coast.

THE SHIP Rhonda cruised with her husband, Ian Hyslop, on Silver Spirit (silversea.com) on a 14-night cruise from Rome to Istanbul.

As told to Jane E. Fraser

Have you been on an interesting shore excursion? Drop us a line at travelshd@fairfaxmedia.com.au.