European Cruises: 2010
We're gathering information for a project to help those on European cruises enjoy their shore time more efficiently. If you've taken a European cruise, what advice do you think would be most helpful to cruisers? What are your best tips for saving money and enhancing your experience? Please share your thoughts here. Thanks.
Naples Stop / Amalfi Coast Tour
Last summer my family cruised through Italy and Greece (12 days from Rome to Venice). We stopped in Naples from 7 am to 7 pm. We contracted with Anthony Buonocore at http://amalfitransfer.com prior to our arrival. He picked us up from the dock, delivered us to Pompeii for a few hours (we had a private tour there too) and took us on a wonderful tour of Amalfi Coast including a bird's eye view of Positano, a wonderful lunch nearby overlooking the water, time in Amalfi and Ravello. I highly recommend his service! He even took perfect care of our small dog!
Couple of personal caveats: First, leave the ship as early as you can to maximize you time. Second, do not dawdle on the last stop, Anthony knows how much time he needs to get back and if you're late . . . Well, our Capitain waited for us, but he was not happy about it! Follow Anthony's advice and he will get you back in time.
Rogers, AR USA Wed 12/29/2010
fall tour of Europe
In September and October 2010, my wife and I spent 40 days traveling through the UK and western Europe. This was our second time to rent a car in England. Ive read many horror stories from people who have rented cars in Europe only to find extra charges (damage) on their credit card after they return home. This time, as in the past, I opted for all the insurance I could purchase for the car when reserving it on-line. I asked at the auto pick-up station if there was additional coverage available that I didn't already have. In both cases, they offered additional insurance for any and all peril. The rental of a midsize car for 10 days ran around $350 US. All the additonal insurance pushed that cost up another $120 US. The cost was high but we were willing to pay it for the peace of mind. Sure enough there was some road-rash on the bumper when we returned the car. The agent concurred that we had insurance covering the damage and there was no discussion about additional costs. I did ask what the agency would have charged for the scrape had I not had the full coverage. Their basic chage, according to the agent was $600 US.
Also, if you are renting the car using your charge card which offers insurance coverage automatically, be sure that the offer is good outside the US. Also, be aware (it's in the fine print in the contract) that you are liable for the cost of repair of the auto, even if your charge card company supplies the insurance. That means that the rental agency will bill your card for the damage and then it's up to you to get your money back from your charge card company.
Sitting on the wrong side of the car, shifting with your left hand and driving on the opposite side of the road is challenging, to say the least. Also, most primary roads (not motorways) in England are two-feet narrower than in the states, so you will feel as if your right tire is on the white line just to keep from scraping the curb.
On the motorway coming back into London, we actually saw a sign that warned us that our lane would narrow to 6 feet 6 inches ahead. If you approach that point between two trucks (lory's), your're in big trouble since your car is wider that that...even in England.
San Luis Obispo,, Ca USA Thu 12/09/2010
DFDS Cruise: Newcastle to Amsterdam
I used DFDS cruiseline to get from Newcastle, England to Amsterdam. It was a really relaxing and nice way to travel overnight, in a private room with beds. The food (a literal Smorgasbord) was fantastic.
Cambridge, MA USA Sat 10/23/2010
River Cruising in Europe
The Mediterranean is not the only cruise location in Europe. I've taken three river cruises with Viking River Cruises - (1) Vienna to Amsterdam, (2) Le Havre to Paris, and (3) Magdeburg to Prague. They are much more intimate (~150 people) than with a typical cruise ship, and most excursions are included. Tour guides know what Americans didn't learn in school, and they help fill in the gaps in our history courses. Viking caters to people who are interested in history and different cultures - not for those interested in nightlife.
Springfield, VA USA Sun 10/10/2010
Former Skeptics Hooked on Med Cruising
Having lived and traveled much in Europe, we thought we wouldn't enjoy the Med as just cruising day trippers. Now I'm convinced it is a great way to enjoy this part of Europe. Imagine your first morning, arriving from Rome to Naples, stepping onto your balcony and there is Mt. Vesuvius! Pompeii was a favorite half-day tour offered by Carnival. Livorno and other ports are promoted as gateways to Tuscany, but this region is worthy of its own vacation if you think you'll be back. We chose a fun photo op in Pisa combined with a relaxing Tuscan beach for the afternoon. I agree with others that Ephesus is a top visit and the cruise tour a must. An unexpected and fascinating nugget from our guide - how and why Muslim visitors also revere one of the Christian sites there - the supposed last home of St. Mary. Our most thrilling port, though, hands down: Istanbul - breathtaking as you arrive and depart by ship (as I imagine Venice would be). While it really needs more than a day, we had a great overview. Port not far from sites. Walk, grab a cab, or take a tour across to the Asia side for stunning views. Walk in the Bazaar. If the main sites are crowded, just snap photos and enjoy the architecture and fountains outside. Drink tea and buy trinkets. Bargain. No carpets - takes too much time and space. Next trip we plan to hit Venice and Croatia - we are hooked!
Fairfax Station, VA USA Fri 09/24/2010
We cruised on Regent Seven Seas to the Mediterranean, which was absolutely wonderful. Loved Venice, Dubrovnik was very interesting and attractive and different. Loved Athens and the islands of Santorini & Mykonos had magnificent views, but very touristy. One of those islands had absolutely terrible public bathroom facilities. The excursion to Delos island was very interesting. R.S. suggestion to go to the top floor of the Hotel Bretannia (sp?) for the view in Athens was right on-magnificent. Olympia was just ok because the Olympic museum was boring but the Olympic grounds were very interesting. Best tour of all, ever, anywhere: Ephesus from the Kusadasi port. Paying extra for the Terrace Homes tour is more than worth it! I can't emphasize it enough. Go see Ephesus and go see the Terrace Homes in Ephesus.
Delray Beach, FL USA Thu 08/12/2010
We went on an European cruise on Oceania Cruises a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. We started in Barcelona, went to Palma de Mallorca then through southern France and on to the ports of Italy. Surprisingly some of my favorite ports were in sourthern France. In Nice you dock right in the city and are able to walk from the ship to town. There is a train station close so that you can take the train along the coast to see the town of Villefranche-sur-Mer on the way to Monaco. All the villages were beautiful and the people were friendly. We even received a free tour of Monte Carlo when we looked lost exiting the train station in Monte Carlo. (It is high up on a hill above the coast and weren't sure how to descend, hidden elevator.) Many of the Italian ports are far away from the cities you would like to visit like Florence, Pisa and Rome but are easily accesible by train. I would steer away from the paid excursions on the cruise line. They are expensive and cater to the slowest person on the tour. My favorite ports are Nice, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Naples, Sete, Marseille (near Aix-en-Provence), Livorno and Civitavecchia.
Woodinville, WA USA Thu 08/05/2010
Cruising and Rick
We travelled on a 12 night Mediterranean cruise a few years ago and absolutely loved our time on shore. We did our home work on all the ports thanks to Rick and had a great time!
The best advice would be to plan your shore time before you get on the ship so you can enjoy each day. The port days are long as you are up early each morning at breakfast so you can get off as soon as possible - the ship was beautiful but we really wanted to see Europe - so no sleeping in.
Someone told us before we left to eat a big breakfast on the ship and not to each very much in port so you can save room for dinner on the ship. After the first few days, we abandonded this advice as we found we enjoyed trying all the different local specialities - even if we were eating and walking at the same time! A favourite was a relaxing lunch in Sorrento with a nice bottle of wine and also the most amazing pasta we ever ate in Venice at one of the local off-the-beaten-track places. The food on the cruise was very good, but how often can you say you ate dinner in Santorini watching the sun set?
The only port we booked a shore excursion was for Rome in order to save time - however it was only a half day tour of Vatican City and we had the afternoon to explore on our own. We kept running into people from the ship and everyone was looking for different places...it felt like we were on the amazing race...trying to see all the sites before we had to head back. People seemed lost and the maps the cruise gave us were certainly missing a lot. We thought Rome was amazing but regret we never saw the Spanish steps, Trevi fountain etc.
We thought Dubrovnik was excellent (and cheaper than other cities), Barcelona, Monte-Carlo, Pompeii was incredible, Santorini, Florence and Venice. We found it easy to get in and out on our own (and cheaper) in these ports.
If Rick would ever consider having tour guides in the different ports for the day (ie Rome), we would certainly take advantage!
Toronto, ON CAN Thu 08/05/2010
Anyone taking a Mediterranean Cruise should pick up the book "insight Guides Mediterranean Cruises" by the Discovery Channel. This book takes you from all the ports to the typical excursions, on your own. How to get the train, the bus and the distance. Saved a lot of money with this and Rick Steves Book.
USA Tue 08/03/2010
More about Rome's cruise port
I second Marie's advice as I did it last October, took Eurostar train from Termini station to Civitavecchia. Additional advice - book 2nd class, there's little difference and the first class car was the furthest walk at the train station. I booked online and printed out the ticket which the conductor scanned on board - no mailing required. Be aware that when you arrive Civitavecchia, you must carry luggage down a flight from your train tracks, then back up to street level. No elevators. As Rick says, pack light (even on a ship, you don't need the quantity you think.) The good news - It is a short stroll from the train station to the port entrance where free cruiseline buses await to take you to the ship. Piece of cake!
Cedar Point, NC USA Tue 07/27/2010
Getting to Rome's Cruise Port
This advice is aimed at the less experienced traveler. If you're cruising out of Civitavecchia you're probably flying into Rome. I contacted my cruise line on transportation options to get from Rome to the port of Civitavecchia. They offered a bus transfer leaving from a central Rome hotel. Price $90 per person each way! That's $360 additional cost for a couple. What a rip off. The train from Termini on the EUROSTAR 1st Class was, are you ready, $24 per person with a journey time of 40 minutes. The return on a ICE train was even less at $16 per person with a journey time of o/a 1 hour. Ordered my tickets on-line and received them within a week via U.S. mail. Unless you have mobility issues or are traveling with twelve tons of luggage take the train.
San Diego, CA USA Sun 07/25/2010
Fall Europ. cruise
Chris- I would love more info on your planned fall cruise & trip. May I email you? Could not get a contact through this link?
McKinney, TX USA Sun 07/18/2010
msc spendida cruise
Has anyone here traveled on the MSC Spendida? I am going on 7/25 departing from Marseille and would like advice from others I will be in Malta for just 4 hrs and would love to go to the blue grotto is this due able? Tunisia I would like to ride a camel go to the medina and Sidi Boud said can I just hire a cab? Should I do one versus the other first? How much should the cab cost?
miami, fl USA Sat 07/17/2010
Half flight - half cruise transportation
I worked in the cruise industry in younger days and now cruise often. Advice most helpful: You can use frequent flyer miles one way on American Airlines to Europe (Your mileage "bill" is halved so it doesn't take a ton of miles)and combine it with a one way transatlantic positioning cruise in the sprint or fall on a line like Holland America, Celebrity, etc. Examples - last year we flew to Milan, rented a car, spent a week in Tuscany and Rome, Sailed back 18 days from Rome (port of Civitevecchia, an easy short train ride) back to Ft. Lauderdale with a number of interesting Med ports included. This October it will be a week in Paris, a few days in London, and a 13 day cruise back to Miami out of Southampton, UK, visiting Normandy by ship. The price for these long crossings is excellent. Ships shore tours are pricey but sometimes worth it when time is quite limited ashore and the port is not in a walking area, and far from main town. But do a little research - many ports like Monte Carlo are very close to the action and there are tourist dept employees handing out maps and walking tour info when you get off the ship. Top 8 in the Med list should put Ephesus at the top but definitely arrange a tour. Dubrovnik, Venice, Monte Carlo, Barcelona are all great for walking off the ship and strolling around independently.
Cedar Point, NC USA Wed 07/14/2010
I have been on two river cruises with Avalon. the first was from budapest to Prague - 1 full day in budapest with included tours, on the river to visit wonderful places with included tours, bus to Prague and two nights there, again with included tours. Wine served with every dinner and on board local lectures as well as dancing every evening. small number of people. Next cruise was from Amsterdam to Basel but with a side trip up and down the Moselle River - 14 days. Again there were wonderful included tours and surprises, fantastic food, good wines, great service and only 75 people on a ship that holds 138. I am now planning shore excursions for a Med trip next May so would appreciate names and web addresses of good local guides and tours.
Houston, TX USA Sat 06/12/2010
Done 4 European Cruises, East Med, Baltic, Norwegian Fjords and Amsterdam to Basel. Highlights in no particuar order:
St Petersburg, did a private 2 tour with 4 others met on Cruise Critic - an excellent resourece for port info as per previous poster's request - you do NOT need to take a ship's tour to avoid paying for a Russian visa, but you do need to be on a pre-arranged tour.
Tallin - great walking town with many curiosities.
Geiranger Fjord - entering early morning with mist rising from water as you pass the 7 sisters waterfall.
Jungfrau - day trip from Basel on a cloudless day, unbelievable, probably never see it like that again!
Ephesus - see where Paul walked, was confronted and tried brought ACts to life.
Venice - unique, interesting, but once is enough.
Amsterdam - bikes, bikes and more bikes!
Other cities: Dubrovnik, Athens, Veletta, Santorini, Rhodes, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Speyer, Heidelburg, Basel, other small German Rhine towns, Tromso, Alesund, Bergen, Molde, Honingsvag. All enjoyable in their own way.
Edmonton, Albert USA Wed 06/09/2010
Cruise Italy, Greece and Turkey
We just got back from doing a Celebrity 10 day cruise leaving Rome and going to Messina, Athens, Kusadesi, Santorini, Mykonos, Naples and Rhodes. We had a wonderful time and the cruise was exceptional. We chose to go off on our own during port days and were much happier than when we took a planned excursion. The highlight of our trip was Ephesus and taking a turkish bath. We did take one cruise excursion which included Capri, Sorrento and Pompeii. A word of advice is this is way to ambitious of a tour for one day. You will wind up spending too much money to be shuffled through all of these places and not see anything.
We stayed in Rome at the beginning of the trip at Hotel Oceania. Wonderful staff and great accomodations. In Venice, we stayed at Ca' Rezzonica, recommended in the guide books. Both were fantastic.
Eagle, ID USA Sun 05/30/2010
European Cruise Stops
Was on a 12 day cruise from Venice to Rome last June. By far the best stop we made was Kotor. If you go there on a cruise, make sure you are up bright and early and get outside as your ship enters and cruises through the bay on your way to the city of Kotor (if memory serves me correctly, this takes over an hour). As the sun rises over the mountains, with all the surroundings quiet, well, it is just spectacularly beautiful. The city itself is much less touristy than other places we visited. If you don't mind things a little rough around the edges, this place is fascinatingly real. Besides Kotor, we also liked Monaco (a classy, beautiful place. Enjoyed the aquarium), Sorrento (we took train to Pompeii, hot but fascinating), Portofino (had been there before, so we took bus to Santa Margherita Ligure--nice, less-touristy than Portofino, but Portifino is beautiful), Valletta (wonderful old town, and we took bus to see the Hypogeum, an incredible underground temple--must make reservations) and Ravenna (mosaics are AMAZING!) BTW, we did spend a couple of days in Rome afterword, and I had one of those "cultural experiences" on the Metro of having my back pockets riffled through by a woman with a baby. Good thing those pockets were empty--wear those money belts!
Dana Point, CA USA Tue 05/25/2010
Mediterranean Ports Favorites
In 2008 we spent 21 days on the Mediterranean back to back cruise of Holland America starting from Rome going east, then back to Rome going west. I loved Dubrovnik;Ephesus;Santorini;Barcelona; Mallorca;Messina;Livornia(Pisa&Lucca)and let's throw in Monaco/MonteCarlo.
Mary Ellen Layden
Atlanta, GA USA Sat 05/22/2010
European River Cruises
Here's another flavor of a European cruise. VikingRiverCruises.com does all-inclusive cruises down(or is it up?) all the major rivers. Last summer we did an 8 day cruise down the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel. Every day there was a stop and the daily excursions were included in the fare - very few extras. Enjoyed it so much, we're doing the Holidays on the Danube this Xmas - 12/18-12/27, Nuremburg to Budapest, with stops at several German and Austrian Christmas markets, and will spend Xmas eve and day in Vienna. You can book add-on days before and after the cruises, but we found it more economical to book our own itinerary. Next year it's the Elbe river, or St Petersburg to Moscow. Thay also do river cruises in Egypt and China. Not exactly directed at the 20-something set. This is NOT Carnival Cruise Lines, but it's certainly not Holland America either (if you catch my drift).
Columbia, SC USA Wed 05/12/2010
Three years ago I went on my first cruise with my sister to Europe. We started in Rome, went to Taorimina, Sorrento, Mykonos, Santorini, Kusadasi and ended in Athens. Best advise is research alot. I bought Rick Steves guidebooks that cost about $50 and saved myself a bundle by doing shore excusions on our own. Took the train to Pompeii, took a local bus on Santorini, Taorimina small enough to walk on your own. Did pay for a tour to Ephesus to get good solid information. Pick and chose what you feel you can do on your own. With a good guidebook you can still travel independently on a cruise. PS We always had someone ask if they could tag along with us. It was great fun
Coronation, AB USA Tue 05/11/2010
Disney Magic Med Ports
Disney Magic Med Port Tips Just got back from Magic Cruise in Western Med. Great trip! We’re late 50s, long time cruisers, first time on Disney. Everything about the ship was wonderful. Great service, few lines for anything (the late April sailing wasn’t full) Even though are children are grown, we loved seeing the kids on the ship and we still had an entire area for adults only. We didn’t think we’d use the veranda much in the cooler Med, but it was much used and appreciated, especially seeing the beautiful Italian coast disappear into the night. We had one day of gale force winds, and we spent some of it in the Disney Theater watching Alice 3D. Best service we’ve had on any cruise line. Here are some tips for the ports if you do them on your own: If you’re even a little adventurous, it is a lot cheaper and more efficient than dealing with busloads of people on a tour: Malta: Valetta is a great town with lots to see on your own. The Siege of Malta Experience was a little hokey but educational. Don’t miss the Cathedral and the Upper Barraca Gardens. Wifi in gift shop right off the ship. Tunis: This is where many of our cruisers had problems. Two ladies were assigned a cab (govt. controlled cab lines just off the ship) and, instead of the tour they contracted, were taken to a friend of the driver and extorted for 300 Euro. Lessons: Don’t give up the paper they give you for the trip, take a picture of the driver, get his cab number and be insistent about what you want. This is a place where people prey on tourists. We were six people in one large van, and we had to make it clear to the driver that he would stick to the tour and he’d get a tip. If he kept haranguing us, no tip. The tour of the Carthage sites and the museum and Sidi bou Said were great, once we got the cabby’s mind right. BTW, even though we couldn’t find alcoholic beer, our driver seemed to be taking a few nips of something at every stop. Our tour (self guided) was only about 13 E each, including the tip we gave the driver. Naples: Disney wanted about $270 for a full day tour of Capri, Sorrento, and Pompeii. We did it for about $55 each. Here’s how: Take the hydrofoil to Capri right from the head of the ship (16E, 35 min); then do your own tour of Capri. The blue grotto is a time waster, I’d recommend just getting tickets up the funicular (look for the signs, ticket window isn’t at the station) and hike around Capri town. Make a little venture up the hill for great views. Take another hydrofoil to Sorrento (14E). When you walk up the hill and take the first right, you’ll run into the “Corner Store,” which has cheap drinks and will give you good advice for local dining. After a walking tour of Sorrento, take the train (3 E) to Pompeii Scavi on the Circumvesuviana train. We used the Rick Steves ipod tour of Pompeii and it was great. We spent 2 hours in Pompeii, took the train to Naples, caught a cab to the port and made it back at 7 pm, just a little late for our early seating dinner, but the waiters were great about serving us. Rome: Better do a little homework for this one. I studied up, brought the guidebooks and used Google Maps to help connect dots for a full day walking tour. The train to Rome from Civitavecchia beats the tour buses. We got off at Termini (high threat of pickpockets), then walked to a couple of great churches, Sta Maria Maggiore and St. Peter in Chains (Michelangelo Moses). Then to Colosseum for 10 minute wait in line (will be longer and hotter in summer). Forum is next and is included in the combo ticket you get at the Colosseum) Have a map of the Forum monuments. We went up the hill to the Capitoline Hill, then down over the “Wedding Cake” (Vittorio Immanuel Monument), then on to the Trevi Fountain for much earned Gelato and to toss our coins. Pantheon next (McD’s always has a long line for restrooms, recommend you get a drink in a bar if you need one.) Don’t miss Sta. Maria Sopra Minerva, next to Pantheon, Rome’s only gothic church for some real treasures, including Michelangelo’s Jesus. Piazza Navona is a short walk away, then we took a taxi to St. Peters, waited in a 15 min security line. We took an elevator up to the dome, walked the steps up to the lantern (better be in shape); bought some “Keys to the Kingdom” from a nun-run gift shop, got great pictures of Rome, then back down the elevator and spent an hour touring the treasures and sights of this great Basilica. The Catholic Church has a great website of the stations of this church. Print them off before you go. We took a cab (Rome is a great cab city) to the San Pietro Station nearby and were back to the port in 40 minutes. Again, a little late for dinner, but well worth the tiring day. Have good shoes, a good map or GPS, and a spirit of adventure. La Spezia: The ship offered tours of Florence, but after talking with people who went, I’d recommend an alternate self tour. Florence is a 2.5 hour drive each way, not leaving much time after the mass feeding at a local eatery. What we did: Walk or cab to the train station (20 minutes walk) in La Spezia. Take the 25 minute train to Cinque Terre (English speaking lady at train station will sell you a train/hiking pass for all five Cinque Terre towns) We started at the one farthest north, Monterrosso al Mare. Check out the church and the Oratorio, enjoy a glass of Limoncino, and explore on foot. Take the train to Vernazza next (La Spezia signs tell you you’re going south, the right direction.) Walk up the hill for a great view and the cemetery up there, a touching sight. Back down the hill for a walk through the town and maybe one of Vernazza’s great local fish dishes. We skipped Corniglia because it’s a pretty good hike up the hill from the train, but there is also a shuttle bus. On to Manarola on the train. This time, take a short hike toward Corniglia for that great photo of picturesque Manarola, then walk the “Via Amore,” a short, beautiful walk to Riomaggiore. After a walk through town, you’re ready for the shorter train trip back to La Spezia, maybe a stroll through the market and back to the port to be tendered to the Magic. Ajaccio, Corsica: A great port city. Don’t miss the early morning views of the ship arriving, as well as the next stop, Villefranche. Lots of Napoleana (his museum was closed) Lots of quaint markets and sights in this town. We used a Bistro across from the Prefecture for Wifi to catch up with emails. Easy day. Villefranche sur Mer: Another place easy to see on your own. Take the train to Nice Ville (about 3E each, round trip) Take the tram down to Place Massena, then do your own walking tour to see the beach, hotel Negresco, the Massena Museum (free, but you have to get tickets in the gifshop). I also recommend the Beaux Arts Museum and the Russian Cathedral. Walk back along the “Plage” to old Nice, the Market, and for a great sight, take the elevator up Castle Hill for a fantastic view of Nice on one side and the port on the other. Back to the train station and on to Monaco (see if it’s a race weekend first) or stop at Eze for a bus ride up the hill. We got “burned” a little in Monaco. Stopped at a little street café (le Marathon) to get a beer and split a sandwich. The canned beers were 2.5 E, and the barman asked if we’d rather have a draft. Our bill showed 19E ($25) for two regular draft beers. A lesson relearned: Many in Europe will take advantage of clueless Americans, don’t buy anything before you know the price. A city bus makes a regular run all around Monte Carlo. Recommend the Palace, Cathedral, and Napoleon Museum (closed while we were there) Villefranche itself is a delightful city. Barcelona: Great town, lots to see, but be very aware. A guy upstairs in the McDonalds along Las Ramblas pretended to be an employee busing tables, but he was actually a thief, stealing purses by using distraction. Better not to let anyone engage you or get close. If you have to stay an extra day in Barcelona, I’d highly recommend a side trip to Sitges or Monserrat. Overall: Do your homework. Wear good shoes. Use the Rick Steves or other informative guidebooks. Be in good shape or don’t even attempt all of the above. You’ll have a great time.
Grapevine, TX USA Tue 05/11/2010
We did a Western Med cruise last August/September starting and ending in Rome. Our favorite ports were: Livorno - we did a shore tour to Lucca (what a cute place and an absolute must see again); Monte Carlo - took the city bus around for 1 euro per ride; Barcelona - took the hop-on hop-off - not one of our favorites as it was very crowded; Palma de Mallorca - took the hop-on hop-off so we could explore the city ourselves; Tunisia - took a shore tour as the port is not very close to public transport - great history but very hot; Palermo - didn't know Sicily was going to be so interesting; Naples - been there before so we took the hop-on hop-off on the different routes around town. Would I do it again? Yes, just not in August or early September!
Edmonds, WA USA Wed 04/21/2010
The eastern Med cruise my husband and I went on last May was phenomenal and every port captivated us. Our top favorites were Rome, Santorini, Athens, Ephesus (Kusadasi), and Dubrovnik (especially loved nearby Cavtat!) Messina's gem was Taormina so be sure to share that visitors to Messina will be elated if they see the beautiful village of Taormina overlooking the gorgeous Sicilian coastline. We're going on a western Med cruise this May and are especially looking forward to visiting Barcelona, Monaco and Naples (Capri and Pompeii!)The port of Livorno has so many great excursions including two places we adore (Florence and Cinque Terra) where we visited in 2001 and stayed in great places Rick Steves recommended.
It would be really helpful if you could share what the best sites are to see at each port and how to go about it if the cruise passenger doesn't want to go on the excursions offered by the ship. These excursions are usually done very well but high priced, and you have to tour in a large group.
San Diego, CA USA Wed 04/14/2010