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.
Wonderful Tangier Private Guide
Early April 2013, on the final day of our week-long cruise, we toured Tangier Morocco with Ahmed, a very knowledgeable, English speaking Moroccan private guide with 12 years experience. We went to the Caves of Hercules, Cap Spartel(light house), rode Camels including a visit to Casbah, Medina, Mendoubia Gardens and Berber Souk(market) and more... our guide was wonderful. We had a private tour in an air-conditioned van. We are very glad we toured with this company email: firstname.lastname@example.org as we could tailor it to where we wanted to go, stay as long as we wanted, and it was less expensive than the tour from the Cruise ship which only went to 3 sites.
We would highly recommend "LailaTour" for your tours. They are very punctual, reasonably priced, and deliver an awesome tour.
Laila was very prompt in responding to emails, and answered all questions. We weren't required to pay until the day of the tour.
I definitely recommend this company.
Visited April 2013
Monice S. Kwok
Madison, Wisconsin, USA 05/21/2013
Amalfi transfer company provided an amazing and professional tour of the Amalfi coast. Anthony met us at the train station in Naples and was ours for the day. We stopped for some wine tasting, a magnificent lunch in Positano with a view that cant be beat. We even stopped for a quick swim in the Med.! The drive was comfortable, and safe, and is the most beautiful in the world. Around every turn was more beauty. Anthony has lived in Amalfi his entire life, so his knowledge of the area was very educational. I highly recommend his company for a tour you will never forget.
Bedfor, TX USA 05/08/2013
Best Tangier Private Guide Ever!!
We had a wonderful experience in Tangier, Morocco. We were on a cruise and wanted to do Tangier on our own so we booked online with LailaTour and they confirmed with us right away. Met them when we got off the ship at port and we were greeted by Jameel [our tour guide] who was holding a sign with our name on it. he was absolutely brilliant! he speaks very good English and knows his history extremely well! Ask for Jameel for your tour guide! It was a great experience and you can pay in Dollars or Euros at the end of the tour. I had no problems organizing the tour through email: email@example.com I would highly recommend LailaTour and if I am ever in this part of the world again, I would book future tours with them
New Jersey, United States, USA 05/08/2013
Having traveled to Europe many times, and living in beautiful Lorenzago di Cadore, Italy, I can tell you that you must be cautious even in the "safest" areas. I strongly recommend using an inside pocket, to keep your valuables, making copies of everything and leaving copies at home with a friend. Also ladies, keep an eye on your purse, never take it off and hang it on a chair, always use a carbinere, which is like the kind most handmen keep their keys on, to hang on your purse and secure to a table or a cart or whatever would be immovable. I even do this in the States, when in a store. I will also suggest pepper spray, which can be stored in checked luggage. I would use it if I needed to, only.
Belleville, MI USA 04/15/2013
Trans Atlantic Cruise to Europe
I am going on my second Trans Atlantic Crossing to Europe with my Father. I found a crossing from New Orleans- Rome for $649+$170 in Port Taxes+$200 in Tips for 15 nights.
I have vouchers to use on Southwest Airlines to New Orleans and was able to find a United Mileage Saver Award for 30,000 miles+$75 in taxes.
The cruise stops in Ponto Degaldo, Azores; Toulon, France and Livorno, Italy. It's a nice way to travel to Europe because you get to relax onboard with the sea days plus see rare ports that many people don't even get to visit.
I love cruising and it sure beats the Eastbound international flight. On the return I found a Lufthansa flight leaving Rome at 12:00 PM with a 2-hour connection in Munich arriving in San Francisco at 7:00 PM and can go to sleep after coming home. Will help with the jetlag a lot.
SF Bay Area, CA USA 03/21/2013
ITALY AND MED CRUISE
We had a great Med cruise last year and we want highly recommend to everybody the tour company we used for our italy shore excursions: www.shoreexcursionsinitaly.net. We had Carlo, as our driver guide, native of Rome and he showed us his city in the way just locals do. Great recommendations for lunch and places to go. We really enjoyed our days with him in Rome, Florence and the Amalfi Coast!
Paula & Bob
Gainsville, Fl USA 03/12/2013
Casablanca "Private Shore Excursion"
We had a great experience during our cruise in the Mediterranean with NezhaTour company in Morocco. We used her for our two shore excursions at the 2 main ports of Casablanca and Tangier(most of the city is either prehistoric or from the Middle Ages). The food is excellent and the trek up to the Casbah is so beautiful and great exercise. The private guide and driver were very informative and helpful and they showed us the authentic Morocco. The tour provided by Nezha is without a doubt highly recommended. Nezha is a delightful woman who spoke English fluently and e-mailed us quickly when we had written for a reservation. We learned more on her tour of six people than any of the others and she was very hospitable. Nezha is THE private tour guide to hire in Morocco, she was phenomenal!! Her email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Spring Grove, PA, USA 02/21/2013
Baltic Cruise Tips
Here are some tips on Baltic cruises, and ways to maximise your limited port time to see much more for much less than the ship's excursions.
- Overall tip. Research. I especially recommend the Cruise Critic website forums for port tips.
- St Petersburg - Ignore the scare tactics you may get from your cruise line. DO NOT take the overpriced cruise excursions. There are two other options.
First - you can take a small group tour offered by any number of third-party providers (again, check the various cruise sites for specific recommendations) These providers will do a small group (6-10) minivan tour which will cover much more than the big bus options provided by the ship - for a fraction of the cost. You do NOT need a visa for these tours.
Second option - get a visa and do a private tour. While the visa is more complicated, it's not that hard, and with the visa, you'll have the ultimate flexibility (and can arrange a private tour even cheaper than either the ship's excursion or the third-party small group tours) We live in san Francisco and were able to arrange it with minimal hassle at the local Russian consulate (there are numerous agencies that will handle this for a reasonable fee).
Both of these alternatives will typically allow you to bypass the lines at the Hermitage and other sights.
- Warnemunde - Berlin. Investigate the high-speed ICE train that goes directly to Berlin. When we cruised, our HAL ship arrived in time for the early morning train, but others did not, so check the details. Even if you take a regional train with a transfer in Rostock, it's better and cheaper than an excursion bus. The dock is right next to the train station and a 3 minute walk.
San Francisco, CA USA 02/11/2013
We just returned from our Christmas cruise in the Mediterranenan and I want highly recommend the limo company we used in Italy at Livorno, Civitavecchia (2 days) and Naples: www.italycruisesprivatetours.com Thanks to their drivers we could visit all the places we wanted to see and in a local way...professional drivers who spoke a good English and knew all the information, to give us a very interesting tour!
Roland and Greta
Bel Air, MD USA 02/01/2013
We did an 11-night cruise to Eastern Med on Celebrity's Equinox in Nov., 2012. We spent three nights in Rome prior to the cruise. Saw the obligatory sights in Rome. We used Rick Steves' Med Cruise Ports as a bible. We did the vast majority of ports on our own. That included Santorini, Istanbul, Athens, Mykonos. We took a ship tour in Kusadasi as the distance between sights is large and public transit poor. The ship's tour was well worth the money we paid. Our disappointment was Naples. We had hired Monetti taxi to take us to Pompeii and the Amalfi coast. The driver never showed up at the pier. Luckily, we had the Rick Steves book. We got ourselves to Pompeii on the train and back. We had called the taxi company, they had no record of reservation. They later called us back and were going to pick us up at Pompeii. We got involved in Pompeii and didn't want to spend 400 Euros for a half-day tour. Having the Rick Steves' guidebook saved that day of our vacation. I would suggest to anyone looking for Med cruise to wait awhile. Med cruises didn't book last year because of the Costa Cruises' ship crashing and European airfares were very high from the US. I don't think the situation will be much different this year. And don't hesitate to go in Sept., Oct., or Nov. Our weather was excellent and there were no crowds or waiting.
Peoria, IL USA 01/03/2013
Italy Shore Excursions
We had a great experience during our 7 days cruise in the Mediterranean with a tour company in Italy (www.shoreexcursionsinitaly.net) We used them for our 3 shore excursions at the 3 main ports of Livorno, Civitavecchia and Naples. The drivers were very informative and helpful and they showed us the real Italy, taking us to local restaurants with authentic italian food and the best gelato places. We had for our tours brand new Mercedes air conditioning Minivans and could see lots of places that for sure wouldn't be able on our own.
Bogota, Cundin Colombia 11/03/2012
The tour provided by Amalfi Transfer is without a doubt HIGHLY recommended. As first timers in Italy we were very excited to explore Naples although a bit intimidated at first! We called a day in advance of the tour to be sure that our plans were set and Anthony confirmed over the phone that he would be available to pick us up early the following morning. As the morning came we received a call from Anthony who stated he was outside waiting for us but to not feel hurried if we were not ready. We quickly headed downstairs and were greeted by Anthony. He led us to the vehicle, a nice sized vehicle might I add, and we were on our way. We cannot say enough how pleasant the drive was. Anthony provided some great commentary and info on a vast number of things including history, customs etc. The ride was comfortable, A/C was definitely needed as it was quite warm. Anthony was definitely attentive and was there to help in answering questions and providing lots of good tidbits on Naples! Without the tour provided from Anthony we do not believe we would have been able to see all the great places in the amount of time that we visited including the following: Pompeii, Almalfi, Ravello, Positano We HIGHLY recommend this tour. It was truly an eye opening experience. So many beautiful places and some of the greatest memories we will cherish and continue to share with friends/family. We believe there is no better option if you want a private tour of Naples with all the comfort you can imagine and the ability to explore many places at essentially your own pace. We cannot wait to return to Naples and will definitely utilize Amalfi Transfer services again. We leave you with this ... take the plunge, enjoy the best that Naples has to offer, you'll be glad you did!
Annapolis, MD USA 10/22/2012
Viking cruises/Netherlands and Danube
I have taken two Viking cruises, one through The Netherlands and Belgium, one on the Danube from Budapest to Nuremberg. My advice is to plan and do your own pre or post trip vs. taking the cruise line offered options. I have done both and you get more for your money on your own. We did our own pre trip in Budapest w/ R. Steves hotel and saw everything we wanted to see. Post tour with Viking in Prague we stayed at the Hilton - felt like one of a million tourists and had to wait hours for room-not a good experience and not cheap. On the cruise itself, never enough shore time of course. Sometimes it is good to take the offered tour but if you really want to experience the place it can be fun to just wander. All in all a great way to see a little bit of a lot of places and I highly recommend Viking.
Dallesport, Washin USA 09/21/2012
Private Tours in Italy
We just came back from our Mediterranean 7 days cruise starting from Barcelona. We cruised around Italy and we want to tell everybody we had a great time hiring a private driver through shoreexcursionsinitaly.net Our driver guide Federico picked us up at Livorno Port and took us to Pisa and Florence, showing us the best of the 2 cities. He picked us up again at Civitaveccia and drove us to Rome: we discovered places where tourists do no often go (some amazing churches and underground Rome). Domenico was our driver in Naples and he drove us to the Amalfi Coast: amazing! We are still thinking about the best lunch we ever had at "Il Delfino" Restaurant in Sorrento, nice people and great money value... We highly recommend Shore Excursions in Italy to cruisers going in those areas!!
Los Angeles, CA USA 09/09/2012
Amalfi Tansfers - Tour with Anthony
Spend your day on the Amalfi Coast touring with Anthony. He will take you to all of the beautiful sites along the coast. He lives in Amalfi so he knows the area. He is also lots of fun
West Chester, PA USA 09/04/2012
Cruise stop at Naples
Anthony Buonocore of Amalfi Transfer provides a fantastic tour of the Amalfi Coast for anyone stopping at Naples on a cruise. My family of 4 arranged the tour by email. Anthony was prompt, engaging, funny, warm and entirely professional. His rate for a full day was reasonable. Having lived his entire life in Amalfi, he knows the area perfectly and ensured that we were returned to the ship in plenty of time. I would not hesitate to recommend his service and to use it again.
Toronto, Ont Canada 08/23/2012
Amalfi Coast Transfers
We reserved with Anthony Amalfi Coast transfer via e-mail and scheduled a pick up at Naples train station. When we arrived of the train there he was with a big smile and holding a card with our name...wow! Anthony is a very no worries "it's all good" kind of a guy. We stopped at a local restaurant for gelato, cappuchino and cold beverage which was apreciated after a long trip. The rate is more than fair that we decided to reserve him for the trip back from Positano to Naples airport. He was there on time :). I would not hesitate for a moment to recommend his service, you will truly enjoy the ride. John, Julie, Matthieu, Danika and Frédéric Currie, Canada, Québec (Gatineau)
Gatineau, QC. Can. 08/17/2012
Shore trips in Split and Dubrovnik, Croatia
We had fantastic trips to Split and Dubrovnik, Croatia with private guide Matt (email@example.com). Matt is without a doubt the most knowledgeable and friendliest guide we have ever had. For two days with him we learned more than any history publication can give you. When you visit this beautiful country, Matt should be your guide.
Hannah and Greg Finks
Providence, RI USA 08/04/2012
Amalfi Transfer, Anthony Buonocore is fantastic!
Anthony is the best! Anthony made our trip EASY and FANTASTIC. We used his service multiple times... from Tuscany to Amalfi Coast, day trips to Pompeii/Herculaneum and up the Coast, and then from Amalfi Coast to Rome. He is charming and fun, gives great advice on travel in the area, and it's a treat if you get him to sing! I hope to go back to BEAUTIFUL Italy, and will definately use Anthony again!
Mariam and Doug
Atlanta, GA USA 07/07/2012
Anthony Buonocore with Amalfi Transfer Private Tours was an amazing driver for our group on a day trip along the Amalfi Coast! He was kind and knowledgeable of the area. We stopped along the way for wine, lemoncello and ceramics before having a delicious lunch with an incredible view. He knew all of the great spots for photos and, yes, not only drove, but sang to our group! I will call him next time we visit and highly recommend him to anyone in the area!
San Antonio, TX USA 07/07/2012
Ciao Bella - Amalfi Transfers
Anthony Buonocore was an excellent driver! I would definitely recommend him to anyone who asks. He drove my family to Pompeii and then along the Almalfi Coast, stopping along the way for a fabulous lunch, fresh oranges, and a private tour of a limoncello factory. He has great relationships with all the locals and he knows how to get the best! He stopped often for beautiful pictures with the four of us and then with him and we had a great time! He talked (and sang) with us and taught my 18-year-old son how to impress girls with Italian. Once we were already on our boat we got a call from security and I had left my wallet (with all our credit cards, ID's, and Euros in it) in his car and he came back and went through a lot of trouble to bring it to us. Overall he was the best driver we've ever had! I would definitely recommend!
Fort Worth, Texas USA 06/29/2012
Away from home? Wish you had your son, nephew, or grandson to drive you along the Amalfi Coast? Call Anthony Buonocore from Amalfitransfer.com - by the end of the drive, you will think he IS family.
Newport, RI USA 06/14/2012
After escorting 11 college women from the US to Rome and teaching intensively for two weeks, Susan and I were ready for our restful holiday. And to help make it so, there was Anthony Buonocore at the Naples train station, our driver to Amalfi and then a few days later from Amalfi to Sperlonga. That's nearly five hours in a car, and I know you will agree that you can get to know a man's qualities in that amount of time. Anthony is an excellent driver (& having driven mountain passes in Colorado similar to those in Campania you can trust me on this). He always paid attention to our comfort, adjusting our seats and the air temperature to make sure the trip was a pleasant one. His english is very good, so we had wonderful conversations. You'll find, as we did, he has a great sense of humor and a lovely voice (ask him to sing along with Dean Martin's "Volare"). He is generous, kind, and, good-hearted. Along the way to Amalfi, he chose the perfect spots to stop for us to stretch our legs and enjoy the gorgeous scenery. In Sperlonga, he went out of his way to make sure we were settled in our apartment. Susan and I quite agree that we are happy she found him when making our travel arrangements. You cannot take a wrong turn with Anthony. Caterina & Susanna
Barrington, RI USA 06/13/2012
Amalfi Coast Day Trip from Rome
Just returned from Rome and would like to strongly recommend Anthony Of Amalfitranfer.com if you would like 1st class service from Naples and the Amalfi Coast. I made arrangements for my 84 year young mother and her friend via the internet, to hook up in Naples for pick up and visit Pompeii and go for a drive along the Amalfi coast and then back to Naples for train ride back to Rome, with arrival back in time for dinner. I was concerned with my mother arriving @ Naples train station and Anthony assured me everything would be taken care of. He was there when they got off the train. Made arrangements for private tour of Pompeii with expert guide--then off for fabulous drive along the coast. They went as far as Ravello. They didn't have a camera and Anthony was kind enough to take pictures for them (they arrived via email the next day) and found a wonderful restaurant for lunch. Then back to Naples for train ride back to Rome. A fabulous day trip, that everything went MORE than smoothly. I travel extensively all over the world and can strongly recommend Amalfi Transfer.
Seattle, WA USA 06/10/2012
MSC Italy, Greece, Croatia
We took our first cruise and read bad reviews but we had a good time, it was a bargain so we spent the savings on the ship excursions. I hear people take the local excursions but the ship excursions cover so much and sometimes include lunch or museum entry without the wait. Two of the excursions included lunch at a local farm and the other at a restaurant with the local dancers entertaining you or a stop to a winery for a taste of their wine and local food. Well worth the $$.
CA USA 05/14/2012
Walk-On Cruising in Norway
It's not exactly breaking news, but I recently learned that you can travel port-to-port on Norway's Hurtigruten line without reservations. You can just walk on board and pay your fare as if it were a (expensive) bus. You travel as a "deck passenger," without a cabin, but that's not bad for a short trip. We did that (with reservations) in last year's trip, with two 11-hour passages from Trondheim to Alesund and Alesund to Bergen
Alexandria, VA USA 05/02/2012
Tangier guided Walking Tour
Tangier-Morocco was the top delight of our cruise. We had a 6 hour private tour through NezhaTour company email: firstname.lastname@example.org , March 2012. Our personal tour guide was Youness. a guide is a great experience, We were picked up at the ship pier by a chauffeured van and Youness. He toured us through the main sights, ending at the Medina where we were chauffeured back to the ship. our guide was extremely knowledgeable, professional and pleasant. the tour was exciting and interesting and we learned a lot about the so many history of Moroccan Jews, The Casbah Museum tour was also fantastic, our guide has a passion about art which enabled us to enjoy the exhibits so much more than we would have done on our own. Highly recommended, Youness was the best tour guide!!!!
NY, USA 03/16/2012
Cheap Excursion for Mediterranean Cruises
I am going on a Mediterranean cruise to Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Croatia and all of the excursions the ship offers are completely expensive. I have been on a cruise to the Bahamas and Jamaica before and we did not book excursions on the ship, we got off the ship and found tour guides waiting outside of the ports that took us around all day for cheap rates. Will this happen on the Mediterranean cruise?
Las Vegas, NV USA 03/15/2012
Turkey to Italy Cruise
Does anyone know of a good cruise line that goes direct from Turkey to Italy?
Bolivar, MO USA 03/02/2012
All ports on our own
On my first Med cruise I used Rick's advice on touring on your own. I researched all the ports ahead of time using books,trip reports and this website. We sailed for 11 nights on the Disney Magic in June 2011. We sailed out of Barcelona where we arrived 2 days early. The ports included Malta, Sicily (replaced Tunisia), Civitacecchia, Naples, LaSpezia, Villefranche and Corsica. Used trains, taxis and the HOHO buses in Barcelona and Monte Carlo. Booked entrance for the Colosseum, Vatican and the Academie in Florence. Cruising was a great introduction to Europe. I have booked another cruise to the Med. with my two youngest sons. My older son and my parents and I took Rick's advice and his podcasts on our maiden voyage. I plan to do the same in 2013.
near Cleveland, Ohio USA 02/17/2012
Usually do ship excursions the first time in a city. However, many guides talk constantly spewing out facts you will not remember, talk quickly and you miss some of what they say, walk too fast and you have to hurry to keep them is sight. And what you don't realize is that you are so busy concentrating on them that you are not LOOKING at the sites. Find out what time you are to meet at the end of the tour and where. Then if you choose to observe and go at your pace you will know the meeting place. Or pull te earphones out of your ears or don't concentrate on what is being said to the exclusion of absorbing the view.
Pax River, MD USA 02/11/2012
Berlin with ship2shore
We used ship2shore, based on the recommendation in Rick's book. The trip from Warnemünde to Berlin was hands-down the highlight of our cruise. We dealt with Jennifer, who quickly put together a great trip for us from Warnemünde to Berlin. She was quite easy to work with and organized everything.
We were met at the dock by Lee Evans, who, in twenty years of traveling, was easily and by far the best guide we've ever had. Lee is an expert in all things Berlin and Germany and there was never a dull moment. He really connected with all of us, especially my children and constantly tailored the day to meet our needs. Not only was he smart and funny, but was in Berlin when the wall fell, giving us his life experience as well. We were early and managed to get off the ship before our meeting time. Lee showed us some of Warnemunde and Rostock on the way south. We stopped for a short bathroom break in a small Prussian town. Lee had thought of everything and even and euro coins for us to use the bathrooms, something we hadn't thought of.
Throughout the day, Lee had special treats, like chocolates and cookies that fit into whatever he was discussing with us. He even had typical Berlin snacks when he discussed the role of French immigrants on Berlin's history. I particularly enjoyed his iPad photo selection of Berlin's glory days and destruction during the war.
We felt we got more than the value of our money with ship2shore, and learned a lot about Germany on the way down to Berlin. Lee had great recommendations for every other port-call on our cruise and we wish that he could have come along with us to Finland and Estonia.
Our driver, Klaus, drove us to Berlin in style and got us back to the ship with plenty of time to spare. He even taught our kids some traditional songs on the way back.
When we compared our day with other people at dinner, we discovered that we had the most fun, saw more, and had a better time than anyone else at the table.
Lee made our day memorable and special
Chicago, IL USA 01/31/2012