Mediterranean Cruise Excursion Cheat Sheet
Our Rick Steves' Mediterranean Cruise Ports guidebook is designed to help cruise passengers make the most of their limited time and budget, particularly while they're in port.
One of the biggest potential add-on expenses for cruisers are shore excursions offered by the cruise lines (which can range from about $50 for a three-hour walking tour, to $150 or more for a full-day bus-plus-walking tour). Some of these can be a smart, cost-effective way to efficiently link out-of-the-way destinations. Other excursions charge a premium for something you could easily do on your own.
This at-a-glance chart gives you a quick yes, no, or maybe as to whether a cruise-line excursion is worth considering.
|Destination (Port)||Take the Cruise Line's Excursion?||Details|
|Barcelona||No||Ride the shuttle bus right into the heart of town, within easy walking distance (or Metro ride) of most sights.|
Various great destinations within reach of the underwhelming port towns; an excursion can efficiently combine several.
|No||All three ports — and — more are connected by frequent, fast, and easy trains and buses (10-20 minutes between each one by train, longer but more scenic by bus). Train stations are an easy walk, public-transit ride, or taxi trip from each port.|
|Florence, Pisa, Lucca
|Maybe||Shuttle bus into downtown Livorno; then public bus to train station; then train to Pisa (20 minutes), Lucca (1 hour), or Florence (1.5 hours). Excursions offer a no-hassle connection that also includes tours of the major sights.|
|Maybe||Short walk to train station, then 45-80-minute train into Rome. Doable on your own, but an excursion helps you sightsee efficiently in this big city.|
From Naples port: Walk or take local buses or taxis to most sights in the city; Pompeii is an easy 35-minute train ride away.From Sorrento port: Easy train ride to Pompeii (35 minutes) or Naples (70 minutes).
|Amalfi Coast, Capri
|Yes||Both are doable on your own from either port (especially Capri by boat — 45 minutes from Naples, 20-25 minutes from Sorrento), but crowded and unreliable public transit risks not making it back in time. An excursion buys you peace of mind.|
|Venice||No||It's an easy 5-minute monorail ride to the Grand Canal for a slow vaporetto cruise through town; or a speedy 20-minute express boat directly to St. Mark's Square. Even walking (about 45 minutes to St. Mark's Square) is delightful in this unique city.|
|Split||No||The port is just a few steps from the easy-to-tour Old Town.|
|Dubrovnik||No||Cruisers are either tendered directly to the heart of the Old Town, or docked at the port (15-minute bus or taxi ride from Old Town). Once in the Old Town, everything worth seeing is walkable.|
|Maybe||It takes 20-60 minutes by public bus, Metro, or taxi into downtown (depending on traffic). But the important ancient sites benefit from a good guide, and an excursion offers easy connections.|
|Most Greek Islands
(Mykonos, Santorini, Corfu, Rhodes, Heraklion) and other ports (Katakolo/Olympia, Nafplio)
|No||Usually easy and fast to get into town or beaches. Just relax and be on vacation. Exceptions: Katakolo port (an excursion makes seeing Olympia easier) and Heraklion (an excursion allows you to connect both in-town sights and out-of-town palace).|
|Istanbul||No||Cruise ship drops you off near the Golden Horn, an easy walk, tram or taxi ride from virtually every major sight in town.|
|Yes||Reaching Ephesus requires a complicated ride in shared minibus taxis (30-40 minutes) plus a 15-minute walk; or a pricey taxi. An excursion makes transport easy, and the magnificent site warrants a good guide.|
Planning to cruise soon? Pick up a copy of Rick's newest book, Rick Steves' Mediterranean Cruise Ports.