Originally Posted by Rev22:17
If you want to visit the house of the virgin Mary, which is a Greek Orthodox shrine, take the tour that includes it.
However, in view of your tight time constraints, I strongly recommend booking your tour through the ship. Ephesus is a modest distance from the port, and any delay on your return could cause you to miss the ship if you go on your own. If you are on the ship's tour, the ship will either delay its departure until you return or make alternate arrangements to get you back aboard at no cost to you if there's a problem. If you go on your own, you get to pay for your own transportation to the next port of call and your hotels and meals until you rejoin the ship.
On most of a number of trips to Europe, I've used private tour operators, and guess what... I've never missed the ship. I think Norm is a bit paranoid
The advantage to private tours is that you can move much faster and see much more than on a ship's tour.
On many ship's tours they waste an hour and a half of valuable time stopping for lunch (mostly in very average restaurants too).
We've used private operators in Turkey, and did all three spots, and stopped for a bite to eat,and got to tour some private residential areas, and a bit of shopping, without feeling rushed. And for the Ephesus portion of the tour our guide was a university professor who taught archeology.
Ship's tours are fine if you're nervous about making it back to the ship, but move only as fast as the slowest person.