Love the blog article and YES! On one cruise, our director talked about Italian trains leaving cars behind or not all of them going to the same destination. In Messina, they made it out like it was practically impossible to get to Taormina without an excursion and so on and so on. We save so much money and time by doing ports on our own. Granted, if we were wealthy, we would hire a private guide/driver for just the 2 of us, but as we are, doing the ports on our own has given us the confidence and knowledge to travel Europe as seasoned travelers.
I thought the history of shore excursions you included was really interesting. Thanks!