You can't see Rome in a day, but our October cruise itinerary gives us only about 12 hours so I'm seeking some advice regarding shore excursions. I've cruised before but always in the Caribbean where I could take or leave some snorkeling excursion. This is sightseeing intensive Europe and I've never been there and neither has my fiance so I'd appreciate any adivce you veteran cruisers may have to offer this cruisemates newbie.
More background info (so you know where we're coming from): I'm more of a "traveler" and like to see some major sights but wouldn't mind finding a quiet cafe and meeting the people. My fiance is more of a "tourist" and wants to cram in all the major tourist attractions. We are looking for a compromise (tour some/go alone some perhaps) but that provides so many alternative options. Our itinerary: arriving in Barcelona 2 days before boarding the Celebrity Constellation, then to Villefranche/Nice, Livorno/Firenze, Civitavicchia/Rome, Naples, Malta, Palermo (Sicily), Malaga and back to Barcelona (then an extra night).
So what to do? I've tried to find as many reviews as possible (as well as do research on the ports and the major cities some of which are an hour or so away). Some say 1)"do the research and go it alone" (and try not to get lost in the wrong part of town), others recommend 2) arrange private tours (though i understand there can be pitfalls here (ripped off), and then there are 3) the seemingly overpriced Celebrity offered tours that should get you back to the boat on time but i've seen some mixed reviews (herded like cattle, waiting and more waiting). We are 28/31 y/o so I'm not concerned with some long walks (we don't NEED a motorcoach though we aren't the type to run any marathon's) but one of my concerns is that my spanish is quite rusty (working on that) and the extent of my french and italian is to ask for the bathroom and order gelato- yummy!
Any advice and/or Constellation reviews are most welcomed. Thanks!
You don't say if you have any days at sea before or after Citevechia, but you could consider getting off in Rome, renting a car and meeting the ship in Naples. I have done something similar (we got off in Naples and meet the ship in Livorno). It worked out great!
I am the editor, but I also speculate, ask questions and play devil's advocate. I reserve the right to change my mind.
We did a similar itinerary a couple of years back. Arranged for a private driver/guide to meet us in most ports, and off we went.
If you can get one other couple to join you, you'll find the cost is actually less than the ship's shore excursions by bus.
Good to know. Thank you. Maybe I can locate others taking this cruise who are interested in the private tours. Any specific company that you went with? I've read of some rip off stories and any advice on a reputable company if you recall would come in handy.
We are taking the Constellation from Barcelona on Oct. 14
We went on a similar cruise two years ago on the Millenium. It was wonderful but very intensive. The best part of the trip was not having to pack and unpack every other day. Even if you don't get to see everything it is a nice taste of Europe and it will give you the incentive to return as we are.
we took the cruise line tours. This time we are going to be a little more adventuresome.
Thank you for your reply. I think the cruise will be great - wonderful itinerary. You're right, it will give a nice taste of several different places. I've gotten such great advice from the boards and chat and I think we are going to mix it up a bit. I have booked private tours for some ports and I think we are going to be adventuresome and go it alone in the ports that we only visit for half a day. Still working on the final specifics but I think it will be great. Happy cruising!!!
We've done the Medit. cruise thingy 4X in 3 years - simply because there is just so darn much to see and do and the ships are in port for such a short period of time....we just keep going back again to pick up things we missed the time before.....
Last August we booked Millie for May 12 Medit. cruise - but Celebrity cancelled that itinerary following 9/11. We never rebooked and did Hawaii instead.
On our Medit. cruises we have done a combination of things - on the very first cruise, we did all ship's excursions and that provided us with a basic knowledge of the areas so that on future cruises, we were fairly confident in our ability to strike out on our own. One of our best experiences was "jumping ship" in Naples last year.
One suggestion for you - Second seating in the dining room we found to be a must due to the amount of time it takes to get to some of the destinations and back to the ship, i.e., Rome and Florence. We found that the late seating provided us with time to really relax upon returning to the ship from a full day of sightseeing before we started dressing for dinner.
One more suggestion: YOU'LL NEED A VACATION WHEN YOU RETURN FROM THIS FANTASTIC CRUISE!
Just a tip: If you have the time, try to tack a few days on to your trip either before, or after, your cruise. We did both last year. 4 days each end & were SO glad we did! Rented cars online from AutoEurope (which Kuki mentioned above, or you could take trains) & did some wonderful things. We talked with so many people on our cruise who wished they had done something like that. Many were trying to change their flights home, get hotels in Rome & so forth. Have a great time! (I know you will!)
Thanks for your response. Since we leave and return to Barcelona which I understand is an amazing city we are spending 3 days (2 nights) pre cruise and 1 night post cruise there. I wish it was longer but that is all our vacation schedule would permit. I too think it will be great to have a few extra days plus I can get the jet lag out of my system before the cruise.
A bit late maybe, but being a newbie on this board I did a lot of reading.
For your Barcelona stay. This year is Gaudi Year, Gaudi was a pretty famous architect at the late 1800. His most prestige object in Barcelona is La Sagrada Familia, which is a must to see. This very huge and long time building Cathedral is so beautiful and is still under construction for over a 100 years now.
Gaudi himself is burried somewhere in or just outside the Cathedral, but no one tells you where ☺
Since there are festivities all around the city, you best can take the red hop-on-hop-off busses for both tours. There is a route north part and one for the south part of Barcelona. If you do this, you saw pretty much all of Barcelona.
If you are interested, there is a Hard Rock Cafe at the Plaza Catalunya, which is at the end of the Ramblas, for a nice lunch.
If you take a walk from the harbour to Plaza Catalunya over the Ramblas, mind that there is a fruit and vegetable market halfway on your left hand side, which is worth walking through.
If you have time enought in Barcelona, then go also to Parc Guell. Gaudi has lived there for many years and his influence in the Parc is obvious. If you like bright coloures mosaiques, you like the parc.
Just be sure you keep your money close to you, because pickpockets never sleep.
Since you go in October, bring a raincoat and something with long sleeves.
Keep track of the currency Euro against US dollar, today they have the same currency, so you can spend a Euro as you spend a dollar.