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Old June 4th, 2007, 10:48 AM
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Default Millennium's excursions

Hello All,

New to this board.... Happy Cruise'n!

Question...

Has anyone experienced any European excursions with the Millennium?

Here is my itinerary below.. The excursions seem quite costly, are the worth the $$$? Any thoughts?

Day¬*1 Venice, Italy
Day¬*2 Venice, Italy
Day¬*3 Dubrovnik, Croatia
Day¬*4 At Sea
Day¬*5 Santorini, Greece
Day¬*6 Athens (Piraeus), Greece
Day¬*7 At Sea
Day¬*8 Naples/Capri, Italy
Day¬*9 Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy
Day¬*10 Florence, Italy
Day¬*11 Nice (Villefranche), France
Day¬*12 At Sea
Day¬*13 Barcelona, Spain

Cheers!
Garion
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Old June 4th, 2007, 07:29 PM
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I'm on the same cruise... wondering the same
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Old June 5th, 2007, 08:32 PM
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Default Re: Millennium's excursions

Garion,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Hello All,

New to this board.... Happy Cruise'n!

Question...

Has anyone experienced any European excursions with the Millennium?

Here is my itinerary below.. The excursions seem quite costly, are the worth the $$$? Any thoughts?

Day¬*1 Venice, Italy
Day¬*2 Venice, Italy
Day¬*3 Dubrovnik, Croatia
Day¬*4 At Sea
Day¬*5 Santorini, Greece
Day¬*6 Athens (Piraeus), Greece
Day¬*7 At Sea
Day¬*8 Naples/Capri, Italy
Day¬*9 Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy
Day¬*10 Florence, Italy
Day¬*11 Nice (Villefranche), France
Day¬*12 At Sea
Day¬*13 Barcelona, Spain

Cheers!
Expensive shore excursions are the "nature of the beast" on cruises to Europe -- and they actually present good value, as they maximize what you see in teh time that you have in each port for a lot less than the cost of a private tour.

Let me amplify on that.

>> 1. Most European destination cities are very rich in attractions, destinations, and points of itnerest, and most European destination cities are equally popular with tourists on land. As a result, many of the major attractions have very long queues -- typically two to three hours during the peak tourist season -- for admission. If you attempt to visit the attractions on your own, you probably will spend over half or your time waiting in those queues to gain admission to the attractions that you wish to visit. By contrast, the ship's shore excursions have reserved group tours, conducted in English, at the featured attractions, so they bypass the queues for general admission and enter as a group within a few minutes of arrival at their featured attractions.

>> 2. Many of the European destination cities are an hour or more from the actual port of call. The ship's shore excursions include seamless transportation between the pier and the destination city in the price of the tour. If you try to go to the local city on your own, you would either have to take a taxi from the pier to the local train or bus depot, then lose valuable time waiting for the train or bus, or take a taxi directly to the desination city at considerably greater cost. On the return trip, you would need to leave the destination city well before the shore excursions to ensure that you are back aboard the ship before the appointed time because the ship won't wait for you whereas the ship will wait for a shore excursion delayed by traffic or other snags.

>> 3. The standard shore excurions to the destination cities also include a full lunch at a local restaurant in the price of the excursion, so you will have a chance to sample the local cuisine.

The standard shore excursions usually also include some time for shopping, or for sitting in a sidewalk cafe and taking in the day, or for other exploring on your own, in a market district that's safe and that features the products for which the destination city is known.

As to value, consider that the excursion includes

>> Motorcoach, Driver, and Guide for a full day,

>> Admission to all featured attractions, and

>> A full lunch at a local restaurant

and compare the cost of the excursion with the cost of doing likewise on your own. Thus, I strongly recommend budgeting $150 per person (or about 75 sterling per person at current exchange rates if you are British) per port of call for shore excursions.

In most ports of call, there are alternative shore excursions for those who have already seen the major ports of call. Such excursions may go out to the local countryside or may visit other attractions that are nearby.

I also should mention that Celebrity, and most other major cruise lines, offer "shore excursions" that consist only of transportation to and from destination cities that are some distance from the respective ports of call, at considerably lower prices, for passengers who have seen the major attractions in a destination city. These excursions, which typically have names of the form "<City> on Your Own," will maximize your free time in a destination city. Basically, the guide (yes, there is one...) gives a brief orientation and instructions where and when to meet to return to the ship when the motorcoach arrives in the destination city, then sets you loose to do as you wish. Note that these "excursions" do NOT include lunch.

Now, I do have specific recommendations for several of your ports of call.

>> Venezia ("Venice"): If you have not been there, do the tour that includes St. Mark's Square, the Doge's Palace, a glass factory, and a ride in a gondola. Afterward, be sure to tour the inside of the basilica and pay the nominal admission to view the ornate altar piece.

>> Napoli ("Naples"): There are three major destinations: (1) Capri, (2) the Amalfi Coast, and (3) Pompeii. The combined tours won't do justice to any of these destinations, so choose one, do it well, and leave the rest for another visit.

>> Roma ("Rome"): The city highlights tour is an absolute must if you have not already visited those attractions.

>> Livorno: The combined tour of Firenze ("Florence") and Pisa is WAY too rushed. I found Firenze to be a major disappointment because (1) the most significant art pieces are in museums where you probably won't get to see them and (2) the famous gardens are in interior courtyards where you also won't get to see them. Pisa is quite interesting, but on my return (whenever that happens), I'll opt for the tour of the Tuscan countryside and winery instead.

>> Villefranche: The tour of Monaco's old city, which visits the Cathedral and the Palace, is well worthwhile.

I hope that this helps!

Norm.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 04:52 PM
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I am also going to experience the same itinerary. I have signed up for the "capri, sorrento & pompeii excursion"...am i going to be sorry? I feel as if I must see both, pompeii and capri. What should I do?
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Old June 7th, 2007, 05:50 PM
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p@sea,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
I am also going to experience the same itinerary. I have signed up for the "capri, sorrento & pompeii excursion"...am i going to be sorry? I feel as if I must see both, pompeii and capri. What should I do?
I think so. That itinerary is WAY too ambitious to do in one day. You'll be moving on as soon as you arrive at each destination, with no time to see much of anything. You would do much better to choose one destination and have enough time to see something. It reminds me of a visitor who came to Boston, walked up to the New England Aquarium and put her hand on the exterior of the building without going inside, and went home to tell her friends that she had been to the New England Aquarium. Well, technically true, but she never saw any of the marine life or other exhibits housed therein! I mean, why bother?

I strongly recommend cancelling that excursion and booking an excursion to ONE of the three destinations (Capri, Pompeii, or the Amalfi Coast). You'll have plenty of opportunities to see the other two destinations (Sorrento is part of the Amalfi Coast, which is a different direction from Pompeii IIRC) on future cruises.

Norm.
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Old June 8th, 2007, 04:56 PM
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Thanks Rev22:17!

Great feedback. I was tempted to signup for the combined tours, but now I've decided not to.

Here is my take on each port so far and why>

Venice, Italy >
-Do it on our own, wife is fluent in Italian.

Dubrovnik, Croatia >
-Beautiful port, no need to tour from what I heard

Santorini, Greece
-Not clear here, thinking to take it easy as well

Athens (Piraeus), Greece
-Take the basic Ancient Athens tour.

Naples/Capri, Italy
-Do it on our own, wife is fluent in Italian. Primarily interest is only Pompeii.

Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy
-Tour. Thinking it's the best bet. But, will we have enough time to lineup and enter St. Peter's Basilica. My wife has her heart set on it.

Florence, Italy
-Tour. Thinking it's the best bet. Still researching my options

Nice (Villefranche), France
-Tour. Thinking it's the best bet. Still researching my options

Barcelona, Spain
-Spending a few days here. No tour required.

Cheers!
Garion
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Old June 9th, 2007, 10:03 AM
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Garion,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Thanks Rev22:17!

Great feedback. I was tempted to signup for the combined tours, but now I've decided not to.
You're welcome! I'm always glad to be more of an asset than the first 3/5 of one....

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Here is my take on each port so far and why>

Venice, Italy >
-Do it on our own, wife is fluent in Italian.

Dubrovnik, Croatia >
-Beautiful port, no need to tour from what I heard

Santorini, Greece
-Not clear here, thinking to take it easy as well

Athens (Piraeus), Greece
-Take the basic Ancient Athens tour.

Naples/Capri, Italy
-Do it on our own, wife is fluent in Italian. Primarily interest is only Pompeii.

Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy
-Tour. Thinking it's the best bet. But, will we have enough time to lineup and enter St. Peter's Basilica. My wife has her heart set on it.

Florence, Italy
-Tour. Thinking it's the best bet. Still researching my options

Nice (Villefranche), France
-Tour. Thinking it's the best bet. Still researching my options

Barcelona, Spain
-Spending a few days here. No tour required.
You can do Venezia ("Venice") on your own with no problem, and the tours that you have chosen are excellent choices.

I must recommend against attempting to do Pompeii, Roma ("Rome"), and Firenze ("Florence") completely on your own in the strongest possible terms, and language is NOT the issue. In fact, English is spoken very widely in all of Italy's major cities and tourist destinations and road signs are now bilingual (Italian and English), so you can get around quite well if you are fluent in English. Rather, the real problem is that these destinations are considerable distances (about an hour to an hour and a half) from the respective ports of Napoli ("Naples"), Civitavecchia, and Livorno where the ship actually calls. If you go to these destinaitions on your own and miss the ship because traffic or some other snag delays your return to the port, you'll be paying a lot more than the cost of the tour for overnight accommodations and meals ashore and for alternate transportation to the next port of call. By contrast, the ship will either wait or make alternate arrangements to reboard passeners on a ship's tour that gets delayed. Also, the transportation on the ship's tour is completey seamless and synchrnoized to the ship's schedule to maximize your time at the destnation.

>> In Napoli, take the ship's tour to Pompeii if that's the destination that you really want to see.

>> In Civitavecchia. take one of the ship's tours of Roma that includes the Vatican if that's what you wish to see. The excursions called "A Taste of Rome," "Discover Renaissance Rome," "Hidden Treasures of the Churches of Rome," "Imperial Rome," and 'Rome, The Eternal City" would be reasonable choices.

>> In Livorno, your plan to take a tour to Firenze is right on.

If you really want to explore Roma or Firenze independently, the tours called "Rome on Your Own" and "Florence on Your Own" would be the best way to get there and back.

Norm.
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Old June 12th, 2007, 11:13 AM
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Hello Rev22:17

Thanks again... your advise helped big time!

I agree, I can see my self wasting so much time looking at my watch and worrying...

Therefore, I have revised my approach entirely. Focus is now aimed on convenience and comfort for my Wife Vs cost.

Here is my 'NEW' take on each port so far and why (Nice tour is still to be decided. The rest is booked!)>

Venice, Italy >
-Do it on our own, lots of time.

Dubrovnik, Croatia >
-tour, Highlights of Dubrovnik, recommended and short!

Santorini, Greece
-1pm tour, Village of Oia & Santorini Island, Picturesque and not rushed in the morning.

Athens (Piraeus), Greece
-1pm tour, Ancient Athens, Plaka & Shopping, to the point and not rushed in the morning

Naples/Capri, Italy
-1pm tour, Exploring Pompeii, to the point and not rushed in the morning

Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy
-On our own Tour. Wife wants the Sixteenth Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. This ensures it. Secondly, we wont have to follow a ridged 9 hour tour. We can go at the pace my wife wants since I've been here before.

Florence, Italy
-Pisa/Florence On our own Tour. Florence at our own pace. We do not want to follow a ridged tour. We can go at the pace my wife wants since I've been here before.

?Nice (Villefranche), France
-Tour. Thinking of the 'Nice & French Riviera' tour, Thinking it's the best bet since two days of extreme site seeing (Florence/Rome), we can ease off with this one. Problem, it misses Monaco.

Barcelona, Spain
-Spending a few days here. No tour required.

Cheers!
Garion
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Old June 12th, 2007, 06:51 PM
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Garion,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Hello Rev22:17

Thanks again... your advise helped big time!

I agree, I can see my self wasting so much time looking at my watch and worrying...

Therefore, I have revised my approach entirely. Focus is now aimed on convenience and comfort for my Wife Vs cost.

Here is my 'NEW' take on each port so far and why (Nice tour is still to be decided. The rest is booked!)>

Venice, Italy >
-Do it on our own, lots of time.

Dubrovnik, Croatia >
-tour, Highlights of Dubrovnik, recommended and short!

Santorini, Greece
-1pm tour, Village of Oia & Santorini Island, Picturesque and not rushed in the morning.

Athens (Piraeus), Greece
-1pm tour, Ancient Athens, Plaka & Shopping, to the point and not rushed in the morning

Naples/Capri, Italy
-1pm tour, Exploring Pompeii, to the point and not rushed in the morning

Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy
-On our own Tour. Wife wants the Sixteenth Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. This ensures it. Secondly, we wont have to follow a ridged 9 hour tour. We can go at the pace my wife wants since I've been here before.

Florence, Italy
-Pisa/Florence On our own Tour. Florence at our own pace. We do not want to follow a ridged tour. We can go at the pace my wife wants since I've been here before.

?Nice (Villefranche), France
-Tour. Thinking of the 'Nice & French Riviera' tour, Thinking it's the best bet since two days of extreme site seeing (Florence/Rome), we can ease off with this one. Problem, it misses Monaco.

Barcelona, Spain
-Spending a few days here. No tour required.
Overall, this sounds pretty reasonable. About the only change that I would recommend is to take a tour that visits the Vatican Museum, the Sistine (not "sixteenth"...) Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica rather than going there on your own. The tour called "Rome, The Eternal City" appears to be a good match, as it tours the Vatican quite extensively in the morning and has a fair amount of time on your own for shopping, or whatever else you want to do, after lunch. Note that the price of this tour includes both admissions at the Vatican and lunch, so the real difference in cost is not as much as it appears.

Norm.
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Old July 8th, 2007, 09:27 AM
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Mornin'
We are taking this same cruise .... Barcelona - Venice ... Getting very excited!!!!

When we're in Rome .... we want to see the Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum, the Vatican and the Trevi Fountain .... would "The Eternal City" cover all this? Is the cost of admission included? Would you suggest something else? We probably won't get back to Italy EVER - this is a once in a lifetime trip.

We are already booked on the Monaco & Monte Carlo tour in Nice and the Panoramic Dubrovik & City Tour.

A friend of mine just came back from Italy and she suggested that we just walk around Florance. She also suggested that while we're in Venice to get on the water bus and take that around the city instead of doing the gondola ride.

We're not sure what to do in Greece .... any suggestions?

Thanks,
Shelley
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Old July 8th, 2007, 09:51 AM
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Default Venice Transportation

PS: When we depart the ship on day 13 (Venice), our flight leaves at 11:30a - should we book transportation from ship to airport or just leave ship and take a taxi to the airport?
Thanks,
Shelley

16 more sleeps!!!!
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Old July 9th, 2007, 09:09 PM
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JayShel,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
When we're in Rome .... we want to see the Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum, the Vatican and the Trevi Fountain .... would "The Eternal City" cover all this? Is the cost of admission included? Would you suggest something else? We probably won't get back to Italy EVER - this is a once in a lifetime trip.
I don't have the tour descriptions in front of me, but there are several tours that visit various combinations of the major attractions in Rome (which, unfortunately, are far too numerous to see in a day). I know that the tour called "The Eternal City" visits the Vatican (IIRC, including the Sistine Chapel unless there's a service taking place) but I'm not sure that it includes the Trevi Fountain. The best thing to do is to make a chart by listing a major attraction on the right side of a sheet of paper, listing the shore excursions across the top, drawing grid lines between them, and reading through each excursion placing an "X" in the boxes corresponding to the attractions that it visits. That should give you a pretty clear picture of which excursions visit the attractions to which you ascribe the highest priority.

And yes, all shore excursions include all admissions and transportation to and from the attractions that they visit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
We are already booked on the Monaco & Monte Carlo tour in Nice and the Panoramic Dubrovik & City Tour.
The tour of Monaco should be an excellent tour! Both the cathedal and the royal palace have incredible art. If you are lucky, you'll be outside the palace at the right time to watch the ceremonial changing of the guard as well.

I won't make suggestions for Dubrovnik as I have not been there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
A friend of mine just came back from Italy and she suggested that we just walk around Florance.
I'll be absolutely the last person to second that suggestion.

>> 1. Firenze ("Florence") is about an hour and a half from the port of Livorno, where the ship actually calls, by (limited access divided) highway. If you go there on your own, you'll either spend a lot of time getting from the pier to the train station and waiting for a train, then getting from the train station to the pier upon your return, or spend a fortune on taxis going back and forth. If you absolutely must go to Firenze and wander through the city on your own, take the shore excursion called "Florence on Your Own" instead. This excursion consists of motorcoach transportation directly to and from the pier. Upon arrival in Firenze, the guide gives a brief orientation and directions as to where to meet for the return trip.

>> 2. Unfortunately, most of the art for which Firenze is noted now resides in museums. If you go to a museum on your own, you probably will have to wait in a queue for two or three hours to gain admission. If you want to get into a museum to see some of the art (and you'll have time for just one of the city's seven or eight museums), take a shore excursion that goes to a museum instead. The shore excursions have reserved group admissions, so they bypass the queues for general admission.

>> 3. But honestly, Firenze was postively the biggest disappointment on my last cruise to the Mediterranean. Most of the famous art resides in museums that have long queues for admission, as previously noted, and most of the famous gardens are in walled inner courtyards where you can't see them from the street. If I had to do it over, I would bypass Firenze completely and opt instead either for the tour of Pisa, which is much closer to the port, or the tour of the Tuscan countryside and winery (with sampling of its wines).

But your choice....

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
She also suggested that while we're in Venice to get on the water bus and take that around the city instead of doing the gondola ride.
But the gondola would be so much more romantic....

Seriously, Venizia ("Venice") is a great city with very diverse attractions, though not exactly wheelchair friendly (most of its bridges have steps on both sides). I highly recommend the shore excursion that visits the Doge's Palace and its prison (connected by the Bridge of Sighs spanning the canal between them), the Piazza San Marco, and a glass factory. This excursion usually also includes a ride in a gondola. After the excursion, you can tour the Basilica (another home of absolutely magificent art!) -- and yes, it is absolutely worth paying the admission to see the ornate gold and hand painted reredos located at the back of the sanctuary!

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
We're not sure what to do in Greece .... any suggestions?
If you are going to the port of Pireaus (for Athens) and you are able bodied, be sure to take one or another of the shore excursions that actually visits the Acropolis. It is an incredible piece of ancient history!

Have a wonderful cruise!

Norm.
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Old July 9th, 2007, 11:15 PM
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My views on European and Mediterranean excursions are somewhat different, in that I much prefer to arrange for private drivers/guides.
We've done both ship's tours and privately arranged cars. With ship's tours you move only as fast as the slowest person, so the time you have in at the sights can be very limited.
Too many times we've sat waiting for fellow passengers on a bus tour who decided their shopping time was more important than those waiting for the bus to head to its next destination.

With private tours our guides have always been able to pre-book times to tour the museums in Florence, or the Vatican in Rome, which enables you to avoid the time wasted standing in line ups to enter. (The long lines are often the people on ship's tours).

With private drivers you also have the flexibility to spend more time at a spot you find particularly interesting, or move on once you've had enough.

We've cruised through Europe and the Med several times now using private drivers, and I've yet to have to worry about missing the ship, and with the short times in most ports of call, we felt we got to see much more than when we've done ship's tours.
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Old August 7th, 2007, 07:13 PM
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I too have the same itinerary in November 2007 on the Mileniuum starting in Venice to Barcelona. Here is what we are thinking for excursions:

Nothing in Venice-been there before-Is the ship docked close to city so can get off ship and wander on my own?
Croatia-Gardens and Old Town Sightseeing
Athens-Taste of Athens
Turkey-Turkish Towns and Villages one day and Temple of Artemis, St. Johns Basilica and House of Virgin Mary the next
Naples-exploration of Pompei
Rome-can't decide-want something with Vatican city and Colisseum
Florence-A Taste of Florence
Nice-Monoco and Monte Carlo and Nice and Eze-2 half days or Best of the French Riviera-all day-can't decide between these two choices

IF anyone has taken these tours or has other suggestions of better ones, I would certainly appreciate it. I want to make sure I do the best choices-thought about private tours but will be two women so don't want to take any chances. Thanks for any help, Kathy
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