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Old February 24th, 2008, 07:54 AM
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Default Excursions Info for (Galaxy) - Aug 1 departure

Can anyone provide information about the ports this (East Med August 1st) cruise visits and whether one needs to book an organized excursion to visit the areas.... or whether one can still enjoy the port/city without booking an organized excursion. I would prefer to do most of the visiting on our own.... if/where possible.
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Old February 27th, 2008, 07:37 PM
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Default Re: Excursions Info for (Galaxy) - Aug 1 departure

schulr,

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Can anyone provide information about the ports this (East Med August 1st) cruise visits and whether one needs to book an organized excursion to visit the areas.... or whether one can still enjoy the port/city without booking an organized excursion. I would prefer to do most of the visiting on our own.... if/where possible.
You did not identify your ports of call, so I can only answer in general terms.

Yes, you can enjoy most Mediterranean ports of call on your own -- but with two major caveats.

>> 1. Most Mediterranian destinations have many significant historical and cultural attractions that attract a LOT of visitors, even in the "off season," resulting in very long queues (typically 2-3 hours) for general admission. If you try to visit these attractions on your own, you will spend a lot of time waiting in line to gain admission. The ship's shore excursions have reserved times for group admission, so they enter with very little wait. In these ports, most of the ships' shore excursions are "full day" tours that include a luncheon at a local restaurant, but they also allow a couple hours for independent exploration or shopping or whatever after they visit the major attractions. The ship's excursions really are your best option if you want to see the attractions that they visit.

>> 2. In several ports of call, the destination city is some distance from the port. For example, ships call at the port of Pireaus for the destination of Athens, at the port of Civitavecchia for the destination of Rome, in the port of Naples for the destinations of Capri, Sorrento, and the Amalfi Coast, and Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius, and in the port of Livorno for the destinations of Florence and Pisa. In these ports, you might spend a significant amount of your time getting to and from the destination city if you try to do so independently. Additionally, you run the risk of missing a connection someplace -- and you bear the cost for accommodations and meals ashore and transportation to the next port of call if a broken connection causes you to miss the ship's departure. In most of these ports of call, however, the cruise lines offer "shore excursions" with names of a form such as "... on Your Own" that basically consist of round trip bus transportation from the pier to the respective destination. Upon arrival at the destination, the guide gives a brief orientation and directions as to where and when to meet to return to the ship, then sets you free. These non-tours are arranged to maximize your free time at the respective destinations, and you'll have no risk of missing the ship due to a disconnect or a breakdown on the return trip.

If it's your first visit to a particular destination, a shore excursion that visits its major attractions probably is your best option. If you know your way around a destination that's some distance from the port, go for the "... on Your Own" excursion instead. If the ship docks right in the destination with which you are familiar, going ashore on your own makes sense.

Norm.
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Old February 29th, 2008, 07:05 PM
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Thank you for your response. It seems like very reasonable advice. The ports for this cruise are as follows:

Sicily (Messina), Italy, Athens (Piraeus), Greece, Mykonos, Greece, Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey, Rhodes, Greece, Santorini, Greece, Naples/Capri, Italy... to and from Civitavechia.

We will keep your advice in mind for Athens, Capri and Kusadasi... wondering if you can comment on Mykonos, Santorini and Rhodes.

Many thanks..
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 05:38 PM
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schulr,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Thank you for your response. It seems like very reasonable advice. The ports for this cruise are as follows:

Sicily (Messina), Italy, Athens (Piraeus), Greece, Mykonos, Greece, Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey, Rhodes, Greece, Santorini, Greece, Naples/Capri, Italy... to and from Civitavechia.

We will keep your advice in mind for Athens, Capri and Kusadasi... wondering if you can comment on Mykonos, Santorini and Rhodes.

Many thanks..
Okay, now that I know where you are going, I'll gladly get more specific. FWIW, that's a fantastic itinerary!

>> I have not been to Messina so I won't purport to offer specific advice there.

>> The port of Pireaus actually is only about ten miles from downtown Athens, and it's possible to go back and forth via the metro system, but I don't know where the metro stops in relation to the piers where the cruise ships dock. Celebrity's tour of the Acropolis is very good, and it offers the option of drop-off at the Platka, which is the main downtown shopping district, rather than returning to the ship on the tour bus. Ensure that you know how to get back to the pier from the metro station if you elect to use this option. If you have been to the Acropolis before, the tour that goes to Corinth via canal boat is a good choice.

>> In Mikonos, the cruise ship may dock in the bay next to the bay where the main town is. It's quite easy to take the ship's shuttle service from the pier to the town which you can explore on your own. The town itself is imminently walkable. In fact, vehicles are not allowed on the narrow walkways (not really streets) of the old section.

>> The port city of Kusadasi is the gateway to the archeological excavations of the ancient Roman city of Ephesus. Here, I highly recommend one or another of the tours that visits the archeological excavations if you have not already done so. The walk through the excavations is, quite literally, downhill all the way (the tour bus will drop you off at the top of the hill and pick you up at the bottom), so it is quite easy. There are several tours that combine the ruins with other attractions in which your interest may vary. There's also a nice bazaar right outside of the cruise terminal where you can get all kinds of Turkish souvenirs.

>> The main town of the Greek isle of Rhodes is right at the end of the tender pier, so you can explore it on your own quite easily.

>> Likewise, the main town on the Greek isle of Santorini is right at the top of the hill overlooking the tender pier, so you can explore it quite easily on your own. There are three ways to go up and down -- ride the funicular, walk, or ride on a burro. Alas, the burros use the same walkway as the people so you'll be dodging their droppings and you can expect it to be slimy if it's wet from a recent rain. There were five cruise ships in port on the day of my visit, so lines for the funicular were quite long, but you might have better luck. As it was, we chose to take the funicular up and then to walk down.

>> The port of Naples really is the gateway to three destinations -- Capri, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, and Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii -- rather than a destination in its own right. Realistically, each of these destinations requires a full day so you'll do best to choose one and do it well rather than trying to cram in two or three and having a very limited amount of time at each. Fortunately, Naples is a port of call on many Mediterranean itineraries so you probably will have an opportunity to see another of these destinations when you visit it again. In any case, I strongly recommend using the ship's excursion to whichever of the three destinations you decide to visit for the reasons that I stated in my earlier reply.

Finally, I hope that your cruise booking includes either a pre-cruise stay or a post-cruise stay in Rome. I have found the Crowne Plaza St. Peter's, one of the hotels where Celebrity will book you, to be a nice hotel situated in a basically residential neighborhood, where there are shops and restaurants that serve the local population within easy walking distance. This hotel also offers a complimentary shuttle to a convenient location right near the main attractions in the center of town and, if you stay there after your cruise, a complimentary shuttle to the airport timed for flights departing to North America. Thus, you won't need to pay for transfers to the airport if you book a post-cruise package and you book your flights on your own.

Have a great cruise!

Norm.
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Old March 6th, 2008, 09:34 AM
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Hello,
Are you going to Sicily as well?
In Sicily I suggest to visit Taormina and Etna a good private company can personalize your day out is http://www.sicilylimousineservice.com/sicily/index.htm
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