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Old July 8th, 2008, 11:30 AM
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Default Celebrity Galaxy - 8/22 out of Rome- Shore excursions or not

I hope there are lots of fun people sailing on that date. My husband and I are in our mid-40's and love to have a great time with all ages. We will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. We got married young!! and we are still young at heart. Let's hope we get a fun table. We enjoy great dining, fine wine, champagne on special occasions and great company. My husband and I are debating if we should book some excursions or go on our own. Does anyone have any suggestions? We are going to be on our own in Naples since we already visited Pompeii last year. We're thinking of going to the beach on our own in Mykonos. I don't beleive there's a whole lot to do besides shopping of course!!
Any feedback would be appreciated.

Gina in Sunny Florida
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Old July 9th, 2008, 12:47 PM
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what other ports will you be visiting?
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Old July 9th, 2008, 12:55 PM
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We are taking the 10 night Easter Mediterranean which includes the following ports: Messina, Athens, Mykonos, Kusadasi, Turkey; Rhodes,
Santorini, Naples. We are thinking of booking Taormina in Sicily, Athens,
and Turkey and the rest "on our own". Do you have any suggestions? Are you going to be on that cruise?
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Old July 10th, 2008, 06:51 PM
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Gina,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
My husband and I are debating if we should book some excursions or go on our own. Does anyone have any suggestions?
I strongly recommend taking a shore excursion in any port that you are visiting for the first time for several reasons.

>> 1. The tour guides do a very good job of explaining local customs and advising you of any likely problems so you can take appropriate precautions. This can spare you much trouble and embarrassment.

>> 2. Many of the major attractions in the Mediterranean ports of call tend to have very long (two to three hour) queues for general admission. If you try to visit the major attractions on your own, you probably will waste about half of your precious time ashore waiting in those queues. The shore excursions have reserved group times, so they bypass those queues completely.

>> 3. Many of the destinations are a considerable distance from the actual port. By way of example, Rome is over an hour from Civitavecchia, Firenze ("Florence") is about an hour and a half from Livrono, and Ephesus is about a half hour from Kusadasi. If you take a shore excursion to the destination and the excursion has difficulties getting back due to traffic, weather, or some other unforeseeable problem, the ship will take care of you -- usually by waiting until the delayed excursions return, but occasionally either by arranging to meet the excursions in another location or by arranging transportation to the next port of call, overnight accommodations ashore, and meals for the affected passengers. If you go to the same destination on your own and you encounter a similar problem you will be, quite literally, on your own -- you will have to arrange your own transportation to the next port of call and your own lodging and meals until the ship gets there. If the ship's port agent assists you in this regard, the associated charges will show up on your shipboard account.

If you really want to spend a whole day on your own in a destination that's a considerable distance from the port, the cruise line offers "... on Your Own" excursions that basically consist of transportation to and from the destination city. On these excursions, which do NOT include lunch, the "guide" gives a brief orientation and instructions as to where and when to meet to return to the ship upon arrival at the destination, then sets you free for the whole day. These excursions usually are your most seemless transportation from the pier to the main downtown area of the destination, and thus will maximize your free time in the destination city. Since they operate as official shore excursions, you also won't have to worry about weather, traffic, or other unforeseen circumstances that might delay your return.

Note, BTW, that most of the shore excursions are "full day" events that leave the ship between 8:00 and 8:30 in the morning and return to the ship right before dinner, with lunch at a local restaurant, transportation, and all admissions included in the price. Most of the shore excursions also provide some time on your own for shopping, independent sightseeing, or simply sitting in a sidewalk cafe and taking in the local scene, as you wish. Thus, they really do provide reasonable value in spite of the "sticker shock" that might have been your initial reaction to the prices.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
We are taking the 10 night Easter Mediterranean which includes the following ports: Messina, Athens, Mykonos, Kusadasi, Turkey; Rhodes,
Santorini, Naples. We are thinking of booking Taormina in Sicily, Athens,
and Turkey and the rest "on our own". Do you have any suggestions? Are you going to be on that cruise?
Okay, here goes...

>> In Athens, I found the tour of the Acropolis to be very good, and I have also heard very good reports about the canal boat trip to Corinth.

>> In Mykonos, Santorini, and [b]Rhodes[/i], the respective main towns by the port are great places to hang out. In Mykonos, the ship operates a shuttle from the pier to town. In Rhodes, you can walk right into town. In Santorini, take the cablecar up to the top of the hill. The walk is somewhat challenging because it shares the footpath with the donkeys. The donkey droppings make it quite slick, especially in the rain.

>> From Kusadasi, the walking tour of the excavated ruins of the Roman city of Ephesus is a "must." The walk, about one mile, is literally down hill all the way -- the entrance to the ruins is at the top of the hill and the exit is at the bottom -- so it's quite easy.

>> Naples is the gateway not only to Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius, but also to the Isle of Capri and to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast -- both of which are very worthwhile, but be sure to take the ship's excursion due to the transportation issues involved in both of these destinations.

I have not been to Messina, so I can't give you any recommendations there.

Have a great cruise!

Norm.
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Old July 14th, 2008, 10:49 AM
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Norm,
Great info!!!!
Do you think we should buy the tours directly from the cruise line or should we shop around???

Thanks

We're going to be taking exact same cruise at exact same time!
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Old July 14th, 2008, 01:01 PM
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Hi Gina,

My family and I did a combination of DIY and private tours when we went. Since I didn’t know what to do in the ports, I looked at what the ship offered then compared it to what a private driver/guide offered. And It was always half the cost. You just need to make sure that what you want to do is doable in the time you have. The drivers no how traffic can be in their cities and will keep you on track, as long as you don’t insist on staying too long at the site you’re visiting. Here’s what we did:

Messina - Visit Taormina, it's about 30 miles away which you can do on your own. It’s a good 15 min walk to the train station. If you don’t want to walk, you can catch a cab. It's also a nice train ride along the coast. Below is the link so you can get an idea of the times and fares.
http://www.italianrail.com/italy_railway_schedules.html

Athens – We hired a private driver since everyone in my group didn’t want to walk 25 min to the metro in the heat.

Rhodes – There’s an old town and new town w/in walking distance from the ship. You can visit the ruins, go to the beach, shop in old/new town. We Rented a car and drove around the island which is easy to do.

Mykonons – the city is walkable. But you will need transportation to the beaches, we didn’t see too many taxis, so take the bus. If you like greek ruins, take a ferry to Delos.

Kusadasi -
You can catch a cab/bus to Ephesus is about 45 minutes, but the price can vary. There’s a travel agent, Meander Travel just outside the port. They offer pretty good rates for a driver, guide, and entrance fees.

Turkey – 2 other guides to recommend in Turkey
www.toursinistanbul.com and www.leventsolmaz.com

Santorini – originally we were going to take the cable car, then the bus to OIA. Well there was a bus strike and taxis were scarce. We ended up renting a car, for $25 + $7 for insurance. Our cars were manual, I don’t know if they offered automatic. This option worked out great for us because we were able to go all over the island; we had lunch at Amoudi Bay, took great pics at Oia, shopped in Fira, visited a winery, and drove along the coast. We didn’t go to any beaches because the waters were too choppy.

Naples – Traffic is notorious here. If you don’t want to linger in Naples you can tour other places. You can visit the Blue grotto in Capri or just wonder around the island. Drive along the Amalfi coast to visit Sorrento, Positano and or Revello then cap it off with a visit to Pompeii or Herculano. You can also do Cinque Terre. We actually had a driver take us along the Amalfi Coast, stopped at Positano, Sorrento, and Revello. Don’t forget to try the limoncello. BTW, they call each other to let each other know how bad traffic is.
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Old July 14th, 2008, 07:30 PM
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thanks for all your wonderful feedbacks. I booked Athens, Taormina and Ephesus through Celebrity. I did not want to take any chances to wait on line for tickets. Norm, I did heed your advice. I don't think there will be a problem exploring Rhodes and Mykonos on our own. We have not decided about Santorini or Naples since we did Pompeii and Blue Grotto last year throught Perillo tours. I am counting days ...

Gina
Sunny South Florida
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Old July 14th, 2008, 08:05 PM
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Inna,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Norm,
Great info!!!!
Do you think we should buy the tours directly from the cruise line or should we shop around???

Thanks

We're going to be taking exact same cruise at exact same time!
I would use the ship's shore excursion program, especially in ports like Civitavecchia and Naples where the destinations are a distance away, for the reasons outlined in my earlier post regarding possible traffic, weather, or other complications in your return to the pier. I also think you will find the ship's shore excursions to be of consistently good quality, with clean motorcoaches and guides who speak English well. The cruise line has a lot more leverage with the operators to insist upon quality than you or I have. And when you look at what's included, the ship's excursions clearly are a fair value.

Norm.
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Old July 14th, 2008, 10:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoGoTrvl
Hi Gina,

My family and I did a combination of DIY and private tours when we went. Since I didn’t know what to do in the ports, I looked at what the ship offered then compared it to what a private driver/guide offered. And It was always half the cost. You just need to make sure that what you want to do is doable in the time you have. The drivers no how traffic can be in their cities and will keep you on track, as long as you don’t insist on staying too long at the site you’re visiting. Here’s what we did:

Messina - Visit Taormina, it's about 30 miles away which you can do on your own. It’s a good 15 min walk to the train station. If you don’t want to walk, you can catch a cab. It's also a nice train ride along the coast. Below is the link so you can get an idea of the times and fares.
http://www.italianrail.com/italy_railway_schedules.html

Athens – We hired a private driver since everyone in my group didn’t want to walk 25 min to the metro in the heat.

Rhodes – There’s an old town and new town w/in walking distance from the ship. You can visit the ruins, go to the beach, shop in old/new town. We Rented a car and drove around the island which is easy to do.

Mykonons – the city is walkable. But you will need transportation to the beaches, we didn’t see too many taxis, so take the bus. If you like greek ruins, take a ferry to Delos.

Kusadasi -
You can catch a cab/bus to Ephesus is about 45 minutes, but the price can vary. There’s a travel agent, Meander Travel just outside the port. They offer pretty good rates for a driver, guide, and entrance fees.

Turkey – 2 other guides to recommend in Turkey
www.toursinistanbul.com and www.leventsolmaz.com

Santorini – originally we were going to take the cable car, then the bus to OIA. Well there was a bus strike and taxis were scarce. We ended up renting a car, for $25 + $7 for insurance. Our cars were manual, I don’t know if they offered automatic. This option worked out great for us because we were able to go all over the island; we had lunch at Amoudi Bay, took great pics at Oia, shopped in Fira, visited a winery, and drove along the coast. We didn’t go to any beaches because the waters were too choppy.

Naples – Traffic is notorious here. If you don’t want to linger in Naples you can tour other places. You can visit the Blue grotto in Capri or just wonder around the island. Drive along the Amalfi coast to visit Sorrento, Positano and or Revello then cap it off with a visit to Pompeii or Herculano. You can also do Cinque Terre. We actually had a driver take us along the Amalfi Coast, stopped at Positano, Sorrento, and Revello. Don’t forget to try the limoncello. BTW, they call each other to let each other know how bad traffic is.
GOGoTrvl;

Wonderful and informative post. We also book private tours when cruising.
The tours offered by ships are usually twice as much as the private tours that we have taken. You also have much more flexibility when you book tours on your own and you don't feel like you are being herded around like cattle. The cruise lines take a huge cut from the local tour operators and that is reflected in the price that you pay for cruise tours.

Debra
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Old July 15th, 2008, 10:09 AM
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Great information! I would be more incline to take private tours if we were a group of 6 -8 people. Although my husband and I do a lot of fun things together, I think organizing a tour with a group of people would be a lot more fun and cost-effective. I do realize the ships's excursions are a lot more money, but it does give me some peace of mind knowing the ship is fully responsible should we be delayed. Last year my parents took us and our children to Italy on Perillo Tours. It was very hectic and sometimes boring having to follow the tour guide every step of the way! but I must admit some of it was very informative! Other times I didnt listen because of my poor attention span. I wouldn't mind going on a private tour if I knew there were other people interested. I do realize the ship's excursions is a lot more money. I can remember last year we went on a gondola ride in Venice for about E60 euros, while other travelers went on their own and paid less than half the price we paid. I did not want to wait on line for tickets as per Norm, that is one reason that prompted me to book with the cruiseline. I love this message board! Keep your posts coming!

Gina
Sunny South Florida
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Old August 1st, 2008, 02:54 PM
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Default Naples to Capri

How far is it from where the Galaxy docks in Naples to the ferry terminal for Capri? Was in Naples last year and the ferry to Capri is near the terminal. do the cruise ships come into the terminal? We have a group of 6 and the cruise line excursions are expensive for the "On Your OWN" I have been to Capri and don't think we need a guide to show us around. what do you think?
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Old August 1st, 2008, 04:56 PM
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I understand the distance is about 5 - 10 minutes walk. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
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Old August 1st, 2008, 05:38 PM
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Default Re: Naples to Capri

turkeygrind,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
How far is it from where the Galaxy docks in Naples to the ferry terminal for Capri? Was in Naples last year and the ferry to Capri is near the terminal. do the cruise ships come into the terminal? We have a group of 6 and the cruise line excursions are expensive for the "On Your OWN" I have been to Capri and don't think we need a guide to show us around. what do you think?
When I took the shore excursion to Capri during a cruise aboard MV Grand Princess in 1999, we walked (which took about five minutes). Of course, it probably depends upon where the ship actually docks.

But if you want to go to Capri, I strongly recommend taking one of the ship's shore excursions. There's always a possibility that some set of circumstances could cause the ferries to stop running for long enough to cause you to miss the ship or that the ferry on which you plan to return could sell out, especially if other ships are also in port. If you go with the ship's shore excursion, the ship will make other arrangements -- possibly drop anchor off Capri on the way out of Naples and dispatch a tender to pick you up, for example -- to get you back aboard. If you go on your own and encounter the same problem, you'll pay your own way to the next port of call.

Norm.
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Old August 3rd, 2008, 07:42 PM
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Hi, we are from Port Orange, Fl, which is near Daytona Beach. We are on the Galaxy sailing 8/22 and looking for people to do some private tours.
Are you still looking for people to tour with? We have booked a great Amalfi tour and another tour in Ephesus and would like to share these excursions.
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Old August 4th, 2008, 09:51 PM
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Hi Daytonams,

We have already booked 3 excursions through Celebrity; Athens, Taormina & Ephesus. We are still undecided about Naples/Capri. We visited Capri last year and loved it so much my husband wants to go back again. I would love to do the Amalfi Coast. At this point we will make a decision while on board. We will be happy to meet you on the ship and introduce ourselves.

Happy Sailing!

Gina
Sunny South Florida
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Old August 4th, 2008, 10:19 PM
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There is another web site for cruisers. It has info about a connection party on the Galaxy. You can go to the web site and sign up and meet lots of people.
https://secure.celebritycruises.com/...critic/home.do

also, here is some info on our Amalfi tour as reported by the driver:
We would drive directly to the famous Amalfi Coast.
On the way you would have the possibility to admire the view
over Sorrento.
Then we would continue to Positano(stop with free time-it's
really beautiful)and after
this we would go to Amalfi( free time there).After Amalfi we
would drive to Ravello where we would have also the
possibility to take a really good lunch at a nice Restaurant
with a beautiful Terrace overlooking the Coast( typical meal
from the amalfi coast).
After visited Ravello we would turn to Naples Port about
05.00pm.
Naturally we can make a lot of photo-stop along the Amalfi
Coast and me or the driver will not only be your driver,
but also your
guide during the trip.It would also not be a problem to make
the trip a little flexible if you want to stay a little more
somewhere.
The vehicle would be a new Mercedes with air conditioning
and a luxury furnishing.
The best offer I can make you for a day trip like this for
2people is
300.00 euro to pay cash to the driver/me.
360.00euro for 4people
420.00euro for 6people
Entrances, Lunch, Tipps or similar are not includet.
Here is his web site: www.sorrentotopcar.com His vehicles are all air conditioned Mercedes.
A private tour is much better than being herded onto a bus with 30 or more other people.
My email address is tdelmont@bellsouth.net
Looking forward to meeting you on board.
Trudy and Tony Delmonte
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Old August 19th, 2008, 11:34 AM
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Gina,

Congrats. on your 25th. anniversary. I too will be on this cruise with two friends. We are doing two private excursions, a couple on our own, and one or 2 from the ship. I've been to some of these places before,whereas my friends have not so I have a little feeling about shore excursions. In almost all cases if you don't take a ship excursion you can find locals on the pier (taxi's tour companies) that will offer trips/tours. Just make sure they get you back to the ship on time and you feel good about them. Hope to see you on the ship.

Harold
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Old August 19th, 2008, 11:53 AM
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Hi Harold - hope to see you on the ship as well! we are very much looking forward to this cruise.

Gina from not so sunny today!
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Old August 20th, 2008, 02:49 AM
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Gina,

I leave Wed. evening to begin the adventure. Our small group of 4 will try and meet at 5pm in the Sky Bar (if weather is good) or at Michael's Club. this might be a good time to meet. My e-mail is vicekid2@earthlink.net.
Bon Voyage.

Harold

P.S. I think Fay will be a non factor for your flight out. However, the way she is going back and forth, she might make a big, slow U-turn again and come visiting Labor Day. (Just kidding).
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Old August 20th, 2008, 07:07 AM
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We're getting ready to leave for the airport. I have butterflies in my stomach. We'll try to meet you at that time. Looking forward to a terrific vacation on the Celebrity. Our e-mail is pmzarcadoolas@bellsouth.net.

Gina & Peter
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