Originally Posted by You
What's the best way to get from the Naples Port to Pompeii and back, and the same for Livorno to Florence? We're up in the air whether to take do the Carnival tour or do it ourself if a train works. Any advice would be great!
When going any distance from your ship's port of call, I strongly recommend using the ship's tour rather than going on your own. If the ship's tour gets delayed by traffic or the road gets blocked by an accident or whatever, it's the ship's responsibility to get the affected passengers back aboard. The ship may delay sailing until the excursion returns or make a service call in another port to get the passengers back aboard. If neither option is possible, the cruise line bears the cost of transportation, lodging, and meals until the affected passengers rejoin the ship. If you go on your own and don't get back before the ship sails, OTOH, the ship won't wait for you. Rather, you have to pay the cost of transportation to the next port where you can rejoin the ship and your lodging and meals until you do so.
Having said that, most ships offer "shore excursions" with names like "Florence on Your Own" that basically consist of round trip bus tranportation between the pier and the center of the destiation city (Firenze, or Florence, in this example). Upon arrival in the center of the destination city, the guide provides a brief orientation and instruction as to where to meet for the return to the ship, then sets the participants loose. If you wish to explore the destination city on your own, this "shore excursion" will maximize the time that you can spend there because the transportation is seemless (there's no need to take a taxi from the pier to the train station to transfer to a train, etc.) and considerably less expensive than a taxi.