This is a review of the things we did at each of the ports on our May 12th sailing on the Grandeur of the Seas and the Millennium may 19th
First Villefranche---The train runs fairly regularly there. It is a short walk across town toward the beach to the stairs. It will take you to all the towns along the Cote d'azure. We used trains to take us to Cannes and Nice. Once in these towns it is fairly easy to get around by foot. You must have either coins or a european credit card though. The automated machine for train tickets doesn't like american credit cards. It cost about 148 francs for two to Cannes or about 36 to Nice. You may also go to Monte Carlo from this station.
Florence--- There is a train station across town in Livorno(10 dollar taxi ride)and you can be in Florence in 1 hour. Cost is about 9$ or 1800 lire. Toured all the major sights and the best part was going at our own pace. All major sights are very close to each other. Got back to the ship with an hour to spare. One note about train travel in Italy. It is incredibly easy. After reading on these cruise boards I was quite apprehensive about using the trains. But all the worry was for nothing. I believe all the naysayers about using the trains work for the tours that contract to the cruise ships. After all 9$ compared to being bussed by the cruiseline for 75$. You decide.
Rome-----Take the shuttle into Civitavecchia there will be a port shuttle that will take you to the gates of the port then you walk about 3 blocks south to the train station. Get a scedule of the trains at the FS website(type FS into your favorite search engine) for the times you will be there. It costs 13,000 lire each and is good for the metro and bus system in Rome.
Be sure to validate it before you get on the train both ways. If you are lucky enough to get an express train there is a small additional charge of about 5600 lire for two. There is a station at San pietro that is 3 blocks from the Vatican (very convenient). Or you can get off at Rome Termini and take the metro to the Colloseum and Forums. Contrary to what I had read before our trip there were no lines at the Vatican. The museum entrance is located quite far from St Peters though. It is very easy to get the Metro from Rome Termini station. You can get very close to all the major attractions from the metro stations. We also walked a lot.
Naples--- Just as you get off the ship walk toward town then look to your left and you will see where the hydrofoils are docked. You will also see the Billeteria (tickets) offices. Look for the schedule for the next Hydrofoil at all of the offices. There are about 3 companies that offer service. Don't buy a round trip ticket or you will have to take that company back to Naples. It cost about 19000 lire to Capri and about 22000 back to Naples. Once in Capri there is an abundance of open air taxis or if you wish there is a special tourist ticket for the funicular (13,000 lire)that also gives you unlimited rides on the bus system. We did this and boy, was it an experience. We took a bus to Anacapri which was much less crowded and then walked to the Blue grotto. I highly recommend the Blue Grotto as it was beautiful. Then we caught a bus back to Anacapri and then to Capri to a fine lunch at Aurora. A fine and inexpensive restaurant that was recommended by my travel guide. The pizza was to die for. Also try a lemon granita fron a street vendor. On our first time there we shared a tour with a couple we met on the internet. The tour was booked through Autoeurope. Our driver, Luigi, took us to pompeii where we hired a guide for 2 hours(90$)he was fantastic and worth the cost. We also went to Donadio Cameo factory. Make sure to get there before or after the busses from the ships as it got very crowded. We then drove to Sorrento and then to the Amalfi coast. I highly recommend doing this. It was one of the most beautiful and scarey drives I have ever been on. We then went to a nice restaurant for an amazing meal. Tempe de vino. The view while we ate was amazing. To hire the van/guide it cost 400$ but split 4 ways it was very cheap.
Malta--- The Grandeur got in 2.5 hours late so we had to really rush to see things. Grabbed a taxi for 3 hours for about 50$ for 5 people. No the taxis were made for only 4. But at least it gives you an idea. Items in Malta are incredibly inexpensive. We thought the prices marked on things were marked wrong. The glass works in the handicrafts village were priced about 5 times lower than other ports. Gold and silver jewelry is a steal here also. We also saw the Medina and the Church of the Miracle.
Venice---- The ship will have a shuttle here to take you into town and drops you by St Marks Square. The ship tried to charge for this shuttle but there was a revolt and they thought better of it. In Venice just get lost or take the #1 water bus to see the legnth of the grand canal. Just walk 100 meters off St marks to get reasonably priced food. Our friends bought coffe and croissants for 4 in St Marks and it cost 50$ Venice is also a must at night.
Katakolon---- We originally were going to hire a taxi to take us to Olympia but got caught up in shopping,eating, and drinking wine at one of the many nice dockside restaurants. A very relaxing day.
Pireaus---Hired a taxi through the internet for the day for 90$. The taxi driver was named Panos (email@example.com). He was fantastic. We got a real flavor of greece from him and saw all the sights in Athens. He also took us to a fabulous restaurant for the freshest fish and best wine we had ever tasted. The taxi fit 4 people. I would suggest doing the Acropolis later in the afternoon because all the ships tours seemed to be there at the same time we were.
Kusadasi----Arranged for a tour for 6 people(could have held 10) in an air conditioned van that took us to The House Of the Virgis Mary and to Ephesus. The tour was booked through Ephesus tours and cost 150 for the van and guide for 4 hours. And we did it at our own pace. Highly recommend this as we saw all the huge groups from the ship following their guides and they did not look happy as we were. The bazaar there is quite less hectic than the one in Istanbul. Good prices for leather jackets. We bought 2 at Bennyís. Be prepared to haggle your tail off. Ask for Antelope(best quality) and donít pay more than 110-120$
Istanbul----We were with a private tour(ephesus tours). There was a van that would have fit 12 people but we had only 8. It cost 160 for 6 hours with guide. His name was Zia and spoke in flawless english. We learned a lot. The day we disembarked we hired a guide for the 2 days we were there. If you want a real tour of Istanbul I highly recommend this guide. Adnan Duvenci (firstname.lastname@example.org) http://go.to/turkishguide
is his website. However there was a lot of walking and we only used public transportation and a taxi for long distances. We did the tourist sights but also saw many sights that had not a tourist within meters. We even took a boat ride up the Bosphorus for 3$ when the ship was charging 62$ Istanbul was our favorite tour of the whole trip. I wish I could put into words how wonderful it was. And how cheap it was. Istanbul is incredibly inexpensive. A taxi ride across town cost only 2$. Dinner for 3 at a nice locals restaurant with 3 courses and wine cost 27,000,000 turkish lire. 1,150,000 turkisks lire equal 1 dollar. I VERY HIGHLY recommend him if you want to see the real Istanbul not just the tourist sights.
Well that is all for now. If you have any questions feel free to write back