We are going on the RCL's Legend of the Seas (Best of the Meditteranean) in October. Goes to Venice, Rome, Livorno, Messina, etc. I was hoping to get some advice on the shore excursions ...
My fiancee is disabled. I was looking over the materials from RCL and I believe that the shore excursions won't be a problem as far as distance/steps etc. - he doesn't have a problem there. The only problem is that b/c of his disability he has to walk slower than most people.
Has anyone had any experience with RCL's shore excursions in Rome, Venice, Florence, etc.? We really want to take some of the tours (of course the ones marked strenuous look the best to us!), but we don't want to annoy people by walking slowly or be in an awkward situation.
Any advice would be appreciated! (Has anyone been on this cruise and can give us recommendations as far as which tours to take or avoid? We're blowing our budget on this trip, so we want to choose wisely!)
Just returned from Princess Med. cruise. I also have problems walking. We opted for half day tours, also the morning ones, as we realized we could not possibly see everything and didn't want to kill ourselves. Also dreadfully hot, high 90's and 100% humidity. Enjoyed ship in afternoons. Venice is the real killer. It is so beautiful, with no automobiles and all the boat traffic of every type, BUT for every one of those picturesque little canals, there is a picturesque little bridge that requires 10 to 20 steps up and same number down. I had swelling in ankles and feet and they looked like a 3rd degree sunburn; went to ship Dr. and waitig room was full of others with same problem. Some was sunburn (I wore capri pants) but swelling and heat caused capiliaries in legs to burst. Took a week for it to clear up. Florence is all walking - no vehicles in town center; also lines very long. Pompei also difficult walking but worth it. Only made it half way up to Acropolis, but later heard it was no more difficult than Pompei. TAKE BRIMMED HAT!!!! Pisa is one of the most pleasant surprises -- more impressive than you expect from pictures and especially the adjoining cathedral and bapistry bldgs. you don't hear about.
I recently cruised on RCL's Grandeur of the Seas on May 19. I did quite a bit of research trying to find private tour guides at our ports (Villefranche, Livorno, Pisa, Naples, Malta). My husband is a diabetic with foot problems and has trouble walking long distances.
I can tell you that I was thrilled that we booked private tours. In just about every instance it was cheaper than RCL's tours, and we had a private tour guide and car. We were able to get much closer to the sites than a tour bus could - it cut the walking way down. I heard many people complaining over dinner about having trouble getting up and down from bus and amount of walking. So consider a private tour guide - you won't regret it.
On most tours that entail "moderate" walking, the guides do move along at a moderate clip. It seems that there are inevitably a few people who can't keep up. When the guide stops to explain something, they usually catch up to the group at the end of the explanation. This really is not fair either to the guide or to the other participants in such a tour, and I also doubt that you and your fiance really would enjoy such an experience.
In most European ports, Princess offers tours that have minimal walking and very few steps -- and Royal Caribbean International probably offers similar tours. These tours would be ideal for somebody in your circumstances. They often have names such as "Easy Tour of..." or "Leisurely Tour of..." (fill in the name of the city). These tours attempt to capture as much as possible within the constaints of those to whom they are geared. In Athens, for example, no vehicles are allowed on the Acropolis itself so the "Leisurely Tour" drives to a viewpoint on an adjacent hill where you can see the Acropolis clearly while the guide explains what you are seeing -- thus sparing the difficulty of walking up a long flight of stairs to reach the top of the acropolis. You and your fiance probably would gain a lot more enjoyment from such tours than from a "normal" tour on which you can't keep up with the group and thus miss most of the explanations.
I have never attempted to book local tours on my own, so I have no idea what private tour operators might offer such a tour or how much they might charge or how reputable they might be.
On my only visit to Naples (aboard MV Grand Princess in October of 1999), I took the tour to Capri from the ship and fell in love with a jewel of an island where life seems to flow at a slower and more carefree pace. If you never have visited Capri and Anacapri, I can only tell you that the full day tour, which includes lunch and time for shopping in the town of Capri, is well worth your while.
As to a tour of the Amalfi Coast, I would go with the tour offered by the ship. If I remember correctly, there usually is one. There are several advantages to taking a tour offered by the ship rather than trying to book a tour on your own.
>> 1. Tours arranged by the ship leave directly from the pier. If you book a tour on your own, you are responsible for your own transportation to and from the tour's meeting and return point. Depending upon the arrangements in each port, taxi fares to get to and from the tour might cost considerably more than any difference in fares.
>> 2. The major cruise lines do investigate local tour operators in each port of call, so you can be sure that the operators selected by the cruise lines are reputable. They will provide safe, clean, and comfortable transportation, knowledgeable guides who are reasonably fluent in English, etc. Other operators might not be so reputable -- and it's often difficult to find out for sure in advance.
>> 3. The cruise ships monitor their tour groups. If any tour group is late returning due to traffic, breakdown, or any other unforeseen circumstance, the ship will await its return or otherwise arrange to return the affected passengers to the ship. If you arrange a tour on your own, the ship won't wait for you.
My wife and I and another couple are going to the Med for a 10 day cruise on the golden princess. Venice to Barcelona, Naples, Monte Carlo,Rome Athens Valletta. I read your remarks about tour guides (private) can you tell me how you found them and the costs so we can have an idea.
we used Gerardo at walkamalfi@hotmailcom when we visited Ravello (we actually got talking to him in a restaurant we were taken to & he took us on a walking tour to the Torre dello Ziro high above Amalfi) Check out WWW.ristorantesangiovanni.com
it has a fantastic view across to Ravello.
We had a private guide in the Naples port as well as Rome and Athens. Mario, the guide in Naples was absolutely wonderful. The website is www.sorrentolimo.com. I think it cost around 350 euros last September. He even took us to his own farm/vineyard in Amalfi where we met his family. Then he took us to Pompeii which is an absolute must.
In Rome we used www.maxleotta.com. We really loved Rome and got to see so much. I think that tour cost was 450 euros for the two of us. If you have 4, it cost 500 euros.
In Athens we used George the Famous Taxi Driver. Actually, we had Thomas as a guide and he was great too. We went to the Temple of Poisedon first and then back to Athens for the usual and to the Placa for lunch and shopping. His site is email@example.com. We paid $280 for a full day. He will also go by the hour. Last year it was $28/hour and he took US cash.
Hope this helps. These prices were for just the 2 of us. They go down if you wish to share your tour with others.
I hope you have as great a time as we did and that it's a little cooler. 103 degrees at the Acropolis is brutal.
We're doing the Baltic this year. WWatch us freeze.
I will throw in my 2 cents. For Naples/Sorrento/Pompeii/Amafia Coast my group has found a highly recommended and very reasonable (pricewise) private driver/tour guide.
His name is Marcello Marseca. His website is www.seesorrento.com. Admittedly, we have not gone yet, but I have corresponded with him several times and read highly complementry reports on the message boards. I am very confident my group is in for a great experience.
Our group used Gerardo of walkamalfi for our tour of Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast.We visited Ravello,Positano,Amalfi and spent over 2 hours at Pompeii. We have used ships tours in the past,but the Amalfi Coast is not the place to be on a tour bus.
You may find that taking private tours with just the 2 of you or perhaps another couple ( to share the cost) will work out much better for you. Besides the fact that you will not have to worry about "the group" you will see more, at your own pace. Either hire them online in advance or grab a taxi at the pier..
Do any of the Amalfi tour guides provide a guided tour of Pompeii, or do you have to hire a "local" one to walk you through the ruins? If so, is this included in the price of your full-day tour, or is it an additional fee you pay when you arrive at Pompeii?
Only authorised archaeological guides are supposed to operate within the confines of Pompeii and most private drivers will have contacts in one of the three main Pompeii guide companies. You will find authorised guides outside Pompeii( as well as many unauthorised ones !) who will work for ASSO,CAST or GATA. DriveAmalfi have contacts at Pompeii that you might wish to use and you can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org