I think I e-mailed you back from my e-mail mailbox, but here's the info since I just saw the post requesting info.
We were thrilled with both of our guides. They were friendly, had great manners, and were very knowledgeable about the areas we visited. Both of them have a lot of experience as guides. Jean Marc of Dream Tours (http://www.dream-tours.com/) is French and has an Italian wife, so he speaks several languages fluently. The vans that they used are very comfortable and can easily seat 8 passengers. We had a 6'1" man and a 6'4" inch man in the vans with no problems.
In the French Riviera, you probably read about our itinerary. We chose that because we had already been to Monte Carlo. St. Paul de Vence is to die for. It's just so great to be able to customize your tour. I just can't imagine that there is anything about that region that Jean Marc doesn't know. I'm sure he would be glad to show you Monte Carlo. If you sail late in the evening, you can also consider having Jean Marc leave you at the end of your tour in Monte Carlo with a brief orientation so that you can see on your own and use the tour time to go further into the field.
Max at Papillon (http://www.papillonservice.com/) is very gregarious and entertaining. Our ship was and hour and a half late getting into port, and he was just "no problem" at all about the delay. He was so good and we were having such a good time in San Gimignano, we extended for a couple of hours. He did not charge us extra for that--he's just a great guy--but we decided that since we had held him for 1/5 longer than the 10 hours we originally agreed on, we would divide our tour cost by 5 and then split that up. We sailed at 11:00 p.m., so it was great for us to have the option to pay a little more and stay a little longer as opposed to going back to the ship. It was a long day for him, and he could not have been nicer. Siena was wonderful. We went to the civic museum there (it was about 7 euros each and was not included in the tour cost), as Max recommended, saw the main squares, and went into the cathedral, which is spectacular. In San Gimignano, we ate and walked around the village, which is a UNESCO world heritage site, and shopped. It was enchanting. I really enjoyed seeing the Tuscany countryside too on some of the back roads. Max has raced cars and done all kinds of things, and he has a lot of great stories.
Personally, I would ask for these guides again since we enjoyed them both so much. But I'm sure the other guides at both companies would probably also be good.
The only thing I can say about both experiences is that I wish we could do it all again! It was so great, and we're very happy with the experience that we had.
Just back from Millie. It was great. Very hot!! We usually do most ports ourselves, but did opt for a few excursions -- AC bus was a plus. The only ports that we booked with ship were Rome (On Your Own - bus to and from Vatican) Did that only because we were thre on a holiday and the train service was not the usual. Pompeii - it was very hot and we wanted the AC bus ride. Tour was excellent. Guide was superb. Athens and the acropolis. Again it was 100F and we wanted the AC bus. Tour was okay. In all the other places, we did our own thing. Celebrity provides free shuttles in most ports to a location where you can hook up with public transportation. In Venice there is water taxi to San Marco. We made a huge mistake and had purchased a Venicecard in advance. DO NOT BUY THE VENICECARD. Admissions and transportation are less than the cost of the card. And most places that are supposed to honor it--don't!
Robie, can you tell me a bit more about Rome on your Own. I read somewhere that they picked you up at 4. What time did they drop you off. Did you feel that you had enough time? (Well, obviously not enough..but sufficient for one day
We are going on 10/24 Millenium -14 nights. Looking for people to (1) rent a car in Genoa and go to Portofina; (2) driver or rent a car for Tuscany; also other port options. All do it on your own. Look forward to hearing from you. Michael & Sharon.
We got dropped off at about 9:30. We visited St. Peter's early. The Vatican museums were closed - holiday. We walked everywhere. We had plenty of time to see most of the sights and have a nice lunch. WE took a cab back to the Vatican and even waited about an hour before we got the bus. We took the bus because it was a holiday. On a normal day, I'd take the Train. Took the train from Livorno to Florence. It cost a lot less than the ship's tour.
We are booked on Windsurf Barcelona to Rome Sept. 19 - Oct. 3. Just wondering if it is better to book the shore excursions through the cruiseline or "do it yourself". I have enjoyed reading all the tips already, but only one indicated that it might be cheaper to do these things on your own. There are six in our party.
We are cruising July 22, 2005 and are using Spiros -- his website is www.athenstaxi.net. I read over ten emails about how wonderful he is. Email him and tell him what you want to tour and he will tell you the costs. His website is a blast!
We are going to be in Athnes this summer-on the Galaxy. Did you enjoy your tour? Was it as inclusive as the ship's? If you did enjoy...please E mail me the name od the driver because I would love to contact him It is for 2 people my husband and I have never been to Athens bwfore!
Villefranche: a nice port you could spend the day just there, But if you want to see Monte Carlo, Monaco etc take the ship trip
Rome: Docking in Civitavecchia you are 40 odd miles from Rome. Taxis on the dock for say 4 or 5 people will give you a personal tour, but expensive. Or you can get a train direct from port to Rome. But on non organised tours the Q's at the main attractions can be in some cases over 1 hour in line. The port itself is nothing
Florence: Take a ship tour with a guide who can explain this fantastic city properly, again a good distance from dock to city
Naples: S**t hole of a place, go to Sorrento or Capri. You can do this yourself, ferries leave every half hour from right beside the docking area
Athens: If you want to see and get into the best bits, go for the organised tour
Santorini: Walk off ship its there, no tour needed
Mykonos: As above
Dubrovnik: Take the courtesy bus into town, walk around and please do the City Wall walk, its stunning. Again a DIY stop
Venice: As said above you can do this yourself, plent of water buses, taxis etc.
Jem, if you have never been in Europe before, that is a stunning cruise and you are going to love it. I've done it more times than I care to remember and it is always special
Hello, I am on the same cruise that leaves June 8-20, I also have the same question, in addition we were looking for info on accomadations in Barcelona and Venice as we want to arrive early and stay a few additional days. Are B& B or INNs popular?? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Richard: Thank you so much for this helpful report of your Rome experience. Its just what we are looking for and will contact your driver. We are going to Rome on the Millie as part of the Nov 18 trans-atlantic. Thanks again
Thank you DavidB for helping quell my fears about the planning I have done for my family's cruise.
I am traveling June 8th on the Millie with my senior parents and my sister who is a quadreplegic. I searched and search for info until I think I have planned a shore list that takes into account accessibility, our interests, and cost. If I may run it by you for your opinion.
Villefranche - no tour, will meander around town.
Livorno - rent a car, drive into florence where we will meet up with a guide for a walking tour. Then drive back to port stopping at Pisa.
Civitavecchia - using Pappillion Services for a pick up at port 9:00am, tour of Rome, back to port by 5:00pm. Sounds nice but only 6 hours for Rome feels like an insult.
Naples - This is the only one I missed on according to your tips. No tour, just walking around and eating pizza
Athens - George at Spiros Taxi connected me with a guide with 17 passenger van for just my family's use for a 9 hour tour of Athens & Sounion with lunch by the seaside.
Santorini - no tour but I did find out that the vernicular is unaccessible for my sister, so the cruiseline is taking our tender around to a different port where we will then get a 10 minute taxi ride into town.
Mykonos - No tour, just admiring the view
Dubrovnik - Walking around the old town
Venice - private guide for walking and boat tour
I understand that most people don't notice the small things that can be a problem with a person in a wheelchair but if you have any insights, they would be greatly appreciated.
Also, a note to Brian, aka Brunswick cruiser: I assume that we are on the same ship since our cruise dates are the same . Are you from Brunswick, GA? I and my family live in Jax. See you onboard. Just look for the 40 yo fat guy next to the blond in the wheelchair :-) and come up and say hi!
We will be going on the Splendor of the Seas RCCL Barcelona, France, Rome cruise in August 2005. What private shore excursions did you take? Did you enjoy them? Any advice? I would like to be able to do some walking and not spend all day on a bus.
My wife and I are interested in East Mediterranean cruise in September for 12 to 15 days. We have been to Venice, Rome and Florence before. Would appreciate if any one would let us know the best cruise liner. I have researched Princess cruises and Cunard liners. No cabins available in Grand Princess, the one on 11 September. Has any one travelled on QE2? We are vegetarians and we had problems with Royal Caribbean on Alaska tour last summer. Any suggestions would be most welcome.