I have a question to add to the one above. We are going on the same itinerary, one week before. I know it probably won't be like the Caribbean, where there are countless people waiting to take you on tours, but will there be something to that effect? Or do we have to book tours from home?
Hi Jem. You will have to let me know what you would like see or where you would like to go at each port and I will try to help you. A lot of people have given me advice on how to get to places at each destination. I have visited Dubrovnik and it can be done easily on your own. Mykonos catch a shuttle bus into the town or if you walk it takes about 30 to 40 mins. but it is a very narrow road with no foot path. If you walk you need to be careful. Michelle.
We took Princess Golden Istanbul to Barcelona (plus 6 day Land Tour to London, Paris and The French Countryside). I learned so much that helped my trip from reading the posts before I left, that I want to pass on the favor. If you are booked on this cruise, you are in for trip of a lifetime!!!!!!
In Istanbul, you will wake up with Mosques outside your window!! My husband and I traveled with our 16-year-old son, and our travel agent got us a last minute upgrade to a mini suite-- D424. We loved the ship and our room, and lived on the balcony, even though it is true, that everyone from above can see you. We got used to it.
ROOM SERVICE. If you are in a mini suite, you can order room service from the restaurant menu, but they keep this quite. You have to know about it, and say “Hello, I’d like to order from the Restaurant Menu”. To know what to order, get a copy of the room service menu or have the room service person read it to you. The food from the restaurant menu was great, but the food from the regular room service menu-- that they tell you about in the maroon book-- is sometimes inedible. Cold fries, dry cake, bad sandwiches. Order a lot, so that if one thing is bad, you have choices.
It was HOT, so be prepared for bringing water to every port. We spent a lot of money on incidentals on our last cruise, so we went on this one determined not to get nickel and dimed, and we spent much less than we expected--a nice surprise. You can buy bottled water from the ship every day, or you can bring your own water bottle and fill it up. We bought three 99 cent plastic bottles of water before we left, and emptied them to pack them. It worked great. And we saved much $. A word on the tap water on the Golden. It is VILE. I only met a couple of people who could drink it. The water in the Horizon Court is bottled water so you can fill up bottles there. Or you can buy a bottle in your room for about $3 each. ($3 for 3 people for 12 days is $108! It adds up)
Coffee is bad if you are a “coffee snob”, so bring a small coffee pot, (it will plug into the ship outlet with no converter or plug extras). Espresso is free after dinner, so you can get your fix there, too.
Washer and Dryer are great. $1.00 per wash and 50 cents per dry. 50 cents for soap. Bring your own Bounce sheets (they act as great smell fresheners in the suitcases).. We used the laundry room 2 times and it was a lifesaver, even though we thought we had packed enough clothes. Iron and ironing board are free.
THE PORTS: I called Princess before the trip to see which ports you really need to get a tour from, and which you can walk to. They weren’t sure.
ISTANBUL: The dock is 4 miles from city center. You need a taxi or a tour. For touring we used a very reputable local tour operator called Ephesus Tours ( firstname.lastname@example.org ). They aranged us an extremely knowledgeable guide and a very polite driver. We had our own Mercedes Van for our party of 12 pax. For the 12 of us we paid $260 for a 8 hours tour. Which was the best tour we ever had.
KUSADASI: You can walk off the ship to the town. You need a taxi or tour for Ephesus, which is a few miles away. We again used Ephesus Tours. Highly satisfied from their services for this port too..
ATHENS: You need a tour or a taxi.
VENICE: You can walk right off the boat to the shore (or get the free water taxi to the shore if the boat has to park farther away.) Our boat docked right into Venice. It was the highlight of the cruise for us. My husband took 7 roles of us just coming in to Venice!!!!
NAPLES: We dock 3/4 mile from the city center. You could walk or taxi to Naples, but need a tour to Pompeii, or other places.
LIVORNO: Princess has a shuttle bus for $4 each way to the city center, 2 miles away. Tour or other transport needed to Florence and Pisa.
MONTE CARLO: You can walk up to the city and the Casino. (The casino is the building with the green roof--use the elevator behind the souvenir shop to get to it.)
BARCELONA: Need taxi or tour.
The day tours were the highlight of our trip. We booked online at princess.com ahead, so the tickets were waiting for us in our stateroom. No hassles, and no worries about them selling out, which they can do quickly. We took tours in all cities except Monte Carlo, and were glad we did. The only city that we could have had as good a time without paying for the tour was VENICE, where you can walk right up to St. Mark’s Square and Gondola rides. We didn’t need a tour for that. For tours, pick what sounds good to you, and you will have a great time.
Saint Mark’s Square alert: Our tour guide warned us that if you sit at the outdoor cafes, you pay extra for music. We were hot and figured cokes couldn’t be that much. So we ordered 4 cokes for the three of us, and the bill was $34.00!!!!!!!!! ($6 each for the cokes and about $4 each for the music surcharge!) In Venice, the shops are behind the bell tower in St Mark’s Square. It was great, but a maze, and we actually used my husband’s compass to find our way out!
$$$$$$$The dollar is surprisingly strong. You can buy $5 shirt from Istanbul to Barcelona. The souvenir I like best is a black classy bag that you can find in most ports for $5.
OTHER HELPFUL HINTS:
TENNIS SHOES. I am NOT a tennis shoe person, unless I am exercising. I shuddered at the thought of walking around Europe in tennis shoes, but I bought some, and am SO glad I did. The Acropolis, for example is lots of steps on slippery marble. (I saw lots of cute- sandal-wearers with band-aids.)
PHONECALLS HOME : It is easy from your stateroom and is $5 a minute. (Watch out, 58 seconds is $5 and 62 seconds is counted as 2 minutes $10.)
CLOTHES: 3 Formal, which is what you would wear to a fancy New Year’s Eve party, and the “smart casual” which is what you would normally wear to a nice restaurant.
LUGGAGE: Put a florescent color on all of your bags (we used bright pink plastic tape on the handles) and you will be so much less stressed at baggage claim. We talked to a couple people who’s luggage was lost by the airlines, so bring something to wear in your carry on bag just in case. (Though they got reunited w/ luggage soon.)
$$$CHANGING: There is a state-of-the-art money changer on the GOLDEN at the Purser’s desk. Just put in $ and it will give you the currency for the next port. Easy and hassle-free.
PICTURES: You can walk around to the various picture taking areas and get your picture taken more than once so you can choose the best ones!
Even with all of the WONDERFUL ports, the view of the moonlight shimmering on the sea from our balcony was the most beautiful sight I have ever seen.
If you need any other info please do not hesitate to email me at Mka1881@hotmail.com
Hope this helps!!!!!!!!!!
We sailed on the Millie in June this year. We had details sent to our rooms each evening prior to docking telling us what form of transport could be used adn how to get around our port of call. They aso each day give you info on the TV giving us tips on how to do the cruise on our own. . We did most ourselves and did not regret it. We found there was no need to use the ships itineraries. Enyjoy the Millie is a great ship.
Took a similar cruise in May (Princess) and did many of the tours on my own.
Naples - took the ferry / hydrofoil to Capri and spent the day there. Was wonderful. Had a local lunch and did lots of shopping in Anacapri (a tram and a bus takes you to the top). The ferry terminals are a short walk from where the cruise ship docks. If you want to tour the Blue Grotto, the tour operators are dockside when you get to Capri. I didn't do this.
Florence - Took a shuttle bus (cabs also available) from the Livorno dock to the Livorno train station. Took the train to Florence. You can also take it to Pisa, which is along the route. When you get out of the terminal, have a street map handy. You can walk to all the major sites, starting to the left (street bazaars), heading to the right, and ending at the Arno river. Quite a bit of walking, but break it up with a local lunch or gelato.
Athens - most people do the Acropolis and city tour. You can take the metro to these sites. I chose to visit a small island - Aegina, which many Greek people go to for the weekend. Had a great time. Since it was so hot in the city, I enjoyed the ferry ride and visiting the town. Hydrofoil is faster, but no fun. Ferry was great. Great pastries and local lunch dockside.
Venice - Princess operated a shuttle water taxi to San Marco square. From there, you can walk many parts of the city, and by the water, hop on local water taxis, stopping in different areas, and checking them out. A street map doesn't hurt to have. It was great fun to explore and I got lots of wonderful pictures of the smaller canals and people living and working in the neighborhoods.
If you are at all an independent traveler who prefers going off on your own excursions, these may be for you.
Have a wonderful cruise! Jeana
Venice is definitely a city where you won't need a guide or an excursion. Just pay $10 or so for the ship's transfer to St. Mark's Square and stumble around. Venice is absolutely beautiful and charming, and you don't even need to worry about getting lost because it's just breathtaking at every turn. (There are signs that say Per Rialto--to the Rialto Bridge--and per San Marco--to St. Mark's Square, and that's about all you need to know.) If you want to take a boat to Murano to the glass factories, you can use the public transportation boats that leave right there from St. Mark's Square or you can go with one of the private boats that will seek you out because they think all Americans have money; beware if you will be making a major investment in Ventian glass that the boat drivers receive about 30% of what you spend (you'd also be recruited if you stayed at a hotel, which I highly recommend that you do on a return trip after you fall in love with Venice like we did, so you may get a better price going on your own. Since time is a critical factor with a port call, I recommend going with the private boat drivers because it will be a more speedy trip. But that is only if you have an overnight stay because you don't want to get so caught up in visiting glass factories that you fail to see the glories of Venice! You can find lots of glass in the shops that are everywhere in Venice. Even if you think that kind of thing is not for you, you'll be surprised at the beauty of the glass. I can't say enough good things about Venice, so I'll move on!
Monte Carlo is also a great city to see on foot. I love the walking tours on www.frommers.com for most cities (just enter the city name in the search box, and the city tours are usually under the "Attractions" section). We walked up a hill at the port city, which is also quite charming and there is some surprisingly good shopping there, to take a bus to Monte Carlo, and the buses ran very frequently. Nice is also great on foot.
In Naples, it kind of depends on what you want to do. We had some fellow passengers at our dinner table who took a taxi to Pompeii and there were guides there (English speaking). I'm sure you could arrange ahead of time too. We took a shore excursion to the Amalfi coast (we had seen a lot of ruins outside of Rome at Ostia and had also been to several sites in Greece), and that was one shore excursion that did work out well because it provided a great overview of some fabulous scenery, and I think we would have had a hard time doing that on our own at the time. We were in Naples 3 years ago, so finding a good guide on the web sites was not as easy then, so you might try a guide to do that too. It's so beautiful. If you do go into Naples, please be advised that this is a high-crime (non-violent, usually property theft like purse-snatching--the thiefs ride by on a motorcycle and snatch purses) area. Venice is practically crime-free. If you go to Rome, watch those pesky gypsies because they are CLEVER and have small hands that can go in and out, and the targets don't feel a thing!
I don't know what advice to give you on Rome as a port city because I just can't imagine doing that as a port. The Vatican tour would be great, especially if it includes St. Peter's Basilica. But the Colosseum is great, the Forum is great (it's right by the Colosseum), Trevi Fountain is great (I personally would not miss that but I like to see it at night), the Spanish Steps area is great (there's fabulous shopping there), Piazza Navona is really great, the Pantheon is great; I just don't know how you choose. If you are inclined and can take a course like Pimsleur's Beginner Italian on tape (I listen to the tapes on a Walkman while walking in the evening), I would suggest the train from Civitavecchia to do Rome on your own. You'll save a lot of time and have a better experience. It will be more work to do it on your own, so if that doesn't enrich your vacation experience, I would suggest that you try to pick to use www.fodors.com and the Frommers site to figure out what you'd like to see most and then try to find a guide or the best match to a shore excursion. Here's a link to the European train schedules (please verify the schedule in port prior to boarding the train): http://www.raileurope.com/us/rail/fa...ules/index.htm. Unfortunately, Civitavecchia is not very close to Rome, so you're going to spend some time commuting from the port by train, bus, or car.
For Livorno, I recommend that you hire a private guide (maybe along with some of the other nice passengers that responded to your message) to take you to Florence with a quick stop at Pisa along the way. There is a separate thread on the European ports page of this site, and I think there are some tour guides recommended there.
We did the ship's tour of the Greek ruins in Mykonos, but they left us in town, and Mykonos can easily be seen on foot. Our ship was tendered there, so we didn't have to take a shuttle. We just walked out on the dock, and the ship's tender picked us up there.
We also did the ship's tour in Athens because it seemed to be the most comprehensive and it was great (except that we didn't have enough time in the shopping district--I think it's called the Plaka), but you can probably find a good tour operator there too. Barcelona is great too. I hope you have a wonderful trip. If I can provide any additional information or opinions, I'll be glad to help.
bRIEF NOTES ON YOUR PORTS.
Naples. 3 choices. The Amalfin drive, Pompeii or Capri. I recommend Amalfi and a driver who was great. He will pick you up at the ship with a van for up to 6 people.
Ruocco Gennaro - email@example.com.
Dubrovnik. Take the shuttle into town then walk the old section. Then pick up a taxi in the main square. English speaking (partly) if possible and visit Cavtat. Go one way and return by anther way.
Venice. Get a one day pass and a city map for the vaporetta, and go up and down the Grand Canal, getting on and off for the sites you wish to see.
Enjoyed your comments. I'm taking a Greek Island Cruise in Oct. and wondered about the clothes to take then--will they dress in layered fall clothes like we wear in the states, or are whites and pastels still ok? I too am not a tennis shoe person--usually take several pairs of sandels so I can trade off and do just fine--so was glad to read your comments about tennis shoes for the acropolis --thanks, Carol
First, check your sailing date. I think you're leaving on the 13th, not the 15th.
Some quick notes:
Rome: A dead loss as a one-day stop. The trip to and from the city leaves little time to see much. If you're young and there's a good chance you can go back to Rome for extended visits, skip it and enjoy the empty ship for a day. If you think that perhaps you may never get back, you can either take the ship's tour or the train into Rome. If you take the ship's tour you'll spend less time worrying about what to see (or more accurately, to drive by) once you get there.
Athens: The ideal city to hire a cab. There's a driver named George who does a great job with all-day tours. He's on the internet.
Santorini: No tours necessary. Take the cable car up to town and enjoy yourself there. Then take a cab to the archaeological dig. Find another couple to share the cab and you'll easily beat the ship's tour price.
Villefranche: You've got time to see both Monte Carlo and St. Paul de Vence. You might consider a car rental.
Valletta: Just climb the hill and see the town. It is a moderately serious climb.
Barcelona: Hopefully, you'll be spending several days in this glorious place before you embark. The open-top sightseeing busses travel two separate loops for the same fare, and give a great once-over tour. Then, because they have unlimited on-off privileges, you can use them to go back to the places that interest you. This is just a magnificent place.
Venice: Apparently your disembarkation city. Again, I trust you've arranged to spend several days there, post-cruise. Whatever hotel you use, just buy a multi-day vaporetto ticket and use it to go everywhere. Don't miss Murano and Burano. Lunch al fresco on these small Islands on a sunny day is a great treat. Naturally, you won't want to miss St. Mark's Square, but Venice is much more than that. A visit to Peggy Guggenheim's house/museum is fun, and gives you one of the best views of the Grand Canal from her terrace. Walk the back alleys of Academia for boutiques, jewelry studios, etc. The city is endlessly fascinating.
We are booked on the Milli for June 14-26, Venice to Barcelona. We have booked a full day with Spiros Taxi Service (firstname.lastname@example.org) for Athens. The cost was half what the ship was charging and very similar tour.
I decided to book this trip with Spiros because of what others wrote on CruiseMates and other travel sights. We believe it will be all it is suppose to be. We have been to Athens before in the 80's and the tour we booked will cover some old and new areas.
Best of luck and enjoy.
To other travelers, we are looking for a good land tour vendor for Rome? Any suggestions?
Hate to point this little note out, but Jemma was on the 15 August 03 sailing of Milleneum.....:-) She's actually a friend of mine, and I'm not exactly sure how her posting from last year got resurrected.....hehe!!
To be honest, I don't see any OTHER way to do Dubrovnik than "on your own". My wife and I did it last summer (on Milleneum) and had a fantastic time. The town itself is quite compact (you can walk from end to end in 10-15 minutes), and the cruise lines typically have a shuttle which drops you off right at the main gate of the old city (at least Celebrity did). Once inside the gates, there is one main street which runs from end to end, where most of the "touristy" stuff can be found (restaurants, shops, etc). From there, it the town is something of a maze, and half the fun is just wandering down the little side streets and seeing where they lead. There are several interesting museums (maining dealing with past wars, including the shelling/defense of Dubrovnik in the early '90's), a couple churches, and a monastery with Europe's oldest working pharmacy. The people are very warm and friendly, and I have noting but the nicest things to say about the city. It's VERY picturesque, and we'd go back again in a moment!
We did most of the ports on our own, but for those cities that had too many things to see (Rome) or regions that were distant and not readily accessible by public transport (e.g. Sorrento), we hired private drivers. The going rate was 500E for a six-passenger van, or 600E for a 14-passenger one. If you share the cost, it's comparable (if not cheaper) than the ship's tour, and far more efficient since you're not loading and unloading 40 people at every stop. Now that I think about it, I'd recommend a six-seater, since it can squeeze through places a larger vehicle can't.
Paolo, our driver in Rome (email@example.com, or www.drivinguide.com), did an outstanding job of racing through the streets of Rome covering 7000 years of history in 7 hours with a rolling narrative of the city's highlights. I didn't think it was possible to see everything in a day (Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, Coloseum, Basilica, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Catacombs, and the Mussolini Balcony, topped off by an authentic lunch in a former Roman tomb), but we managed to cover it all. Phenomenal, just thinking about it! Salvatore (firstname.lastname@example.org) was our driver for the Amalfi Coast - including Positano, Sorrento, Pompeii, and the Emerald Grotto. There's no way we could have covered that much territory in a day on our own.
Can you tell me more about the day trip with Allesandro? We're thinking of booking him for Livorno (Florence), because I have seen his name on the boards with recommendations! Is he a guide-or just basically a driver? This is our first Europe trip-and 1st experience with drivers!! Thanks!
We are a group on the 9/18/04 Splendour of the Seas out of Barcelona. We have booked private shore excursions with reputable tour operators in all 5 of the ports. We invite others on this cruise to join our shore excursions. Contact Mel at email@example.com.
Just one correction to a post 'way back on this thread. Somebody said that you have to take the tour to get to Pompeii. Actually, you can walk to the train station from the port in Naples, catch the Circumvesuvia train and spend as much time as you like in Pompeii. My husband and I did that on the Grand several years ago, and we plan to do the same this fall.
We'll be on the Star, Greek Isles cruise, departing September 25. This time we plan to spend some more time at Pompeii with a group, then head back to Herculinium, which is supposed to be smaller, but better with smaller crowds than Pompeii.
We just returned (sigh) on May 12, so I can highly recommend the following.
In Livorno, the major guides were booked, so we received a referral to a newer company at http://www.papillonservice.com/. Their prices were also much lower than the competition if you use an Enlish-speaking driver only. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. We had seen Florence, although I'm sure they do a great job there, so we had a wonderful day seeing Siena and San Gimignano. And okay, call me shallow, but when will you have another opportunity to say that you used the same driver that Nicole Kidman and Don Johnson (separately--I don't want to start any rumors) used?? Max was just great.
In Monte Carlo, we used Dream Tours, and it was really great too. We had seen Monte Carlo on a previous trip, but that was one of the options for this cruise. We went to St. Paul de Vence, Eze, and Nice with a brief overview in Monaco. It was also a great day. E-mail address is email@example.com. I think they also will pick you up in Villefranche or any of the French Riviera reports.
We cruised on fairly short notice and had no problem finding others to join us after we boarded the ship, so if you can't form a group ahead of time, please keep trying because this is SO much better than the ship's excursions. I just can't recommend highly enough.
Re: Re: Re: Re: Mediterranean Ports - Do It Yourself
We are booked on the Westerdam this September and two of our ports are Florence & Monte Carlo. We're very interested in the info you provided on Siena & San Gim. It will be our first time to Monte Carlo. I assume since you recommended them that both companies are reliable. How did you find them? Any thoughts on requesting particular guides? Thanks