Wife and I will be leaving for Rome for a 3 night pre-cruise stay before boarding Holland Americas Noordam in Civitiveccia Italy on September 23, 2003 for a 10 day Western Mediterranean Cruise ending in Barcelona Spain where we will spend another 3 night post cruise before heading back to the U.S. We live in Wisconsin and have traveled on Holland Americas Westerdam a couple years ago and loved it. Also have sailed with Royal Caribbean. Anyone going on this cruise or have any of you been on the Noordam before. I realize it's an older ship, but we prefer the older vessels. Were in our early 60s, and very active and in good health. Any info on shore excursions etc will be appreciated.
We will be on the Noordam sailing from Copenhagen to Rome leaving on the 9th September which is the trip before yours. We are looking forward to our cruise and to the different ports we are going to visit. I am not sure which ports you are going to on your trip, but we have been to a lot of cities in Europe so may be able to help you. I know this ship is the oldest in the fleet, but we have been on old ships as well as the newer ones and are not worried by its age. We are also in our early sixties, very fit and still both in the work force. We have been travelling to Europe for the past ten years so have seen quite a few countries and cities in that time. We love Rome. It is an easy city to walk around. Barcelona is also an easy city to get around and we will be returning there for one day on our cruise. Have a great holiday.
Thanks for the information. Enjoy your cruise also. We will be stopping at Dubrovnik Croatia, Corfu Greece, Valletta, Malta, Palermo, Sicily, Mahon, Minorca, Spain, St. Tropez, France, Sete France and finally Barcelona. Wife and I rented a van last April and toured Italy for 3 weeks. Loved Italy very much, from Florence, clear down to the Almafi Coast, and everything of interest along the way. Wife and I are quite familiar with Germany and Italy, but not any of the other countries on this itinerary. Also, we were a little concerned about the language as this cruise is leaving from Italy. Will they be primarily foreign travelers who speak little or no english or will that not be a problem. I do speak some German, and Italian, and a little bit of Spanish. Just enough to get by.
Please let me know when you get back all about your trip as we will have the same itinerary 10/23. I think you will find Americans to be in the vast majority on board. We have been to Dubrovnik and Corfu before. Dubrovnik is an easy walk around the town and on the wall. We did it on our own. Corfu we shopped and walked through town, but I didn't feel like I got much out of it. Heard a lot about the jeep trips, people really seemed to like doing that. I think we will do a tour on that island. Let me know what you find out!
We were on the Noordam 3 years ago. It was an eastern Med. cruise. We loved the ship. It is old, but that didn't detract. We have been on 16 cruises, and the ship and the itinerary were among my favorites. It is small enough where you can get to know other passengers easily. The entertainment wasn't as sophisticated as on other ships, but it was fine.
I'll be on this cruise also -- traveling by myself since my husband dislikes long plane rides. I'm interested in knowing how realistic it is to plan/hope to see sights/sites in port on my own, walking/hiking, which is my preference over organized shore excursions. Thanks for any help you can give as to how I can learn where docks are located in relationship to places to see, and if not close enough, whether there will be shuttle buses.
We sailed on Noordam from Fort Lauderdale to Rome (24 days) in April-May 2003 and previously from Rome to Ft. Lauderdale in Nov. 2002. We also like to explore ports on our own walking/hiking and using public transportation rather than taking HAL's excursions which are overpriced and spend too much time at sights that don't interest us and not enough at those that do. (To say nothing of the time wasted on washroom stops for people who loaded up on coffee before they started the tour!) There is usually a port lecturer aboard who can answer questions you may have about how to see the ports on your own (although I heard that HAL is considering eliminating these people - another of their efforts to make passengers think that the expensive HAL shore excursions are the best option).
Hope this info is useful:
Valletta - Noordam docked at the bottom of a hill leading up to the old town - took about 10 minutes to walk up and the old town is interesting to explore. Be sure to be on deck to see the entrance into the harbour.
Mahon - Noordam docked at the foot of a hill below the town- just walk up the steps and you're in the old town - Another very interesting and scenic sail into the harbour.
Sete - Noordam docked 2-3 blocks from the centre of the town - Sete is very nice to walk around - lots of canals - a beautiful walk up the hill/mountain behind the town.
Barcelona - twice when we have been here on Noordam she docked at the commercial port - the distance from there to the bottom of Las Ramblas is walkable (approximately 2km) but it is a very busy commercial area and would not be a pleasant walk. There is always a local bus or port shuttle that will take you to the bottom of Las Ramblas (even though HAL will tell you they don't know if there will be one). In the past we have also docked at the bottom of Las Ramblas,
St. Tropez is small, and my husband and I walked around the harbor, the old town, and up to the fort at the top of the hill that overlooks the harbor and the town--a fabulous view. It is very charming (similar maybe to Venice without the canals), and I usually get the historical walking tours from frommers.com for any of the European cities that we visit.
In Valletta, Malta, we rented a taxi with some table mates to go to Mosta and Mdina (my husband went to the WWII museum there, which is within walking distance of where the ship docks), and it was a great day. The taxi driver waited while we walked around the meidival towns and took us to some gardens too. Then he dropped us off in Valletta for some shopping. I think Malta is very beautiful, and I agree that the views sailing in and out are fabulous.
We walked and used public transportation in Barcelona too, and that was very easy. Our local shuttle from the ship to Las Ramblas was free.
In Sicily, we took the shore excursion to Taormina and highly recommend that you try to see it while you are there. We had some tablemates that tried to do that on their own and were not able to, so they were very sorry that they didn't take the excursion. I'm sure there are some private tour guides that would also be able to take you to Taormina.
It sounds like you don't need Rome suggestions, but for those that may, we loved the Hotel Brittania. We found it through Fodors and loved it so much that we stayed there on two return trips even though we could have paid significantly more on return trips. Great location, staff, and a great hotel overall.
I think Holland does an excellent job, and the older ships have their charms too.
I just returned from a cruise that stopped in Corfu and Dubrovnick.
The port of Homer Corfu is right beside the old town. Walking to the main shopping area will take about 15mins. The port can be very busy when the large ferries arrive so you have to watch out. Dirving around the island is also an adventure if you have never driven in Europe before. The city is quite beautiful with lots of small street and plenty of shopping.
In Dubrovnick you will most likely be docked at the new cruise ship dock which is about a 15min bus ride into the old walled city. I didn't notice any taxi stand or taxi waiting when we disembarked. You can easly find your way around the old walled city.