October 21 2007 on Millennium (Mediterranean cruise)
My wife and I have never been to Europe. We are concerned about understanding the language and have no idea what to do with the shore excursions in each port. On previous cruises we often booked excursions on our own or rented a car and explored on our own. My wife doesn"t seem to trust me in a foreign country even though we have never had a problem. She thinks we will get lost and miss the ship. We know in a day one can not see all the highlights of a city but would like to visit as many as posible. We need your help on the following ports: Venice, Dubrovnik, Athens(Piraeus), Ephesus(Kusadasi), Naples/Capri, Sicily(Palermo), Rome(Civitavecchia), Florence, Nice(Villefranche), and Barcelona. In Barcelona we are staying overnight at the Majestic Hotel, hopefully this is a decent hotel and safe area? Can we do any of these ports on our own? Which ones should we plan excorted tours? Would you suggest renting a car at any of the ports. My wife and I are avid walkers. We often go on 10 mile walks with our dog. Thanks for all your help. Have Blessed Holiday Season and healthy and happy 2007.
Steve and Cyndi
Steve and Cyndi,
I highly recommend booking one or another of ths ship's shore excursions, especially if it's your first visit to a European port. The tours will be in English, the guide will look after you, you'll have reserved tours of the major attractions on your excursion so you won't have to wait in the queues -- often two to three hours -- for general admission, and you'll see all of the major highlights and experience some of the local culture (most shore excursions in Europe include a nice luncheon featuring the local cuisine). You'll also have no worry about the ship leaving port before its excursions return because it's the ship's responsibility to get you back aboard if your excursion is delayed due to traffic or some other problem.
If you have cruised to other destinations, I should forewarn you that a cruise to Europe is a very different experienc. Most shore excursions are "whole day" events that leave the ship at 8:00 or 8:30 in the morning and return to the ship around 5:00 or 5:30 in the afternoon, with lunch included, so they really do maximize your time in the destination cities. Also, the major attractions tend to be art, architecture, culture, and historical sites rather than the great outdoors. Expect to be "on the go" whenever the ship is in port, and to welcome those couple sea days as a chance to rest fot he next round of ambitious sightseeing.
Finally, I should also mention that most shore excursions do visit churches that have fairly strict dress codes by American standards. You'll need clothing that covers the shoulders and the knees completely and everything in between. Also, many churches require that women wear a hat or a kerchief of some sort on their heads.
Finally, the Mediterranean tends to be quite hot in July and August. The best time to go there is in late September, October, and early November.
Have a fantastic cruise!
Hi Steve and Cyndi,
I have not been to Europe YET, but we are also going in Oct this year. I have spent considerable time checking out every travel site I could find with info about cruising and site seeing in Europe. I suggest that you go to the Cruise Critic. com Europe site. There is TONS of info there about taking private excursions and lots of other info about cruising to Europe. Many people have written in with post cruise reports of what they did, how they did it, complete with recommendations for and against . I also signed up on Cruise Critic.com's "roll call" site for my particular cruise where I have been able to chat with other people who will be cruising with me. Have you checked out the Trip Advisor site? There you can find travellers' reviews of hotels in your pre and post cruise ports. I couldn't tell from your post if you did so, but nearly everyone recommends arriving at least a day before your cruise departs in case of unforseen delays.We are arriving 2 days before so we can see a bit of Barcelona. I have read that we can expect English to be spoken and understood in the tourist areas of the ports we will visiting. It is considered polite to at least attempt to speak a few words of the language of the country you are in. You know, "please", "thank you", "hello". Personally I like to know how to say"do you speak English?"."How much?" "where is the bathroom?" Renting a car is not something I would consider ! Nearly every port we are visiting is a big city. I say relax and let someone else worry about traffic, directions, etc. I understand it is very easy to either take a bus or train from Villefranche to Nice and beyond. We also plan to use public transport and walk in Mykonos , Santorinni and Venice, where our cruise ends. All other ports we have a private driver reserved. We made our hotel and excursion choices based on recommendations from the sites I mentioned above. The main thing is that you have to be willing to do tons of searching and checking so you can make the right choices for YOU. It is kind of daunting in the beginning but if you keep at it, one day it will all just "click" and you will have arranged the perfect trip !
Hope I have helped !! Monterey Girl
shore excursions on the french riviera
Hi Steve and Cyndi,
this message to tell you about our best excursion we took with my family on the french Riviera, and like you are gonna stop in villefranche, this a good tip for you.
The name of the company was Riviera Premium Tour and i can tell you that the guide we had (jerome) for the day was just excellent, fun and such a big knowledge of the area, we had lots of fun.
I recommend this company to everyone who stops in Villefranche, Cannes or Monaco. They take you on tour in 8 pers. minivans air-conditioned, excellent service. We found them on the web. rivierapremiumtour.com
I'm sure that anyone who will take this company will tell the same.
I hope you will enjoy your trip as we did.
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