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-   -   Mediterranean Excursion Recommendations? (http://www.cruisemates.com/forum/european-mediterranean-destinations/345714-mediterranean-excursion-recommendations.html)

amaretto January 29th, 2008 06:29 PM

Mediterranean Excursion Recommendations?
 
i'm planning to go on the Norwegian Gem in June, which stops at Valleta, Civitavecchia, Naples, Livorno and Villefrance. for Valetta, i already know that i'm going to take a taxi to Mdina and explore there myself; for Villefrance, i'm going to take the rail to Monaco. however, i don't know what to do for Civitavecchia (Rome), Naples and Livorno.

i've heard that many people go on private tours for Rome, but that is outrageously expensive for my family of 4. would it be possible to explore this city by taking the rail from Civitavecchia to Rome and then walking? and what about Naples/Livorno? i guess i could go on cruise excursions for Naples and Livorno, seeing as they are not as expensive as private tours for Rome. does anyone have any recommendations?

thanks

kandajones January 30th, 2008 09:31 AM

Hi Cherie, hopefully some of our experiences can help you out here.

Naples is a sore point for us, we were supposed to have visitted there this year on Sea Princess, but the cruise got cancelled, so it's on the to-do list. Most people go & see Pompeii, but we found some good reports on the web for Ercolano & Vesuvius itself - if you are a good hill walker. Ercolano (AKA Herculaneum) is/was a fishing village which was also destroyed by Vesuvius & only now being uncovered.

For Rome, as you know you dock in Civitavecchia, which is a busy & pleasant town, but not somewhere you want to travel half way around the world to see. There are plenty of trips into Rome, but if you feel comfortable with the idea, there is a regular train service from Civitavecchia into Rome, stopping at the Vatican & centre of Rome.

Livorno serves Pisa & Florence. You need to take a shuttle bus into town if you are doing your own thing, then from them use the local buses & trains to Florence, Pisa, or, Lucca. Again all are good & served by English speaking staff. You will be tempted to do a coach trip to Florence AND Pisa, which is fine for a very brief overview, but it will be just that - VERY brief. Most people say that they wish they had done one OR the other, not both as it can be very tiring, especially in the hot, dry Summer months.

I have loads more info on the PC at home, so will post a fuller reply when I finish work today.

If there is anything in particular that you would like ot know, please feel free to PM us & we'll do our best to help.

'til later,

Alan ( & Katrina )

kandajones January 30th, 2008 06:47 PM

More information
 
HI again Cherie, as promised here are 2 more in depth replies regarding your ports of call.

Rome : For Rome you moor up just over an hours train ride away in a town called Civitavecchia. The train journey is an easy one, and the ticket office know when the ships are in & have the tickets ready. You can also take the Rome Alone tours if you want to do your own thing, but prefer to use the ship's coaches to get you to/from the city. If you do take the train, the ticket is valid for all 5 stations around Rome, so I would suggest getting off at Roma St. Pietro, as this is the closest station to the Vatican & working your way through the monuments in the City ending up at the Terminus (or vice versa). Just make certain that you leave yourself plenty of time to get back to the ship, as a taxi ride would be expensive. or at least have a contingency plan, such as "oh well we missed the ship, but the next port of call is easily reachable by train" - this works for Rome / Livorno, then cut your losses, enjoy the night in Rome & take the train the next day. An easy way to see all the sites in a short time, is to take one of the many city hop-on, hop-off tour buses, which have running commentary by personal headphones. It is worth noting that some of the tour buses are affiliated & buying one ticket allow discounts in other cities.


Livorno : Using the train is perfectly possible from here, IF you are ready to grab the first shuttle bus, have your Euro's ready for the bus ticket & happy to explore. To get to the station walk back to the busy square near the drop off point, & you will see various bus shelters, in these shelters you will find the ticket machines - buy your tickets from these machines, should be 1 Euro (buy one for your return journey too, and keep it for later - DON'T frank it now). You can buy tickets on the bus, but they are a LOT more expensive. I'm pretty certain that it is still bus #1, but the locals are very helpful, so check with them. When you board the bus, you MUST put the ticked into the franking machine for a date/time stamp. Each ticket lasts 1 hour from the time you frank it.

You can get a bus to Pisa, but it stops everywhere & takes a couple of hours. The train is only a short run. The tours office will sell a Florence & Pisa day trip, but it really is a lot to take in one day, but if you are travelling all the way over for this voyage, you may feel it is worth the effort, just make sure you are ready for it. If you are "all toured out" by this time, Livorno is an interesting town to wander around, but you will probably be back on the ship within a couple of hours, so we would definitely reccomend Pisa, Lucca, or Florence.

ANy questions, please feel free to ask

happy cruising,

Alan & Katrina

LibraLass January 30th, 2008 07:48 PM

Hi
Agree with Alan , Pisa AND Florence is a very long tiring day. We were on the road for 10 hours with only 2-3 hrs in Florence and 1 1/2 hrs in Pisa. Best to do one place or the other......
photos on this link :

http://picasaweb.google.com/AuroraPa...edCruiseJune07


personally speaking, i would NOT take the train to Rome I would be worried about train delays, over crowding etc on the return journey and the ship will NOT wait for you if you are late, it does wait for the trips organised by the ship. We did a expensive Rome trip at £95pp - which would be alot for a family of 4 - blimey nearly £400!!! That was a trip which included all the main attractions including the Vatican plus a 3 course lunch - and we were fast -tracked in past the mile long queues wilting people in the 90 degree heat! There will probably be a trip which just coaches you into Rome (called 'Rome on your own' on our ship) which is much cheaper and maybe worth considering?

HOPE YOU LIKE THE PHOTOS
Sue

Rev22:17 January 30th, 2008 08:37 PM

Re: Mediterranean Excursion Recommendations?
 
Cherie,

Quote:

Originally Posted by You
i'm planning to go on the Norwegian Gem in June, which stops at Valleta, Civitavecchia, Naples, Livorno and Villefrance. for Valetta, i already know that i'm going to take a taxi to Mdina and explore there myself; for Villefrance, i'm going to take the rail to Monaco. however, i don't know what to do for Civitavecchia (Rome), Naples and Livorno.

i've heard that many people go on private tours for Rome, but that is outrageously expensive for my family of 4. would it be possible to explore this city by taking the rail from Civitavecchia to Rome and then walking? and what about Naples/Livorno? i guess i could go on cruise excursions for Naples and Livorno, seeing as they are not as expensive as private tours for Rome. does anyone have any recommendations?

thanks

I really do not recommend touring Rome on our own because Rome is a considerable distance from the port of Civitavecchia for at least a couple reasons.

>> 1. You'll lose too much time getting to the train station, buying rail tickets, waiting for a train, etc., and you'll have to leave Roma enough earlier that the ship's tours to reverse the transportation sequence and make it back to the ship on time. The tours have completely seemless transportation from the pier to their destinations downtown, and they can "cut it close" because the ship will wait for a tour that's late. If you go ashore on you miss the ship, you get to pay for your own transportation to the next port of call, your own accommodations and meals ashore until the ship gets there, and any other expenses that you or the ship may incur -- which will cost you a lot more than the price of the ship's tour.

>> 2. Many of the attractions in Rome have very long lines for general admission, so you will spend a fair amount of time waiting to get in if you attempt to visit them on your own. The organized tours all have reserved times at the attractions, so they enter as soon as they arrive.

>> 3. Most of the ship's tours of Rome include a very nice luncheon at a local restaurant, so you will get to sample the local cuisine.

So overall, the tours offer the most "bang for the buck" for the time that you will be there.

A similar situation exists in Firenze ("Florence"), which is a considerable distance from the port of Livorno. Also, I do not recommend the combined tour of Firenze and Pisa because it's too rushed. That tour does not allow enough time to see either city adequately.

Naples is a rather different character. Here, the main attraction is NOT the city of Naples, which most people who have been there regard as a pit. Rather, the main attractions are (1) the isle of Capri, (2) Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, and (3) Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius. All three of these destinations take you far enough from the port and involve transportation arrangements that are dicey enough so the ship's tours are the way to go. Also, it's best to take the tour that spends a whole day on one or another of these destinations and let the others go for another trip. The trips that combine two or more of these destinations tend to be very rushed, so you won't have time to see much at any of them.

Have a great cruise!

Norm.

amaretto January 30th, 2008 10:38 PM

hey, thanks for all the info!!

i appreciate the pics (LibraLass) and all the advice (kandajones and Rev22:17) . . . i think that i just might take a cruise-arranged shuttle to Rome for the port-of-call Civitavecchia; that way, it doesn't cost as much as a private tour, i can explore the city myself and the cruise line still has some responsibility =P

happy cruising to all of you too!

Rev22:17 January 31st, 2008 09:40 PM

Cherie,

Quote:

Originally Posted by You
hey, thanks for all the info!!

i appreciate the pics (LibraLass) and all the advice (kandajones and Rev22:17) . . . i think that i just might take a cruise-arranged shuttle to Rome for the port-of-call Civitavecchia; that way, it doesn't cost as much as a private tour, i can explore the city myself and the cruise line still has some responsibility =P

happy cruising to all of you too!

Yes, I neglected to mention the cruise line's "shore excurions" called "... on Your Own" or something similar. These "shore excursions are basically transportation to and from the destination city, and they are quite seemless. Nonetheless, I have three significant cautions about these excursions.

>> 1. These excursions do NOT include lunch. You are, quite literally, on your own for the whole day. (Most regular shore excursions do include some time on your own for shopping or independent sightseeing.)

>> 2. If you want to visit any of the major attractions, you will have to wait in fairly long queues (a wait of 2-3 hours is typical) for general admission and pay your own admission. The regular shore excursions include the admission, at lower group rates, to the attractions.

>> 3. You also might have to arrange your own local transportation within the destination city, depending upon what you decide to do there. The regular shore excursions include local transportation between the sites and attractions that they visit.

When you put it all together, independent sightseeing with the "... on Your Own" tour might not be cheaper than the regular excursions.

Again, your call.

Norm.

Kuki January 31st, 2008 09:53 PM

I'll be the one to disagree about using ship's excursions.

I've done it both ways, and find much time is wasted on ship's excursions. Take a tour with lunch and it takes an hour to an hour and a half out of your very short time in port.

The tours through many important sites move only as fast as the slowest person in the group.

For most major sites it's not difficult to book a particular time for a private tour, to bypass the lines. Often we've gone to visit such sites, and pass the cruise line tours lined up waiting to get in.

LibraLass February 1st, 2008 05:08 AM

Not having been to Rome before, I think we did the right thing choosing a guided ship tour that took us fasttrack to all the main sites -inc the Vatican, which had mile long queues and would of took hours to get into - who wants to waste time in queues let alone have a meal!!!

But now I have seen all the main sites, next time I would DIY Rome but on a ship excursion. Rome is a long way from the port, I'm not taking the chance of missing the train, and missing the ship!


Sue


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