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Old March 5th, 2008, 08:43 AM
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Default When the port is some distance from the destination.....

We are considering a Mediterranean cruise for our next trip, but noted that some cities are more than a quick cab ride from the docks (Rome comes to mind, but there are others as well). Knowing good and well that one day in a city is barely enough to scratch the surface (especially in Europe) how much time is eaten up in transportation vs. how much time do you have to explore a city? This is especially true if you want to try exploring on your own rather than taking a ship sponsored excursion.

Any comments or advice?

Also – Does anyone know of a cruise that takes in the east and west coasts of Italy (including Venice) as well as Athens and the Greek isles?
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Old March 6th, 2008, 04:36 AM
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When port is far from where you want to tour, I usually take a ship's tour or a very highly rated independent tour; I do not go out on my own. Most stops are for at least 10 hours so you actually see a lot even with the distance.
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Old March 6th, 2008, 07:04 PM
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Default Re: When the port is some distance from the destination.....

dlm2005,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
We are considering a Mediterranean cruise for our next trip, but noted that some cities are more than a quick cab ride from the docks (Rome comes to mind, but there are others as well). Knowing good and well that one day in a city is barely enough to scratch the surface (especially in Europe) how much time is eaten up in transportation vs. how much time do you have to explore a city? This is especially true if you want to try exploring on your own rather than taking a ship sponsored excursion.

Any comments or advice?
In most Mediterranean ports of call, the ship's excursions are a very good option if you want to see the local attractions. In many of these cities, the major attractions have very long (2-3 hour) queues of tourists awaiting general admission, so you'll spend a LOT of time waiting in line if you attempt to visit the major attractions on your own. The tours, OTOH, have prereserved times for group admission so they bypass the queues and enter the attractions as soon as they arrive. In many of the Mediterranean ports, the tours also include a luncheon at a local restaurant, so you'll have a chance to sample the local cuisine, and a couple hours of free time in the downtown area for shopping, independent sightseeing, or taking in the local culture (which often includes a variety of street performers and sidewalk cafes). Note that the cost of shore excursions includes admission to all of the attractions that they visit, transportation between the pier and the destination and between the attractions at the destination, and the luncheon, so they really do provide reasonable value (at least relative to the local economy) for their cost.

Where the destination is some distance from the port, most cruise lines also offer a relatively inexpensive "shore excursion" with a name like "<destination> on Your Own" that basically consists of transportation between the pier and the destination. On these excursions, the guide gives a brief orientation and directions as to where and when to meet to return to the ship upon arrival at the destinatin, then sets you free to explore the destination on your own. These "shore excursions" really do provide the most seamless transportation to and from the destination, maximizing your time there. Also, since these transportation packages officially operate as shore excursions, you will not have to deal with the consequences of missing the ship due to a missed connection on your return.

Quote:
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Also – Does anyone know of a cruise that takes in the east and west coasts of Italy (including Venice) as well as Athens and the Greek isles?
The "premium" cruise lines (Celebrity, Holland America, and Princess) offer several itineraries that visit these ports. Venice usually is either the port of embarkation or the port of disembarkation on cruises that call there. Many of these cruises begin or end in either Barcelona or Athens.

Norm.
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Old March 7th, 2008, 08:46 AM
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Thanks Norm. That answered everything I wanted to know. I was afraid the Ship Excursions would be bland and overly touristy, but it sounds like the shorter wait times and the "don't miss the ship" guaranty (not to mention having a translator close at hand) make this the best way to go.
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