We can't decide what to do about Rome. We've never been there, want to see the Vatican and the Colosseum and not kill ourselves (or each other!) in the process. HAL's shore excursion booklet offers an all-day trip called Highlights of Rome plus private visit to the Vatican. It's $182 and includes lunch. Their cheapest excursion is about $60, which is basically a drop-off at the Colosseum and pick up in late afternoon at another point nowhere near the Vatican. What should we do? Does private visit mean we don't stand in line with all the other tourists? If on our own, will spend too much time getting from one point to another? Please help, we need to decide NOW! Thanks, Helen
If you want to see the Vatican and the Colosseum on the same day definitely take the ship's excursion. You will have a guide that not only will explain everything, but will get your tickets and you won't have to wait in line. Rome is always very crowded, not only with cruise passengers but with tourists from all over the world.
The first 2 times we went to Rome we took ship's tours.The guides were excellent and we were very satisfied with the tours. They are expensive but worth it. Now when we go to Rome we do walking tours on our own. Have a wonderful cruise.
Rome wasn't built in a day, and it's very hard to see in a day, because. . .
1) The schlep from the ship is not trivial. You'll spend several hours roundtrip just doing that.
2) It's not a convenient city--things aren't centralized. It's rather a sprawl, and a very crowded, bustling sprawl at that.
Therefore, as first time visitors, your only real option is to take the rather pricey all-inclusive tour. You will see the important things you want to see, while keeping your blood pressure under control in the process.
Here's hoping you'll be impressed enough to come back to Rome for the week or two that it takes to really get "inside" it. It's a wonderous place. Hope you enjoy it.
Taking the ship's tours from Civitavecchia is the only way to do it - because of the distance. The HAL Vatican tour is better than trying it on your own the first time for simple efficiency. We found Rome itself wonderful to walk in; we found a small laminated street map that kept us from getting lost - and every street and corner is a visual treat. If you can, add a few days and really enjoy Rome.
This may be too late but...I just got off the Rotterdam last
Friday, and went on that very shore excursion. You only get to see the outside of the Colusseum, and the outside of other monuments, but to get inside the Colusseum in the summer could easily be a two hour wait. Even the "Footsteps of the Emperors" went inside the Forum, but not the Colusseum. This tour went to the Vatican, and inside Saint Peters, and did an Express tour of the Vatican museums, including the Sistine Chapel, for HAL tours after the museums closed. This express tour was about 90 minutes, so you aren't wandering the magnificent halls for hours, but you do get in. Again, the lines for the Vatican museums in the summer are also very long, and could easily take hours. The frustrating part of this shore excursion is the guide gets to edit what you are going to look at. If I were the guide I would have given free time inside Saint Peter's to look around, but he didn't allow for that. We spent a bit of time on a bus tour of Rome that I'm not sure was necessary, but maybe we needed to take that very route that seemed to pass the same mermaid fountain 4 times. If you take the "transfer" excursion, that drops you at the Spanish Steps and picks you up there you will have less time in Rome, as that tour wants to be back to the ship by 6. You could probably only get to either the Colusseum or a short Vatican visit, and either would scare me, as I would worry about missing the coach due to subways running late or something.
The lunch included with this excursion was absolutely wonderful. In my previous visit to Rome I didn't stumble into this type of "typical" Italian trattoria, and I would certainly be happy to return to this one.
Good luck in what ever you pick. Rome was absolutely beautiful.