We are traveling on HAL Noordam, 10 day cruise Rome/Greece and Turkey. I would appreciate any tips on shore excursions, that are a must see. Ports of call: Corfu, Santorini, Dubrovnik, Athens, Turkey, Messina.
Is it possible to get around on your own (walkable). Do they offer shopping at the ports of call --- directly off ship? Also, do they barter in the markets? And last but not least do they accept American money.
We did the same cruise last fall. You will need to get some Euros, it will be difficult using $US. We took excursions in all ports.....Messina we went to Mt. Etna...Dubrovnick we took a short bus tour and then walked the old town which I feel is a must do. We wanted to see more of Dubrovnick so we then walked back to the ship which took about 1 hour but it was welll worth it. In Santorini we took a bus tour of the island and left the tour in Fira to visit the shops and admire the views. We then walked down the stairs (rather than ride the donkeys) to the ship tender. In Corfu we took a tour of the city and then walked around the old town. In Turkey we took the excursion to Ephesus...again I feel it's a "must do." At most ports there is shopping within easy walking distance of the dock.
"You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough." ~ Mae West
We just got back from a similar itinerary on HAL. Dubrovnik is definitely walkable. We stayed at the local ports in Civitivecchia and Livorno, instead of going into Rome or Florence. The local ports are easy to get around on your own, but I'd do an excursion if you want to go to the cities. The only port in Greece we needed to take an excursion was Olympia, since the Olympic site is the only thing to see and we couldn't figure out how to do it easily on our own.
Just did a similar trip on Ruby:
Turkey - Ephasis (about 1hr from port) - do the tour - it's brilliant.
House of the Virgin Mary was also quite surreal (if you're a catholic)
Corfu - make your own way around town in a cab or on a bus - flat and simple - lovely strip of cafes - take a seat and have a nice cold drink!
Dubrovnik - the bus is right outside the port #1 bus I recall - 15mins and a few dolars later you're in the old town.
Walk the city walls - very pretty.
Santorini - you will probably have to take a tender to shore then up the cable car (or stinky donkey). Bus station in Fira is a 5min stroll away.
Go to Oia by bus - 20 or 30mins - best views in the world!
Athens is huge - do a tour (Parthenon is amazing - but slippery - wear rubber sole shoes) - we also went to Corinth Canal - my mum and sister loved this.
Best to have Euro's and alwasy remember - "everything is negotiable"