We are 2 couples going on a Princess Cruise on Oct. 4th. We were looking at reserving private tours for Florence and Naples ports. But, we've read horror stories about not being met at the port. I have also read that sometimes the shore excursion vendor reviews are not written by a traveler like myself but someone connected to the shore excursion vendor. It's scarey - who do you trust. I know that the cruiseline would be a good responsible choice in case we run late getting back to the ship. Can a "true traveler" recommend a shore excursion vendor for Florence & Naples.
Lucky you - have a blast on your cruise - my husband and I are taking the Princess Grand Mediterranean in 2009. We did visit Italy on a land excursion a few years ago, and from the port of Naples visited the Isle of Capri. It was absolutely unforgettable - like a dream. We will not book an excursion there because we "know the ropes" when we sail in 2009. The cruise terminal is also where you can catch a hydrofoil directly to Capri (I think they run about $11 euros - about $15 I think USA). It takes about 50 minutes each way. From the level of the beach, you can board a funicular - like a little train - that takes you up the cliff face to the village of Capri - great shops, little cafes, purfumeries. You can catch a bus up to the village of Anacapri - way at the top of the island - beautiful views of the surrounding sea, the famous islands. Take a dreamy segovia ride up to the very top of the mountain (like a ski-lift), and visit the Villa San Michele. If you have time, take a trip to the Blue Grotto by boat. It is at least a two hour trip to visit the Blue Grotto but I promise there is nothing like it in the world. Every second on Capri is like a fantasy. You can take the excursion through Princess, but I wouldn't be afraid to book it yourself. There is NO CRIME on Capri so you have no need to be afraid that you will end up in a bad neighborhood or something, and from what I hear, you can end up with more time to enjoy the day if you do it yourself instead of waiting around for tours to be gathered together. You can walk from the cruise terminal to the place where the hydrofoils sail from. If you are more comfortable with Princess taking care of the details, go with them, but I wouldn't do a multi-destination excursion like Pompei, Sorrento and Capri all on the same day. I think you wouldn't get much out of any of the destinations. If you are really into archeology, Pompei is cool, Sorrento was not at all different than any other Italian city, and Naples was not appealing at all to us. We also visited Florence and since my husband and I are really into art so we thought the Uffizi Gallery was amazing. We may book travel to Florence from the cruise terminal through Princess when we go, but friends who cruise say that booking trains online to get from the cruise terminal to and from Florence isn't scary at all and they got more time at the destination than people who did bussed excursions. It depends on your comfort level, I guess. We may wait and see if we meet more seasoned cruisers when we get on board. Good luck and have a great time!