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agen_kolar May 19th, 2009 02:39 PM

Holland America 20-Day Mediterranean Adventure
This will be my first cruise, so I'm pretty unfamiliar with how shore excursions work. I realize we have little time, so I would like any advice on what to do and how to do it on a budget in the following cities:

- Rome, Italy
- Florence, Italy
- Monet Carlo, Monaco
- Barcelona, Spain
- Naples Italy
- Carthage, Tunisia
- Dubrovnik, Croatia
- Corfu, Greece
- Katakolon, Greece
- Santorini, Greece
- Kusadasi, Turkey
- Athens, Greece
- Messina, Sicily

Thanks so much for your help!

- Kyle

colorcrazie May 19th, 2009 04:25 PM

I am so jealous. Sounds like a great cruise. I have not been to any of these ports, but, in general, when we are in a port that we are not familiar with, we pay the extra money to take a ship sponsored tour. That way, we know we will get back to the ship on time and not have to worry about where we are, how long do we have, how far away are we from the ship, etc. You can usually either book ships tours on line before going or once you get on the ship. Yes, you can do things cheaper on your own, but I like knowing that I can just relax and let the cruise line be responsible.
This is just how we do things. Others will disagree.

flyingcarpet May 24th, 2009 10:31 AM


we used an excellent licensed tour guide in Dubrovnik (Croatia)and his name is Denis.He is very knowledgeable local guide and we visited during our walking tour Synagogue and Jewish museum in Dubrovnik.He knows so much about the Jewish community in Dubrovnik.We walked the walls and visited a few local museums located within city walls.
Denis e-mail :

zdgp May 25th, 2009 08:18 AM

Last March and April we were on HAL’s Mediterranean grand voyage and use HAL’s shore excursions. Here’s my $0.02:

If you book a tour in Turkey that includes a ”carpet demonstration”, watch out. You will be descended upon by a bunch of Turkish carpet salesmen. (If these guys were in the USA, they would probably be selling used cars.) On our tour in Kusadasi we had the option of skipping this step because we were within walking distance of the ship. If you can avoid it, do so.

If your tour of Rome is only one day, make note of where you will stop. We only had two stops: St. Peters (worth it), and the Trevi fountain (a waste of time). Everything else was “drive by” sightseeing.

billbelt February 6th, 2010 10:07 AM

AGEN KOLAR----this is a post cruise question as I assume you have already been on your cruise. We have cruised to most of those ports you listed. We always took ship tours. Did you take any tours other than ship tours? We are especially interested about privately acquired tours for Kusadasi, Turkey, Athens , Greece and Barcelona, Spain.

rjowais February 27th, 2010 07:04 AM

These ports are all really awesome to give a visit!! :)

transbalkan April 21st, 2010 09:20 AM

Regarding a private excursion to Ephesus, it would be our pleasure to be in service to you. We have been providing guided private tours and excursions since 1963. Licensed by the Turkish Ministry of Culture. License No. A776. To get more information about ourselves please visit our web site: Trans Balkan Tours : Ephesus Tours, Ephesus excursions and Private Ephesus Tours - Ephesus, Turkey

AF1 May 13th, 2010 06:08 PM

Kyle, I have been to a few of your ports of call
Rome: I used a private company called romeinlimo. I used them for both rome and florence/pisa. They were great, saw more in those two ports than the other ports. In Rome they took us to Colissium, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, and Vatican. Private tour in Colissium and private tour with guide at the vatican.
Florence/Pisa: Used same company as above, They were able to drop us off right next to the Leaning tower; gave us time to sightsee then on to Florence. Florence is about an 1 1/2 hours from port, so u need to consider this on any tour u take.
Dubrovnik; Take the ship shuttle bus. go to downtown Durbrovnik, it is a walled city; great place and lots to see; you can spend a few hours inside the city (it is surrounded by a rock wall), shopping, sightseeing, and places to eat.
Cofu: I visited a Greek Monestary where they pressed their own olive oil; and Achellion Palace (no big deal)
Santorini; the ship will dock in the town of Fira; A must see town is Oia, you can take a taxi there or the city bus. It is about 30 minutes from the port
Kudiashi: My favorite port; This is where u can go to Ephasus, the town where the Apostle Paul taught to the Ephessians for three years; lots of ancient architecture all over. It is about 20 minutes from the port
Hope this helps

kim p December 11th, 2010 09:10 PM

We have been to a few of the ports you posted. Naples you must go to Pompei it will bow your mind. Dubrovnik is best walking on your own. Most of the tours of the center are this way and stop for lunch of local fish. You can buy a pass to walk around the Castle. Katakolon is very small and full of local trinket & trash stores. The tour go out to the Olympic site worth the price and info. Santorini can be done by just walking around yourself. We had the best view at the top in a local coffee shop overlooking our ship it was the best. Messina we took the tour to Mt Edna it was ery ineresting. Wish we had more time to spend there. We went On Costa cruises and really enjoyed ourselves.

MercedMike December 12th, 2010 12:42 AM

How Shore Excursions Work

Originally Posted by agen_kolar (Post 1220662)
This will be my first cruise, so I'm pretty unfamiliar with how shore excursions work. I realize we have little time, so I would like any advice on what to do and how to do it on a budget in the following cities:


Thanks so much for your help!

- Kyle

To reply to your general question, for the benefit not necessarily for the OP but for the many readers and lurkers on this board:

On any cruise on any cruise line, you will usually find that the ship offers a large selection of excursions in every port. These are usually excellent excursions. Frequently the ship has the best tour companies, the best vehicles, the best guides, and the best access to the best venues. Particularly for a novice cruiser and the first time you visit a port, they are a very safe and convenient choice. Reading over the cruise line excursion brochure can usually give you a very good over view of the port. Usually the cruise line excursions will be on a large bus, and will strictly budget time at each attraction and shopping opportunity. We have often done this with uniformly good results.

Another excellent option is to book with an independent excursion company, such as shoretrips, port promotions, or toursbylocals. They normally offer a large selection of tours, frequently the same tours the ship offers, but give you the chance to tour with a smaller group and a certain amount of customization. We have done this a few times and it works very well.

For those who like to do research, are experienced cruisers, and have been to ports before, it often works well to find an independent guide and book a special private customized tour with them. In this case, you can set up the tour exactly as you want it, do what you want to do for as long as you want, and travel in a private vehicle in comfort instead of a large bus. Often, it is surprisingly affordable to do this. We do this very often and most of the time it is a great way to tour.

Another option is to get off the ship and book a tour at the port or find a taxi drive who will take you around. This is, IMAO, extremely chancy. We have done this a very few times, some good and some disastrous.

Finally you can go ashore and take local transportation on your own. Our usual experience is that this is very time consuming and confusing. We do it seldom.

You can view some of our European cruises and see how we have used each of these methods with good results. We decide on a port by port basis, read the ship's excursions first, do our research, and then come to a conclusion about the best way for US at that particular port. YMMV.

Grand Princess Mediterranean Cruise Review

Have a GREAT cruise!

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