Med Cruises - Private Shore Excursions
Well my wife and I really enjoyed our back to back Med cruises ex Venice on MS Nieuw Amsterdam.
We did mainly ship excursions but I booked some private tours pre-cruise and thought I should share my reviews and recommendations.
Istanbul - I have made comments elewhere on this and while the tour was good, the guide was not.
All other private tours were based on recommendations from Cruisemates message boards.
Athens - Athens Tour Service - Spiros Halkides. Our driver/guide was Nicos - the perfect Greek gentleman - smooth, courteous and couldn't do enough for us. Perfect manners - called us Mr. and Mrs. although I tried to get him to call me Tony. A very enjoyable day - highly recommended. Filled the day well for us and got some extra highlights we did not expect such as visit to Presidential palace and photos with the guard.
Ephesus - Hello Ephesus - our guide was 'Susie' - another great guide. I had arranged a specific tour to see all the things I wanted to see. Any tour in Turkey will take to to a rug factory but our short visit - marketed to see how rugs made -did turn into a sales pitch but the vendor was very pleasant and we did not waste each other's time. Had a very nice lunch at our stop. Ephesus is 'Fantastic'. Hello Ephesus very professional.
Naples - Silverstar Sorrento to Positano, Sorrento and Pompeii - a disappointment- I was looking forward to this - our driver/guide was ok - can't remember his name - but it poured rain in Sorrento and he was after us to walk the 'pretty streets'- my wife stood under an arch while I walked a bit under my umbrella.
On to Positano - Yeah it was nice to view from the cliffs but crowded and expensive shopping spot. The company had a booking at a restaurant up on the hills as part of the tour - although my wife didn't want to go because we are light eaters at lunch - anyway we went and had the few sample plates of food with a very ordinary bottle of wine and a bottle of water - then we got the bill for 50 euros - felt that was a rip-off - I did not expect that cost. While we had a nice view of the beach etc. below, we could have done without the lunch.
Pompeii - we only had 1.5 hours there - not enough - with a site guide -which we did not have -the min required is supposed to be 2.5 hours. Only thing I messed up on our tour bookings and a pity.
After reading the positive recommendations for Silverstar Sorrento I am sorry to say - disappointed.
Livorno - Cinque Terra tour with Sunflower Tours. Our host - Giocanni - what a guy - we felt we had made a friend. Giovanni was helpful, fun, friendly, courteous and professional. We cut out one of the villages- Corniglia - it was most touristy and commercial - We loved Cinque Terra - really did and it capped our cruise wonderfully. Giovanni took us to another small village - San Bernadino and to Portovenere - really nice and worth a visit.
Highly recommend this tour and Sunflower Tours, Giovanni is the owner and gives personal service. Great Guy.
I hope these comments help people planning private excursions and please consider giving my Favs your business. Strongly recommend Giovanni, Susie and Nicos
Sorry but I had the wrong name for the Athens Tour - it was Spiros Taxi Service
Spiros Halkides is the owner of the business.
Cinque Terre cost
Hi Tony, and thanks for the names.
You don't happen to recall the cost of the Cinque Terre tour do you, and how long the tour took. Did you have enough time to enjoy the villages & still get back to the ship, or was it a bit rushed.
The Cinque Terra Tour was 420 euros - there was only the two of us but it was a trip I wanted to do so I paid it and all private tours are in the 400-500+ range.
As they say, if you have more to share, the individual cost comes down - it went for about 9 hrs - no worries with making the ship 'back on board timeport departure - we had to be back by 5.30 and got back on board at 4.30.
I had no problems with making it back on time with any of our private excursions.
I do recommend Giovanni - brilliant guy.
We had a Merc car to ourselves but he also has a mini-van. The roads are not very wide in the Cinque Terra area.
Hope this helps
Great information, thanks once again, I've printed it all out & put it in our 'cruise info drawer'.
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