We´ll be on your Dec 21st cruise. We´re a couple from Germany with our 8yo DD.
We are mainly doing the shore excursions on our own. As we´ve been on the Gem this past May we´ve been to Malta, Rome and Naples. For Alexandria we´ve booked a one day tour with NCL as we don´t wanna go on a two day tour. We´re still thinking about Izmir. Ephesus is about an hour from Izmir. I haven´t found any information about taxis at port and how much they are. All private drivers I´ve found were much more expensive than the ships tour I was looking into ($59, Magnificent Ephesus). The downside on this tour is the visit to the carpet weaving factory (BTW, ain´t it funny that this visit is not mentioned when I´m checking the tour description via the German NCL website??).
As for Naples (http://www.porto.napoli.it/
): With the Gem we docked at the main cruise terminal (the Jade was in port on the same day and she was a bit more to the right, I´d say about 5-10 min walking). If we´re docking at the main terminal (which is sort of a construction site). The ferry termininal (Molo Beverello) is located just to the left when you leave the terminal building. The ticket office of LN jet ferry (http://www.navlib.it/
) is on the street side. The ferry we catched was the 8:35 am ferry. We also booked the return trip for 15:25. The single fare is 17 Euro. It takes about 50 min to get to Capri (http://www.capritourism.com/
). We took the bus up to Anacapri (single fare 1.40 Euro). We went up to Monte Solaro with the chair lift but I don´t think this will be nice in December. We walked to the Villa Axel Munthe and did some shopping. Then we took the bus to Capri village and walked around there. The funicular took us down to the harbor again (also 1.40 Euro).
Malta is also easy to explore on your own. The bus system is pretty good. When you are leaving the ship to the right side and up to the street you won´t have any problems to see the bus stop. There were a lot of people waiting for the passengers directing you to the bus stop and selling the tickets. The trip up to the main square where all other lines depart is 1 Euro (roundtrip). A day ticket is 3.50 Euro. But as an example a single ticket to Rabat/Mdina was 0.47 Euro so you have to use the busses quite frequently to get up to 3.50 Euros for the day ticket.
I´ve written a long review about our trip on the Gem but it´s in German and on another website which I´m not allowed to link to (it´s another German cruise message board).
TomB, Nedra1 or KennyD50,
if you got any chance to check whether tours to Ephesus are available at Izmir (taxi or tour operators waiting for cruise passengers at port) please post a note on this thread after your return.