Hey Philip Cali,
I second the advice already given. Your best bet is to first get yourself some good cruise port guidebooks - Fodors and Frommers European Ports. These guides will spell out which ports are easily visited one your own and which ones the tours make more sense. Yes, if you venture out on your own minus the ship's tour, language may be a problem. Pisa, you can reach on your own via train or car if you also want to hit Lucca. But bear in mind, if there is a traffic issue, you are stuck missing the ship. I personally budget money for tours when I embark on a new itinerary. We were on Crown for 12 days in May and hit Italy and Greece. We are planning now for next summer and I this time because I know what to expect and I have a lay of the land so to speak, I will be doing some excursions on my own - The Acropolis no problem because I saw how far the subway stop is from the port. Ephesus we will rent a car because the I know where it is located now in the mountains - these things I learned from the tour I took from PRincess. So, I guess, if you are comfortable with the language of each place you are visiting, and are up for adventure, then forgo the tours and do it on your own. But make sure if you rent a car, that you get the most comprehensive car insurance - collision, upset that is offered. In Florence someone hit our car when we were parked in the parking garage and we were completely covered - I mean the car agent told us the insurance would cover us for the car even if we failed to return it - so that is the mostest of the mostest. I was noticing for instance in the Princess tours for MonteCarlo as an example that Princess was charging somewhere like $40 US per person to go on a tour of the palace and then view the casino and a little ride around the city. Let's just say that I knew that was ridiculously priced when I read in my guidebooks that we could literally walk to the palace and then take a $1 euro bus ride to the casino. So there you go, read all you can and take tours to those places that you would not be comfortable getting to the first time round. My advice - hope it helps.