We are completely new to cruising and need general and specific advice about shore excursions. We will be going on a 12 day cruise with the Emerald Princess in early July, stopping in Dubrovnik, Corfu, Katakolon (for Olympia), Athens, Mykonos, Kusadasi (for Ephesus), Rhodes, Santorini, Naples and disembarking at Civitavecchio.
1) Is it better to book shore excursions with the cruise (I'm assuming that the ship won't leave without us if we're late and with one of their shore excursions?!) or book in advance private companies as suggested on these forums or wait till we get there and book with companies who might be waiting at the port?
2) Which of the places can be explored by ourselves on foot? We are a party of 10, including 2 toddlers, which makes it difficult to book too many excursions, particularly all day ones.
3) Which of the places are pretty straightforward to get to by public transport and then explore by ourselves? The last thing we want is to be late back on the ship if we stray too far and the public transport is too complicated.
Any tips / comments / advice would be very much appreciated.