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Old 09-08-2006, 04:11 PM
Hank Hank is offline
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 751
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The "on your own" reviews are a great resource. Regarding the cruise lines and tours, I think its important to understand that the cruise lines view tours as just one more profit center (along with booze, bingo, casinos, art auctions, shops, etc) that feeds into their goal of "maximizing on-board revenue" Many do not understand that the tours are simply contracted from shore-bases companies and than marked-up by the ships. Its even worse with the port lecturers who, on many cruise lines, do not even work for the cruise line. On many lines the port lecturers are provided by a private contractor (who pays the cruise line for the rights) who makes their money by payments from the "recommended shops"). Like I said, times are a changing. As to pre-purchasing European train tickets...that is not necessary unless you are booking one of the IC or EC trains that require reservations (these are the "crack" high speed trains generally used for longer trips). The trains you would take to Rome or Florence do not even accept reservations...so no reason to pre-book. They sell an unlimited number of tickets for these trains and if the train happens to be overcrowded (this happened to us once on a train from the port to Rome) you might actually have to stand (very rare, but it can happen). Seating on these trains is simply first come-first serve similar to any commuter train. I would buy the ticket the day of your train...in fact, you can even buy tickets through electronic machines at the station or use the agent at the ticket window (your choice)
Hank