We are going on Emerald Princess on May 12 and so far have only booked a tour for Ephesus. I think since there is not much to choose from in Mykonos we are going to wander on our own and in Marseille I think the best places to visit are Aix en Provence, Arles, or Cassis. I am thinking by then we will be tired of churches and ruins and may choose to do the tour to Cassis--a small fishing village--to enjoy the view and some vin. Marseille is a bit of a rough place( memory of some 25 years ago!) and I think there are better places to see in Provence.
Thank you so much for your response. Please be sure to follow-up after you return from your cruise. I will be very interested to find out how you enjoyed the cruise, and if you have any additional advice for our cruise the next month.
We will be traveling on the same June 29th cruise. Likewise, our family of four has booked private tours in all but Mykonos, Florence and Marseille.
I had a friend that just returned from this same cruise and she said Mykonos was fine to do on your own. She said it wasn't worth going to the beach ( the water was freezing - this was the first week in June) and they charge 20 euros for a beach chair.
I think we are going to do Florence by train on our own and I am leaning towards taking the train to Aix-En-Provence as well. I just can't seem to find any private tours that look reasonable in price.
Thanks for your response. It won't be long now! Our 4-some signed up for the Aix-En-Provence & Lourmarin On Your Own excursion in Marseilles, and we'll do Mykonos on our own, but stay away from the Beach.
A week from tomorrow my husband & I are renting a car & driving to the Dolomites for 3 nights before arriving in Venice for the cruise.
Sometimes I wish there would be a few others who would respond to these kind of questions. If the poster has his/her heart set on booking tours, than they can certainly book another cruise ship tour (always overpriced) or make on-line inquiries to find a local tour operator. For a few hundred Euros you will be able to get a great tour to anywhere in the region. Most cruisrs think of Marseille as a gateway to the Provence region of France, although, even Marseille has some of its own charm. But, I generally recommend that folks take advantage of the opportunity to visit Provence. If you look at a map, imagine a triange with Aix en Provence, Arles, and Avignon at the points. That is a wonderful region. It is actually quite easy to get to Aix and Arles by train (Avignon is a little further) although a car increases the opportunity to explore the countryside. When we are in this region (be it on a ship or simply when traveling in France) we like to rent a car. As to what you see, in Arles you have an attractive city with an amazing Roman Amphitheater at its heart (they still use this ancient outdoor theater for summer concerts). In Aix, you get a beautiful town with some very attractive wide tred-lined avenues with wonderful outdoor cafes. This was also a favorite home town for Cezanne and they maintain his studio as a tourist place. The reason most of the Impressionists loved Provence was because the provence is full of picturesque scenery and places. One other thing that came up a few weeks ago. While on a transatlantic cruise (Grand Princess) we were having dinner with a two other couples and the subject of the cost of tours and cruising was being discussed. I made an offhand remark that I knew how to reduce the cost of our cruise by 25%. Of course that got some interest and a fun bet of a free drink. I simply took a list of their tours and the cost, and quickly calculated how much they could save by doing the same things on their own (with trains, local buses, and rental cars) and it turned out that it would save them about 28% (I won the drink). Our European friends often remark that they do not understand why Americans and Japanese seem to be unable to do anything without a tour guide. In fact, its fun to spend a day sitting in the Piazza Navona (Rome) watching the tour groups in this very public piaza. We are often told its because of the language barrier. Well, I am an American who has traveled in more than 75 countries, and the worst language barrier problems I have is in my own country where many refuse to speak English!
Hank, thank you for your response. You seem very well informed. Are you in the travel industry?
Can you tell me how long it would take to travel by train to Aix and Arles by train, and where the train is located in relation to the port? Or perhaps I'll look into renting a car in Marseilles and finding out if my Garmin Nuvi is up to the challenge.