We will be visiting the Mediterrian in late September. This will be my first cruise, my first visit to the Med and my second trip to Europe (the last one was 17 yrs ago!). I will be with a friend who has never been to the Med, on a cruise or to Europe! I would love to hear from you experenced travelers as to which ports to explore on our own and which not to risk it (because of time, confussion, etc..)
We will be visiting:
1. Monte Carlo (sounds like an easy walk around town)
2. Livorno (Florence/Piza)
3. Naples/ Capri
4. Santorini (also sounds like one to skip the tour for??)
5. Kusadasi, Turkey
7. Piraeus (Athens)
We will be aboard the Golden Princess. Any info on how their tours compair (other then price) to the private ones??
I can't wait to hear all of your saged advise!
Have you checked out all of the suggestions on our sister site Port Reviews? Tom has spent a lot of time researching these ports and has provided excellent details on how to do many of them on your own (www.europeportreviews.com)
You will find, in most cases the cruise lines excursions will be more expensive than booking them privately on your own. Also, I find that those excursions I book on my own are more tailored to my specific needs and interests and are much more personal. But, as you have so rightly surmised, there are times when it is worth the extra money to pay for a ship's excursion (tight time parameters, distance from the port, etc.). Check out the info on Port Reviews, as that is a good place to start.
I've already read through all of them! From them I've gotten an idea about what might be a better bet for self guided vs. tours but I was hoping for some more imput from all of you that have "been there-done that".
I just took a trip to the Med. with similar destinations. To Pisa, I would recommend just taking the Princess Shuttle. The shuttle drops you off near the Leaning Tower. I think a shuttle ticket is about $10.00 round trip. For Kusadasi,Athens and and Naples I went on indepth tours and I would highly recommend going with a tour group. You will get much more out of it. In Santorini and Mykonos dont waste your money. Princes takes you to shore on a tender boat and everything is within walking distance. These are both very small,beautiful islands.
My husband and I just returned home from a 10-day Mediterranean cruise. We visited some of the ports you will be going to.
1. Monte Carlo - you can definitely walk/use public transportation to see the sights. (You will have thighs of steel by the end of the day though, very hilly).
2. Florence/Pisa - you can take a taxi directly to the train station in Livorno, take the train to Pisa first in the morning, when it is less crowded. Try to get there early and you may be able to go up the leaning tower. Head on the train into Florence. Book tickets to see the Statue of David at the Galleria Dell Academia online ahead of time. The concierge on the ship should be able to help you, but you will need internet access to confirm your tickets and print out your voucher, which you will need to bring with you to the museum. Book tickets at least 2-3 days before your stop in Florence. It's definitely worth it.
3. Naples - we did a cruise line excursion on Celebrity to the Amalfi Coast and Pompei. I would book the same exact tour again if we go back to Naples.
4. Santorini - you can do your own thing, use the buses - they are cheap and have regular service all over the island. Go to the city of Oia and bring your camera, it is spectacular. Check to see if Akrotiri (archeological site) is open, it was closed when we were there, but from that bus stop at Akrotiri, you can walk to see the Red Beach.
5. Mykonos - you can also do your own thing here, and take the inexpensive, reliable buses. We went to Paradise Beach; to get there, get off at Platos Gialos and take the boat, which is 10 minutes. Bring water shoes if you are going to a beach or swimming; it is very rocky and both my husband and I endured slight foot injuries (I sliced my foot on a rock, and my husband stepped on a sea urchine).
We didn't visit the other ports on your cruise. Have a wonderful time.
Just found the jack pot of information. Look at this and enjoy.
Tom Ogg suggests taking the train everyone and anywhere. He gives folks step by step instrucion (turn left, go two blocks,turn right etc.) and includes pictures of signs to look for to know you're where you should be.
I think my friend and I will be doing this route, it'll will really cute down the cost. If you're on the 9/23/06 Golden Princess, you and your party are welcome to join us.
Look what Tom has to say and follow his helpful links.
Look into Port Reviews-> European Ports Chat -> European Port Review, then follow the links from Tom Ogg's original post. Great stuff!