First off, Neil is correct in saying that everything in Europe is "pricey." Thankfully, your cruise does not go to Venice or you would really understand European inflation. Now, about the excursions, I would highly recommend that you plan your shore excursions through Norwegian. To begin with, you are guaranteed to get back to the ship before departure. That is very important when booking privately through a third party. I have seen people left and it is never a good thing. The ship typically gets a little better rate on excursions than you would be able to obtain privately. Go to shoretrips.com and compair the cost. Good luck in hunting. Messina, Naples, Rome, Florence, and Pisa are great ports and I hope that you enjoy each of them.