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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 06-09-2008, 01:58 PM
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Hi there experienced cruisers, I wondered whether anyone can help me?! We (My husband, daughter, Mum and Dad) are due to go on an Eastern Med cruise and have been sent a guide to book excursions before we depart. We have streteched ourselves financially to go on the cruise itself and wondered whether these are really necessary or if you can have just as much fun exploring on your own. I'm currently researching where the ports are in relation to the main cities/sights. I would be really grateful if anyone could give me some advice on this. Do any stand out that really could do with an excursion booking? Are the local tour companies a cheaper alternative?
We are going to:

Mykonos, Greece
Rhodes, Greece
Santorini, Greece
Istabul Turkey
Ephesus (Kudadasi) Turkey
Athens (Piraeus) Greece
Naples/Capri Italy
Rome Italy

I eagerly await your replies!
  #2 (permalink)  
Old 06-09-2008, 01:58 PM
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Hi there experienced cruisers, I wondered whether anyone can help me?! We (My husband, daughter, Mum and Dad) are due to go on an Eastern Med cruise and have been sent a guide to book excursions before we depart. We have streteched ourselves financially to go on the cruise itself and wondered whether these are really necessary or if you can have just as much fun exploring on your own. I'm currently researching where the ports are in relation to the main cities/sights. I would be really grateful if anyone could give me some advice on this. Do any stand out that really could do with an excursion booking? Are the local tour companies a cheaper alternative?
We are going to:

Mykonos, Greece
Rhodes, Greece
Santorini, Greece
Istabul Turkey
Ephesus (Kudadasi) Turkey
Athens (Piraeus) Greece
Naples/Capri Italy
Rome Italy

I eagerly await your replies!
  #3 (permalink)  
Old 06-09-2008, 02:54 PM
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Location: Houston TX
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Hi Liz,

Welcome to cruise-chat! Europe is no longer a bargain no matter how you do it. The dollar is quite weak against the Euro and just doesn't go far. There will be many outside tour options and winging it is always an option. You want to do some heavy research before attempting to wing it or even choose an outside the cruiseline option. There are many far more knowledgable people on here than I when it comes to Europe and I hope they'll give you their take based on their experiences there. In the meantime, there are a great deal of previous posts that are related to your question from previous posts. You may want to click on the "Find tab" with the little hour glass and type in a few keywords like the names of your ports to see what has been recently discussed on the topic.

Cheers, Neil
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Old 06-11-2008, 12:13 PM
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for turkish ports especially for ephesus, you can check out this informative forums http://forum.kusadasi.biz/tags.php?tag=ephesus

these guys seem that they know what they r doing,
also when you google tours from kusadasi the best local tour arrangers are listed in google..
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Old 06-11-2008, 04:37 PM
 
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Yes, tours (private or cruise line tours) are quite expensive and its actually possible to spend more on tours than on the actual cruise. You ask can one have as much fun without a tour, and my answer after more than 25 years of traveling without tours would be it depends on you. My wife and I dislike almost any tour because we do not like being in a group, herded like cattle, and only seeing what is "appropriate" for tours. We also love to eat in Europe, and our type of long lunches at cute outdoor cafes does not fit into most tours (its possible with private tours). However, to do your own thing in most places requires a lot of homework, some "travel smarts or lots of common sense," a spirit of adventure, and the ability to accept some flexibility in your plans. Everyone of your ports can be done on your own, but for Kusadasi I would strongly recommend that any first-time visitor take a tour (we prefer private over cruise tours). Mykonos, Rhodes, and Santorini can easily be done on your own (but you do need to do your homework). Istanbul can also be done on your own but does require a little more homework. Athens can be done on your own by simply taking the subway line that runs from Pireaus into town (watch out for gypsy pickpockets on this train). When you go to the Acropolis you might want to buy your way onto a local tour or, at least, get the audio tour. Naples really depends on what you want to do since there are so many possibilities. A trip to Capri is easy on your own, but traveling on the Amalfi Drive is best done with a tour or private driver for any first-time visitor. Rome is a sprawling city that can be done on your own by using the train and a decent guide book. But Rome is a challenge because of its size, and some tours can help a visitor avoid the long lines to get into the Vatican Museums (its also possible to pre-book Vatican tours and avoid the long lines).

The two best friends of the independent traveler (we travel like this about 6 months a year) is the Internet and the large book stores like Borders where you can browse books while sipping some coffee at their cafes.

Hank
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Old 06-13-2008, 09:23 AM
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Thank you for all the advice! My parents are coming round for a meal tomorrow night, to discuss the cruise, and what we might do regarding excursions.

When you say, 'Do your homework and research', could give me a few pointers as to what we should be considering?

Liz
  #7 (permalink)  
Old 06-13-2008, 04:46 PM
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Liz, Doing your homework is reading everything you can on each port of call. Go to the different travel sites. Trip advisor, Virtural tourist, Frommers, and of course this site and research, Try to read others cruise reviews and see what they did. You can also write to the different cities and ask for maps and info. It is a lot of work if you want to do things on your own and not get lost!
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Old 06-13-2008, 06:06 PM
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Liz,

On a first time cruise to Europe, even after doing all the leg work you'll want to have very careful planning. Keep a very close eye on the time and time frames of any tours or visits on your own that you plan. Leave plenty of time at the end of each port day to make your last stops close to the ship instead of working your way away from the ports. You do not want to be many miles from the ship and have something go wrong and no time to find alternative transportation options. A tour bus flat or breakdown, a long line at the last stop that you really wanted to see and a few dozen other unexpected things can change your plans and you have to be willing to drop that last, must see, if time gets away from you. This is not so much of a factor if you do cruiseline tours but is very much a factor if you go off on your own or even with an outside tour. Don't cut things close. You probably don't speak the language and that can complicate issues that can develop with transportation.

Cheers, Neil
  #9 (permalink)  
Old 06-13-2008, 07:22 PM
 
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I think the last two posts have great advice. We also like to look at all the tour offerings of the cruise and perhaps other cruises (you can usually find this on cruise company web sites. The internet is a great place to learn, and even after more than 30 years of international travel we like to spend time at Borders browsing the newest tour books (we seldom buy the things since they are out of date before you even buy). The important thing is to narrow down the options and try to prioritize what would be best for you. At that point than you can explore how to achieve your options whether it be overpriced cruise line tours, private tours (usually found and booked on-line), or the cheapest (but most challenge) DIY (Do It Yourself). I will give you an example for Naples. From that port you have many options such as Pompeii, Sorrento, Capri, Herculanium, the Amalfi Coast and some lesser known places such as Ischia. In some cases its possible to do a combination of places (such as Pompeii and Sorrento) and in other cases it might be best to take a full day to see one thing (such as the Amalfi Coast).

Hank

Hank
  #10 (permalink)  
Old 06-18-2008, 02:26 PM
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My second med cruise, two years ago we went to Pompeii by train, this year we booked a private tour of Amalfi Coast from Sorrentosilverstar was fabulous. there are place you can visit to your own like Pompeii but not Positano or Amalfi.
 
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advice, buy, cruise, day, eastern, excursion, excursions, med, mediterranean, naples, plan, ports, private, rhodes, shore, tours

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