Greetings from Miami, FL!!
I am a fairly green cruiser. I have been with RCL and NCL to the Caribbean a couple of times, did Alaska on Celebrity last year. I am doing my first Europe Cruise on Celebrity, Nov 17, for 14 days. Never been to Europe at all. VERY EXCITED!!!
I would greatly welcome your advice with the ports. My boyfriend and I would like to be adventurous and try to see the sites on our own.
Here is my itinerary: All arrivals 7-8 AM
Nov.17-18 = Venice (Departs on the 18th @ 4pm)
Nov 20 = Dubrovnik (Departs 6pm)
Nov. 22 - Athens/Piraeus (Departs 7pm)
Nov. 23-24 Kusadasi, Turkey (Departs on the 24th @ 4pm)
Nov. 26 - Naples (Departs 8 pm)
Nov 27-28 - Rome/Civ (Departs on the 28th @ 7pm)
Nov. 29 - Livorno (Departs 7 pm)
Nov. 30 - Villafrenche-sur-Mer (Depart 8 pm)
Dec. 2 - Barcelona
What is the best way to get from the Venice Airpot to the port? Taxi/shuttle, public transportation? How far is it?
Do you have comments on the other ports? I have cut and paste very valuable information from other cruisers, I plan to do the same with your responses. Specific details are welcome. Please let me know about public transportation, trains/buses, where to catch them? What to pay? Must see?
HANK - I noticed you have 30 years experience with cruising to Europe - Recommendations?
Well, I can sure try to help for every port except Dubrovnik. For some reason, even after 35 years of traveling to, in, and around Europe we have missed that port. To get to the ship in Venice the cheapest way is to simply take a land taxi, but a water taxi is more fun except it will cost you about $120. The ride is about 15 minutes. The cheapest option is to take the public bus (street bus) which drops you at the Piazzole Roma. But you still have a hike to the ship with your luggage (doable if you are young and strong). You can easily do Venice on your own, but make sure you pick up a decent street map (should be free on the ship and at the airport). You can use the inexpensive vaporettos (water buses) if you want to go to any of the other islands in the lagoon. Your ship will provide some kind of shuttle service from ship to St Marks Square, but it will probably cost you a few dollars.
Athens - You can do this on your own by taking the subway from Pireaus to Athens (protect your valuables since this train has many pickpockets). You can walk up to the Acropolis and than get yourself on a tour or do a self tour. The Plaka and nearby Syntagma Square (changing of the guard) are also areas of interest to most first time visitors.
Kusadasi - Take a tour to Ephesus! You can use the cruise line tour or arrange for a local tour (best to do this on-line). I do not recommend doing Ephesus on your own for a first visit since a professional guide really helps bring this place to life.
Naples - Too many options for me to explain here. Tell me what you want to see and I can tell you how to do it on your own. Pompeii, Capri, Herculanium, and the Amalfi Coast are all options.
Rome - Tough call for a first time visitor. The all day tour (or a private pre-arranged all day tour) that includes the Vatican is probably the best option if you can spare the big dollars. Its also easy to do it on your own by using the port shuttle to port entrance, walking to Civitavecchia train station, train to Rome and than doing as you please. But Rome is a sprawling city so you really need to do your homework and have a plan.
Livorno - Go to Florence! You can do it with the ships tour bus (not cheap) or take the train. The biggest problem with the train is you need a taxi from port to train station and most taxis do not want to take this short haul.
Villafranche - Many self-tour options here. Its an easy walk from the tender pier to the local train station (or bus stop) where you can get the train that spans the coast from Monte Carlo to Cannes and about everything in-between. Give me your thoughts and I will help.
Barcelona - If you are spending a night than this is a very easy city to explore on your own. Its modern, has great public transportation, English is widely spoken, and its a delightful place. If you are going right home from the ship you can do your own transfers via taxi for a lot less than the cruise line transfers (but this is included if you booked your air through the cruise line).
There are others on this site that are also taking this cruise, and want to get some people together for an excursion. I am going to suggest we look into Ephesus as a guided tour.
Thanks again for taking your time to give us your opinion, I will print this information and take it with me.
I'm also taking this cruise except next July. I'm a first time cruiser, its actually our honeymoon and were going to arrive into Barcelona a day early. Do you recommend any hotels to stay in that would be convenient to the port the next day? Thanks a lot!
Well, you will have a great honeymoon. Arriving a day early is a good idea (2 or 3 days early is even better) because Barcelona ia a great tourist city. The nice thing about Barcelona is that its easy to "do your own thing" since its pretty compact and they have a very good public transit system. Taxis are also very clean and reasonble although the huge decline in the dollar vs the Euro has made things a lot more expensive than in prior years (the dollar has actually declined by over 50% since the beginning of the Euro). Hotel space can often be at a primium in Barcelona so book something early. Depending on your budget you have many choices. At the high end there is the Hotel Arts which is one of the finest hotels in Spain. A popular European style hotel (not as plush as we expect in the USA) is the Hotel Colon. We like the Colon because its located right in the heart of the Gothic Quarter about 2 blocks from the Ramblas (the main tourist street in Barcelona). The Colon is not a luxury hotel, but its adequate with the perfect location. The Casa Camper Hotel is also a good luxury choice. You can get a lot of good hotel reviews on tripadvisor.com. As to being convenient to the cruise, this is not an issue. You want to be near the Ramblas and the cruise port is just across the bridge from downtown and a short (less than 10 min) taxi ride from any hotel. Getting from the airport to any hotel is also easy by simply grabbing a taxi (about $30) at the modern airport.
The other respondents have been very helpful, and I will add comments on Dubrovnick. The old city is not to be missed, and make absolutely sure that you walk the entire top of the wall, that is, a complete circle. Wear comfortable shoes when you walk the top of the walls.
Even if you are not of the Jewish faith, see the synagogue in Dubrovnick and take a good look at the surrounding area. In side the synagogue walk up the stairs to the balcony (this is where the women sat during services. This is the second oldest synagogue in Europe.
We just returned from an 11 night cruise to the Mediterranean on the Century. It was spectacular!!! It was our first cruise and we really learned so much from all your advice so let me now help you. Rome- we booked a private driver and we are so happy that we did. We took the train from Civ. into Rome. It was so easy. Just get off the ship. Turn right and head to the train station. Remember, in Europe always validate your train ticket before boarding or you'll possibly pay a fine. Ther are little yellow boxes, put your ticket in and validate it. The Rome train station in very nice and you should have no problem. I would never recommend doing Rome on your own the first time. It is too big. If you are interested in getting a driver just ask me. Ours was great and well worth the 230.00 Euros. He took us wherever we wanted and also a few extra places that he wanted us to see. Livorno- we were going to take a train to Florence but there was a taxi outside the ship and 3 other couples were in it. The driver said that for 50.00 Euros each he would drive us to Pisa then Florence. It was so worth it. He drove right up to the Leaning Tower then gave us so much information on the way to Florence. He dropped us off right in front of the Duomo and we had about 5 hours in Florence. You can walk to all the sights and still have lunch in one the outdoor cafes. Villefranche- We took the train to Monaco and wish we would have had a better plan because we walked all over Monaco then finally took the little sightseeing train around Monaco and Monte Carlo then a bus to Eze but we didn't have enough time to go to Nice or Cannes. Next time. Barcelona- we
Continuing above, Barcelona-we arrived 1 day early and stayed 2 days after our cruise. Loved the Bari Gothic area, lots of tapas bars, shops and it's just so cool. Taxis are plentiful, the Hop On/Hop Off bus isn't really necessary, we bought a 2 day ticket but felt it was a waste of money. As for the pickpockets we heard so much about. We didn't encounter any but people we cruised with us e-mailed me and said their friends lost a wallet and other things on the train due to pick pockets. Just remember, never carry your wallet in you back pocket. Get a money belt, and don't carry anything important in your purse. Carry it on your shoulder and close to your body. Don't let anyone get too close to you and don't let them distract you. We loved Barcelona, the people, the food, everything. Enjoy your trip and I hope this info helped you.