This post is aimed at Hank and Drlivingston mostly, but if anyone else has information they would like to share, please jump in and offer it. Especially if you have taken this cruise.
But we have been in discussions on Civitavecchia and Rome and some very good information has come up. So, I was curious if there was any more information on our other ports that we could get. Example: We have done the Caribbean enough to know which ports to avoid and which are great. (Jamaica and Freeport are on my avoid list) Are there Europe ports that we should "not bother getting off the ship" in? Also, what are the "have to do" excursions and what things are better to do on our own (we are big on doing things on our own). We are going to be going to - Civitavecchia, Naples, Marmaris Turkey, Izmir Turkey, Itsanbul Turkay, Athens, Katakolon and Livorno Itlay before going back to Civitavecchia.
Can you offer advice about any of these posts? I think I read that Naples has a crime issue and to be very careful. But other than that we are complete Europe newbies. Any advice would be helpful.
Jim, There are really no "do not avoid" ports in Europe. That being said, there are certainly a few cities that I do not like, but since you are in Europe there are always multiple options for every city. Let me go quickly through your ports (we have never been to Marmairs). Naples - Many options here including Pompeii, Herculanium, Capri, Amalfi Coast and more. You will not spend much or any time in Naples itself. Izmir - Since you are not going to Kusadasi I would probably recommend you take the ships tour to Ephesus (Kusadasi is a much closer port to Ephesus). Istanbul - One of our favorite cities with much to see. Athens - Another interesting city with the Acropolis and the Plaka area being the major attractions for most first time visitors. Katokolon- Not my favorite port because its so darn isolated and its hard to do things on your own (I believe there is now a small local rental car dealer). Most take the ships tour to Olympia. Livorno - A great port because of its location. For a first visit its hard to beat going to Florence, but there are so many other options such as Lucca, Pisa, Siena, and many places within Tuscany.
How you do these ports depends on your level of confidence, "street smarts," and sprit of adventure. We have done all these places on our own (except Katokolon) and I can give you very detailed info on each port and how to do things if you want to avoid tours. There are many who prefer to book private tours in many of these ports (they usually make arrangements on-line). Personally, we love to go off on our own (saves us thousands of dollars and we have more fun) but we do have a lot of experience and find traveling in Europe to be quite easy.
I saved Marmaris for last because we have never been to this port (would love to go) and you are going to have trouble finding anyone who knows this place well since its a very rare port of call. I do know that there are some good beaches in the area. My wife and I have only had wonderful experiences in Turkey and have always found the Turks to be warm, gracious, and enthusiastic entreprenaurs. Some of the recent publicity regarding ***** (Turkey is 99% Muslim) in Turkey is unfortunate and exaggerated. The reality is that this was one of the first countries to give women equal rights (and the right to vote), it has a strong deomocratic history, and many of their citizens could be considered secular muslims. Sometimes the news media fails to mention that Turkey is a strong ally of the USA, a member of NATO, and is a true democracy who, like any democracy, has their share of internal debate.
You have a lot of time before your cruise and we are sure you will be doing your homework. It will be fun helping you through your questions. Once we get into the winter we will be traveling more than we are home, but should still be around enough to contribute to your cause.
Thanks Hank! Yes, I like to start early in my planning for places I have not been before. Hence my initial questions. I will consult wife the wife a bit and try to get better ideas of what she would like to see and then I'll come back for further details.