We had a half day tour. Our ship was only in port that long. We toured Ephesus and the Terrace Houses. Definitley would recommend the Terrace Houses. Talked to others who went the house of the Virgin Mary and they were impressed with that as well. We had no problems getting back to ship on time. This is a fascinating port.
Where else did you go on your cruise. We will be on the Rotterdam sailing from Harwich and going to Le Harve, Vigo, Spain, Lisbon, Gibralter, Marsielles, Florence, Rome, Dubrovnik, Corfu, Santorini, Ephesus and into Athens. Would appreciate any info you might ahve on private tours (not ship excursions)for any of those stops.
In Marsielles we rented a car from Europcar. We had to take a shuttle from the ship to the old port. Then we had a 15 minute walk to the train station where we picked up the car. We drove to Les Baux, St. Remy, and Gordes It was a great drive.
In Florence we took a taxi from the ship to the train station and took the train to Livorno. It is about a 1 1/2 hour ride. The train station in Florence is right in the heart of things. We had made reservations at the Ufizzi Gallery and the Academia so we kept those two appointments and walked around a bit and saw the sights. Then rode the train back and taxi'd back to the ship.
In Athens we walked off the ship and walked about a block away from the port and hired a taxi. He stayed with us for the day - took us to the acropolis and waited, took us to the plaka and waited, then took us to the parliment to see the changing of the guards and drove past the olympic stadium. I think we paid about 70 euros.
Precruise we spent 3 days in Rome so on this port day so we did not return to Rome. We rented a car this day as well from Europcar and drove through Tuscany and Umbria. We saw Civita and Orvieto, then we drove around Lake Bolsena, and through Tuscania and Tarquina on the way back.
We also went to Venice, Naples, Mykonos, and Istanbul. We did not take any ship tours. This site helped a lot. If you have any questions go to find on the blue on top of the discussions and type in a port name. Its amazing how much info is on this site.
We were in Ephesus in July and also used Meander Travel. There were 13 of us and we made our own tour request which of course they accommodated. We saw House of Virgin Mary, Ephesus including the Terrace Houses (MUST SEE) wanted to see a typical village so went to Sirence (not sure I'd recommend it as it was more commercial than I hoped) and St. John's Basillica. Full day, GREAT guide, nice mini-van and very nice driver. You can't go wrong with them!
I took a tour with EKOl travel and it was wonderful. My guide was very knowledegable. I was picked up at the port when the cruise landed. My husband and I had a guide and a driver in an air-conditoned truck. We did Esphesus with the terrace houses, The Virgin Mary's house and the Temple of Artemis. The entire tour was approximately 4 hours and cost the same price as the ship's tour. I would highly recommend the terrace houses for the extra $10.00 per person. My tour cost $65.00 per person. My guide was Haluk. he gave me his email it is firstname.lastname@example.org Esphesus was the highlight of my trip and if you are going to do a private tour anywhere this was the place.