Ok, Dr. since you jumped in here and offer guidance, I'll ask the question in a different perspective. The wife and I are going to be doing this cruise next June. We will fly in a day or two early and she wants to see Rome while we are there. So, what is the better (cheaper?) way of doing this.. fly into Rome, get a hotel in Rome and then taxi or train? to the port for the cruise. Or go to Civitavecchia and hotel there and taxi to Rome the one day for sight seeing? OR is there a less expensive way to do this (fly into a different airport and travel to the port etc etc.)
I know this is a big question to ask (maybe complex is a better term) but if you can, from experience, help us first timers out with travelling to Rome. Its a pet peeve of mine to do travel like this and then after doing so, realize there were less expensive options or even "less touristy" options to see more local lifestyle.
I will jump-in here since we know this area quite well (been there on many cruises and when simply driving around Italy). To put it bluntly, the Port of Civatavecchia is a challenge! Personally, we would never consider a hotel in or around this ugly town, which has little to offer the cruise passenger. If you are going to be in Rome a few days early (a darn good idea) simply stay in Rome and plan on going to the port the day of your cruise. Now, how to get to the port from Rome is a problem. The cheapest way is to simply take the train from the main train station (Termini) which generally runs once per hour. The train takes about an hour and the station in "Civ" is located a few blocks from the port. Sometimes you can get a taxi from the train station to the ship, and other times all the taxis disappear. Another option is that if you can handle your luggage its possible to walk to the port entrance (make a right when you exit the station and just start walking) where the port authority operates a free port shuttle bus that will take you to your ship. The other way to get to the port from Rome is to simply get a taxi or arrange for private transportation (your hotel concierge can make the arrangements) but you can expect to pay approximately $175 - $250 for the ride (takes about 1:15 minutes depending on traffic).
Thanks Hank! That is bascially what I wanted to know. Sounds like the train is the best option. We are not against walking a few blocks. We will get a hotel room in Rome then.
About how much does the train cost (per person)?
We obviously would like the see the sights in Rome since its our first trip to Italy.
There are plenty of trains to "Civ" and depending on the time of day there can be 2 an hour (never less than one per hour). As to the fares, it really depends on which type of train, but the highest fare would be about 10 Euros (for the reservations-only IC trains) and I would guess that the local trains cost about 5 Euros (this is what you would probably take and you need no reservations). You have a pretty good chance of getting a taxi in "Civ" but its good to know that it is walkable if necessary. By the way, the walk is quite safe since its along a pretty busy road (there are sidewalks). Regarding the shuttle bus inside the port area (this port is huge) its a very modern large bus with plenty of storage for luggage. They provide this free service because they no longer want folks walking around inside the large port facility. Rome is a fabulous city and you should try to give yourself as many extra days as possible since there is much to see and do. Since we have done all the sites our favorite Roman pastime is to sit at a well-located outdoor cafe (usually in the Piazza Navona) and people watch! The only "bummer" is that my $5 glass of Italian wine now costs $13 (the dollar vs Euro is a real killer).
Since you do not say whether you have any European train experience let me briefly explain the procedure. You first by your ticket at the ticket window (there are also self-serve machines) keeping in mind that the local trains are the cheapest (no reservations) and the higher speed intercity trains (IC, EC, etc) do require reservations (and cost more money). You must remember to validate your ticket before you board the train or there can be a hefty on-the-spot fine from the conductior. You validate the ticket by inserting it in the ticket validation box (they are always at the entrance to the platforms or sometimes on the platform) where the machine puts a time/date stamp on the ticket. This is pretty much the procedure throughout Europe. AT the Rome Termini there is a huge board that shows the trains and their stops. Since the trains to Civitavecchia continue well past that stop, you somtimes have to spend a few minutes studying the board to find the right train. There are also Information counters where they can give you the info. Oh, and the local trains generally have "Italian air conditioning" which means open windows, so if its hot dress cool.
We will be on a Princess cruise which stops in Civitavecchia from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM.
I understand that there are many things to see in Rome but because we have relatively little time we want to concentrate on seeing the Vatican. My wife and I have been to Italy before (but not to Rome) and we know how to use the Italian trains. However, given the short amount of time, are we better off going on a ship's sponsored tour of Rome even though the cost is going to be considerably more or can we do this on our own? Complicating matters is that we are going with another couple.
We probably should post this on the Europe port talk forum, but since its here its here . I would hope you are not in Rome on a Sunday (the Vatican Museums are closed on Sundays except for the 4th Sunday of the month). Can you do this on your own? Yes. But, whether you take a tour (you could use the ships or hire a private tour company) or go on your own depends totally on your level of comfort. If going on your own you want to get a very early start and be on a train by 8 am. As to the Vatican, depending on the time of year, weather, and time of day there is going to be a long line to get into the Vatican Museums (this is what you want since it gets you into the Sistine Chapel). The last time we visited the Vatican (about 3 years ago) we lined-up at 8:30 and finally got inside about 10. Once you are inside and bought your ticket you are free to go at your own pace. There is a way to avoid the lines by buying a special tour direct from the Vatican, but its not easy to get a reservation (there used to be info on their web site). The cruise ship tours used to be able to bypass the lines and go in a special entrance, but not sure of the current policy. As to private tours, you need to ask the tour companies if they have a way to bypass the lines. I have long been a "tour hater" and we do everything in our power to avoid tours (we hate the group thing). However, if you have never been to Rome there is a lot to say for simply taking the cruise line's all day tour that includes the Vatican. Those tours used to be pretty good, and they usually cover the Vatican, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Palatine Hill and some of the other ruins. In fact, it used to be one of the few tours I thought was worth the money for a first time visitor. I am hedging now because we are not totally familar with the quality of the current tours.
Hank- I agree with you that this thread has more to do with Europe than Hotels now, but since the OP was asking a hotel related question, I only created a shortcut to this topic in the Europe section. We can continue either place. If needed I can move the whole topic, but we can leave it here for now.
Hi D10S, I honestly would not take a taxi from Rome to Civitavecchia--take the train (cheap and faster-- 1 hour 20 minutes) and then take a taxi to the ship. We just finished the Grand Mediterranean cruise with the Emerald Princess and did all of our own transfers and excursions. Schnappi