We will be taking a RCL cruise to Italy this summer. I am trying to figure which excursions we should take. We've never been to Italy before so we want to make sure we cover the highlights. There are two tours that RCL offers that intrigue me and I would like advice. I am wondering if the walking tours will give me enough exposure to these cities or should I opt for one of the more expensivec ones. Here are the descriptions.
On your own 97 pp
If you have already been to Florence and Pisa, you may want to explore these two glorious cities once again independently. You will drive through the beautiful Tuscan countryside, viewing valleys that are filled with the vineyards that have made this area famous, on your 1.5-hour journey into the city. Upon arrival in Florence, you will disembark the coach at Lungarno della Zecca and be escorted to Santa Croce Square, an area close to the shopping district. In addition to its historical attractions, Florence has some of the finest shops in Italy, and the Ponte Vecchio spanning the River Arno. Your escort will designate a meeting time and place and then you will be on your own for approximately 3.45 hours while in Florence.
In the early afternoon, reboard your coach and proceed on a drive through the beautiful Tuscan countryside, which will take you to the historic university town of Pisa, situated on the banks of the Arno River. A short walk will have you in the Field of Miracles to marvel at the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Make sure to bring plenty of film to capture the beauty of this architectural wonder before returning to Livorno.
Note: An escort will be on the coach to/ from Livorno to answer questions. Please be mindful that this excursion is non-guided and does not include lunch or entrance fees. If guests should miss the return coach, transportation back to the vessel is their own responsibility and at their own expense. The walking distance between the Field of Miracles and the bus parking area is approximately 15 minutes each way. Guests will have approximately 30 minutes of free time in Pisa and approximately 3.45 hours in Florence. Entrances to the venues/monuments on the Field of Miracles are not included. The shopping hours and closure dates should be reviewed in the introduction section of Livorno. Tour sequence may be altered to avoid congestion.
A taste of Florence 97 pp
This tour is designed for the independent guest who would enjoy free time in Florence, yet also requires a limited guided tour. Upon arrival in Florence, you'll begin a 2.5-hour guided walking tour. See the Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square) in Florence, where the Cathedral, Bell Tower and Baptistery share the same small square. This is home to Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise. Your next stop will be in the Piazza della Signoria, the city's largest square where you will see a copy of Michelangelo's "David" and the Loggia dei Lanzi. View the exterior of the Church of Santa Croce, known as Italy's Westminster Abbey for the Italian monarchy buried there. Its 14th century interior is one of the finest examples of Florentine Gothic decoration. Afterwards, you will be left on your own for approximately 3 hours for lunch (at your own expense) and to explore Florence. The guide will advise you of the time to meet again to reboard the coach for the return trip to the ship.
Note: Guests must be able to walk approximately 2 miles over even and cobblestone streets with some steps and extended periods of standing and waiting. If guests should miss the return coach, transportation back to the vessel is their own responsibility and at their own expense. The Church of Santa Croce is closed on Sundays, during special events and mass services. Photography is not permitted in the Church of Santa Croce. Tour sequence may be altered to avoid congestion, but always covering the mentioned sites. An escort will accompany the coach to/from Florence to answer questions.
Historial Florence 164 pp
In Florence, you will begin your walking tour through the city visiting the Accademia Museum to view one of Michelangelo's most treasured creations, the statue of "David." Having survived the outdoor elements of Signoria Square, the magnificent sculpture was moved inside the museum in 1873, where it remains today. Also on display in the museum are paintings by Botticelli, Daddi and Raphael.
You'll stop at Cathedral Square to view the Duomo, the Baptistery and Giotto's Bell Tower, which date back to the 14th century. Your tour will continue to Signoria Square to view a copy of the statue of "David" before arriving at a local restaurant. An authentic Florentine lunch will be served.
After lunch, you will pause to the nearest point to view the elegant Ponte Vecchio. Meaning "old bridge," the Ponte Vecchio dates back to 1345, when it was built to replace a bridge that was swept away by a horrible flood. Today, the bridge is visited by many tourists, and is home to gold and jewelry vendors. You'll visit the Church of Santa Croce, known as Italy's Westminster Abbey for the Italian monarchy buried there. Its 14thcentury interior is one of the finest examples of Florentine Gothic decoration. Afterwards, you will have limited time at leisure to explore and shop. Drive to Piazzale Michelangelo for a panoramic view over the city with the Ponte Vecchio crossing the Arno River.
my recommendation would be the "Taste of Florence" tour. Since it is your first visit to Italy, you probably don't want to be completely on your own. But Florence is a very easy city to get around and the "taste" tour gives you a nice blend of escorted tour and free time. You can get the highlights with the guide; then return to the sites that interest you most. There is no vehicle traffic in the main areas so getting around is quite easy.
Just heed the advice about meeting your coach on time; it's a long, expensive ride back to the ship.