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knpeterson1 03-02-2012 12:38 PM

Help with excursions Italy, Greece and Turkey
My husband and I are traveling this summer on the Celebrity Equinox. Our stops are Sicily, Athens, Ephesus, Rhodes, Santorini, Mykonos and Naples. We are in our mid 50's, very healthy and active. I downladed the excursion options and am a bit overwhelmed. We would love recomendations regarding excusions.

Hank 03-04-2012 03:01 PM

Well, you need to consider that you can easily do some of these places on your own (and save lots of money). In the case of Ephesus, we strongly recommend booking a private excursion with a reputable local tour company such as EKOL (we love this company). Even if you have a very small group (such as a couple) the cost of private excursions in Kusadasi is usually cheaper and much better then what you get through the cruise line. All the local tour companies will meet you right at the port terminal building (they will have a sign with your name). You definitely want to go to Ephesus + include the Terrace Houses (not included in many cruise line tours). Going to Ephesus and not going in the Terrace House exhibit is like going to the Statute of Liberty and not going inside!

In Sicily we assume you are going to Messina and you should go to Taormina. If your cruise line has an option for transportation only (no guided tour) this is a good option since Taormina is a place to walk (only has 2 major streets), browse, visit the Amphitheater (anyone can pay to go inside this ancient place), etc.

On Rhodes you will dock in Rhodes Town and you can easily explore the old town on your own (all within walking distance of the pier). Many like to take an excursion to the ruins at Lindos and this is a personal thing. When we are on Rhodes we do what most of the vacationers on this island do which is to go to the beach (they have many very nice sandy beaches).

Santorini - Much depends on how long you are on the island. If you go on your own you will be tendered into a a tiny place below the cliff-top city of Fira from where you can take the cable car up..or if you are a bit crazy you could opt to ride up on donkeys. Fira is fun for just walking, admiring the views, eating and shopping. Many visitors like to go to Oia (another cliff-top town) which can be done on your own by taking the local bus or a taxi. When we have a long port day here we will often rent a car and drive all over the island enjoying some beaches, going to a winery, etc. A rental car will usually cost about $70 for the day and if you have 4 in the car (or even 2) its a pretty cheap way to enjoy the entire island.

Mykonos - If you are interested in ruins you can take an excursion to nearby Delos. Otherwise, Mykonos Town is good for shopping/browsing and a drink/snack at one of the nice cafes. The island is famous (in daytime) for its sandy beaches and we usually take a local bus (costs less then 2 Euros) to Paradise Beach where there are plenty of facilities and chair rentals.

Athens - This city speaks for itself and can be done with an excursion or by simply taking the train/subway from Pireaus into Athens and doing the same stuff on your own (at considerable cost savings). A good guide book such as Rick Steves is a must for the do it yourselfer. Of course everyone wants to go to the Acropolis and walk around the tacky Plaka district (both included in most tours).

Naples - Too many choices to deal with here. You need to make choices. Every option can be done on your own with the exception of the Amalfi Coast. For a first time visitor the best way to see the Amalfi Coast is to arrange for a private tour since most of the cruise line tours use large buses which are not permitted to enter Positano (you just get to see the town from the road above).

P.S. If you think you are overwhelmed imagine how we feel...soon to leave on a cruise that has 31 ports. :)

liliana 04-11-2012 10:08 AM

i'm from Salerno a nice city on the ocean near Naples.
I advise you to contact local private guide and private sdrivers here in Naples.
Prices are less expensivev and if you want to see the beauties of Amalfi coast you need to rent na car or maximum a minibus so they can enter and park in small villages such as Positano, Ravello....
I'm very fond of my area and last year I had a marvellous experience!!!.
some friends of my french friend asked me to accompany them in a tour guide (i speak Engkish and french fluently) along the Amalfi coast and Pompeii ruines.
they really enjoyed and even told me they had never had such a nice guide!!!!
So in case you need driver and guide for your stop to naples I'll be very happy to accompany you in the area.
I like meeting people, exchanging ideas and i also like people know my area, it is one of the most beautiful of Italy.
The city of Salerno has also got many attractions, the oldest medical school of medieval period is here, the magnificient cathedral in Norman style, the fantastic vieuw of both Amalfi coast and Cilento coast from the old Arechi Castle at the top of the hill , the narrow streets of the old city centre with artcraft shops,many nice churches of all periods,and at least but not last one of the longest walking by the sea in Italy.
From Salerno in less than 30 min you are in Pompei, Ercolano,Greek archeological site of Paestum,.In 35 min to Naples by train and in only 5 min by bus or by car you reach the first village of the Amalfi coast , the village of "Vietri sul mare", very well known for its famous artcrafts works: potteries.
50 min by train to Sorrento and to Royal Palace of Caserta

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