my husband and I are cruising in August with three of our children 14, 22, 19 and want to do some independent exploring in each port. We have read info on two tour companies: touringrome.com and sorrentolimo.com. Any reviews recommendations for these or other companies to take us to Sorrento,Pompeii; Rome and the Vatican, etc; and to Florence. We think it would be more fun, we are more independent travelers, and probably cheaper than going with the excursions offered by the cruise line. Our kids will not be able to deal with all the people on the buses and being told where to go at certain times. We would like a more "European experience" food, history, etc.
Well all of those places are discussed at length in this section. And all of them are fairly easy to manage on your own (without a tour company). You can use the search feature of the forum to find information. Of course you can still use a guide if that is more comfortable for you, but do some reading and ask some questions and you will be better prepared for getting what you want out of your time there.
As Jim said, you can do these ports on your own which will save you hundreds of dollars (in each port) and probably be more fun. But you need to do your pre trip homework (we love to just sit in a Borders, sip coffee, and read their travel guides) and make some decisions on what you want to accomplish in each port. Then, we can help you with the details. As a starter, you can get to Pompeii from Naples by using the train (very cheap), there is also very good and cheap train service between Civitavecchia and Rome as well as Livorno and Florence. With a family of 5 using the trains will save you lots of money over cruise line transfers. As an example, the train between Civitavecchia and Rome costs 9 Euros which gets you a BIRG Pass that includes round trip regional train and unlimited use of Rome's metro (subway) and buses all day.
Thanks for your prompt responses. If we want an "independent company" to be our transport, rather than the cruise line or us navigating the trains, buses, etc (I have minor health issues which prohibit me from this at times) can you recommend any? I have seen many positive comments online for cruisingrome.com, sorrentolimo.com, and also Travel With Friends. Any experiences or comments on any of those three? I would like a driver rather than us on our "complete own". But I would have an itinerary somewhat mapped for the driver of where I want us all to go. I want to be picked up at the port rather than trying to navigate to the public transport system. $$$ is somewhat a consideration, but not as much as convenience, security for getting back to the ship on time, and not being part of a large group (train,bus,cruiseline groups). Thanks again...
I am sorry, but since we have no personal experience using private companies (since we always do things on our own) we cannot give you a specific recommendation. There are many private companies that do personal tours, but you are going to pay more then 500 Euros for a full day tour. There are also taxis at the ports who are looking for full day fares (for at least 300 Euros) but these taxi drivers are not professional guides. We do wish you the best of luck with your trip and hope you will post your experiences when you return home.
$$$ is somewhat a consideration, but not as much as convenience, security for getting back to the ship on time, and not being part of a large group (train,bus,cruiseline groups).
Welcome to cruise-chat.com! We're doing a similiar itinerary as you, and share most of your criteria. What I'm about to suggest is pricey, yet have you considered one of the private car tours offered through the cruise line? Obviously, not for all three ports of call, but perhaps just one that is a distance from the port city. A private tour outside the cruise line isn't guaranteed to get you back to the ship on time, although the ones I've checked have good records.(Actually, neither is a cruise line tour, but it's a rare circumstance and at least they know where you are.) Just a thought -- albeit an expensive one.
I can't help you with a tour company either as we do as Hank does and do things on our own whenever we can.
Maybe someone else can give you first hand advice on one of you companies. But a word of warning, several times a year we get tour companies logging on to this website posing as a traveler and posting glowing reviews of their own tour company. We do everything we can to catch those doing so (and to be honest your post raised a red flag). So take whatever reviews you see with a grain of salt too.