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sweetem 09-05-2009 06:49 PM

hi, we (party of 6) are going on med cruise on 09/18 Celebrity Summit. Ours second cruise with Celebrity but first for my parents and their friends. Both my hubby and I kinda paid and will pay for everything. So yes, we are traveling on a tight budget. Any advise on port of call. Venice, Dubrivnik, Athens, Ephesus, Naple, Rome, Florence, nice and Barcelona. What is a reasonable price on private excursion. We are trying to make this trip memorable for my parents. Many thanks in advance.

geordie 09-06-2009 03:43 AM

In Barcelona you dock in the city and it is a short distance to the main area
Why not consider the hop on hop off buses (there are 2 which you can use) to see all the main attractions in your own time-much cheaper than excursions

LHT28 09-06-2009 07:38 AM

In Venice either walk or buy a Vaporetto pass for 12 hr it is 12 E
Dubrovnik you can DIY
Ephesus I would hire a guide a lot of people use Ekol Travel, NEJAT INCEDOGAN or Levant Solomez

In Italy expect to pay about 500-600 E for your group for a private tour depending on where you want to go/do

Hank 09-06-2009 07:58 AM

I agree with the previous post that you should hire a private guide in Kusadasi. I do strongly recommend EKOL (they have several web sites) despite the fact that they require a deposit. There is a new tour operator "Hello Ephesus" who seems to be getting very positive reviews and does not require deposits. Either of these companies will have a private car/van, driver and professional guide meet you right at the port terminal. You should make sure that your Ephesus tour includes the newly opened Terrrace Houses (absolutely amazing). As to the rest of your ports, the key to a tight budget is doing things on your own and not paying the high cost of tours, drivers, etc. For example, in Dubrovnik you can take the local bus into town for less than $1.50 per person vs. the ships shuttle which often costs about $12 per person. In Civitavecchia, you can buy a BIRG pass for 9 Euros that includes round trip train to Rome and all day use of the trains and metro. With a guide book, you can handle things on your own in Rome or just about anywhere else. Its the same throughout much of Europe. Another example is Athens. You can take the local bus (or make the flat mile walk) from port to the Pireaus train station where for about 1 Euro you can take the train/subway right into Athens. In Naples, you can take the train to Pompeii for a few dollars, pay the admission fee (less than 12 Euros) and see the ruins. Doing these things on your own will save your party thousands of dollars over the course of your cruise, and assuming you do your pre-trip homework you will actually see and do more than the tours.


Hank 09-06-2009 08:32 AM

I did a little thinking about this post and thought it might be fun to really help the poster so here is my offer. Take a look at the various options for each of your ports and post your best thoughts and what you want to see and do in each port. I will than give you suggestions of how you can achieve your port goals and can also give you very detailed info on how you can do it on your own (if it makes sense). I will also need some info on the physical condition of your group...particularly their ability to walk (sometimes several hours a day). Do not fear getting bad advice because the board editors will keep me honest


LisaP 09-06-2009 10:51 AM


Originally posted by Hank:
Do not fear getting bad advice because the board editors will keep me honest
Hank and bad advice? Impossible. This editor is devouring every word, as I am going to several of these ports in the spring.

We're doing a pre-cruise stay in Barcelona (one night) and are seriously considering a HO-HO bus. These work well in our situation as we're a family of three and our 15-year-old son has mild mobility issues. (He can walk well, but stairs are tough.) These tours also tend to be easy on the wallet, and you can see quite a bit.

sweetem 09-06-2009 11:14 AM

Thank you Hank for your offer. And thanks to geordie and LHT28's advise. Any advise is good advise.

Our group is included me (3# [ok I'm sensitive about my age]) and my hubby (40), my parents and our family's friends (55 -60). We are hikers! The only is English is Second language for my parents, so they would not be in interested in museum. I bought a travellers' guide by Thomas Cook (TC) last night. It suggested some walking paths.

Venice - on our own as suggested by TC.Piazza San Marco, Ponte del Sospiri, Campo Santa Maria Formosa, Chuesa dei SS Giovanni e Paolo, Santa Maria dei Miracoli, & Ponte di Rialto. We want to take the Gondola too. Any other MUST see?

Dubrovnik - Do we really need Kuna? No idea yet.

Athens - on our own as suggested by TC. Plateria Syntagma, Panaghia Kapnikarea, Megali Mitropoli, Mikri Mitropoli, Agia Ekaterini, Chirgagic Monument of Lysicrates, The Roman Forum, & Plateia Monastriaki. Also, we want to go to Acropolis. Concern - are we too ambitious here, timing wise, our ship arrive and leave 7am to 7pm.

Ephesus. will go with Hello Ephesus. Better to be save! By the way, do we need visa? we will be there for 2 days.

Naples - Pompeii to visit the ruins of the Roman town. Not sure how.

Rome - we got a quote from a local private guide. 580e. The Palatine, the Circus max
the Colosseum, the Roman forum, The Pantheon, The Trevi fountain, The Spanish steps, San Peter Basilica, the Vatican museum, the Sistine chapel. He will guide us without additional cost. Of course, admissions are not included.

Florence - not sure how yet. the Duomo, The Giotto's tower, the Ponte Vecchio, The Palazzo della signoria, the Accademia museum to see the famous Michelangelo's David, Pisa tower. Or should we go shopping I heard there is a Prade and brand name outlet.

Nice - No idea other than beaches.

Barcelona. On our own as suggested by TC. La Rambla, La Boqueria, Barri Gotic, La Seu, Museu Pircasso, Monumnet a Colom & the waterfront.

Are we being to ambitious here? We are trying to visit as any places as possible. Not sure when we could do this again.(since my hubby luv Caribbean. cheaper!) And my parents definitely deserved this trip.

Once again, thank you abd await for more suggestiona.

Hank 09-06-2009 04:04 PM

I am drinking a Martini as I write this post so hope we do not slur our words You might want to stop at a major bookstore such as Borders where you can sip coffee and do some free reading and take a look at a few other guide books.... Rick Steves is very popular for do it yourselfers. Ok, lets start.
Venice - You can squeeze 6 into a gondola and you should do this on your own. Try to negotiate a good price, but you will probably pay about 90 - 100 Euros for a gondola which is the norm. We like to buy a bottle of wine and have the cork pulled and take the wine on our gondola (ask the wine store for some plastic wine glasses). If you are going to be in Venice for more than a day, keep in mind that each vaporetto ride costs 6.5 Euros. It often pays to buy a pass which can be for 24, 36, 48, or 72 hours (you can get them at the ACTV office (vaporetto office) located right in the Piazale Roma (near the cruise port) or at several other locations. If you have extra time we recommend taking a vaporetto all the way out to Burano (about 45 min each way) which is a laid-back island and a nice place to escape the crowds of Venice.

Dubrovnik - If you want to use the local bus from cruise port to town you will need to get some Kuna. You can get Kuna from an ATM or there are many places that will do currency exchange. Most merchants will take credit cards or Euros and some also take dollars.

Athens - Just have your priorities and see how it goes. Remember that using the metro (train) from Pireaus to Athens will save you money, but you should look at the metro map and figure out which stop works best for your itinerary.

Ephesus - As long as you are staying on the ship you do not need a visa. If you spend a night in Turkey at a hotel you would need a visa, but no need to buy one in advance. They sell them at all ports of entry and its just a little stamp you paste in your passport.

Naples - It is about a 1 mile walk (all flat) from the pier to the Naples Train station or the slightly closer Circumvesuviania Station (you can use either one). You than buy tickets on the Circumvesuviania Line (it is actually a private train company) for a few Euros and take the train (they run about every 30 min) for about 20 min to the "Pompeii Scavi" station. From there, its across the road to the ruins where you can purchase an audio tour or even decide to join a guided tour (usually 10 Euros per person). Admission used to be 11 Euros (might be 12 now). Make sure you buy some water or soda before you go inside the ruins since it can get hot and there is only one snack bar inside that is currently under renovations.

Rome - If you think its worth $800 for a guide than thats fine. Of course, as an alternative, you could buy a decent guide book (I like the pocket size Frommer "Rome Day by Day" or Rick Steves guide and go on your own. At Civitavecchia you can spend 9 Euros per person for that BIRG ticket which covers your round trip train plus lets you use the Roman subways and buses all day. The major hassle is getting in the Vatican and the lines can be long. It is possible to book a tour through the Vatican's own web site which helps you avoid the line, but you need to do this far in advance and have a specific time. Personally, we just like to guide ourselves through the Vatican on our own schedule, but there is much to say for having a good tour guide.

Florence - The cheapest way to get to Florence is on the train. You will need taxis between the Livorno cruise port and the Livorno train station (you will need 2 taxis unless there is a van/taxi). Within Florence, everything is within walking distance although some prefer to grab a taxi to the Academia since that is a bit of a hike. The Prada and other outlets are not actually in Florence, but rather quite a few miles away so that is not a good option.

Nice 0 Nice is nice but the beach sucks unless you like rocky beaches. Within Nice, our favorite area is the old town where you can walk the streets and browse the shops, cafes, etc. There are many options for this part of France including places such as Eze, Monte Carlo, Antibes, Cannes, St Paul de Vence, Grasse, etc. So, do some reading on this region and post your thoughts.

Barcelona - Easy to do on your own. You can use taxis from pier to town (Ramblas area) for about $5 per person (cheaper than the shuttle) or you can walk (this does depend on your pier) to the Ramblas in about 25 min. Many do find the Hop on hop off(HOHO) bus to be worthwhile in Barcelona, although we prefer to just use our feet, the subway, and sometimes a taxi.

My thoughts on your ambitious ideas are that as long as you are doing it on your own, it is no problem. You always have the flexibility to change your plans as the day develops...which is the benefit of doing your own thing. Just prioritze and make sure you get in your top priorities earlier in the day.


Dave 09-06-2009 05:18 PM

A properly made martini sharpens the mind.

I vaguely remember a group of us walking from the port in Livorno to the train station, this being when I was in my mid-twenties and in shape. It was indeed a brisk walk.

sweetem 09-06-2009 06:45 PM

Ahh.. martini is a wonderful thing. For me, the grape juice (wine) Will definitely drink in every port. How could I miss any opportunity of Italian wines.

Luv the wine and gondola.

I know... there are too many priorities and tired to make everyone happy.


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