Hello! during our Mediterranean cruise in may we are planning to take trains from Civitavecchia to Rome and from Livorno to Florence. I have checked the schedules and generally understand how to get from the ports to the train stations. my main concern now is how to get from the ship to the port entrance - i read that there are shuttle buses, but where can i find them in the port? are they provided by the cruise line? if so, does NCL offer them? if anybody has an experience of using the shuttle bus in these ports, I'll greatly appreciate your input.
Its about a 3 block walk from the train station in Civitavecchia to the entrance to the port where they will shuttle you to the ship a on bus. The shuttle bus is provided by the port not the cruise line. If your luggage has wheels on it and your are in decent health it is not a problem to walk. You MIGHT be able to get a taxi to drive you the short distance but many won't want to because it is not much of a fare.
You will not be the only one using the train, so don't worry about getting lost getting from the train station to the port entrance (you really can't miss it)
In Livorno, you will need to grab a taxi to take you to the train station. Its a long distance and unless you have been there before you will probably not be able to find it on your own. I can't speak for NCL but on Carnival they offered a shuttle bus into town and from the place it drops you off its a short bus ride to the train station (ask the shuttle driver which bus route goes to the train station ( think its 1R but I am not certain of that). It is quicker to take a taxi. if you can team up with another couple the costs per person are not too bad and you will get to the trains quickly (which is important in getting maximum time in Florence.
Well on our trip you couldn't miss the buses... they were lined up and as they filled up they drove off into the port. You should have a problem finding them. Again.. just follow the others that walk towards the port (you should be able to see the ship from the train station. I think there may have been a sign for the shuttle buses but again, it wasn't needed.
Jim's answer is right on! You will have no problem finding the shuttle bus in Civitavecchia. The bus is provided free, by the port authority (noting to do with NCL) and they are really nice buses. The bus will be right outside the ship or, if they are docked by a terminal building, it will be parked right in front of the terminal. As to Livorno, most of the taxis will not want to take the short haul to the train station, but if you keep asking they will find you a taxi to go to the station for about 25 Euros.
You can buy tickets with Visa or MC, but we have found that most USA cards will not work in the automatic ticket vending machines (the European cards have a chip in the card). So, you have to purchase your tickets at the ticket window. As to seats, the regional trains do not take reservations so its first come first serve and if they are full you can stand. The early trains to Rome can be pretty full during weekdays since you are competing against the rush hour commmuters heading into Rome to work. We have always found a seat, but it can get crowded. We have never had a seat problem on the trains to Florence. You also should be aware that some (not all) of the trains from Livorno to Florence do require changing in Pisa which is not a big deal.