my husband and my self are going on a Disney Mediterranean cruise in may and want to explore in each port . however we would prefer to do it on our own. we have never been to europe and want to know how east it is to get around and pack to the port on time . it is our first cruise but we are go getters and want to see as much as we can. what are some good suggestions for travel?? get a taxi ? take the public transportation or rent our ouwn transportation? if so how would we do that ahead of time ? help!
Oh and if you want some general information on traveling by train go to the bottom of the forum and read the FAQ on Train travel in Italy. Its very well written and will make you comfortable in doing it if you know what to expect.
here are the ports and it is a Disney 11 night
# Ajaccio, Corsica
# Barcelona, Spain
# Civitavecchia, Italy (Rome)
# La Spezia, Italy (Florence, Pisa)
# Naples, Italy (Pompeii)
# Tunis, Tunisia
# Valletta, Malta
# Villefranche, France (Monte Carlo, Cannes, Nice)
and it leaves may the 15th
we really want to do as much on our own as possible... to not just save money but to be able to take it all in and really enjoy ourselves . we don't like to be super rushed . we want to see all the major things but are not interested in hearing all the talking that goes with the tours. a picture and a moment to take it in is really all we need. we are really down to earth and love to eat and experience new things
You need to understand that you will not be able to see "all the major things" or even a large portion of major things (whatever that means). We have spent months in some of these places and have yet to see everything. You need to do your pre-cruise homework on each port and than make choices. The internet is a good source, you should read about the different tours offered by your cruise, and we also like to spend some time at a large bookstore such as Borders just reading through some of their travel books (many think Rick Steves is one of the best). We know all these ports, with the exception of Tunis, very well and could probably write you a short book on each port. The choices really vary in a big way. For example, in Ajaccio you could simply walk to a nice beach and enjoy lunch in town...or you could take a long bus tour to the Calanches and see some interesting geological formations (totally different ways to spend a day). In La Spezia you might want to read about Cinque Terre which is a different kind of option than going to a large busy city such as Florence. You can handle all of these ports on your own (with the exception of Tunis) if you do your homework. As to Tunis, we think this port is best seen on a tour for at least 1/2 day. It is possible to walk from the port to a nice beach in Tunis, but I recall my wife having several thousand eyes watching her every move when we walked to the beach and she was the only western woman wearing a swim suit (the locals all wore long burqa-type garments). You have a great itinerary so let the homework begin!
so, if we have a destination in mind at the ports we could theoretically take a taxi to and from and be perfectly fine? we just really want to have one activity planned and if we do more its a bonus? is that the way to go ? are there things that you have done that you would recommend?? all and any advice is appreciated so much !!!
Taxis can get very expensive except for shorter local fares, so using a taxi really depends on the port. For example, Barcelona is a great port for taxis since everything is relatively compact (they also have a good subway system). On the other hand, to get from Civitavecchia to Rome would cost over $100 each way in a taxi but less than $15 round trip via train. The way to save lots of money is by using public transit which includes trains, buses and the metro (subway) in Rome and Barcelona. So much depends on what you want to do during your port days. We have known some cruisers to spend more money on excursions than on their entire cruise! On the other hand, if you do things on your own you can save thousands of dollars and usually have more fun than being on a tour bus with 50 other souls. There are a few of us here that can help you with specific port questions (we have been doing indpendent travel in Europe for over 35 years) and you will also find a lot of other valuable information on the internet. We think the biggest mistake made by many fellow Americans is that they try to see too much in a port day and really do not have enough time to "smell the roses." Sitting in a perfectly located charming outdoor cafe and enjoying a drink or lunch can be more rewarding than seeing one more site. A lot of the fun can be in the planning. We have a few basic suggestions. Know your options, but do not necessarily bind yourself to a rigid schedule (be flexible). Always go to your furthest destination early in the day and work yourself back towards the port in the afternoon....which minimizes the chance of missing the ship. Its also good to know what you would do if you did miss the ship (I can help you with this) although that is very unlikely to happen. We have been cruising (and also driving) in Europe for a long time and have never missed a ship (came very close twice). When I get some time I might actually write a detailed post on how to plan to "miss the ship" since that is something that scares so many cruisers from doing anything on their own.
I totally agree with you . we want to see and experience as much as we can but we are not into rushing around like crazy people. The excursions with the Disney cruise (on most)are only allowing us maybe 30 min of free time .. yuck !! so our goal is to not do any. sitting and enjoying wine food, and learning the language sounds right up our alley. It is our first trip so we are super clueless.However we are also spending a month in Thailand in April so we will be fresh off that trip and a bit more experienced.we still need all the help we can get and this site is the best !!! i have recieved more information here than anywhere else .. you guys are good!! we are also arriving a day ahead in Spain and want to know how hard it is to travel from the hotel to the port and if there are any good hotel suggestions?
Some suggestions for ports you are visiting
Ajaccio -this is a delightful town in a lovely harbour-save yourself some money and have a walk round town and maybe go to the beach
Barcelona-the ship docks near to the centre-the hop on buses will take you everywhere worth seeing for a fraction of the ships costs
Civitavechia-take the bus to the port gates and walk a few hundred yards to the station-trains to rome are frequent and it is quicker than getting the tour bus because of the traffic-costs very little-about 7 euros return last time
Valletta-you can easily walk around this lovely city yourself-If you want to go further afield (consider Medina)use the local buses from the bus station-very cheap and reliable-Google Malta buses for times
Barcelona had a post bus which took you the mile from the dock to the main square. The hop-on hop-off bus has 3 routes that covers all the highlights.
In Rome, as Geordie said, take the port bus and the train into Rome. In Rome, the subway is easy to use to move around the city.
Naples is the one place we took a ship's tour mainly because there was one that was exactly what we wanted to do.
That area of France is generally easy to walk around - stroll along the seaside, lots of cafes, restaurants, etc.
Best advice is to pick one or two things you want to see rather than trying to see it all. It also leaves you an excuse to go back again.
Also check Fromers on-line - they often have walking tours posted, for example there is a great one for the ruins in Rome.