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  #11 (permalink)  
Old 07-14-2008, 06:52 AM
 
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Funny you mention Alaska. We have cruises all over the world on 6 continents and most every sea, but Alaska still remains one of our favorite cruises.

Hnak
  #12 (permalink)  
Old 07-14-2008, 04:31 PM
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Hank, what would be your wife and yours second favorite destination and what cruise line would be the first choice?
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  #13 (permalink)  
Old 07-15-2008, 01:11 PM
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Ok, I feel a little silly in not quite understanding the complicated Venice. Where is Piazale Roma and how do I get these, vaporetto line #, ect from St. Elena? The hotel said they would help us make arrangements once we were there, but I know that can end up costing more. So I am attempting to do my homework ahead of time. So, any info would be much appreciated!
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  #14 (permalink)  
Old 07-15-2008, 03:05 PM
 
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Haygirl, To be very honest, we do not have a favorite cruise line, but rather many favorites. The industry and cruise lines are always changing (quality, service, etc) so our favorite last year may be on our dog house this year. Based on our last 5 cruises (over the past year) the best two were the Noordam and the Azamara Journey. But regarding Azamara, its still a line trying to find itself, so its anyones guess whether they can maintain the quality and pricing. As to destinations, its so darn hard to choose. We have been fortunate to have visited around 75 countries and have enjoyed most every trip. I guess we could go simple and say that France and Italy both rate very high, but not so much as cruise stops but more for our driving trips. Our number 1 cruise was actually on a tiny boat run by a small company called Zeus Tours (it is now under different ownership and managment so not sure its still good) which put us on a 20 passenger wooden yacht called the Sea Crown (we had a crew of 8). We spent a week in the Ionian Islands and the entire experience was magical.

Venice - We are not experts on Venice since we have only been there 3 times (will be there again this October). But the Piazale Roma is the part of Venice where one can still drive with a car. Its pretty convenient to the train station and the cruise port, but the down side is that we do not think its a particularly charming part of Venice. Its popularity is based on its location. For us, its convenience makes it our area of choice pre-cruise. It means we can take the inexpensive bus in from the airport and make the short walk to our hotel. Than, when we need to get to the cruise ship we can take the free port shuttle bus (runs from the Piazale Rome to the cruise terminal) or even walk. Its also a short walk to one of the vaporetto stops, so we get a multi-day vaporetto pass. You can buy those passes at almost any vaporetto stop (as long as its one that sells tickets) and they come in 24, 48, 72 hour times. There is no reason to buy those in advance. There is a different kind of pass called the Venice Card which also covers the vaporettos but also adds admission to some museums and a few other places. If you want a Venice Card they offer a discount if you purchase it on-line (you can pick it up at the airport). You can read about it http://www.hellovenezia.com/jsp/en/v...card/index.jsp

That Venice Card is only a good deal if you are planning to take advantage of its offerings. If you only want transportation the vaporetto pass (its called an ACTV Pass) is cheaper. I know its sounds complicated, but it makes sense when you are in Venice.

The thing about Venice is the place is one major tourist trap (but we love it anyway) and everything is somewhat overpriced. I think a single vaporetto ticket (good for an hour) now costs about 6 Euros (outrageous). Its also possible to spend $15 on a single cup of coffee in Venice (if you sit at one of the large outdoor cafes on St Marks Square) so you need to always look at prices before you sit at any cafe or restaurant.

Hank
  #15 (permalink)  
Old 07-31-2008, 04:59 AM
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Familycruiser1008.

Have a great trip!
I trip look forward to hearing about it and any information you may have after your return.
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  #16 (permalink)  
Old 07-31-2008, 09:43 PM
 
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I think it might be good to discuss a little more about Venice. The port is a bit isolated, but for those that like to walk (and have the ability) its about a 10 min stroll from the ship over to the Piazza Roma which is near a Vaporetto stop. As I previously mentioned, its possible to buy a 24, 48, or 72 hour pass on the Vaporettos (these go around Venice and out to Murano, Burano, etc. If you do not want to walk to the vaporetto, you are really at the mercy of the cruise lines which usually sell tickets for a shuttle boat that takes you to near St Marks Square. Or course from there, if you want to go to other places in the lagoon (or around Venice), you will still have to buy vaporettos tickets or passes. The thing to remember is that the only way to truly see Venice is to do a lot of walking. There is no other way since the Vaporettos simply go around the outside of the island. Using the Vaporettos can certainly reduce your walking distance, but in the end, you need to use your feet to see the place.

Hank
  #17 (permalink)  
Old 08-01-2008, 08:41 AM
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This site has a good map of the Vaporetto routes
http://www.venice-rentals.com/info/routes.html
The cruise docks are the long quays at the left side
I would purchase the Vaporetto pass for the time you are going to be there then if you get tired of walking you can hop on the bus.

The single fare is 6:50 Euro so if you use the bus more than 2-3 times in the 2 days you have saved money.
Not sure if this is your hotel but it gives the location at the other end of the island
http://en.venere.com/hotels_venice/sant_elena/hotel_san...pref=755394#location
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  #18 (permalink)  
Old 08-25-2008, 03:07 PM
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Thank you the map is very helpful to know what type of transportation to take to the airport and where to board it. Also how it differs from the line one.
My head is still spinning as the Oct date draws closer
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  #19 (permalink)  
Old 08-30-2008, 05:21 AM
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Familycruise2008, How was the cruise? Do you have any pro's or con's on the different excursions?
One thing I am trying to find out is when docking in Naples, I would like to see Pompeii and Capri but not pay the outrageous amount from the cruise line excursion. Can this be achieved on our own?
Can you tell me what you did at each port and if you feel you made the right choice?
Any info is very helpful, I am so stressed about leaving for 2 1/2 weeks that things don' fall apart here and so wanting to make the most of our trip.
Thank you or anyone else who would like to respond!
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  #20 (permalink)  
Old 08-30-2008, 11:39 AM
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Hi there-

We had a wonderful time on the cruise! I will point out what our likes and dislikes in each port were and hopefully this will help you with your planning! We had a group of 10 which included my elderly parents, my family-2 adults and 2 teenagers and our friend who included 2 adults and 2 teenagers. So we had a wide variety of experiences! The cruise itself was wonderful...but most of our disappointments occured with the Princess tours and the logistics of getting from the ports to the sites!

Rome-We arranged transportation for 6 of us through the Rome in Limo Company (www.romeinlimo.com) I did alot of research and they were the most economical (170Euro for 6 of us from airport to Port) The driver was wonderful and right outside customs when we arrived. Very courteous and pleasant! He took us right to the door of the building you enter to embark on the cruise. Highly recomended!

Monte Carlo-My parents took the "Old Monaco & Royal Palace" tour through Princess which they said was ok but the tour guide left them at the end and they had to find their own way back to the ship which was a very long, downhill walk. It was not cheap @ $118 each. I will be contacting Princess as we were disappointed that they left my parents at the end. The rest of us took the train to Nice as an adventure for the teenagers. We enjoyed our day by strolling the streets & visiting the beach (we forgot to have the kids bring their bathing suits so they did not swim-just a reminder these are topless beaches-we kind of forgot about that!)


florence-This was a huge disappointment! We decided to take the train to Florence which is way too far from Liverno to even make this stop worthwhile! Princess had a shuttle at the port (at 5 euro per person) but it took you to the center of Liverno...which is not near the train station. You have to then take a bus to the train station! Instead we opted for a taxi from the port to the train (about 20 euro for a 10 minute ride) Of course we missed the train and had to wait for the next train (they run every hour-but not on the hour. Once we got to
Florence it was late morning and EVERYTHING was very crowded. We waited in line for over an hour to see Michaelangelo's David (10 euro each) had time to walk around a little and see the outside of the Duomo...but that was it. We decided not to take the latest train back to Liverno as we were told it was difficult to get a taxi at the train station...which was true. Once we arrived in Liverno, it took us about 1/2 hour to get a taxi! A better choise may have been to go to Pisa on the train...but I heard people were not able to get into the Leaning Tower due to the crowds. You may be better off taking one of the Princess options...not sure...but we had a very hectic day and saw very little!


Santorini-my parents took the Princess EZ Santorini Drive tour through Princess which they enjoyed. The rest of us too the Princess Cruise and Hiking:Santorini Volcano tour which we all loved! The ship is tendered in Santorini, so we were met by a lovely wooden boat which brought us to the volvanic island. It is a hike too the top, but well worth the incredble views! I did not really smell the sulfur that was mentioned in the Princess literature. In the afternoon, we took the tender transfer into Thira. To get to the town you either take a gondola (5 euro) or a donkey (4 euro). Everyone but me took the donkeys up and down and just loved it (one of the highlights of the trip for the teenagers)! Once we arrived in THira we took a bus to the black sand beach. While the kids lounged on the beach and swam in the sea, the 4 adults had drinks at a beachside restaurant. It was a lovely afternoon! (and very inexpensive) There was a fee to rent the beach umbrella and 2 chairs for the kids (7 euro).



Naples-my family and my parents chose to stay on the ship as we had all been to Capri and Pompeii a couple of years earlier. It is easy however to get to Pompeii on the train and very cheap. The stop for Pompeii is very close to the entrance of the site. Our friends opted for Capri and they had a lovely day. They took the hydrofoil right near the port and even managed to get to the Blue Grotto which they loved. They had plenty of time to do this excursion on their own. On Capri they took the Finicular to Capri and wlked down. They did not however have enough time to take the gondola to the top to Anacapri.

Kusadasi Turkey- We had a private guide who was absolutely wonderful. I did a lot of research and found him to have wonderful references and a very reasonable price ($35 US per person)
HIs name is Bekir Ucarkus @ Celsus Travel. www.celsustravel.com or info@celsustravel.com He met us at the port and the 10 of us traveled all day with him and a driver on an airconditioned mini bus! He gave us a private tour of Ephusus which was incredible, we went to the house of the Virgin Mary, we were to go to St John's Basilica but it was closed due to a fire. The price included the admissions and a lovely lunch at a local rug coop...we were shown rugs, but there was no pressure to buy.
Highly recommended!!!!!

Mykonos-There is a shuttle from the port to the town...not sure how much...I think it was 5 euro but the 8 of us chose to walk...beautiful views but a little dangerous! We decided to take the bus to one of the beaches so the kids could do some water sports. The bus signs were a little confusing and the buses did not run very often...but the bus ride enabled us to see alot of the island. The beach (Elia Beach) we went to was lovely, however we got ripped off renting a jet ski. My husband and I both asked independently what the price was and were told 40 euro or 50 euro for 50 minutes depending on the size of the jet ski we rented. Unfortunately, after 15 minutes the kids were told their time was done. The proprietor insists he told us 15 minutes which of course he did not as I would have never agreed to 50 Euro for 15 minutes.

Athens-We walked from the port to the train station (20-30 minutes) and took the train to the Accropolis! It was very easy & inexpensive to take the train! The Accropolis was incredible (it is a very steep walk to get there however). Once again, we did not have time to do much else...

Olympia-We all took the Princess "A Glance at Hidden Greece" tour which was very expensive and an absolute waste of money. The museum was small but nice but the ruins were very disappointing. In fact, Princess charged the same amount for the kids as adults & we found that the site does not even charge for kids (the adult admission was 9 euro per prson) So Princess charged us over $80 a person for a bus ride, a guide with a very heavy accent that spoke to fast for us to understand, and admission to the site. THis may be a day you choose to rest on the ship!

Corfu-We walked from the ship to the town (about 2 miles) ...nice little town...not that much to do with the teenagers.

Venice-we arrived at 8:30 pm and Princess offered a boat ride into St Mark's Square for $15 per person which the 8 of us did....this is worhwhile if you are not staying any extra time in Venice (our friends left the next morning.

Transportation at the end of the trip.-Princess offered transportation to hotels which included getting your luggage to the hotels. Our hotel was the Hilton which was not on the same island as St Marks Square, but instead accross the canal. The Princess Literature said the transportation would bring you into the vicinity of your hotel...since our hotel was on a separate island one would naturally assume you would be brought to that island. But Princess excursions being what they are, the water shuttle passed by our hotel (which was less than a 10 minute ride from the ship) and we were brought to St. Mark's Square and dropped off along with other bewildered passengers who were staying at the Hilton. Turns out there was another shuttle back to the Hilton which came an hour later. On top of this our bags did not get delivered to our hotel until the evening. This transportation cost the 6 of us $234. The reason we did not just take a water taxi from the ship to the hotel is because we thought it would be easier to not have to deal with luggage with my elderly parents. Instead, princess charged us an incredible amount and we lost most of the morning trying to actually get to our hotel. This was a complete ripoff by Princess!

Hopefully this helps with your choises at the ports. Once again, I must say that the cruise itself was great. the ship was beautiful and the food was wonderful. We particularly enjoyed the Movies Under the Stars in the evenings. All in all a great trip!

Please let me know if you have any other questions!
 
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