Just wanted to get my "two cents" in just because we just got back from a cruise including Livorno. Being a first time cruiser to Europe, I didn't know all the ins and outs explained in all the posts here. They are all true. We sailed HAL on the Prinsendam and the shuttle was $5 each way. I have travelled to Europe several times and usually do things on my own using the train. I thought that trying to do Pisa and Lucca in a day and make it back to the ship would be a piece of cake. Not totally true, you need to be organized. I think the shuttles from the ship started at 9 or 9:30 am and left every half hour. I had no idea how far the port was from the center of town. I saw that the Prinsendam docked at a port further out than the Celebrity ship that was in town. I thought we could get a decent start leaving around 9from the ship, but we just missed the shuttle so we had to wait a half hour. Then the ride to downtown was at least 20 minutes. Then we had to find the bus stop to the train station, figure out how to get a ticket and the ride took about another 15 minutes. Trains run frequently to Pisa but by the time we go to Pisa after figuring all this out, it was after 11AM. I think we had to be back to the ship by 7P and last shuttle was 6:30. Trains to Lucca from Pisa aren't that frequent and we didn't want to stress out and feel rushed trying to do both and make it back to the ship, so we stayed in Pisa. I don't regret going to Pisa because I have been to Italy a few times and meant to go to Pisa each time, but I do hear Lucca is a nicer place to visit. In any case, we enjoyed it. Just remember, check and print out all the train schedules you need before going. No need to buy train tickets on line, way way cheaper at the station. No reservations are usually necessary. And I do agree with Hank, I felt like HAL told you things (or didn't tell you things) so that you would feel like you needed totake a shore excursion. Sorry for the long post. Good luck.
Let me add some detail to the last post. There are generally 2 trains per hour from Livorno to Pisa and 2 trains per hour to Lucca. For many years I have suggested not using the cruise line shuttle bus in Livorno if you want the train station, because the drop place for the shuttle is just too are from the station. So, many will pay $5 for the shuttle and than have to take a taxi or public busto the station (or walk for about 30 minutes). For a party of 4 its actually cheaper to get a taxi direct to the train station from the pier although you might have to be a bit assertive to get a taxi to do the short haul (we have always found a taxi). If you leave the ship by 7:30 you can catch the 8:01, 8:11 or 8:31 and be in Pisa before 9. Actually, there are no reservations on these "local" trains and you can even buy your tickets in a machine (at the station) or use the ticket window if you are "challenged" by machines in Italian (smile). Another seldom mentioned fact is that there are actually two stations in Pisa. All of my experience is with their main station, but there is a 2nd station which is a bit closer to the Tower. However, that 2nd station has fewer trains and I believe they do not have any trains to Lucca on certain days of the week.
Melly, You are absolutely correct. In fact, one could say that taking an excursion is always the easiest solution. However, for many of us it is not normally the best solution. Why? Well, for us its simply too restrictive and we dislike the cattle-like group herding that happens on many bus tours. Another major factor with European cruises is the cost of daily excursions, which can actually cost nearly as much as the cruise. But, a short excursion to Pisa (its usually a 3-4 hour tour) should not break the bank. Anyway, I am sure you are going to have a great cruise.