I'm going on a 10 day Mediterranean cruise with my family and we are wondering as to what shore excursions, if any, we should participate in. We're sailing on the HAL Noordham from Civitavecchia around the Western Mediterranean and going to ports including Florence, Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Tunisia and Naples. I've cruised before and a few of the shore excursions I participated in turned out to be nothing but a disappointment and waste of money. Just wondering if any of you have sailed this particular course before or have visited or done some of the shore excursions offered via HAL or other cruise lines? Are there any excursions that are must see? Would we be get the same out of it to "tour on our own" and walk these ports on our own? If anyone could help me with this, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you!
I am usually all for going out on your own, and I am sure if you do a search in the Europe Port chat for each stop, you will find some very good suggestions how to use public transportation (trains, buses, etc) at each of your ports. But in Europe, with some language barriers, some ports can be difficult. My Med cruise was a trip of a lifetime, and as it was our first time we booked ALL ship excursions. I did not go to Florence, and that is my one regret on that cruise. In Naples, we did the Pompeii tour in the morning and Capri in the afternoon, GREAT DAY !! Barcelona was our departure port and I was able to navigate that city on my own very successfully, with alot of homework ahead of time. Stayed right on the Las Ramblas in a quaint(very small) B & B. I walked much of the city area, and used the subway to go to La Sagrada Familia. I believe Monte Carlo we could have managed on our own, as the tour only consisted of a bus into town and lunch, and we left to wander on our own and the bus took us back. There are many threads on Rome, but most agree you cannot do Rome ALL in one day. My friends did the ALL-day tour an they got to the Sistine Chapel, but I did the "Rome on your own" tour, and I really enjoyed walking the city, and saw more sights there, than my friends did, and that tour got us in the Vatican that day, and a drive by the Coliseum. 10 years later my friends and I still debate who had the better day, both still believing in our own choices. When we planned this trip, we made pact to each choose our own tours at each port, and if we chose the same great, but if we chose differently, still great, just more to share each night at dinner. The memories of that cruise still are some of my favorites. But next Med Cruise(still a dream) will be great also. Happy Crusing to your family !
Monarch of the Seas-1993
Song of America-1994
Majesty of the Seas-1995
Splendour of the Seas-1996
Empress of the Seas-1998
Rhapsody of the Seas-1998
Legend of the Seas-1999
Monarch of the Seas-2000
Grandeur of the Seas-2006
Enchantment of the Seas-2006
Adventure of the Seas-2007
Enchantment of the Seas-2007
Grandeur of the Seas-2009
Radiance of the Seas-2009
I would agree with gueenofcruzin: if this is your first time in the Mediterranean I would suggest staying with the ship excursions. There is so much to see and everything is so spread out I think your time is best utilized with an organized tour. And I would suggest the "Best of" or "Highlights of" tours; this will at least give you a taste and feel for a place; see what it has to offer; then when you go back, you can go into depth in the areas that interest you most. Remember, on a cruise you have some serious time constraints.
I haven't been to Tunisia. In Naples we visited Capri in the morning; lunch in Sorrento; and Pompeii in the afternoon. In Monte Carlo, a walking tour in the morning and Nice in the afternoon. In Barcelona and Florence we did "Best OF" tours.
We also did ship excursions in Venice, Athens, Kusadisi and Istanbul and loved them all except Istanbul: the guide was very young and barely spoke English; it was so bad the whole group insisted on being taken back to the ship and demanded and received full refunds. But that was the one glaring exception.
That was a Princess cruise. We did a Baltic cruise on Holland America's Veendam last year and loved it. All the excursions were great.
Like queenofcruzin, when I go back to a place now I venture out on my own and love it. But considering the short time you have in each port, and being with your family, you want everything to go without a hitch, and you are fairly well assured of that with the ship excursions.
Hope this helps a little, and have a great cruise. A close friend did the same cruise as you on Noordam last year and raved about it--both the ship and the tours.
What are your expectations? What makes a great shore excursion in your mind? Do you enjoy seeing historical sites and museums? Would you rather shop, take a hike or go to the beach? The very best tour can make your eyes glaze over if you aren’t interested in what you are seeing. Do you enjoy the challenges of reading maps, train and bus schedules? Do some serious research on car rentals and private tours. They may be a better option for you and your family in some ports. Try ‘on you own’ type tours where the ship provides bus transportation if you don‘t like the formal style tours. For what it’s worth, we did ship excursions on our first Mediterranean trip and loved every second of our time. We did a mix of ship, taxi and on our own tours the second time and loved that too. Find your own style and enjoy!
Although I haven't been on the venue
you're taking, in general I have found
the tours offered by the ship to be double
the price you can find on your own either by
visiting Fodor's chat or Cruise critic chat
where people who have made the specific trip
have found and recommend tour guides in the cities you want to visit, not through the cruise line. I usually go online and book the
hop on hop off bus wherever I travel. It will take you to the major sites of interest, stops, you get off and sitesee, and pick up the next bus when you're through at that particular site and get off at the next site you want to see - about $20 for the day - or they also have discounted tickets for 48 hours. One of the hop on hop off buses is Viator and they're in almost every city in the world. But when researching travel, Google is my best friend. Just enter hop-on hop off bus in Rome Italy, or whatever city you're interested in.
I did have a funny experience on one cruise, I went to book a tour with the purser, and he whispered to me " save your money, when you get off the ship you'll see many people with signs offering tours". At a stop in the Azores where I wanted to go on the boat for whalewatching, I discovered the ship was offering the tour for $90.00 while the whale office itself in town was offering it for $50.00.
On the other hand two tours I did take (not through the ship) were a tour of the Vatican by a company recommended by a Fodor traveler and I never woud have gotten all the wonderful information and tidbits about the Vatican if I hadn't taken that tour. The gal guide was wonderful. And a private tour arranged by travelers on the cruise for a minibus tour of Lisbon showed me places and things I hadn't seen or heard of in the time I had been to Lisbon before. So I'd say yes, book some tours but not through the ship, and look for the hop on hop off buses in every place you want to visit.By the way, be sure to take insurance on your cruise trips. One tour I did take through the ship in Jamaica was a catamaran trip, and when we got on the cat, they passed around a sheet to sign that you waived any responsibility if you were injured on the trip. (We avoided signing even though they kept insisting) So, so much for the cruise ship's suggestion that only if you take tours through them, you are insured !
Anyway, cover all bases, do some research online, and have a great time. I haven't done the med cruise myself, but am planning on it.
I had a mediterranian cruise 2007 with my family and we had a great private tours in Rome,Naples and Florence. The Owner of the limo company (Manilo Tranquilli) was a gentleman and very helpfully with us, fortunatly he guide us personally in Rome,he is a real roman guy and show us the best places of his city,was also incredible that we had no line to go in the colosseum, we so the catacombs, circus maximum,capitoline hill, aventine hill,pantheon,trevi fountain(we decide to don't have the vatican museum tour because for only one day in Rome it takes to much time). The price looklike expensive but at the and of every day we where very happy of our choise.
The van he use was very elegant and clean, and he speak really good english.In Naples Also we had an incredible day, with one very funny tipical local driver,we so Ravello,sorrento,Positano and Pompei just in one day, and was really enought.
In Florence also was wonderful, we had a great stop in Pisa first, we so the david statue and
we had also time for shopping and a great lunch.
My suggestion for you and your family, this is my personal opinion,is to use this guy to have the real feeling of Italy, and to feel free to go anywhere.
the rate for ich tour was €500,not more expensive then the cruise bus excursions, that must be nice but I cannot realize how close they can arrive with the big bus they use in those narrow streets.This is the web side address
I hope my suggestion was helpfully for you.
JimC- As you are based in Rome, I assume you are just advertising your company. Please do not pretend to be answering someones questions while posting blatant advertisements.
That's a different story. The way you represented it, it sounded like it was $500 for
Still although the Euro has gone up since my last trip in May of 2007, when we took a private all day tour on a little mini-bus, all over Lisbon, Sentra, and many other places - not including lunch, the cost was about $45.00 , although we were 16 people. So maybe double for 8 people is about right.
Since I am American I claim excuse for bad spelling in Italian, at least it comes out right phonetically: sciffozzo