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Old 05-15-2008, 07:03 PM
ldw ldw is offline
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hi: we'll be going on a holland america tour on the noordam on may 29, traveling through the mediterranean. if anyone has done this before, i'm wondering if it's possible to arrange shore tours WITHOUT going through the cruise company.
for example, when you get to the ports at ephesus and olympia, i know you have to take transportation to get to the sights we want to see.
is it easy to catch a taxi on your own? has anyone done this and can you offer advice?
we also want to see the archeological sites on santorini. will it be easy for us to get there and if so, how?
we're hoping to avoid some of the expense of the cruise ship arranged tours but we're an older couple in our 80s and also want to be sure we find reliable transportation.
if anyone can provide any answers, i'd very much appreciate an e mail to ldwartik@aol.com. thanks much. --louise
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Old 05-15-2008, 08:17 PM
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Hello Idw, and welcome to Cruise-Chat;

we have members here that are much more experienced in the Mediterranean than I, and I hope they weigh in on this; but allow me to make just a couple of initial observations.

There are many reliable tour operators who could provide you with what you want; reasonable and reliable transportation. The problem I see is you leave in less than two weeks. Unless you have a travel agent that can help you with these arrangements, or you have a goodly amount of time to spend doing your own research, I don't know it this can be accomplished in 13 days (you will have to leave at least by the 28th for a sailing on the 29th).

Just getting off the ship and hiring a taxi is not the best idea if these areas are new to you. Many of us here routinely suggest that if it is you first time in a port you stick to the ship sponsored excursions. And because of the distances involved between the port and, say Ephesus, you will not likely save too much in a private cab over a ship tour.

I don't say this to discourage you; my only concern is your comfort and safety. If you have the time and the resources to arrange these tours on your own, then by all means you should. It just seems like an awful lot of planning in a very short time frame.

We have only had one cruise on Holland America; the Baltic last summer. And we thoroughly enjoyed all the ship excursions.

But these are just my initial reactions. Others here may have differing views.

One thing for sure, you will have a wonderful experience on Noordam.

Rick
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Old 05-16-2008, 05:39 AM
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Hi ldw, welcome to Cruise-Chat. I totally agree with Rick. Unless you a fluent in many languages, have enough time to research many vendors, or have a travel agent that can arrange these tours for you, I wouldn't advise doing it on your own. This is mainly for your safety. On a ship sponsored excursion, they will know where you are and when you should return. If something happens, they will wait for you. If you're on your own, they have no idea of knowing where you are and they will not hold the ship if something happens. Best wishes for your up-coming cruise and once again, welcome aboard!
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Old 05-18-2008, 05:30 PM
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Hi ldw. We booked a 5 week land based European trip with two kids in May07- leaving in June07 so it can be done- it was a full time job leading up to the departure date though. If you are looking to save some money and do independent tours, you are going to have to invest a good bit of time into the next few weeks. First, are you guys on the 20 day Noordam? That's the only one that hits Ephesus leaving on 5/29. If so (and taking into account I have limited to no cruise experience but I research A TON...we have traveled independently a good bit as well):
- Civitavecchia- you can take the train into the port easily
- Livorno- b/c there is a degree of uncertainty with the taxi availability from the actual port to the town and then on to the train station, I would recommend a ship drop off and pick up here. I know there are tons of great private tours but we are typically 'do it yourself' types.
- Monte Carlo- you can do this on your own- hit the casino, palace, and gardens. We love Eze and Nice but they add alot more time, expense and running around.
- Barcelona- do the HOHO (hop on/ hop off) bus on your own. Tour La Sagrada Familia church (it's the only stop where you may find a wait to reboard but in May, I think you'll be in great shape crowd wise)...watch your valuables in Barcelona. Walk around and enjoy.
- Palma/ Carthage, Palermo- never been
- Naples- so many options. I would recommend Pompeii with a tour operator. Do a search on this site to find a good source or use the ship tour. We also love Capri but it's a bit harder to get to and can make for an exhausting day.
- Dubrovik- can do on your own
- Corfu- we rented mopeds and rode around during our four day stay here- loved it.
- Katakolon- there is a train...also a much beloved taxi driver named George at http://www.taxikatakolon.gr/content/view/5/13/lang,en/ He comes highly recommended on numerous boards. Unfortunately, the train doesn't work for our arrival/ departure times and George is booked with another tour group from our same boat so we are using the ship tour here.
- Santorini- do it on your own- check out threads here for further info.
- Ephesus- we are using Ekol for private tours. Haven't taken them yet but very responsive, reasonable rates, etc. This is such an amazing site from a historical stand point- didn't want to miss it.
- never been to Valletta or Messina

Definitely use the Search option to find different info on ports. Also, there are some great cruise/ port veterans on here (fmattox, hank, etc) who can help you. I have found that using specific questions helps more. So maybe post specific questions on each port.

Best of luck with your trip!
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Old 05-18-2008, 05:58 PM
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Last tip...post any additional port questions in Europe so more of the experienced travelers (who may cruise on different lines) will see them. Again, best of luck. Hope you have an amazing and blessed time!
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Old 05-18-2008, 06:07 PM
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Hi Louise and welcome to cruise-chat. There are many more knowledgable people than I to help with the information you're looking for so I just wanted to welcome you to our little hang out and hope you be back with a review of your experience. Have a great time!

Cheers, Neil
 
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