Posted May 7th, 2004, 09:21 AM
I would agree with the last post except in regard to Livorno. We have always found plenty of taxis on the pier next to the ship,, but keep in mind that most will be looking for a full day fare (often about $300). Our technique is to be one of the first off the ship (a good idea to get the earliest train) and than ask the drivers for someone who will take us to the "Stazione" (station). As to Naples, my wife and I have walked from the port to the train station, but it did take about 30 minutes and crossing the main street that runs in front of the port can be a challenge for those not used to busy city streets.
Re your Villafrance question, I have always been reticent on a specific recommendation. The problem is that what one likes, another dislikes. For example, my wife and I do not particularly like Monte Carlo, but you will find many here who love that city. This being said, of the major cities on the Riviera we would list Nice and Cannes as our favorites (in that order). However, our true love of this area are the smaller villages and towns (many of them are inland) which is why we generally rent a car. If you are going to explore on your own, take the train to either Nice or Monte Carlo and enjoy the city. Than, you will have plenty of time to take another train to one of the other coastal towns. If you want to sample a smaller town (its an old walled village) you can go to Eze (this is between the port and Monte Carlo). You can find some other posts on this board regarding Eze and how to get to that hilltop town. It would be possible to do Monte Carlo, Eze, and Nice in one day. This itinerary keeps you relatively close to the ship (within 30 min) and minimizes travel time.
Naples is another of those places where everything depends on your interest. Pompeii is truly one the great "ruins" on earth and if this is of interest its probably one of those "don't miss" places. Pompeii is generally one of those 3 hour kind of places which leaves you 1/2 day go to another place. It is possible to combine Pompeii with a than too quick excursion to Capri, but this does require some planning (and homework) to do on your own. The cruise ship will probably run a tour that goes to Pompeii, than down to Sorrento, across to Capri (hydrofoil) and than back to Naples. This is a pretty good itinerary for a first time visitor, and many would say you should spend the money and take the tour (it can be duplicated on your own for less money, but its a bit complicated).
By the way, I did forget to include Barcelona and Venice in my earlier post. Barcelona is a very modern friendly city and easy to do on your own. Taxis are plentiful and reasonably priced and the center of town (The Ramblas) is a short (less than 10 min) cab ride from the pier. Venice is a place that should only be explored on your feet. You can also use the cheap Vaporettos (water buses) than run everywhere in Venice and the other islands out in the Lagoon (Lido, Murano, Burano, etc).
You will find lots of detailed information and maps in the various guidebooks at your library and bookstore (I live in Borders before trips).