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frenchhorn

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  1. We had a terrific driver/guide from the port of Marseille to Aix en Provence, Cassis, and Marseille. She was with ItalyTours.eu. Four of us did the full day tour and were able to adjust the tour based upon how much time we wanted to spend in each place. I don't know if they operate out of the other French ports that you mentioned, but our Marseille tour was outstanding.
  2. We were recently in Rome and purchased the S.U.P.E.R ticket a little less than a month ahead. We knew that we wanted to visit the houses of Augustus and Livia, and we were able to book those for November 30 without charge back in August, months before buying the SUPER ticket for entry to the Palatine Hill. We had not been to the Palatine Hill before, wanted to take a brief trip through the Forum, and didn't want to visit the Colosseum again. The SUPER ticket was perfect for our needs, and we really enjoyed what we saw. It also gave us entry to the museumon the Palatine Hill. I regret that we didn't visit the Domus Transitoria. On Sunday, December 1 we visited the Domus Aurea, which also usually requires a timed reservation and is open only on Saturdays and Sundays. A few people walked up and purchased tickets for later that day, but we had purchased ours in August to be sure we got in. It was terrific. Thanks, Cruisemom42 for all the information you've shared on CruiseCritic - so much has been helpful!
  3. Four of us booked two tours in December with Italytours.eu, and both tours were terrific. We booked first to take us from our Rome hotel to the port in Civitavecchia to meet our ship, but we asked to spend much of the day touring before going to the ship. We went first to Lake Bracciano and then to the sites in Tarquinia and the museum in town. Our driver was excellent and gave us much information as we rode. He stayed with the car at our stops, so we didn't worry about our luggage. We recommend this kind of tour to make great use of a day of transport. The other tour we booked with Italy Tours was from the port in Marseille touring Aix-en-Provence, Cassis, and Marseille. Again we had an outstanding driver/guide who told us so much about the places we visited. We had free time to explore the markets in Aix and Cassis but saw so much of the towns and the countryside and coast. It was a full day but worth every minute. We did not worry about their getting us back in time to sail - they know how to manage the time allowed. Cristina was organized and so easy to work with, and I'd definitely book again with them.
  4. We toured with Alex of Top Ten Tours and visited the Queluz Palace in December. We also had it to ourselves, and your photos are terrific. It was a gorgeous place.
  5. http://www.toptentours.eu/ They specialize in very small groups. Four of us toured for two days in December with a wonderful guide named Alex, and we'd recommend the company to anyone. Their tours are a very reasonable cost for such a small group, and they worked with us to decide what we'd do each day. We stayed at the Altis Avenida Hotel in the Rossio area - across from the train station. The hotel was very nice, and the area was perfect - near restaurants and shops. We ate at a restaurant called Bonjardim, which was tucked away in an alley near the hotel. Our guide recommended it, and it was filled with local families. They specialize in chicken, which was terrific and plentiful. We loved Lisbon and wish we could have stayed longer.
  6. i think we booked 5 or 6 months ahead, but I don't think that's necessary. Fjord Tours gave us a schedule, but it was tentative until the train schedule and booking capability was released, which was a couple of months ahead. We booked the Flam hotel on our own, but you can book through Fjord Tours also. We liked booking the trip through FT, because it was easy and mistake-proof for the multiple types of transportation. We had confirmation forms and picked up the actual train, bus, and boat tickets along with a packet of information at the Oslo Visitors' center beneath the train station. Before boarding the first train in Oslo, we bought sandwiches and drinks in the station for the ride. You can purchase food on the train and in some of the stations, but lines can be long and the food expensive. It was a perfect way to experience the trip across Norway. If you want to use the Porter service for your larger bags, be sure to confirm that they pick up at your chosen hotel in Oslo and drop off at your hotel in Bergen. We had to change our Oslo hotel booking for that reason, but using the porter service was worth it. The bags were waiting for us the next day in the hotel in Bergen.
  7. If you have time, consider spending a couple of nights in Oslo and then taking the Norway in a Nutshell trip to Bergen with an overnight in Flam. That would give you a full day in Oslo to sightsee and rest a little before taking the NIN trip. The NIN trip vs. the long Oslo to Bergen train gives you more enjoyable experiences with a chance to rest and enjoy a little time in Flam on the way. (You can also do the NIN trip in one day, if you don't have time for an overnight.) If you took two days for the trip, you'd arrive in Bergen in the afternoon in plenty of time to get to your hotel and enjoy the evening before boarding the ship the next day. Some people book the NIN on their own. We booked it with Fjord Tours, a booking service, and also arranged with the Porter service to transport our larger bags to our Bergen hotel. Oslo has plenty of fascinating sights to see, if you can spend some time there.
  8. Thanks for the information on the rain pants. We are going on this cruise on May 2, so we might have a real use for them that early in the season in places like Shetland.
  9. Thank you for this useful information! Your descriptions will help us make decisions about what to do in many ports. I was also interested in the fact that you thought rain pants were useful. We bought some for a trip to Iceland but didn't wear them. It sounds like we should take them on this cruise. Weird question - did you wear them over other pants or on their own?
  10. Is it possible that the switch to booking at 3:01 pm EST vs. 3:01 am has resulted in many more people trying to book at the same time and crashing the site? There can't be as many people who will rise to book in the early hours to book excursions. IT work required.
  11. Wow! This is all wonderful information. Was the Edinburgh port Newhaven? Thank you so much, and keep it coming!
  12. We are booked from Greenwich to Bergen on May 2, and we'd love to hear about the excursions you take, private, Viking, or on your own. Also, our cruise has Ullapool, Kirkwall, and Edinburgh marked as tender ports, and we have never done tenders. We're interested in hearing how it works in those ports, especially how it affects your excursion plans. (Greenwich is a tender port too, but we're not concerned about that port.) Thanks for any information you can share!
  13. fadedpages, Thanks for the recommendation of Six. We were looking for something to see in May prior to our UK cruise, and it's just been extended. We just bought tickets and think we'll love it.
  14. if you are doing the nutshell route via Flam (overnight or not, although I’d totally recommend spending the night in Flam...spectacular) I would highly recommend the Porter Service. I agree completely with the recommendation to take the Norway in a Nutshell, stay overnight in Flam, and use the porter service. We did this from Oslo to Bergen in May 2018, and the Porter Service was well worth the small cost. However, if you plan to use the porter service, check with them on the hotels they use for pickup and delivery. We had booked at the Thon Opera in Oslo but found that they did not pick up there at that time. We switched to the Thon Hotel Terminus, which was on their pickup list. It was fine but probably not as good as the Opera. We had the luggage delivered to the Rosenkrantz in Bergen, and it was waiting for us the next day, when we checked in. We booked our Norway in a Nutshell with Fjord Tours and found that very easy - booked online and picked up the various train, bus, and boat tickets at the train station in Oslo. We booked our Flam hotel on our own. We had seat reservations on the train, but I don't think we were in Komfort class. It was a wonderful way to get to Bergen and very easy using Fjord Tours. It costs extra to book through them, but it was so easy and worth it to us. We are currently trying to figure out a reasonable way to get home (Charlotte) from Bergen next May. We do not have time to stay longer but don't want to begin our trip home with a 6 am flight. An overnight at LHR might be in our future.
  15. We did the Oslo Pass and felt it was definitely worth it. We do not usually get that type of pass in cities, but the one in Oslo paid off. We purchased it ahead online and picked it up at the Vistors' Center under the train station. We did not get the Bergen Pass.
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