Posted October 14th, 2009, 12:30 PM
I am going to invite you to take a look at this link as you consider whether or not to rent a car in Livorno. It is my review from our cruise on the NCL Jade 8/23 of this year. Check out my post on the port of Livorno, and then read on to see other's comments regarding car rental in this port.
You can see that things did not go smoothly for us. However, some of that was due to circumstances beyond our control (i.e. our NCL shuttle to the city center getting lost, not docking in the commerical port, etc.). I would advise you to really do your research before committing to the car rental. First, I would NOT pay anything in advance- there are too many variables in this port and it would stink to be out money due to issues you could not help. Then, try and find out which berth you will be docked at and if your rental car company delivers to that pier. If they do not deliver to the pier, then you need to do your planning on how to get into the city center to pick up your car. Word of warning: if you take your ship's shuttle to do this, and they drop you off in the main square, it is still a bit of a hoof to get to the rental car offices- AND, the maps provided by the port authority's are awful....so use some google and get a good feel for where you need to go. As another aside, I had done all this research for our trip, and at the time I was doing it, the port website for Livorno said the Jade would be at the commercial port. That morning we woke up and clearly were at a more industrial port- and there was no heads up given at all....otherwise I would have done some last minute e-mailing or calling to try and get a better game plan.
I don't mean to discourage you from renting a car. At first thought, DH and I thought it was really our only option to see Pisa and the Cinque Terre- since no tours through the ship stopped at both, the train schedule was laborious with a lot of wasted time, and a private driver was out of our price range. So I feel where you're coming from. Just also know that the drunk driving laws there are WAY more strict than over here, which worried me as DH and I enjoy a glass of local wine- add that to not being familiar with road signs and driving style in Italy and in the end, I was kind of relieved our car rental fell through.
I will offer that we used Sifracar, as suggested by Hiltner on this site, and they were really easy to work/communicate with. They also offer pier delievery for certain berths. We were a little disappointed they did not send someone to our industrial port to meet my husband and I to take us into town to pick up our car, as we had to track down a port agent to call them for us. However, upon returning home and retrieving my voicemails off my cell phone, we found they had tried calling us to tell us they weren't going to be able to get the car to the pier and to come pick it up in town. Regardless, once we aborted our plan and took the train, they did not charge us anything for the car- not even a cancellation fee. For that we were grateful!
I'd be happy to answer any more questions you may have. Otherwise, do some searches using the advanced search tool on this board under car rental, Livorno. There have been quite a few other threads on it.
Good luck to you and have a great time- no matter what you decide to do! I wish I was going with you!