Your Best Mediterranean Cruise Advice -- On a Virtual Postcard!

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#1
657 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
Cruise Critic's Editor in Chief Carolyn Spencer Brown is heading to the Western Mediterranean on a Disney cruise, and will be reporting on her experiences in a daily live video blog from Disney Magic, beginning April 26. The 11-night cruise visits eight ports, and she needs your advice about the best way to spend her time onshore.

Please send her a virtual postcard (i.e., post to this thread!) by Monday, April 19, with your favorite places to go and things to do in one or all of the following ports:

· Barcelona, Spain
· Naples, Italy
· Civitavecchia, Italy (for Rome)
· La Spezia, Italy (for Florence, Pisa, Cinque Terre, etc.)
· Villefranche, France (for Monaco, French Riviera)

To keep things simple, please tailor your suggestions to the following three topics (suggestions can be, but do not need to be, kid-friendly):

· Best must-see attraction
· Favorite hidden gem or off-the-beaten-path attraction
· Best place for an authentic local lunch

We can't wait to read all your great advice! Who knows -- Carolyn might choose your suggestion for her own itinerary and talk about it in her daily video blog. So don't forget to check the Cruise Critic homepage come April 26 to hear all about Carolyn's travels when Disney Cruise Line returns to Europe.

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Erica Silverstein
Senior Editor, Features
Cruise Critic
#3
Columbus, OH
1,652 Posts
Joined Jun 2005
Please send her a virtual postcard (i.e., post to this thread!) by Monday, April 19, with your favorite places to go and things to do in one or all of the following ports:


· La Spezia, Italy (for Florence, Pisa, Cinque Terre, etc.)

To keep things simple, please tailor your suggestions to the following three topics (suggestions can be, but do not need to be, kid-friendly):

· Best must-see attraction


I spent a summer studying in Europe when I was 21. The four day weekend I spent in Italy was one of my favorite side trips (Paris was my other favorite).

My best piece of overall advice is to get the best views, ALWAYS climb to the top! We climbed to the top of the Duomo in Florence and while my thighs ached by the time I got to the top the views are amazing!

We also hiked between two of the towns in Cinque Terra (one of the easier and shorter hikes). The hike let us see great views of the ocean, the towns perched on the cliffs and we saw the vinyards that looked like they were about to slide down the hill.

Pisa was my least favorite stop. We got off the train, saw the tower, took pictures and then got back on the train.

Other than always try to get to the top the only other piece of advice is to try every flavor of gelato that you can!
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#4
1,775 Posts
Joined May 2004
In Civitavecchia, we rented a car and drove to Civita di Bagnoreggio, an out-of-time hilltown connected to the rest of the world by a long footbridge. The town was charming, and the views truly incredible. Not a fellow cruise passenger in sight!

Driving back to Civitavecchia, with the sun shining on the sea just visible beyond the fields and stone walls, we were quite pleased with our day.

There is a car rental agency within easy walking distance of the entrance to the port (on the main seaside drive, off to your right with your back to the port), and we were able to secure a rental in less than 15 minutes, without a reservation.

BTW: We were then traveling with a 4 and 8 year old, and they enjoyed the day, as well.

Whatever you decide to do, enjoy!
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#5
41 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
Hi
Just a quick tip, you don't need to do an"excursion" to rome. The station at civitavecchia is a 5min walk from the port. Most trains go to Rome in about 70 minutes cost about 4euros per person each wayMuch cheaper than an excursion!

We Loved Rome, if its your first visit go on a sightseeing bus, you will see most places and can hop on and off where you, i think it was about 18 euros. you to leave rome about 4.15pm for an all aboard time of 6.00
pm.(any later and the train will be packed and you may not make it or at least have to run!)

have a great trip
#6
milwaukee, WI
91 Posts
Joined May 2008
Get to Barcelona at least a day or two early. Walk the Romblas, eat tapas at a sidewalk cafe. Sip wine, watch people. Take the bus to Familia Segrada. Plan 2 hours at this underconstruction for over 100 years wonder. Buy a two day bus pass and do both the red and green lines (or maybe its red & blue) you can jump off and on at all the "must see" spots. Barcelona is one of our favorite cities.
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#7
Germany/Switzerland
9,388 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
Greetings from

La Boqueria in Barcelona:



My most favourite market hall on earth...

Greetings from

Pizzeria Da Michele in Naples:



Never had a better pizza before in my life...

Greetings from

The Mouth of Truth in Rome:



Just the feeling like Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn in "Roman Holidays"...

Greetings from

Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence:



The view over the illuminated Florence is a MUST like the movie "A room with a view"...

Greetings from

the village of Eze - Villefranche-sur-mer:



It was on the "bucket list" on the same named movie... so put it also on yours... it's worth.

Regards
HeinBloed
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#8
Weston FL
2,553 Posts
Joined Oct 2005
Not far from Civitavecchia is the town of Tarquina where we visited Etruscan tombs - most people we talked to had never heard of this little gem of a town. After our visit to the tombs, we went into town and visited the museum where a lot of the artifacts had been brought.
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#9
Milwaukee
36 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Barcelona, Spain - Get your bearings by heading straight to the "Castell de Montjuïc," a large 18th century fortress, first thing in the morning. You'll have the castle - and the breathtaking views - all to yourself for the first hour. As you're leaving, the tour buses will start to arrive ...
Civitavecchia, Italy - If your voyage is beginning or ending in Rome, stay at the Hotel Traiano, a great little family-run hotel in Civitavecchia. You will have peace and quiet and will enjoy the ambience of a medium-sized Italian port city. From there, you can take the one-hour train trip into Rome to day-trip and not have to bother with dragging your luggage around Rome.


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#10
20,529 Posts
Joined Mar 2005
Greetings From (someone who wishes she was in) Rome!

Best Must-See Attraction: Whether you are 7 or 70, the Colosseum lives up to its colossal reputation. You'll wonder at both its age -- it's not far from its 2,000th birthday) and its modern feel -- marked doorways to help you find your section and seat sound familiar to modern sports fans?

Go inside and you can almost hear the roar of the crowds, the clash of swords, the trumpeting of elephants...

Favorite Hidden Gem: San Clemente church, just steps away from the Colosseum, showcases three vastly different ages in Rome's religious history. At street level: a medieval (12th century) basilica with a peaceful feeling and beautiful mosaics. Descend a level, and step back in time 800 years to the sombre ruins of a 4th century basilica with frescoes that swim in and out of focus in the dim lighting. Finally, take the narrow stairs down to the level of a 1st century Roman apartment building, where a very different god (Mithras) was worshipped by the wealthy Romans who lived here.

The level of spookiness goes way up down here, but it's a great place to "chill" on a hot summer day.

Best place for an authentic local lunch: Anywhere out of sight lines of the main tourist attractions is a good bet. For a sit-down meal, look for a restaurant with a 3-course lunch special. These can be a very good deal in pricey Rome and is the way locals dine. Or for a do-it-yourself lunch, visit a salumeria (sort of the Italian equivalent of a deli), where they'll be happy to package up some salami, cheese, and bread to go.
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Wherever the wind takes me I travel as a visitor. (Horace)
#11
New Jersey
3,648 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
Yes indeed you can take a train (we offer info on how to do so in our Civitavecchia/Rome port profile, which is here: http://www.cruisecritic.com/ports/newport.cfm?ID=79. But be very careful, as you say, about getting back to the ship with plenty of time to spare -- it won't wait for you if you're late!

Carolyn

Carolyn Spencer Brown
Editor in Chief
Cruise Critic

Originally posted by blackshirtuk
Hi
Just a quick tip, you don't need to do an"excursion" to rome. The station at civitavecchia is a 5min walk from the port. Most trains go to Rome in about 70 minutes cost about 4euros per person each wayMuch cheaper than an excursion!

We Loved Rome, if its your first visit go on a sightseeing bus, you will see most places and can hop on and off where you, i think it was about 18 euros. you to leave rome about 4.15pm for an all aboard time of 6.00
pm.(any later and the train will be packed and you may not make it or at least have to run!)

have a great trip
#12
New Jersey
3,648 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
Fantastic! Thanks, Cynthia.

Carolyn


Originally posted by cruisemom42
Greetings From (someone who wishes she was in) Rome!

Best Must-See Attraction: Whether you are 7 or 70, the Colosseum lives up to its colossal reputation. You'll wonder at both its age -- it's not far from its 2,000th birthday) and its modern feel -- marked doorways to help you find your section and seat sound familiar to modern sports fans?

Go inside and you can almost hear the roar of the crowds, the clash of swords, the trumpeting of elephants...

Favorite Hidden Gem: San Clemente church, just steps away from the Colosseum, showcases three vastly different ages in Rome's religious history. At street level: a medieval (12th century) basilica with a peaceful feeling and beautiful mosaics. Descend a level, and step back in time 800 years to the sombre ruins of a 4th century basilica with frescoes that swim in and out of focus in the dim lighting. Finally, take the narrow stairs down to the level of a 1st century Roman apartment building, where a very different god (Mithras) was worshipped by the wealthy Romans who lived here.

The level of spookiness goes way up down here, but it's a great place to "chill" on a hot summer day.

Best place for an authentic local lunch: Anywhere out of sight lines of the main tourist attractions is a good bet. For a sit-down meal, look for a restaurant with a 3-course lunch special. These can be a very good deal in pricey Rome and is the way locals dine. Or for a do-it-yourself lunch, visit a salumeria (sort of the Italian equivalent of a deli), where they'll be happy to package up some salami, cheese, and bread to go.
#13
657 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
I'll throw in a couple too!

There's a local bus that runs between Monaco and Nice (it stops in Villefranche, too) that is really cheap -- something like a euro each way and is fast and comes often. It's a great option for independent explorers! I loved walking around the farmer's market in Nice and wished I cook take all the fresh food back on the cruise ship, sneak into the galley, and make dinner.

Also, this is a bit on the macabre side, but if you're a repeat visitor to Rome and feel like you've seen everything, make your way to the Capuchin Crypt (near Piazza Barbarini). They took the bones of deceased friars and turned them into artistic displays in the crypt. It's very bizarre and creepy, but certainly different!
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Erica Silverstein
Senior Editor, Features
Cruise Critic
#14
Kansas City
2,078 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
We loved Barcelona!

Place to eat: Taller de Tapas, Comtal 28 (Via Laietana) - best calamari ever and you must order "the bomb"! The staff was wonderful and the food was amazing!

Place to visit: Tibidabo - we took the subway, bus, and finally the funicular to the top of Tibidabo. The view was incredible and the church, Temple de Sagrat Cor was beautiful. If you are feeling very brave, the amusement park has some fun rides that go out over the cliff!

Hope you have a wonderful trip!
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#15
28 Posts
Joined Mar 2010
The MUST See on this cruise will be Pompeii, it has to been seen to be believed. I first went when on a RCI Med cruise some 8 years ago and have been back twice since. Do some research on-line before you go as it can be overwhelming there is so much to see.

Rome is probably best done by train as the coach trip wil very long (around 3 hrs I believe).

I loved Villefranche, my late husband had spent a lot of time in Monaco/Monte Carlo so we gave them a miss and spent the day in Villefranche, it is a beautiful, authentic little french town. Well worth seeing. Disembarking via the tender was great fun too.

Overall this is probably one of the best cruise itineries for this region.

Try to get some time in Barcelona - the Gaudi architecture (particulary the temple and park Guell) and Las Ramblas are all worth the effort.
#16
Vancouver Island BC
378 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
My best advice for Rome is to do it on your own with the "Roma Pass". You can purchase it at the Information booth in the Metro station right across the street from the Coloseum. It is only 20 euros each and includes admission to two attractions (Coloseum & Forum are considered only one). You don't have to wait in the long lines to purchase tickets, just walk straight in the entrance for those who already have tickets.(Kids hate waiting in long lineups.) It also includes handy maps in the folder, along with a bus pass for unlimited use of the city transit for several days. Use the map to hop on the bus in front of the Coloseum, and head up to the Pantheon and Piazza Nuvona, Trevi etc. We also used it to go into the National Museums. Best $20 we ever spent!
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#17
20,529 Posts
Joined Mar 2005
Originally posted by Scooterscruisers
My best advice for Rome is to do it on your own with the "Roma Pass". You can purchase it at the Information booth in the Metro station right across the street from the Coloseum. It is only 20 euros each and includes admission to two attractions (Coloseum & Forum are considered only one). You don't have to wait in the long lines to purchase tickets, just walk straight in the entrance for those who already have tickets.(Kids hate waiting in long lineups.) It also includes handy maps in the folder, along with a bus pass for unlimited use of the city transit for several days. Use the map to hop on the bus in front of the Coloseum, and head up to the Pantheon and Piazza Nuvona, Trevi etc. We also used it to go into the National Museums. Best $20 we ever spent!
Just a note: the Roma Pass is now 25 euro (about $34 US) each. http://www.romapass.it/

The pass is most beneficial for those who have several days in Rome as it's good for 3 days. It's harder to get your money's worth from it in a single day visit from a cruise ship.
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Wherever the wind takes me I travel as a visitor. (Horace)
#18
New York
12,290 Posts
Joined Nov 2006
We did a cruise to Europe in 2008 and we're heading back there this year. The one thing that really stands out in my memory is seeing Pompeii. Very little stuns me after raising 4 sons but Pompeii did. I can't wait to get back there again. All the major sites in Rome are awesome too which probably goes without saying. I can't wait for November to come.
#19
Australia
326 Posts
Joined Sep 2008
· Barcelona, Spain
As someone has already suggested, check out the market located along la Rumblas. It is also known as St.Joseps market. The quality of food on show & the presentation is just amazing. Also, a must do is to eat at a tapas bar!

· Naples, Italy
For a great bite, eat at Restaurant Sofi just across the road from the port. Great Italian food & pizza at a fair price with a nice atmosphere.
To visit Pompeii from the port, just jump on a 10min bus ride to Central Garibaldi train station & then take about a 30min train ride to Pompeii Scavi, very easy & cheap to do.
A great hidden secret in naples is to check out the Santa Chiara Monastery. It is in the centre of town & has amazing colourful fresco's painted within the walls & courtyard furniture of the church grounds.

· Civitavecchia, Italy (for Rome)
Civitavecchia is a beautiful seaside town that does warrant a good walk. There are some funky little cafes along the beach area, & the town itself has some great restaurants, bakeries & cafe's hidden among some of it's side streets including a wonderful little semi-outdoor market in the centre of town. There you can find lots of great food as well as some good cheap souvineers. Also, if you do walk around you will come across historic old churches, buildings, statues,etc.
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Carnival: Spirit Sep 2017 Sth Pacific, Royal Caribbean: OVATION OF THE SEAS March 2017 Asia, Carnival: MIRACLE Feb 2017 Mexican Riviera, Carnival: LEGEND, October 2016, Sth Pacific. Celebrity: EQUINOX, *B2B July 2016, Mediterranean. Royal Caribbean: EXPLORER OF THE SEAS, December 2015, New Zealand. P&O: PACIFIC ARIA, November 2015, Australia Coastal. Royal Caribbean: EXPLORER OF THE SEAS, October 2015, Middle East to Asia. Royal Caribbean: QUANTUM OF THE SEAS, June 2015, Asia. Carnival: LEGEND, December 2014, South Pacific. Royal Caribbean: NAVIGATOR OF THE SEAS, November 2013, Mediterranean. Costa: FORTUNA, February 2013, South America. Carnival: LIBERTY, November 2012, Eastern Caribbean. Celebrity: ECLIPSE, April 2012, Translantic –Eastbound. Royal Caribbean: ALLURE OF THE SEAS, May 2011. Western Caribbean. NCL: SKY, May 2011, Bahamas. Carnival: SPLENDOR, May 2011, Mexican Riviera. MSC: SPLENDIDA, November 2009, Mediterranean. Carnival: FREEDOM, October 2008, Mediterranean. P&O: FAIR PRINCESS, July 1999, South Pacific Islands.
#20
Phoenix, Arizona
6,284 Posts
Joined May 2008
favorite places to go and things to do in one or all of the following ports:

· Barcelona, Spain
las Ramblas and the palace where Queen Isabella blessed Christopher Columbus before his voyage
· Naples, Italy
Mt Etna. Ride the funicula
· Civitavecchia, Italy (for Rome)
Coliseum, St. Peter's basilica, Sistine Chapel, Trevi Fountain (don't forget to throw a coin!
· La Spezia, Italy (for Florence, Pisa, Cinque Terre, etc.)
Duomo, Piazza Santa Croce and the church there where Michaelangelo and Gallileo are entombed
· Villefranche, France (for Monaco, French Riviera)
the little shops near the royal palace, the changing of the guards at the royal palace. We saw Prince Albert.
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