private drivers

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Pittston, Pa
106 Posts
Joined Jan 2001
We are going on the Brillance to the Med next Sept 05 How far in advance do you suggest booking private tours? Also do the drivers accept US dollars as payment? Where do you really need Euros and has anyone ever used American Express Travel Funds Card? Thanks in advance for any help. We are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary next year so this will be a very special trip.
Melbourne, Australia
10,666 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
We have always booked early, a year in advance is fine. You will find that the good drivers get booked up well in advance.

We have always used Euros in Europe. That is their system of currency. It would be the same if we went to the U.S. and tried to use Aussie dollars! Yes some of the drivers will take U.S. dollars but as the dollar is low against the Euro at the moment they seem to prefer euros now.

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396 Posts
Joined Oct 2002
I have contacted some of the popular drivers for tours in the Med for next year. Most of them are already taking reservations and it seems they all want Euros at the end of the tour. The tours are not cheap by all means, but sharing is encouraged. If you cannot find anyone to share the tour they will try and put you with others to keep the cost down. I plan on taking some Euros from home then just buy as we go from the pursers desk on board the ship.

The Bluegrass State
1,209 Posts
Joined Aug 2003
We used private drivers for our cruise this past June and booked about 10 months in advance. They do tend to get busy early. Some couldn't quote prices until the new year, but they weren't much different than the previous year. Some will lock in the price for booking ahead. Everyone wanted Euros at the end of the trip, we got ours at ATMs using a debit card. They had the best exchange rate. The purser had the worst exchange rate, but then again you wouldn't have to worry about your card getting stuck in the machine. We only carried the amount we needed for that day, and we split carrying the total between the two of us. One driver advertised that he would take credit card at the end, but there was a % added. Also, most credit card companies add a service charge of about 3%. Doesn't sound like much but adds up over 12 days.
Columbus, Ohio
74 Posts
Joined Jan 2004 we just got back from our Med cruise on the Brilliance.. and can't say enough good things about taking the private tours. We used Remo from We were able to see everything and much more for much less money than if you take the ship's same tour.. for example, Amalfi for the 4 of us was 125 Euros each (not inlcuding tip) and the same tour on the ship would have been $345 each! You go in a smaller group of your choice in a mini bus vs. a large bus. Also you can request more time or less time or say, let's go here, and skip this.. can't do that on a ship's tour.
Same thing in Rome..there were 10 of us, so it was only 70 Euros each (or close) each for the same sights + his own personal touch (like serenading us with his concertina while we had lunch at a local place) and the ship's tour of the same areas was $345 each!
If I knew I was going on a particular date, I would book him right now.

Hope this helps.
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Pittston, Pa
106 Posts
Joined Jan 2001
Thanks for all the good suggestions they are appreciated. I am sure I will be asking more questions along the way. Also will be looking for cruise critic travelers to share our tours. Thanks To All
Southern California
414 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
Book your private tour now... the ship is outrageous in comparison. Unless, for example, your family of 4 feels that $800 is worth the security of not being late back to the ship while in Rome There are some that think that those of us that choose private tours are snobby, when in fact I'm looking for the best bargain. If I can spend the day with a knowledgable driver that speaks my language, in an airconditioned Mercedes van, doing what we tell him we want to do and when we want to do it, for hundreds of dollars less than the ships excursion, that's where I'll be
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