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11 day Rome & Vatican cruisetour on the Epic?


phabric
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Has anybody done this cruisetour before? Land tour would be - tour ancient Rome,Vatican Museum, walking tour of Rome, 3 breakfasts before a 7 day cruise. What did you think about this tour?

 

I will be going solo so thought this would be a good way to see Rome with other people.

Edited by phabric
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My husband and I did this cruisetour last year and loved it. Francesca was our guide in Rome and she was excellent. I believe there were 18 of us in the tour group. Most of us went ahead and paid for the optional tours as well. I will say that we didn't see most of the group again once we boarded the ship, but we didn't really make the effort to try and meet up again either. Everything went very smoothly for us and I would recommend it.

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Thank you for the good word for this tour.

 

I will be going solo for the first time. I thought doing this tour before the cruise would be a good way to see Rome with other people.

 

I am not sure if I will fly in the day before and stay at the same hotel or take a flight that arrives around 11am the day the tour starts.

 

How did you get to the hotel? Was there a NCL transfer included to the hotel?

 

Do you remember which hotel they used?

 

How did the tours work - breakfast at the hotel included, tour in the morning, stop for lunch on your own, more touring in the afternoon, returned to the hotel for the night?

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I think the cruisetour would give you a chance to meet some other people before the cruise. It also helps you orient yourself to Rome for when you are on your own and the guide can give you suggestions and information for when you are on your own as well. Our group had a wide range of ages - there were a couple families with teenagers and one of those families had grandparents, a few couples of different ages and a mother/daughter. There weren't any singles, but I wouldn't let that deter you as everyone was pretty friendly and singles would have fit in just fine.

 

The tour guide must have some flexibility on when the different parts of the tour take place. For example, the information we received said the ancient Rome tour would be held in the afternoon, but she moved it to morning because it was so hot.

 

There is definitely plenty of time on your own if you choose not to do the optional tours. Most of our group did the optional tours, but not all. Even with the optional tours, we had some down time. We paid about $160 per person in total for all of the optional tours, although this was slightly reduced and I explain that later.

 

We arrived in Rome the day the tour started and had plenty of time. Of course, being an international flight, we started the flight the day before and flew through the night.

 

Day 1, we arrived in Rome just after 9 a.m. We met the NCL/Gate1 representative (Gate1 was the tour company NCL used) by the baggage claim. Read the e-documents from NCL as they will give instructions on where to meet. He took us, and others, to a van that took us to our hotel. The transportation was included in the cruisetour.

 

The hotel was Hotel Mediterraneo. They may use other hotels as well, but you should be able to call NCL or look through the documents to find the hotel information. The hotel was fine - nothing extravagant, but we had what we needed, it was clean and the staff was courteous. The breakfast buffet each morning was pretty good.

 

When we checked in, we were given a note instructing us to meet the group at 4:30 p.m. in the lounge for drinks, snacks and an introduction. After the intro, we took our first walking tour over to a nearby Basilica and followed that up with a stop for a gelato (included) before heading back to the hotel. We were on our own for dinner that evening. We ate at the rooftop restaurant of the hotel. The food was ok, but it was the view that made it worth a visit.

 

Day 2, we ate breakfast and we were on the bus headed to the Vatican by 8 a.m. Just a note, make sure you follow the dress code for the Vatican (some other churches, Basilicas, etc in Europe have dress codes as well). We toured the Vatican, had some time to shop and then bussed to Piazza de Navona. I can't remember if the bus took some people who weren't doing the optional tour that afternoon back to the hotel or not. We were on our own for lunch in the Piazza and there were plenty of choices. We met up with the group in the Piazza and did the optional walking tour that afternoon. The afternoon tour included the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. After that, we took cabs (fare included in the optional tour price) back to the hotel. We were on our own for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

 

Day 3, we ate breakfast and were on the bus around 8 a.m. again. The bus took us to the Colosseum. We toured that, then walked over to the Forum and on to Capitoline Square. We met the bus near there and were taken back to the hotel We had the afternoon and early evening on our own and then did an optional tour that evening - a bus tour of the city by night. That tour was originally supposed to include dinner and I think a show too, but I'm not sure. However, the optional tours require 10 people or they won't go. We had a group of 6 that wanted to do the night bus tour but not the dinner. Without them, we didn't meet the 10 person quota. The guide, Francesca, was able to arrange with Gate1 to do the bus tour only at a reduced price. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't have done just the bus tour - it might have been worth it with the dinner.

 

Day 4, we ate breakfast and then did one last optional tour. A bus took us to the Basilica of San Clemente. We toured that and it was actually quite interesting as it is built on top of two other structures and you can take the stairs to see the other structures below. From there we walked to St. Peter in Chains and then back to the hotel. We had some time where we just waited in the lounge prior to the vans picking us up to take us to the port. The drive is a little over an hour.

 

The cruise itself was great. You are responsible for making arrangements for transportation at the end of the cruise. We used Rome Cabs (highly recommended by others) and made the arrangements through their website before we left for the trip. It worked out perfectly.

 

This is probably a lot more info than you wanted, but hopefully it will help you make a decision. I'm happy to answer any questions you have.

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This is great information, very helpful. it looks like you had good tours and full days. This will be a good way for me to see Rome.

 

NCL lists the Crowne Plaza or Hilton Rome that they use for hotel packages but you would not know until closer to the date, my agent is looking into which hotel they will use.

 

Did you pay for the extra tours in US$ or Euro?

 

Did you do NCL tours for the cruise part or private tours? Any suggestions?

 

Did some of the restaurants have their menu in Engish?

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I don't recall if they gave us the optional tour prices in $$ or Euros, but I think it was $$. We used a credit card to pay anyway, so the statement was in $$. One thing I learned on Cruise Critic, if you have a Capital One card, use it. They don't charge foreign transaction fees like many of the cards do.

 

We did all NCL excursions. I know there are cheaper ways to go, but it was our first cruise and some of the places we wanted to visit were quite a distance from the port so we knew the ship would wait if the excursion was running late. I did look into the Share a Shore Excursion website and there were small groups getting together to sign up for private tours. I am sure some of the others on the boards can recommend reputable private tours.

 

For the most part, I would recommend the excursions we chose. The only issue we really had was that we are not big shoppers, and if we do shop we want a little better quality than the junk we saw in some of the stops. So there was an abundance of free time for us in some cases.

 

In Livorno, we did the Cinque Terre excursion. This one made for a long day, but it was good. The scenery was lovely. There was free time at different stops along the way. In the last stop, there was extra time because there was a beach you could go to. We just didn't want the hassle of bringing beach gear with us. We ate lunch at Pizzeria de Ely and then roamed around town and through the shops.

 

In Marseille, we did a tour called Marseille and Notre Dame de la Garde. This is the only one I would absolutely not recommend. It was a bus ride around the city, a stop at Notre Dame, a stop for some shopping and then back to the ship. We chose it because the excursion the previous day was long and we wanted something less intensive, but we should have gone a different route.

 

In Palma de Mallorca, we did the Palma and Soller Train ride. This one was decent, but I had high expectations based on reviews I had read and it didn't quite live up to them. The scenery was nice and the monastery was interesting.

 

We went to Montserrat in Barcelona and really enjoyed the excursion. The views were awesome and there were other things to do besides just going to the basilica to see the Black Madonna. We were disappointed that the boys' choir was on vacation, but we knew that when we signed up for the excursion. This excursion was offered to people disembarking in Barcelona, so they were dropped off in the city afterwards. We were also given the option to be dropped off, but we chose not to for a variety of reasons.

 

We took one of the more exclusive NCL excursions (smaller group) to the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii. This was a good tour, but we felt rushed in Pompeii. I would gladly have given up a little time in Positano, especially since it was so early many of the shops were still closed, to spend more time in Pompeii.

 

We didn't stop for food at Montserrat, but there were plenty of people who spoke English so I don't think it would have been a problem. In Marseille and Palma we just stopped for snacks. For the most part in Italy, there were no issues - either the menus were available in English or the Italian food was familiar enough that we knew what we were ordering. The only time I had trouble was in a deli and I ended up pointing at the sandwich in the case. I did some research on TripAdvisor for restaurants before we left and downloaded the TripAdvisor app as well.

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