Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Suzi4

Mediterranean Cruise Critic Community & Port Review.

Recommended Posts

I must say using CC boards have been a real blessing for me. Anyone that is hesitant about participating in the Roll Call Boards to find tour mates or simply meet people, should really consider what I have to say.

This was my second Mediterranean Cruise. The first one I was a bit apprehensive about using anything other then what the ship had to offer excursion wise. You know, worried we will miss the ship. Worried something bad will happen and be in a different country, just plan worried about being worried, so we stuck with doing ship excursions. They were good enough tours, but always had huge amounts of people and basically you are stuck for many hours with for the most part, ill-mannered pushy people. By the time it is over your ready to take the sticker off and stick it to someone else.

This past Mediterranean cruise, I wanted to try something new and use the Roll Call Board to meet others that wanted to share the same experience and divide the cost of private tours. You end up paying the same amount or even less then what the ship offers. I let go of my worries and made the decision not to worry about anything and do private tours. If we miss the ship it will be an adventure to get to the next port. If the tour mates are unable to attend, then I am prepared to pay full price. If the tour guide doesn’t show up, we’ll grab a cab and have a great day anyway. If something bad happens, it simply happens and it is beyond my control.

I’m so thrilled I let go of the hesitation that kept me from incredible experiences. We met some amazing people from the CC boards and 2 of them I truly believe will be life long friends. The tours were outstanding and now I must say I’m spoiled. I do not see doing it any other way. Bottom line, the people that come to these boards are looking for a trip of a lifetime too. We are looking for the same experiences. A cruise is about having fun, and for me I can’t find much enjoyment being part of the sticker herd on a bus, not anymore.

These boards are full of brilliant information on what to do in ports. What ports to spend money on tours and what ports to do on your own can be found here. Every tour company we used came from these boards and they were all fantastic. I would like to thank everyone that takes the time to post about his or her experiences. It makes planning so much easier and for me, planning is half the fun of going, so many things to look forward to and you know more of what to expect when you get there.

With all that said, I want to list the ports we went to and give a review, it’s my small payback to this community.

Going review our pre cruise stay because both are cruise ship ports and maybe helpful for some.

Pre Cruise stay in

Lisbon Portugal. Lisbon is an amazing city with amazing seafood. Matter of fact I believe some of the best seafood I’ve ever had was in Portugal. I have to add the service we got the five days we stayed was top rate. It didn’t matter if we went to an expensive place to eat or not, same 5 star service. We were lucky enough to meet a cab driver in Lisbon that spent the entire day with us. 9 hours at the cost of 150 euros. It was a marvelous day full of history and information he also took us to the most charming beach for lunch, he said many writers go there to write. He ordered our food and wine it was incredible. I really enjoyed our time spent with him. His name is Emanuel Emidio, sadly he doesn’t have a web site I only have a phone number for him, his card reads Taxi Tour- City-Tour 0351-967 285 485. Emanuel Emidio. We also did the hop on and hop off bus one day. It was really nice and I would recommend that as well.

Next Pre Cruise stay

Madeira (Funchal) if you are lucky enough to port here, you must NOT stay in Funchal. We rented a car during our stay, I do NOT recommend this unless you are use to tiny twisting roads that hang onto cliffs. I suggest get a cab and do some scenic driving. This Island is gorgeous and not to be missed. It looks very similar to Hawaii from the cliffs to the waterfalls to the endless blooming variety of flowers everything about it is stunning! To stay in Funchal would be a huge loss. This place is paradise!

Barcelona Spain. We had 24 hours to explore here and it simply wasn’t enough. We did the hop on and hop off bus, but didn’t really have time to hop off when we wanted to. It’s a neat city and I enjoyed the waterfront, but again we didn’t have enough time to really get a good feel for it. We left Madera at 4:am and got to Barcelona at 3:00 pm, boarded the ship and had a few hours to spend in the city, the next day we took off early but had to sail away by 4:00pm I would highly recommend doing a pre or post cruise stay for at the least 2 days in Barcelona, too much to see and do in a one day.

Monte Carlo: we got off the ship to grab a cab to Eze, we met up with our new found CC pals because they wanted to go to Eze as well. (The cost would have been 45 euros one way) We did end up in Eze, but we also got a grand tour of Monte Carlo and some perfume factory. It was amusing and very interesting. Our taxi driver was also somewhat of a salesman and talked us right into a tour, but let me tell you I’m glad he did, it was great. He said “Pfffffft, why come here and just go to Eze?” We didn’t know what to say, other then, “fine, lets see more” Eze is beautiful, like out of a fairytale book. Monte Carlo is beautiful too and full of neat stories, we really had a nice time. One must buy one thing in while in Monte Carlo or France. You must buy a croissant! I recommend the chocolate croissants. They are out of this world. So buttery and flaky! Really, it’s a must buy, the French are the croissant masters of the world!

Livorno (Florence) Italy: We met up with our new CC friends and went on a Sunflower Tour to Cinque terre. It was a magnificent day. I loved the small villages they truly are beautiful. Sunflower tours made our day very easy and relaxing. Giovanni was our guide and he was very helpful and knowledgeable, the ride to Cinque terre was really nice too and I would highly recommend this company for tour out of Livorno.

Civitavecchia (Rome) I had been to Rome for 5 days before and knew it would be enormous challenge to see it in one day. I was really wondering how it could possibly be done. We met with our CC friends we did a tour with Driverguideservice.com we all enjoyed this action packed day. So much to see in Rome and our driver gave us a great taste of this amazing city. He was also our guide for the Vatican and he was simply great. He had a real passion for art and history. I would recommend driverguideservice it was a wonderful day.

Messina, Sicily: I did some research on this port. Fact is not much to see here, so I looked for a tour outside of Messina and found Sicily Life Tours. We met up with our CC friends and took the tour to Tarormina and Castelmola. It was outstanding. I have to say this was one of my favorite tours. Sebastiano was our guide and he was so kind to us. Our ship didn’t get in to port until 1:00 pm so he let us stay in Tarormina as late as we wanted. It was so laid back and enjoyable, I can’t leave out how incredible Tarormina and Castelola are. Truly two beautiful places with outstanding food and unbelievable cannolis! This is a must buy! I would highly recommend sicilylife.com we had a great day with them.

Navplion, Greece: We did this port on our own. They have a lovely sea walk that is very easy to do and it is very pretty. The town and the people are great. We were lucky enough to see the farmers market on a Saturday. It was so interesting and fun. We bought a few items and simply had a relaxing day here. I’m sure it would have been nice to see more, but it is also a very nice place to just hang out.

Katakolon, Greece: I have been here before and knew that my sister needed to see Olympia so we did the ships tour. I would much rather walk around Olympia and image how it once was then stand 15 minutes hearing about a ancient bath tub. I must say after all of our private touring, this was a big let down, but it’s one of those places one should see. If I had to do it again, I would do the train or take a taxi. Also people need to know they have made some changes in the village of Olympia, the busses are not allowed to pick people up at the site of Olympia, so now you have to walk through the town, it’s not a short walk and for those who may have problems physically I would for certain use a taxi. I did enjoy the town, they have some nice shops, but I didn’t like the time restrictions the bus tour had. I do understand why the town’s people need / want people to walk around, but forcing people that have physical problems to walk so far seems very unreasonable. One person was unable to do the tour because of how far the busses had to park.

Corfu, Greece: I’ve been to Corfu before and loved it. It is really a beautiful place. We did a tour with our CC friends and used corfutaxi**************** Our driver took us to some breathtaking views of Corfu. Dimitris was our guide and full of information and history of Corfu. We had a lot of fun with him and he even gave us plenty of tips on picture taking, it was priceless! Very nice day and I would for sure recommend this company to anyone.

Dubrovnik, Croatia: We met up with our CC friends to take a taxi to Dubrovnik, the plan was to walk the city walls, but we ended up doing yet another unexpected taxi driver tour! It was wonderful, our driver was from California and had lived in Croatia for 20 years or more. Our tour was very unexpected and our driver told us about the war and all of the struggles that came with it. It was a very heart felt tour in a beautiful country. I love Croatia and hope to one day, spend more time there. Anyone that goes to Dubrovnik and finds themselves in a cab with a driver from California, ask him to show you around, you’ll be in for a real treat.

Venice, Italy: No other place in the world is like Venice and the millions of people that visit it. This is a place that one needs to get lost in, after you have seen all the landmarks walk down one of the thousand little alley streets and you’ll find yourself alone. It’s the best way to see Venice and it will help your nerves settle down. I love Venice, but it can be trying with so many people and you may find yourself wanting to push someone into the Grand Canal, just step off the main pathways and enjoy this beautiful gem. I would also like to recommend if you have time and can extend your stay, you should take a good look at the map and think about what places you’d love to see and take full advantage of the train station in Venice. It’s very easy to use and for me getting to Europe is half of the battle, so while I’m there I want to take full advantage of my time. You can get to some amazing places via the train, if you have the time. We went to Lake Como, it was magical and a great way to end our action packed trip.

Again, I want to thank everyone that post about the experiences they have had. It sure helped me and I am grateful.

I also want to give a special thanks to Marge and Adrian it was truly a pleasure meeting you all and we had a great time with you in Rome.

Last but certainly not least, I want to thank Jules and Mike for all the great times and laughs you two are very special to us and made our trip even more fabulous!! I hope that one day soon we’ll tour the world again! It was the best time ever with you two…. Thank you!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fantastic trip report of your travels in Europe and your experiences using private guides. Really enjoyed reading it.

 

Have a great next cruise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Enjoyed your review. I'm interested in your tour of Cinque Terre. How long was your excursion?? Did you feel rushed?? Do you think a private driver to this area was worth it...as opposed to a ship tour?? Was the price per vehicle or per person?? Thanks for your help.

 

K

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...

No other place in the world is like Venice and the millions of people that visit it. This is a place that one needs to get lost in, after you have seen all the landmarks walk down one of the thousand little alley streets and you’ll find yourself alone.

….

 

Thank you for your lovely review of the ports you visited. I must agree 100% with you about Venice. I am amazed by the comments that I often hear about Venice being overcrowded, dirty, expensive etc. The nicest way to enjoy Venice is to stay on a backwater canal, stroll the quiet streets, eat at the restaurants where locals eat and where the word "Americano" does not appear on the menu.

 

I also agree that Lake Como, although by contrast, so different, is a really lovely place to visit.

 

I completely agree with you about avoiding ship tours, but because of our budget constraints, we didn't do private tours either. Instead we did all our ports on our own using bus/train, with taxis only used to get to train stations etc. This meant that we were not even constrained by having pre-booked times for anything.

 

Again, it was because of the information found here that we were prepared enough to venture out on our own.

 

Roy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Enjoyed your review. I'm interested in your tour of Cinque Terre. How long was your excursion?? Did you feel rushed?? Do you think a private driver to this area was worth it...as opposed to a ship tour?? Was the price per vehicle or per person?? Thanks for your help.

 

K

 

For me, Cinque Terre is very hard to visit in one day. It takes over and hour to get there from the port and once you are there you do have time to walk around some of the villages, but you can't do all the sea walk paths that take you from one village to the other, you only have time to do one. Was it rushed? For me, yes. It's one of those places you need a few days to do, but it still was amazing to see.

 

The cost was 450 euros for 4 people. priced per vehicle, but for two people it would have been 400 euros. I'm guessing the cost difference would have been a car for 2 and a van needed for 4 people. The guide dropped us off at the 1st village and gave us a time to meet at the 4th village. We left at around 7:30 am and got back to the ship around 6:00 pm. The ship sailed at 7:00pm, to be so far from the port it really was the perfect timing.

 

I would think what the ship offers would be very close to the same, but I'm not sure. I would hate to explore Cinque Terre following a large group of people, with that said I would study the excursion details to make certain you had a good amount of "free time" if so it would more then likely be very similar to a private tour. All the guide really did was drive us there and explain the layout, how to but tickets to the fairy and trains to get you to the villages. Was it worth it? Yes, but if the ship tour drops you off and you have "free time" to see and do what you want that would be very nice too.

 

I hope this helps you :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Civitavecchia (Rome) I had been to Rome for 5 days before and knew it would be enormous challenge to see it in one day. I was really wondering how it could possibly be done. We met with our CC friends we did a tour with Driverguideservice.com we all enjoyed this action packed day. So much to see in Rome and our driver gave us a great taste of this amazing city. He was also our guide for the Vatican and he was simply great. He had a real passion for art and history. I would recommend driverguideservice it was a wonderful day.

 

 

 

do you by chance remember who you had as a guide??? we've just booked this company for 2 vans (15 people) and would love any more feedback/thoughts you have on them.

 

thus far - they've been SUPERB about communication.

 

 

how was your Vatican tour?? with the same guide - I can't believe how much $$ we're saving going with them vs. other companies who also make you hire an additional guide to do the Vatican.

 

THANKS!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wonderful review! :) Thanks for all your very detailed descriptions of slightly off-the-beaten-path things to see and do! Can't wait for our B2B Med cruises in two weeks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Suzi4, For someone who was at first hesitant, you have certainly made up for it. I have to say I was the same way, but the info on these message boards is wonderful. Thank you for your help. I can see that we travel the same way, with our stomachs in mind! Croussants, cannoli, seafoods, etc!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree . . . we've used information from the cruise critic boards and reviews to help us plan caribbean cruises on RCCCL in 2001 and 2002, a european cruise on Carnival cruise lines in 2006 and our current western mediterranean/greek isles cruise on Brilliance of the Seas in June 2009. The information, recommendations, advice and insights have all been very helpful.

 

Thanks,

chester

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...