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Rome and Catania Shore Excursions

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I will be traveling with a group of six (all over 55) on the Holland America Westerdam in May 2010. We wish to book private excursions in Rome, Naples and Catania. Has anyone had good or bad experiences with any of the private tour companies in these ports? Are there any you could recommend of warn of? What would you recommend as an itinerary for Catania?

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    I recently took a similar cruise with two other couples. In Sicily we used Sicly Driver and Guide - http://www.sicilydriverandguide.com/index.htm - the guide was Vera and she was excellent. We were picked up at the port in Cantania and toured Taormina, Castelmola and Savoca. The driver was very professional. In Rome we used Romeinlimo.com. Our driver guide was Onofrio. I had been to Rome previously and thought it would be a rehash of everything I had already seen. Was I wrong. He was great. They even arranged for a private guide at the Vatican. The young lady, a Canadian, by the name of Braydyn, was very knowledgeble and personable. They also have excursions on most other cities on the mainland of Italy and have heard other good things about them in Naples and Florence. I had made the arrangements on the internet and was a little apprehensive as I felt responsible for the other two couples satisfaction. Near the end of the cruise both of the other couples told me that the two best days we had were the private excursions. It is definately the way to go. The other two couples even treated me to a dinner when we got home. However, if you plan to do an excursion of the Amafi coast I would opt for the one arranged by the cruise line as the traffic can be very bad and you will want to make sure the ship will be responsible for your return. Have a great cruise.

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