Aug 24th, 2008, 03:05 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,723

Looking into a 12 days (June '09) Mediterranean cruise. Would appreciate all comments on ports and shore excursions. Should I let TA or crusie line book air and trasnfer (plus hotel) or I should do my own?

Did a quick internet search, I can do it cheaper by at least $500 per person if I book on my own. If I use points, I save a further $1,300 per person but ... strange language and strange land, should I worry?

I know Mega ships and smaller ships stops at different ports. So far, this is what I have ...

Starts at Barcelona, stops at Monte Carlo, Florence/Pisa, Rome, Naples/Capri, Mykonos, Istanbul, Kusadasi (Ephesus), Athens (Piraeus) and finish off at Venice
Ship docks at 1 pm but don't disembark till the next day.

Eschew is offline  
Aug 24th, 2008, 05:54 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 8,201
I'd get to Barcelona at least two days early--there's so much to see. We especially liked the Gaudi sites. Cab fare from the airport to the ship would be about 35 Euro.

Florence and Rome are about 90 minmutes from where the ship docks.

We were supposed to tender in Amalfi, but docked in Naples instead; we had arranged with Giovanni from to take us on an all day tour of the Amalfi Coast, stopping in Amalfi, Sorrento, Ravello and Positano. That was a wonderful day.

In Mykonos, we did a self guided walking tour I found in a guide book.

Athens (Piraeus) was our disembarkation port. Piraeus is about 45 minutes from Athens. We hired Sprios from to pick us up at the port, take us on a half-day tour of Athens and drop us at the hotel.

I'd also recommend adding to your stay in Venice; part of one day just isn't enough.

Hotels arranged through the cruise line are often way more expensive than booking one (even the same one) on your own.
abram is offline  
Aug 24th, 2008, 07:07 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,426
Do the air on your own. Thats easy. Check with the cruise line for hotel rates and compare to what you can get on your own. I agree about getting into Barcelona early. We stayed there post cruise 3 days and that seemed the right amt. of time. Definitely do the excursions on your own vs. the ship. It will be less $$ and you will have more flexibility with your time. Our very first cruise was the western Med. We figured out what we wanted to see ahead of time, got off at our leisure, got a cab (there will be plenty of them) and off we went. Have fun. Larry
jacketwatch is offline  
Aug 24th, 2008, 09:24 AM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 5
I agree with the other posts. We have been to all the ports. In Kusadasi we hired a private guide. We went to all the spots and were able to go to small areas for local flavor, and consider that day a highlight.
luv2go77 is offline  
Aug 24th, 2008, 05:54 PM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 68
Is this the cruise in stone or are you still up in the air about it? Why I ask is because Princess has a 12 day cruise that goes from Venice to Rome & stops at Dubrovnik, Croatia;Corfu,Katakolon,Athens, Rhodes,Mykonos, Santorini Greece;Kusadasi(Ephesus)Turkey; Naples/Capri,Rome(Civitacchia), Italy that me & my wife went on last year & loved it.Which ever you do, do your own air and in most cases you can do your own excursions. Do get to where ever you are leaving from a couple days early to get the lay of the land and to see what you can. We loved Venice but you can see it on your own but you do need a few days to do it justice.We stayed at the Dona Palace Hotel just off St Mark's Square and we loved the closeness of it to everything & took the water bus to & from the airport & Hotel & ship. Easy & not expensive evan for us seniors.We set up trips to the glass blowers and everything on our own & had a great time. We did do a couple of ship excursions but not many. Go to and get to know other cruisers to see who might be going on your cruise to set up excursion buddies. Good cruiseing.
RONREYN2008 is offline  
Sep 6th, 2008, 09:04 AM
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Great comments everyone, and thank you very much for the good info.

It is not cast in stone yet but we stumble across this one totally by accident and we like the "timing" and destination as I am a working stiff and everything needs to fit into my schedule.

With luck has it, we are booked on the Ruby Princess (new ship) this November and this Med cruise is on the Ruby as well! I guess we will find out if we like the ship (and staff) and we will decide in November while we are on board if we should take this partcular cruise or not. Besides, you book while you are on board for future cruise, you get extra goodies.

My TA knows me better and did not try to sell me on anything but this one just happens to be their so call president's cruise where they will have TA's fully escort the group from the departure airport all the way there and back. They will be in the hotel, at the ship, always accessible. Everything is included in their package price (breakfast at the hotel, transfers, tips etc) except for the shore excursions which you are on your own. Maybe the other things packaged with it (hotels, transfer etc, worth the $500 extra?

I have always like to book my own air even if I am not using points anyway so I plan to book my own air, especially when I can save $2,600.

I will take a look at RONREYN2008's suggestion and see if the time slot fits. I have heard Santorini is absoletly enchanting and very romantic.

Abram, thanks for the info on the cab fare. 35 Euro is about $70? Not too bad but I wonder if they have hotel shuttles. I now have a base to compare to what the ship will charge for transfer. I think the cab is porbably cheaper. I paid $10 cab fare from San Diego port to airport and the ship wanted $25 per person on a transfer. The purser was very good and honest about it and told me it is cheaper to take a cab.

Any suggestion on a Barcelona hotel? End of May is shoulder season so I hope the rate is not too bad. We are not that demanding but at least wanted to have a clean place. We have come across some horror stories.

I think I am going to get tour maps from all the stops and see what are the "must" and go from there. Taking a cab or walking tour are definitely options high on my list after seeing everyone's comments.

I have wandered off on our own (self explorer as they call it) but have not used a private guide before. Do they have a minimum or maximum number of people? What's their transportation like? Are they expensive?

Once agian, thanks to eveyrone for their post!

Eschew is offline  
Sep 6th, 2008, 10:53 AM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 849
I strongly endorse getting to Barcelona early. In addition to enjoying the cruise more, Barcelona is worth the trip on its own.

We stayed at the Hotel Colon. The rooms are simple, but the location on the Cathedral Plaza, at the Northeast corner of the Barri Gotic, cannot be surpassed. It is worth the premium to get a room facing the cathedral, as the entertainment on the plaza is continuous and the double glazed windows cut out the noise when you want to sleep.

We took two tours with Jordan Susselman [[email protected]].
He had been written about in National Geographic Traveler and we reached him by email. We took a "Tapas Tour" that was fascinating, exhausting, and fattening. (It was worth it.) The Picasso tour also gave us much insight into Picasso, his life in Barcelona, and the part of the city in which he spent his life. It ended at the 4 Gats, Picasso's favorite restaurant in the city, where we had a very nice meal.
Jeff801 is offline  
Sep 6th, 2008, 12:18 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 8,201
As of today, 35 Euro is $50.

We liked the Hotel Lleo in Barcelona. It was very conveniently located, clean, had large rooms with modern bathrooms and the front desk staff were friendly and helpful. In 2005, we paid 105 Euro, which is about $150.

We've used private guides who drove taxis that would only hold 3 passengers, and vans that held 12. In our experience private guides have been cheaper that the ship's shore excursions, and can be personalized to your interests and timing.
abram is offline  
Sep 6th, 2008, 01:55 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
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In Barcelona try the: Its right in the Ramblas area, good location and very nice.
jacketwatch is offline  
Sep 7th, 2008, 09:06 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 18
We are going on a Med cruise 5/09. We will be stopping in Florence and wonder how to combine both a winery tour and Pisa. Both of these are options for excursions on the cruise, but I'm not sure about timing to do both. We thought that it may be possible if we hired a guide/service. We would rather do it via a guide instead of using the cruise line. Any info would be greatly appreciated.
jlbl is offline  

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