Rookie Cruise Questions

Mar 15th, 2004, 07:55 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 39
Rookie Cruise Questions

My family (2 Adults / 3 Children 12,14 & 16)is taking our first cruise (for any of us) this summer. We are cruising the Mediterranean for 7 days with Royal Caribbean. Please pardon my rookie questions which may seem obvious...

1. We return to Barcelona at 9AM on a Saturday and plan to fly to Paris. The easyJet flight is at 1PM. I presume this will allow enough time for disembarking, getting luggage and cabs...

2. What are the logistics of checking in and boarding these cruises? I would like to spend time around Barcelona and not too much time trapped on the ship. Can a party check in, get luggage aboard and then reboard near the departure time (I think 7PM?)

3. With a family of five the cruise line shore excursions get real pricey. In these eurpean ports can anyone provide leads to more economical choices? What are the logistics of departing the ship (are we best to try to get off ASAP, or ?)

Thanks in advance for your assistance!
hewlpac is offline  
Mar 15th, 2004, 08:53 AM
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I think the BEST advice is for you to READ the cruise documents when you receive them. This will tell you both the embarkation time when you can board and the departure time which should answer your question about not being "trapped" on the ship (you need to get over that outlook kinda fast because after it leaves you really will be "trapped."
Generally, the cruise line will advise you that you should not make air arrangements prior to a certain hour on the day of disembarkation...however, if you are flying on RCCL's "air-sea" program this is a moot point since they made the arrangements..but give you are flying on Easyjet (you are aware of their baggage weight restrictions are you not???) I suspect you've made your own arrangements.

Yes, generally you can leave the ship once you've checked in (at least, that has been my previous experience) and they generally require (ask) you to be back on board at least 30 minutes prior to sailing.

You can always make your own shore excursion arrangements but it would be helpful to know your itinerary if you hope to get any useful suggestions about various ports along the way.
Mar 15th, 2004, 10:06 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 39
My flight to Barcelona for the cruise departure arrives the day before the cruise.

I have the impresion the cruise departs at 7PM, but I may have to check in around 11 (I have not gotten my papers yet..) I am sure there is plenty to do on the ship. My trapped comment would apply if I desired to get off the ship to see Barcelona some more.

My EasyJet flight is after the cruise is done and we travel to Paris for the remainder of our trip. I would be intersted in feedback on EasyJet service. You mention the weight restrictions (pay above 20 Kg per person up to 32Kg) Maybe I don't see how restrictive this would be with a family of 5... I have yet to book the EasyJet part of the trip (First was planning an overnight train).

As far as excurions, the first 2 ports are Marseille, and Nice while the next 3 ports are italian (Liverno, Port near Rome, and Naples)
hewlpac is offline  
Mar 15th, 2004, 11:38 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 890
What a special treat you're in for. Mediterranean cruises are fantastic.
Time wise you should be fine in Barcelona for your 1:00 flight. The airport is not too far. You will be able to board the ship and then get off again to explore Barcelona.

As for Civitavecchia (Rome) I would highly recommend the following guide:

Executive Limousine Rome
Remo Melaragno
email: [email protected]

Remo was fantastic and spoke perfect English. This company (Remo's brother) also has tours of Florence but since this is not difficult on your own, you can save $$ by just taking the train from Livorno into either Florence or Pisa. (I'd recommend Florence).

As for Southern France I'd recommend:
Dream Tours South of France

We rarely do the ship excursions and have found that we're better doing our own thing or using a private guide who will tailor to our needs and desires. Private guides will be much more economical for your family.

Have a great time!

petlover is offline  
Mar 15th, 2004, 12:03 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 890
Oops...I forgot Naples. I've never docked in Naples, only Sorrento. I arranged a tour of Amalfi Coast with Sorrento Limo. Gennaro, who is the owner, showed us a lovely day filled with awesome scenery and many stops along the way. I'd highly recommend him!
petlover is offline  
Mar 16th, 2004, 06:19 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 262
I would forget the ship's excursions and the private tours. Why pay for something simple. In Nice, take the train to Monte Carlo, see the palace, sea acquarium, casino, eat lunch and do a little shopping. Livorno - take the train into Florence, design a walking tour of the places you want to see, make sure you include the Ponte Veechio bridge for some lunch and shopping. The train station is within ten block of anything you'd want to see. In Civitavecchia, again take the train into Rome. If you want the Vatican, get off at St. Pietro and you'll be two blocks from St. Peters. If you want ancient Rome, take the train to the end - Termini - and you'll be about six blocks from the Coleseum. From there you can walk to the Forum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon and have lunch in Piaza Navona. In Naples you can take the train to Pompeii, train back to Sorento for the Amalfi coast (overated in my opinion) and then hydrofoil back to Naples (hydrofoils are 100 yeards from you ship). Or you can take the hydrofoil to Capri for the day.

All of this for our family of four cost less than $500 including lunch.

PumpkinEater is offline  
Mar 16th, 2004, 06:37 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 228
I would have to disagree with Pumpkineater with regards to seeing Rome. This city is large and spread out and either a guide or cruise excursion is necessary. Twice we've been there on cruise stops. The first time we took the train in and tried to see things on our own. We found ourselves lost, waiting in lines and frustrated trying to find key locations.

After learning our lesson, the 2nd time we used a private guide who picked us up in Civitavecchia and spent the next 6 hours with us. We saw everything we wanted to, ate a wonderful lunch at a hole in the wall cafe frequented by locals, and never waited in lines going in seperate entrances than the general public. I would strongly recommend NOT trying to explore Rome on your own if you only have 1 day there. With 5 of you the price will be very reasonable.

As the others said, I think Florence is easy to get to using the train and is very walkable so a guide is not necessary. Do your own thing there.
newyorkgolfer41 is offline  
Mar 16th, 2004, 10:23 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 262
I would offer this advice on Rome. I don't car who your guide is or what secret entrances they know of - don't try to see the Vatican area and ancient
Rome in one day. Can you physically do it - yes - but you won't be able to do justice to any of it. We started with the Coleseum and there's only one way in. After that we walked thru the Forum to the Pantheon. We ate a great lunch in an outdoor cafe in Piaza Navona and wandered around square looking at the artist's wares. After lunch we went to Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. Around the Spanish Steps area are the very trendy shops that are interesting but untouchable with our budget. We took a horse drawn carriage back to the train station which was very cool.

One thing about having a driver pick you up at the port. In both Livorno and Civitaveechia, the train beat the chartered bus into the city because of the traffic. You will have more Florence and Rome time if you take the train.

PumpkinEater is offline  
Mar 16th, 2004, 12:42 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 277
I was in Rome last fall and it was the first time I used a guide (other trips to Rome were land trips where we had several days to explore on our own). Drivers know how to avoid the traffic, take you to the best spots. You can do a tremendous amount of sightseeing with a car and driver. Just put yourself in the drivers hands and let him pick where to go and in which order. They know what they are doing. They will take you to a highlight, you take as long as you like and they wait, then the next stop the same thing. So you pace yourselves and have a truly wonderful day.

It's tough to see the highlights of Rome with just one day but you'll get the flavor and hopefully return on your own when you can spend several days. (it's always good to embark or disembark in Rome so you can stay for a few days.)
traveller333 is offline  
Mar 18th, 2004, 02:31 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 62
In Naples take a fantastic tour of Pompei and the Amalfi Coast,visiting Sorrento,Positano,Amalfi & Ravello its the best way of using your time in Naples. We used the fantastic Salvatore of DriveAmalfi ([email protected])
infomania is offline  
Mar 18th, 2004, 06:03 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,428
As for the excursions let me put it this way. We took that Med. cruise as well. The ships excursion to Rome would have cost us $510.00 (family of 3). We hired a cab in Citi. and did it for $200.00. We also saved about $150.00 in Livorno doing it with a private cab and we did see Florence and Pisa. Do a little research to see the highlights of each port or simply look at the itinerary offerd by the cruise excurisons and choose from it what you want to see. If I recall correctly the Rome stop is about 12-14 hrs. I agree with Peter about the vastness of sights in Rome (wish I could spends a weeek there) but since you only have 1 day you can see most of it in the time alloted. We saw the Vatican, Cistene chapel, and all that Peter mentioned and were back in plenty of time. It'll warm so dress comfortably. Bon voyage. You'll enjoy it.
jacketwatch is offline  
Mar 21st, 2004, 05:50 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 24
We are doing this RCCL cruise for the second time ourselves on May 29th with our 12 year old daughter.

We did everything on our own last time except Malta and it was so cheap that we took it and were a little disappointed - the tour guide hadn't planned and we wasted time waiting for the churches to open and then had to rush at the crafts market.

The itinerary has changed so Marseille will be new to us and we are researching it but our friends from the UK who are meeting up with us (we met them the last time on this cruise and have become friends with their whole family)say they are disappointed with Marseille - they've been there and don't think there's much there to see and do.

Villefranche you can walk around the city in just a short time - beautiful but not much there. This time we are opting for Monaco - last time it was the day of the Monte Carlo Gran Prix so we went to Nice and weren't impressed but it was also Sunday.

Livorio - we took the train in to Florence and since it was Monday, most of the museums and sites were closed. But we got a good walk around the city in and had a wonderful meal just across Ponte Vecchio before catching the train back. Also got some of the best deals of our whole trip there. We are thinking about hitting Lucca and Pisa this time but now that we are hitting it on Tuesday, may go back to Florence and try to hit the museums.

Rome - we did the Vatican museum (got there early and stood in quite a line but it moved pretty quickly - however, there was no line when we left) then we went to Trevi Fountain, ate at a trattoria right around the corner in a small side street and then headed to the Coliseum and Forum. Yes we were pushed but it was fun and we did it.

Naples - took cab to Pompeii and we hired a guide after he got others to pay him also (which means we all paid too much - get your own group together) but he was good and worth it. Went back in to Naples and had the taxi drop us at the National Museum since a lot fo the things from Pompeii have been removed to there. Walked back to the boat from there. - Want to go back to Pompeii and do Herculaneum this time.

Sorry we are missing Malta - it was the surprise of the visit.

As for Barcelona - get the double decker Bus Touristica - great way to get around and see a lot in a little time. Go into a El Cortes Ingles and make sure to go on all levels - it's fun - Saks, Walmart and super grocery rolled into one. Barcelona actually had some of the best prices on stuff too - leather goods were very high quality and very well priced.

Oh - yes - the trick to doing the ports on your own is getting off the boat EARLY and catching the first trains you can. Ask for the train schedules the night before at the desk and hopefully they will give them to you - it seemed that they tried to delay giving them out (hoping you would give in at the last minute and book and excursion?) I have found the website but am having a hard time figuring out the schedules online right now. I understand they change frequently so print them just before you leave and you should be pretty close.

But you should enjoy your cruise. We have cruised a good bit and like RCCL best. We think the level of service on the European cruises is a bit higher than on Caribbean cruises. You'll find there will be a lot more Europeans - mainly English and Germans - than anything on these cruises but it also depends on when you sail. I think that the Europeans expect a higher level of service and generally that is why the difference.

If you are seated at a table with others and you don't particularly care for them after the first meal, by all means, ask if you can be switched. There is nothing worse than sharing your meals with someone you don't like and we sat through that one whole cruise (another line) and I decided after that, I would ask next time but so far on RCCL - we have always been well matched to our table mates. RCCL has great activities for youth so yours will be fine - although we did have a group of teens climb up on the top most part of the boat one night which was interesting. We feel like our daughter is safe on board for some reason - more so than on any other kinds of vacation or trip.

Unpack - you'll be much more comfortable so get situated first thing - don't live out of your suitcases - the rooms are too small to pull them out constantly.
Take along a lanyard for everyone - we find these make it extremely easy to keep up with your room key - have them punch it at the desk for you - or buy the kind with the plastic holder.
The FRS two way radios are good on board to keep up with kids but others use them also so don't abuse them.
mlinkinhoker is offline  

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