Cruise or Driver

Sep 13th, 2010, 10:55 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 26
Cruise or Driver

We will be going to Italy for the second time next year. First time we went to Rome and the Amalfi Coast. Had a wonderful time. With the help of this site, we booked our own trip, no tour. Had a private driver take us to Sorrento after spending 5 days in Rome, and based in Sorrento for another five days we saw the whole Amalfi Coast by going on day trips. The same driver took us back to Rome for one night and we flew to NY from there. This time we want to see Tuscany and I want to go to Padua to see The St. Anthony Bassilica and then spend two days in Rome which we love. We have booked a cruise which does go to places we want to see and some place we really don't care about. My problem, we have never been on a cruise and not sure we would get the full Italy experience that way. We booked because we thought it would be an easy way to get around and see more. However, the last time we loved the food and being on our own in Italy. But since my husband does not want to drive, we thought it would be easier with no hassle if we took a cruise. This site helped us so much when we went last time so I am hoping I can get help now. Any suggestions whether we should stick with the cruise, which is Oceana, or get a driver. Thanks for any help or suggestions you can give us.
Annej is offline  
Sep 13th, 2010, 11:09 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,134
The only place you need a car is Tuscany. You could hire a driver for a day or two there. Search this forum for recommendations.

If Tuscany is your first interest, a cruise just doesn't work. You've been to Italy before. Use trains to get to Florence, Padua, and Rome. Padua could be a daytrip by train from Florence: 1.5 hours direct.
Mimar is offline  
Sep 13th, 2010, 11:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 45,650
A cruise is never even a half-decent way to see the interior of a country, which it seems is what you want to see. You've already gone to Italy without a tour; why not do it again? I can't see how a cruise would begin to meet your expressed interests.

You can easily get around on trains, with the exception of seeing the Tuscan countryside. You can hire a driver there, or rent a car (why doesn't your husband want to drive? Can YOU drive?). There are also buses, but that's not the most efficient way of getting around.
StCirq is online now  
Sep 13th, 2010, 11:49 AM
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Posts: 3,997
For quite a few years I did land trips to Italy and beyond - as I got a bit older I switched to doing some cruises, including an Oceania one which I did love - but it is not the same as being on the land! I enjoy cruising at this point in my life but I do try to combine any cruise with some land time at the beginning or end (or both) of the cruise. To me the cruise has an ambience like being in the US, whereas on the land, it is a foreign country,duh! Don't get me wrong, I loved my Oceania cruise and maybe some of the places you "are not interested in" would turn out to be pleasant surprises but for a second trip to Italy, I think another land trip would be better. It should be quite doabel by train and maybe a day or two with a driver or a small van excursion.
suec1 is offline  
Sep 13th, 2010, 11:55 AM
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Posts: 16,509
You cannot begin to see Italy from a cruise ship.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Sep 13th, 2010, 11:57 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,645
I would highly recommend a guide/driver. We used one last year for our trip to Italy, starting in Florence, going through Tuscany and ending in Rome. Using a guide was fantastic as he did all of the driving, made all of the reservations based on suggestions and information from us, took us everywhere we wanted to go and also to some out of the way places that only "locals" can go. It is an added cost, but we saw MUCH more and got WAY more out of our vacation than if we had taken a cruise/group tour or gone solo!
ekc is offline  
Sep 13th, 2010, 01:09 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 26
Thank you so much for the replies, you all seem to justify my fears of taking a cruise not enjoying Italy the way we want to. My husband doesn't want to drive because he is afraid the language barrier would be a problem. He feels that we would probably get lost alot, and be stressed out and not enjoy. So I think a private driver would be the thing to do. We just thought it would be easier on a cruise, but we were very unsure that is why I wrote. ekc, could you tell me the guide/driver you used? The trip you took last year sounds like what we would like to do. Thanks
Annej is offline  
Sep 13th, 2010, 01:21 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 9,403

I've driven in France (Loire Valley) and Italy in the Tuscan and Umbrian countryside solo. No problem. Language is no issue at all. Driving in the countryside is a real pleasure! Don't be intimidated, go, have fun!

Someone just topped my old trip report. You might want to read the last third that was Tuscany and Umbria.

Buon viaggio!
Dayle is offline  
Sep 13th, 2010, 04:12 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 396
Part of the joy of driving is getting lost, meeting people, exploring, having a little adventure. Don't be afraid
That being said, get a GPS and you will do away with all of the stress of being Lost.
Explore, enjoy, mangia.
have a great trip.
JerryS is offline  
Sep 13th, 2010, 04:18 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,304
I love cruises. I love Italy. I don't think a cruise is a good way to see Italy at all.
Sassafrass is online now  
Sep 13th, 2010, 05:06 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
Except for Tuscany you can get around easily by train.

Bag the cruise - you will waste hours a day getting from the ports to the cities the "serve" and miss all the dinners/night in those wonderful cities/towns.

If you don;t want to train in Tuscany hire a driver for a couple of days.
nytraveler is offline  
Sep 13th, 2010, 06:06 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,188
I agree that you should forget about the cruise. That's no way to see Italy. On the other hand, I don't think you should drive in Tuscany if you don't want to. If your husband is already worried about it, you won't enjoy the trip. I can highly recommend Luca Garrapa, If you do a search here, you will see that numerous others have also used him and have always been pleased.

If you know where you want to go, just tell him and he will tell you if it is feasible in the time you have. If you're not sure exactly what your itinerary should be, you can tell him your interests and he will suggest an itinerary. Have fun!
SusanP is offline  
Sep 14th, 2010, 07:10 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,134
Driving in the Tuscan countryside is quite easy. And you don't need to know any Italian to drive in Italy. Just a few odd words like Uscita = Exit. Here's a good intro to driving in Italy from the Slow Travel site:

With maps and GPS, you're unlikely to get lost. However, getting lost and asking for help provides some of my best memories of Italy. Italians are extremely helpful, and with good-natured body language and miming successfully communicated the necessary information.
Mimar is offline  

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