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Europe ports private cars vs. cruise shore excursions

Europe ports private cars vs. cruise shore excursions

Apr 4th, 2008, 10:21 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2008
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Europe ports private cars vs. cruise shore excursions

I will be traveling with 2 teens and Hubby on our first Europe cruise with stops in Athens, Rome,Paris, and London. Are private car tours better for a family than HAL shore excursions? Also need Hotel recommendations for Athens and London or should I book cuise pre and post hotels for convience?
shazelle is offline  
Apr 4th, 2008, 10:50 AM
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I can't see why you need a private car or cruise shore excursion for any of those places - unless of course you actually are docking 40 miles away
alanRow is offline  
Apr 4th, 2008, 11:16 AM
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Yes we dock 2 hours from Paris, and Rome. We would explore on our own for London and Athens.
shazelle is offline  
Apr 4th, 2008, 11:24 AM
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Hi S,

Your Ship will dock in Civitavecchia, not Rome.

There are trains between C and R. www.trenitalia.com/en/index.html

Your ship will dock in Le Havre, not Paris.

See www.voyages-sncf.com for trains.

ira is offline  
Apr 4th, 2008, 11:33 AM
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I would post this on Fodor's Cruise board as well.

When we did this, the cruise lines primary goal was to have an adequate supply of nice, air-conditioned buses on the jetty. The quality of the tour guides was second priority to the buses.

Holland Ameican might be better then that however.
Big_Red is offline  
Apr 4th, 2008, 01:16 PM
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From my experience (not all that extensive) with ship excursions..... I'd try to arrange a private guide.
Grandma is offline  
Apr 4th, 2008, 01:23 PM
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Go to www.cruisecritic.com - you will find good info there. There is a section on ports and also there will be a "roll call" for your ship. In the roll call section you may find people who want to share a mini-van or guide. Also read cruise reviews from other ships doing your route - it will give you ideas of what others did in those ports and how it worked out.

I think if you book the hotels thru the cruise line you may overpay. www.tripadvisor.com will give you lots of hotel ideas!
suec1 is online now  
Apr 5th, 2008, 02:41 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
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I second suec1's post. Usually
someone offers to organize a "Meet & Greet" which means all the CruiseCritic folks have a HAL-sponsored meeting w/free refreshments & a HAL rep come to talk to your group.
In meeting w/others in your 'group'
you can arrange to go ashore together & share cab/van etc
Rhea58 is offline  
Apr 5th, 2008, 04:41 AM
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Hi Shaz - You can get into Rome cheaply by train in about 1 hr.

Alternatively a private tour from Civitavecchia will typically cost about €350

Steve_James is offline  
Apr 5th, 2008, 07:36 AM
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Everyone is different in their preferences. I think the most important consideration is what your teens will be happiest with. They might be bored and annoyed being herded with 30+ others. If they get cranky, it will ruin your time.

We have been on 19 cruises and have traveled (not only on cruises) to 36 countries. We are fine with ship shore excursions. But, others will avoid them like the plague.
lindam is offline  
Apr 5th, 2008, 08:51 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
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We did a med. cruise in Sept. We did some ship excursions and some we arranged on our own. I "met" people on cruise critic (so very glad we did this!) who were going on the same cruise as us. We arranged some of our excursions with them. The private ones are usually better because you can tailor it to what you want. Some of the people who did it on their own in Rome, had a devil of a time getting around and back to the ship on time. Traffic in Rome was awful and the trains were a problem for them. We did an angels and demons tour through the ship and were really glad we did. We had already spent time in Rome before though. In Athens, we liked our private tour guide but one lady decided that she couldn't walk up the Acropolis so she stayed behind and we wasted an hour trying to find her later. Athens is very crowded too but with the private guide, we got to the Acropolis when they opened and were leaving as all the large buses pulled up. George was the name of the driver in Athens. You can find him by doing a search.
wonderer is offline  
Apr 9th, 2008, 12:36 PM
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Which shore excursions did you enjoy the most and why?
shazelle is offline  
Apr 12th, 2008, 01:40 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
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Understand that we love to travel and both have great attitudes so we love everything. When we stopped in Pisa, we arranged a private guide who hadn't really done his homework but we still enjoyed. We had been to Florence so we went to Pisa and Luca. Should have skipped Luca. In Rome we loved the Angels and Demons ship tour but we had spent time in Rome before. There is so much to see there. Like I said, this was the one place that people who went on their own were more disappointed than those of us who did a tour. We did a tour with the ship to Capri. Should have done that on our own. It would have been easy. But if you go to Naples, we would have gone to Pompeii had we not been there before. Athens is crowded but we enjoyed it. You are going to Paris- where do you dock? Paris is one of our favorite cities. If you stay in London near any tube stop, you will be fine. We have stayed twice in Kensington and loved it. Been a while since we've been there. Check trip advisor.
wonderer is offline  
May 31st, 2008, 01:06 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
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With a family of four, you can arrange private tours for less than the ship's shore excursions. We have taken at least 4 Mediterranean cruises (2 on HAL; one on Crystal; one on Celebrity) with our then teen-aged daughter. Email your suggested itinerary, interests, ages of family members and priorities to several tour agencies requesting price and itinerary quotes. Then fine tune that until you and all your group is comfortable with the plan.

A private guide can often have you driven to the site and deposited at the door saving steps and time. They can purchase tickets ahead of time (hydrofoil tickets to Capri for instance)or to attractions or museums so you don't spend your time in line.

If you want to slow down or cut something out of your itinerary on the day of travel, you have the freedom to do so. Your guide can tailor their remarks to the interests of your teens. You can shop when you want to or need to and eat at your discretion.

We usually ask our guide to eat with us and tell us about life in the city where we are eating. In Rome, our daughter wanted to eat at a place where she could watch them make pizza and throw it in the air. We told our guide ahead of time and all was arranged.

You can change the order of events so that you are not at the prime sites when all the tour buses are there. We did this in Egypt opting to go the pyramids first in the cool of the morning and THEN to the museum in Cairo. We were alone at the pyramids until the last fifteen minutes when tour buses arrived.

There are a lot of tour guide companies and we have never had a bad experience in hiring a private guide.

Have a great family trip!

drmike is offline  

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