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To Buy or Not to Buy - Looking for less expensive alternatives to Royal Carib. West Med. Shore Excursions - Help!

To Buy or Not to Buy - Looking for less expensive alternatives to Royal Carib. West Med. Shore Excursions - Help!

Mar 8th, 2002, 12:24 PM
  #1  
Kat
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To Buy or Not to Buy - Looking for less expensive alternatives to Royal Carib. West Med. Shore Excursions - Help!

We are a family of four travelling on the Splendour of the Seas this summer. After getting "sticker shock" from the prices of Royal Caribbean's shore excursions (times 4), I hope there is a less expensive way of seeing the sights. The ports of call are: Villefranche (Nice) France, Livomo (Florence/Pisa), Civitavecchia (Rome), Naples (Pompeii) and Valetta, Malta. Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks much - Kat
 
Mar 8th, 2002, 01:07 PM
  #2  
dena
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Hi Kat, there is no need to fret. We did this cruise (a few different ports, tho) on the Splendor several years ago. We do not like to do the excursions offered by the cruise line for many reasons. Anyway, the port of Villefranche is easy. They tender you in and then you can take the train to Monaco or Nice or wherever you choose. The public transportation in Villefranche is great. The train station is within walking distance and Villefranche is a beautiful little town. (As a matter of fact my family of 4 and I are returning this summer for 3 weeks, so that we can explore this area of France). In Livorno, you can take the train to Florence. That is what we did, so we didn't see Pisa, but from what I heard, it was no big deal to miss. Be sure to check the train schedules, which you can do on the web before you leave and then get an early start after docking. I think we took a taxi to the train station once we docked in Livorno and purchased our tickets there. It is quite and adventure, my only caution is to watch your time carefully. Since you are not on a tour with the ship, it could leave without you, but this never happened to us. We always made a reservation for the next to last train back before the ship was leaving. That way, if for some reason, the train was delayed, or we missed it, we still had another train with time to spare to get back to the ship. I think it is a much preferable way to travel, without being herded around with other people. In Civitavecchia (Rome) we did the same thing on the train. In Naples, my husband got off the ship early and found a driver at the port that would take us to Pompeii and drive the Amalfi coast. We stopped in Sorento for lunch. My advice, do not attempt to drive the Amalfi coast yourself, my husband is a great driver, but he would have had to concentrate and he would have missed the scenery. It is a very difficult drive if you are not use to it. We did not stop in Malta, so I can not advise. But I think venturing out on your own is much more fun and memorable. If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask, either here or at my address above. This is a wonderful trip, enjoy it!
 
Apr 19th, 2002, 08:58 AM
  #3  
gerianne
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Hi. I am also going on this cruise..the 7/21 sailing, and came to the board to ask the same question that you did, Kat. Was so happy to see the response you got. I agree that the shore excursions are expensive...but I also don't look forward to all those hours on a bus on so many consecutive days. Finally, many of the options for the shore excursions really amount to nothing more than transportation and a guide on the bus!!! Doesn't seem worth it. What I am wondering from past cruisers of this itinerary is whether there are other "tour operators" at the ports that might offer the same service as RC for less money. Thanks.
 
Apr 19th, 2002, 09:36 AM
  #4  
Steve James
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From Livorno there are several trains before 09.00a.m to Florence.
Journey time is about 1hour 30mins.
A return ticket will cost approx. EURO 15-20.00

The station is 2-3 miles from the port, so a taxi might be the best option to get there, - although there are buses.

Return trains leave Florence approximately every hour.

Pisa/Lucca is also an easy option from Livorno.

Civitavecchia-Rome trains are very frequent, and stop at the Vatican/S. Pietro. Journey time is 50-60 mins.

In Naples you have a number of options using hydrofoils or ferries to Capri, Sorrento or the Amalfi Coast, or public transport to Pompei. It's possible to combine some of these, depending on the time available.

Alternatively there are a number of limo services if you wish to arrange a private tour.

Let me know if I can be of more help ...

Steve
 
Apr 19th, 2002, 11:42 AM
  #5  
mpprh
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Hi

thats how they make their money!

If you are brave enough, you will always get a better deal locally.

Why not ask the question for each port individually on this board and see what people think ?

Peter
 
Apr 19th, 2002, 11:38 PM
  #6  
ttt
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topping
 
Apr 24th, 2002, 10:20 AM
  #7  
gerianne
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thanks to all for your great suggestions and ideas!
 
Apr 24th, 2002, 07:47 PM
  #8  
Miriam
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Hi Kat,

We are taking the same cruise week of June 23. I have done extensive research as far a using guides, taxis etc. and have found that they too can be expensive unless you can pair up with another family or a couple of other people to share expenses. I was quoted a taxi ride from Livorno to Florence & back for $250.00, but it could be split with up to six people. Then the 1/2 day tour (3 hours) of Florence w/guide was approx. $130 for a group of 3 and so on depending on the amount of people.

As far as Civitavecchia to Rome I was informed that due to the lack of time, traffic being so bad and possible strikes affecting transportation, I would be better off taking the ship excursion.

Malta,Napoli (Capri) , I have been advised are fairly easy to access from the port and the shore excursion offered by the ship is a rip off.

Please let me know if you find out anything else.

Thanks,

Miriam
 
Apr 25th, 2002, 04:57 AM
  #9  
amy
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Kat: On another thread, a person who is on a cruise stopping in Monte Carlo asked a similar question.

Speaking only about the Nice-Villefranche stop, you have many, many options. Even though I am glad we centered ourselves in Nice for a week to do the Cote d'Azur, I think I could have easily gone to my grave without thinking, "And I never saw Nice."

If you do decide to do Nice, just take the train west to Nice from the easy-to-find train station in Villefranche (ten minutes max). You can easily walk to the beach area from the Nice train station, but you might want to take a taxi. On the Promenade Anglais, there's a little tourist tram that can take you through Old Nice, the Cours Salaya, and up the hill to the Chateau area where there's no chateau but there is a great view and pretty cascade waterfall.

Getting off the tram, you can walk east past the Place Massena to Nice's excellent modern art museum. Then get a taxi up to the Cimiez area to the Matisse museum. Follow the street signs down to the Chagall Biblical Message Museum, and walk back to the train station.

What would I do, though? I'd stretch my legs by taking a quick train ride east to Eze sur Mer, hike up the cliff (1-2 hours) for one of the most stunning views ever, and do some shopping on the tiny stone pathways of the walled city of Eze.

You can then go down the cliff and go west on the train to Beaulieu sur Mer and visit this strange Greek reproduction villa and take a pathway (or a taxi) toward the Rothschild garden (again, another dreamy view). You can walk from there over to Villefranche or take another taxi.

Villefranche is cute,too. They have an old town, an art museum, and good places to eat. To me, plopping there for a day wouldn't be bad either.

Another suggestion is to take the train east all the way to Monte Carlo (under 1/2 hour). Take a bus or taxi to the Old Monte Carlo, see the Palace, Princess Grace's grave, and then end with the simply stunning Oceanographic Museum.

Hope this gives you some ideas.

 
Apr 25th, 2002, 05:33 AM
  #10  
Kat
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Thank you to everyone who responded.

Amy - What is the easiest way to get to Eze from Villefranche. A one to two hour hike wouldn't bother my husband or me, but my sons would probably feel different. So, is there a train or bus - or is it best to just cab it? Thanks.
 
Apr 25th, 2002, 09:38 AM
  #11  
Amy
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Kat: The train station in Villefranche is easy to get to, the ride takes less than ten minutes to Eze sur Mer, and there's an hourly bus shuttle that can take you from the Eze sur Mer station up to Eze (during the summer months).

That said, you might want to skip all the connections and see if you can get a taxi. Eze has a website at www.eze-riviera.com and you can email the tourists office at [email protected]. Perhaps they'll know something.

I know you can go directly to the hilltop of Eze by bus from Nice. Am unsure of Villefranche. Something to also consider is getting transport to the top and then going down the hillside.

FYI, my kids are 15 and 10 and enjoyed the hike up. But as I also said, they're in pretty good shape...they're on a year-round swim team, so it was nothing to them. Unlike them, I'm a ton of lard, and I still enjoyed the hike up. It's not a long climb (3 km which I think is 1.6 miles) but it's quite a bit of elevation gain (1200 feet). The elevation gain, though, is what makes the view from the top sweeter. Even with Mom the Weakling, it only took us an hour up and 1/2 hour down. And I enjoyed the feeling that I had burned off that morning's croissant and pain au chocolat.

 
Apr 25th, 2002, 09:49 AM
  #12  
Kat
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Amy

Thanks for the info. Working off that morning croissant sounds like a good idea, we might try the hike after all.

Kat
 
Apr 25th, 2002, 10:51 AM
  #13  
kay
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My husband and I have cruised into Malta 2 times. If you have an early a.m.arrival be sure to be on deck because it is one of the most beautiful sail-ins you will see- all that glorious sunlight Valletta. One of the most interesting history related finds was the British War Rooms located way beneath theground and artifacts and commentary about the brave people. We missed it our first trip, but you learn from others.
 
May 9th, 2002, 05:29 PM
  #14  
Helen
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We just returned from Splendour 8 day med cruise. We did all the ports on our own--family of four. I have written a report on each port separately under name Reeder on cruise critic.com royal Carribbean if you want to check it out. I wish I knew how to transfer them here and too long to rewrite! You will love the trip however you decide to tackle the ports! Helen
 
May 10th, 2002, 11:06 AM
  #15  
gerianne
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Helen: Would love to read your report. Went to cruisecritic.com and there were only 2 reports on the Splendor...both for caribbean voyages. Any helpful hints on how to find your report? Thanks, gerianne
 
May 10th, 2002, 11:14 AM
  #16  
cherie
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We've done 2 med cruises with mostly same ports as yours the last 2 summers. We hired drivers at the ports for the 4 of us ( we traveled with another couple) and they took us t
 
May 10th, 2002, 11:17 AM
  #17  
cherie
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oops - sorry - and they took us . We found that to be much less expensive than the ship tours and still let us control where we went and how much time we spent. I agree Eze is wonderful. When we docked in Villefranche - we got a taxi at the port to take us to Nice- we negotiated the price -He left us in Nice - when we were through there we found another driver to take us to Eze. We stayed a few hours there and got a driver to take us to Monte Carlo. Then we took a train back from Monte Carlo to Villefrache. We got to see all 3 places and it wadn't that expensive.
 
May 10th, 2002, 12:25 PM
  #18  
LauraG
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Hi Kat,
I've been doing exactly the same as you regarding shore excursions-- we're on the cruise on June 2 with two kids 10 and 11. We've decided to try all our own shore excursions and actually having children along helps narrow down the possibilities.. When are you going?
 
May 10th, 2002, 12:27 PM
  #19  
LauraG
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Gee, I forgot why I posted before! I wanted to add that Reeder's comments on the Royal Carribean board of cruise critic is very helpful. I've printed them out.
 
May 10th, 2002, 09:02 PM
  #20  
xxx
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Have you tried posting on cruise bulletin boards for info? Cruisemates can give you some good info along with the recreation travel cruise boards on google.com
 

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