Just returned from the 12 day sailing and it was a fabulous time. Travelled with my husband and 2 daughters aged 10 and 13. I had done a lot of research on the ports in advance and I wanted to ensure we saw as much as possible on a budget. I found the cruiselines tours to be very expensive for a family of 4 ad I was hoping we could save some money doing things on our own. Mission accomplished, we saved a ton and probably saw just as much on our own.
Booked our transfers to Civatavecchia and return to Venice through airportstaxitransfers.com , they were on time and very reliable no complaints here. It was about 135 Euro for the Rome Transfer and 70 Euro for Venice and they picked us up at 4am no problem as we had a very early flight back home.
In Livorno we took the cruise lines transfer to the train station and then bought out own train tickets into Florence. It was about a hour or so and no problems getting off at Santa Maria Novella and finding our way. Just look for the Duomo and start walking. On the return we gave ourselves plenty of time , checked the boards at the station and got on the train that said Livorno. Unfortunately, they decided to change the route to Pisa and we stopped at every little town which made us miss our connection in Pisa so we had to spend 50 Euro to take a taxi back to the ship. It was a bit hairy, so make sure you ask lots of people and the train worker if you are on the right train.
In Naples we took the Hydrofoil over to Capri , it was about 17 Euro per person , kids 15 Euro each way to Capri. It was a bit of a cattled prod to get on and off, but once we were on we got seats and it was comfortable enough. While you are buying your tickets for the ferry , to the left of the Molo Belvedere is a snack bar, you can save time by buying your funicular ticket there if you have time, otherwise you need to wait in line when you arrive in Capri to buy your ticket.
In Santorini we took the cable car up to Fira and quickly walked about 5 minutes to the local bus stop and took the bus up to OIA. The ride is about 25 minutes and cost 1.6 Euro each way. Oia was the highlight of our trip ,it was so beautiful and peaceful.After taking the bus back down to Fira we found a great restaurant on a side street called the Olive Tree and had a great meal for 4 for only 50 Euro.
Next stop was Athens and we decided once again to go it alone. We walked to the train station from the port which was about 25minutes and took the train to Monistraki train station . From there it was a few minutes walk up to the Acropolis. The kids got in free so it only cost 24 Euro for all of us to get in. We walked around , it was stinking hot that day so once we headed down we walked around the Plaka and had another great lunch at an outdoor cafe , once again about 50 Euro for the 4 of us to have a great meal of Tzatiki, souvlaki, pasta with mussels and pizza. The cruise line wanted about $129 US per person and we ended up doing everything including the train and entrance fee for about 40 Euro, you can't beat that
In Mykonos we just walked around and did shome shopping and found a great bakery for some baklava . We also shopped at Sephora for perfume and cologne as it was cheaper than on the ship
In Katakalon, we walked into town and caught the bus Geo Travel was offering to Olympia. It was 10 Euro roundtrip for adults and 5 Euros for kids. Once we got there we paid 9 Euro for a combo ticket per adult and once again the kids were free , so this is a cheaper way of seeing Olympia than the cruise lines tour. Back in town we had a meal at one of the seaside cafes, this was a bit more of a tourist trap and the food was a bit more expensive and not as good as other ports in Greece
We arrived in Corfu on a Sunday and most stores were closed. We decided to take a cab to Glyfada beach which was about 30 minutes away. The taxi cost 40 Euros each way, but the driver would pick you up at any time you requested. What a beautiful beach, don't miss it. Nice sand , no pebbles and the water was calm, shallow and crystal clear. We rented chairs for about 3 Euro each and they were vey comfy, don't miss this beach.
In Split we walked from the port to Bacvice Beach about 5 minutes away, although it was said to be a popular beach, we found it crowded and not very clean. If we had time I would have taken a cab to a beach further away. We did some souvenir shopping on the Riva and saw the palace and headed back to the ship, another really really hot day
Lsst day in Venice and we gave back the water taxi transfers the ship charges you for and went on our own. For 1 Euro we took the people mover to Piazzale Roma and from there we bought an unlmited 12 hour Vapporetto pass for 18Euro, still cheaper than the cruiseline and you get un limited trips on all the canals. Once in St Mark's square we walked around and found a grocery store calLed COPP. We bought water and lunch at their snack bar for less than 10 Euro. If you want lunch in Venice, if you wander off into the side streets you can find restaurants offering a 3 course meal for about 13 Euro a great bargain.
All in all we had a fantastic time, we made sure we got back to the ship by mid afternoon every day sp the kids could swim in the pool and we caught the 3 pm Movies under the Stars show. Food was awesome, balcony cabin was great and the staff was great, no complaints at all. The cruisers were over 50% from Europe, that was a bit different as rules for standing in queue seem to be a bit different from North America for them, but I didn't let it bother my trip to paradise. Hope to do this again some day