Having just returned from the Grand Mediterranean cruise from 5 -- 17 July, as a first time cruiser, I make the following comments.
First piece of advice to give a first time cruiser is "Don't take any notice of the depressing advice given by experienced cruisers". After reading their advice I would have happily cancelled my cruise as I was so put off it by their comments.
Forget the excursions! Overpriced rip offs in most cases and if the weather is hot (as it usually is in the Mediterranean you will be obliged to wait for the others many times, not be able to take a break for a coffee or a sit down without losing the group probably be out earlier in the morning and later in the evening than you should be on a holiday. One lady even said that after the cruise she would need a holiday to get over it. People were getting up at 5.00am to leave the ship at 7.00 and not getting back until 6.00 at night, all in 102f heat!
Better still, do it yourself. Take Civitavecchia, take the ships free shuttle to a few hundred yards of the main railway station, buy a return to Rome on the 9.19am train and get into your air-conditioned reserved seat to travel to the Termini station. Cost â‚¬21 return. Then take the Metro, a new superb system two stops to the Coliseum where EU nationals under 18 or over 18 with photographic proof of age (Passport or driving licence) get in free. (Many national monuments run the same system so saving about â‚¬12 each time) After the Coliseum take the metro back to the Termini and then two stops more to the Trevi fountain. Pausing to stop for coffee and watch the world go by.
Buses, trains, trams and even water buses are cheap and plentiful and most are air-conditioned. Beware of Kusadasi - it's a free for all rip off land!
To me the trip was wonderful, as they say "Escape Completely" and you do. It was a wonderland of superb service (A bit overdone by the waiters perhaps) wonderful food and superb dining. Take the "Anytime Dining" and you will meet the most cosmopolitan crowd of people, different every night unless you want to join them again. Don't even try to see all the sights but pace yourself so you ENJOY IT!
Remember, you are on holiday -- not on a travelator that never stops.