Port and Shore Excursions
I had a self-guided walking tour of Bari that we used. We walked through these twisty streets, early in the day when not much was happening, but we loved it. This is a glimpse of Italy that is 'real'. People were going about their daily business. The main Cathedral is very interesting as is the archaeological museum in the basement, well worth seeing.
We went horseback riding in Corfu with Sally, operator of Trailriders. It was raining, a misty rain, and when she picked us up she took us to her stable, where she provided us with riding pants, jackets, helmets, and rain gear so we could still ride and stay dry! We had a very enjoyable jaunt into an area of Corfu few cruisers see. Afterwards she dropped us off in Corfu Town and we walked around town for a few hours. Enjoyable day!
We walked round the walls and it was a blast. You can only pay in Kuna or use a credit card for the ticket to go around the walls. There are ATM machines all over the place to get a few kuna from. We enjoyed Dubrovnik. It is a glorious picture everywhere you turn. We enjoyed the monastery there with its museum as well. A delightful day!
We took an excursion here with Kotorbay Connect, to Our Lady of the Rock Church and Peralst, a nearby town. This entailed getting tender tickets for 8 of us; I was in line for them 10 minutes before we could get them, got the time I wanted, and our group was off the ship and over to the place where the boats waited, by 9 a.m. The boat ride was very chilly so if you do it bring a jacket. There was supposed to be a guide for us on the island but he/she never showed up there. However it isn't really necessary since the woman working in the church explained everything and took us around. Very quaint. There are bathrooms there (yaaaaaay). Then we were shuttled across the bay to the town of Peralst, which in October was pretty much closed up. My friend and I hiked up to what I think was the ruin of a church. We explored the cathedral, and walked around a little, then were taken to Kotor. Kotor was very crowded, but the main church there is well worth seeing along with its museum.
The scenery when sailing out of Kotor is spectacular. I got up to watch the sail-in but it was rather dark (October) so sailing out is more spectacular.
People think Naples is dirty. It's just OLD. We got a group of CCers together for a walking tour there. It rained like crazy and our feet got soaked but everyone toughed it out and we had a blast. Our guide took us to some areas a little off the tourist track and we had opportunities to sample Naples pizza and Capaccino and cannolis. We explored some churches. Don't miss the arcaded cloister where the pillars are covered in tiles! Beautiful! We ended at the archaeological museum, and I used a Rick Steves guide I brought along to help us understand everything we looked at. I loved that museum. Then we walked back to the pier; it's all downhill and is about a 40 minute walk (the sun had come out and it dried us out nicely). I did not feel unsafe at any time during our walking around town.
I brought some Rick Steves walking tours and we toured the Pantheon area using our ipods; and especially enjoyed the walk in the Jewish Ghetto the morning before our transfer to the ship. Rome is amazing. You need days and days before the cruise to see it all, and it can exhaust you, so plan only enough for a few hours a day and use the rest to just wander.
We used a Rick Steves guide to explore Split. Wonderful town, interesting Cathedral and remnants of Diocletians' Palace. We walked the promenade down to see the sculptor Ivan Mestrovic's house/museum. It is in a lovely setting. We had the entire place to ourselves. He is considered the Croatian equivalent of Rodin. We walked further down the street to see the chapel he had built with his huge wooden reliefs lining both walls. Very interesting! Split is a lovely town, very lively.
Venice is amazing. It would be a sin to end a cruise there (or begin one) without a couple days to explore it before going home (or getting on board). It is lovely, confusing, fascinating, full of art, crowded (although if you go to St. Mark's Basilica at 4 p.m. there is no line!), expensive, and altogether just wonderful. Favorite port on our 12-day cruise. I used the Rick Steves guide to Venice extensively and we got a lot out of our two days there. Stayed at Al Ponte Mocenigo hotel and just loved it.
Don't pay for a water taxi from ship to hotel. Just go to the people mover, about a 7-minute walk, then from there get a ticket for the vaporetto and ride it to your hotel. About 12 euros total. Fun and easy.
Anyone physically able, who is including Venice as a port of call, should use a backpack for a carryon, and wheeled luggage that is taller than it is wide, for getting to/from Venice area. I found it easy with a backpack and my one not too big piece of wheeled luggage. It would have been a pain had I taken a wheeled carryon AND a wheeled suitcase.