We embarked on the Carnival Sunshine from Barcelona May 26th for a 12 day cruise. We arrived the day before and stayed at the Montecarlo right on La Rambla, very nice hotel (we highly recommend it). Just across the hotel was a small convenience store were we stocked up on water (24-500ml bottles) and two bottles of wine.
Our first port of visit was Marseilles (shuttle from Carnival to bring you downtown Marseilles 14E each two way (couldn't get a taxi at the port, they will only take you outside of Marseilles)very annoying taxi drivers (and I spoke French), absolutely loved visiting Aix en Provence, which we did by ourselves, using the metro from Vieux Port to Gare St-Charles and then the special shuttle bus between Marseilles and Aix en Provence for a total 10.50E for the RTM(metro, bus, tramway)including Marseilles/Aix en Provence.
Mext Livorno(Florence), we booked with Carnival Florence on Your Own. All I can say is that they drop you off way too far from the center of Florence. Loved Florence don't miss the Academia for the David (reserve on-line because of long lines).
Next Rome, we made our way by train to Rome (very easy do-it-yourself, just take the shuttle from the port to Fort Michaelangelo and then and walk for about 10 min. to the train station. In Rome we made private arrangements for a taxi for 4 hrs to drive us around Rome and visit the sites, visited the Sistine Chapel (reserved in advance) and made our way back by train... Excellent day.
Next Naples, we booked with Carnival the Amalfi Coast by boat & Sorrento, what a disappointment. A 9.5 hrs tour, we were less than 3 hrs on the "real" Amalfi Coast no Sorrento (which is very pretty). The boat ride to Amalfi town from Salerno was so shoppy and bumby, for the first time in my life I was seasick. Do not take this tour, access to Salerno and back was all done on highway. No scenic road...
Next day at seat, we need it after 4 days of go go go.
Next Dubrovnik, what a pretty town. We took a taxi directly from the port to the walled city entrance 10E. Get up to the wall early in the morning because it get very hot if the sun comes out. We absolutely loved Dubronik. Don't miss refreshments at Salvatore on the wall, near the end of the walk.
Venice, we loved it also, we bought a 24hrs pass 24E Vaporetta Del Art, excellent but be aware that it operates from 10h00 to 19h00 very short schedule, if you plan to stay in town at night buy the regular Vaporetta 20E for 24 hrs (but it is very crowded). A bit touristy close to the canals, but worth it.
Next Taormina, what can I say, just beautiful, we arranged a taxi taxitaormina.it for 7hrs (pick up 08h000 drop off 15h00). Had a wonderful 4hrs in Taormina don't miss the Public Garden, the Emphitheatre and the shops. Don't miss the canollis at Pasticceria Robert on you way to the gardens. For lunch we ate at DaCristina near the Duomo (one large slice of Pizza, one arancini (stuffed risotto ball), on glass of wine and a softdrink for 8.50E, a steal.
At the end of our cruise we stayed two nights in Barcelona at the Acta Atrium Palace (close to everything), loved it, what an elegant city, we bought a 24hrs HoHo pass 36E.
All in all we loved our cruise, the Sunshine was refurbished and they did an excellent job, especially in the public areas. We enjoyed the specialty restaurants Cuccina del Capitano and Jiji Asian (excellent wait staff), the Lido restaurants including Guy's hamburget joint and the Deli were very popular. We really enjoyed having fresh omelettes make to order at the Havana Bar every morning, what a treat. The shows were ok, but we were so tapped out from visiting, we rarely made time to go. Loved the Serenity deck, but be advised if you want one of those bubble beds you have to get up around 06h00 to secure one, good luck. We did on the last day of our cruise...
Barcelona Port is a very large, you cannot walk to your ship. You need to take the shuttle "BusPort" sign near the statue of Cristopher Columbus for 2.50 each.
A very pretty & memorable city. Take a taxi directly from the port to Dubrovnik for 10E (they take Euros). Once in Dubrovnik, make your way to visit the ramparts 25US (180Kn) for two (they take only Kunas, but you can pay by CC). Walk the wall early in the morning because you will have it all to yourself. Also, because it gets very hot if the sun comes out. Have refreshments at Salvatore on the wall, worth the stop for freshly made juices with fruits and vegetables, beer on tap and excellent capuccinos.
Loved Dubrovnik, the pretty alleys, very clean, not too touristy. Had lunch at the Taj Mahal (don't be put off) they serve Croatian food, try their meatpies.
All in all, my favorite port of visit.
Huge Port, you will have to buy shuttle tickets when you disembark 14E each return, no other choice. Taxis are available but won't take you into Marseilles. They want to take you on tours only. Once in Marseilles you can buy a day pass at the Metro including the shuttle from Marseille/Aix en Provence. Do your homework. Aix en Provence is worth the visit, loved our day using the La-Diabline shuttle (7 passengers max. at 1E for a day pass) unbeatable. Get on and off as you wish no stops, 4 circuits, just hail it and get on. Mostly used by locals, it was amazing. Loved quaint Aix en Provence.
Took free shuttle from the Port of Cicitaveccia to Fort Michaelangelo. Bought a B.I.R.G. pass for around 10.50E at the tabacci kiosk just outside the Fort(good for the train ride to Roma San Pietro station including bus, metro etc... in Rome). Made our way to the train station, about a 10 min. walk along the promenade parallel to the sea. Made arrangements for a taxi conceziomonti.it to drive us around for 4 hours and let us off at the Vatican Museum (reserved in advance on-line). Made our way back from the Vatican to Roma San Pietro station for our ride back to Civitaveccia. Very impressive and unforgettable.
We loved Taormina, we made arrangements for a taxi service from 08h00 to 15h00 to take us to Taormina from Messina. Taxitaormina.it Emmi was our driver, very courteous and informative. She dropped us off for 4 hrs and we enjoyed our day. We loved everything about Taormina the views, the food, the quaint alleys and gardens the shopping etc... We had the memorable canollis at Pasticceria Roberto on our way to the Public Gardens. And had the most memorable pizza and arancini with wine and coke for 8.50E at Da Cristina near the Duomo (small street on your left). Enjoyed Taormina, second best after Dubrovnik.