We did not take an excursion at this port as it is so easy to figure out on your own. We took a cab that was available right at the port gate to the Pile Gate to go walk the wall. I wasn't sure what this was going to be other than the obvious. What is was is beautiful! The wall is about 1.5 miles to my memory and we hit it first thing which I highly recommend to avoid the huge crowds and heat of mid-day. It was a beautiful elevated view of the city, the harbor, life for citizens inside of the wall and great exercise! Parts of the wall are challenging with narrow steep stairs. I saw an elderly woman in line with crutches! Not the best idea in my opinion. It was getting hot when we finished and the lines were crazy. Go early! Afterward we wander up the Stradun (the main street) and then stopped for a great lunch at an outdoor cafe called Domino Steakhouse. We had the best seafood there! When we were finished with lunch we asked about local beaches and got a cab to a hotel where you could pay for a beach chair and have access to food, drink and bathrooms. Please remember you are not in the caribbean. Beaches in Europe are for the most part rocky and beach clubs are often concrete pads elevated of off the edge of the water. The water was crystal clear and it was a great way to relax after our morning workout!
No excursion here either for us! Hertz had a rental table set up right as you exited the ship and we opted to rent ($100) rather than take the train which would have been $80 for four of us. We drove to Florence and parked in the train terminal and headed off! The first stop was to head to the Ponte Vecchio bridge with some great shopping along the way. The leather goods are so unique there. Check to make sure the products are made in Italy before buying to make sure you're not buying a cheap bag from China. It happens. The bridge was packed with tourists and rightly so. It is a do not miss in Florence. Jewelery shops line the bridge and again you can find very unique items. I did!! Then it was on to the Duomo, and the Bargello museum which is a favorite for its lack of crowds, great atmosphere in a old palazzo and incredible collection of statues and art. We headed to Sante Croce to stand in awe of the historical figures entombed there (Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, etc) in amazing monuments. Then we headed for lunch to one of our favorite restaurants in Florence-Cibreo. Expensive and worth every penny if you are a foodie. We also went to the Pitti Palace/Boboli Gardens across the Arno before heading to our car and driving back. It was a very full day and we were able to cover a lot of ground on our own picking and choosing how to spend our time.
We knew exactly what we wanted to do in this port so no excursion was booked. We wanted to go to Pompeii as early as possible to avoid heat and lines and then head to Sorrento (a favorite city). We walked right out of the port gates to a bus that took us to the train station where we caught the Circumsuviana line to Sorrento (only train that stops at Pompeii ruins). We got there just before the gates opened and got our audio guides. It was a great experience for the kids. Loved it. You do need to maneuver around the large tour groups. You have a right to be there too. Be assertive a walk around or through them as necessary. When we were thoroughly exhausted and hot (after 3 hours) we got back on the train and finished the ride to Sorrento. The station is right in town and after walking past the best gelato shop (David's) we walked into town. We headed right for lunch at the terrace of the Bellevue Syrene Hotel which was the most stunning view ever! Amazing place. Afterward we wandered through town where I had some sandals handmade for me in 15 minutes! The man who spoke very little English measured them right on my foot and cut them to size. They are a jeweled wedge heel thong sandal that are stunning. He said he only makes limited numbers of each style. So fun. We hated to leave. The best.
No excursion was booked here either as again we knew what we wanted to do and personally I hate wasting my time waiting for large tour groups to assemble and then not having my time be my own. Personal preference. Cruise line provided a bus to the gate entrance where we had a short walk to the train station. We took the train to Rome (over an hour) on a very nice train. When we arrived we took a taxi to the coliseum where we had pre-purchased tickets for the underground tour. It was smart as again we bypassed a very long line (1hr wait) and walked right in. We met our guide and were on our way within 15 minutes. The tour was fantastic and a great way to really understand the time/reasons this was in it's heyday. After the tour we headed via cab over to the Pantheon. Amazing. It is the only building completely intact from the time period in Rome and the sheer size and architectural feat of the dome is jaw dropping. We walked to the Trevi Fountain and stopped to have lunch nearby. Mistake. If you want good food get out and away from the touristy areas. Afterward we headed to a shop I had read about for gelato in the Rick Steeve's book (sorry the name escapes me). It was near the government buildings and there were signs for it on the street. Locals will happily direct you. So fun. Taxi ride back to the train and we were easily back in port.
It's Venice overnight! So beautiful and so unique that you need to soak up every minute you can. Vaporetto's were available right at the port to take you wherever you wanted to go at stops along the Grand Canal. We headed right for the Ca Rezzonico museum where we were able to walk right in and also get our ticket for the Doge's Palace so we could avoid the long lines for tickets there. Walk. Wander. We explored all day went back to the ship to clean up and headed back for dinner reservations I had made near La Fenice at La Caravella. It was so wonderful to see Venice at night. Without the throngs of daytimer's it is another city completely. Real. Approachable. You can soak more of the feel in. After dinner we went to St. Mark's Square where the lights will take your breath away. It becomes this great intimate space. Really. Bands are playing at the cafe's and couples are dancing under the stars. The most romantic thing ever. We were with two teenage boys and they loved it!! We didn't get back on the ship until 1:30am via private water taxi. The next day we went to the Doge's Palace and did breeze past the long lines of people waiting for tickets. Perfect. We wandered some more. Took a gondola ride which is worth the expense just to have yet another angle to view this amazing city from. Bottom line. Walk it during the day. Get lost in the streets (you can't really get lost), linger at a cafe, go back at night and suck it in, take the gondola ride. This is a gem.
This port was a disappointment. We arrived early in the morning (8am?) and apparently the locals were not very interested in accommodating the tourists which was interesting. A woman in a cafe called Lescorsaires was out and out rude (yes we speak basic French) acting as if she did not want us there so we accommodated here and took our business somewhere else. The town seems to be mostly French tourists and I think they'd like to keep it that way. Everyone we talked to on the cruise later had the same experience regardless of what country they were from. Puzzling. We did take a cab when they finally decided to start working for the long line of people waiting to Villa Euphrussi (the Rothchild estate) about 20 minutes away. It saved the day. People there were very nice and it is simply a gorgeous place to spend the afternoon walking through the amazing home filled with priceless art and antiques as well as the gorgeous gardens. There was a restaurant onsite with both incredible views and great food. This experience was delightful. Our teen boys thought it was great too. Admittedly we all had a bad taste in our mouths from the experience in town and it colored our view of Villefranche.