As for shore excursions...my biggest recommendation is Private Tours. We used Romeinlino for the three ports in Italy and they were SUPER. We hired private guides at Pompeii and the Vatican. We made our tour group arrangements through new friends we met here on Cruise Critic and it worked out great. Two days we were with 5 others, a group of 7, so that helped keep the cost down and two days there were just five of us total so the cost was a little higher. For the limited time you have in each port the private tour is the way to go. In France we did a private tour in Villefranche and it was also great. In Marseilles we did a shuttle to town and a Hop On Hop Off tour and did not enjoy ourselves. Went back to the ship early. There was no interest in the type of tour I wanted and I tried to book a shore excursion through the ship but it was canceled due to lack of interest. I wish we had done at least a half day tour through the ship.
A couple of problems with the ship were minor. Our in cabin phone room had a few glitches but they gave me a free call to home in Oregon because it wouldn't go through directly. Also the internet is slow...as expected but also unreliable. I did put this in reviews to the cruise line.
Getting off the ship was OK but getting a taxi was HORRIBLE. There must be some way to make this go better. I also might recommend arranging private transport. I don't know how much more expensive this would be but the wait was really bad.
This cruise was not relaxing due to the intense number and quality of ports but am I glad we went? YES, LOVED IT. It will be something my granddaughter and I will remember foreverl