Your boss would never send you to these ports on business
Europe - Western Mediterranean
Both my DH and I traveled on business quite a bit, visited all major capitals in the world and many business centers but never went on a cruise. I also was worries about getting sea sick, as I get motion sickness easily. We committed to doing this Western Mediterranean cruise to visit places in Spain, Italy and France. Overall this was very positive experience, I encourage anyone to do this.
One observation: get some cash in EU before you get on the ship. You'd have to pay all train tickets in cash and it's precious time in the morning to get to a a train/boat/bus instead of looking for an ATM machine. ATM on the ship is in USD. Daily Compass paper give you small maps and highlight for places to visit - be sure to read and take it with you. It also has phone number for the ship in case of emergency. As a cruise prep I recommend to get one of tour books - we have Rick Steves guide to Europe. Remember, prices outlined in all books go up each year. I was preparing to details - More
where to get tickets, which train to take, which street to go. Don't worry that much. You get some information from the ship and people speak English in all these touristy places.
Hint. Just few days before leaving DH called Expedia and got ~250 USD in on-board credit because RCI was running a sale.
Voyager is a great ship, it's big and very stable. On a day one at sea we have two meter swells - it was just a bit of shaking, like going in a train. We did all excursions on our own and it was easy to prepare and easy to do. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
Our cruise ended in Barcelona. Barcelona is perfect for the cruise stop, easy to get from and to the ship. Bus takes you to a start of La Rambla to the column (cost Eu 2). From there you walk all day or take a hop-on-hop-off bus. Guide book was saying to avoid lower La Rambla area. Don't worry about it, it got all remodeled and is all ok to walk, no bad areas.
Then it was port of Livorno. We decided to do Florence on your own and we purchased transportation from a ship to take us to Florence. It's absolutely not required, next time I'd take a train. I booked ticket vouchers for Uffizi and for Academia. I paid through the nose but there was no other option if we wanted to see the art. Florence let me down, to be honest. It was raining. Uffizi was not was I expected; I didn't run into anything striking. Ok, Birth of Vinus is pretty and Spring is pretty, but not comparable to other experiences (Goya in Madrid, Michelangelo in Vatican are out of this world; these ones weren't, at least for me). David in Academia was gorgeous. I was staring on and on. Shopping let me down as well. Rows and rows of market vendors, shops on and on. with nothing exciting to buy. I can get pashminas on e-bay. Purses were not as good quality. And I don't need more t-shirts. We still bought few souvenirs to bring home. Walked around to see all attractions marked on a map including bridge with jewelry shop. Ladies, go there first and look at corals. Florence is easy to walk around. Duomo turned out to be huge! impressive. Headed back to be at a bus stop at 3:30.
We didn't go to Marselle. Ship stopped at Toulon, as planned. But it's not one of choices on this review program. This morning I woke up with a sore throat and feeling sick. We didn't go off a ship and I sit by the pool near the desserts buffet. Not useful experience for review as you will stay healthy and won't get a cold.
In Naples we took a hydrofoil boat to Capri. It's funny we spent somewhat 20 minutes finding a tickets stand that was just 100 meters away from our disembarkation. Here is instruction: walk forward to cross all parting lots, find tickets stand on the opposite side of snack shops. You'd have to pay cash for tickets. Time table is clearly marked, ticket will be issued to a certain time. As soon as we got tickets it's less then five minutes to get to a boat. Ticket is EU 16 each one way. It was around 8 am. Trip on a hydrofoil boat takes 50-60 minutes; boat was shaking and leaning, but going very fast. Beautiful views. Arrived to Capri and started to look for a ticket booth to buy tickets for going back. Turned out there are multiple companies with boats back to Naples - be careful and check time tables for each. Took a funicular to the top, ticket cost EU 1.40. There is little plaza with small up-scaled shops and million people right there. We decided to do a walk to villa Jovis, home of emperor Tiberius. I loved it: small secluded streets, gorgeous views;there are maps posted along the way for tourists. Road is partially uphill, not bad. Admission to the villa grounds is EU 2 and totally worth it as views are This took around two hours though. By that time it was almost noon. Then we returned to Plazetta and found our way to Marina Picolla via winding street down the hill. There is a beach, pizzerias, beer and (yes!) a bus stop to get back. We got beer and a pizza, got on a bus and headed back to Plazetta. Spent some time browsing shops and went back to Naples. Not much exciting in Naples itself. It as around 3-4 pm we went back to the ship. Other people did trips to Pompeii and I believe us going to Capri was a right choice. My boss would never send me to Capri. Give this rating 5.
We decided to take a train to Rome. It's easy to do. We got off the ship at 7 am As we were departing ship we had to wait for bus to take us out of the port till 7:20-25, but we still got to 8 am train with 15 minutes to spare. For this day we decided to focus on Vatican. We visited Rome before, but didn't get to Vatican, so this was it. We booked tickets for Vatican museum plus Sistine Chapel with a guide, from home, for 11:30 am. We were there and passed security at 10:30 and we sit around wasting a hour. So if not planning for a guide, tickets for 10:30 are good, or take some time to walk around before entering through security crowd. However after guide came things picked up. Tour was informative and enjoyable, worth the money spent. Lines for tickets are hours, even at 9 am; unless you plan to spend most of your day in a line - throw some money at a problem and book online ahead of time. Sistine Chapel - Michelangelo paintings are out of this world. Just visit to Sistine Chapel was worth all the trouble getting to Vatican (from California I mean). After the tour we visited St. Peters. Gorgeous sculptures. Then got out of Vatican and walked to plaza Navona. By 3 pm we were thoroughly exhausted and got back to 3:30 train. Ok, to be true we bought wine in a carton package and consumed it on a train. It was a good wine, no kidding. I normally don't buy paper cartons of wine at home. Waited 10-15 min for a right bus to take us back to Voyager. All in all - excellent experience.
We took a bus to Monaco. Walk to the hill find bus going into direction Monaco Menton. Bus is modern and air conditioned. Watch for your stop. Walked to Monte Carlo to see yachts and casino, just outside. Very nice. Then walked back down to plaza and climbed to the other mountain to a prince Albert's palace to see Monaco. The climb is quite a few steps but is enjoyable. The whole are is quite enjoyable to be in. Gorgeous views. There is a garden with sculptures - be sure to go see it. It was 10-11 am and we decided we won't wait for guards change. Wend down hill and started to look for a bus to Nice. here we could not figure out where a right bus stop is. It was hot on the open sun to even browse or to talk to people. We found a pass to a train station and it air conditioned so we just went for it. (Should have found that bus! it's cheaper and closer to points of interest in Nice). Got to Nice. Went through the town on one of main shopping streets and headed to the Cours Saleya Market, along the shore line. Checked out all shops, bought lavender pouch, went to sit on a beach. We should have went to Chateau but we were tired after much walking. Then got back to Villefranche by a bus. This was a good choice of activities for the day. My boss would never send me to Monaco or Nice. Give this rating 5 as well.