The hop-on/hop-off Turistic Bus is an excellent means of touring the entire city and gaining access to all of the major points of interest. The northern edge of the city (lEixample) is especially lovely and the views from Montjuic are marvelous. All Americans, of course, will want to take a look at the statue of Christopher Columbus pointing West (at the end of La Rambla). This is supposedly the spot where Ferdinand and Isabella greeted Columbus on his return from the New World.
As for La Rambla, unless you enjoy hordes of people and never-ending souvenir shops (not to mention pickpockets), take a quick look and then avoid it like the plague! Spend you time in the Gothic Quarter, Barcelonetta, and the quieter lEixample. We stayed at the Hotel Universal pre-cruise and the Best Western Hotel Dante post-cruise. The Universal is on a busy street and convenient to La Rambla, the port, the Gothic Quarter and Barcelonetta. The Dante is on a quiet street in a more residential area of LEixample with good access to the La Sagrada Familia and the other architectural sites. Both were very nice accommodations at reasonable prices.
After our cruise, we boarded the Funicular up to Capri Town. Wonderful views and interesting people-watching. Very upscale shops, no cars, lots of sidewalk cafes. If time allows, you can also visit Anacapri and the Marina Piccola.
The drive through Tuscany was stunning--vineyards, olive groves, fields of sunflowers, and lovely rolling hills dotted with ruins and restored villas. The highlight of the tour was a stop at the Monterinaldi Winery for a private tour, wine tasting and lunch. The "light lunch" (three courses plus antipasti!) was served in the dining room of a gorgeous villa. Homemade pasta, lovely wines, relaxed atmosphere--what more could you ask for?! Marco stopped all along the way for photo opps and included a second village that was not even on our itinerary. If you want to see Tuscany, book with toursintuscany.com!
We had booked an afternoon tour to Eze, La Turbie, Monte Carlo, and Nice with several other Cruise Critic members. We had been to Eze and Nice before, but were looking forward to the other two stops. However, I would definitely NOT recommend the company we used. The company is ShoreTrips out of Glendale, Wisconsin (ShoreTrips.com). First of all, our guide was basically non-communicative. He occasionally pointed out something of interest, but, more often, you had to ask about what you were passing. His answers were then things like, "I don't know" or "It's probably..." Then, to make matters worse, the tour was not at all as advertised. We had a printed copy of the on-line description and our vouchers which promised time to tour Eze village, a stop in La Turbie at the Roman monument, a stop in Monte Carlo at the Golden Square with the option of visiting the casino, exploration of the old town including the Princess Grace memorial, the palace, and the cathedral, followed by a drive around the Grand Prix circuit. Then on to the Roman area of Nice. However, we were given 45 minutes to climb to the top of Eze village, then hustled off to the perfume factory for a sales pitch. We whizzed through La Turbie without so much as slowing down (the guide did point out the monument in the distance). We were then told that we would not be stopping in the Golden Square, only driving through, and there would be no opportunity to visit the casino. At this point, we began to object, and the driver did stop for 15 minutes! We then drove on to Old Town, quickly passing the palace and stopping at the Cathedral for about 30 minutes. The Princess Grace memorial was never mentioned. On the way, the driver did say that "the Grand Prix comes along here." So much for "driving the Grand Prix!" Then the biggest shock of all--we were returned to Villefranche. No stop in Nice at all! When shown the description from the website, the driver said he had no idea why it promised these things and it was not his fault. Upon returning home, I checked the ShoreTrips website to find that the online description has been changed to exclude Nice and the Roman Monument stop. It does, however, still include an option to visit the casino, the Princess Grace Memorial, and the Grand Prix circuit and still includes a visit to La Turbie. Based on our experience, this will not happen!