Port and Shore Excursions
1. Dubronik, Croatia - docked; Excursion: Tram and walked around the walled town. FYI, if you don't want to take an excursion - you can walk from the ship to the walled town, I would say it's about 1/2 hour to an hour depending what kind of condition you are in. It's not a difficult walk.
6. Florence, Italy - docked. We bought the excursion onboard the ship - we wanted to 'Roam on your own' but we were happy with a tour guide as she gave us plenty of time to roam on our own. She was very good, like Maria - she had us write down our names and suite number. The old part of Florence is beautiful. Loads of shops - leather goods - boots, coats, purses.
3. Kotor, Montenegro - tendered. We were shuttled by the Solstice Crew - use of Solstice lifeboat - no charge for this service. We had to line up in the morning to get a ticket that were handed out on deck 3.
Walked around the walled area as well as outside the walled area - very clean and quiet. We did not purchase an excursion; paid 3 Euros per person to go up the Old Fort - it's worth the hike up the hill as the view of Kotor was spectacular. The hike (upward climb) is approximately 45 + minutes - depending on your physical condition, going down may take a bit more time - knees will hurt. FYI, wear a good pair of shoes as it's rocky going up and down the hill.
7. Toulon, France - docked. This was unscheduled visit as there was a storm brewing at Marseilles, so the captain for safety reasons decided to go to Toulon. We took advantage of the last day since it rained the morning of our arrival, we slept in, did some light packing, and then went for walk at Toulon. There is shuttle service from the ship to the centre of town - I think the cost was $8 US per person. There is a better deal just outside the dock area, you can't miss it - a blue train and the cost is 3.50 Euros per person round trip and drops you off at the centre of town, runs every 30 minutes. The walk is nice. FYI, shops closes at 12 and reopen at 3 p.m. (We had shuttle tickets for Marseilles but we cancelled them the night before when we found out that we were not docking at Toulon. Glad we did as we heard that the traffic was horrible and so was the weather.)
5. Naples, Italy - docked. We went to on an excursion to Pompeii. Enjoyed the historic site. We also received a bottle of water. Take advantage of the toilets inside the Pompeii - I did. The tour guide never said anything to anyone, I just happened to find it as I wandered from the group as I was taking photos. The washrooms are just inside the first area that the guide takes you. If you don't want to purchase an excursion and roam around Naples you can as the ship is docked right at Naples. I found Naples a little noisy - drivers are honking their horns every few seconds.
4. Rome, Italy - docked. "Roam on your own excursion' - our tour guide, "Mama Maria" was great as she had us write down our names and room number - so she wouldn't lose us. She informed us that Nov 1 was All Saints Day and most of the places were closed but would re-open around 1 p.m except the Chapel. There was also a marathon the time that we arrived, it was chaos - packed with people. Maria escorted us out of the mayhem to a quieter place and then left us. We enjoyed out time in Rome - since it was our 2nd visit we basically roamed around, avoiding the touristy places.
2. Venice, Italy - docked. Fortunately for us, I had gone to the Excursion desk on the 1st day and found out that they offered water shuttle service for 22.00 US per person, one day unlimited use. This is not advertised on their excursion website. There is a metro (rail) service for 1 Euro but then you need to use the water taxis. Venice is beautiful, be prepared for water level rising. If you're wondering why there's tables at St. Mark Square and elsewhere around Venice - it's for walking on when the area is flooded.
Make sure you have a good map, it's a maze and remember, the name of the streets are on the buildings (like most European cities).
The second day at Venice, we were on an excursion to Murano - glass blowing factory, it was also informative. George, the master glass maker of horse was brilliant. Next was S. George Island - very brief visit to a church then gondola ride with 2 other couples. I think we had the grumpest gondelier - didn't want to talk or joke with us. He didn't even tell us that he was going to tip the boat a bit in order to go through the canal - we were panicking thinking we were going to tip over. Poor Blake - a nice gentleman that placed in front of the boat, guess he was our anchor - we kept telling him to stop moving and sit still!
The ride is nice - gives you a different perspective of Venice. This excursion was of good value as just the gondola ride is usually over 100 US and we had 3 things to do for under 100 US per person.