We used a private company for our excursion - Pleasant Travel. The cost for six of us with a private English speaking guide and air conditioned van was MUCH LESS than the ship was charging. HIGHLY recommend PLEASANT TRAVEL. Our guide was Walter Roman. ASK for him. He was OUTSTANDING!!!!! He had us at Pisa and done before the first bus even showed up. His English is perfect and his knowledge of the history and the area was amazing. He took us on a drive through some Tuscany vineyard areas which were beautiful, and then on to Florence where we saw all the major sights and had a SUPERB meal at a little sidewalk cafe. The best Gnocchi I have EVER HAD. AMAZING!! We used Pleasant Travel for all of our tours and transports, and I will never use anyone else anywhere in Italy. HIGHLY RECOMMEND. And in Florence - ASK FOR WALTER!!
We wanted to go to the island there where the Count of Monte Cristo was filmed, but this was not an offered excursion, and no one seemed to know anything about it. The bus fare into town was 15 Euros per person, and the ship was departing early, so we decided not to risk it.
Again, we used Pleasant Travel. Our guides were Priscilla and Antonio - and they were WONDERFUL!! Took us places the tour buses couldn't go! HIGHLY RECOMMEND! We did the Amalfi Coast, Positano (LOVE LOVE LOVE), Pompeii, and Mount Vesuvius. Suggest you get a real guide in Pompeii. The audio tour wasn't worth it. The numbers on the buildings and maps didn't correspond. We think they are redoing it. It was very hot, and confusing, and not well marked. Get the guide.