It was a 4 hour walking tour that unfortunately, got hit by pouring rain about an hour into it. For those of us with umbrellas and/or tenacity, we stuck with it and got a gist of this small, charming town. We were there during the film festival which made it quite exciting.
Wish we had more time to explore the churches and buildings but the Leaning Tower was the primary draw.
Leaning Tower of Pisa Rating:
Didn't go in. Wasn't necessary. Just seeing this iconic site in person was very special.
Ponte Vecchio Rating:
Crowded with overpriced jewelry shops. Not our thing.
Statue of David Rating:
It's the David. Enough said.
Uffizi Museum Rating:
Wish we had several hours to explore.
Exclusive Pisa and Florence Rating:
This was a very small (8 person) group tour that gave us a pretty good whirlwind tour of the important sites on this 10-12/ hour excursion. We hit Pisa early before the crowds and had about 45 minutes or so to wander about. We had a good walking tour of Florence, breezed through the two major museums, marveled at David, had enough time for a gelato on the Ponte Vecchio, had a terrific lunch with a lot wine at an upscale hotel, and got panoramic views of the city. Inside and outside of the museums, our tour guide provided a lot of information. My only complaint was with some of the fellow passengers who apparently did not read the disclaimers that this was a fairly strenuous tour in that it required a lot of (fast paced) walking. They had difficulty keeping up which slowed everyone down.
More than ample time to explore this huge, important archeological site. Our guide spoke excellent English and provided us with a lot of historical information. Part of the tour included a visit to a cameo factory (directly across the street from the entrance to the ruins and where the restrooms are located.) It was very interesting to see a cameo artisan at work (he was in 70's).
This was a port of call in which we didn't book a excursion but wish we had. It was easy enough to take a tender from the ship and walk around and inside the walled city that now contains a plethora of little shops and cafes. It would have been nice to have had someone explain the historical significance to us.
We chose this excursion for two reasons -- our port of call for Rome was on a Sunday, a day many of the sights we had wanted to see were closed to the public. The other reason was health related - a concern that my husband's knee might not be up to three consecutive intensive days of walking (Florence, Rome, and Pompeii. We figured with so much being closed, perhaps this panoramic bus tour would be a good choice.
We knew that of this 5 hour bus tour, 3 hours would be spent traveling to and from Rome and the cruise ship terminal. From what I read on other sites, we understood that certain streets are off limits to traffic which would prohibit us from seeing many sites from the bus. But we booked, knowing all this beforehand.
So, not counting looking at the countryside between Rome and Civitavecchia, we had only about an hour of actually seeing any sites of Rome. The bus never stopped which meant, at best, it was difficult to take pictures from your side of the bus and impossible to get shots if the site was on the other side of the bus. Then there was a 45 minute stop outside St. Peter's Square, long enough to buy gelato and use a rest room.
It did give us a glimpse of Rome and whetted our cultural appetites to know that someday we'd like to go back to Rome and spend a few days thoroughly exploring this amazing city.
We had a full day and half port of call in Venice. We docked at 1:00pm and were on the tender for this tour by 2:15pm. Our guide was very pleasant and knowledgeable but she was rather soft spoken so between that, her strong, Italian accent, and the background noise of the crowds, we had some difficulty understanding or hearing everything she had to say. On top of that, in the Doges Palace, there was another RCCL tour group whose guide had a booming voice and kept commandeering spots in front of artwork we were trying to see. Our poor guide would try to give us a brief description but it was hard to hear her while the other guide kept talking. Other than that it was a fascinating tour. No talking is allowed in St. Marks and tourists are quickly shepherded in and out. Watching the glass blower was interesting and were shown beautiful but expensive pieces in the showroom. When the tour and scheduled free time was complete we opted to follow the group back to the tender only because it was such a crowded madhouse at the dock, we were concerned we wouldn't be able to figure out which tenders were the ones designated for our ship! (Pathetic, I know.)
The following day we walked to the people mover train and took it to the Vaparetto Station to pick up Vaparetto #1 which goes up and down the Grand Canal. We bought the 12 hour pass and had the day to explore Venice on our own. Ship departed at 8:00pm so this was really a great, unrushed port of call that provided enough time to explore and enjoy this city.
Ravenna is not listed in the drop down menu of ports of call so sorry for the confusion. I wanted to list it because it was so good! We booked this tour last minute on the ship and were glad we did. The terminal is about 10 miles from the town so if you didn't take a cruise tour, you could purchase a shuttle ticket from the ship to explore on your own. This is not a very popular port so this charming town is not overrun with tourists like us. Our guide was terrific but the unexpected surprise was the absolutely stunning Bascila di Vitale and the Mausoleo di Galla Placida, World Heritage sites for their mosaics. The Vitale was the most understated and beautiful church I've ever seen. The small town was easy to navigate. Our tour included the shuttle so we were free to explore on our own, have lunch and a coffee in town, then take the shuttle back whenever we were ready to leave.
We booked two tours with Barcelona Day tours. The first was a private 1/2 day city tour in which we were picked up from the airport, shown quite a bit of the Barcelona and then delivered to our bed and breakfast when done. Right after disembarking from our ship, the second tour was a day long trip that combined a Freixenet Cava winery tour and tasting followed by a few hours in Montserrat. We were picked up from the ship, taken on these tours, and afterwards participants were taken to their respective hotels.