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Home > Member Reviews > DGJax's Port Reviews of Nice, Florence (Livorno), Rome (Civitavecchia), Naples, Kotor, Venice

DGJax's Port Reviews of Nice, Florence (Livorno), Rome (Civitavecchia), Naples, Kotor, Venice
Celebrity Solstice cruise in October 2012
Member Name: DGJax
Cruise Date: October 2012
Embarkation: Barcelona
Destination: British Isles & Western Europe
Member Review: DGJax's Celebrity Solstice Review
Nice
City Tour Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
Very nice excursion. It took us from the port into Nice, where we had free time to shop and walk around. We then went to Monaco, where we were also given free time to walk around. We took advantage of this opportunity to go to Monte Carlo, as it was very close. Monaco and Monte Carlo were very beautiful and extremely well kept. Nice was all right, and the people were a bit snobbish towards Americans. Tip: If asked, say you're from Canada and they'll treat you better.


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Florence (Livorno)
Port Rating: Not Rated
Our tour Guide for San Gimignano had a very thick accent and it was hard to understand her a lot of the time. She also walked extremely fast and had a tendency to leave people behind, as she was not paying close enough attention. There were a number of disabled people in this tour group, and despite repeated requests for her to slow down or wait for people to catch up, she would not and when I confronted her about it, she said she "had to deal with the majority of the group and worry about the stragglers later."

We picked up a different tour guide for Volterra, who was much easier to understand. Unfortunately, her itinerary was not very good. We were given 5 minutes to explore the Cathedral of Volterra which is an ancient, but very beautiful church and separate baptistry building, yet she spent 15+ minutes with us peering over a cliff looking down at ruins of an ancient theater talking about 'how fascinating the theater is'. We then went to an organic farmhouse for an included "lunch" with a pre-set menu which was not to any of my groups' taste at all, though some others seemed to enjoy it. The alabaster shop in Volterra was absolutely amazing, though we didn't have much time there, either, due to her extended history lesson and fascination with the theater ruins.

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Rome (Civitavecchia)
Rome / Private Train Rating: 1.0 out of 5+
We have always been under the impression that if you are on an excursion that was offered by the ship, that the ship was responsible for you and would ensure you got back on time or would wait to depart until you had returned. This is not always the case, and was a very tough lesson for us to learn, so I'll tell you about our experience with the hopes that it might save someone else from having to go through what we did. When the ship docks in Civitavecchia, you are actually about 90 minutes away from Rome proper. So you have to take a transfer into Rome, and Celebrity offered either a Bus or a private train that would take us in to Rome and bring us back to the ship. We spent 5 days in Rome last year, so were already fairly familiar with Rome, and we chose to take the private train since it should be a little faster. The train ride was fine, and we were given a map that also had 3 numbers to call in case of emergency. The guide stressed this fact about having the 3 numbers to call in case of emergency. We got off the train and the guide was going to walk to the Vatican and then we would be on our own, to meet at a bar next to the train station at an appointed time for the ride back to the ship. Unfortunately, this guide was a very fast walker and had a large group of people following her. To top it off, she zig-zagged down different streets to get to the Vatican. To make a long story short, when it was time to head back, we could not find the train station and the map was completely useless - it wasn't a detailed, street-level map, and the photo representations of landmarks were not even close to being accurately oriented. The map showed that we came in behind and to the left of the Vatican. Unfortunately that was not correct. We tried calling all 3 emergency numbers, and 1 didn't work at all and the other 2 went straight to voice mail. We left several messages but no one called us back. We finally got in a taxi and he took us to the train station, and we arrived 5 minutes after we were told to meet. By that point, the group (and our train) had already left. We panicked since no one would answer the emergency phone numbers and our ride back to the ship had already left. Generally speaking, if you do not arrive back to the ship on time, it leaves without you and it is your responsibility to catch up to it at the next port of call. This would have been a disaster for us, however, as we had no clothes or passports with us since we were advised not to take our passports with us, and little money due to pickpocket concerns. We ended up buying train tickets at our own expense and just barely made it back to the ship with about 10 minutes to spare - the officers were literally there waiting to pull the gangway up. We went to a manager in the Shore Excursions department and showed them our receipts for the metro, the taxi and the train for all 4 of us, and showed them our phone and where we had been calling frantically with no return phone call. Celebrity took our information, said they would "file a report" and 2 days later we had a note left in our room that thanked us for our feedback and apologized for the disappointment we encountered. The appropriate response would have been to refund 1/2 of the excursion cost, as we did not get to ride the private train back to the ship, and we provided receipts proving that we had to pay our own way back and showed all of our attempts to reach someone with their emergency phone numbers.


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Naples
City Tour Rating: 5+ out of 5+
We hired a taxi right off the pier to take a group of 4 of us around Naples to see the sights. It only cost us 50 Euro total, for all 4, instead of taking an excursion through Celebrity which would have been at least $100 per person. We had almost 3 hours of a personal tour guide of the city. He took us to all the highlights and allowed us to get out and take photos and walk around anywhere we wanted to. He even allowed us to shop for 20-30 minutes in a beautiful mall-like building that had some amazing and very unique stores. The streets of Naples are so very narrow that a tour bus would NEVER have been able to fit down the streets, whereas the taxi just zipped along. There was even a demonstration blocking the way to one place he wanted to show us, so he just zipped around a few back streets and was around it in no time - whereas it would have probably taken at least 30 minutes to get through the normal traffic that had backed up as a result of that demonstration.

We decided that this is definitely the way to see a city when you don't have to travel in from the port (like Rome) or when it is so spread out (like Florence/Pisa). We also recommend taking a taxi, as it is MUCH cheaper than booking it through the cruise line. (Yes, you run the chance of getting a not-so-great cabbie, but the risk is worth it. Plus, as it turns out, the cruise lines don't really take responsibility for you when you book tours through them anyway, which was the main reason to go through them.)


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Kotor
Port Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
Montenegro was a delightful surprise. Kotor was a beautiful city with a lot to see. I recommend just walking around the city on your own. There's no need for an excursion here. Get a map of the city at the information desk as you head away from the pier and start exploring. There are beautiful, ancient churches and buildings, lovely beaches if the weather is right, and pretty nice shopping.

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Venice
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
Venice is absolutely wonderful. It is a very beautiful city. We recommend that once you finish seeing St. Mark's and the Doge's Palace, that you venture towards the center of the city for any shopping. If you pay attention, you will notice that the same identical items bought on the main drag by the vaporetto drop off points get cheaper and cheaper the more inland you go. We also recommend that you do NOT buy the "unlimited shuttle pass" from the Cruise Line. We were in Venice for 2 days, and that pass cost $28 per person. It would have been cheaper to take the regular vaporetto (water taxi) from the pier to near St. Mark's right away, and back at the end of the day. Unless you plan on going back and forth to the ship more than just one trip out and one trip back, the shuttle passes are a big waste of money.

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Venice
Port Rating: Not Rated
Venice is absolutely wonderful. It is a very beautiful city. We recommend that once you finish seeing St. Mark's and the Doge's Palace, that you venture towards the center of the city for any shopping. If you pay attention, you will notice that the same identical items bought on the main drag by the vaporetto drop off points get cheaper and cheaper the more inland you go. We also recommend that you do NOT buy the "unlimited shuttle pass" from the Cruise Line. We were in Venice for 2 days, and that pass cost $28 per person. It would have been cheaper to take the regular vaporetto (water taxi) from the pier to near St. Mark's right away, and back at the end of the day. Unless you plan on going back and forth to the ship more than just one trip out and one trip back, the shuttle passes are a big waste of money.

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Dubrovnik
Port Rating: 3.0 out of 5+
Dubrovnik was a very nice little town, with lots of old world charm. Unfortunately, it was ruined by mass commercialization directed toward tourists. Every single shop sells the same identical mass merchandised items with Dubrovnik plastered all over it. There is very little in the way of hand made or artisan goods, or 'things they are known for' such as Murano glass in Venice.

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