In Livorno we'd decided to do our own thing. I'd already researched on how to get to Florence and Pisa by public transport, so we were off the ship early, took the shuttle from the ship, caught a bus to the station, and then caught the 8.12am train to Florence. On the way back to Livorno we broke our train trip to catch a bus to Pisa.
We walked and walked... checked out the tourist spots in Florence, did a little souvenir shopping, had lunch in a sidewalk cafe, and despite the rain had an enjoyable day. A quick stop off to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa and take the classic photo of ourselves 'holding up' the tower, and we were on our way back to the ship.
It was a simple process making our way there; do some research at home prior to the trip. Make sure you validate your train ticket before boarding the train as otherwise you risk a hefty fine.
If you catch a bus to Pisa, you'll find you can buy a ticket for different lengths of time. I wondered if they'd even check, but yes, when we boarded a bus to return to the station the driver did carefully check the time on our ticket. Don't know what would have happened if we'd taken longer than we'd paid for.
I loved Dubrovnik, and found you really don't need to do a tour. We took the shuttle to the Old Town (shuttle a bit expensive, 10 euros I think, but it was a return ticket and got us there efficiently).
We walked the city walls, marvelled at the wonderful views and the history and beauty of the old buildings. Then wandered in the streets, having lunch and doing a little gift shopping. Chanced on a little shop where they took us downstairs and showed us how coral jewellery is made... very interesting and the girl was happy to chat about Dubrovnik and its history.
The sun was shining, it was a beautiful day in a beautiful place.
On the day of disembarkation in Barcelona our plane did not leave till 6.35pm, so we booked our only Carnival tour with some on-board credit. It was expensive, and we knew it, but we did it simply because we didn't want to be dumped in Barcelona early in the morning with all our luggage hampering us from doing anything at all. At least this tour meant our bags would be safe in the tour bus and we would be transferred to the airport later in the day.
The excursion was average. There was a bit of a drive round the city, which was not much use to us as we'd spent 3 days in Barcelona pre-cruise but which people might value if they had not done like us. Following that we were taken to catch the train to Montserrat, something you could do independently for a fraction of what we had paid for our tour... but yes, we had bag sitting and that is what we needed.
We were left to wander in Montserrat - a lovely spot but I feel we had too much time up our sleeves. The tour guide was pleasant enough but confusing in the instructions and directions he gave.
A very nice lunch was provided. Then off to the airport. Therein lies my main gripe... the tour description said we'd finish at the airport at 3pm or 3.30pm (can't remember which), but we were deposited there at 2pm.
Definitely not worth the money, and I'm left wondering if what someone else did would have been a better idea... go straight from the ship to the airport to check in bags, then return to spend the day in Barcelona, then travel back to the airport later. The Aerobus to and from Catalunya Square would have been a cheap and easy method of travel to the airport.
A wonderful day weatherwise and also port-wise. Carnival's tours are so expensive that I'd organised a private tour for 17 people, including a guided tour of Pompeii, Amalfi Coast Drive, visits to and time in Positano and Sorrento. The tour guide was excellent and she took us to all that I'd requested, and gave us a fun and informative day. Returning from Sorrento by ferry to the ship was an enjoyable end to the day. No problem getting back to the ship in time. The tour operators were most professional and fully aware and motivated that we needed to be on board by a certain time. A very good day, and we met some nice people on our tour.
We were part of a private tour booked through Cruise Critic roll call. Another rainy day, unfortunately, and Rome was teeming with people, but we saw the requisite tourist spots and had a nice time with friendly people. But I feel you can't do a city like that justice in just a few hours.