Cinque Terre Rating:
We've been on many excursions, but this one was by far the worst ever. It was overbooked and very poorly planned. We were supposed to take a lovely ferry ride to 4 of the 5 pretty towns overlooking the ocean. After a stammered excuse that the sea was "too rough", our guide put us on a terribly hot, overcrowded train with no ventilation. Except for one town at which we were given an hour and 15 minutes for lunch and shopping, we had only about 15 minutes in each of the other towns--not enough to do anything but walk a bit then turn around and head back to wait for another train. We had to stand for agonizingly long periods in the blazing sun or in dark, dank, cave-like tunnels to wait for the trains--sometimes as long as 30 minutes, time we could have used to explore the towns. We spent much longer waiting for trains than we spent actually walking through the towns. The train rides were miserable. Seriously, sardines have it better than we did, crammed into trains designed for far fewer people. At the last town all the tourists on the excursion grumbled so much that the ridiculously inept tour guide finally relented and told us the reason we hadn't taken the ferry was because there were simply too many people. Our ship alone had more than 200 people taking this excursion, and there were at least four or five other ships in port that sent similar numbers of people on the same excursion. There was no way the ferry or train system could handle so many people. At that point, we were allowed to take the ferry back to meet the bus to Livorno, and it was a lovely trip. But by this time we were all so frustrated and miserable we didn't enjoy it as much as we should have.
If I could give this excursion less than 1 star, I certainly would.