We loved Barcelona! My daughter will be studying architectural engineering in college, and was fascinated with the works of Antoni Gaudi in the city. We stayed at Hotel Jazz, which was walking distance to Las Ramblas, an exciting display of street vendors, colorful street performers, shopping, restaurants, tourists from all over the world. We booked a city bike tour through Fat Tire Bike Tours and it was a great way to see the sights of the city in a day, including the awe-inspiring Sagrada Familia. Our tour guide, Buddah, was extremely entertaining and knowledgeable, and riding our bikes through town was fun and exhilarating. We also stopped at the beach for lunch and sangria. We took a taxi from our hotel to Parc Guell, another of Gaudi's creations, and enjoyed a long walk through the park with beautiful views of the city, and local musicians providing free entertainment.
We booked a Monte Carlo Highlights shore excursion through NCL. It was informative and enjoyable, but sometimes we couldn't hear the tour guide because of our large group size. We saw the Grand Casino, visited Princess Grace's grave, and the home of her children. We were impressed by the many fancy cars and private yachts. Since it was so expensive to stay there, the cruise ship was the best way to see the city.
We booked a full-day in Florence shore excursion through Shore Trips, and were met in Livorno by our driver, Roberto. He took us to many of the famous sights in Florence, including the Santa Croce, Duomo, Piazza del Signorio, and Ponte Vecchio. We also wanted to see Galileo's Science Museum, and it was fascinating for our family. Our friends recommended a restaurant in town called Antico de Noe, and we had a delicious lunch there. Later, Roberto recommended a visit to an organic winery in Tuscany, and we were treated to a wonderful tour and wine tasting.
We booked a full-day tour of Rome through Bob's Limousines, and were met in Civitavecchia by Franco, our driver. He drove us to Rome where we saw many famous sights, including the Palatino, Colosseum, Forum, Trevi Fountain, and parts of the Vatican city, including the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. We were disappointed that the tour didn't include seeing St. Peter's Basilica, and we realized that it would have been much more informative to have hired English-speaking tour guides. There are just too many things to see in Rome for one day. We felt like we rushed through every site, and wasted a lot of time waiting in lines surrounded by thousands of other tourists.
We booked a Half-day Capri shore excursion through Shore Trips, and it was the highlight of our vacation. We stopped in Naples and took a hydrofoil boat to Capri where we met our tour guide, Constantino. We rode around in a convertible taxi and were shown many sights in Capri and Anacapri. We rode a chair lift to the top of Anacapri for some gorgeous views of the island, walked through the cobblestone streets of Capri and shopped for souvenirs, tasted Limoncello and other delicious lemon confectionaries, toured the beautiful home of Swedish doctor Axel Munthe, stopped for lunch at a wonderful local restaurant, rode the funicular cable car down the mountain, and went on a scenic boat tour around the island. Capri was our favorite destination and we loved our tour guide, Constantino, who went the extra mile for us.
My daughters and I chose to stay on the ship at this port, based on our travel agent's recommendation, but my husband spent several hours walking around town on his own. He tried going into a shop, but was told that he had to leave his backpack someplace before entering, so that discouraged him from entering. He took some pictures, and saw some old buildings. We heard that Palma was a popular vacation place for Europeans, but we preferred having another day to relax on the ship.