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Home > Member Reviews > DISNEY FANTASY's Port Reviews of Gibraltar, Saint-Tropez, Florence (Livorno), Rome (Civitavecchia), Corsica (Ajaccio)

DISNEY FANTASY's Port Reviews of Gibraltar, Saint-Tropez, Florence (Livorno), Rome (Civitavecchia), Corsica (Ajaccio)
Independence of the Seas cruise in August 2011
Cruise Date: August 2011
Embarkation: Southampton
Destination: Western Mediterranean
Member Review: DISNEY FANTASY's Independence of the Seas Review
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+

We will be in at 8am and we are told the Allure from P and O will be in at 1pm, and the Indy are planning a nosey deck party to wake them up!

Upper Rock Tour for Families -

From the quayside, you'll drive towards the southernmost point of Gibraltar, Europa Point and the site of the only trinity lighthouse outside Great Britain. From this vantage point, the African continent is often visible. There you'll alight from your transport for photos and panoramic views of the busiest shipping lane in the world, the mingling of the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean and the two continents. Proceed to your next stop at the cable car base station. Modern technology does all the work as you are taken directly to the top station, perched at the very summit of the "The Rock." The top station is located on the site of an old gun emplacement last used during the World War II. There along with your guide, you will walk around the terraces and be introduced to the geography of this British colony. Refreshments or ice cream is available during your approximately 45-minute stay. You'll have time to browse in the souvenir shop or stroll around the former anti-craft battery site. Regroup with your guide and stride along the wooded path to St. Michael's Cave to admire what was a source of wonderment even in ancient times. To save time, you'll board a mini-bus and travel north to the next stop. Apes spring to mind when one mentions the Rock of Gibraltar and that is your next stop. These tail-less monkeys (macaca sylvanus) are roaming free. As you view these creatures, be watchful; the apes have a penchant for handbags and purses, to say nothing of cameras and hats. drive through the old town will take you to the Gibraltar Museum, where entrance is included in your program. Opened on the site of the old Moorish Baths it will amaze you with the enormous amount of artifacts that are on display. Your tour ends and the choice of exiting in the busy town centre or returning to the vessel are completely yours. Should you wish to remain in town you will be responsible in making your own way back to the ship. Note: Guests must be able to walk approximately 2.4 kilometres over even surfaces with various inclines with approximately 60 to 70 steps. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. It is suggested that you do not approach, touch or feed the Barbary Apes.

Well we arrived late today, the captain said due to the medical emergency on our first night and the helicopter evacuation but, yesterday they said we were catching up, also we were told of strong currents in this area slowing us down. The rock wasn't seen until we were on top if it, due to low cloud, and we docked at 9.10am. so a bit late, clearance wasn't until 10am. All tours seemed ot be meeting in the one place the pyramid lounge and it was beyond congested in there, there was at least 30 different coaches for the tours. They started calling these out coach by coach from number 1 up, from about 10.15am, our tour was due ot meet at 9.45am, and we didn't get on our bus until 11.05 for 11.15 am departure, the lines from deck 5 lounge down the stairs were bad, and security was backed up. So by the time we departed on our trip we were about one and a half hours late. We were told the first buses take people to the dolphin adventure, and then came back for our trip hence everything backing up. People were already annoyed. Then we had our first place of call, Europa point dropped, it wasn't mentioned but in the cloud we wouldn't see anything. The Cable car station was backed up, with all the people who had gone it alone, and maybe got a taxi, they didn't want to allow the prebooked tours in the queue causing lots of ''comments''. I think it took us an hour to get through and up the cable car, so it was just after lunch when we were up the top, views were good when you could see Gibraltar, but the cloud came and went. Apes were around and easy to take photos of. People were getting more and more annoyed. We were having times cut at places, the caves were impressive but we were in and out, and looking at internal maps and paths we might have touched 10%.

We had a walk and tour of the town and quick look at the museum, but all rushed; we decided to walk back through the town which was very nice. Our tour bus driver was very good, but the guide wasn't very good bar saying hurry up hurry up. I overheard comments saying, we cut this and that, ie they have seen enough apes already. Quite a few people said aloud they were going to complain. Personally I felt everyone tried their best under the circumstances, the cable car station needs a separate entrance for pre booked groups as this caused a lot of friction when the lines merged, and nasty comments.

Now after all that you may be surprised to understand overall I enjoyed it, but if I went there again, i would go myself and by taxi, they appeared to enjoy themselves but I did see taxis backed up as well, and when Aurora came in it got worse.

I have never encounted DCL tours having any delay on the Disney ships, yes they have years of experience on moving queues, but RCCL with 4,000 seem not to know how. DCL has separate meeting points for most tours, in different lounges. Meeting in one place when lines back up is a silly idea, and they have the options of many locations, assume it's a staffing situation. When we came back on, the forward and aft locations for embarkation had long lines, and ''one'' security position open, but two sets of machines available. Now if one person has an issue with their ID, and this occurred, with one line, it all stops. With a ship of 4,000 this doesn't sound logical.

Anyway some good news on return we ordered room service and whilst they advertised a wait, it came quite quick and very well presented with extras, like Crisps, (chips in USA). Very good.

So the evening, started off with the normal dinner in Macbeth, it was nice, but we are missing our 'rotational' dining on DCL. There you rotate between three restaurants and keep the same servers with you, most meals are themed, with menus and food and servers clothes. In the venue. But RCCL is basically a plain menu and the food is a bit bland. The food however itself is fine; it's of a good standard. Now pre cruise on the internet people have marked food on RCCL very low, I do not think that is fair, but its ''satisfactory'' nothing special but nothing bad, (bar the coffee, have I mentioned that? Oh yes a few times but it deserves mention again, now during the day I have swapped to Tea now but as they remember your drinks the assistant server is giving me coffee, he is fast and I haven't the heart so far to tell him tea. I had a cocktail tonight and had one last night, they are nice, and a bit expensive but not to bad, no one else has booze and we all have soda packages so, it seems better than wine.

The show tonight was a vocal couch from Britons got talent and x factor, she was good. Claire Maiden flew in today and she had about 90 minutes with the house band. Now mention to them as well as they play live and also last night with the Take that tribute the band played very well. I am impressed by their and this lady's performance tonight. It reminds me when Susan Egan the 'Belle' of Broadway performed on the Magic.

Now today the Allure pulled in at Gib, after the Independence, the Cruise Director decided to have loud music to blast the top deck of the Allure on their last port of call before disembarkation. Now this got a good laugh on the Independence in the show tonight when mentioned, but I do feel sorry for the cruisers who remained on that ship, hopefully most of them went on tours, but if they wanted a quite day on an expensive cruise they didn't get it. Maybe a bit juvenile? Do they want a reputation of the 'rowdy of the seas? Maybe I miss the point, I know normally on DCL their deck parties are out at sea and do not affect anyone else.

Mention for the Suite, it's been kept in nice condition with the statutory towel animal, we only have had a chocolate once this cruise, left on turndown, i miss this from DCL, it's the small touches that you miss.

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Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+

I woke up at 6am and we were pulling into port then and docked, before the scheduled arrival time. Port departures were from the main theatre, and were a bit more organised than last time. Still all in one place, but fast as I could see, as we were second bus to depart.

Saint Tropez -

It was in the 1950s that the little port of St-Tropez, originally just a simple fishermen village, really started becoming fashion by attracting the literary set from St-Germain-des-Pres in Paris and then the cinema people (and in particular the French actress and sex-symbol Brigitte Bardot) with their fans, hence rapidly turning internationally famous. Undeniably one of the best known resorts of Europe, it still is today a crossroads where journalists and photographers, writers, artists and celebrities all meet in the high summer season (July-August).After a scenic drive in the green countryside of the Var region from Toulon, you will arrive in St-Tropez where your guide will lead you on an enjoyable walking tour of the town from the waterfront to the neighboring old streets with pink and yellow houses which have been converted into cafes and pastry shops, luxury boutiques, galleries and antique shops. You will then be given ample free time for shopping, exploring and enjoying lunch individually downtown St-Tropez after you see the Place des Lices, where many celebrities are regularly seen playing "petanque" in the summer. Leaving St-Tropez, a short stop will be made on the return road to Toulon to also briefly visit the charming Port-Grimaud, also known as the "Little Venice" of France. Designed by architect Francois Spoerry, this unique resort looks like a Mediterranean fishing village but is in fact a modern complex of luxury housing with a fully equipped marina and coloured houses with Roman tiles that are linked by a network of canals, neat little bridges and narrow alleys. Note: During the peak summer months, you may encounter heavy traffic on the way to and from St. Tropez.

My view. A good trip, we had about two hours in San Tropez, and it started with a walking tour. It was good and we had a good guide, there were at least three RCCL buses. We had lunch which was nice, Starter, main course of Chicken dessert and wine. Then Port Grimaund, where we had a short walking tour and then they organised for us boats to go around. We were back at 5pm. A nice day out.

Edit, my family voted this best shore trip of the cruise!

We have a show based on a Circus tonight with the on board entertainers, dancers and band.

OK, overall it was a good show, the dancers, singers and band performed it well, but imho it lacked a story or structure. The acts were quite clever, and the sets were good.

For some reason they put on a deck party tonight, now, I can understand its quite warm, and some of the previous nights were not as warm but why put a deck party on from 9.45pm to past midnight when you have a very busy day of early excursions the next day? Didn’t make sense, -so 40 coaches off by 8am to Florence, and they put a deck party on the previous night?

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Florence (Livorno)
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+

This port of call will have a half day tour but it starts at 7.15am! Can’t see the kids meeting that!

Well we ordered room service which served as a wakeup call and also something fast ot eat before leaving the ship, they had at least two places for shore trips meeting today, we were lucky and in the Pyramid lounge and it was empty in fact we collected our stickers for coach number walked straight off and onto the coach and people were already on them some 20 minutes before departure. The main theatre was over flowing, we saw that as we went down, I assume that was for the trips to Florence. I counted 40 coaches from our verandah, and that is just RCCL , there are two other cruise ships in today and so Florence and Pisa will be heaving with people.

Highlights of Lucca -

Leave the port of Livorno and drive northwest through the Tuscan countryside to the town of Lucca. Your coach will park outside the city walls and you will begin your walking tour through the town. Stroll from piazza to piazza, learn the city's history, and see the Piazza San Michele, the Via Fillilungo, Torre delle Ore, Piazza Dell'Anfiteatro and the Duomo. Lucca's Romanesque Cathedral dates from the 12th century and features a facade with elaborate reliefs and columns. The Gothic interior features a devotional Volto Santo, an image of Christ on the cross, supposedly carved by Nicodemus, a purported witness of the crucifixion. The Duomo also boasts Tintoretto's magnificent painting of the Last Supper. Stop for photos in Piazza Dell'Anfiteatro, the oval-shaped piazza occupies the site of a former Roman amphitheatre; the surrounding building was built on the theatre's foundations. You will have free time to browse in the shops along Lucca's exclusive Via Fillilungo or enjoy a stop in one of the local cafes. At the end of the tour, retrace your journey back to the ship.

Our view, a good trip but too short, would have liked far more time there, we had an hour walking tour with guide, she was very informative, and then an hour by ourselves but that included walking to a coach meeting point that was different to our drop off earlier. I found it very enjoyable and was pleased we did this rather than Florence. We have been there before.

Note DCL have used, La Spezia, as their port for Florence and Pisa, which is 1/ Further up the coast and further away from the attractions, and also, 2/ A tender port. RCCL actually ‘dock’ here and whilst this was our first time to Lucca, we went past Pisa in about 20 minutes, far quicker than La Spezia, and also, Lucca is on the route to Florence, and I recall seeing it en route last time and we hit it very quick say about 40 minutes from the cruise port.

Its a hot and sunny day, and on return we had lunch in Windjammer it was still busy, but found a table quickly, a good selection of food again, the buffets do beat the restaurants at dinner, various offerings from steak to fast food, pasta to salads and some desserts.

Dinner tonight is delayed by 30 mins starting at 6.30pm.

Evening show was music entertainment from the McDonald brothers; they came fourth on X Factor in 2007. I thought they were very entertaining, the music production was very good and they had the backing of the independence of the seas band, Again I saw a reasonable amount of people leave after ten minutes, I am not sure if people just want to check something out, or have something better to do, or just do not like it, and make their minds up in a few minutes. But there was a reasonable amount of people leaving, but I enjoyed it.

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Rome (Civitavecchia)
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+

Nice early arrival and its again hot and sunny, we met at 7.15am, it was organised and we were off by 7.20am, and on the bus. In the meeting point in the theatre, they had a clockwise arrangement that you came in on the left aisle, and up to the stage collect your tickets for coach assignments’, numbers only, not DCL Disney characters, and then on the right hand side there was the large ‘paddles’ that had the bus numbers set out every three rows either side of the right aisle. Generally fast and easy to follow. However on our bus number, on a few rows, people hadn’t moved up the full row to the end wall, and so there were odd seats left, there was three seats near the aisle on the first row so my family sat there and I stood. I explain this in detail to put in context what occurred next. Some people decided to come in on the right rather than the left, and buses up to our number were being dispatched. A man came in the wrong way, shouted at me saying, ‘your causing an obstruction’, and went down the aisle the wrong way. The RCL Shore trip man was next to me, and said, do not worry your bus is being called next. Now a footnote, generally the behaviour of people on this cruise has been very good, and RCL has tried through announcements, to ensure behaviour of adults and children has been maintained. It does enforce a conduct code, and mentioned generally about saving seats and respect. Most people are respectful. You find the odd one, who doesn’t and normally they think they are in the right and ok to Police situations. One man became quite aggressive getting off an elevator and lost his temper. Now yes, this was on deck one, people were coming back from the port, he was going the other way. At the elevator door people were all quite close to it as they could see it would be the next one. As it opened some made an opening to let him and his family off, but he still went into one about, he really hates people pushing on when he is getting off. In fact no one entered the elevator until it was empty, but they didn’t know in advance if people were on it or not. Some need to look at issues both ways.

Orvieto, Undiscovered Italy -

See Italy as it is rarely seen, with a trip to Umbria and Orvieto. The fortified medieval town is home to a superb 13th century cathedral and world-famous wine. Board your coach at the pier and travel north from Civitavecchia along the west flank of the Apennines to Orvieto. Umbria is a land of steep hills and deep valleys with small villages boasting medieval castles and churches. Arrive at the feet of the town of Orvieto and precede up-hill to reach the historical centre. Built on a massive limestone outcrop, Orvieto boasts over four thousand years of history. Once a citadel of the Etruscans, the city is a medieval gem. Little new building has been done since the 14th century. The city stands guard over the vineyards which produce a noted dry white wine made from Trebbiano grapes. After your walking tour, visit the magnificent Duomo which lies in the heart of the city. Built in the 13th century to commemorate the Miracle of Bolsena, the cathedral features elaborate carvings and mosaic work. You will have independent time to explore the interior chapels, with frescoes by Fra Angelico and Signorelli. Then, enjoy lunch featuring traditional Umbrian dishes, served at a local restaurant. After lunch, a brief time is afforded to browse through the city's picturesque lanes and alleys. Shop for Orvieto's famed ceramics, Pinocchio dolls, and Orvieto Classic wine. Or simply relax in an outdoor cafe and take in the splendid medieval atmosphere. Rejoin your coach for the return drive to the ship.

My view, whilst a long day, it was really worthwhile a great day trip, and magnificent views, we had a great meal of Pasta, Rabbit and then a local homemade cake with a lot of Wine, some people on our coach were clearly drunk.

Dinner again is delayed until 6.30pm to allow for the people touring in Rome to get back.

Good dinner, with a Turkey option which was very nice, from nights with limited options last night there were three main dishes that I really liked, including New York steak. Good service. Show was a mind reader, have seen this type of show before, it was good as entertainment but not good as a mind reader. Did RCCL give out personal details to the performer such as telephone numbers?

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Corsica (Ajaccio)
Port Rating: 3.0 out of 5+

We arrived early, beautiful view from our room verandah of the town, looks like a great sunny day, meeting at 8.30am, only in port a short time.

Ajaccio Scenic Tour -

Depart the pier and drive along the main street Cours Napoleon to the main square De Gaulle, which is dominated by a large bronze statue of Napoleon and his brothers. Continue to Austerlitze Square where Napoleon used to play as a child and where there is now an impressive monument in his honour. Depart the square and proceed to Punta della Parata for a view of the red granite islets that have become the symbol of the town. Return to town centre for a guided walking tour of the old quarter. Pass the Cathedral where Napoleon was baptized. Walk along the narrow streets to view the exterior of Maison Bonaparte where the Emperor was born. Next, walk to Square Foch for views of Napoleon as first Roman Consul and the Town Hall. Note: Guests must be able to walk approximately 1.25 kilometres (1 hour) over uneven surfaces with 25 - 40 steps.

The disembarkation was through the aft tender doors only but the arrangements for the tours were a lot more organised, now as we are basically in the town, its yards away, i think a lot of people were off early at say 7am, and didn’t bother with RCL tours, there are so many options from just walking it yourself, to getting the tourist road train, to a taxi to a close beach etc. So really no need at all to gets a tour bar getting first hand information and our tour guide was very good and the first hour was on the coach getting us to some photo spots. Nice day. Then we had lunch in the main dining rooms normally they are closed on port days but as we are departing early afternoon they were open. It was far more civilised in there, and better quality of food including a large salad bar, with the chefs there to help you, make it up, and get a dressing in it. Limited choice on any entrees but the quality was very good. I had a nice Tandori chicken.

There is a RCL production show tonight, and afternoon at sea, and we are just relaxing after four days, in different ports and getting up early for long tours.

Comment on RCCL WiFi, it seems hard to log on, but when you are on it is far better than the DCL service, it’s quite quick, and doesn’t normally boot you out.

Dinner tonight included a very nice Lamb T bone, I really enjoyed that. We also ordered Room service during the afternoon as one of our party didn’t go to Lunch; it took about 40 minutes to come. I like the fact you can order on your TV, and also it puts up the options and the cost if any. It works like an Internet shopping cart and is easy to follow.

At dinner the server had to come around with an RCCL cookbook and asking us to buy one, i think the price was over $30, it’s another revenue idea and surely if you want to buy one you should get it in the shops and note at your dinner table.

The evening show was invitation to dance. Before it stated we were having a conversation and the cocktail of the day, my wife said that the ship and theatre reminds her of a working man’s club, I was reminded of the internet forum posts that I read before this cruise about the ship being Butlins at sea. During the show, I thought these ideas are wrong; the show was well produced, and if anything was a good production dance show, and a bit high brow. It was a good show and a type of Strictly come dancing, (Dancing with the stars). At the end I was impressed and felt comments on working men’s clubs were wrong. Then the CD comes on and talks about Bingo, and a mans belly flop competition at the pool, and they do not want men with six packs, but large belly, men, and said you know who you are the Windjammer crew. Ie their buffet. Now from quite a high brow production the thoughts of Butlins at Sea comes straight back, and the tone was lowered quite quickly. I really think with such a nice ship they can aim higher and still put on enjoyment without compromising on standards and going for cheap laughs and holiday camp humour. So I can see where people come from when they say these things and RCI have to decide where they would like to place themselves in the market.

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Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+

We should sail under the April 25th Bridge, I hope to be up to see it, the cruise terminal is close to it, and you can’t do DIY here as you have to use and pay for a shuttle.

Well a stunning arrival to Lisbon today, the times the Cruise director quoted were totally wrong, in fact we approached the 25th April bridge at 7.30am, and then as soon as we were under it, made a full turn of 180 degrees giving fantastic photo opportunities, these can’t be repeated tonight in full, as we are now facing back out to the Atlantic.

We are now docked and on the Port side we have a stunning view of the bridge and the Statue of Christ the King, we are also refuelling on our side but on the lower decks.

Panoramic Lisbon -

Baroque and beautiful, Portugal's capital is a city full of surprises, and on this tour, you will be able to view many of the city's main landmarks from your coach. Begin with a photo stop at the Alto do Parque Belvedere, with its splendid city and harbour views, this park offers plenty of photo opportunities. Drive through the 'Piccadilly Circus' of Lisbon, Rossio Square, where the mile-long Avenida da Liberdade leads to the Statue of Pombal, the man who helped rebuild the city after the earthquake of 1755. The drive will take you across the 25th April Bridge, sister of the Golden Gate Bridge, to the base of the Statue of Christ the King, from where magnificent views of Lisbon can be seen. Another photo stop will be at the Jeronimos Monastery, built on almost the same spot from where Vasco da Gama sailed for India in 1497; this marvellous structure is one of the city's finest examples of unique Manueline architecture. Before your coach returns to the ship, you will have one last photo stop at the Belem Tower and the Monument to the Discoveries. At Belem Tower, the turrets and open balconies make an interesting and historical snapshot. In addition, at the Monument to the Discoveries, set along the River Tagus, you can take photos of this modern-day monument, which is a tribute to Portugal's great marine explorers.

Note: Guests must be able to walk approximately 180 metres over even surfaces in the pier/terminal area and 2 - 3 steps to enter/exit the coach. There are no shopping stops on this tour. Tour order may vary but all mentioned sights will be covered. This excursion includes a comfort stop in Belem Tower. No interior visits will be made during this tour.

My view;- Well firstly lets gloss over the usual mayhem of the assignment of bus tickets in the theatre, let’s just say as you approach the entrance of the theatre and you see all of the people hanging outside it, your heart sinks a from deck 3 to deck 1 all by itself. It’s so disorganised and yes there are 4,000 people on this ship, but this must be able to be handled a lot better. So many people seem to go DIY and you can see why, you get off the ship on clearance and today for example outside the terminal building there was plenty of buses for the hop on hop off service and they went to a lot of places that we went to on our tour, bar, over the bridge and to the statute.

This when it started was a great tour, again whilst we followed the correct disembarkation process, there were people at the bus as we arrived at it, so must have left earlier. We had a female guide calling herself the singing guide, and yes she sang some songs and had a good voice, one way to boost the tips. She was very good. I enjoyed the tour and the places out of the city centre were covered well but in the city centre I would have preferred a couple of short photo stops.

A well worthwhile tour today and a charming city. We still have a great view from our verandah of The 25th April Bridge and the stature of Christ. Lunch was had in Windjammer, it was crowded but they can manage the queues here, and we found a window four table top table, in a minute and again have not had to use the Gold facility of a table in Chops Grille.

It’s a formal night tonight, not sure why, as it’s a Port day and we leave at 4pm. Seems a bit silly when we had a sea day and it was casual a few days back, maybe a repeat cruisers event?.

The schedule of dinners and shows and formal nights does feel rather haphazard and lacking in thought. I would add that apart from dressing up for Formal clothes there wasn’t any ‘reason’ to do so. The first one was on the first sea day and was tied in with the event of the captains reception cocktails. But this was a random Formal night, and nothing connected to it, no event, bar maybe to sell more photos?

Departure was rather impressive sailing under the bridge again and then down the river to the estuary and the ocean.

A satisfactory dinner tonight, I personally found limited choice, nearly went for the backup Steak but in the end went for a re-constructed Beef Wellington. A mention here for our main server, he has been very good all cruise, and up with the standards of any server on any cruise line. The food has been a bit over the place, never poor but between satisfactory, ie just a meal and something of a treat.

The evening show was really good, it was a Mowtown performance with three male singers and a female singer and they packed a punch. This is really what people want, it was in all descriptions a ‘’performance’’. Only the lads of the Take That tribute earlier in this cruise had the same production. Cruisers really enjoyed the performance with people getting up and dancing in the aisles. I have found the shows disappointingly short, often just 45 minutes, and tonight it seemed to be the view of the majority there as well. At the end you had the normal, ‘end’ for a concert, then the normal, ‘call back’ for one more song, and they performed a belter, everyone enjoyed it, so when that one ended there was considerable loud shouts for, more more more. The CD said no, that’s it there is no more, and he was booed, and when I say booed, I am not saying it in a light hearted friendly way, he really was subjected to loud and direct boos. This sums up the entertainment, it has all the potential of being very good, but lacks structure or thought, and here you do not warm up the audience, take them to a high, and then after just 45 minutes cut it dead, you have to deliver, they left the audience wanting far far more.

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Port Rating: 4.0 out of 5+

Early arrival in Vigo today, seas on the Altanic were more rough but apart from the odd, move under the floor you really do not notice it, unless you look out of windows or the verandah.

Today’s bus assignment was marginally better, and we received our tickets and they were dispatching people so we waited for our number to be called. After walking through the port building on arrival the bus had at least twelve people on it so it looks like people do not listen to the announcements and go straight to the buses.

Vigo Sightseeing & Bayona

Vigo has been a major Spanish port for centuries and the great Spanish galleons returned there, loaded with treasure and riches, from the New World. Drive through Vigo, a city that expanded greatly during the last century thanks to the importance of its active commercial port. From the coach, you get a spectacular view of the Cies Islands, which have been declared a National Park. You will stop is at Fortaleza del Castro for a panoramic view over Vigo Ria. Continue with a drive through the Galician countryside to Bayona La Real, one of the most important fishing towns on this coast. Bayona was the town where the boat "Pinta" first arrived back, after Columbus first voyage of discovery to the Americas in March 1493. See the remains of the old walls and ramparts. A visit will also be made to the fascinating Monterreal Palace. En route to the ship and time permitting, you can walk through the Oyster Stalls on Stone Street to glimpse the seafood culture in Galicia. (This option is available only for the ships that are docked in the cruise terminal.)

Note: Guests must be able to walk approximately 1.6 kilometres over cobblestone and uneven surfaces with slight inclines and steps. Tour order may vary to avoid congestion. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended.

My view, a good tour but the Vigo part is very limited, its nearly all on the bus bar one five minute stop overlooking the town on the way back, I expected more on Vigo. Bayona we had ninety minutes that included a walking tour of the fort. Bayona and its views are fantastic but was quite disappointed on this tour.

Now all of the shore trips are over a quick summary, I am pleased I booked these as we have seen a lot but you must expect long lines to get bus assignments and it isn’t the best use of your time in most ports. If you do some research in advance it is far better to do it yourself hop off ship as soon as you can rather than waste valuable time in port, queuing for tickets, then waiting, in the lounge then waiting in the coach etc. There have been some excellent tours; the ones in Italy and Portugal come to mind. On Disney in 2007 I did private tours in five of seven ports and my experience here has reinforced what good value that was and the best experience for the time in port and the least queuing, I would mention however that all RCL tours have not made a tourist ‘shop’ stop, where in some other lines you are forced to buy in a shop that has inflated prices, ie Acapulco.

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