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Home > Member Reviews > cruizer101's Port Reviews of Villefranche, Florence (Livorno), Rome (Civitavecchia), Sorrento, Venice

cruizer101's Port Reviews of Villefranche, Florence (Livorno), Rome (Civitavecchia), Sorrento, Venice
Brilliance of the Seas cruise in May 2011
Member Name: cruizer101
Cruise Date: May 2011
Embarkation: Barcelona
Destination: Western Mediterranean
Member Review: cruizer101's Brilliance of the Seas Review
Villefranche
Port Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
We took a ship excursion in Villefranche to Nice and Eze or as the guide put it "nice and easy". Nice was OK. We were there the day the flower market was closed (Monday) and in its place a flea market to my disappointment. I guess it was interesting but not as beautiful as I imagined the flowers would be. My husband got to see some French Riviera topless bathers but Eze was the best part of this tour for me. Such a photogenic, medieval spot high on the hill top and the ride between was breathtaking along the cornich. But the difference in the excursions was demonstrable. In Nice our guide has to hold up a sign to keep our huge crowd from getting lost, it was hard to hear her and we had the big bus to deal with. She did have a microphone on the bus so we could hear her stories while inside. It worked out great because we booked it as an afternoon as I knew we would be zonked from the all night flight and the time change. You often get a sea day right after you depart your cruise but here we had to wait til day 5 for a sea day.

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Florence (Livorno)
Port Rating: 5+ out of 5+
The other "Brilliant" thing I did on this cruise was use the cruisecritic roll call to meet people to share excursions. We booked with www.shareashoreexcursioninitaly.com and had the absolute best tours in three cities Rome, Florence and Solerno (Sorrento, Positano, Pompeii).

Our new best friends were fabulous and the tour guides and vans were perfect. We went to Pisa first and got some great pictures of the tower in the morning light then went to Florence visiting vistas, churches, and even a leather place where they showed us how they applied gold leaf to leather items.

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Rome (Civitavecchia)
Port Rating: 5+ out of 5+
Alessandro started our tour by treating us to our first Italian coffee and sweet. You can't take a big tour bus in the narrow streets of Rome so Alessandro whipped us though the traffic in our Mercedes van, got our "butt-in-line tickets" for the Coliseum and Vatican and avoided traffic by using little known back streets giving us the most comprehensive whirlwind tour imaginable. Midday he took us to a local eatery for some excellent Italian cuisine. He had a book that I had to buy that showed ancient Rome ruins as it is now with a clear overlay that shows what it would have looked like then.

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Sorrento
Port Rating: 5+ out of 5+
We used www.shareashoreexcursioninitaly.com again. They changed ports from Naples to Solerno and this tour company tracks the ship so knew to send Stefania to Solerno and not to Naples. Stefania drove the narrow curves of the Amalfi coast like the pro she is. My husband feigned fear and she asked him if he wanted to drive. We shopped in Sorrento, and Positano and went to Pompei to visit the ruins. I'm glad I had seen a Pompeii exhibit at an LA Museum because seeing it as a town put it all into perspective. She also took us to a beautiful spot that overlooked the ocean for a fresh, excellent lunch. At the end of the tour after we unloaded and she left I realized I had forgotten my souveniers in her van. One of my tour-mates had an iPhone (the only carrier that works in Europe vs my dumb Verizon) and called the company. Stephania's boss caught up to her and recovered my bag and brought it to the ship for me. What service! I couldn't recommend them more highly.

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Venice
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
We didn't book a tour in Venice but just wandered the streets and canals taking it all in. The ship docks quite a way from the main part of the city so taking a water taxi is recommended. It is easy to get lost but eventually you work your way back to St Peter's or Rialto. One thing we learned is that if you stand and drink or eat you pay less than if you want a table! Interesting. I did a photo collection of "Door Knockers of Venice" because there were so many different ones.

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