My husband, my mom and our almost 3-year old daughter, sailed on the Brilliance of the Seas between 5/3 - 5/15. We booked private tours for all of our shore excursions (detailed below) and rented a car (www.santorinicarhire.com) at ... Read More
My husband, my mom and our almost 3-year old daughter, sailed on the Brilliance of the Seas between 5/3 - 5/15. We booked private tours for all of our shore excursions (detailed below) and rented a car (www.santorinicarhire.com) at Santorini, Greece. This was an active and busy cruise and it was an amazing trip for us. It was not easy to travel this itinerary with a small child but with the help of our private tours, we enjoyed all of our ports of call a great deal. We loved all of our private tours and would recommend all of our tour operators.
The Brilliance of the Seas was a beautiful ship and we choose to have to two state rooms (one balcony and one inside) because we knew we would be really cramped in one of those tiny inside cabins. The food at the dining room was great and our dining experience was outstanding since we had the most wonderful waiter ever! He name was Adrian. The buffet was convenient but selection was somewhat limited compared to the other cruise we were on. The ship was clean and well equipped. All of the wait staff was very friendly and helpful. On board entertainment was outstanding. The only complaint we had was the information desk was always crowded but our over all experience with the ship was great.
Nice - Revelation Tours (http://www.revelation-tours.com/)
We had Ingrid as our driver and tour guide and she was knowledgeable and very polite. She was waiting for us when we arrived from our tender. We visited Nice (market of the old city), the medieval villages of Saint-Paul and Eze, as well as Monaco and Monte-Carlo.
Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Italy - Tuscan Heart (http://www.tuscanheart.com/Home.htm)
We reserved a Tuscany and Pisa tour for May 5th, 2010 with Daniele's Tuscanheart since we read a great review for the company and Daniele on Cruise Critics. Daniele was extremely responsive to our questions prior to our arrival and he was such a pleasure to communicate with. He gives his potential clients the benefit of doubt and didn't even charge us a deposit!!
Livorno was our second port of call and we hit some wicket waves at our first port, Villefrance. Our ship was suppose to dock at Livorno at 7am but didn't make it into the port until 1pm or 2pm. We weren't sure if anyone was going to be there to greet us since we were about 5 or 6 hours late and had no idea what time we were going to get there until a couple of hours before we docked. When we got off the ship, there he was, Daniele was there with a sign of our name just as what we discussed before. Daniele told us that he was not aware of our delay and arrived at the dock by our original meeting time, 8am, and was informed that we would be late and he subsequently returned to pick us up. He was able to cover most activities we had discussed in less time and he even gave us a discount due to the shorter tour! Daniele set up a wine tasting tour for us with Pierluigi as part of our Tuscany tour and it was excellent. http://www.torciano.com/giachi-wine-club/index.htm. We had a case of Chianti shipped back home. It was a little pricey but worth it!
In summary, I would recommend Daniele's Tuscanheart to anyone who may consider a private tour in that region. Daniele is extremely flexible and he can customize your tour for you. This was less expensive for us then going on a ship tour and our experience was far better than the big bus! You can get more info at http://www.tuscanheart.com/Home.htm.
Turkey - samyeli (www.sammystravel.com)
I booked a private tour with Sammy's travel and their local operator is Samyeli Tours. On the date of the tour, a guide, named Isik met us at the cruise ship exit and she led us to our vehicle and the driver. The van was large enough to accommodate 12 people and our group included 7 adults and one child so we were very comfortable. The tour guide had a microphone which was very helpful and we all could hear her very clearly. Turkey was an amazing place and a pleasant surprise for most of us on the tour. Isik was very knowledgeable about the history of all sites we visited. Isik took us to Siren Village for lunch. We walked on a winding and rather steep path to reach the restaurant. For me the climb up to the restaurant was very rewarding as we got to see the village and real people who lived there. Lunch was served family style and was delicious. We had so many courses and could not even finish it all. The view from the restaurant was also gorgeous. Isik told us that visiting a Turkish rug store was part of the tour but it was optional. There was no pressure about going to the rug store and some of tour mates chose to go back to the ship directly. The only thing I'd like to see done differently was instead of going to the pottery factory as the first thing in the day, spending more time at Siren Village would have been nice. However, overall, the tour was a very good experience and we enjoyed it very much.
Naples - Giovanni Lerusce (www.positanocardrivers.com)
We wanted to visit Pompeii and Amalfi Coast while in Naples. I contacted Giovanni Lerusce for a private tour. (AUTONOLEGGIO Via Sal. Quisisana, 35 80053 Castellammare di Stabia (Napoli) ITALY Tel/Fax +39 0818715021 Mobile +39 3383244002 E-mail email@example.com Web-site: www.positanocardrivers.com)
Giovanni was responsive, courteous and thorough in answering my questions. He sent a picture of the Mercedes van in which we would be riding for the tour. He made recommendations as how to schedule our time and detailed meeting instructions. He recommended that we hire a private tour guide when visiting Pompeii which proven to be invaluable and greatly broadened our knowledge and appreciation of this amazing ancient ruin. On the day of our tour, Giovanni was waiting outside the port with a sign of my name as we had previously discussed. He informed us that he had rearranged our day to visit Pompeii later in the day because the port was extremely busy that day and majority of the visitors in port were heading to Pompeii directly which would make our visit less pleasant and cause us to lose time slotted for other sites. We went on the drive for Amalfi Coast and stopped by Sorrento, Positano and Amalfi. The view was truly breath taking! Giovanni then took us to a family restaurant (unfortunately, I forgot the name) for lunch where we enjoyed delicious food (awesome pizza!!), great service and wonderful view. We then visited Pompeii after lunch and our guide was great and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit there. By the way, Giovanni had driven many famous people including Daniel Craig and Arnold Schwarzenegger. In conclusion, I can't say enough good things about Giovanni Lerusce and would recommend his services to anyone who may be interested in visiting Naples.
Rome - Rome Cabs (http://www.romecabs.com)
My husband and I have been to Rome a few years ago on our own and we absolutely loved it. We wanted to show my mom and our daughter the city as well and went on a private tour with Rome Cabs in Rome. I communicated with the owner Stefano prior to the tour and he was extremely responsive and helpful. In addition to suggested tour information, he forwarded us the link to purchase Vatican ticket online and told us to obtain admission tickets for 2pm. On the day of our tour, Alex, was waiting for us at the dock with a beautiful Mercedes Van when we got off the ship. Alex had such an excellent command of English and I thought he lived in the US for a period of time. Alex had an intimate knowledge of the winding, narrow, incredibly crowded Roman roads and got us so close to all the sites. We covered all the major sites in one day and got back to our ship with plenty of time to spare. We enjoyed our day in Rome a great deal and would recommend Rome Cabs and Alex to anyone when might be interested in coming to Rome. Rome is packed with famous historical sites and one can easily spend a whole week and not see everything. With the help of a private English speaking driver, you remove many unknowns and save a lot of time.
Athens - Athensbytaxi http://www.athenstaxi.org or https://www.athensminibus.com
I booked a tour with Paul for a private tour in Athens and reserved the taxi. Paul was very responsive and courteous. On the day of the tour, Paul's son, Dimetrious,
came to meet us outside the customs' building. The taxi was clean and comfortable. We visited The Acropolis, The Temple of Zeus, The Hill of Lycabettous where we took the most amazing photo of Athens, The Old Palace, The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier and The Changing of The Guards and we stopped at Plaka for lunch. There is no way that the big bus tour could come close to what we were offered!
I want to express my sincere appreciation for all our tour guides! Our experience was greatly enhanced by these wonderful and hospitable people. I also want to thank the wonderful group of people whom we met on Cruise Critics and on board. Their insights and recommendations made our cruise a success. Gary, thank you again for doing all those organization for the group! Lastly, I want to send a special thank you to the gentleman at firstname.lastname@example.org for the thorough and extremely detailed review posted on Cruise Critics. I chose almost all of my private tours based on his review and they all turned out beautifully. Read Less