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Author: bellevueguy

Joined: 3/23/2010
Posts: 1
Traveler Since: 2001

June 13, 2010

We will be taking our first trip on a big ship in September, going Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Florence, Rome, Naples, Majorca.  We won't have many hours ashore.  Looking at planned shore excursions we are somewhat appalled by the prices.  One of us has somewhat limited walking and stair capability.  We realize that there are some distances involved in getting to Florence and Rome from the ports.  Do you think it advisable for us to sign up in advance, sign up aboard ship, or try to do it on our own when we get to ports?  Might our choices be different for different ports?  We certainly don't want to miss the sailings because of language difficulties or inability to obtain transportation to assure arrival in time. 

Author: gobuckeyes

Joined: 7/7/2010
Posts: 157
Traveler Since: 2005

July 22, 2010

If you want a ship's tour you can usually just sign up on board. I've done several "private tours" on cruise ship stops (organized in advance by people on Cruise Critic) have almost always found them to usually be much better than the ship's tours (i.e. cheaper, smaller groups, see more, personalized, etc.) Yes, your choices of what to do will be different at each port. Example: In Barcelona (in addition to an organized tour) there are a couple different  "Hop-On-Hop-Off Buses" available where the cruise ship port shuttle bus drops you off that you could do.

http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/en/tour/barcelona-bus-tour.html

http://www.viator.com/tours/Barcelona/Barcelona-Hop-on-Hop-Off-Tour-North-to-South-Route/d562-2512BBUS

http://www.barcelona-on-line.es/eng/reserves/bus_turistic.htm

You are asking for a lot of  that you try another board for more information: Cruise Critic.

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/

You can join for free and access sections about each port, the ship, and/or your specific cruise in "roll call". In the past I've hooked up with people in "roll call" (for my specific cruise) that has organized a "private shore excursion" and is looking for additional people to fill up the van, etc.  

Note: With someone that has limited walking and stair capabilities you may want to stick with the ship's tours. The ship lists the amount of physical ability need and/or how strenuous their tours are. This allows you to chose the one that is right for you.  

    

Author: kaytravels

Joined: 3/21/2010
Posts: 6
Traveler Since: 2002

July 22, 2010

in Monte Carl Use the regional train that goes on the coast to Nice and further if desired. The port for Florence will be Livorno and there is train service easily available to Pisa and Florence.  For Rome it is an easy 90 min ride into the Central Station by train.  The Cruise director should be able to answer any questions on an individual basis and you might try Fordors travel forum for Europe for more INfo.  HAVE FUN

Author: allicat

Joined: 7/25/2010
Posts: 12
Traveler Since: 2006

August 04, 2010

Sounds like we did this same trip several years ago.  My husband and I are in our early 50's, get around very well and could probably do trips on our own.  However, and especially if this is your first trip to these ports, I highly recommend taking the ship's tours.  We usually sign up for them before we leave, especially if there are trips we don't want to get closed out of.  Yes, the trips may be a little expensive, but they are usually well organized, you have a guide with you explaining, and in most instances, the distance from the dock to the  points of interest is rather far, so just the ride to and from the ship accounts for a lot.    I seem to remember several "like" trips offered at some of the destinations, some more walking and active, and others more bus rides around with less activity required.  If a tour you are looking at says, "uneven pavement, steps, lots of walking, should be in relatively good shape"; please keep this in mind or you'll find youself missing out on many highlights of that tour.  Please let me know if you are interested in any specific destinations and/or tours, I'd be happy to help. 

Author: stagerobin

Joined: 4/22/2010
Posts: 5
Traveler Since: 2005

August 29, 2010

There are two advantages to booking tours through the ship and doing it in advance.  Most importantly you won't be left ashore if you book a tour through the ship. Cruise ships are on strict schedules and will leave port without yot unless you're with one of their tours.  And booking in advance through your travel agent or on-line means that on the first day of your cruise you don't have to stand in line  for hours at the ship's travel desk. My philosophy is to do whatever it takes at home to save for the trip so we don't have to pinch pennies while traveling.  It's worth the extra money to be pampered by the people we've hired to take care of us.

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