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mls0974

Help! First time cruisers and worried about excusions

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We are a family of 5 that have booked a cruise for special birthdays and anniversaries. I (probably naively) thought that when i booked the cruise and looked at the itinerary that we would be really close to the destinations (forgot about the fact that some are inland!).  We don't want to spend a fortune doing all the excursions with Tui if we can easily do them ourselves.  Has anyone been to the following cruise ports and can give us some information about getting about.  We have spoken to people who have been on cruises who say it is so easy to just get off the boat and jump in a taxi but some of the destinations are quite far away and i suspect a taxi would be a small fortune.

 

Marina di Carrara - for Florence and Pisa

Saint Raphael - for St Tropez

Salerno - for Pompeii and Herculaneum

 

Any information you could give would be gratefully received.

 

Thank you

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6 minutes ago, mls0974 said:

We are a family of 5 that have booked a cruise for special birthdays and anniversaries. I (probably naively) thought that when i booked the cruise and looked at the itinerary that we would be really close to the destinations (forgot about the fact that some are inland!).  We don't want to spend a fortune doing all the excursions with Tui if we can easily do them ourselves.  Has anyone been to the following cruise ports and can give us some information about getting about.  We have spoken to people who have been on cruises who say it is so easy to just get off the boat and jump in a taxi but some of the destinations are quite far away and i suspect a taxi would be a small fortune.

 

Marina di Carrara - for Florence and Pisa

Saint Raphael - for St Tropez

Salerno - for Pompeii and Herculaneum

 

Any information you could give would be gratefully received.

 

Thank you

Welcome to cruise critic.

 

This is MY OPINION ONLY, and take it for what you will. I have anxiety. I get worried about independent tours and missing the ship. Therefore, I book all of mine thru the cruise comp unless it is a short uber ride or walking tour. The cruise ship will foot the bill to get you to the next port if your excursion gets held up and they have to leave without you.

A lot of people don't agree with that, others do. I am in a foreign country and feel that the extra money I spend it worth my peace of mind.

 

That cruise sounds awesome! I hope you enjoy.

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Welcome to Cruise Critic!

 

MANY, MANY people do private tours, and do it yourself (DIY). Yes, YOU are responsible to get back on time, and a small percentage fail at that mission. You need to know the hours the ship (its not a boat) will be in port, and the travel required to get to what you want to see, and get back.

 

Taxi is certainly an option for what you want to do. So might be trains or other public transit. I wold definitely consider a private tour for Florence/Pisa, given the distances involved (it would be a serious taxi fare to Florence...90+ minutes away).

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1 hour ago, mls0974 said:

We are a family of 5 that have booked a cruise for special birthdays and anniversaries. I (probably naively) thought that when i booked the cruise and looked at the itinerary that we would be really close to the destinations (forgot about the fact that some are inland!).  We don't want to spend a fortune doing all the excursions with Tui if we can easily do them ourselves.  Has anyone been to the following cruise ports and can give us some information about getting about.  We have spoken to people who have been on cruises who say it is so easy to just get off the boat and jump in a taxi but some of the destinations are quite far away and i suspect a taxi would be a small fortune.

 

Marina di Carrara - for Florence and Pisa

Saint Raphael - for St Tropez

Salerno - for Pompeii and Herculaneum

 

Any information you could give would be gratefully received.

 

Thank you

We've done both Florence/Pisa and Salerno.  You can google and find reputable drivers to take you to the places you want to so.  With a group of 5, you might even save money over the cruise ship.  But better than that, you'll get more out of your day.  When we were in Salerno, my wife and I booked a private driver, just the two of us.  For about $100 more than a bus trip to Pompeii, we:  1)  Toured the Amalfi coast, including brief stops in both Amalfi and Positano (enough time to walk down to the beach).  2)  We did some ceramic shopping, at our request  3)  We visited Mt. Vesuvius and hiked to the rim.  In AUGUST...crazy hot, but fun.  4)  Stopped for pizza at a little out of the way place near the base of the mountain.  Best Caprese salad we've ever had  5)  Went to Pompeii.  6)  Back to Salerno with 30 minutes to spare.  One of our best days ever on an excursion.  We had to rush Pompeii a little bit, I'll admit, but not too bad.  

 

I just mention this to emphasize that you MIGHT pay a little more for a private excursion (by that I mean, not just going outside the cruise line, but just booking something for your group).  But the flexibility and speed is not to be overlooked.  We act as though we might never get back to that port again, so we spend a little more to get a LOT more.

 

Florence/Pisa is a bit more whirlwind because you're so far away from the port.  If you book a private excursion, ask to go to Pisa right away.  We got there nearly 45 minutes before the first bus arrived, and practically had the grounds to ourselves (although the cathedral was closed that early) and we were in the first group of the day to go up the tower.  Florence is always a bit of a madhouse, so no really good reason to rush to get there.  One piece of advise:  if you're planning to visit with the Accademia (to see "David") or the Uffizi Galleries, you can get tickets online ahead of time.  Strongly advised.  You'll save 20-30 minutes in line at each place, and save a couple of bucks.

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Join your roll call!!  You don't say how large your group is, but there might be people who are doing private tours and the cost will go down if they can fill a mini van.  You get a more private tour at a lower cost than what the cruise line will charge and you'll probably see a lot more.  

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Just got back from a Medditerean Cruise. The Roll Call had limited usage. 50  people with 20 or so active. There was a Facebook page that was set up that had 3 times the people actively Posting. We used RCL for Florence. Expensive but to us gave us the peace of mind we wanted. As others have Posted this is over 90 minutes from the ship. You will do a lot of walking. We joined Italy tour sharing or Rome and Naples, 8 pax, highly recommend them. Try not to stress, you will have a fantastic time.

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Posted (edited)

Hi, and welcome to Cruise Critic,

 

You mentioned Tui.

Can I presume that this is Marella cruise line ? - there are a couple of German cruise lines that also sail under the Tui banner.

 

Marella (formerly Thomson) tend to use off-beat ports, away from the same-old same-old ports, so it's difficult finding info..

 

I'd never heard of  Marina di Carrara - for Pisa or Florence most ships port at Livorno or La Spezia. 

There are direct trains to Pisa Centrale approx every 45 minutes from Carrara-Avenza station, which is about a mile & a half from the port. That's a walk of about 30 minutes or a taxi or bus ride, but I don't know about the availability of taxis or buses.

From Pisa Centrale it's a pleasant walk of about 20 minutes to the Field of Miracles (leaning tower etc).

For Florence it's a train to Pisa Centrale, then a change to a train to Florence S.M. - total journey time of about 2 hours depending on connection times. Florence S M station is very handy for the historic city centre.

Train tickets to Florence permit you to break your journey at Pisa, so if you want to visit both, buy through tickets to Florence. That said, it's a rush to visit both from Livorno port - so even more rushed from Marina di Carrara, and perhaps impossible, depending on your ship's time in port.

Train fare is €5 to Pisa, or €10,95 to Florence. You can buy return tickets, but for the life of me I can't see how to find return fares on Trenitalia's website.

BTW, that website isn't user-friendly. For instance, if you mis-spell a station - say Carrera-Avenza instead of Carrara-Avenza - it won't guess what you mean, it'll just say "no station found".

https://gb.trenitalia.it-inter.com/

I think I'd suggest either the train for Pisa, or ship's excursion for Florence.

 

St Tropez is an hour by road from Saint-Raphael (no rail service), a great deal of it scenic if you take the D559 coast road.

Consider a car & driver, or a rented car.

But do you have a particular reason for visiting St Tropez? It was the "in" place 40 years ago, but now it's just pleasant but over-priced.

Consider instead the coastal train service to Cannes (half-hour), or Antibes (40 mins) or Nice (under an hour) or Monte Carlo (under 2 hrs,).

The French rail website is much more user-friendly

https://www.sncf.com/en

The station, Saint-Raphaël Valescure, is a five minute walk from the harbour. 

But the harbour's way too small for a cruise ship - is this a tendered port?

 

For Pompeii there's a half-hourly train service from Salerno to Torre Annunziata Centrale.

Now it's back to that awful Trenitalia site. :classic_wacko: 

Torre Annunziata Centrale station is something over a mile from Pompeii, and I know there's a station (Pompeii Scavi) right by the site but that awful website won't recognise either it or the station a few minutes further on (Ercolano Scavi) for Herculaneum. Those stations are on the Circumvesuviana line, perhaps operated by a different organisation.

I suggest you ask on the Italy ports page https://boards.cruisecritic.co.uk/forum/464-italy-ports/

 

Sorry to sound downbeat, but I doubt you'll get any joy on the RollCall for your cruise. 

They're used mainly by Americans/Canadians, we Brts don't seem to bother much with RollCalls.

But you could check it out via https://boards.cruisecritic.co.uk/forum/660-marella-cruises-roll-calls-formerly-thomson/

(they're not in chronological order, so scroll through them looking for your ship & sailing date.)

 

Tough ports to suss-out, hope this helps

 

JB :classic_smile:

 

 

 

Edited by John Bull

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Posted (edited)

I am not on FB, but wife is. It was set up by someone on our cruise not RCL. Like their own Roll Call I guess. After several Roll Call members commented about the activity there she joined. They set a meet and mingle for first day at schooners bar, unfortunately we missed it. We did meet several people on the excursions though. Hope this helps, and good luck. 

Edited by No Bananas
Mis spelling

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Posted (edited)

We have these port stops on our cruise on Discovery 2 in July this year. Marella have added smaller ports to this cruise an earlier one uses Naples instead of Salerno. We have booked the full Pompeii & Herculaneum with the ship so more expensive but as a chance to visit here swayed the whole cruise so bit the bullet. Saint Raphael is a tender stop. Normally organised excursions from the ship are first to depart the tenders are then open to independent travellers. We are having a lazy day here. We've been to Monte Carlo and St Tropez doesn't hold any interest I'm afraid so can't help with that one.

Our first cruise we did Florence and Pisa in one and saw the main sights but all from the outside. Outside the Duomo crowds build up and it was like it all day high season it will be crowded so that adds to time pressure on a visit. They do a Florence on your own that may be ok for you . I don't know how much local transport will be around in Marina Di Carrara it looks a more industrial port.

One point for you it is a very port intensive cruise. Are you on board 14 days if so only 2 sea days it can be a lot to take in so factor that in as well.

 

 

Edited by Malleykatt
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Posted (edited)

It is important to know that when traveling in Europe, on the off chance you manage to miss your ship, it is usually but a swift train ride away to catch up with it - just have money for a hotel and meals with you!  In fact some cruisers purposefully miss their ship in the Med and rejoin at other ports so they can see more. If you want to do that, please make sure your cruise ship knows about it!  So don't be afraid to go out on your own or use a private tour guide/driver.  We have done it dozens of times and have never been late getting back to the ship.  On your own, wear a watch and make sure you get on the train to get back to your ship with at least 1 hour to spare before departure and you will almost never have a problem.  So if you ship will depart at 5pm be certain to be back by 4pm.  

 

For Marina de Carraro, the cheapest option is to walk or take a taxi to the Carrara-Avenza train station and then take a train to either Pisa (Pisa Centrale train station) or Florence (Firenze S.M. Novella train station).  Direct train to Pisa is 1 hour each way.  Direct train to Florence is well over 2 hours each way.   Another option to consider would be to hire a private driver to take you to Tuscan Hill Towns. A lot of people go to the Academia in Florence and don't get to see much of Florence.  Carefully consider what interests you most.  This guy is great for tours of these areas: https://alessandrocammilli.wordpress.com

 

Saint Raphael:  Honestly, I would make this a beach day and relax on the gorgeous beach, have a wander about town. There is no need to schedule every single day of your Med cruise!  Med cruises are so port intensive I'm sure your body will appreciate you taking a day to relax!  Here are the things to do in Saint Raphael: https://www.shuttledirect.com/blog/saint-raphael-shore-excursions/

 

Salerno - Be sure to go to Pompeii early in the morning when it is least crowded and not steamy hot and crowded with day trippers!  We got in and out before most cruise ship tours began to arrive!  We had plenty of time to go to Positano and Sorrento (highly recommend these towns).  https://www.joebananalimos.net/shore-excursions/shore-excursions-from-salerno

 

If you feel you need a walking tour guide once your reach wherever you want to tour this company is great and your guide will meet you at the train station and take you back to the train station at the end of the day and make sure you get on the right train: https://www.througheternity.com.  Prices are very reasonable.

 

  

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

Edited by SuiteTraveler

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OP is a 1st time cruiser and I would suggest that a more relaxing cruise experience can be had if one just spends a bit extra for the peace of mind and security that most cruise excursions bring.

 

When the OP gets a few cruises down, and is familiar with ports of call, he can venture out independently.

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