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txspartan

DIY Excursions - Car Rental

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As an experienced cruiser in the Caribbean and Gulf planning our first Med Cruise has been an interesting learning experience, with everything to see and do it's almost like planning 6 separate trips and the cost too... headed to the Med in summer with stops planned in Livorno, Genoa, and Naples.  As i looked through the offerings from the cruise lines it seemed like picking and choosing between items that the family really wanted to do but logistically they didn't seem to far away.  I'm tempted to rent a car in port and do a truly DIY experience.  Was hoping to get some feedback on pros and cons of those who have thought of this or attempted this themselves.  Perhaps there is something I'm not thinking of when it comes to this idea.  

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One thing to be aware of is the limitations on driving in almost every city center, as well as the historic center of even small towns.  These are called ZTLs (limited traffic zones) and only residents and licensed car services are permitted to drive there.  

 

Port stops in Europe are different than the Caribbean in several ways and the availability of public transit is one of the big ones.  In many cases you can get to and from places faster using a train or boat than you could by car.

 

It all comes down to what you want to see in each place.  Get yourself a guidebook and make a list of the places you're interested in seeing in each port and we can help you understand the transportation options.

 

If you haven't selected your cruise yet pay particular attention to the port hours.  There are some lines that have unusually short port days (or even half days) which significantly impacts what you can do.

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I've been to Europe quite a few times but never had the urge to drive.  Maybe in the burbs it would be ok, but driving around the cities looks like a terrifying experience ! 

I did a W Med cruise in Sept. Wow, cruiseline excursions are sure pricey!  We used the train at most ports ; very convenient and inexpensive.  In Naples I hired a private driver to take us along the Amalfi Coast.   We could have joined one of the small group tours but we since there were 4 of us we liked the idea of having the minivan to ourselves rather than with 4 other pax. Plus we wanted to include a short ferry ride from Positano to Amalfi.  Fantastic day trip. Glad I wasn't driving .... those motorcyclists are maniacs !

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Having hired cars in Italy on fly drive holidays, we can confirm that Italian drivers are very scary and the roads around the ports you mentioned are very busy.  The trains in Italy are brilliant and I would advise to use them instead.

Livorno you can get a shuttle to the town then a bus to the train station. Plenty of trains, you can get to florence if you have a very early start but we took a train to Lucca which us a beautiful  walled  city and then stopped off at Pisa on the way back 

Naples is extremely busy so we took a bus to the station then the Circumvesuviana train to Herculaneum, this train then carries on to Pompeii and Sorrento. The train to Herculaneum was around 4 euros return. Great day out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We drive in Italy often, with out issues, but we would never drive in a major centre.  Public transport works best then, so depends where you want to go.  

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I agree with bennybear when it comes to driving in major cities (i.e. Florence, Rome, Naples).  We have been driving in Italy for decades and still do our best to avoid driving within most cities (which often means detours to avoid ZTLs and their heavy fines).  If we do drive into a city (we recently drove to Florence) it is only to go to a specific hotel or parking area (outside ZTLs).   Outside of the major cities driving is not as difficult as some would think, but having a GPS (you can always rent it) is a very good idea.  It is also wise to go online and read a few sites about parking in Italy (I could wallpaper a small room with past parking tickets).

 

The caution I often post is that most rental cars in Italy (and many other countries) have manual transmission (stick shift).  You can sometimes (not always) reserve an automatic (at higher prices) but even this is no guarantee that they will have an automatic.  We recently witnessed just such a fiasco in Kotor, Montenegro when a few American families were left without cars because  the rental car agency had no automatics and these folks had no clue how to drive a stick.

 

One other thing about Italy.  Many folks (including me) often rely on their credit card insurance coverage for CDW.  But quite a few cards EXCLUDE Italy (and Ireland) from their coverage.  If you plan on using your credit card coverage make sure to contact your credit card company and ascertain their current terms of coverage.  Also beware that if you do take the insurance offered by the rental car companies, there may be a very high deductible (we have seen 1800 Euros and higher).  Some rental car agencies will offer a zero deductible option which is a bit pricy but some would say its worth the money for peace of mind.

 

Hank

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In towns, the roads are very small.  You may want to get a smaller car than you are used to.  Finding parking may often be tricky, so use Google Maps and save Parking lot locations before you travel like you would any other destination.  We rented in Marseille port with Alamo/Enterprise, and had easy checkout/checkin for a drive to Cassis. 

 

I have read of many, many horror stories of fraudulent billing from both Hertz (experienced myself) and Sixt in Europe, so I won't rent from them at all.  They'll claim car damages weeks later, that either aren't real, or they just keep recollecting on the same damages repeatedly from drivers.  In my case, Hertz kept on sporadically billing me for months in random amounts, with zero communication or explanation.  Hertz in Europe is not the same as the US.  Just a thought of warning, you may want to consider any other company than those two.

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On 1/11/2020 at 4:21 PM, twruger said:

In towns, the roads are very small.  You may want to get a smaller car than you are used to.  Finding parking may often be tricky, so use Google Maps and save Parking lot locations before you travel like you would any other destination.  We rented in Marseille port with Alamo/Enterprise, and had easy checkout/checkin for a drive to Cassis. 

 

I have read of many, many horror stories of fraudulent billing from both Hertz (experienced myself) and Sixt in Europe, so I won't rent from them at all.  They'll claim car damages weeks later, that either aren't real, or they just keep recollecting on the same damages repeatedly from drivers.  In my case, Hertz kept on sporadically billing me for months in random amounts, with zero communication or explanation.  Hertz in Europe is not the same as the US.  Just a thought of warning, you may want to consider any other company than those two.

We have never had an issue with post rental billings but have had plenty of problems with agencies not honoring prices that are on reservations.  This usually means some delay in renting as I tend to deal with these issues before we sign on the dotted line so to speak).  When we return cars we try to get a receipt (which indicates no damage claims).  Hertz (independent franchisees) can sometimes be a hassle, especially when you rent through Autoeurope or Kemwel (rental consolidators).  There has been more then one time when we have telephoned Autoeurope/Kemwel from the rental agency office and even put their folks on the line with the rental clerk :).   Most recently, when dropping a Europcar  rental at the Civitavecchia office, the final invoice was about 70 Euros higher then our contracted rate (through Autoeurope).  It took nearly 30 minutes to get it straightened out and the Europcar office agent  had to do all kinds of manipulations to get their computer system to give us the proper price.   For some reason the Europcar system indicated completely different pricing then our reservation documents!   After renting cars in Europe for over 35 years we just consider this kind of thing business as usual :.(.

 

One helpful tip.  We love using Autoeurope or Kemwel on rentals over 3 days (they do not handle anything shorter).  The discount both Hertz and Europcar but, many times, they can also offer a reasonable rate with a Zero deductible.  Although we do have coverage through major credit cards, in Italy I will even pay a few extra Euros for a zero deductible price.  

 

Hank

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6 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

 

 

That is also what happened to us with Hertz.  Reserved at one price.  On pickup, the price had jumped.  On check-in, the price was higher again.  Then we got the sporadic random billings showing up for months later.  I won't ever  rent Hertz again in Europe.

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