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Snorkeller
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Joined: 05/06/04
Posts: 1038
Loc: Virginia
Re: Med Cruising questions [Re: sxmsandbum]
      #1599945 - 07/24/14 01:04 PM (108.4.121.156)

If I were in your shoes: I would check itineraries for any difference in what I liked and wanted to see, get square footage of cabin and balcony for each cabin, find out exactly what kind of obstruction it is on Equinox, check what lead entertainment (like a speicific broadway show - shortened for ship of course) will be on different ships at time and decide how much of plus or minus the entertainment is, decide what access to spa is worth if anything, and then call Bonnie. As I said before, I think you can have a great first cruise on any of these ships.

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PelicanPirate
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Joined: 08/03/12
Posts: 682
Re: Med Cruising questions [Re: sxmsandbum]
      #1600272 - 07/26/14 09:49 PM (107.9.16.124)

We have taken Princess' 12day Grand Mediterranean route twice from Venice to Barcelona with 8 stops in Athens, Kusadasi (Ephesus), Istanbul, Mykonos, Naples (Pompeii), Rome, Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Monte Carlo or Marseille. So 10 cities in 12 days. First trip we took ship shore excursions. Second trip with new companions we saved countless dollars using taxis, trains, buses, subway. We did extensive research on cruise critic and some super people left bread crumbs in each stop to follow. You can buy tickets to the Vatican and Istanbul sites online in advance that allow you to skip the lines and walk in. That cost over a thousand dollars via the cruise line. I agree NCL is a downer food wise and service wise. You are better with the other two and Princess.

First trip bought air through cruise line. Second time direct with airline. More itinerary choices direct. Only advantage is if you are red eyeing in straight to the boat they guarantee you next stop protection if plane delayed. We did that first time. Second time we came a day early and stayed at hotel 1 night on both ends.

This cruise is a real bucket list checker and you will need another vacation afterwards..........but you see nearly all of Southern Europe in one unpacking of your suitcase. We are doing it again within the next two years.

--------------------
Just the other night I was sleeping under a bridge and now here I am on the grandest ship in the world having champagne with you fine people.
Jack Dawson - Movie Titanic


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sxmsandbum
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Joined: 01/26/05
Posts: 1229
Re: Med Cruising questions [Re: PelicanPirate]
      #1636457 - 03/06/15 04:06 PM (70.178.7.211)

Thanks for all your input...so far here is our deal and a few more questions. We are on NCl Epic balcony mini suite. We booked our air ourselves and got a great fare for Business class with only one stop so excited about that. We are going into Rome 3 days early and will do this on our own with guide books, and the help of someone we know living there at the moment. We have one shore excursion booked through Joe Bananas and that is a small (8 people) for 2/3 the ship costs. Hotels are done on the front and back end of the trip as well. Here are my questions...

Transfers...

1.Thought about the train into Rome from airport but after lots of reviews, etc. think it is wiser to take a car or taxi transfer. Any thoughts on regular taxis? Looking at Bobs Limo for private car which is the same price.

2. What about taking shuttles to cruise ship? Looks like they might drop you off a long way from the ships...would you think it wiser to pay the money for private car that drops you at the gang plank or is there bus service to your ship if at the last spot from drop off? Could be as much as $50 extra for this and not sure worth the $.

Excursions...

1.This seems to be my biggest dilemma...Cruise ship vs on your own vs smaller company or share a tour. We are doing the smaller company share a tour in Naples. Trying to figure out Florence, Barcelona, Palma Mallorca and Cannes...any insite on those ports if you have been there? Seems like Florence you are on the bus most of the time with little free time to shop or wander around. Having not done a cruise before wondering about this. I will want to pick up some gifts, etc.

That's it for now. Seems the more I read on cruise critic and boards the info is overwhelming in some ways. Thanks in advance for any and all info.


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swg
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Joined: 10/20/03
Posts: 327
Re: Med Cruising questions [Re: sxmsandbum]
      #1636473 - 03/06/15 04:49 PM (24.152.255.246)

Sounds like a great trip.

Others will disagree, but for your first cruise in foreign countries I would suggest that you use the ship's excursions.

Yes, doing it on you own is sometimes cheaper. However, if you take the ship excursions you know that you will be back at the ship at boarding time.

On an independent excursion If you are not back by boarding time and departure, they leave without you. You must get to the next port of call on your own at your own expense.

Because you are traveling in Europe language could become a factor in negotiating times, rates, etc. if you go on your own. (Especially in countries where you need to bargain)

We have always been very independent travelers, but for a first time cruise in a foreign country where we do not speak the language we tend to play it safe on cruises and book the cruise line excursions.

Sue


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sxmsandbum
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Re: Med Cruising questions [Re: swg]
      #1636506 - 03/06/15 08:14 PM (70.178.7.211)

Thanks for the input and we were just talking about those very factors. Our first stop is Florence and we have pretty much decided that with it being our first experience at shore excursions we are going to do ship excursions there, and in Barcelona since that one is right before our day at sea and the farthest from our next port which is Naples and the end in Rome. Thinking since Cannes is right on the water we can just wander around that one on our own. We think after 3 days in Rome and then Florence an easy day of shopping, café sitting, will be just the ticket in Cannes. Not sure on Mallorca yet. Naples is our last stop on the cruise and we are doing an excursion with fellow cruisers we found on our roll call and with a tour company that is very well known and gets great reviews. We figured if we did miss it we could get back to Rome from there easier than any of the other stops. Or at least that is the game plan. Thanks for all your info. Always good to have fresh ideas as it is easy to miss something or overthink it!

Edited by sxmsandbum (03/06/15 08:17 PM)


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Snorkeller
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Joined: 05/06/04
Posts: 1038
Loc: Virginia
Re: Med Cruising questions [Re: sxmsandbum]
      #1636775 - 03/08/15 10:56 AM (108.4.44.79)

You will have a great time either way, but I want to disagree with any idea that because it is first time on cruise excusions that you need to go with ship's excursions. The risk of missing the boat because you used a company like RomeinLimo or one of the other well established reputable companies is just so small as to be ignored. These private companies understand very well that if they miss the boat with a group, their business will take a huge hit - they will not let it happen. As example, we used RomeinLimo for Livorno October 30, 2014 off Serenade - Elisabetta was our driver/guide. Her skills and the small group enabled us to see more in Pisa and Florence than any group ship excursion. Also, when heading back, she knew that we were just ahead on the road of where the bus carrying the ship's excursion was - which made her relax a little despite the fact that there had been an accident on the main highway and things were very slow. This is what these guides do for a living.

In Palma, we did not use a guide at all but got a taxi to the Castell de Bellver and then walked down to other things - including the Cathedral - only problem is getting taxi to take you to the Castle because the drivers want to sell you a complete tour and want to tell you how you simply have to have a taxi to get you down from the Castle. Palma is beautiful and we had a great time there.

I again recommend Bob's - we use Bob's even when it is more - if using Bob's is roughly the same as using a taxi, then it would be a complete no-brainer for us to use Bob's.


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sxmsandbum
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Re: Med Cruising questions [Re: Snorkeller]
      #1636780 - 03/08/15 11:25 AM (70.178.7.211)

Thanks for the input. Still exploring all options for Barcelona, Mallorca, and Florence. Using Joe Bananas for Amalfi. They get great reviews. Using Bobs for my 3 transfers. Using private car on arrival into Rome. Thinking of using the shuttle to port and from port to airport. Have you used the shuttle or only private car service with them? Wondering if private car to the ship would be better. On the return don't care shuttle is fine as we have all day. We don't fly out until the next morning. It is a lot more for the private car vs shuttle to the port and from what I am reading a lot of times you end up being the only one on it anyway.

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Snorkeller
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Posts: 1038
Loc: Virginia
Re: Med Cruising questions [Re: sxmsandbum]
      #1636818 - 03/08/15 01:33 PM (108.4.44.79)

We have only used private car service with Bob's.

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