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Old 01-13-2013, 03:51 AM   #16
bats
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All of the following post is from Heather (scarecrow) on the Dibb (uk version of this board). I have copied it from the Dibb, over to here for you.

Monaco as other have said is dead easy. It's a 10 min walk along the water front. You will see a large tree on your right hand side, cross the road and the station steps are hidden behind the tree. Then you are on the train for Monaco. Don't forget to validate your ticket before you board the train.

We loved Monaco. We headed straight for the palace and caught the little red train. Then after the palace we caught the bus for 1 euro each and went back to the Cafe de Paris for our rather expensive ice creams. They were €5 each and we sat in the little park in front of the hotel, not in the actual cafe. Then we got the bus back to the train station for another euro each. You'll have loads of time. I remember the issue with the trains very well I think we caught the last train into Monaco that morning and we had a long wait for it due to track failure I think.

For La Spezia, we caught the train again. It's around a 30 min walk to the train station for this port, I was with some fellow Mouseketeers and I can't remember who. But between us all we found the station. You need to head into the middle of town. Then we caught the train to the 5 villages and got on and off at different ones and walked between the first two, which I enjoyed, but Matthew did not. Moan, moan moan. I wish we had taken our swim things with us. We had pizza and gelato at various stops which he enjoyed. You buy the special card from the tourist info shop inside the main station and it includes the pass for the walk and train fare between all of the villages. We were back on the ship for around 2.00 and set off around 9.00

Rome we did on our own, with the train. Just follow the masses, we got off at St. Peter's or something like that dead easy. We arrived at around 10.30 and there were already long queues for the Vatican here. We just got on a hop on hop off bus and did our own thing.

Now my favourite trip is next. Top tip, get up early in time for the opening of the hydrofoil ticket office and go straight there. Secure your tickets for the boat you want and then you could get back on the magic to have breakfast. I wasted over 1 hour queuing for my tickets and missed the early hydrofoil. As soon as you land on Capri, go to the ticket office to buy your return tickets. If you want to leave the Island earlier than the time on your return ticket they will let you, we did this. Also if funds allow, take a taxi to the top, there are very, very long queues for the funicular and again we wasted time here. I wanted to go to Ana Capri, but we ran out of time. Capri is very expensive to eat and drink, so pre-order your room service sandwiches and fruit to take with you - top tip that Bats gave me.


Link for Ville Franche http://www.eportreviews.com/Europe/V...che_France.htm
Scroll half way down and it shows you a picture of where to catch the train to Monaco.

Naples on your own, again scroll down the page for train info
http://www.eportreviews.com/Europe/Naples_Italy.htm

Pompeii - http://www.eportreviews.com/Europe/I...iOnYourOwn.htm

Little red train in Monaco - http://www.monacotours.mc/

Italian train website - gives you a rough planning guide.
http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/inde...80 a3e90aRCRD

Ron in rome - includes photo's to help you get to Rome on the train.
http://www.roninrome.com/transportat...-civitavecchia

Here's another Rome info page, with a ton of stuff and maps, thanks to a poster on cruise critic for this. http://www.tomsportguides.com/Rome-04-10-2011.pdf

Hop on hop off bus rome http://www.city-sightseeing.com/inde...tinations=Rome

Website for tickets in Italy http://www.tickitaly.com/

A wealth of info for trains across Italy from all ports http://www.ftroute.com/IT_Schedules.cfm (Thanks to Cruise Critic for this)

Capri info (Naples) - http://www.mediterranean-cruise-port...-to-capri.html
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Old 01-13-2013, 03:52 AM   #17
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And this info from K8T of the Dibb ...

Rome also simple, so many people do it, it is like a DIY excursion!! Just follow everyone and make sure there is a train after your planned return train, just in case - but my thoughts are that at the worse we would get a cab!!!! (hopefully not though, I dread to think the cost!.

Pompeii is easy on the train, but I would suggest a taxi to the train station, as the walk along the busy roads is horrid (we did it once!). There is a bus outside the gates of the cruise dock, but we missed this last time - However, we still got on another bus further along. Check out Cruise Critic site for lots of help on DIY trips.

You can also do the Vesuvius trip on your own. We combined this with Herculaneum and have done it twice now. Get on the train from Naples to Ercolano. You need to get on the Circumvesuviana line, which is down below the main station - well signposted and trains are every 20 - 30 minutes. It is quite quick and before the Pompeii stop.

When you get off the train, look to your left (you are in a dead end street) and you will see an office selling trips up Vesuvius in a Minibus. These leave every 20 mins, or depending on how many people there are. They take you to the bottom of the walk up and wait until you come back down. It takes about 45 mins to get up - although we had a 3 year old the first time and a 6 year old the second!!! It is quicker to get down! Make sure you wear trainers or shoes which are enclosed as the gravel and rock gets into sandals. It can be chilly at the top too.

When we got back to the minibus, we had time for a quick icecream and they dropped us off at the entrance to Herculaneum, from which we walked back up (about 10 mins max), to the train station to go back to Naples. Herculaneum is actually a lot smaller and easier to understand as a town than Pompeii.
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Old 01-13-2013, 08:12 AM   #18
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Just wanted to be part of this thread because ofall the great info. We are planning to go on a med cruise in 2014.
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Old 01-13-2013, 08:53 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynda Silk
Just wanted to be part of this thread because ofall the great info. We are planning to go on a med cruise in 2014.
If there is one!!!
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Old 01-13-2013, 09:48 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bats View Post
Doing DCL tours in Rome will be busier than doing a private tour. Why would you think it would be different? They go to the same places and have to queue the same with everyone else!

I would opt for the private tour every day. As I said in my previous post ... The DCL buses were not allowed inside the city walls so everyone got dropped off outside and had to walk in. Each stop was about a 10 min walk apparently .. Walking in 100 degrees with children ..no thanks!
Sorry, I wasn't clear. My other family members want to see EVERYTHING. We are ok with seeing just what is on one excursion rather than trying to combine three excursions . So they will be racing around trying to fit absolutely every possible sight in. That's what I meant. I know we'll be busy on a Disney excursion, or by ourselves, but I'm not sure we want to join my family on their private excursions as I worry that it will be too much. My eight year olds can walk with no trouble, but if we have 27 different things to fit into eight hours and we need to race between them, then I don't think my kids will enjoy that. Better to have fewer things and come back at another date to see more.
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Old 01-13-2013, 09:54 AM   #21
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One guide book recommendation: Rick Steves' Mediterranean Cruise Ports: http://www.amazon.com/Rick-Steves-Me...n+cruise+ports
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Old 01-13-2013, 09:56 AM   #22
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One guide book recommendation: Rick Steves' Mediterranean Cruise Ports: http://www.amazon.com/Rick-Steves-Me...n+cruise+ports
We have that one, it's . I second the recommendation.
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Old 01-13-2013, 10:23 AM   #23
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If you are taking the train to Pompeii, on the way back, make a stop at the Herculaneum. So worth it. So glad we did

It's easy, and right on the way.

Last edited by tajz90; 01-13-2013 at 09:09 PM.
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Old 01-13-2013, 10:25 AM   #24
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One thing I would like to suggest if you are doing private drivers for some of the ports. Add a licensed tour guide, not for the whole day but for some sites. Many are easy to do on your own but we found having a tour guide for the Colosseum and one for Pompeii was so worth it. The guides just totally engaged our kids and made the history of those places come alive. The company you use for your private driver should be able to arrange tour guides for you as well.
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Old 01-13-2013, 12:34 PM   #25
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BATS---thank you so much for taking the time to post all of that information. I really really appreciate it (esp the copy and paste from the Dibb).

And the best tip of all is that Disney buses don't make it w/in the city of Rome.
We tentatively have a minivan scheduled to pick us up to take us into the City, and for a local to take us around using the subway system. I've done this myself w/my husband, but I didn't know if our group of the young and old can take it.

If Disney's buses can't go inside Rome...how do the Disney excursion people get from 1 sight to another?

Also thanks to everyone else's suggestions as well. Lots of information to process. We are going to buy the Rick Steve's cruise port book. I just take issue with his bad handrawn looking maps (we actually used his Rome book a few years back in 2006 and got terribly lost from the maps) so I was hesitant.
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Old 01-13-2013, 01:31 PM   #26
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Thanks for all the great info

Thanks for all of this great info. I was starting to feel overwhelmed with all of the options and not knowing what to do and was considering just booking all DCL excursions so I didn't have to figure this all out on my own. But all this advice makes me feel like we could do it on our own if we ant which will surely save us some money and allow us to see what we want to see.
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Old 01-13-2013, 09:04 PM   #27
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I posted this before, but it seemed appropriate to this thread.

Please note: a lot of people last time chimed in about my suggestion to purchase Euros in advance from Wells Fargo. Some have done that and their credit card considered it a cash advance. My card did not. Other people like the exchange rate at their local bank or AAA. I personally found Wells Fargo's rate, readily available online, to be better than my bank or AAA. ATM's in Europe are another great way to go: very good exchange rate. I like having local currency when I land, so I do it my way, but any of the above mentioned ways are valid.


Disney Mediterranean Cruise: One Family’s Adventure

In August, 2010 my wife and our daughters, ages 12 and 10, went on an eleven night Disney Mediterranean cruise. We enjoyed it very much. I created this brief guide to help our friends who were considering going on the same cruise. Because one couple has never been to Europe nor on a Disney cruise, the introduction provides general information. The remaining pages provide some information about each port

Traveling to Europe: Before You Go:


Passports, valid for 6 months after your trip to Europe.
Make multiple copies of your passports. Take one or two copies on the trip, leave a copy at work, and leave another copy with relatives and/or friends.

Euros. Purchase ahead of time at www.wellsfargo .com. Free shipping on orders of $1000 USD or more.
You will use more than $1000 worth of Euros.

Rick Steves Guides to Naples, Rome, Florence, Barcelona. Rome is the most important guide. Read it now.
Download Rick Steves Audio Guides for iPods.

Purchase tickets to the Vatican Museums at http://mv.vatican.va/3_EN/pages/MV_Home.html
Google search will yield third party vendors and the official Vatican site. Use the official site.
Purchase tickets for 4:00. Gives you time to see other sites and then tour Vatican.
You can show up early for your tour, but not late. We were admitted 2.5 hours before the start of our tour.

Arrive in Barcelona two or three days before your cruise.
1. Barcelona is a fantastic city. Stephanie and the girls spent a total of 5 days touring Barcelona, and there are still a couple of things we would like to see there.
2. You will be over your jet lag when you board the ship.
3. If your flight is delayed or cancelled, you can still reach Barcelona before the ship sails.

Pickpockets!
Pickpockets are rampant in Europe, especially Barcelona and Italy. Take nothing of extreme sentimental value. Watch all belongings at all times. Consider decoy wallets. I strongly suggest you wear travel socks that have a pocket or that you wear an ankle wallet.

Consider a Capital One credit card. This card does not charge an additional foreign exchange fee and is well worth having.

“Free refills” do not exist in Europe. Soda costs a lot, and each one costs separately.

Water fountains flow constantly throughout Rome. They provide safe drinkable water. Walk up, fill your water bottle, then cover the spout to force water out the top hole and take a drink.

The Disney Magic is an American ship. Yes, it was built in Italy and it is registered in the Bahamas, but it is ours. Why is that important? It uses standard American electric outlets! Take all the electric gadgets you want.

Consider walkie-talkies, especially if not everyone has a cell phone that works in Europe. They can also be useful onboard.

A GPS with preloaded map of Italy might be useful, but city maps of Naples, Rome, Pisa, and Florence should do the trick. We had none of these, but maps were easy to grab at the tourist offices near every train station.

Barcelona, Spain:
Sites galore! Consider a bicycle tour your first day there. It is a great introduction to the city, and the exercise will help you adjust to the time difference. My wife and the girls used “Fat Tire Tours.”

The subway system is easy to use. Take the subway everywhere, including to the beach for swimming and people watching.

Las Ramblas is the action street. When night arrives, the street performers, caricature painters, portrait makers, trinket sellers, and other vendors all flock to Las Ramblas, followed by the pickpockets.

The book “1000 Places to See Before You Die” lists three spots in Barcelona:
Catalan National Art Museum. Housed in Palau Nacional, it has entire portions of churches moved to this museum to display the Romanesque and Gothic paintings.

La Sagrada Familia. We only viewed the outside, as the crowds are insane.

Museu Picasso. Intimate and nice. Try to visit the galleries in chronological order of his life.

Tapas is not indigenous to the area, but several tapas places exist and offer good food. Paella is a good option. Irish pubs abound, especially between the subway and the beach.

Villefranche, France

The train is right here, and it is your easy gateway to Monte Carlo in Monaco and Nice and Cannes in France. We spent the morning walking around Monte Carlo and the afternoon in Nice. Consider taking your swimsuits to jump in the water at the beach in Nice. The Cote d’Azur truly is more blue than you can imagine!

La Spezia, Italy. Gateway to Cinque Terre, Pisa, and Florence:

After you purchase your train ticket, you MUST TIME AND DATE STAMP it in one of the nondescript little yellow machines. A train ticket in Italy is like a subway ticket: you can purchase it now and use it whenever. To prevent people from using the same ticket over and over, you are required to time and date stamp it before you board the train. If they check your ticket on the train and you have not stamped it, you will be fined $50 per person. Ignorance of the rule will not save you.

TIME AND DATE STAMP YOUR TICKET! See above.

Today is a long train ride to Pisa or Florence, or you can choose to take a much shorter ride to the Cinque Terre. We visited Pisa. A few weeks later, my wife and I had the opportunity to tour Florence and the Cinque Terre. If I were to choose again for the Disney Cruise, I would again choose Pisa. It was manageable in a day and the kids loved it. Florence has a lot of art, but I think perhaps overwhelming to see it and Rome back to back.

Cinque Terre:
The Cinque Terre, or “Five lands,” are five picturesque seaside villages joined by train and by hiking trail. The hike from the northernmost town to the next town is very strenuous and sometimes tenuous. I do not suggest it for kids under 8, although I am sure it has been done by hardy toddlers. Each town is beautiful. Kids would likely be bored. Also, the authorities shut down the hiking trails on rainy days and for a couple days after rain, for fear of landslides.

Pisa:


Disparaged by many, but not by me. All of the important things to see are in the Piazza Miracoli, or Square of Miracles. The Leaning Tower, the Cathedral, and the Baptistery are all here. When you reach Pisa’s train station, walk or get a cab to the Piazza Miracoli. If you need to find a restaurant for lunch, go right ahead. As the family sits down, send dad to the Piazza to purchase tickets. Dad, stand with your back to the Leaning Tower and the back of the Cathedral immediately to your left. You are staring at a long wall of a one story brick building with several doors. One of these doors is the ticket office. Go over and buy tickets for three attractions: The Leaning Tower, the Cathedral, and Baptistery. Your ticket for the tower will be valid for a precise time, which you can choose. Probably the first choice is an hour or two from now. Choose a Leaning Tower entry two hours from now, and then rejoin your family for lunch.

This is Italy, so lunch just took you one and a half hours. Hustle everyone to the Leaning Tower and wind your way to the top. Then back down. Visit the cathedral and the baptistery.

Florence:
So much to see and do here, it would be very hard to do it justice on a day that was bookended by two hour train rides. Still, you can visit the Uffizi Museum, which houses Boticelli’s “Birth of Venus” and thousands of other paintings, and the Galleria dell’ Accademia, which houses Michelangelo’s “David.” The architecture is amazing, the food is marvelous. Grab a taxi and go across the river to “Olio et Convivium” for lunch. Walk back across the Arno river via the Ponte Vecchio, or “Old Bridge” and marvel at the jewelry shops on the bridge.

After visiting Pisa or Florence or both, head back to the ship. Or don't. (What??) Well, you can take the long train ride back to the ship, or you can spend some more time in Florence and let the Magic sail off without you. Enjoy dinner at a nice restaurant, see some more sights, and catch a late train to Rome. Sleep in a hotel in Rome, then wake up ready to see the city.

The train from Florence to the ship takes two hours, and you have to be back to the ship by 7:30, which means you need to be leaving Florence by 4:30 to play things safe. Then tomorrow, in Rome, you will dock at 7 am, so after getting to the train station, waiting for a train, and riding into Rome, you will reach the city at 9:00 am.

Your alternative is to stay in Florence late, perhaps until 8 pm. Then catch a two hour train to Rome. Check into a hotel, see a couple fountains in the evening (beautiful), and get a good night's sleep. Wake at 8 am, and be touring the city by 8:30.

NOTE: you must warn Disney if you plan to spend the night off the boat. They will not be pleased if you don't tell them. They are perfectly happy to let you spend the night off the ship if you do tell them in advance.


Rome, Italy:

Today is the day. Get your game on. Eat breakfast early, get off the ship, run to the train, and try to stay calm as you take the 60 minute ride to Rome.

After you purchase your train ticket, you MUST TIME AND DATE STAMP it in one of the nondescript little yellow machines. A train ticket in Italy is like a subway ticket: you can purchase it now and use it whenever. To prevent people from using the same ticket over and over, you are required to time and date stamp it before you board the train. If they check your ticket on the train and you have not stamped it, you will be fined $50 per person. Ignorance of the rule will not save you.

TIME AND DATE STAMP YOUR TICKET! See above.

Review your Rick Steves guide to Rome as you ride the train. You should have this almost memorized by now, but read it again anyway.

Make sure you have your tickets to the Vatican. You are one sad puppy if you left those on the ship.

Tour the Forum and the Coliseum. Start at the Forum, where lines are short. The ticket for the Forum is also your ticket to the Coliseum, so you will avoid an hour or two line to purchase tickets at the Coliseum. Only fools go straight to the Coliseum and line up for tickets. Enjoy listening to your iPod’s Rick Steves guide to the forum.

Now tour the Coliseum.

Walk to the Pantheon, which is amazing, beautiful, and free. Signs to the Pantheon are poor, but signs to McDonald’s Pantheon will guide you well enough. Don’t forget to walk all around the outside of the Pantheon. Find the obelisk elephant just behind and off to the side of the Pantheon. Note the plaques on the church wall behind the elephant: these mark the high water level of past floods.

Have lunch at McDonalds Pantheon or walk on to Trevi Fountain, then to Spanish Steps and have lunch at McDonald’s Spanish Steps. Marvel at the leather couches and chairs in McDonald’s Spanish Steps.

Seriously, have lunch at McDonalds. You have a LOT to see today. Sitting at ANY table service restaurant will eat an hour and a half to two hours of your precious time. Even though McDonald’s will be overflowing with people and huge lines, you can get your food, eat, and be out in 45 minutes.

Get to the Vatican.

Start your day at the Vatican at the Museum. You will see a huge line of people. The line will stretch over a city block. Walk confidently past the line to the very entrance to the museum. Find the tiny line for well-informed people like you. Walk up to the guard, show your tickets, and enter the museum.

At the Sistine Chapel, try cutting down the door in back that goes to St. Peter’s Basilica. As noted in Rick Steves Guide, this will save you hours of time and avoid another security checkpoint. Well worth doing.

After touring St. Peters, leave via the front entrance. If you duck over towards the right of the entrance, right as you face the cathedral, you might be able to find the little alley/outside hallway that leads to a ticket booth to go up into the dome. An elevator ride takes you to the roof of St. Peter’s. Enter the dome, and walk around the inside balcony. As you step out of the dome, notice the door to your right. Enter that door and climb the stairs. Keep climbing. Climb some more, even though the walls are leaning. Climb until you find yourself outside the Basilica on the very top of the dome. What a view of Rome! Make your way back down to the piazza in front of St. Peters. In the piazza, you will walk right by the Vatican post office. Stop in and purchase a post card and a stamp and mail yourself a souvenir.

Walk to the nearby train station and grab a train back to Civitavecchia, your port city.

TIME AND DATE STAMP YOUR TICKET.

Naples, Italy:

Choices include Herculaneum, Pompeii, Mt. Vesuvius, and the island of Capri. How can you not choose to visit Mt. Vesuvius and Pompeii? We took the Disney excursion to Vesuvius and Pompeii. We had a blast, and our pizza lunch was great.

Remember, Naples is the birthplace of pizza.

Valletta, Malta:

The Disney Magic docks right by the capital city, Valletta ; it is about a half mile walk to the center of town.

Even closer is a hop-on, hop-off tour bus that visits the Tarxien Temples, the Blue Grotto, and Hagar Qim.

I suggest skipping the Tarxien Temples. They were quite a walk from the bus stop and the two temple complexes at Hagar Qim are more impressive. Also, this will permit you to get back to Valletta in time to see the Cathedral, which closes at 4:00.

Take the hop-on, hop-off tour bus, visit the Blue Grotto and Hagar Qim, then walk around Valletta.

Enjoy your last day at sea as you head back to Barcelona.
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Old 01-13-2013, 09:53 PM   #28
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Four Swampers--your advice is spot on and hilarious. We've been to Europe (incl Rome) a few times and the way you write directions about attractions is exactly how I give directions (via email) to friends who have never been. Your Rome write up is seriously great and right on.

OK now on to Wells Fargo---do you purchase Euros here via credit card, or by cash? I'm not sure if my CC will consider it a cash advance, but I don't mind just using cash to exchange it. I am a Wells Fargo customer anyway, do they charge a transaction fee?

Nice & Monaco---how easy/hard was this to do yourselves? We speak a bit of french and so its more a logistical/convenience issue for us. We will have the old and the very young with us. What happens when you get to the Nice station. Get off and wander around? When you get to the station at Monaco, are there steep hills to climb before getting to Monaco's city center? I thought I read that in a review somewhere. With our young/old, this will be hard to do (the hills).

Pisa--awesome advice about the ticket office. We are planning on doing Pisa ourselves. How long a line was it? Any shortcut lines (like behind the building). How long a line is it to climb the tower? How far is the Pisa station from the tower itself? Worth a cab ride for the young/old?

Thanks!
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Old 01-13-2013, 10:07 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilpooh108 View Post
OK now on to Wells Fargo---do you purchase Euros here via credit card, or by cash? I'm not sure if my CC will consider it a cash advance, but I don't mind just using cash to exchange it. I am a Wells Fargo customer anyway, do they charge a transaction fee?

Nice & Monaco---how easy/hard was this to do yourselves? We speak a bit of french and so its more a logistical/convenience issue for us. We will have the old and the very young with us. What happens when you get to the Nice station. Get off and wander around? When you get to the station at Monaco, are there steep hills to climb before getting to Monaco's city center? I thought I read that in a review somewhere. With our young/old, this will be hard to do (the hills).

Pisa--awesome advice about the ticket office. We are planning on doing Pisa ourselves. How long a line was it? Any shortcut lines (like behind the building). How long a line is it to climb the tower? How far is the Pisa station from the tower itself? Worth a cab ride for the young/old?

Thanks!
For Wells Fargo, I purchase online with a credit card. There is no Wells Fargo in my city. If you buy $1000 dollars worth of foreign currency, they ship it for free. I can't remember if there was a fee, but that suggests it would have been a very small one. If you have a Wells branch, it would be worth stopping in and talking with them, especially since you are a customer.

You can find a lot of information about foreign currency exchange with Wells at their website: https://www.wellsfargo.com/foreignexchange/


Nice/Monaco: Very easy to do on your own. The train (think more of a commuter train or a subway on the surface) is right at the port. Go west a couple stops, you are in Monaco. Go east a couple stops, you are in Nice. In both places, we just walked around and found stuff as we went. Getting a guide book for these spots would put you well ahead of us.

Monaco is very hilly throughout. It is kind of built on a hillside. Think San Francisco.

Pisa: No tricks for shorter lines. The Leaning Tower ticket is timed, so that line will be short. It is the wait from when you purchase your ticket to when you can use it that might be long. Think FastPass for Toy Story Mania. That is why you want to get right to the ticket office, buy your tickets, then grab a bite to eat and/or see the Cathedral and Baptistry while you wait for your Leaning Tower FastP, I mean ticket, to be valid.

We walked from the train station to the Piazza Miracoli with the Leaning Tower, etc, but the walk was pretty long. Probably about a half hour, if I remember correctly (I might not, as that was 2.5 years ago). I think a cab would be a much more efficient use of time.

Which cruise are you doing? We are doing the June 15th Athens cruise.
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Old 01-13-2013, 10:30 PM   #30
ruadisneyfan2
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I'm glad you started this thread! It seems like there are so few Med threads, it's hard to get much response.

We're booked for the 8/17 7-nt Med cruise. It's the most amount of time from work I can miss. We just booked between Christmas & New Years and I think we got a lot done. It will be my family of 4 and my parents.

Our airfare is booked. Got non-stops from Philly to BCN on USAirways. 3 out of 4 seats are booked with miles. We fly Wed evening and sail that Saturday so we'll have 2 nights in Barcelona.

I booked our hotel. We'll be staying at the Hispanos 7 Suiza.
http://www.hispanos7suiza.com/photogallery/index.html
It's an condo/apartment style hotel about 2 blocks from Sagrada Familia. 230E for a 2br/2ba with LR, Kitchen, W/D, & free wifi. Not only does it sleep 4, but our kids will have their own bedroom and so does dh & I. It's not cheap but I much prefer this over having 2 non-connecting hotel rooms. Having a washer/dryer means we won't be dragging 3 days worth of dirty clothes for 4 of us onto the ship. 190E for a 1BR. This is a prepaid rate. It gets great reviews on TripAdvisor.
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Rev...Catalonia.html

The hotel offers port/airport transfers. It's 75E for 6 of us from BCN to hotel then 55E from hotel to port. I got a 2nd price from Barcelona Day Tours and they wanted 79E for each transfer.
http://www.barcelonadaytours.com/
I guess the hotel's price isn't so bad. There's no way we'd all fit in a taxi, or even 2. I've heard their taxis are very small by US standards.
We'll probably use Barcelona Day Tours for our city tour the day before we sail.



For Villefranche we'll be using up some OBCs by doing a DCL excursion visiting Monaco, the palace & the prince's personal car collection. I really don't care where we go at this port and ds12 will enjoy this. He may get bored later on so this one's for him.

I can't recall where it was recommended to me but someone gave me www.RomeInLimo.com for touring in Italy.
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractio...ome_Lazio.html

It's a bargain compared to DCL excursions for a family of 4 and being able to share the cost makes it even easier. We plan to hire a separate guide for the Vatican & Pompeii. Now I'm thinking mabye the Coliseum too.

I like the idea of going at our own pace, seeing what we want to see, being able to linger when we like or skip the things that don't interest us.
I don't feel like navigating & dealing with train stations with the stress of having just one day.

Here are our planned tours:
Pisa & Florence:
http://www.romeinlimo.com/la-spezia/...d-florence.htm
Rome:
http://www.romeinlimo.com/rome-civit...highlights.htm
Pompeii, Sorrento & Capri:
http://www.romeinlimo.com/naples/pom...ento-capri.htm

It will be a jam-packed 3 days!!


I'd like add another vote for Rick Steves book. I bought it last year when I first booked but then had to cancel.
IIRC, I read somewhere in the book that walkie-talkies are illegal in either Italy or all of Europe. Something about them using being fine in the US but over there the walkie talkies use emergency channels. I plan to add international service from AT&T before we leave.

I do have some questions:
1. I hear so much about don't bother bringing Euros from the US as ATMs are so easily available throughout Europe. I also read someone saying their sister in law had a problem getting cash at ATMs because her card did not have raised numbers on it. Well, ours don't either. So while I could use it as a visa card too, I'm not 100% convinced I'll be able to get cash anywhere. This worries me.
I'm considering getting this:

Card FAQs:
http://www.aaa.com/AAA/FinancialSvcs...l_Card_FAQ.pdf

Has anyone used one of these?
Are most ATMs in Europe Visa-branded?

2. Have any past DCL Med cruisers taken the DCL transfers back to BCN? Do you know if they will offer Onboard Airline Check In? I'm doubtful since it's international travel but I'm still hoping. Our flight home is at 10:45am the day of debarkation so we need to get to BCN quickly and think DCL transfer will be our best bet.

So now we just need to book our tours, pay off the cruise in April and we're all set! Maybe buy some new clothes. Sounds simple right?
Pretty soon, my checkbook will be hemorrhaging.
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