Med Cruisers...Let's Discuss Planning!(Updated Tour Info, Links & BCN Info on Page 1)

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Forum' started by lilpooh108, Jan 12, 2013.

  1. Sir William

    Sir William DIS Veteran

    Aug 8, 2010

    We're on the same cruise. It's DS's college graduation gift and he needs the year to decide what he wants to see and do. I've been to Rome and Naples (courtesy of Uncle Sam) but it'll be my family's first visit. Consequently, I'm glad to have found this thread.
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  3. lilpooh108

    lilpooh108 DIS Veteran

    Apr 17, 2010
    Do you remember if there were taxis waiting at the Civitavecchia station on your way back?

    My daughters will definitely all asleep on the train ride back, and we're thinking of cabbing it back from the train station to the dock (past the port entrance). It seems too much trouble to get to the port, then wait for a shuttle. Thanks.

    Also, how do you use the BIRG tix for the metro? I've only bought metro tix (a million years ago, I think we got day cards). Do you just go through the turnstiles and slip the ticket in? Or do you have to show the tix to someone? I can't for the life of me remember how Rome metro turnstiles work... thanks!
  4. MichelleVW

    MichelleVW <font color=green>I call them "the people that liv

    Dec 13, 2005
    Awesome!! My DD is graduating from college too but we are leaving her at home!! She's been to Italy before visiting her dad wage he was stationed in Germany so I've been talking to her about what we should do while we are there.
  5. abayaflowers

    abayaflowers DIS Veteran

    Jun 18, 2008
    Yes, there were taxis, but that was in 2010. I am not sure if they have as many available and waiting at the train station.

    By the way, my DD7 (at that time) slept on the train ride back. Howeer, I had to give her a piggy back to the front of the port where the buses were waiting.

    As for the BIRG tickets, they are similar to the other tickets. It is important to stamp/validate the tickets in the Yellow ticket machine before getting on the train. The penalty for this is 50euros.

    On the bus and metro, you will need to put it through the machine.

    Just remember to have all your children use the restroom before entering the train. I don't remember any facilities on board the train that we rode back.

    I hope this helps.
  6. meajuly5

    meajuly5 DIS Veteran

    Nov 9, 2012
    If you are looking to save money, Venice isn't hard to navigate on your own. You can take a water taxi to Murano to watch glass blowing and look through the glass shops, spend time in st marks square, go to doge's palace ( they have multiple free tours), tour st marks, climb the campanile for beautiful views, catch a gondola ride and walk to the Rialto to see done of the famous bridges and shop. Water taxis are cheap and great sight seeing your. It's a fun city to wander and get lost in
  7. nzdisneymom

    nzdisneymom DIS Veteran

    Sep 27, 2003
    The excursions for Venice and Dubrovnik have posted!
  8. DL1957

    DL1957 DIS Veteran

    Feb 9, 2009
    Too bad we only have enough time/budget for Greece/Turkey. DH and I have been to Venice it is awesome!
  9. nzdisneymom

    nzdisneymom DIS Veteran

    Sep 27, 2003
    For those who will be visiting Cinque Terre, this might be helpful regarding the trails. I emailed the Cinque Terre park service and they sent this URL. has the information about the trails that are open, etc. There is an English version just click on the English flag. The red dots are the trails that are currently closed.
  10. SuzanneSLO

    SuzanneSLO DIS Veteran

    Sep 10, 1999
    Well, that doesn't look too promising. Isn't it Trail 2 that most "tourists" hike? The one that is currently completely closed? -- Suzanne
  11. SparklesofHope

    SparklesofHope Earning My Ears

    Aug 11, 2010
    Thank you for posting this. Really bummed that N.2 is closed- hoping they open up some part of it by June. I was really looking forward to the Via dell'Amore trail!
  12. rossjen2

    rossjen2 Mouseketeer

    Jan 15, 2012
    Really hoping one section or more of the No.2 trail opens before June as well! Here is a link I found for the local ferry service although it looks like we have another month or so before they release the schedules.
  13. heatherbelle

    heatherbelle DIS Veteran

    Jan 15, 2005
    Sadly I will not be on the Mickey boat this year, but I have just found this fab post on another forum. Thanks go to virtualrain for writing it.
    Having been to Rome on our own it is very easy to do.

    We recently spent a day in Rome from Civitavecchia (can anyone actually pronounce that?) and here's how you can easily avoid some lines and cover all the sights in a very effective and efficient way on your own.

    Our plan was the result of the research here on this forum and from other sources, and so is nothing original, but it is a good validation that some of the advice I found was truly beneficial.

    Getting to the train station

    This is covered well elsewhere but it's worth a recap and a few special notes.

    The ships dock in the Civitavecchia port which is extensive. Shuttle buses take you from your ship to the port entrance (near the castle). What was a bit confusing and annoying the day we got off our ship, was the fact that we were among the first off at 7:30 hoping to catch an 8AM train into Rome. However, at 7:30, the pier was a bit disorganized. There were several shuttle buses parked but it wasn't at all clear which one was leaving first. None of the bus drivers spoke a word of English and the only person on the pier from the cruise ship didn't really know what was going on either. Once a mass of people started to collect near the buses, one of them opened the door and let people aboard. Then we had to wait several minutes until the bus was full before it departed. All of this meant that we were dropped off at the port entrance about 7:55. According to my schedule there was a train to Rome at 7:59 and the next one wasn't until 8:40. I was obviously a bit concerned and annoyed that we would probably miss the 7:59 and end up on the 8:40. However, I had read that trains are notoriously late, so we double-timed it to the train station.

    From the port entrance it's a short 10 minute walk along the water front to the Train Station (5 minutes if you walk fast). When you see a road angled upward to the left, take that to get to the trainstation at the top of the road.

    Catching the train

    The train trip to Rome is well covered in many places on this forum, which I can summarize as follows:
    - Buy a BIRG ticket from the newsstand at the train terminal (or at a shop along the way). The ticket machines in the train station will have a line of people.
    - Validate your ticket using the yellow ticket box or risk a fine
    - Check the monitors for the next train leaving Civi for Rome Termini and what "Bin" or platform it's on
    - Go to that platform using the undergound tunnel
    - Wait on the platform in an area clear of crowds so you have a fighting chance of getting a seat

    If you don't know what a BIRG ticket is, that's a Rome transit ticket that costs about 9-Euro and covers your travel for the day on trains, metro, and buses. You can search the forums or web for additional information on the BIRG ticket.

    Check train times using the Trenitalia site

    Use stations Civitavecchia and Roma Ostiense (one way) for the date and approx time you desire. You will see a time table that shows the trains and the length of journey. Don't bother to buy reserve tickets online - they only work on certain trains and the BIRG is a much cheaper and better way to go.

    Some additional advice based on our experience:
    In our case, we arrived at the train station at about 8AM after double-timing it from the port. When we arrived, a train was sitting on the near platfrom... we thought we were lucky having caught the 7:59 train before it departed. Without really thinking, we quickly purchased BIRG tickets and along with several others, tried to board it. However, the conductor realized we were tourists and didn't let us on. At first we were confused and annoyed, but that caused me to check the monitors. Of course the train to Rome was not leaving on platform 1, but platform 3 and it wasn't supposed to be here for another 5 minutes. So had we got on that train, we would have ended up going the completely wrong direction. The moral of the story is, no matter how pressed for time you are, take time to check the monitors and make sure you know what platform your train is on and when it's leaving.

    Avoiding Lineups

    There are three potential line ups you will want to avoid (thanks to others who've posted similar advice in the past - it saved us a ton of time!)...

    1. Coliseum tickets: The line up for Coliseum tickets can wrap around the building. I can only imagine that by 10AM it can be an hour or more long. Don't waste time in this line. Buy your combo (forum/coliseum/palentine) ticket at the Palentine Hill ticket office which is half a block south of the Coliseum. There is absolutely no line up there.
    2. Vatican Museum tickets: The line up for the Vatican museum tickets can wrap around the Vatican wall... Again, I can't imagine how long the wait in this line is, but I would guess an hour or more. Buy your Vatican Museum tickets in advance online. I suggest picking the 2PM time slot for the day you are in port based on my walking itinerary below. Print the voucher out and take it with you. Proceed right inside without waiting in line and save valueable time.
    3. Entrance to St. Peter's Basilica: This line is to clear security for St. Peter's Basilica and it can wrap all the way around St. Peter's square. This line up is probably visible from space! Even if you don't plan on going to the Vatican Museum, but still want to see St. Peter's Basilica, I would recommend buying Vatican Museum tickets online, swallow the added cost, and in doing so, you bypass both the museum and the Basilica line. Enjoy the museum (or breeze through it if it has no interest to you) and when you get to the Sistine Chapel, use the group tour exit to land yourself in the Basilica secured area without having to wait in the security line (since you already cleared security to enter the museum). At the back end of the Sistine chapel, there is the regular tourist exit on the left and the group tour exit on the right (with your back to the altar). Take the right exit. If there is security there, just blend into one of the tour groups there to get through. You will decend a long stair case and end up at the Cupola ticket line (short) which you can join if that's on your todo list or go down to the Basilica from there.

    Walking tour - the most efficient way to see all the sights

    There are plenty of alternates to this, and you can obviously plot your own route, but this particular itinerary and route was planned with a lot of thought and consideration. The primary goal was to cover all the key sights in one day without killiing ourselves. It assumes you can get off the ship around 7:30AM and don't need to be back on board until around 8PM. You may need to cut or adjust accordingly if your ship's time in port is different.

    Besides seeing everything easily in a full day, it has a few other side benefits:
    - You won't be among the massive crowds that opt to visit the Vatican in the morning (although I'm not sure they are any better in the afternoon when several ships are in port on the same day)
    - You will avoid some walking late in the hottest part of the day when you are most tired
    - You will see all the sites that have opening hours while they are open
    - You will be able to skip the least important sights at the end of the day if you're short on time
    - You will have a seat on the train back to the port at the end of the day

    My recommended route is shown on the attached map.

    The blue line represents a rough walking route, red lines represent metro travel

    I'm not going to explain what these points of interest are. They either need no explanation or Google and Wikipedia are your friends in that regard.

    1. Start by getting off the train at Roma Ostiense station.
    2. Walk to Paramide metro station through the tunnel and ride to the next station, Circo Massimo
    3. Walk up the street and notice Palantine Hill on your left... mid-block buy your combo ticket at their ticket office (see avoiding lineups above)
    4. Proceed to the Arch of Constantine and the Coliseum
    5. Enter the Coliseum without waiting in line as you already have a ticket
    6. Head to the Forum and explore that using your combo ticket
    7. Leave the forum via the north west corner and come around a large building there to get an excellent vantage point of the forum from above at street level
    8. Head out front of the giant white marble monument to Victor Emmanuel II
    9. Proceed to the Pantheon by zig zagging up the streets
    10. Enjoy the Pantheon (free)
    11. Head to Piazza Navona for lunch. If you followed this itinerary so far, you will probably arive here around noon and you will want to leave here around 1:15 or 1:30. There are lots of sidewalk cafes, arts and craft vendors in the square, amazing architecture and a few beautiful fountains.
    12. After lunch (around 1:15 to 1:30), cross the bridge towards the Supreme Court building and then pass by the Castle of St. Angelo
    13. Head towards the Vatican, but before entering the main square, turn North and head around the wall to the Vatican Museum Entrance. With your pre-purchased ticket in-hand, proceed directly inside without waiting in line. If you follow this itinerary, buy tickets for 2PM.
    14. Enjoy (or not) the extremely crowded museum and Sistine chapel (there are some stunning rooms but they are hard to appreciate in thick crowds). Exit through the group entrance (see Avoiding lineups above)
    15. Head up the Cupola (top of the Basilica). You can pay either 7-Euro for an elevator ride part ways (and climb 350 stairs) or 5-Euro to climb all 550 stairs. It's probably worth the extra 2-Euro to save your energy.
    16. After the Cupola, you will end up in St. Peter's Basilica (see Avoiding Lineups above).
    17. Head out through St. Peter's square and the main gate of the Vatican but turn north again and retrace your earlier route but instead of going to the Museum Entrance continue north a few blocks to the metro station.
    18. Use your BIRG ticket for the Metro and Watch out for pickpockets - this is where they like to operate
    19. At this point it will probably be around 4PM. If you still have time left in your day (see below about calculating what time you need to leave Rome), take the train to Spagna and complete the rest of the itinerary outlined below. If you are short on time, you can simply skip one or both of the last two points of interest and continue on the metro to Termini to catch the train back to port.
    19. Exit the metro at the Spanish Steps. Good designer shopping is in this area if you prefer and have time.
    20. Work your way to the Trevi Fountain.
    21. Get back on the metro at the nearest station and head to Termini
    22. Exit the Metro at the Termini train station.

    Calculating when you need to leave Rome

    Be sure to work backwards from your required back on board time, subtracting 15-20 minutes for getting from the train to the ship and subtracting the duration of the train ride. Then I would pick the train leaving before the last one that meets your schedule needs. This gives you some added buffer in case the train is late or something else happens. Of course, if you get to Termini earlier than planned, just take the next scheduled train.

    Back on board: 8PM
    Train to ship: 20 min
    Train Ride: 65 min
    Leave Rome by: 6:35PM
    Last train before this: 6:28PM
    Train before that: 6:00PM <- Shoot for this train

    Returning to the Port

    At Roma Termini station, check the monitors for the next train to Civi or talk to the ticket agents in the station. Your BIRG ticket covers your return trip. It may be a 10-15min walk from the main terminal to your train platform so be prepared if you are trying to catch a train that is leaving in minutes or are cutting it close to your required departure time.

    Check train times using the Trenitalia site

    Use stations Roma Termini and Civitavecchia (one way) for the date and approx time you desire

    You will see a time table that shows the trains and the length of journey
    You should find that trains run about every half hour or so around the end of the day.


    We had a fabulous day, saw everything we wanted to without being stressed, and did so without spending much money at all.

    I hope this helps and saves you from feeling like you need to spend a lot of money on a private/ship tour in order to see and enjoy everything.

    Our total cost for this day was:
    BIRG: 9
    Combo ticket: 12
    Vatican ticket: 14 (purchased in advance)
    Cupola ticket: 7
    = Total: 42-Euro per person plus food/drinks
  14. Melcatfish

    Melcatfish <font color=990099>In full planning mode!<br><font

    Sep 15, 2002

    Thanks for copying this across here. I am thinking we will do Rome on our own and the more walk throughs I read the less scary it sounds!

  15. lilpooh108

    lilpooh108 DIS Veteran

    Apr 17, 2010

    Amazing recap! I have a few questions ~ don't know if you would know the answers--

    1. Can you buy a BIRG ticket at a regular metro station? We won't be taking the train in the morning, but will take the train on the way back.

    Do BIRG tickets work with Regionale Veloce trains?

    2. Is it standing room only if we catch a RV train from S. Pietro station? (I'm guessing yes ...)
  16. JimmyJackJunior

    JimmyJackJunior DIS Veteran

    Jan 10, 2005
    We have hired a tour guide for Malta - Amy Pace and are doing the following - Hypogeum, Ghar Dalam and Hagar Qim and the Playmobile factory, I suggest that we include the maritime city Vittoriosa, a walking tour of Mdina, the old capital and a walled city and a drive through the 3 villages, quaint late medieval villages
  17. heatherbelle

    heatherbelle DIS Veteran

    Jan 15, 2005
    I don't know the answers for sure, but at a guess I would say.

    1) yes, you can also get them at Newsagents too. I know that for sure as that is where I got mine.

    They do not work on the Regional trains, those tickets are separate.

    2) yes. If you want a seat get to Tremani early before your train departs. Even at Tremini people were standing not everyone got a seat and it was packed with cruisers. We caught the 4.10 train back, which was delayed by nearly an hour:scared1:
  18. lilpooh108

    lilpooh108 DIS Veteran

    Apr 17, 2010
    For anyone who is interested, the Colosseum has released the availability for the "Underground Tour" which allows you to tour the lower level of the Colosseum.

    We're super excited about this, since when I visited in 2006, this was not yet open to the public.

    Tickets + tours are available to be booked here online (make sure you click Collect on site). With advance tix purchase you get to skip the lines.

    Non-EU children are required to have tickets. I've read several Frommers/Tripadvisor/Lonely Planet threads on this subject, and I decided to get a ticket for my 4YO but not my infant (12 months, not walking yet) who will be carried when we go in. For the infant I'm getting the gratis entrance + tour (so it's basically just the tour fee, no entrance ticket fee). Any thoughts on this subject?
  19. tajz90

    tajz90 Mama D

    May 6, 2012
    We purchased ours last week. Super excited.
  20. lilpooh108

    lilpooh108 DIS Veteran

    Apr 17, 2010
    Holy moly. What do you mean delayed by an hour? Please please explain so that I can have that scenario in my head to plan alternatives.
  21. lilpooh108

    lilpooh108 DIS Veteran

    Apr 17, 2010
    Nice :thumbsup2 With 4 ships in Port on our Rome day plus the fact that only one tour time works for us, I was trying to get my family to give me the OK this morning. It's hard to harass people to "hurry up and decide" over email. :lmao:

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