Planning a HOT time in the Mediterranean August 2013

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Pre-Trip Reports' started by texasgirl29, Apr 23, 2013.

  1. jennorthernireland

    jennorthernireland Mouseketeer

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    Hi Lisa and JoAnn - that's great that you will be on the same CBM tour in Rome! I have been giving them some serious consideration for our cruise the following week. I couldn't see the price on the website for the inside Colosseum tour - may I ask how much that was? Also, do you pay at the point of booking for this excursion? It wasn't very clear on the website.

    I wasn't sure about booking them for Pompeii/Sorrento because the info on the website says the return to the cruise ship is at 5pm and on our itinerary, the Magic leaves port at 5.30pm - I would be having severe heart failure if there were any delays!
     
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  3. sajilunni

    sajilunni Mouseketeer

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    Thanks for that link, Joann! We booked a lot of tours actually because we're trying to get the absolute most out of this first European visit with the kids. We booked Barcelona Day Tours to pick us up from the airport and give us a short overview of the city (and food market!) before dropping us off at our rental apartment. We'll have another 2 full days to explore Barcelona on our own. Then Riviera Premium Tours to show us Monaco, Monte Carlo, Eze, and Cannes. Driver Guide Service to show us the highlights of Rome. And Tuscan Sunshine Tours to show us Florence and Pisa. We last went to Florence on our honeymoon 15 years ago and were BLOWN AWAY by the statue of David (and I am not normally an art appreciator) so we would love to show it to our kids. There's actually a half scale of the Leaning Tower of Pisa where my parents live in Niles, IL so they might not be all that impressed by the genuine article. ;-) Pompeii and Vesuvius we're going to try to do on our own with the info we gleaned from www.shorebee.com. There's a 4x4 that will drive us most of the way up Vesuvius so the hike won't be that bad.

    Getting excited!
     
  4. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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    Jenny,
    The Colosseum tour was not originally part of the Rome tour but the day we are there, the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums will not be open on our particular tour day due to a national holiday. We had already paid for the Chapel when I was reminded about the holiday. I emailed Petro and he said (you could almost see him smacking his head) you're right. To compensate, he said they would do an extended Colosseum and Roman Forum visit. Normally, they do not go into the Colosseum, but if you wish to, you can purchase a ticket and the tour will be milling around for a while outside. Since we had paid for our tickets to the Vatican already, he made the adjustment (13.50 euros each). We have a balance after the adjustment; he said just to pay at that time.

    As far as getting back on time from Amalfi, I think if you email him with your questions/concerns he will answer you quickly.

    I'm glad the tour is prepaid with PayPal -- less cash to worry about.

    JoAnn
     
  5. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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    Sajil,
    Wow, you are prepared!

    I don't have anything definitive for Barcelona except I know we want to see Sagrada Familia, La Rambla and Gruelle Park. I am thinking we will do a HOHO bus either in the afternoon we arrive or the next morning. We've always enjoyed the HOHO buses (NYC, Chicago, San Francisco) -- I love to survey everything. We may want to go to Montserrat after the cruise but I'm not sure about that because I'm a chicken about heights and that cable car ride looks scary.

    On all of our past cruises we've taken the ship excursions because it's just so darn convenient and you are assured of getting back on time (or they will wait for you). The DCL excursions on this trip are so expensive, and I've been encouraged by reading some of the trip reports and port reviews.

    JoAnn
     
  6. jennorthernireland

    jennorthernireland Mouseketeer

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    I will have to get in touch and find out more. It sounds like they are good to deal with. I like the idea of pre-paying too. We will have to have quite a lot of currency with us already - the balance of the apartment in Barcelona has to be paid for in cash, for example.
     
  7. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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    [​IMG][/URL]

    One step closer!

    JoAnn
     
  8. sajilunni

    sajilunni Mouseketeer

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    Joann, yes I'm prepared because I like to know what ALL my options are. I contacted the top 5 rated shore excursion operators (according to TripAdvisor) at each port and compared prices and services. This is our first cruise where we're not using the shore excursions offered by the cruise line, but they were SO expensive, and often not *exactly* what we were interested in (e.g.- the 4x4 excursion up Vesuvius includes a visit to a winery which would be lost on the kids). I was surprised to learn that private tours are actually cheaper and more flexible than the big bus ones. I am very nervous about the whole idea of being left behind by not going with the official tours, and have articulated that to all the private tour operators, who have done their best to reassure me that they have NEVER missed a boat, as they are very conscious of the time restrictions. We actually changed our Naples (which we're doing on our own) plans a bit based on my fears. When I looked at a Google Map of the area I noticed that Vesuvius and Herculaneum were actually a lot closer to Naples than Pompeii, so we're going to skip Pompeii in favor of those other visits, and if we have time left over we'll explore Naples by the port. And maybe get to experience some *authentic* Neapolitan pizza!:thumbsup2
     
  9. sajilunni

    sajilunni Mouseketeer

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    Oh, and as for Barcelona, did you know there are FREE walking tours available? http://www.runnerbeantours.com/tours It's nice to get to talk with a native of the city to learn more about it from their perspective. We were interested in the kids walking tour, but couldn't fit it in logistically, so we're kind of doing an airport transfer to our hotel combined with a tour straight off. We're also going to try to do a flamenco dinner show. I visited Barcelona back in '92 during the Olympics, so I'm really excited to revisit the Olympic park area again. And because we're adventurous foodies I really want to visit La Boqueria Market because the videos I've seen of it look great!: http://www.foreverbarcelona.com/our-foodie-tours/ Tapas is a great concept for a grazer such as myself. I will eat myself silly on this vacation. ;-)
     
  10. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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    I looked at the runner bean tour site as well as the reviews in trip advisor as you suggested and they look great. Truly and honestly, though, I would have no idea what to tip. I think I'd like to do one of these.
    JoAnn
     
  11. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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    I read a thread on cruise critic.com today about pickpockets in Barcelona and that got me thinking about a purse. I was unaware -- until today -- of the entire safe travel accessory industry. Pacsafe was a brand that was mentioned. I am normally a minimum purse kind of person but I would like to have a pocket for a water bottle, steel cable embedded straps, and anti-theft RFIL shield for credit cards.
     
  12. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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    After a week or so of reading up on the various brands of anti-theft bags, checking out the reviews and watching the videos on YouTube, we went to REI to check out the pacsafe metrosafe shoulder bag. http://pacsafe.com/metrosafe-200-anti-theft-shoulder-bag

    I was debating with myself if I even needed to buy an anti-theft bag -- why do I need something that screams out "Hey, I'm not from around here. I probably have something you might want." (Although, really, I won't -- just my point and shoot camera, a bottle of water, sunscreen, a few euros...) but on the other hand, I want my image to be, Savvy Tourist -- don't even think about trying anything, Buster.

    I guess I could have bought it online in something more exciting than the basic black, but it was there and I was there, so I bought it. I was a little trepidatious about spending $70 on a purse but dh Paul was making his way through the aisles picking up little travel gizmos and he almost spent twice as much as me.

    So, here we are, just a bit closer to Barcelona and the Magic.
     
  13. GreenAcres

    GreenAcres I'm not from the South, but I got here as fast as

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    I did not buy an anti-theft bag...don't know if I'll be sorry or not. I'm not planning on carrying anything except I was thinking about folding up a copy of my passport with my ID and a little cash and carrying that in a lanyard tucked under my clothes. Any thoughts? I spent my money instead on a new camera! On sale at Target. Nikon cool pics 3500...very tiny and unobtrusive (I hope).
     
  14. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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    I put some stuff in my PacSaf bag and wore it last week to get the feel for it.
    Normally, I use a small Vera Bradley purse or a cross-body hipster. Not that I'm a hipster--just don't like big bags :-0

    The PacSaf was comfortable to wear when walking around. The wide strap distributed the weight well. Opening it up was a bit of a pain (but that's the deal, isn't it?) Having the purse next to me in the car was a bit bulky, but since my main purpose for it is to wear it as I'm touring, I think it will work very well.

    I plan to use it to carry-on purse for the plane as it will hold my iPad and a few necessities. And I think I can still take a tote bag or something to hold an extra set of clothes.
     
  15. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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    Well, I got sucked into the whole FE thing -- I don't mean that as a bad thing, it just is. I've spent hours on FaceBook and Esty and Pintrest looking at FE holders and FE gifts. I like to do crafty thing but haven't done too much in a while -- my craftiness has been limited to digital scrapbooking or photo albums and not even much of that lately.

    So it's actually been a pleasure to walk about the craft stores to look at things and come up with ideas that are 1) inexpensive and 2) small -- since i'm traveling light.

    I got an organizer at Ikea as recommended by the folks on the FB FE page and bought ribbons and stuff to decorate it. I've got three projects in mind and maybe a fourth.
     
  16. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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    Tickets to Sagrada Familia on Friday, Aug. 9, 10 a.m. purchased online -- CHECK!

    Reservations with Runner Bean "free" tour of the Old City for Friday, Aug. 9, 4:30 p.m. -- CHECK!

    Confirmed time and meeting place with Ingrid for tour of French Riviera on Aug. 12 -- CHECK!
     
  17. debsters41

    debsters41 DIS Veteran

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    It's getting so close for you! I love your preparation! :cool1:
     
  18. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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    I created a long document with everything I could think of -- flight numbers, hotel address, sightseeing plans....

    I'm starting to wonder if our stop in La Spezia with plans to visit Pisa is enough. It's like when you're having a dinner party and you wonder if you have food -- and of course you do -- but you run out and get another bottle of wine and some extra ice cream to go with the cake.
     
  19. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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    This week my DDs are out of town (out of state, actually) at Camp Grandpa and Grandma so I'm working on my FE and my FE gifts. I got the IKEA recommended organizer and decided to try my luck with glue instead of sewing. I was inspired by one of the FE's on the Facebook FE page where she used some kind of stickers or cardboard characters and glued them. I was having a bit of trouble with the glue so my ever-resourceful husband put a full 6-pack of beer bottles on each pocket. Excellent!

    I'm also trying to decide between the Barcelona Turistico HOHO (teal) bus and the City Sightseeing HOHO (red). I think it's most likely a toss-up. I read the recommendations in TripAdviser and that just drives you crazy. From "this is the greatest thing ever" to "what a waste of money, it's just for you lazy lowlifes." We've done the HOHO in NYC, Chicago and San Francisco, so I know what the pros and cons are. I posted on the DIS board, and was directed to Cruise Critic, so I'll check that out.
     
  20. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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    OK, went with the teal colored Barcelona Turisica HOHO bus. Both had excellent reviews but when I went online to pay for the red city sightseeing I hesitated when it required my passport number. The Turisica bus did not require that and that settled it for me.

    DH asked AGAIN what do we owe for our tour with Ingrid in Villefranche (500 euros for seven people) and he counted out the money and put it in an envelope.

    On the fashion front, bought a necklace to accessorize my black dress and a lace top for semi formal or Palo brunch.
     
  21. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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    The FE gifts are done! Glad we have a small group. I have something for everyone (all the same), something for adult women and something for male or female adults (gender neutral). All kids get the same thing.

    Might squeeze out a few magnets for the door.
     

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