Mediterranean Cruise June 2016
by by Sara
(Phoenix, AZ, USA)
My boyfriend and I cruised the Mediterranean via Carnival Vista in mid-June (2016). We visited 6 countries with 10 stops in all- this included the embarkation and debarkation places (Athens, Greece to Barcelona, Spain). We left from Athens then traversed to Kusadasi, Turkey; Rhodes, Greece; Valletta, Malta; Messina, Sicily, Italy; Naples, Italy; Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy; Livorno, Italy, and Marseille, France. This route gave us a sample of much of the Mediterranean, rather than stick to just the East or West regions.
Below is a summary of our trip in regards to how to get to attractions from some of the ports we visited.
For those who do not plan ahead, you may regret doing so. It will save you a lot of time and disappointment on your cruise. As a teacher, I am afforded the time to travel during the summer but often cannot afford to do so. Therefore, I knew from the beginning that I would not be able to book an excursion at every port. Instead, I had to research other alternatives that usually included a lot of walking and the use of public transportation.
Helpful tip: purchase/check out Rick Steves' Mediterranean Cruise Ports (2013 Ed.) book. This book came in handy many times during the cruise, especially when internet access is unavailable. Steves gives pertinent information about various ports and how to navigate them to get to attractions nearby. Also, you can do a screen shot of maps on your phone to get around if you do not want to pay for internet use internationally.
When in Naples and Livorno, we were able to successfully follow Steves' recommendations on how to reach Pompeii and the Leaning Tower in Pisa on our own. His book is equipped with maps of local transportation & points of interest including a brief history of these places.
It should be noted that there were times when we needed to be assured that we were headed in the right direction so we spoke up. We usually consulted a local on the street or another cruise patron. Everyone we encountered was helpful. They sure represented their city nicely.
We especially liked docking at the ports that were centrally located near those city's downtowns (a.k.a. squares) or points of interests. Or within a short walking distance to public transportation. These ports are: Rhodes, Greece; Valetta, Malta; Naples, Italy and Barcelona, Spain.
The other ports we docked at were very remote and industrial. Your only options to get to the city square were: a) an excursion, b) taxi, c) cruise shuttle or d) a very long walk to public transportation. These ports were: Athens, Greece; Civitavecchia, Italy; Livorno, Italy; and Marseille, France.
An excursion offers peace of mind but at a hefty price tag. A taxi can be fast but expensive. At one point, the price went up when a third person wanted to hop on and split the costs. Nonsense. The cruise's shuttle came at a price of $12 to $17/ person round trip. Not bad. Only at Livorno was a public bus/shuttle available at $5/person, for which we opted. Lastly, a long walk to reach any reasonably priced transportation around town is do-able but you wear yourself out right away especially during the summer. We chose this mode only in Marseille since it was only 1 mile to the bus stop. I would not try this in Athens, Livorno, or Naples. And if you were to walk, it was not scenic at all. Be prepared to look at tall port walls and industrial crap.
The port of Kusadasi, Turkey is near the town's square but is far from the must do tours of Virgin Mary's retirement home and the ancient Greek settlement in Ephesus. A taxi can be utilized but I highly recommend a cruise excursion. Ephesus is about a 45 minute drive from Kusadasi so an air conditioned bus was a relief in between stops. Also, the tour guide educates you on the history of the ruins so you know what you're looking at. A walk thru this place without information would not have been as significant.
For you do-it-yourselfers, the Mediterranean Cruise is do-able on a teacher's budget... for a couple. I cannot imagine how much more it would cost for a family of 4 or more! It was costly for just my boyfriend and I. I did a majority of the planning with the use of TripAdvisor (read reviews) and Rick Steves' Mediterranean Cruise Ports (2013 Edition).
If you have any questions, please respond. And have fun researching!