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Recommendations for excursions in Eastern Med (plus some Western Med ports)


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My 2022 Med cruise (on Princess, not Royal) will be visiting a lot of ports over 14 days. I didn't want to hijack the thread on Western Med started by @PPPJJ-GCVAB, so I'm starting a separate one for the ports that the other thread didn't already mention. 

I'm planning on just signing up for ship excursions, based on the recommendations so far in that other thread. But it's hard to figure out what will be good ones / worthwhile ones. My two girls (who'll be 18 and 21 when we sail) and I are both foodies, and I love good wine and beer; my older daughter is a singer and loves music, while my younger one is an artist with really eclectic tastes; my wife and I enjoy seeing an area's culture but she also likes having some less-intense time to just wander around. So on one level, the Med is a great place for all of us to visit. But at the same time, picking excursions we'll all enjoy could be a little tricky (although both of my girls have said they're just thrilled to be going and will tag along on whatever we pick).

Rather than list all the excursion options and ask what you think would be best, I thought I'd just start out by asking the collective about what you've enjoyed on past visits to these ports, keeping in mind our high-level interests:

  • Athens
    • We embark from here on a Saturday, and plan to fly in either Wednesday or Thursday so we have a day or two to explore
    • Already figuring that we must visit the Parthenon, also looking at visiting the Acropolis Museum; but that's just the Acropolis, and I know there's a lot more to Athens than that
  • Santorini (7 AM to 7 PM)
    • Mainly figuring we want to visit Oia and Fira, especially after reading there are wineries in Fira where we could stop and have a late lunch / early dinner
    • Is this a port where just getting an "on your own" type excursion that takes us to Oia directly via tender and lets us wander until all-aboard time works out OK?
    • Other recommendations?
  • Kotor, Montenegro (7 AM to 3 PM)
    • I know absolutely nothing about Kotor or what there is to do here
  • Sicily (Messina) (12 PM to 8 PM)
    • Umm... my grandfather came from here, but apart from that I don't know anything about this area either
  • Gibraltar (7 AM to 5 PM)
    • I do remember reading a blog here a while back where Gibraltar was one of the stops; want to say they did it on their own and that you can climb a long set of stairs all the way to the top of the iconic "rock", but what else is good to do here?
    • Is this another port stop that lends itself to just exploring on our own and not really doing a formal excursion, given we have about 8 hours from actual disembark to all-aboard?
  • Marseille (8 AM to 6 PM)
    • OK, all I personally want to do here is
      • Get off the ship before breakfast and wander around until I find a nice cafe
      • Order a plate of croissants, fruit, and French cheeses for breakfast, along with some coffee
      • Wander some more until I find another cafe or other restaurant where I can order a good seafood lunch and a bottle of white wine
      • Throughout, just sit, eat, people watch, and soak in the city.
    • I doubt the wife would be on board with only doing that (although the girls might both be tempted), so what do you recommend?
    • Is this a city where the ship is actually docked fairly close, or will we be taking yet another 45-minute transport in and out? Does it lend itself better to an "on your own" excursion?
  • Genoa (7 AM to 9 PM)
    • This is another city I know basically nothing about

Thanks in advance!

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I between my 3 Med cruises (Royal, Disney, and MSC) I've been to a few of these.

In Athens, we used Greeking.me for an excursion to the Acropolis and Agora. The guide was fantastic, and they do several other tours, including culinary. 

Kotor is a very cool walled city to walk around. When we were there, we hired a local guide who drove us up into the hills surrounding the town and down to the place where you can catch a boat to the church in the middle of the water. We got some pomegranate wine there which was quite tasty.

We just walked around Genoa and climbed the bell tower of the church there for a great view of the city. There is a street lined with palazzos that kind of reminds you of Venice without the canals. The area around the port is kind of rough, though, so just be forewarned on that. 

We lived by the Rick Steves books while we lived in Europe, and his Mediterranean Cruise Ports book was a great start for us. I think he covered all of the ports except Gibraltar. 

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5 hours ago, JLMoran said:
  • Marseille (8 AM to 6 PM)
    • OK, all I personally want to do here is
      • Get off the ship before breakfast and wander around until I find a nice cafe
      • Order a plate of croissants, fruit, and French cheeses for breakfast, along with some coffee
      • Wander some more until I find another cafe or other restaurant where I can order a good seafood lunch and a bottle of white wine
      • Throughout, just sit, eat, people watch, and soak in the city.
    • I doubt the wife would be on board with only doing that (although the girls might both be tempted), so what do you recommend?
    • Is this a city where the ship is actually docked fairly close, or will we be taking yet another 45-minute transport in and out? Does it lend itself better to an "on your own" excursion?

Joe, I can't help with any of the other ports but I do like Marseille and it's easy to enjoy without doing a long excursion or breaking the bank.

See my post in this thread for ideas and pics (it's post 4): 

 

Hope it helps. ?

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We had a cruise planned for May 2020, since it was cancelled I have no in person experience.

I did research it. 

I loved listening to Rick Steves Audio Europe, it an app that has podcast with tours and interviews.

Check it out, your family might like it too.

I also got his book like @Auto mentioned.  

Can't wait to hear about it when you guys get back.

We are looking at a similar cruise for 2023.

 

 

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