Are you flying in to, or out of Rome for a Mediterranean cruise? The easiest way to get to the ship is to get a cruise ship sponsored pre, or post cruise package, or take the cruise ship transfer. This takes all the work out of making the transfer. However, if you want to venture out and save some money doing so, here is how it is done.
Rome Flumiciana Airport Transportation
Arrival in Rome can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you arrive on a red eye flight. The easiest solution is a taxi to your hotel, or a pre-arranged car service. If you are traveling directly to the cruise port, the cruise line will offer a transfer. While convenient, this can be expensive.
Affordable transportation is available. From the airport, two bus shuttle companies run to Termini Station in central Rome. One is Terravision, the other is SIT. The transfer in a charter coach with luggage bays runs 5 Euro one way, you can buy tickets for either right at the bus door. The biggest challenge at FCO airport is finding the bus departure location once you arrive. Follow the signs, and if necessary don’t be afraid to stop and ask someone, lots of people speak English.
The bus drops you at Termini Station, and you can easily get an affordable taxi to your hotel, or depending on its location, possibly even walk. If you are heading directly to the cruise ship you can go in to Termini station and get a train to Civitavecchia.
Here is a link to some general information about Romes airports
Civitavecchia Cruise Port from Rome Termini Station
If you are going on the the cruise port it is a simple matter of getting the train from Termini. Be aware US credit cards will not work in the ticket machine. There are ATM machines here, so get Euros. The ticket machines do accept euros, so it is an easy work around. Other options include buying tickets online ahead of time, or the tabacchi shops. The line to purchase tickets from the train office itself can be hours long.
Look for the train to Civitavecchia, it is usually at tracks 27-30, which are a 10 minute walk from the central station area. Click here for photos of the terminals & cruise port. Be sure to validate your ticket in the yellow machine before you board the train, you can be fined if you forget. You will find there are usually lots of other cruisers going to the same destination. When you exit at you will go under the tracks, and exit the building, turn right, and follow the crowds to the port entrance, about a four block walk Taxis are available here if you prefer not to drag your luggage.
Here is a link to instructions on the train.
Here is a link to the train booking engine. You may have to call your credit card company to authorize the charge.
There are many benefits of arriving in port at least a day early; especially for a cruise that involves a long flight. Rather than join the ship, tired, jetlagged, or just stressed from a delayed flight, it’s easy to arrive early, and begin adjusting to the current time zone. In Vina del Mar, you will be glad you did.
The perfect getaway, it is close enough to port to require only a short taxi ride, but a world away in experience. Only 74 miles from the Santiago airport, your shuttle from the airport passes acres of vineyards frame by mountain ranges in the background. If you plan a private tour you could even tour some local wineries.
When you arrive you find a modern city, but along the waterfront a promenade and a cadre of buildings that would seem more at home in Europe, than South America.
In the afternoon residents siesta, but when night falls, families stroll the promenades and visit the local cafes and restaurants until late. Spend you days exploring the historic buildings or just strolling on the beach. At night, stroll the promenade with them, or just sit and people watch.
We stayed at the Sheraton Miramar Hotel, with an unmatched view of the sea and a dramatic architectural style. Clean, modern and comfortable, it is a perfect local to explore the city, only a short stroll to the busy center, yet quiet and relaxed.
As you stroll along, you will see The Wulff Castle hugging the edge of the sea. Originally owned by Gustavo Wulff, and acquired by the city in 1959, today it is a National Historical Monument, and museum. Entrance is free.
The Fonck Museum is housed what was once the Delano family residence from the early 20th century. Here you will find one of the ancestors or “Moai” from Easter Island as well as many other interesting exhibits, including information on the Rapa Naui people, Chilean life, as well as natural history exhibits.
The Palacio Rioja, is surrounded by beautiful gardens, just inviting you to pause from your exploration. Once open as a museum, it has not reopened since being damaged by the earthquake in 2010.
For those who like to try their luck, the beautiful Vina del Mar Casino is house in another charming building and commands stunning views.
With only five miles separating Vina del Mar and Valparaiso, there is no better place to begin your cruise vacation.
It is possible to see the Alhambra as a shore excursion from the cruise port of Malaga, Spain.
The bus ride will take you past acres of olive groves, as Spain is also a major producer of olives. When you arrive in the town of Granada, you will be charmed by the beautiful city itself, before even arriving at your destination.
When using a tour, the guide will have arranged your tickets, if you are doing it on your own, be sure to pre-arrange your tickets in advance, because they do sell out.
Historically, the Alhambra dates from the 9th century, although it did not become a royal residence until the 13th century. Most of the construction that we see today is from Yusuf I & Mohammed V. The actual castle of the Alhambra was actually added to the area inside the ramparts from the 9th century. The oldest parts of the fortress were reinforced a watch tower and the keep were added. From there the continued to be modified through the 18th century, when it was finally abandoned. The name means red castle in Arabic, and it stands in the top of a hill overlooking Granada. For more information about the Alhambra go to http://www.alhambradegranada.org
This UNESCO world heritage site is a worthwhile trip, whether from a cruise port, or as a destination itself.
On your first trip to Hawaii, most times you will start in Honolulu. Honolulu is an unusual city, similar in some ways to Miami Beach. You are clearly in a major metropolitan city, and yet there are incredibly beautiful beaches right in front of you. In some respects it feels like the city never sleeps. No matter what time it is, someone is up and doing something, probably because most folks who arrive here have traveled over several time zones. If you arrive here on a cruise ship, you will have to make a choice what you want to see, but if you are here for a few days, you can explore it all at your leisure.
1. Not to be missed of course is Waikiki beach. You can spend a whole day here just people watching. Learn to surf, boards can be rented on the beach. Also available are stand up paddle lessons, and catamaran sailing. Or just rent a lounge chair and watch the world go by.
2. Climb Diamond Head. You can get to Diamond Head Crater by public bus, or parking is available. The entry cost is $5 for cars, and $1 for hikers on foot. The park hours are daily from 6a-6p, last entrance is at 4:40pm. Be sure to bring along some water, as it can get hot.
3. Go to the memorial at Pearl Harbor. The official website of the USS Arizona memorial If you are going to try to get walk up tickets, be sure to go early, as you may have to wait a few hours, or book in advance here. The memorial is free, but tickets reserved in advance are subject to a non refundable fee of $1.50. Be aware, all bags, including purses are prohibited at Pearl Harbor, so you will need to check them.
4. Snorkel at Hanauma Bay, Parking is available, but limited, come by shuttle bus tour, or take the public bus #22. There is limited entry, so either come early, or later in the afternoon, when the morning crowds have left. The cost of entry is $7.50 per person, and car parking is $1 per vehicle. You can rent mask, fins & snorkel on the beach & lockers are available. You will be amazed at the numerous colorful fish, and coral.
5. Rent a car and drive to the North Shore of the island and see the surfers. The surfing competition is held here, so if you are lucky you may see the contest. The waves are dependent on the weather, so some days waves will be enormous, and other days, just look like any ordinary beach.
6 .Go to the Botanical Gardens at Waimea Bay while you are at the North Shore & enjoy the waterfall & the gardens.
7. Dont forget to see The Polynesian Cultural Center, for the local history. The cultural center is a Polynesian themed park showing the living history of all the polynesian islands. It is also located on the North Shore. There are 7 villages devoted to different polynesian cultures, and currently a special exhibit dedicated to Easter Island. You can get to the center by bus, but the hours are not necessarily convenient, so must visitors come on a tour including transportation, or rent a car. The center has several dining choices, hula, an evening show, and evening an island tour that includes park admission.
8. See the Honolulu Zoo. Located within walking distance of many downtown hotels in Queen Kapi’olani Park is the 42.5 acre zoo. The hours are 9am-4:30pm, and parking is available at a cost of $1 per hour. Entry is currently $14.00 for adults and $6.00 for children 3-12. There is also a gardens as well. A nice afternoon activity with lots to see, and away from the crowds on the beach.
9. Swim with the dolphins at Sea Life Park Hawaii.Even if you dont swim with the dolphins, there is a dolphin show, a shark tank, penguin habitat, a sea turtle feeding, & much more. Great fun for the kids. Entry fee is $29.99 for adults, and $19.99 children ages 3-12. The park is open 10:30am-5:00pm and parking is available.
10. Take to the air. For something completely different try Hang Gliding over Oahu. This birds eye view of the coastline is both stunning & exhilarating. You can learn the basics of ultralight flying, or just let the pilot do all the work. Be left with memories you will never forget.
Hong Kong is made up of islands, consequently when deciding where to stay, you have to first start with which island you want to stay on.
Lantau Island contains the airport. Activities for tourists include:
1) The Big Budha Statue.
2) The aerial tram called the Ngong Ping 360.
3) The Po Lin Monastery
3) The Po Lin Monastery
If you choose to stay in Hong Kong there is many things to do to pass the day. The Hong Kong Visitors Board provides a nice site in english, with ideas of things to do.
Not to be missed is the evening is:
4) the light show at the waterfront in Hong Kong. There is a choreographed light and music show and crowds gather on both shores to watch the spectacle.
5) A cruise across the bay on the historic Star Cruiser line is fantastic at any time, but during the light show it just adds to the drama.
6) The typical tourist activities always includes the Peak, accessed by the tram, or by public bus. A ride on the tram is unforgettable, as the train up at such a steep incline.
7) A pleasant side trip from Hong Kong is Repulse Bay. Here you will find a pleasant beach, a historic museum, temples, and this charming memorial to the invasion of Repulse Bay that drove out the pirates.
Public busses are clean, efficient, and readily available, and make a great way for tourists and locals alike to get around.
Whether it is a business trip, or a vacation, Hong Kong makes an excellent sport to enjoy for a few days.
8) Hong Kong has a free zoo, and a bird exhibit, both adjacent to the tram line. Just get off at the exit and wander down through both exhibits.
No matter what you do, allow some time to explore Hong Kong.
Pompeii, a city covered by volcanic ash, is familiar to anyone visiting Italy. Time stands still here, frozen in 79AD when Mt Vesuvius erupted. What most people don’t know, is that while Pompeii was covered with ash, its northern neighbor Herculaneum was covered with mud.
What is significant about this? The mud encasing all the buildings, prevented oxygen from igniting the timbers, consequently there are many several story buildings & even timbers, doors & roofs still standing. While smaller these ruins are more complete & give a more detailed glimpse into the daily lives of its inhabitants.
While you can see the original mosaic floors from Pompeii & Herculaneum in museums, you can also find them still in the homes in both locations. What is most amazing is the fresco covered walls are still intact as well.
Pompeii’s sheer size can be overwhelming, so allow lots of time to tour. On the other hand Herculaneum is much more complete and compact. Both are a great choice as a shore excursion from Naples, and easily accessible using the Circumvesuviana line on the train. For Herculaneum alight at Ercolano and walk down the hill to the site. For Pompeii alight at Pompeii Scavi, which is the main entrance. Be sure to check the train schedule (the Circumvesuviana link) for up to date times.
Nothing conjures up more exotic images than the mention of Thailand with its distinctive landscapes, unusual temples, and unique food.
From the air Thailand enchants with its many tiny islands, verdant green droplets, strung across the aquamarine sea. Although similar in some ways to our own local limestone geology, Thailand appears very different. Instead of sinkholes, much of the soft limestone has eroded away leaving giant karst outcroppings jutting skyward. On land these hills appear stark and dramatic against the jungle sky. In the ocean, these islands, called “Ko,” spring up out of the sea. Favored by rock climbers, these islands are home to the small bird whose nests are used in bird’s nest soup.
July through October is the rainy season, when prices are cheaper and more negotiable. Don’t assume their rainy season is like ours however, where a daily shower develops and then clears. Instead it is possible to have torrential rain for several hours or several consecutive days, then not even a raindrop for weeks. Only you can decide if it is worth the savings.
Beautiful beaches abound, and roads wind their way up the hilly terrain and away from the beach. Transportation between beaches is typically by local long-tail boats. Distinctive, these boats are adorned with a ribbon, and powered by a pivoting car engine, with open headers and a long straight shaft sporting a propeller. Expect the driver to wait until his boat is full before leaving, no matter how long that takes. Powering through the glass clear water, the boat ride is an experience itself. For longer trips to famous Ko Phi Phi, or Phuket, opt for a traditional powerboat, to reduce the transportation time.
Where else would you ride an elephant? Giant and lumbering, these gentle creatures still transport Thai royalty for ceremonies. Steered only with a stick, a trek through the jungle makes a great excursion. When you complete your journey your elephant waits patiently for his reward for a trip well done.
Synonymous with Thailand is massage on the beach. Whole markets have nothing but vendors offering massage. Relax to waves crashing, gulls crying, gentle ocean breezes, and the gentle strokes of your professional masseuse.
On a quiet roadside scooters appear. Next, tables fold down from the scooters, and grills, and woks sizzle. Soon locals are lined up, and the aroma of exotic food fills the air. For only a few US dollars, sample the local cuisine. Spicy peppers, coconut, noodles, and rice are a mainstay; skewers of meats; roasted corn on the cob; banana nutella pancakes; and fruits unknown. Then just as suddenly, they pack up and go home.
Wedding cake shaped temples, spires reaching skyward, some blinding white, with pointed roofs, and trim like flames pointing everywhere. Giant golden Buddha’s sit serenely gazing on, while crouching tigers, and hissing serpents guard the temple doors. Climb the 1237 steps to the top of the Tiger Cave Temple and marvel at the landscape, so flat with scattered hills.
Everywhere you turn in Thailand, there is something new and exotic to discover.
Arriving in Wurzburg, the beautiful Marienberg Fortress, the first residence of the prince bishops looms above the Main River. Nearby the Pilgrimage Church can be reached by ascending the 352 steps; your reward is stunning views of the fortress and the city. A city tour reveals a wealth of beautiful buildings and churches. The finest of them, the “palace of palaces” is the palace of the Schonborn family of prince bishops.
Inspired by Versailles, the Prince Bishops palace, know as the Wurtzburger Residence, was completed in 1744. A highlight of any trip here is a visit to this famous palace and adjoining gardens. Today a UNESCO world heritage site it contains two massive domed ceilings, spanning 200 feet by 300 foot. An engineering feat in its time, it is miraculous that they have survived.
The palace was designed with the most modern features. Carriages pulled inside to the impressive staircase for their honored guests to alight. The King would descend the steps, only sufficiently to reflect level of importance of his visitor. Only once did he descend all the steps to meet the carriage of Maria Theresa.
Built in the Baroque style, the palace was completed on 1780. Still, the beginnings of the rococo style are evident in the plasterwork. Instead of simply frescoes, walls and ceilings are adorned with a mixture of painting and plaster work. Plaster curtains seem to sway in the breeze; cherubs plaster legs that dangle from the ceiling, musicians plaster trumpets jut from the walls. The cooperation between the painter and plaster worker created a three dimensional masterpiece.
Wages were high for such skilled labor. During its construction the ceiling, the fresco painter received the wages equal to that of 1500 brick masons. After constructing the massive domes, the ceiling painting took an additional 14 months to complete.
The impressive hall of mirrors is based on Catherine’s Palace famous amber room in St Petersburg, Russia. Glass, with scenes painted on the back, was covered with mercury, to create an effect similar to ambers glow. As World War II progressed and it became clear the palace would likely be bombed, an effort was made to remove the glass. Unfortunately it was so well glued in the plaster that the pieces cracked. The remaining glass was completely destroyed. Today, all that remains are the two original panels that cracked upon removal prior to the bombing. Now redone with modern mirrors, the effect is nonetheless impressive.
In preparation Most of the chandeliers and other furnishings were removed from the palace, and today many rooms in the palace have been restored.
Two kinds of bombs were dropped during the war incendiary, and explosive. Incendiary bombs burn everything, and explosive bombs pack blasting power. While Incendiary bombs struck the Wurtzzburger Residence, the two domed ceilings survived because they contained no wood. The remainder burned. Completely rebuilt after the war, the task of removing the grime from the domed ceilings took 4 years. Today the palace and gardens are restored to their former glory.
Most buildings have been reconstructed including palace.
By: Mel & Karen Ray
Up early … breakfast … bus departure to Honfluer … small community renowned for its picturesque harbor (too small for our riverboat).
The Village is especially known for its old pastel slate-fronted houses. The harbor and surrounding residences, cafes & bars have been painted by many artists, including Monet.
Walking the streets … breathing the fresh harbor air (while dealing with the cold + occasional rain/wind) … watching the many people-sights, and enjoying cappuccinos … we had a fairy tale visit.
It is a beautiful place … sure would like to see it in the sunshine !
ALL ABOARD as AmaLegro did a ‘180’ turn and set sail for Les Andelys.
Discover Germanys’ Romantic Road
What’s in a name? This one, devised by travel agents in the 1950's, describes the road between Wurzburg and Fussen, Germany. An apt description given you’ll get to explore storybook German villages full of multi story plaster and timber houses crafted to fairytale perfection on what was once a trade route. The crown jewel of them all is Rotenberg ob der Tauber.
This 13th century medieval walled city is filled with narrow lanes and alleys, half-timbered houses and clock towers that chime on the hour. A fully intact city wall, 1.5 miles long, is still lined by battlements and circled by stairs and walkways; perfect for exploring. At its peak in the 15th century the city was home to around 6000 residents, at a time when Germany’s major cities had not even been settled.
Constructed at a time when security was paramount. Gates were closed nightly to prevent attack. Perched high above the valley floor the charming fountains served an added purpose. Cisterns located under the fountains would continue to provide fresh water even in the event of a prolonged siege.
Today the number of visitors dwarfs the number of residents. Annually around 2.5 million tourists include a day trip here on their itinerary, but a fractional number spend the night. With so much charm, just go ahead and plan to stay.
Every pastry shop window is full of softball shaped desserts. Constructed of shortcrust, which is similar to a piecrust. The baker splashes it with plum schnapps and winds it around the handle of a spoon to form its shape. They are covered by chocolate, confectioner’s sugar, or nuts and sometimes filled with marzipan, this treat has been served here for over 400 years. With a name like schneeball, you simply have to sample one
Climb to the top of the town hall tower located in the city’s center market square. For only 1-euro, plus the challenge of ascending the 241 steps, you are rewarded with a bird’s eye view of the city.
The city’s most famous site is the church of St Jacob. Home to a relic that purports to contain some of Jesus’ blood; it has drawn many pilgrims. Today the city’s churches are mostly Lutheran, although they were built before the time of Martin Luther. A city policy that the church will be the denomination of the city council, brought the changes, and in its time those that did not change their religion, simply lost all their property.
Not to be missed is the Medieval Crime and Punishment Museum. A glimpse at some of these diabolical horrors will leave you glad you’re a 21st century visitor.
Include a visit to the Katie Wolhlfahrt Christmas shop. Stroll through rooms chocked full of different style ornaments, trees and themes. Explore the Christmas Museum, with old Christmas cards, advent calendars, and ornaments, even Mini Christmas trees sent to World War II soldiers. Encompassing a huge display, the throng of tourists makes even moving in this winter wonderland challenging, but worthwhile.
Like many German cities, almost 40% of the city was destroyed during World War II. Partially rebuilt with private donations from all over the world after the war, it is once again historically accurate. Today this gem is the highlight of a tour of Germanys Road.