Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: Should we book our own excursions on our Mediterranean cruise?
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Wednesday 14 August 2013
Q We are cruising with our six-year-old son in the
Mediterranean with Thomson later this month, and like some of the excursions on
offer. However, they add quite a cost to the holiday. The main ports of
call are Venice, Dubrovnik, Kotor in Montenegro, Corfu Town, Valletta in Malta
and Civitavecchia in Italy. What’s your advice?
A Do it yourself. At some ports of call on some cruises, there are compelling reasons to take an organised excursion. For example, on Baltic cruises, taking part in an organised excursion is the only way to be allowed off the boat in St Petersburg without getting a Russian visa. And on a call at the Israeli port of Ashdod, visiting the fascinating ruins at Masada overlooking the Dead Sea is the best way to sort out the complex logistics. But at the ports of call you mention, the DIY option is feasible, economical and possibly more rewarding. With a six-year-old, it could also prove more relaxing.
At Venice and Dubrovnik, being part of a cruise excursion dampens the experience – you trail around the tourist hotspots in a large group rather than exploring the more rewarding backstreets. Better to download our most recent 48 hours to those fine cities.
At Kotor, the main attraction is Lovcen National Park; if you decide to explore it, then you can probably negotiate a good deal with a local taxi driver.
Corfu’s cruise terminal is some way north of the city centre; some taxi drivers will try to charge €10, but you can walk or hop on one of the frequent local buses. There is more than enough to explore in the beautiful town centre, or take a bus north along the coast to see more of the island.
This is the ideal time to visit the rejuvenated city of Valletta – and we featured it in 48 Hours earlier this month (bit.ly/Valletta48). Again, there are excellent bus services around the island if you want to explore.
Finally, Civitavecchia is the most awkward location – both the port itself, a long way out of town, and its distance from Rome. But take the free bus to the station, hop on one of the frequent trains to the Italian capital, and enjoy a carefree day.
Click HERE to email Simon.
You can also tweet him your questions @SimonCalder
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 Cyclist who knocked down three-year-old girl says his life has been 'destroyed'
- 2 Chelsea victory parade: Chelsea mocked on Twitter as 'tens of fans' pack the streets of London
- 3 US warned by Chinese media to stop meddling or 'war will be inevitable'
- 4 Woman, 21, dies after taking contraceptive pill that 'caused fatal blood clot'
- 5 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
Hitching a ride to South Korea: what it's like being the only female passenger on board a cargo ship heading to Asia
Inside Travel: Greece 2015 Q&A - should we cancel our Greek holiday? Are our flights safe? And what will we be spending there?
Secrets of the Azores
Y-40 Deep Joy: This is the world's deepest swimming pool
The 10 Best lightweight luggage
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
£24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...
Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...
£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...