AlexT4

AlexT4
Third Mate

Hometown: New Castle, DE
Joined: 07/11/2012
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AlexT4's Tips

Helsinki, Finland - Take shuttle to city center and then you can easily walk to the Rock church and then just walk around the main historic area near the train station.
St. Petersburg, Russian Federation - Take a ship excursion to avoid having to get a time consuming visa. Peterhof is not to be missed plus the Winter Palace (Hermitage). We loved our walking tour of the historic center on day two
Tallinn, Estonia - Skip the excursion and walk 5 or 10 minutes to the old town. Then just explore and enjoy. This was the highlight of our cruise. What a beautiful place and we were so glad it was on the itinerary up against better known places. You will be amazed here.
Oslo, Norway - Again, easy to get around. Ship docks right by the castle and city hall. Tram number 12 a 3 minute walk from the ship takes you right to Vigeland Sculpture park. Return to city center and you can walk to every other major site. A ferry takes you to the Viking Ship Museum.
Stockholm, Sweden - Take the shuttle to the city center and again walk. It is a beautiful city.
Copenhagen, Denmark - First, skip a ship excursion. Copenhagen is easily walked from the ship. Plus bikes are free to use in this city everywhere so grab one and bike around the city. The Mermaid is right near where the ship docks. Walk along the water and the canals.
Piraeus (Athens), Greece - Forget the ship excursion and take the train into Athens. It cost 3 euro for a roundtrip ticket plus 12 euro to enter the Acropolis site. 15 euro total vs. the ship excursion cost. Once done at the Acropolis walk around the Plaka, shop and get a few drinks. The train station is a good 20 minute to 30 minute walk from where we docked so you may want to grab a taxi. The walk was nice for us.
Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy - We had been to Rome a few times so we rented a car at Hertz right outside the port and drove to three small Italian towns. Had a wonderful day.
Alexandria (Cairo), Egypt - We booked a private tour through www.egyptdailytours.com. Rasha El-Ashmawy runs this tour company and was exceptional. We paid the same as a ship excursion for a private tour of the Pyramids, National Museum, and Felucca boat ride with lunch on the Nile ($175). We also got to see the market as it was added at the end. We had a private van, driver, and tour guide. You can lower the cost by having a larger group but it was well worth it to us. Nora our tour guide was exceptional. Be prepared for driving in Egypt. They have no traffic control at all, no signals nothing. It is an experience so buckle up maybe have a drink or two.
Valletta, Malta - We took the hop on hop off tour bus you catch right after exiting the port. 15 euro for almost a 3 hour tour around practically the whole island. It stops in a few places but recommend you stay with the same bus. Sit up top in the open air. A lot less expensive than a ship excursion to one or two sites and you learn a lot about Malta. We left the cruise in Malta as we found a flight to Barcelona the next morning for about 49 euro probably 75 euro or so with tax. It gave us a night in Malta and an extra day in Barcelona vs. sitting around a pool on a ship. You are in Europe so we wanted as much times as possible. We stayed at the British Hotel in Malta, not 5 star but view is exceptional overlooking the port and staff were very friendly. Also some of the film Munich was shot there. We then flew Ryanair to Barcelona and stayed at the Regina. Excellent hotel right by Rambla.
Izmir, Turkey - We did a ship excursion but know now that you can book an independent excursion. Look on cruise critic message boards. Ephesus is a must but the carpet factory tour was a waste of time. Would rather have gone to see another site or something like people did who got independent tours.
Tauranga, New Zealand - We arrived on a Sunday morning and most places were closed. We opted out of any shore excursions so may be a good port to do one. Friendly townspeople though.
Port Chalmers (Dunedin), New Zealand - We were lucky and got to see all these school children celebrating safety with bagpipes and all. The train station is nice too. Again, somewhere I would probably do a shore excursion if I went again.
Christchurch, New Zealand - Beautiful place that we loved. A trolley will take you around the main sites and give a history. Went punting, or a boat ride, which was wonderful and informative. Took a funicular up I guess a mountain for amazing views. Hint, take the funicular later in the day and then take a bus from there back to the ship. Easier than going all the way back to town.
Burnie, Tasmania, Australia - We loved Tasmania and especially the shore excursion to Wings Wildlife Refuge. We were able to feed and pet kangaroos including one with a baby in it's pouch. We also were able to pet koala bears. The staff are amazing and all the animals take your breath away.
Melbourne, Australia - An beautiful city with so much to do without going on a shore excursion. Just walk around the city go to a museum or any of a hundred things to see and do there. We wish we had longer here though.
Napier, New Zealand - Had excellent art deco buildings and a lot of shopping. Very nice port.
Wellington, New Zealand - Wow what a windy city. I think the said the wind gusts were 124 kph or 77mph when we were there. Has a great museum right on the harbor which is wonderful to walk around if you don't get blown over. We took a cable car up the one hill and had amazing views, plus nice botanical gardens there.
Picton, New Zealand - Nice little port with a quaint town. Public library has free internet access for those who bring a lap top. We actually left our video camera in restaurant and didn't realize it till we got back to the ship. The locals greeting us called the restaurant for us like they were calling a relative and sure enough it was still there and we were able to retrieve it promptly after lunch.

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