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Hi, we were first time cruisers on the Destiny June/July, loved every minute of it. Depending on where you dock (beware some areas area bit sleazy) some trips can easily be done on your own. you get a printed sheet each day detailing stops and excursions. We paid for some of the excursions as you see more, learn more and have escorts along the way, the guides are excellent.
If you have not visited the place before,then it is probebly best to take a planed tour,however if you are more adventuresome it is so easy to go on yourown, and you will find that the excusions office on board ship wil help yo.
I would try and talk to your fellow cruisers as you will find there are plenty who have been to the ports of call before. Some trips are much cheaper to do yourself but others are best done with the organised ones.
Apart from the Captains dinner when a lounge/dinner suit is best, the dress code is quite relaxed and shirt and trousers will be fine, you will not need a tie unless you really wish to wear one.
If you are going to Rome you are better going on an organised trip as there is a lot to take in. we went on a half day coach trip and saw all the sites.
I don't know your destinations, but places like Florence, Pisa, Rome, are some distance away from the port. Also, if any of these destinations happen on a Sunday, getting there with public transport can be a little difficult. As the previous answer rightly says, you can do it on your own, if you are adventurous, or if you believe that the ship's costs are too dear, but on the Spirit, we - who never pay for tours when visiting the many Caribbean ports - paid for the ship's visits to the above places. Stops like Barcelona are easily DIY ports.
What a suprise - we too are on the same cruise departing on the 30th August. Have travelled with Thomson cruises over 20 times - best advise is to make your own arrangements as considerabley much cheaper than booking the excursions on board. Most of the ports have infomation desks to help with all enquiries (very good english speaking) As a rule you can get a taxi for Pisca and Florence for approx £40 and the taxi driver will wait as long as you like and you only pay when you get back to the ship. If you want to visit Rome - which I strongly recommend you get the port courtesty bus to the town then it is a 5 minute walk to the train station and then for 9 Euro's you can get a train ticket including underground pass which will take you into the City of Rome and then on the underground straight to the Colleusum very easy to do - if you want any further info just email back.
We were on the Destiny a couple of months ago and picked which tours we wanted with care. Some places you are best escorted, others you can make your own way a lot cheaper. As for dinner in the retsaurant, the dress code is smart casual. Open neck smart shirt and decent trousers for the men and equal for the ladies - except on the `gala night. I wore a dark suit and tie. By the way, we thoroughly enjoyed our week and it was our first time too!
Colin and Nancy.
Always do your own thing.
These companies really sting you.
D G Lewi.
Re excursions: do your own thing - you will find cheaper and you will see a lot more. Look up your destinations on the internet and plan what you want to see or visit and when you get into port you will find tour operatours or taxis. on the quayside, willing to take you where you want to go. Agree the price before you set off. They live there and know what there is to see. One word of warnig ensure the drivers/operators are registered and should carry and official badge. Enjoy your cruise. Pau.
It is easier to tour the sights on your own, organised excursions are quite expensive and you are obliged to tour to their schedule. If you tour alone, you can take your own pace and not feel you are being rushed, when you may want to spend a bit longer at certain tourist areas.
You should try to collect as much information as possible, before leaving the U.K. either by internet or book shops etc. about certain ports you will visit. Print off as much information as you can, to take with you, particularly travel for buses, taxis and tourist transport, they often will give you an idea of price and where you can visit. The ship will not give you much information, as they try to encourage you to book their excursions, although you usually get a town map the day before you berth at each port. We found the internet gave us all the information we needed and have been cruising for years, never found the need to book excursions with the ship, as we like to tour on our own, with our choice of places to visit.