Stopping at Palermo for 10 hours as one port on a Mediterranean cruise. Question is whether we can easily walk the city by ourselves (departing from the cruise ship area) or if it is worth it to take the standard tours offeres by the cruise line?
Palermo is an easy city to walk in, and the port is close. If you want to visit Monreale, taking a taxi might be the quickest way, so that you have time for the other places. The markets are worth a visit, also the major buildings and some of the very old churches. Classy shoppping as well, if the credit card is in need of a workout.
Larry - two different questions really -
1)Can you easily walk Palermo by yourself? Yes. Not sure where the cruise ship area is so you may need to get transport into the center, but once you are there Palermo is a great walking around city. We had a map and a few pages from a guidebook and just walked around for several hours on our first day. We got into the markets, saw several weddings (still not sure if Wednesdays are a particular popular day for weddings), walked past buildings that are still bombed out from WWII, ate wonderful lemon ice, and in general really enjoyed ourselves.
2) Is it worth it to take the standard tour? Probably depends on what they offer and how you like to travel. We have taken a bus tour of larger cities in order to get our bearings as to where to return a second day. I can also see the advantage of having someone tell you what everything is, give you some history if you didn't have time to research it yourself, etc. We really feel like we got an insider's view using a tourguide in Prague as we did not have a good background in Czech history. And, since you are from Chicago - we loved the river architecture tour - again since we don't have a very good background in that field it was great to just "be along for the ride" and not have to figure it out ourselves.
Either way, we really enjoyed Palermo and I'd go back in a heartbeat.
There is a hop-on/hop-off tour bus in Palermo that we found useful, if you tire of walking, and certainly will be a lot cheaper than what the ship will offer.