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Rome before cruise

Newbies here….
We go to Rome 2 days before boarding our Mediterranean cruise. Unfortunately we fly in on a Saturday and want to avoid the Vatican on Sunday. Would we be crazy to book a Vatican tour early Monday morning (3 hour tour) then head to the port? Our other option would be an evening Saturday tour but we’d really like to see the Colosseum underground and I can only find availability on Saturday. Any suggestions are appreciated. This is our first time visiting.

Posted by
6689 posts

Welcome to the forum!

The Vatican is closed on Sunday so that isn’t an option.

I’d do the Colosseum tour for sure although unfortunate it’s on your arrival day. Don’t usually recommend scheduling such important things that day as you never know how you’ll deal with jet lag or if you will have flight delays, etc.
However that’s a tough one to get so if you see availability grab it!

if you feel that you can get to your ship on time then do the Monday tour of Vatican.
Just know that it will be very very crowded, so if you’d rather spend some time strolling thru a market or having a coffee on a piazza that is an option as well.

Since you posted “this is your first time visiting” I will assume you’d like to return. Save the Vatican for next time and enjoy just being in Rome this time without rushing from sight to sight, tour to tour.

JMO but we are planning our 5th visit to Rome for next spring and don’t expect to be done with it even then!

Posted by
7572 posts

Your question suggests that you need to post the time interval (say, 1PM-4PM) that the ship accepts Embarcation of passengers on Monday. As long as you book a car and driver for the port transfer, you could do anything you want on Monday morning, but 3 hours is very short for the tour and free time that you describe. You will have to skip a lot of art, the dome and roof access, and the gardens (which are open only by Garden tour.) There is always a long wait for security-entrance, so you would want to be in line almost an hour before your tour time, if you can still get one. You have to deal with going back to the hotel for the luggage, probably.

Note that no taxi or Black Car is going to take you onto the pier and up to the gangplank. It could take 30 minutes (from port arrival in a car) to get to the gangplank, and the line could get longer as departure time approaches. Have you been on a cruise before?

I'm not bad-mouthing the Coliseum, but it should be possible to decide what is your personal priority between the two. We didn't go to the Vatican until our third trip to Rome. We've never done the Coliseum underground.

Posted by
1102 posts

Be advised that the Rome port (Civitavecchia) is a long way from the city - about 1.5 hours drive if no traffic. Depending on your embarkation time you may be able to pull it off but you might be cutting it close. IMHO 3 hours is barely enough for St. Peter’s (incl security line which can be substantial) never mind the whole Vatican Museums which are enormous. Personally I would choose something less ambitious that morning. Trevi Fountain/Pantheon perhaps? Also echoing a PP in that doing the underground part of the Colosseum would be cool but not essential. The regular tour of it is more than enough if that’s all that’s available.

Posted by
20 posts

It's not crazy but it's close. Do you know your embarkation time?

To make this work, you would have to check out and leave all your luggage ready at the hotel and then go on an early morning Vatican tour (8am but arriving around 7:15 to lineup/check in). Once done, a taxi back to the hotel to get all your stuff and then take a car service to the port. We used Rome Cabs ( and they were great. On time and friendly and knew exactly where to go and how to get there. You need to book them in advance and let them know how many people and pieces of luggage you have. It's about 90 minutes to Civitavecchia if traffic is no issue so doing the math you would be arriving at the port at around 2pm if everything goes well, maybe 1:30pm if you experience no delays throughout the morning.

Is that enough time to check in for your cruise? Possibly depending on your embarkation time. Will you have enough time to adjust if something goes wrong? Not really. For example, it took us a little longer than expected to get a taxi after our Vatican tour but we weren't in a hurry and were just going to get lunch. What if you get delayed at the Vatican and are late for the transfer? We were always ready for the car service when we used it so I'm not sure how long they would wait if we were late. We also prefer to get to the ship early and get in cruise mode but that's us.

Whatever you decide, I wish you a great journey and happy adventures. If you do decide to go to the Vatican the morning of the cruise I would love to hear how it went.

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks for the replies. I think we’ll definitely pass on the Monday tour and just head to the ship. I appreciate the responses.

Posted by
265 posts

We actually did this last June. We spent two nights in Rome prior to our cruise and did the Vatican the morning of embarkation. We booked a morning guided tour through Walks of Italy. Our ship didn’t sail until 7pm so it worked for us.
On our arrival day in Rome we didn’t want to schedule anything so we used that day to walk around and see the Spanish steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, etc.
Second day we did the Colosseum/ancient Rome tour and third day (embarkation) the Vatican tour because we didn’t want to try to do both in one day.

Posted by
20 posts


We did the early morning Vatican tour and Coliseum/Forum tour in the afternoon. We hit the wall in the Forum so agree it’s not a good idea to try both on the same day. I wish we had had one more day to separate the tours but we simply didn’t have the time.