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Tiring some of Italy before and after cruise out of civitavecchia

Looking for suggestions please. Our family of 9, 7 adults 2 children. We would like to see most of the main attractions in Rome and we were also thinking of finding an easy and affordable way to see Sorrento and the island of Capri. We are hoping to arrive a few days before the cruise and stay a few days after for sightseeing. We are traveling during high season. Mid July and reading about the train stations it sounds scary. It would be awful and would ruin our once in a lifetime vacation. Any suggestions would be helpful and appreciated.
Thank you

Posted by
3349 posts

Hire a driver van service to Rome. What is the problem you fear with the train stations in Italy?

Posted by
2132 posts

Every time I go to a new country and need to use a new train system, I feel a little overwhelmed and stressed. You should price out Suki's suggestion, it may be the answer. Otherwise, I would try to ask specific questions. I haven't been to Italy but I was just in Spain and their train company/system is not as user friendly as other countries', and I was also concerned about specific stations. I posted very specific questions like, "How do I get to Sevilla by train from Madrid's main airport." Several people offered excellent links and descriptions of the airport and the train stations where I needed to transfer as well as time estimates. With their information the whole process was easy, and probably was not worth all the anxiety. I recall getting similar help for Switzerland.
I think it is a great idea to arrive a few days before your cruise. Obviously, your cruise is a bit pricey so its nice to be able to adjust to the time change before the start of the cruise. It also gives you a buffer in case there would happen to be any flight problems and then of course the extra time on both ends gives you more time to explore!
Lastly, know that there are nice, helpful people everywhere! I think every place I've been in Europe, I've observed or experienced having a local or a knowledgeable tourist offer to help or make suggestions to someone looking at a guidebook or map. I've run into businesses and asked for help and even with a language barrier have had people draw maps or provide assistance. And if you do have a mishap in logistics, it doesn't have to ruin your vacation. Maybe your day, but most often things can be remedied, just ask for help or a cocktail! In Italy, I'd recommend the Aperol Spritz! ;) Have fun and report back!

Posted by
8757 posts

Hi and welcome to the forum! :O)

"Train stations" are the least of your worries. Your bigger issue is trying to move 9 people around both Rome and the Amalfi region in "just a few days" on either end of a cruise. Both places will be hot and heaving with high-season tourists so let's just say that, for sanity and enjoyment, trying to do a mad dash of either is not advised in July, especially with a large group.

Seeing the "main attractions" in Rome will involve advance tickets to the most-visited of those.

So, some questions:

Exactly how many days will you have on either end of this cruise? It matters. Arrival days are often a jet-lagged fog, and travel to/from the Amalfi area to/from Rome or Civitavecchia (assuming that's where your ship departs/arrives) is time-consuming any way you shake it.

an easy and affordable way to see Sorrento and the island of Capri

You may have to choose one or the other. What is "affordable" for your budget? Accommodations in the A.C. during high season will not be inexpensive, and the ferries aren't exactly cheap either.

Have you booked your air yet? If so, from where are you departing?

How old are the children?

Editing to add, you might want to keep an eye on this thread: another poster wanting to move 9 to the Amalfi Coast after a cruise.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/italy/amalfi-coast-in-the-summer

Posted by
5 posts

Wow...thank you for getting back to me. Our children purchased this family cruise for us for Christmas and our 60th Birthdays. Our grandkids are 8 and 5. We hope to leave out of Boston on the 17th of July and return on the 30th. Still watching the air travel fares.We have never traveled out of the country so it will be a big adventure and we are trying to see as much as we can while there. All of your suggestions will help! Funny we never considered the jet lag lol we have just been so excited. The cruise departs on the 21st out of civitavecchia and returns on the 28th. As far as the train goes we’ve read some horror stories about pick pockets and traveling with suitcases. We also need advice on where to stay...hotel or Airbnb? So much planning to do. I really want to enjoy our time together without a lot of frustration lol

Posted by
8757 posts

Hi back, Mom!
Wow, what a great birthday gift! You will have a wonderful time!

We hope to leave out of Boston on the 17th of July and return on the
30th. The cruise departs on the 21st out of civitavecchia and returns
on the 28th.

Here's the skinny, as I see it, anyway. You don't have really time for Amalfi on this trip unless you put it on the front end, and you'd have precious little for Rome if you put that one on the back end: just one full day. It needs a minimum of 4 nights/3.5 days to even scratch the surface without dashing madly from one attraction to the next.

Given the time it takes to get down to the coast and back to Rome to fly home, you definitely can't do it on the back end, and I wouldn't do it on the front either. It would be an exhausting trip on arrival day, and you'd only have 2 full days for the Coast, Capri, Pompeii, etc. before having to turn around and travel to Civitavecchia.

What I'd do? Scrap the coast and see if you can't add a day or two to the front end for Rome. As hot and as crowded as it will be - and with young children along - being able to sightsee at a more leisurely pace will help all of you be able to appreciate it more. Oftentimes travelers who've said they didn't care for it tried to cram everything into 2 days or so and ended up overheated and exhausted from being in the thick of the masses all the time!

Concentrating on the Eternal City will also eliminate the stress & expense of trying to move 9 people to/around the coast and back in a short period of time during its busiest season. Get into Rome and settle in; spend the rest of the day just getting your bearings; sightsee for the next 3; then head off the ship without the somewhat arduous journey it would otherwise be from the Amalfi.

Pickpockets: yes, they're a reality but not just on transport. You're going to want to protect your valuables ANYWHERE you are. More ways of doing that have been discussed on these forums than I can shake a stick at so you'll want to do some reading up to see which of those will work best for you. The short of it is that you never, ever want to carry your cash and cards in an exterior pocket or a standard purse. Ever. They should be stowed under your clothing or in a secured, cross-body bag (we use a Pacsafe). If using a bag, you carry ON you at all times: it's never laid at your feet, hung on the back of a chair or laid on a table. It's also a good idea to distribute the cards/cash amongst you so that they're not all in one place. I carry some cards/$$, and my husband does too.

LOL, we've had umpty lively discussions on 'best' methods of keeping the goodies away from light fingers, and no single way works for everyone so do some browsing around the forums for the various methods. The GOOD news is that the vast amount of tourists don't lose a thing if they've taken at least some sort of precaution, and even many travelers who haven't have escaped unscathed. It's best not to take the risk, though. It's no fun to spend precious sightseeing time/energy worrying about your stuff so just eliminate that particular distraction: problem solved. :O)

Posted by
530 posts

First, make sure everyone (including children) has a passport, if not get them right now!

With that many people you must commit to “packing light” if you don’t understand that concept, what Rick’s video on this site.

For nine people who are not seasoned travelers this would require significant investment in pre-trip research and being realistic about the cost for three meals a day, transportation, housing, entrance fees to Pompeii, etc.

Please do not let me discourage you! But if you want to have a great trip to remember I would buy Rick Steves Italy book now, start booking places to stay, learn how to pack light & learn about Italian public transportation.

Posted by
8757 posts

Additionally, Mom, you might get more responses to this thread if it's posted in the Italy forum as this one is more specifically for RS escorted tours. I'll drop a note to the webmaster to see if he can move it on Monday. :O)

Posted by
2576 posts

Heed Kathy's wise advice. Could you possibly leave the US a day or two earlier? That would give you several days in Rome, time to relax and enjoy the city. Remember that if you fly to Italy on the 17th, you don't get there until the 18th, and unless your flight gets in very early indeed, much of that day will be spent getting through the airport, getting into town, checking into the hotel, getting settled... You get the idea. So you really only have two days before your cruise, and you still have to get the mob (with luggage!) to Civitavecchia. Yikes!

Where does the cruise go? I'm just curious.

Another thought: what if you stayed in Civitavecchia, and took the shuttle or train to Rome for sightseeing? Nah, probably not practical.

Don't stress out, but do plan carefully. What a wonderful gift!

Posted by
1026 posts

First of all, congratulations on your 60 bdays, we did a family cruise to Alaska for ours, also with two young grandchildren. Very important, pack light! Most cruises don’t require dressy clothes like way back when. It is all casual. A nice skirt with different tops is sufficient. Also, you can always have laundry done on the ship. Yes it is expensive, but we always just figure it into the cost of travel. Some things are worth paying for. Check with the cruise line, some have self serve laundry.

Posted by
3349 posts

The day your flight lands in Italy is when you will deal with jet lag. Coming from the east coast you will just have a six hour time change, easier than, for example, coming from California with 9 hour time change.
Stay outside, walk around and force yourselves to stay awake until normal bedtime in Italy. You will be fine the next day.
Do not get stressed about pickpockets as Italy’s cities are no different than those in the US. Just be alert and aware as in any city.
With the large size of your group the driver with van may be cost effective too to move your group around. Or rent two cars.
Putting all of your extra time either before or after the cruise makes sense too. Go to just one extra place- Rome, or Tuscany would work.
Getting nine people on and off trains with luggage would be quite a feat. Time to make one reservation for a hotel for four nights and book transportation with a driver/van service.
Also, I HIGHLY recommend that you stay in a hotel with a front desk staff ( not an Air BnB) to help you answer questions and make dinner reservations for you. Since you are new at international travel, the staff will be a godsend.
Once you choose your destination, book tickets online for top museums, historic sites.
Happy Birthday too!

Posted by
2 posts

You mention concerns about train stations; one useful piece of advice I received is always carry a small pad and pen, and when you ask about times and track numbers, write it down and show it to the person you are asking. This eliminates language issues.

Also, when you arrive at a hotel, get hotel business cards and put them in the children’s pockets. They will have the hotel address and often a map as well.

Posted by
1358 posts

Decide in advance that you will not get stressed about things that don't work out as planned. As long as you distribute cash and credit cards among you and protect your passports, one person being pickpocketed would not "be awful and ruin our once in a lifetime vacation" unless you let it do so. And if something happens to your passport, there's an embassy in Rome. It's a good idea to have photocopies of your passports in your luggage to show embassy personnel if that happens. Not trying to scare you-I've been to Europe 12 times and Rome 3 times and never been pickpocketed or had anything happen to my passport. That doesn't mean it won't happen on my next trip-just ask Rick Steves! Luggage can be a drag-it will help if every person, including children, is totally responsible for managing their own luggage. Children's clothes don't take up much room and each one of them could have a backpack and rolling luggage.

Posted by
3030 posts

If you decide to use a private car service (and you really should consider it with the size of your group) here is one to check out.

Rome Cabs. It is a private car service and not a cab company despite the name. Not sure what they would charge, but it might be only a little more than other means for nine people. We have used them many times have always been very pleased. Go to romecabs.com and see what you think. We just send an email outlining our needs and they answer us with a quote within 24 hours. At one time you had to pay cash (Euros) at the end of the journey but nothing in advance. Seems to me they now take credit cards but I could be wrong.

Also, as has be suggested, you will be hard pressed to do both Rome and Sorrento / Capri and do either one justice. Think about just staying in Rome and enjoying it at a reasonable pace.

Posted by
2132 posts

Lynne's suggestion is good. Similarly, a photo helps. For my first trip to Europe, I had to get from the Budapest train station to our hotel near the parlament. I showed the metro employee a picture of parliament and she immediately pointed to her map and visually explained how to get to parlament circling the stop and counting off the stops between. Also in Alsace, we just could not find our inn in the center of Colmar. There was an ad and pic of the inn on the back of the map. I went into a bar showed the photo, and a man actually got up from the bar and walked me to the inn! People are good and will help you!

Posted by
8757 posts

Just to mention, the webmaster kindly moved this thread to the right forum. :O)