Don’t get me wrong. Cruise ships and their itineraries are fantastic. A floating hotel that gives one a “taste” of many locales while providing a taste-turned-into-trough experience on board. Reliable, economical, and popular until you try to navigate shore excursion options. Then the fantasy fanaticism boards your brain.
With the launching of the latest Mediterranean Monster, Royal Caribbean “Harmony of the Seas”, Civitavecchia Port, the cattle call-of-call for Roma, has become a maze of money-grubbing madness. It is easy to assume thatHarmony, the largest cruise ship ever built, capable of accommodating the population of Rhode Island, has nudged the official and native service providers into a litany of lies worthy of Pinocchio. Ok, let’s be nice and call them “Fraudulent Information Biases”. Here we go. My list of FIBS.
FIB 1. We are the only provider that is credentialed and legal.
While that is true for the cruise lines, there are stellar companies that do a better job at a better rate for smaller, even private, groups. And they are legit as well.
FIB 2. No one can pick you up at the pier anymore. Increased security.
Easy for us to blame Daesh, Obama, The Pope or your travel agent for this misconception. But it just ain’t so. Companies that have the appropriate permits and passes can stand vigil at the dock with your misspelled name on their sign, ready to spirit you away. This beats the time-consuming Cruise Shuttle mosh pit that is offered to a central meeting point where less credentialed, less expensive, and less reliable pirates wait for you. Note: as of May 1, Civitavecchia has limited van size to 8 passengers or less, clobbering those great 16 seat vans that people loved for sharing a deal and social giggle. Cruise Companies, 1 – Native Nautical Experts, 0.
FIB 3. There are Fees and Check Point Charges.
While credentials, access permits, and the ZTL camera clowns are a reality, no legitimate company on or off the boat should list or mention them. The cost for a tour/transfer should be inclusive, free of a la carte scams designed to confuse and fleece passengers.
FIB 4. There is no reliable mass transit available.
The train from Civitavecchia to Rome is quick, cheap, and reliable. Yes, one must consider strikes and other such Roman messes. But, all in all, you get what you pay for. This is good for the gambler; wander-lust waifs and you cheapos who booked the cruise with “points’ in the first place.
FIB 5. Cruise products and “at the pier” service providers are the only option.
My personal recommendations are the talented, honest and capable people who wait for you at the “Meeting Point” like a pack of day laborers. These are the most qualified and versed patrons of the Peninsula. They avoid lines, crowds, and cheesy tourist lunch joints run by someone’s “Uncle”. With Wi-Fi, Apps, and cell phones, these drivers and guides can be locked in at a good price that will double the experience while cutting the fee. Just get off the boat as soon as possible and catch the first wagon train to the rendezvous.
FIB 6. We are the only people who can keep you safe.
Stop. Pick up your newspaper (or go online). Read the headlines and the “above the fold” part. You are safer in and around Italy than you are on a golf course.
So, use the ship products. They are a great extension of the services and amenities that make the cruising travel option an unbelievably popular choice. Or, lock in something private through pier or meeting point purveyors. Even ride the rails.
Better yet, just let me know and I’ll meet you. We’ll do an Otis Redding salute on the dock of the bay, umm, sea.