Galaxy in the Mediterrean -9/16 - Need help!



This is our first time crossing the ocean for a cruise...........HELP!

Suggestions for good air fare from NYC to Rome?

Hotels in Rome - any good budget hotels you have stayed at and can recommend? There are so many hotels, it is difficult to know which ones are in a good location and are decent. Don't want to spend as much on hotels as we are spending on the cruise, if you kow what I mean!

Private excursions booked via internet. Any good ones you can recommend? We will be visiting:

Rome, Naples, Messina, Genoa, Villafranche, Mykonos, Santoroni. We usually book on our own and find others on the ship or on the boards to join us.

Any "must do and see" excursions and places not to miss.

Any helpful hints on spending money..........(we all know how to do this), credit card, exchange American $$$ to Euros? I am clueless about all this. I have lots of time to spend on the Internet doing research, guess it will keep me busy for the next 8 months!

Many thanks for any insight and wisdom you can share with this not too savy European traveler. I would love to hear from any board members who have gone to these ports before.


My fiance and I are booked on this same cruise. Neither of us has been before but we've been researching the heck out of everything. Our priest studied in Rome and recommended a hotel we are thinking of staying at called Smeraldo -he says its really nice and everyone he's recommended it to has really liked it. I believe its very near the Vatican and kind of in the heart of everything. I e-mailed the hotel and it is 140 Euro for the night before and night after the cruise.

As far as shore excursions, we like to do a lot on our own. Especially since we are in our twenties and will likely be a lot younger than all on the ship -meaning we might have different ideas of what we'd like to see when on shore. But we still are booking a couple this week for the following reasons: Naples is supposedly not the nicest/safest city and we also want to see as much as possible so booking the Sorrento/Capri/Pompeii trip was a no-brainer (it would be hard to use public transportation to see all of these places and not risk not getting back to the ship). The other of our excursions is also because we don't think we have enough time to do it on our own: the stop in Messina is really short so taking a train or bus to Taormina would be kind of tight. For the rest, I've heard that Mykonos and Santorini are great to do by bus or cab (we might want to try the bus at least once there just for a more cultural experience) -the only thing I'm still trying to figure out is how to get to the big winery in Santorini but I'm assuming a cab could go there and just be called to come back -or maybe cabs go by there all the time. In Villefranche, we're thinking of taking the train to Monaco for changing of the guard and then we'll probably take the train over to Nice to spend the rest of the day there (its only 4 miles from Villefranche). Portofino/Santa Margherita seem to be hot spots when visiting Genoa and it looks like there are regular trains so we'll probably do that.

Again, this is just based on my own research so I hope others reply because I'd love to hear from people who have been there!