Some information and comments are provided by Sharon Jackson.
Princess offers only 3 official "shore excursions" while in Rome. While I cannot speak for the other lines at this point, I would imagine the details and prices are similar.
1. Rome, The Eternal City - Duration Approx. 9 3/4 hours - $143 per personGuided motor coach tour with "stops" at the COLOSSEUM, ST. PETER'S BASILICA, VATICAN MUSEUM, SISTINE CHAPEL.
"Drive by" with narrative of BASILICAS of ST. JOHN in Lateran and Santa Maria Maggiore, MONUMENT to VITTORIO EMANUELE II near the Capitol Hill, ROMAN FORUM, TRAJAN's COLUMN, ARCH of CONSTANTINE, BORGHESE PARK, CASTEL SANT' ANGELO and CIRCUS MAXIMUS.
Lunch with wine is included and a brief "shopping"stop in the Vatican for religious articles and souvenirs.
2. Rome Sampler - Duration Approx. 9 1/4 hours - $89 per personCombination of 1/2 day "on your own" and 1/2 day "guided tour" of the COLOSSEUM and ST. PETER'S BASILICA. Lunch is NOT included.
On most cruises, you will be dropped in Rome at the Piazzo Augusto Imperatore in the morning for "time on your own". You will be picked up there in the early afternoon for the "guided" part of the tour.
Note: This does not include admission to the SISTINE CHAPEL or VATICAN MUSEUM, and there is no indication whether there would be time to do this on your own.
3. Rome On Your Own - Duration Approx. 9 hours - $75 per personThis is "transportation only" by motorcoach between the ship in Civitavecchia and the Piazzo Augusto Imperatore for a full independent day. You will get a "city map" on the motor coach.
The brochure states that the drive between CIVITAVECCHIA and ROME is approximately 1 1/4 hours each way, subject to traffic conditions. ALL SHIPS dock in Civitavecchia for Rome and it is a long and expensive "transfer".
Proper ATTIRE must be worn in all of Italy when visiting religious sites. NO SHORTS or BARE SHOULDERS. Take this one seriously folks. During one of my visits to Italy, I remember a gentleman who was not let into the Siena Cathedral because he had on Bermuda Shorts. And NO TANK TOPS or sleeveless dresses.
Camera Restrictions: Flash cameras are NOT allowed in the Vatican Museum. Neither cameras nor video cameras are allowed in the Sistine Chapel. Cameras may be used in St. Peter's Basilica, but you may be required to leave video cameras with officials before entering.
In my experience, flash photography is almost always prohibited in Italian museums, cathedrals and art galleries.
Flash photography over time can greatly damage artifacts. "Slow" film may help you take good non-flash photos, however I recall a lot of places being very dimly lit. I did get a very good non-flash photo of the David in Florence 20 years ago without the use of flash. However, that was before "he" was blocked off by plexiglass shielding to hamper vandalism.
Michelangelo's famous "Pieta" is in St. Peter's - also behind plexiglass and a railing as this was severly damaged by vandalism back in the 1970's.
Times to Watch:VATICAN MUSEUM - Open April through November, but hours vary.
From April through June 13th and September through October:8:45 AM to 4:00 PM Monday through Friday, 8:45 AM to 1:00 PM on Saturday and CLOSED ALL SUNDAYS EXCEPT the LAST SUNDAY of each month it is open from 8:45 AM to 1:00 PM. Closed on religious holidays; May 1, May 8 & May 29th.
From June 16th through August and in November:8:45 AM to 1:00 PM Monday through Saturday and on the LAST Sunday of each month only. Closed on religious holidays: August 14, August 15 & Nov 1st.
Open 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM on Wednesday and Sunday. 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM other days of the week.
From May through October, the majority of shops in Rome are open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM and from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM. In almost ALL OF ITALY, shops are closed from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM daily. On Saturdays, most shops are open from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM only and on Sunday, only "some" shops open between 9:30 AM and 1:00 PM.
Souvenir shops are usually open all day every day during the main tourist season. You might find a few shops open outside of the above hours but this is not always "consistent".
If you are sailing the GRAND MEDITERRANEAN itinerary with PRINCESS this year, watch for the following changes:
May 29th and Aug 17th voyages: Vatican Museum Closed. For Tour #1, you will visit the Capitoline Museum instead.
July 16th and Sept 10th voyages: Colosseum visit limited to EXTERIOR only. For Tours 1 & 2, you will visit the Church of St. Peter in Chains to view Michaelangelo's Moses instead.
Aug 17th voyage: For Tour #2, the sightseeing portion will be in the morning instead of the afternoon.
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please