How to Navigate Rome from a Mediterranean Cruise

In his latest article, guest contributor David Wishart shares his thoughts on how to navigate Rome from a Mediterranean cruise.

Rome is the gateway city for many travelers on Mediterranean cruises, and smart travelers, particularly those traveling from afar, often prefer to linger. However while some cruise lines make all of the hotel and connection arrangements, some do not.

Where to Stay

Last time I was in Rome I paid a king’s ransom for a trendy hotel in a very good area, but it was a small room and the concierge was not helpful.

This time I chose the well-located and moderately-priced Hotel Mediterraneo on Via Cavour, whose grand, marble entry and Art Deco design gave me a lift. So did the spacious room, and the balcony with the kind of view you would expect from a hotel located on the Esquiline Hill, the highest of Rome’s seven hills.

The Mediterraneo has nice touches such as free slippers and a bed mat which is part of the turn-down service. There is a bath and a good shower, and the mini-bar, with modest prices and space for your own stuff, is a pleasant surprise compared to a recent experience in Las Vegas. Plus the free breakfast is worth crossing Rome for.

However the Wi-Fi and TV selection was not great, although a new Wi-Fi system should be in operation by now.

Guide Sean Egan at the Colosseum (David Wishart)

Guide Sean Egan at the Colosseum (David Wishart)

Getting Around

Major historical attractions in Rome are usually only a few minutes away when using the Metropolitana subway (or Metro for short). This makes seeing the city with a guidebook particularly attractive, especially as small tours are not always easy to find. (Beware of tour companies that promise a maximum of 30 people in a group because you could find yourself with twice as many).

However if you really want to join a tour, my recommendation would be to hook up with a young Irish fellow I met, Sean Egan of City Lights Rome Tours, who knows the city like the back of his hand.

When to Visit

Avoid the second half of August when, like Paris, the city is on vacation and many restaurants are closed.

How to Get There

If you are flying in from another European city, try to book flights on an airline like Ryanair, which flies into Ciampino airport. From Ciampino it costs just 30 Euros in a taxi, or 4 Euros on the bus, to get into the city. From Leonardo da Vinci airport a taxi is 48 Euros.

The port for Rome is Civitavecchia, which is about an hour by road from the city. You can also go by train because, thanks to Mussolini, the rail service is good. However be warned that, when you get to Civitavecchia, you will struggle to get a taxi to the port. For this reason, the best way to get to the port is to take a taxi or shared shuttle directly from Rome. Limos (we used Aim Limo, which was excellent) are about 120 Euros. Just check the driver has a permit to enter the cruise ship area.

Other Tips for your Mediterranean Cruise

  • If you are going home from Nice in France, take care at the station. As is the case with most big cities, you have to watch your wallet and bags at all times. While I was operating a ticket retrieval machine I took my hand off my suitcase for a moment. When I put it back I found another hand! A guy was standing beside me holding the handle of my bag, obviously about to make off with it. A blast of my best Anglo-Saxon sent him packing but, sadly, there were no police around. There never are, I am told.
  • Avoid Wi-Fi on your cruise ship – the prices are high and there is typically really slow reception. Instead take your iPad or other electronic device ashore. I found the tourist offices at ports of call in France very helpful, directing me to cafes with Wi-Fi. Italian tourist offices are more elusive but Wi-Fi can usually be found.

To keep up with David and his travels, you can find him on Twitter @dcwishart or visit his blog Cruise Plus.

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