My travel agent advised against buying excursions outside of the cruise ship. She said we might be left by the ship.
Well, I went against her wishes and booked a private tour with Shore Excursions in Italy for this 7 day cruise on board Norwegian Epic. Main reason was not just the cheaper price but because my sister and I traveled with my 82-year old Mom who had problem walking long distances and catching up with the pace of a big tour group.
Beppe Guiseppe, our tour driver, made it very easy for my Mom to enjoy Florence and Pisa. We got to see more, as we parked very close to the places we want to visit and did not have to walk so much which is what is what you do with most tour companies contracted by cruise ships. Beppe was at the Livorno port at the appointed time so we were on the road way before other tour buses left the cuise terminal.
I arranged my itinerary with amazing Daniela (Santa Croce, Piazza del Duomo, Plaza Michaelangelo), and we got to see all of them, did some shopping and took lots and lots of pictures. We also got to see the Abbazia di San Miniato al Monte where you have the calming moment in a sacred place, the majestic view of the heart of Florence and priceless works or art and religious icons . You will not find this itinerary included in any cruise ship excursions.
In Pisa, we parked so close to the Leaning Tower which I did not even realize was possible and had plenty of time to browse and take pictures at the Baptistery, the Duomo and of course, the Leaning Tower. We did some shopping here as well and still got back to the ship way before the prescribed time.
Please don't look any further for you shore excursions. This company with amazing employees such as Daniela and Beppe will make your trip worth adding to your treasure box of wonderful memories. I must also add that we greatly appreciate Beppe as he showed so much attention and respect to my Mom. Hats off to you, Beppe. Arrivederci. Ciao :)