Capri island or Amalfi coast in Italy on a shore excursion?

Started Jul 9, 2012 | Discussions thread
TimR32225 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,405
I've been there: I would do #2 (or do it on my own)

The prices of the cruise tours are an absolute rip-off and you can do it for 1/3 the price if you do it on your own. But be cautioned that you need to watch your time and make sure you get back to the ship in plenty of time. I didn't do the Amalfi coast per se, so I cannot advise you on that. But we did spend an hour or so in Sorrento.

From your choices, I would rate Pompeii as 'must see' and Capri Island second. You will also have time to stroll through Sorrento if you plan it right.

We spent 3 week in Italy and around the Mediterranean back in 2005, and 14 days of that was a cruise on the (brand new) Carnival Liberty in the 2nd month of its operation. Carnival had similar tour offerings at similar prices.

We got off the ship in Naples and inquired (and purchased tickets for hovercraft) to Capri Island. It was just my wife and myself and I think the tickets were around 8 or 10 euro each. It's about a 40 minute ride to Capri. When we arrived there, the first thing we did was inquire about boat tickets from there to Sorrento, so we could budget our time in each place we planned to visit that day. We chose a departure time to allow us enough time in Capri, and time to get to Sorrento, then time for the train from Sorrento to Pompeii, and also time to tour Pompeii. This allowed us a couple hours in Capri, about an hour in Sorrento, and about 2.5 hours in Pompeii, with enough time to catch the train from Pompeii back to the ship in Naples. I will share a few photos from our trip below. These were shot with my ancient Canon 10d. Bear in mind also that what you see in photos below is jpgs from 7 years ago, at a time when my editing skills were primitive compared to what they are now. These days I shoot everything raw, but I was not doing it then.

(Below:) The island of Capri, viewed from Naples

We explored Capri at our own leisure. There is a monastery at the top of the mountain that is worth seeing, and many other decent photo opps. You'll only want to spend about 1.5 to 2 hours there total, if you want to have enough time to see Pompeii the way you should. At Capri, you can also shoot some cool photos from the top, looking down at the ocean. If you get to Capri, try to get a good photo of the Faraglioni Rocks. This is the double rock formation that rises out of the ocean next to the Island of Capri. I didn't get a good photo because I was facing into the light, so I'm not showing it here.

(below): Looking down from the Island of Capri

Sorrento is a quaint little city but it's probably no different than any other small city in Italy. I would not make it a high priority. We hopped on a bus and took a ride around the city and got off at the train station, then caught the train to Pompeii.

(below:) the harbor at Capri

Pompeii is MUST SEE. It's an amazing ruin that you should not miss if you visit Italy.

The orgainized tours of Pompeii were a rip off from the cruise line. Be aware that you should take a tour in Pompeii rather than wander aimlessly on your own. If you go on your own, you won't see much of it and you will likely get lost. When we got to Pompeii, there were private guides who wanted 90 Euro for a private tour. These guides are licensed and are competent to take you around to see the high points. You cannot see it all in a few hours but you can see the main points of interest.

I was not about to pay 90 Euros for the tour, but after I noticed the guide offer his services to another couple (who also declined) I approached the other couple and suggested that we get three couples together and see if the guide would take all 6 of us for 90 Euro. The guide agreed to this and it only cost each couple 30 Euro. We saw a lot of it, and supposedly saw a couple places that most of the group tours do not see. Our guide also broke through the que in several places and took us inside some of the building ruins ahead of others that were waiting. It was well worth the price. He was a good guide, and had authored several books on the Pompeii ruins.

(below:) ruins of the temple of Jupiter, with Mt Vesuvius in the background

(below:) Pompeii, Basilica ruins

(below:) Pompeii, floor mosaic inside "House of Menander" ruins

(below:) Pompeii, ruins of the 'great theatre'

(below:) More Pompeii ruins

Our friends took tours from the ship and spent $240 each for the day ($480 per couple), and they also saw Capri and Pompeii and I think Sorrento. My wife and I saw just as much, and probably more of Pompeii than they did, and we only spent around 130 Euros between us, and that included a nice lunch.

Whatever you do, you'll likely enjoy yoruself, but I strongly advise you do see Pompeii and Capri at minimum. We had planned to go inside the blue grotto at Capri, but it was not available the day we were there due to the tides and strong current.

Have fun!
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