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Carnival Breeze Mediterranean Cruise Travel Journal

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4 of 11

A Day Exploring Florence from Livorno
View of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo

View of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo, high over the Arno River. The old town is quite compact and perfect for exploring on foot.

Florence (c) Linda Garrison
The Carnival Breeze docked early the next morning in Livorno, Italy, the port for Florence, Pisa, Tuscany, and the Cinque Terre. Livorno is mostly just a port town, but the surrounding area has options that appeal to all travelers. Florence is one of those cities you can visit over and over, but it's more than an hour's drive from Livorno, so it's best to take a ship's tour. Adventurous travelers can take a train, but you always run the risk of possibly missing the ship if there is an unannounced strike.

Kids (and adults) will also enjoy Pisa, with its famous leaning tower. The setting for the tower is quite interesting, since the buildings surrounding it are historical and quite lovely.

Everyone loves Tuscany, so a tour to one or more of the small Italian towns like Lucca, San Gimignano, or Siena is also a great day trip.

Other days trips from Livorno include a day at Portovenere or the picturesque seaside villages of the Cinque Terre. I love these Italian coastal towns, but they are about a 2-hour bus ride from Livorno. However, if you have visited Florence, Pisa, and Tuscany, it's well worth the time on the bus to even just spend a couple of hours in these villages.

I had a "Florence on Your Own" tour scheduled, which left the ship at 8 am. "On your own" tours provide transportation with an onboard escort--no guides. Great for those who like to do their own thing or who have visited a place before. We were up early and had a light breakfast before heading off to the designated meeting place--the theater--at 7:30 am. (They ask you to be at the meeting point 30 minutes prior to the tour departure.) The Carnival Breeze shore excursion staff did an excellent job of keeping everyone organized and on schedule. I think most days there were about 30 buses running, so that's over 1,000 passengers moving on and off the ship in large groups.

Our bus left the ship at 8:00 am as scheduled. The tours seemed to run very smoothly. It was about 1.5-hour ride to Florence, and our escort was excellent. He was from Israel originally, but fell in love with an Italian girl when he was working as a cruise ship security officer. He was enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and spoke good English. What more can you ask for in a guide?

Mom and I spent our 6.5 hours in Florence just exploring the city on our own. We had been before, so chose to take our time and just soak up the atmosphere. We did a lot of window shopping, strolling, and people watching. Mom found a cute pair of thonged sandals in the window of one store. They were less than 1300 euros (about $1600)! Lucky for her the store was closed, not that she'd ever pay $1600 for a pair of flip-flops. It was very hot--over 90 degrees--so we stopped often to sit in the shade, have a cold drink, or an even colder gelato. We had a pizza at a cute cafe near the flea market called Mama Mia's. Sat for a long time in the shade of the gallery at the Piazza del Signorio next to the Uffizi Gallery, which is the piazza with the replica of Michelangelo's David.

On the way back to Livorno, the bus driver stopped for 10 minutes at the Piazzale Michelangelo, a viewpoint high over the Arno River that provides gorgeous views of the city of Florence.

We got back to the Breeze about 6:30 pm. I ate in the Blush Dining Room, and then went to the show called "Brits" that focused on the music of the 60s and 70's of the British rock groups/solo artists. The ship has a huge LED video screen they are using in the production shows. This screen adds a lot of special effects and color to the show. Very clever.

 

The next day the Carnival Breeze had an ever earlier day in Rome.

Carnival Breeze Mediterranean Cruise Itinerary

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