We were originally going to splurge and do the ship's excursion (Imperial Rome) which was $198 p/p. After doing a ton of research through Cruise Critic, we decided to book a private tour through Rome-in-Limo. I must have read 50 or more reviews about this company and honestly could not find one negative comment. Still, I was a bit skeptical… I emailed the company with a million questions. Jany was very responsive. I was quoted a price of 550 euros for an 8-person vehicle (this was discounted since we booked 2 tours with them). I joined our roll call to try and find other people on our trip who would like to participate in the tour with us. We found that a group of 8 gave us the best deal.
Rome-in-Limo does not take credit cards (their only downfall as far as I'm concerned), so you will need to pay in Euros. We found ATMs while in Barcelona and put the money aside for each tour in separate envelopes
Our driver was Mauro and spoke Italian English. At times it was a little difficult to understand him, so you really had to concentrate. He was full of Roman history on our drive into Rome (or as the Italian’s call it ‘Roma’). As we drove, Mauro explained everything we were seeing. It was almost information overload but there is so much history to see, and we had a short amount of time! I was astonished that he was able to talk as much as he did and drive as well as he did!
Our tickets for the Vatican were for 9:30 am, so that was our first stop. It was at this time that I realized the major benefits of touring with Rome-in-Limo. Not only did we have our own private driver to get us to and from everything but our driver also has VIP access for everything! We had booked a private tour guide to take us through the Vatican, which was 150 euros for our group of 8. I was very hesitant due to the price, but this money was well spent! Our guide was Cecelia and she was amazing and provided a wealth of information! The line at the Vatican was very long for people who had previously purchased a ticket! I can't even imagine how long the line was for people without one. Cecelia escorted us everywhere, answered questions for us, and explained things to us so that they were very interesting (even for those not interested in art!). We were able to see the entire museum, the Sistine chapel and St. Peter's Basilica just as scheduled.
Our next stop after the Vatican was the Coliseum. Jany had given us a link on pre-purchasing tickets, so this saved time. Mauro dropped us off as close as cars could get, and then walked us right to the entrance, bypassing the very long line to get in! He told us where to meet him in 40 minutes, which was plenty of time to walk around. It was EXTREMELY hot and very crowded so we were ready to get back into the van after the 40 minutes.
By the time we stopped for lunch, we were all famished and dehydrated! Another benefit of doing this tour is that they take you to a local restaurant for lunch with real authentic food. Mauro had made a reservation for the 8 of us and told them to serve quickly as we only had 45 minutes (still a lot on the menu to see).
Next we visited the Parthenon, the Trevi Fountain, and slowly drove by the Spanish Steps. Mauro taught us the proper way to throw our coins into the Trevi Fountain so hopefully it will bring us luck and someday we will return. After a very long day, Mauro drove us back to the ship. It was a very quiet drive. I think many of us dozed and took naps.
We were back to the ship in plenty of time (before 6:00 pm) and exhausted. We would definitely use them again!
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