Naples is our final cruise port on Italy’s Mediterranean coastline. Like in Pisa/Florence and Rome/Vatican, one day is not enough. We opted for Pompeii and Naples, but that meant giving up the Amalfi Coast.
In truth, I have waited a long time to visit Pompeii. Thirty years ago, I toured Europe. Back then, Pompeii closed on Mondays, the day we arrived. This time, we opted to take a ship’s excursion to see Pompeii.
Quick history: in 79AD the volcano in Mt Vesuvius erupted, partially destroying and burying the city of Pompeii under 4 to 6 m (13 to 20 ft) of ash and pumice. Today, the ruins are all cleaned, and no ash or remnants of ash exist.
Despite being high on my wish list of places to see, it was somewhat of a disappointment. For starters, Pompeii gets very crowded, and most visitors seem to be in large guided groups. Secondly, the guides speak a variety of languages. Each guide speaks loudly, to be heard over the other nearby guides. Add to it the extreme heat, and the crowds feel overwhelming.
However, the biggest disappointment to me is that much of the best artwork and mosaics are now in the archaeological museum in Naples.
Honestly, I think it looks better in my photos than it did when we saw it live.
In the afternoon, we headed into Naples on our own. First stop was the archaeological museum to see some of the removed artwork. We had an art guide throughout our visit to the museum. This museum was the true highlight of our day.
This was my favourite piece, a mosaic:
After the National Archeological Museum, we shopped and walked around the town of Naples. With its cobblestone streets, we found Naples to be charming.
Finally, we stumbled upon this, but have no idea what it is. Do you?
Practical Information and Tips
- Pompeii is now open daily, with few holiday exceptions.
- If you planning a visit to Pompeii, I would recommend allowing enough time to visit the National Archaeological Museum in Naples. Our guide made the visit so much more interesting than had we not had her.
- We visited one port in France, four in Italy, two in Greece, and two in Turkey. Rick Steves’ Mediterranean Cruise Ports is the best book we have found whether you are doing your own shore trips or ship excursions.
- We added a last-minute Mediterranean cruise deal on the Norwegian Spirit. While we loved it, there was not enough time in Naples to see it all. The Amalfi coast is a real treasure that we had to miss when we chose Pompeii. If I were to do it all again, I would stay in Naples a few nights. We use Booking.com to find the best hotel rates.
- In truth, we didn’t have enough time in any of the ports of western Italy. We had to cram Pisa and Florence into a day, and the next day we visited both Rome and Vatican city. We hired private guides for both. Naples, it was simply impossible to see the port highlights.
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