Daytripping to Taormina on Royal Caribbean's 7 Night Eastern Mediterranean Cruise
The itinerary on Royal Caribbean's 7 Night Eastern Mediterranean cruise is:
- Day 1 - Cruise Port (Civitavecchia)
- Day 2 - Messina or Taormina, Sicily
- Day 3 - Cruising
- Day 4 - Athens, Greece
- Day 5 - Ephesus, Turkey
- Day 6 - Crete
- Day 7 - Cruising
- Day 8 - Cruise Port (Civitavecchia)
We also extended our vacation with a week in Rome.
You'll find information on preparing for your trip on Royal Caribbean's 7 Night Eastern Mediterranean Cruise: How, What, Why from Home to Cruise Port.
Messina or Taormina?
If you are up for adventure, you might choose Taormina. It is just beautiful. If you would rather just have a nice, easy day, I would stay in Messina, have a good meal and see the clock tower. Here's a video of Taormina that may help you make up your mind. We chose to go to Taormina, even though getting there was more complicated than just walking off the cruise ship, which is how you get to Messina.
Note: Lots of walking uphill in Taormina and very uneven footing at the Greek-Roman Theater.
To get to Taormina, you can take a taxi, bus or train from Messina. From the cruise dock, here's how you will get to the bus station. After you leave the dock and pass through the gates onto Messina city streets, you will turn left and keep walking until you see the Messina Martima building (the name is on the building), then turn right. Take your next left and you will see the Messina Centrale Station, which is the train station. The bus station is beside the train station. Now that sounds fairly easy, but I remember being overwhelmed with the limited amount of time that we had before the cruise ship left the dock. One thing to remember is that there will be a large number of people off of your cruise ship that also want to go to the bus/train station. You'll be walking in a herd. You won't get lost.
There are two bus choices, depending upon what time you arrive at the bus station. You can take the Interbus, which takes you directly into Taormina or it might time out so that you have to take the regular bus, which will drop you off at the bottom of the long hill, at which the top of is Taormina. In that case, you'll take another bus to the top, or take a taxi. The bus station and the taxis are right there where the first bus leaves you, so it's self explanatory.
We took the Interbus. It was a beautiful ride. However, you don't have much time on this day to see Taormina, and Taormina is only 25 miles from Messina. If I had it to do over, I think I'd take a taxi if I could afford it (about $150 for 4 people, roundtrip). You can catch a taxi right outside the gates of the cruise port.
Here's the other thing about the bus and the train, too, for that matter. The schedules are not reliable. Don't get stuck in Taormina. Leave in plenty of time to catch your ship. That said, we missed our bus, and had to take a taxi to the bottom of the hill and then the train from Taormina back to Messina. I found the train station at Taormina to be oddly empty and had a hard time finding the stairs which lead under the tracks to the train platform. Then, I couldn't figure out which train to take. So if this happens to you, ask someone. We ended up with a group all heading back to the cruise port, all of us hoping we were on the right train.
Walking up the hill to the main part of town, you'll find many little shops selling all kind of great stuff. My favorites are jewelry from Mount Etna's volcanic lava (inexpensive and make a great gift) and the triskelion wall decorations. The triskelion is the symbol of Sicily and is on the flag, architecture, etc., and I've always regretted not buying one to hang on my wall at home.
Besides shopping and the beautiful views, the Greek-Roman Theater is worth seeing.
Oh, and a word about Mount Etna. I knew we'd never make it there and back in the time allotted, but you can see it very well from Taormina. It was erupting while we were there. Unforgettable.
What to bring with you on your daytrip to Taormina: great walking shoes, sunscreen, hats, Euros, shopping bag for your souvenirs.
What's next: Your next day is a day at sea. Your 4th, 5th and 6th days are one day trip after another, starting early in the day, so tomorrow at sea is your day to relax and enjoy the ship.
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