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We've just got back off the full day Rome tour and it was EXTREMELY paced, hetic and crowded dont think it would be a trip for your mum.
We did a tour of rome, it was a all day tour very tiring as we were lead by a guide, who you had to keep up with, i think the 1/2 day would be better for your mum.
We were on Island Escape last year, July, we did the half day tour on coach, in actual fact we were only back at the ship an hour before the full day excursion for some reason, we had the benefit of a lovely air conditioned coach which we were able to take photos of all the main tourist spots, the driver was very good at parking nearby, and a local teacher was our tour guide, we spoke to the people who went and got dropped off, but because it is quite hilly, they were only able to visit two or three of the places in the short time they were their, and due to the heat, many commented that they wish they had of gone on the half day tour, as they returned quite early considering what they paid, I think the drivers on the full day tour are afraid of getting delayed on way back and being late for the ship. We were about one hour and a quarter getting to the outskirts of rome, where we stopped at a MacDonalds service station with toilets etc, before then doing a full tour of rome, we were given a map and talked through the tour by the guide, who answered any questions we had.
We then stopped off at Burger King or somethink like it with an icecream shop nearby, and toilets before travelling back to the ship, I believe we arrived back at the ship about 1.30. We decided to then visit the local area for a couple of hours, so we got dropped off just before the ship near to some shops etc.
We did not realise that Rome was so hilly, and can be difficult to walk any distance especially when hot.
I did hear that four people were missing off our ship, just before we were due to set sail, and lots of people said they had prob done trip themselves which can sometimes prove difficult getting a return train or bus to get back in time, if they get full, so I would def not risk unless using a taxi but is quite a trip, I think the trip cost us about £45 for the two of us, and we also bought some water on board to take with us, prob could have bought water much cheaper at the service station.
Hope you have a nice trip, we will certainly never forget it. My only suprise was the graffitti on the walls, the tour guide told me they have lots of trouble with their teenagers their, we even saw someone in the street in broad daylight spraying, and even some of the cars were sprayed, at least we dont see that here, YET!
We are off aboard the Island Star in three weeks time, cant wait.
Thank you both so much for taking the time to respond and especially Balderson for the detail my mother will need. We'll definitely book the half day for her - we're planning to do the bikes. Thanks again.