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Like you we are senior citizens and my wife had a stroke a few years ago and they don't like hassle or problems so we go with the excursion provided by the ship. We download the trips and carefully select the ones we like so it might cost us £60 and we could maybe have done it a bit cheaper but at the back of my wife's mind is a few years ago a couple we got friendly with hired a taxi good driver but there was a bad road accident and the road was closed for quite sometime and there was no other way the driver could go so they phoned me on their mobule could I ask the ship to wait, well I knew the answer but not put off I did and the ship sailed and they spent over $2,000 dollars to get flights and hotels to catch up with the ship and the biggest headache of them all was their passports were in the safe in their cabin, as they did not need to take them ashore, so not always a great idea. It is possible you might meet up with others who are experienced cruisers and say you can join them, an good option worth thinking about, but their ideas on what to see and do might not match yours ?
It depends on what you want and what you consider is good value. A 4 hour trip will cost in the region of £30 per head, so they are not especially cheap. However, with a bit of research on the internet it is possible to do your own thing. Many of the mediterranean ports have good public transport or the hop on hop off tourist bus which takes you round all the sights. For example to visit Rome, there are two trains an hour which cost €9 return each, and your ticket is valid on all Rome public transport. Lots of info on this site if you search under destinations. You can always book your trips on board the ship after going to the port talks, which are repeated on the in cabin TV. Brian .
The Arcadia just been refitted and is supposed to be looking quite nice. We like the June to September perion for the Med but you will have to pass through the Bay of Biscay which could be choppie but hopefully not. The Arcadia is adults only so no kids, that might or might not appeal to you as a result.