Part 1: Transportation
Part 2: Impressions & Itinerary
In January and February of this year, we had the opportunity to spend twenty-one days on the Norwegian Jade cruise ship to mark the beginning of our three month European adventure! I have decided to publish this review in several parts in the hopes that it provides the depth needed to convey our experience on the ship. This first part will be a thorough description of getting to the port in Civitavecchia which is information that applies to any cruise ship.
The Norwegian Jade spends the winter months departing from Civitavecchia and its summer months leaving from Venice. While Civitavecchia may not sound familiar to most, it is Rome’s closest major port and sits about an hour away from Italy’s capital city. Hopefully this article will help you figure out the best option for you in regards to easily and safely making your way to ship to start your vacation.
We arrived on the day of debarkation in Rome via airplane from London, England. Given that we flew on a budget carrier, our flight landed in Rome’s smaller Ciampino airport which sits east of the city. Most flights will land at the equally distant Fiumicino airport. Either option is about forty minutes from the city center.
A lot of cruisers opt to hire a shuttle or taxi from Fiumicino Airport directly to the port. This option is the quickest and allows you to bypass Rome entirely. If you go this route, there are a quite a few companies to choose from, but the costs are pretty similar across the board. A private shuttle runs anywhere from €90-€110 for two people. In most cases, there is a small additional charge per passenger beyond that, so the best deal is to find a large group to bring the cost down. Some companies also run a shared shuttle service which pairs you with other groups to gain a cheaper rate.
The other main option for reaching the port is to take a shuttle to Rome from the airport and then a train to Civitavecchia. While this option may sound daunting, it is the most economical way to go and is far from difficult. For the shuttle portion to the city, a few companies run low cost options from both airports. Terravision has fares from €4 (children full price) and utilizes large new coaches for the forty minute trip. We used their service in both London and Rome and found it to be efficient and nice.
Most shuttles will drop passengers off at Roma Termini station. This large unattractive building is the capital’s main station and the same place you will board the train to Civitavecchia. You will also notice that Roma Termini is quite hectic and overwhelming. It can seem at times like the station is quite unsafe, but I assure you that it is fine. The most important advice to adhere to is to watch your belongings. Make sure to utilize a money belt and have your luggage locked. With those few precautions taken, you will not only be on the road to saving money, but will get a nice dose of local culture as well.
I recommend that you look up what time the trains to Civitavecchia leave so you have an idea upon arriving at Roma Termini. The Italian government’s train website is in English (click on the British flag towards the top right) and is very easy to navigate. In most cases, a train leaves between Roma Termini and Civitavecchia about every hour. National express trains make the journey in about forty minutes and cost €9 (children 4-14 half price) while regional trains take just over an hour and cost only €5 (children 4-12 half price). Both of these options can be purchased online.
If you opt not to purchase tickets online then it is a good idea to have cash with you to purchase the tickets at one of the dozens of machines located around the station. You will find the machines have an English option and look very similar to the website. While these machines do take credit cards, they require the variety with a chip and pin. Since this is not common in the United States, plan accordingly. If your only option to pay is with a non-chip credit card, then prepare to wait about thirty minutes at the ticket booths due to the sheer number of people queuing.
Now that you are ready to board the train with ticket in hand, it is time to look at one of the large departure boards for the platform number. Keep in mind that many of the regional trains to Civitavecchia leave from platforms 27 and above. These platforms are a long walk away from the others. Before boarding the train also make sure to validate your tickets in one of the machines. At most times local children will be near the platform showing tourists how to validate and where the train is. Beware that they expect tips for their help and we saw quite a few of them harassing tourists who didn’t pay.
At this point, take a deep breath and relax. The hardest part is over. I have read in a few places that people don’t want to take the train because they are afraid of getting lost. I assure you the station in Civitavecchia is small and you will most likely be arriving with hundreds of other people going to the same place. The directions from the station to the port are simple. Go out, turn right and keep walking down the street. The water will be on your left the entire time and after about ten minutes you will come to the port entrance. Once at the entrance it is time to board a shuttle for the short journey back to the ship.
In our case in took about two hours from the airport to the port and cost €24.50. When compared to the cost of a private shuttle or taxi that is a significant savings. If you are someone who is intimidated by foreign cultures or afraid to talk to people, then perhaps this option isn’t for you, but for everyone else it is the way to go.