Question from blog reader Deborah Sampson:
We’re looking at a roundtrip out of Rome. Certainly, we want to spend time there before and after. After all, airfares are nearly as high as the cruise, so we want to make the most of it, but we don’t have much money left over for Rome time. Good, relatively inexpensive hotels, places to see, especially when jetlagged and waiting until we can check in to the hotel.Answer:
Rome is well-worth several days of vacation before your cruise, particularly because the cruise port, Civitavecchia, is about a two-hour train ride from the heart of town. I could go to Rome over and over again, and never get bored. Love it.
For that first day when you're jet-lagged, I'd recommend taking it relatively easy (a crowded museum scene or history lesson is not good when you're exhausted). Drop the bags at your hotel, and head to the Pantheon (free admission!), Piazza Navona or Campo dei Fiori, where you can observe Roman streetlife while sitting at an sidewalk cafe (the latter also has a morning flower market). The Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain are other areas where you watch the hustle and bustle - and both are free. Oh, and nothing cures jet lag like gelato!
Over at Vatican City, entrance to St. Peter's Cathedral is free, although you'll pay extra to go up the dome. The Vatican Museums have a fee (and lines), but if you're set on seeing the Sistine Chapel, it's a must do. It's also worth planning ahead to take a tour of the Scavi, the eerie catacombs under St. Peter.
Here are some Rome hotels
that are recommended by our sister site, IndependentTraveler.com. Note that they are a variety of prices.
Personally, I've used Hotwire to nap some good deals. Try to avoid the area near the train station, as it can be a bit dodgy. Likewise, hotels near the Vatican - although convenient for St. Peter's and the Sistine Chapel - are a fair walk from the Colosseum, Forum, Spanish Steps and other central sites (I've done it, but I like to walk!)
For more ideas, read our Rome port profile
or check out our Italy forums