3 ways to spend time in Rome after your cruise before traveling to the airport

When booking a cruise vacation that ends at Civitavecchia port, near Rome, planning how to spend your last day before traveling to the airport to fly home can be a dilemma.

When your cruise ends, the chances are you have a flight booked to go home the same day, with a departure time most likely after lunch or in the evening.

The final day of a cruise is stressful for cruise personnel, so guests are encouraged to leave the ship early. The cabin crew cleans all the cabins, prepare the ship for new guests, and restocks supplies at every food and drink venue on board.

At best, you may be able to request a late departure for around 10 am, but often not later.

With an early checkout, we recommend you make the most of your last day by doing something fun on the way to the airport instead of waiting for your flight for hours in a departure lounge.

Here are the three best ways to spend time in Rome after your cruise before traveling to the airport. Even if you have already experienced Rome before the start of your cruise, there is also something more to see.

1. Full-day Rome cruise line shore excursion ending at the airport

Most major cruise lines offer one or more shore excursions on departure day.

Most often, city tours finish at the nearest international airport. This means you can comfortably travel with your luggage and get to the airport in time for your flight home.

Booking a shore excursion with the cruise line ending at the airport is a hassle-free, albeit a pricy option for many cruise guests. The benefits of securing such a tour are:

  • The cruise line guarantee to get you to the airport on time.
  • Your luggage is stored safely on the bus the entire time.
  • You get door-to-door service from the cruise port to the airport, a tour guide, and comfortable transportation.

This is one of the best ways to spend time in Rome after your cruise before traveling to the airport. However, the most common complaints from cruise guests choosing this option are as follows:

  • If your flight is booked for the middle of the day, for example, just after lunch, you may not find a shore excursion to suit your flight time. Many shore excursions offered by the cruise line are for those who book late afternoon or evening flights where the cruise line can get you to the airport in good time.
  • In their promise to get you to the international airport in time for your flight home, the cruise line may have guests with different departure times on the excursion. You will often be dropped off at the airport at the latest 3 hours before your flight departure. You may have a long wait in the departure lounge. And if your flight is not scheduled to leave until the evening, it takes even longer.
  • You leave the cruise ship very early in the morning. Often the cruise line will have you on your excursion by around 8.30 to 9 am if you have docked at 7 am.

2. Full-day Rome private excursion with a guided tour ending at the airport

Booking a shore excursion with an independent supplier ending at the airport is an excellent option, often at a better price than booking with your cruise line. The benefits of securing such a tour are:

  • You can book a private small group tour customized to suit you. The tour is often flexible, and you can request the time you want to be at the airport, maximizing the time available to visit Rome’s best sights.
  • Your luggage is stored safely on the tour bus or shuttle the entire time.
  • You get door-to-door service from the cruise port to the airport, comfortable transportation, and are accompanied by a knowledgeable guide at all times.

There is no downside to booking a private tour if you allocate your budget accordingly and think it’s a value-for-money option.

Opt for a reliable and trusted supplier such as Italy Tours or Viator. Just be sure to tell them the latest your want to arrive at the airport. It’s your responsibility to ensure the time you stipulate enables you to check in and get to your departure gate in good time.

3. A self-tour of Rome with luggage storage options

Planning your independent tour of Rome is the most flexible and least costly way of seeing the city before you travel to the airport for your flight home.

Always make transport and baggage storage arrangements ahead of time. This helps your day goes smoothly, and you get to the airport in good time.

We also recommend booking entry tickets and choosing “skip-the-queue” tickets to save time. This is especially important if you visit the Colosseum or the Vatican Museums. Each sight will take around 3 to 4 hours to explore fully.

The benefits of booking such a tour are:

  • You have complete flexibility in how you plan your day.
  • You will save money by not traveling with a guide. However, we recommend a good guidebook for visiting the main sights.
  • If you have already seen the sights of Rome, you can find your favorite spot and relax at a great restaurant or cafe or do some shopping until it’s time to head to the airport.

The top reasons why cruise guests are hesitant to do their own thing on the last day and spend more time than necessary at the airport are:

  • The thought of dragging luggage around all day – there are luggage storage options at Vatican City, Piazza Navona, Termini Station, and nearby the Colosseum.
  • Being worried about finding taxis or relying on trains or buses to get to the airport in time. The train journey to the airport is easy and fast, taking around 30 minutes. Book your trip in advance via Trenitalia, Italy’s primary train operator. Alternatively, take a taxi from outside Termini station.

Of course, these are valid concerns. Our best advice to you wanting this option is:

  • Plan ahead. Decide what you want to do. Limit sightseeing to one central area, for example, the Colosseum, Vatican City, or the area around Trevi Fountain. Don’t plan on doing too much – it will always take more time than anticipated.
  • Buy skip-the-line entrance tickets before you travel.
  • Plan whether you will take a taxi or the train back to the airport. Either way, be back at Rome’s central Termini station in good time for either of these options.
  • Use a street map or google maps to find your way around. Leave yourself plenty of time to reach the airport. Rome is spread out and can get hot in the summer months. Walking will take time and energy.
It is worth noting that entry to the Vatican Museums is closed on Sundays, and on the first Sunday of each month, you will not be able to enter the Colosseum. Make adjustments to your sightseeing plans so that you don't miss out on these essential landmarks in Rome.

Top 3 most popular shore excursions and tours starting at Civitavecchia port & ending at Rome–Fiumicino International Airport:

  1. Half-day city tour. Visit St. Peters Square in Vatican City, Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, and the Colosseum. You will most likely not have enough time to enter the Colosseum or the Vatican Museums.
  2. Half-day visit with entry to the Vatican Museums. The Vatican Museums include Renaissance frescoes and, of course, the unforgettable Sistine Chapel. This half-day tour focuses on the Vatican Museums and St. Peters Square, which take around 3-4 hours to visit.
  3. Half-day visit with entry to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. Focussing on Rome’s great ancient pass, enter the Colosseum and visit the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. See Julius Ceasar’s grave and visit the old chariot racing site at Circus Maximus.

Meet the author: Sarah has created and booked hundreds of travel itineraries for thousands of customers during a career in the travel industry that spans 20 years. Having worked hand in hand with cruise lines, hotels, airlines and tour operators worldwide, she offers inspiring & detailed insights in the world of travel and tourism.