Rome, Italy has become a major departure point for Mediterranean cruises (such as Celebrity cruises, for example). There’s only one problem: there’s no actual port in Rome! Cruises that claim to leave from Rome actually leave from a port that’s over an hour away!
That said, there seems to be a lot of confusion on how to get to the port. In fact, there are several ways. I took photos of the process so that I could present it to you here.
Different Ways to Get There
First, if you take the cruise with flight option, chances are, the cruise representatives will meet you at the airport, get you on a nice air conditioned bus and take you directly to the ship’s registration area so you can check-in right next to the ship. That’s the easiest scenario.
Suppose you’re already in Rome and don’t have the combined cruise and flight package. In that case, the cruise companies will sell you a ticket to get on the bus. You’ll probably have to meet the bus at the airport which can be an added cost for you (i.e., taking a taxi back to the airport).
Worse, the ticket will probably cost you at least $100/per person, if not more. The idea is that they’re making it convenient for you to get to the port and of course, it preys on your ignorance of where you are and not knowing how to get to the port or what to expect when you get off the train there. It’s a fear-based decision to pay so much for that bus ticket.
Another way to get there is by taxi. The taxi ride will probably cost you around $100 (don’t quote me on that, I don’t recall the exact quote I got but it was something like that) but at least that’s for 2 or more people, assuming you can all fit your luggage in the trunk if you’re 3 people.
Finally, there’s the train. If you’re American or Canadian, you probably aren’t used to hopping on a train and instead expect to take a flight from city to city. Well, after having taken trains all over Europe, I can assure you that the European train system is excellent and extensive. Don’t be afraid to take the train to Civitavecchia. I’ve done it and I’m going to walk you through it.
Just in case there’s a problem with the train, you can always take a taxi at the last minute. If the train gets delayed and you think you might miss your cruise’s departure, you can always get off on one of the stops along the way and take a taxi from there so you don’t have to worry.
Rome to Your Cruise Ship in a Few Easy Steps
Step 1: Get to the train station
The station you want is called “Stazione Termini” or “Roma Termini” which is the largest train station in Rome.
Step 2: Buy your ticket
The staff here know about cruise ships and tourists like you, and can help you. There was a big line to speak to an agent so I used one of the machines to buy my ticket. It has several language choices and was quite clear in English. You can choose your tickets and pay for them using the ticketing machine. The ticket will cost you roughly $10 (which is obviously a major savings over the cruise ship bus).
A word of caution: There are many trains going to Civitavecchia. Take your time while reading the departure times. Some will be longer because they stop more frequently at smaller cities along the way. Don’t worry if you just missed a train because there are typically several per day.
Step 3: Get to your train
Right next to the main part of the train station (where you enter and buy your ticket), there are many trains which are identified by train track number. Make sure you go to the appropriate track. Be sure to ask the train attendant if that train track number is correct and that it goes to Civitavecchia. Note that your train might leave from a track that is further away from the main section of the train station. The train track I needed required me to walk a good 5 minutes or so to get to my train. It’s a large train station so keep that in mind.
Make sure you give yourself enough time to find your train. Don’t be late! European trains tend to leave on time. This is especially true if they are in the train station because they have to leave so the next train can come fill the spot.
Step 4: Choose your seat
Keep in mind that you are getting on at the first stop. More people will be coming on board as the train stops in other locations (of course, some people will be getting off as well). I had a few dozen cruisers on my train and some just stood with their luggage. That wasn’t for me! I gave myself enough time to find a train car with room to put my luggage and sit next to it. Who wants to stand for the entire trip?! It was a tight fit, but it worked. Be courteous to others and be sure to move your bags if people can’t get by because your stuff is in the way. Remember that aside from people trying to get to their cruise, other people are simply trying to get to work, school, or other personal destination.
Also, some train cars had a lot of graffiti on them, covering the windows. If you have time, choose a train car with clear windows so you can enjoy the views while you travel.
How far is it from Rome to Civitavecchia (or rather, how long is it from Rome to Civitavecchia?) The entire trip should be about 1 hour to 1 hour and a half.
Step 5: Getting off
When your train rolls in, you have to get your luggage off the train and onto the platform. Note that the train may have a few steps (depending on which train car you are on) so if you require assistance, ask for it! Be quick but don’t worry that the train is going to leave with you still on it. A lot of people will be getting off and they know that.
Step 6: Getting your luggage out of the Civitavecchia train station
Once you’re off the train, you will need to roll your luggage toward the steps. You cannot walk cross the tracks. There is no elevator so you must take the stairs. There’s a sign that’s poorly translated telling you to use the subway. What they mean is that you have to go down about a dozen stairs, walk under the other train tracks, and go back up on the other side, where the main building is (so you can exit). You obviously have to bring your luggage back up the stairs which can take a little time, depending on your health and the number of people trying to get through. Just go step by step and take it easy. There’s no need to race down and up the stairs. If you’ve given yourself enough time, you’ll be fine.
Step 7: Walk to the port
Once you exit the train station, you can take a taxi (if you can find one) or walk to the port. The walk involves about 10 minutes on sidewalks where you pass by stores and restaurants (so you can stop and get some food or water, if needed). You will likely be in a caravan of people just like you who are making their way to the port.
To make it easier, and in fact to make all of your travels easier, I strongly recommend that you use luggage with 4 wheels rather than 2. That way, you can push your bag along side you, rather than haul it behind you which is much more difficult.
When you get to the port, there will be a gate where cars are allowed in to drop people off. The gates are a few minutes drive from where the ships are actually docked.
Step 8: Get on a shuttle bus
Right next to the gate, there will be a side entrance with a bunch of shuttle buses. Ask one of the attendants which shuttle bus takes you to your specific cruise ship. There may be several cruises leaving that day and you want to be sure that you got on the correct one! The shuttle bus ride is short and it will take you to the registration area of the cruise (which is where the cruise’s bus would have taken you).
Other Helpful Notes
Please let me know if you have other helpful notes by adding your comments below. If you have up-to-date ticket prices or anything that would be helpful to other readers, please share. Have a great trip!