Best Europe ports-please advise

Jul 9th, 2008, 05:48 PM
  #1  
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Best Europe ports-please advise

My husband, myself and my three children just returned from a 10 day Baltic cruise on Princess and loved it...especially my children and myself. We would like to do another Europe cruise next year but my husband wants to be more immersed, as we are when we travel on our own to Europe. I understand the trade off of cruising but can anyone suggest a cruise line where there are longer stays at the port of calls, like we experienced in St. Petersburg.
Thank you!
Patricia
patricia1961 is offline  
Jul 10th, 2008, 12:09 AM
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I am afraid, most people think like this:

- Cruise line A offers a 7-day mediterranean cruise with 6 ports of call

- Cruise line B offers a 7-day cruise with 8 ports of call

"Hey, let's take B - they have the better itinerary and offer more value for money!"

The result is that most cruises spend a very short time in each port. Costa is one of the worst cruise lines in this respect, often with two ports per day. St. Petersburg is indeed the only exception.

The "Europa" often stays for several days in one port - but this is luxury class.
traveller1959 is offline  
Jul 10th, 2008, 08:09 AM
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I can see that is the mindset. Maybe our mistake with the Baltic was trying to do most of our port excursions on our own and maybe we should be hiring private tours to get the most out of our tours. Would you recommend one Mediterrean itinerary over another when it is important to be culturally enriching?
Thank you for your insight!

Patricia
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Jul 10th, 2008, 09:07 AM
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Dear Patricia,
There is no simple answer to your dilemma. Cruises are "easy" as you do not have to pack & travel on your own frequently to see many places; the trade off is a short stay in each place. The way I try to get around it is by choosing an itinerary which starts in a place I wish to explore more and arrive early. You may also stay after the cruise to do the same in a place where you wish to spend more time. The ports of call during the cruise are "icing" to your cake.
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Jul 10th, 2008, 09:26 AM
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PS
Also not all ports are real ports -i.e. the port for Rome is Civitavecchia. However, you spend at least 1 1/2 hours traveling each way to Rome (or more, depending on traffic)and that really cuts into your sightseeing time in Rome. Cities like Rome need more time than a day anyway so I would avoid those stops (better as a starting or ending point of a cruise). Likewise, Warnemunde is a port for Berlin - that's a joke.
Many cruises stop overnight in Barcelona & Istanbul.
I hope this is of some help.
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Jul 10th, 2008, 10:33 AM
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I'm a fan of Celebrity so that has influenced my choices. Two years ago we did their cruise from Barcleona to Venice. You could go to Barcelona a few days early, then there is an overnight in Venice at the end of the cruise. Several of the ports were very easy to do on your own with a fair amount of time to spend as well. Next year we are doing another Celebrity that has an overnight in Istanbul. We have done alot of independent land travel so a cruise was a change of pace for us. I think what I hated most was being part of such a huge swarm off the boat but we tried to get away from the herd and find some off the beaten track things to do. I did miss the "immersion" feeling but now we have decided to do another - we like crusing with Celebrity and it was nice to unpack for an extended period.
suec1 is online now  
Jul 10th, 2008, 02:06 PM
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When you say a Mediterean cruise, there are some options. We did a cruise that included the Greek Isles, Turkey, the Amalfi Coast and Sicily. I thought the itinerary was very "cruise condusive" because (1) enjoyed going island to island without unpacking; and (2) sights were well within a comfortable distance of the ship's docking versus say the port of Warnemunde for Berlin (as somebody else pointed out) or Rome.
patandhank is offline  
Jul 10th, 2008, 03:29 PM
  #8  
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Thank you everyone for such good advice! I also am a fan of celebrity, although we did enjoy the overall experience on Princess. I also like the idea of spending more time on either end of the trip. I think it is important to look at the ports closely to see what the distance is from where we stop with the ship. I noticed with Gdansk that we should of had something booked instead of using public transportaion to get from Gydinia to Gdansk. It took a while to get there. We do not want to do "caribbean" type ports. We want to do the most culturally enriching options, so I will look at that closely. Thanks again to everyone!
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Jul 10th, 2008, 07:07 PM
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patricia

There is not one intinerary over another that is better for a Mediterranean Cruise.

It depends on the places that you want to see over other places.

When I did the Mediterranean cruise I looked at the ports of call and pick out the cruise ( Princess in this case) that had the most ports I wanted to see.

I did the Baltic Cruise 11 months ago....I had a private tour guide at every port.

I started from Copenhagen and came 3 full days earlier to Copenhagen

I agree from Gydnia to Gdansk in Poland is a long way but with a private tour guide you stop and see places along the way ,both coming and going.

For the Mediterranean Cruise I also had a private tour guide at every port except Mykonos.

I started from Venice because I wanted to see Venice and so I came 3 days earlier.

I had a private tour guide for Rome and he got tickets in advance to some of the places to avoid waiting in long lines.

For example, in Venice there were long lines to visit St. Mark's Basilica.

But my tour guide went to the side door,said something in Italian to the Security Guard..and in we went, I felt so important !!!

It may cost a bit more but I also saw a lot more.

It is tough to do excursion on your own in many places, so I can appreciate the problems you may have encountered in Stockholm, or Helsinki, or Tallin etc.

Good Luck on your Mediterranean Cruise planning.

Percy





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Jul 11th, 2008, 12:33 PM
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>>>We want to do the most culturally enriching options, so I will look at that closely.<<<

Then there is just one conclusion: Do not go on a cruise. Each major European city or region requires a stay of at least 3 or 4 days just so see the main attractions/museums. It is ridiculous to have 5 hours to explore a city like Rome, Venice or Florence. Even an overnight stay in, say, Barcelona is way too short for a "culturally enriching option". I have spent about 20 weeks of my life at the Cote d'Azur and haven't still seen everything which is interesting there. And cruise ships stay for one day in the area and the better part of this day is wasted by transfers.

It is so easy to travel to Europe on your own. Just book a flight and a hotel. The European forum here on Fodor's gives a wealth on advice.
traveller1959 is offline  
Jul 11th, 2008, 05:36 PM
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We have been travelling on our own to Europe with our children for the last eight years and have enjoyed every minute of it. Now that our oldest child is entering his senior year of high school, I have different expectations for the next few years. What this last trip lacked in "immersion" was balanced by family time that was easy, without the moving parts normally involved in our European trips. Since we were all able to enjoy a little of Europe and alot of "easy travel", it had its benefits. So, traveler 1959, I am well aware of the ease of Europe planning, since I have been the family travel agent for the last fifteen years. I am willing to compromise for another cruise because it may be best for us as a family during these very precious years as our children are getting ready to explore exotic locales on their own. Once again, I thank everyone for your great advice and I will incorporate some of these great ideas into my travelling. I have found Fodors to always be a wealth of information and I am very grateful for it. Thank you all again for all of your help!
patricia1961 is offline  
Jul 11th, 2008, 06:50 PM
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patricia

Thank you for such a gracious reply.

Best of luck to you and the family.

Percy
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Jul 12th, 2008, 06:53 AM
  #13  
 
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Indeed Patricia, thank you for taking the "Hi road" and you do us Fodorites proud.
I am sure will find the right cruise for your family.
I have taken a number of Med cruises and would be glad to help you with specific questions (if you need it).
Paul - [email protected]
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