Choosing Shore Excursions

Old Mar 4th, 2016, 07:11 PM
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Choosing Shore Excursions

My husband and I are taking a 10 night Baltic European cruise on Oceania in June. Our ports include Le Harvre (Paris) France, Bruges Belgium, Antwerp Belgium, Amsterdam Netherlands, Hamburg Germany, Kristiansand Norway, Oslo Norway, Gothenburg Sweden and ending in Copenhagen Denmark. There is a port stop every day except for when we cross the North Sea..

I would appreciate advice on which shore excursions we should take for these ports. We get a discount on 5 or more excursions if we book them in advance. Is this a good idea? If so, which 5 ports and tours do you recommend? I have never been to Europe and excited to see as much as we can while still enjoying the cruise ship too..

Is there anything else we should know? Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated!
Thank you!
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Old Mar 4th, 2016, 07:55 PM
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Check out cruisecritic.com a huge website about all aspects of cruising. You can meet your fellow passengers on your specific cruise, your roll call, before you sail and arrange private excursions with fewer people (no 50-passenger buses) and at less cost than the excursions provideded by the cruise line.

Here's the link to the Oceania section of the board:

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=51

Here's where you go to find your ship and your "roll call":

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=420

Bon voyage
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Old Mar 4th, 2016, 07:55 PM
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Check out cruisecritic.com a huge website about all aspects of cruising. You can meet your fellow passengers on your specific cruise, your roll call, before you sail and arrange private excursions with fewer people (no 50-passenger buses) and at less cost than the excursions provideded by the cruise line.

Here's the link to the Oceania section of the board:

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=51

Here's where you go to find your ship and your "roll call":

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=420

Bon voyage
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Old Mar 4th, 2016, 09:25 PM
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Shorebee plan your own excursions is one good website for DIY plans.

I don't know about the best way to see the other places, but Bruges is super easy and super cheap to do on your own and it is fun.

From your ship to the Zee Bruges port gate there is a free shuttle.
You can walk from the port gate or get a tram to the train station in Zee Bruges.
Catch the train to Bruges. (Less than 30 minutes)
The station in Bruges is about a 20-25 minute walk to the city center or you can grab the bus which takes about 10 minutes. You could also take a taxi. Having done all three, I would take the bus - faster and cheaper.
None of these trains or buses is more than two or three euros, very, very cheap.

The center of Bruges is really tiny, basically one square/plaza ringed by beautiful buildings and a couple of side streets with little shops, all surrounded by a canal.
Things to do. Take boat ride through the canals (about 1/2 an hour)
Take a horse and carriage ride around town.
Pick two or three churches or museums or city buildings to tour.
Have lunch on the plaza. Try Flemish beef stew. Look up the best restaurants in TA.

In early mornings (forget which days, you will have to look it up), there is a lovely market in the square/plaza with beautiful flowers and fruits - nice to amble around. Buy Strawberries - quite small, but the absolute best I have tasted in my whole life, and flowers to take back to your ship. Another treat is apple or fruit tarts/pastries.

Also, right in the plaza, facing the main connected buildings with all the cafes, to the left, there is an ice cream shop with fabulous ice-Cream. Actually there are several ice-cream shops and all were great, but that one was best.

There are some beautiful shops with Christmas ornaments and a tea shop where they will make a blend just for you if none they have suit you. Nice gifts. These are right in the plaza or a few shops off on the little side streets.

Don't bother with waffles. It seems to be a Belgium thing, but they are actually pretty horrible, and I tried several. There are other things, but I doubt you will have time.
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Old Mar 5th, 2016, 06:42 AM
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You might find this helpful:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rick...ves/1113868167
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Old Mar 5th, 2016, 08:11 AM
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You are not going to like this answer, but your really need to do your own homework. How does anyone here know what you like and dislike or even what the ship offers. Whatsinport is another good web site.
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Old Mar 5th, 2016, 08:29 AM
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Do follow Betsy's advice about cruisecritic. It is a great website. it covers all kinds of things, from ships to ports of call. Very important is the "roll call" for each cruise. Search for roll calls and find your ship and date. Join that roll call. It will have many of your fellow passengers signed up. You can ask questions, join some of them for private excursions, etc. on board the ship, there is usually a meet and mingle where you can meet other cruisers from the roll call.
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Old Mar 6th, 2016, 02:16 PM
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Hi asu,

Definitely check the roll call at cruisecritic.com

For our upcoming Oceania cruise we have chosen all DIY. In most ports there are a small number of tour operators so the ships put you on the same tour as everyone else and add a fee for doing so.

In port where there are many tour operators, the competition is fierce enough that you shoudn't be paying the ship's surcharge.

You don't need to buy a tour for Antwerp or for Amsterdam
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/ar...ure-trove.html
http://www.amsterdamtourist.info/50-...sit-amsterdam/
or Hamburg
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/viator...b_4818435.html
or any of the Nordic Countries. They are all small and easily walked.

I suggest no less than 2 nights in Copenhagen before flying home.

It is a 2-hr (yes 2 hr) bus ride from le Havre to Paris.
I think that you will want to take the ship's tour for your daytrip. There is not enough time for you to learn how to use the trains and the Metro.

Enjoy your visit.

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Old Mar 6th, 2016, 02:18 PM
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PS,

See what the folks at CC have to say about The Marina.

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Old Mar 6th, 2016, 02:45 PM
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PPS,

As a tourist, almost everyone you meet will speak some English.

You should learn how to say
Hello/Goodbye
Yes/no
How much is that?
Where is the toilet?

In the language of each port you visit.

London will be difficult. I always have a difficult time understanding them.

In addition to Euro, you will want GBP in London and Norwegian, Danish and Swedish Crowns, unless you don't mind being overcharged in Euro.
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Old Mar 8th, 2016, 07:22 PM
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Thank you IRA for your suggestions!
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Old Mar 26th, 2016, 10:42 PM
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Several cautions about non ship-sponsored tours:

1. If you get back late to the ship, it will not wait for you. On the other hand, if your ship-sponsored tour is late getting back for any emergency reason, the ship will be held until all the tour members return. I have run into several people who missed their ship, and had to find their way to the next port on their own.

2. Many tours that you schedule privately will require that you pay up front. Often there is no refund if the ship skips that port. I have been on ships three times recently that skipped ports. In one case, the weather was bad, and no ships were allowed to enter the harbor, so we skipped Shanghai altogether. In the second case, the ship had a mechanical problem and had to slow down so that we got to Singapore much later than anticipated. In the third case, we again had a weather related problem and went into Belfast at 5 p.m. instead of 8 a.m., and had only a few hours of light. In all three cases, if we had scheduled the private tours we had planned on, we would have be out hundreds of dollars. You just need to know this up front and decide if you are willing to risk it. On the positive side, it is possible to schedule more comprehensive and less expensive tours privately than the ship-sponsored tours.
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