Family Cruises

Old Mar 6th, 2015, 01:28 PM
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Family Cruises

Hello: I would like to take my nine y/o daughter to Europe this August. I thought that a eastern or western medi. cruise may be a good way to tour vs. just visiting one country (such as Italy and/or Greece). I am sure these trips have their pros and cons. I would welcome advice/ideas from families that have done this type of trip recently.
Many thanks.
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Old Mar 6th, 2015, 02:56 PM
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I went on an MSC cruise two years ago - it left from Venice and visited Ancona, Corfu, Santorini, Athens, Cefalu and Kotor. It was beautiful. A different port every day and no packing or unpacking to worry about and all inclusive as we took a drinks package. It was also cheap. Cruises are basically just immersion visits and some people are very dismissive of them but as a glimpse of somewhere that you may wish to return to, they can't be beaten.
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Old Mar 6th, 2015, 09:26 PM
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We have done a few cruises, including the Greek Islands for a couple of weeks, departing from Venice and ending in Rome. We have done one Caribbean cruise with our GD. She absolutely loves it.

Pros:
Not changing hotels.
A pool for hot afternoons, evenings.
Food easily available for child.
Entertainment for child (and adults)
You can try new foods for lunch in each port
Kids usually love cruises.
It is lovely being out on the water in the evening.
Seeing islands at sunrise and sunset from the water is beautiful
You get a taste of many things.
Some special places, archeological sites like Ephesus, are great by cruise ship because they are not so easy to include on other trips.
Something new every day.

Cons:
You really miss the ambience of evening when local people are out walking, eating, singing, etc.
Short period of time in each place, not enough time to see a lot in bigger cities.
Not as much chance to try lots of different foods every evening.
No opportunity to change plans and explore some new small village, etc.
You need to plan carefully so time in port is well spent.
May be more about the cruise experience than the places you are visiting.
No opportunity to really get to explore and experience any one place or culture.

Advice: be very careful about your choice of itinerary.
1. For sightseeing, have the longest days possible at each stop.
2. Make sure ports are not so far from the places to visit that you spend half your time in port traveling.
3. Think about August heat in the middle of the day, the time you would be sightseeing. Look at all possible cruise options.
4. If you do choose to cruise, choose a cruise that begins and ends in bigger cities or places with lots to see, and add two or three days at each end of the cruise. That way, you get both experiences.

IMHO, most of Italy is not good for seeing on a cruise.
Most places have so much to see, there just is not time to do it justice.
If you start in Venice (or Rome), that is not bad because you can go a few days early for sightseeing.
As a port stop though, Rome is so far from port, travel eats up a lot of your day, you are rushing to see things.
Florence is the same.
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Old Mar 6th, 2015, 09:38 PM
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What do you want out of this trip?

Mostly a cruise experience w/ some sightseeing thrown in? Totally reasonable choice -- but don't confuse it with 'touring Europe" It is a cruise w/ all that entails and a few hours on land most days. If you like cruises and all the 'self contained' entertainment, amenities, ease, then take a cruise.

OR

Do you want to see more on land and experience 'being' places? Also a totally reasonable option. If you want to stroll in the evenings, stop for Gelato, explore the Coliseum, see Venice in the late afternoon/evenings when all the hordes of day trippers have left - then you want to be land based.
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Old Mar 14th, 2015, 05:09 PM
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I want to thank you all for your input. I wanted to ask Blueeyedcod about the MSC cruise line. The ships and itineraries look great, but I am confused why on sites such as Cruisecritic the MSC line gets rated with low scores. Something doesn't seem to add up. Anyone want to give feedback about the MSC line?
Thanks,
JRS
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Old Mar 14th, 2015, 06:25 PM
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I will be on an MSC Caribbean cruise two weeks from today. This ship is supposedly more "Americanized" to accommodate clientele from the US, but still have a European feel. If you have not booked by the end of our cruise, I can give you a personal experience.

These are a few things I have read and heard, and how I see some of the complaints.

Waiters are unfriendly.
In the US, being a waiter is usually not intended as a career. In Europe, it is an honored profession. In the US, waiters are often taught to be all smiley, to introduce themselves by their first name, as though we are going to be friends (maybe they will join us for dinner, LOL), and to constantly ask how everything is, how we are doing, etc. Many in the US think of that as good service. European waiters, OTOH, are there to serve, in a very professional way, not to become buddies or friends, not to become "part" of your evening, only to ensure that your evening goes smoothly. Frankly, I like that. It is annoying to be interrupted while I am chewing or speaking to a friend at the table.

Slow service on the food.
Another difference between US and Europe.
Restaurants in Europe expect one table to be occupied by one party for the evening. It is an insult to have the waiter rush you or hand you a bill before you are ready.

Small portions.
Typical of European meals.
You can always ask for more.

Cabins were clean, and needs met, but they never met their cabin attendant. Again, in the US, we tend to meet and chat more with service people. In Europe, service is to be done behind the scenes.

Kids running around too much. If it is not safe, that could be valid. OTOH, it could be cultural, and here it is just a guess on my part, but American couples like some time to themselves and enjoy the kids clubs being available. The Italian families seem more OK with the kids running around. Only a possibility, though.

Smoking.
That certainly is/was an issue. I do not know how it will be on the European cruises, but for the Caribbean, they have much stricter rules now.


No Omelet station at breakfast like other ships. OMG, get a grip. A week without an omelet. These people should just not leave home.

So, won't know until I actually do it. But I wonder how much is due to cultural expectations.
We shall see.
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Old Mar 15th, 2015, 01:48 AM
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I have taken an MSC Italy cruise. This line is totally different than American ships with children running about everywhere, most of staff speaking only Italian & ersatz
Italian food so cannot recommend this line.

You might want to look at www.cruisecritic.com which has a plethora of info. HAL, Princess, RCL etc all have European
destinations.
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Old Mar 15th, 2015, 03:45 AM
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Another complaint about MSC cruises - often times in port are shorter than some of the other lines - if you consider a MSC cruise, be sure to look closely at the hours you will be in port and remember, esp. if it is a tender port that could eat up a fair amount of even a brief stay.

I loved cruising with my girls when they were a little older than your daughter. After reading some of the above notes about MSC, maybe that is actually a way to have a cross sultural expereience with other European families We really like Celebrity and my girls liked RCL - either of those would probably have quite a few American families on board.
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Old Mar 15th, 2015, 07:31 AM
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I've done the Grand Med twice on Princess; the kids joined us on the second trip. The kids had a good time, but they would have enjoyed having a water slide, which Royal Caribbean and Norwegian offer.

The vacationstogo website is a cruise travel agent that lists current prices on all cruises. So it's easy to see what cruise lines are offering good deals. There are some good deals out there, although Princess prices are high this year.

How many days are you wanting to cruise. The Norwegian Epic has relatively low rates this year, with a 7-day Western Med cruise selling in the $500-700 range. Add a couple of hundred to that for tips and port charges.

Here's a link to a video showing the water slides on the Epic:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gBwpFfRmak

If you are planning to spend a couple of weeks or more in Europe you could start your trip in Venice, then train to Florence, then on to Rome to board the ship. This gives you the best of both worlds.

Certainly a cruise limits the time you can spend in each place, but few people spend more than 10 hours a day sightseeing when on a land tour. The cruise just causes you to miss the nightlife, which is replaced with nightlife on the ship.
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