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-   -   European Cruise which is best (http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1743268)

alisontheice November 24th, 2012 12:47 PM

European Cruise which is best
 
We have been talking for some time now about a European/Mediterranean cruise this summer. We have a son who will be 5 by next summer. Anyone have any opinions on what they like best? We have cruised on Disney and liked it. We have also been on Norwegian and Celebrity.

We found an itinerary we liked on Norwegian but we are curious about Royal Caribbean and also Disney. We figured 10 days at least for any cruise. A good kids program is a must as is a nice pool.

Any suggestions are appreciated.

CruiserBruce November 24th, 2012 12:54 PM

If you have been on Disney, you know their kids program. Same with Celebrity. RCCL will be similar to Celebrity. Can't comment on NCL. But if you are happy with those lines, you will probably select from them.

Other than kids issues, Med cruises are all about itinerary, and are usually very port intensive. "Best" is strictly a subjective personal opinion, and your opinion may differ significantly from mine. Our best ever cruise (of 15) was a 20 day Med cruise on Holland America's Noordam. Before you say Holland America is for old folks, you would be interested to know there were over 300 kids on board.

Generally, you need to think about your interests. Religion? History? Fantastic buildings? Scenic areas? Some reading on the Med Ports board, here:

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=603

would be beneficial.

paul929207 November 24th, 2012 01:00 PM

We have taken a number of Princess cruises in the Med, the British Isles and the Baltic. All were great.

pris993 November 24th, 2012 01:59 PM

We have done Princess, Celebrity, HAL, Cyrstal, Cunard, and we are booked on NCL for this coming April. Have cruised out of Rome, Venice, Istanbul, Athens and Barcelona in the Mediterranean. Barcelona and Athens are the easiest.

We have also done Northern Europe and the Baltics out of Dover.

All European trips are very port intensive.

We typically do port tours on our own, with a small child that probably would work best.

Keith1010 November 24th, 2012 03:33 PM

I would also recommend taking a look at Princess.

They have really nice kids programs. Not Disney but some of the best I've seen and they do a nice job with their European Itineraries.

Keith

Azulann November 24th, 2012 03:44 PM

Have you ever been to Europe?
Cruising the Med in the summer will be very hot! I would go in June.
Even in early Sept. it was over 100 degrees in Rome and the Greek Islands.
On a ten day and eleven day cruise we had only two sea days. Not much time to be at the pool if you get off at every port of call.

The suggestion of DYI in the ports with a five year old is good advise.
Most private tours and ship tours are all day, with lots of time in a van or bus to get to the local venues.
The ship does not really matter, because the whole point of a European cruise is the ports of call.
would you leave your child in the kids club while you get off the ship? Or will you be traveling with other family members?

Sorry for all the questions. but I have grandchildren and my five year old was overwhelmed by Disney World ( needed down time, nap )compared to the older grandchildren.

Hlitner November 24th, 2012 05:19 PM

Yes, it has been a hot year but normally in the Med the temps will be in the mid 80s to low 90s in the coastal areas (such as the Greek Islands). Some inland places such as Rome do tend to get quite hot in the summer (we love hot weather). As to choosing a cruise...the OP needs to keep in mind that cruising in the Med is an entirely different experience then the Caribbean. In the Med the ports are king and onboard activities usually take a minor secondary role. In the evenings many passengers will go to bed relatively early since the long port days tend to wear-out many cruisers tend to cram in a lot in the ports.

Traveling with a 5 year old in Europe does mean that the OP needs to consider some compromise in the ports. For example, wheras many folks visiting the port of Naples for the first time will want to go to Pompeii...this is not always the best place to take a 5 year old if its a hot time of year. Personally, we think 5 is a tough age for Med cruises and we would probably suggest an itinerary that allows for some easy days (such as a beach day on a Greek Island). Although we traveled with our daugher when she was young we did not start dragging her around European cities until she was 9 and had enough endurance to handle the long days and lots of walking. At that age things were really well since we took frequent ice cream/gelato breaks and were able to plan some things that were of interest to a child. But the 3-7 age range has its own issues which require lots of thought about how to spend port days.

Hank

jdvmd November 24th, 2012 06:16 PM

Trips to the Med and Europe are very port intensive with long days.

dinek1 November 24th, 2012 06:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by alisontheice (Post 36162673)
We have been talking for some time now about a European/Mediterranean cruise this summer. We have a son who will be 5 by next summer. Anyone have any opinions on what they like best? We have cruised on Disney and liked it. We have also been on Norwegian and Celebrity.

We found an itinerary we liked on Norwegian but we are curious about Royal Caribbean and also Disney. We figured 10 days at least for any cruise. A good kids program is a must as is a nice pool.

Any suggestions are appreciated.

My niece's son, now 5, has been cruising since he was 6 months old. He's been in kids programs on most of the 10 (!) cruises he's been on, including Norwegian. He loves the activities and is always busy.
Agree with others about not overdoing with shore excursions, unless it's something you think he'll love doing. Most ships have very nice pools, too, and special ones for the kids in the kids programs.

alisontheice November 24th, 2012 08:19 PM

Thanks all.

To answer some questions...we both have been to Europe before. We like more historical and cultural type vacations than like a Caribbean vacation.

Thanks for the Princess suggestion. I will look into their itineraries.

Hlitner November 24th, 2012 10:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by alisontheice (Post 36166327)
Thanks all.

To answer some questions...we both have been to Europe before. We like more historical and cultural type vacations than like a Caribbean vacation.

Thanks for the Princess suggestion. I will look into their itineraries.

We also love the cultural and historical type trips which is normally what we do when on cruises and long land driving trips in Europe. But, and this is the big but, you are talking about cruising with a 5 year old! At that age most children could care less about culture and history. Dragging a 5 year old around cultural/historical places (often in summer temperatures) will not normally make for a happy child. When our daughter was 5 (and 6) and we decided to head off to Europe for a cruise....we left her with Grandma/Grandpa which made for a very happy child (and a spoiled one). We still recall returning from a trip to be greeted by our smiling daughter who said "Nanny let me have ice cream for breakfast." Our daughter is now in her 30s and still remembers her ice cream for breakfast. Not sure she would remember being dragged around European cultural places :)

When we took our then 9 year old daughter to Europe (we did a month with a Eurorail pass) it was a wonderful trip which she still remembers. But what does she remember? How about watching the ducks on Lake Lucerne and buying a pair of pink shoes in Paris. The Louvre is not a big thing in her memory banks.

Hank

JimAOk1945 November 24th, 2012 10:42 PM

Welcome to Cruise Critic. Sounds like you have a fantastic adventure planned. We haven't been to the Med yet, but we are working on it!

Happy Sailing!:D

flamomo November 25th, 2012 09:36 AM

Having just done a wonderful Med cruise in October with Princess, I have to concur with those who say a child of that age may be underimpressed. The port days, 5 in a row on my cruise, can be exhausting for adults because tours tend to be long, and the actual ports in some places are a LONG bus ride from the actual city you are scheduled to visit. For example, it was about a 1 1/2 hour ride from Civitaveccia to Rome, and about 45 minutes from Livorno to Florence. I can't imagine what it would be like for a 5 year old, who may quickly tire of and become bored seeing the best historic sights. When we had a sea day, it was almost like having a day off from work. LOL!
With the huge crowds, a little one will be seeing lots of other people's legs and maybe not much else!!

5326jan November 25th, 2012 10:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by flamomo (Post 36169672)
Having just done a wonderful Med cruise in October with Princess, I have to concur with those who say a child of that age may be underimpressed. The port days, 5 in a row on my cruise, can be exhausting for adults because tours tend to be long, and the actual ports in some places are a LONG bus ride from the actual city you are scheduled to visit. For example, it was about a 1 1/2 hour ride from Civitaveccia to Rome, and about 45 minutes from Livorno to Florence. I can't imagine what it would be like for a 5 year old, who may quickly tire of and become bored seeing the best historic sights. When we had a sea day, it was almost like having a day off from work. LOL!
With the huge crowds, a little one will be seeing lots of other people's legs and maybe not much else!!

I agree completely with you! We took our 5 year old many years ago and he remembered being on a ferry (crossing the English Channel), playing cars on the floor of a train and meeting a few other kids. He has no recollection of the Vatican, Pompeii, Capri, or any other historic site.

OP, if you take your child, I suggest you bring a backpack full of "surprise" activities, familiar snacks and a few "give away" toys, games, items for him/her to share with other children that you come in contact with. (We took lots of sticker books, crayons and matchbox cars.) That will be their memory. :)

TxnAquarian December 1st, 2012 06:31 AM

While I give you a lot of credit for wanting to expose your child to travel, I would not recommend a Mediterranean cruise for a 5 year old, for the reasons expressed above. My parents took me on my first cruise when I was 7 and we did the Mexican Riviera. The next few cruises were Caribbean. I barely remember those, except for playing with other kids on the ship. When I was 8, they took me on safari in Africa. I remember being sick and tired. I would suggest that you stick to easier itineraries until he is older and can appreciate the historical and cultural destinations.




Michael

jvalastro December 2nd, 2012 11:29 AM

If you're looking at more specific answers, the Disney Magic, Liberty of the Seas, and Norwegian Epic are probably the most kid friendly ships in the Med next summer. They all have similar itineraries as well stopping at Barcelona, some place on the French Riviera, Florence/Pisa, Rome and Naples.

EGG December 2nd, 2012 12:17 PM

For all the reasons above I would suggest you wait a few more years for a European cruise.

I don't know where you live, but I would like to suggest a NE/Can cruise out of NY/NJ for the upcoming year. NYC has many kid friendly pre and post cruise activities. The longer cruises often include Quebec City which is a wonderful city with a European flavor and tons of things to do. All the touristy activities are right near the ports so you can avoid any long bus rides.

If you live in Europe, disregard this post.

Alex71 December 2nd, 2012 01:07 PM

We just did a Western Med cruise with our five and seven year old kids in October and they very much enjoyed it. As other poster have said, it's important not to overwhelm them and to include enough activities they enjoy. A nice playground or another open space where they can run around can be more fun than some fancy children museum.

Our kids enjoy riding trains/trams/metros, so we made sure we used these where possible. This also saved us money vs. the cruise line tours and shuttles. From Naples, we opted to do Herculaneum rather than Pompeii as it is smaller and closer to the port. The kids absolutely loved to explore the Roman houses and are still talking about them.

In general, we found Italians to be super kid friendly and the food very much in line with our kids tastes.

So, if you adjust the pace to what your kids can handle and include enough activities they like, you will have a great time. Instead of a 10 day or longer cruise, you may want to consider splitting your vacation between a 7 day cruise and a 7 days at a beach resort. This will give you the best of both worlds.

bluechip508 December 3rd, 2012 05:02 PM

Norwegian offers a kids' program in conjunction with Nickelodeon (SpongeBob & friends), but it's only offered on the Epic, Jewel, Gem and will be offered on the new ship, Norwegian Breakaway. Aside from Disney, this seems to be the most kid-friendly program among the major cruise lines. The Norwegian Epic sails the Mediterranean out of Barcelona in the summers.

StarTrkGeek December 7th, 2012 10:42 AM

It really does not matter how good the ship's children's program is, if you are in port every day and only spend evenings on the ship! You will probably have very little use of the ship's pool. I suggest you look for itineraries that do NOT include Rome. The ship docks in Civitavecchia, which is a 1.5 -2 hour bus ride from the historical center of Rome. That means 3-4 hours on a bus (round-trip), which is not something a 5-year old would enjoy, Plus Rome sees over 100 degrees in July/August. On top of that, you can expect 2-3 hour lines to get into the Vatican (unless you have a pre-arranged tour that skips the line). An itinerary that stops in the Greek islands would probably be a better choice, IMHO.
Alan


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