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  #1  
Old September 22nd, 2013, 11:11 PM
alj1208 alj1208 is offline
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Default Baltic with Kid: HAL or Princess anyone?

We are considering a Baltic cruise next summer with our son, who will be almost 8 at the time of the cruise. We would be going with extended family, including two additional children, ages 12 and 14. We are leading toward HAL or Princess because of the itineraries. We like Celebrity but are ruling it out because we don't want four sea days. The children in our group have all traveled internationally in the past, but they are still kids. We have a specific interest in this itinerary, so we're not considering a different cruise just trying to decide on the cruise line. Does anyone have any experience with HAL or Princess in the Baltic? How was the overall experience? The kids club?
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  #2  
Old September 23rd, 2013, 11:51 AM
boulders boulders is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alj1208 View Post
We are considering a Baltic cruise next summer with our son, who will be almost 8 at the time of the cruise. We would be going with extended family, including two additional children, ages 12 and 14. We are leading toward HAL or Princess because of the itineraries. We like Celebrity but are ruling it out because we don't want four sea days. The children in our group have all traveled internationally in the past, but they are still kids. We have a specific interest in this itinerary, so we're not considering a different cruise just trying to decide on the cruise line. Does anyone have any experience with HAL or Princess in the Baltic? How was the overall experience? The kids club?
I don't have experience with them in the Baltic, but I took ds on Diamond Princess to Alaska when he was 6 and Nieuw Amsterdam in the Med when he was 7. He loved both kids clubs. He probably loved Princess a bit more, because they gave him prizes every. single. day. The kids club on Princess also had a lot more natural light. Nieuw Amsterdam's Club HAL had none. In Club HAL, they also spent time outside of the kids area. On HAL, they combined the 3-7 age group with the 8-12 age group frequently. I never saw Princess do this, even though HAL had 300 kids on board and Princess had 100. On HAL, they seemed to play more active games or video games on a big screen. On Princess, they were frequently watching a movie or doing crafts. Both employed North American licensed teachers.

I personally preferred the HAL ship. The layout was better, there was more natural light in public areas, food was better and staterooms were bigger.
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Last edited by boulders; September 23rd, 2013 at 11:52 AM.
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  #3  
Old September 26th, 2013, 01:46 PM
Keith1010 Keith1010 is online now
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I don't have experience with either one in the Baltic but I did in other locations and all things being equal I preferred Princess when our children were these ages.

Keith
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  #4  
Old September 26th, 2013, 11:04 PM
CI66774 CI66774 is offline
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My daughter and I are doing a 26 day transatlantic/Baltics cruise next April on the Royal Princess. I'll be sure to come back and let everyone know how it went.
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  #5  
Old October 5th, 2013, 06:35 PM
Sparkygirl Sparkygirl is offline
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I am waiting for NCL to release their Baltic cruises for 2015-2016. We are looking to take this trip with 3 children. I like NCL's options and affordable suites. This itinerary means that there are several ports where we will need to clear customs. Suite passengers have priority disembarkation and thus are ahead of the cattle call to go through customs.
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Old October 6th, 2013, 11:01 AM
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lmg1230 lmg1230 is offline
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Our family has sailed on both HAL and Princess and the kids probably have a slight preference for Princess. We cruised in the Baltics on the Emerald Princess in 2009 and had an amazing time. At the time of the cruise, my older daughter was 12 and the younger had just turned 6. We spent a few days in Copenhagen prior to the cruise and our ports were Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Gdansk and Oslo.

Both daughters loved the kids club and made great friends. The overall experience was great! We did most of the ports on our own with the exception of St. Petersburg (where we did a private tour) and Gdansk where we did a ship's tour. I'm happy to answer any specific questions that you have. I also write a family travel blog and have detailed posts about what we did in each port if you are interested in reading about our experience (there's a link to my website in my signature).

You will love the Baltics - that cruise is one of my favourite trips ever!

Lisa
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  #7  
Old October 6th, 2013, 11:06 AM
Essiesmom Essiesmom is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparkygirl View Post
I am waiting for NCL to release their Baltic cruises for 2015-2016. We are looking to take this trip with 3 children. I like NCL's options and affordable suites. This itinerary means that there are several ports where we will need to clear customs. Suite passengers have priority disembarkation and thus are ahead of the cattle call to go through customs.
Why would you need to clear customs in multiple places? You are in transit when you go ashore and clear customs when you get home. If there are immigration checks, it is usually done onboard between ports. EM
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  #8  
Old October 6th, 2013, 01:58 PM
Sparkygirl Sparkygirl is offline
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It is my understanding that in non EU countries you are required to clear customs again, declare and be searched for prohibited imports.
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  #9  
Old October 6th, 2013, 02:47 PM
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I would think princess would be a better option.
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  #10  
Old October 6th, 2013, 08:29 PM
Kerry's Girls Kerry's Girls is offline
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Quote:
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It is my understanding that in non EU countries you are required to clear customs again, declare and be searched for prohibited imports.
I'm no expert, but I've never heard that. We were on a cruise that included Turkey and Egypt and getting off the ship was just like any other port. All passport/customs control happened behind the scenes and didn't cause any delay, including the visa for Egypt). We are from the US, I don't know if it's different for other nationalities.

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  #11  
Old October 6th, 2013, 08:34 PM
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lmg1230 lmg1230 is offline
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Sparkygirl,

We went through Passport Control in St. Petersburg but I don't recall having to do so in any of the other ports (and even there it only took a few minutes). It was just a matter of having passport checked and we were given a card that we had to turn in again when we were departing. We didn't fill in any customs cards until we returned home at the end of our trip.

Lisa
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  #12  
Old October 6th, 2013, 08:40 PM
alj1208 alj1208 is offline
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If it makes a difference, the ships in question are HAL Eurodam or Royal Princess. I am leaning toward Royal Princess because it's a bigger ship, and I am thinking it will attract more families, but it has received some negative reviews. Img1230, I will check out your blog!
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  #13  
Old October 6th, 2013, 09:32 PM
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lmg1230 lmg1230 is offline
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I don't think you can go wrong with either. We sailed on the Eurodam in the Caribbean and my daughters both loved it. We have sailed on the Diamond Princess (Alaska), Emerald Princess (Baltics) and are going on the Crown Princess in the Caribbean over the holidays this year. I haven't experienced the Royal Princess specifically but I find Princess to be very family-friendly as was the Eurodam. I would choose whichever had the itinerary that I preferred.

Lisa
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  #14  
Old October 8th, 2013, 11:52 PM
Onessa Onessa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Essiesmom View Post
Why would you need to clear customs in multiple places? You are in transit when you go ashore and clear customs when you get home. If there are immigration checks, it is usually done onboard between ports. EM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparkygirl View Post
It is my understanding that in non EU countries you are required to clear customs again, declare and be searched for prohibited imports.
We've done multiple Med cruises (at least four since the inception of the EU) and two Baltic. Other than in St. Petersburg nothing major for customs/immigration. St. Petersburg does have the formal booth and much stamping of paper. Turkey had an extra check point (which I think was mainly for the "duty free" shops at the port. Norway (?) is the only other non-EU country I can think of from most itineraries -- and I don't even remember an extra check point there (it is harder going from a US port to a Canadian port!)

While DD most enjoys X (then RCCI) she'd probably choose Princess over HAL on most itineraries including European. Princess is pretty well known for tailoring their activities a bit more to the itinerary.

Last edited by Onessa; October 8th, 2013 at 11:54 PM.
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  #15  
Old October 10th, 2013, 10:01 PM
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brazilgirl brazilgirl is online now
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We just came back from a Northern European cruise on the Eurodam ( Norway , the Highlands and Ireland).

It was our first HAL experience and my kids loved it. We did the Baltic a few years back on Celebrity , wonderful as well.

My youngest son ( age 9) didn't want to leave Club HAL. The staff was quite attentive and they had some very creative activities. My teens ( ages 13 and 16) had a fantastic time at the Loft . They made lots of friends and hung out a lot playing games , chatting etc.

We will be sailing HAL again , we loves the Eurodam.

We have sailed Celebrity , HAL , Carnival and RCI , but no Princess.
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  #16  
Old October 10th, 2013, 11:30 PM
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Princess is always a good choice when cruising with children!

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  #17  
Old October 13th, 2013, 03:41 PM
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Princess hands down ..
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