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Northern Europe & Baltics Aarhus, Bergen, Copenhagen, Gdansk, Greenland, Helsinki, Oslo, Riga, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Tallinn

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  #1  
Old August 9th, 2007, 09:47 PM
full_of_questions full_of_questions is offline
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Question experts please help me pick a cruise

I need help deciding on a cruise. 10 of us (ranging in age from 5 to 66) want to go on a cruise that calls at St.Petersbugh in August 2008.

We want to take a cruise out of England(shortest possible flight, a couple of people in the group have long flight issues), so the choices in our price range are;
1. Norwegian Jewel
2. Royal Carribean Jewel of the Seas
3. Carnival Splendor

All 3 have very similar itineraries, and I've cruised on all three lines in the Carribean, and have both liked and disliked some things on all three, so no help there.

Please help me choose.
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  #2  
Old August 10th, 2007, 12:30 AM
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Originally Posted by full_of_questions View Post
I need help deciding on a cruise. 10 of us (ranging in age from 5 to 66) want to go on a cruise that calls at St.Petersbugh in August 2008.

We want to take a cruise out of England(shortest possible flight, a couple of people in the group have long flight issues), so the choices in our price range are;
1. Norwegian Jewel
2. Royal Carribean Jewel of the Seas
3. Carnival Splendor

All 3 have very similar itineraries, and I've cruised on all three lines in the Carribean, and have both liked and disliked some things on all three, so no help there.

Please help me choose.
If the time of getting to the cruise is a matter I would prefer:

1. CARNIVAL SPLENDOR:

reason: inaugural season - brand new ship - and inaugural season in Baltic -
could be interesting because no experience before - but could also they do their very best that you tell your friends about your best cruise of your life.
leaving from Dover
if arriving at Gatwick Airport it's easiest accessible (for my personal taste)
No experience with their transfers as they had no cruise from Dover before.
But even with public transport you can get easily from the airport to Dover Priory Street (train to London Victoria and from there train to Dover)

2. NORWEGIAN JEWEL

reason: freestyle cruising
leaving from Dover
if arriving at Gatwick Airport it's easiest accessible (for my personal taste)
reasonable transfer fares from Airport to Pier.
But even with public transport you can get easily from the airport to Dover Priory Street (train to London Victoria and from there train to Dover)

3. JEWEL OF THE SEAS

reason: was nice but NCL was nicer... - more personal - maybe RCCL too professional
leaving from Harwich
I think it makes all ways longer to Harwich.
Transfers with RCCL unaffordable (you become share holder... with one transfer ticket... and take part of ships as souvenir).
Location of train station great but you need to transfer within London to Liverpool Street Station once you arrived at the major gateways to overseas: Heathrow or Gatwick.

I would decide on this order and explained why...

Hope it helps.

Regards,
HeinBloed
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Last edited by HeinBloed; August 10th, 2007 at 12:33 AM.
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  #3  
Old August 10th, 2007, 09:06 AM
full_of_questions full_of_questions is offline
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Thanks HeinBloed, I really appreciate the help.

The airport to port transfer info was going to be my next question .

The only thing about the Carnival itinerary we did not love, is there is no sea day at the end, a relaxing day before geting back to work is always helpful, but the lure of a brand new ship is strong!
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  #4  
Old August 10th, 2007, 01:00 PM
ollienbertsmum ollienbertsmum is offline
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I have just come back from the Jewel of the Seas - sailing from Harwich.

My opinion is not the same as Heinblod ( ).

I really would not want to sail on a freestyle dining ship. If you are in a large party, it is fun to get to know the waiter and to have the table waiting for you. The evening meals are a chance to catch up with each other and plan the evening entertainment. Make sure you all book together to get on to the same table. I would really double check this.

We were a large party and used a local coach company, Turner's of Essex. We paid 1/4 the ship would have charged us, and we got door to door service both in and out of Gatwick (rather than going from central london). I am sure you could equally organise them to get you from a pre cruise stay in central london.

Train service from Harwich on Sunday 5th August let passengers down. Lugging bags between platforms is not much fun anyway.

I would pay attention to where the ship docks in each port - especially Stockholm. This could affect your enjoyment of a port.

The other consideration is to the timing of the stay. I know that they can change this after you book, but it is better to see an itinerary full of 9 a m arrivals rather than 7 am (when most tourist sites are not open until 10 am).
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Voyager of the Seas July 2006 Western Med 2292
Jewel of the Seas July 2007 Baltic -cant remember the stateroom, I just remember that we had a brilliant time!
Adventure of the Seas July 2010 Western Med 7289
Liberty of the Seas July 2011 Western Med 7331 and 7329
Adventure of the Seas July 2012 Western Med (they just get better) 6616
Norwegian Epic July 2013 - Western Med well at least we are going on a different line this time

so many more cruises to come I hope
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  #5  
Old August 10th, 2007, 01:04 PM
ollienbertsmum ollienbertsmum is offline
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Originally Posted by full_of_questions View Post

The only thing about the Carnival itinerary we did not love, is there is no sea day at the end, a relaxing day before geting back to work is always helpful, but the lure of a brand new ship is strong!
Our group full of teenagers absolutely loved having 2 sea days before we ended the holiday. They wanted to be able to spend full days with their friends, those they knew prior to sailing and those they had met. There were literally tears before bedtime on the last night.
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Ollie, Bert and their Mum

Voyager of the Seas July 2006 Western Med 2292
Jewel of the Seas July 2007 Baltic -cant remember the stateroom, I just remember that we had a brilliant time!
Adventure of the Seas July 2010 Western Med 7289
Liberty of the Seas July 2011 Western Med 7331 and 7329
Adventure of the Seas July 2012 Western Med (they just get better) 6616
Norwegian Epic July 2013 - Western Med well at least we are going on a different line this time

so many more cruises to come I hope
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Old August 10th, 2007, 01:31 PM
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Having just returned from back-to-back Royal Caribbean and Carnival cruises, I'd rule out Carnival right away, new ship or not...We were amazed at how many deficiencies Carnival had in their service compared to RCCL...

Plus, it's a 110,000 gross ton ship that will sail with OVER 3000 guests on board...just WAY TOO BIG AND CROWDED--like most Carnival ships...

The Jewel of the Seas will sail with just over 2,500 at 90,000 gross tons...

My favorite isn't on your list--The Celebrity Constellation--Far better food and service and only 2,000 passengers on a 90,000 gross ton ship...

I just went onto the RCCL site and checked the prices on the Jewel for the same approximate dates of my Celebrity Connie Baltic cruise...and, for my category cabin, the Jewel is only $200 cheaper...EXCEPT that's for a TWELVE night cruise when our Connie cruise is a FOURTEEN-NIGHTER...IOW, our Celebrity cruise, on a "per night" basis, is actually cheaper!!!

I'd go check it out if I were you...
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  #7  
Old August 10th, 2007, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by ollienbertsmum View Post
I really would not want to sail on a freestyle dining ship. If you are in a large party, it is fun to get to know the waiter and to have the table waiting for you. The evening meals are a chance to catch up with each other and plan the evening entertainment. Make sure you all book together to get on to the same table. I would really double check this.
As for larger groups reservation are accepted and displayed in advance which restaurant accept which size as reservation - you will never have any problem to get a table for you together.

Regards,
HeinBloed
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Old August 10th, 2007, 09:36 PM
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JHUNTGOLF JHUNTGOLF is online now
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full_of_questions,

I really like all of the great postings that Bruin Steve has made over time, but in this instance I have to respectfully disagree with him about ruling out Carnival right away. However, in the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that I'm already booked on the 2nd sailing of the Splendor on 7/25/08 so I'm obviously biased towards Carnival!!!!! I don't really see a big difference between 110,000 tons vs. 90,000 tons and 3,000 passengers vs. 2,500 passengers. I sailed on the 4th sailing of Carnival's Liberty cruise to the Med in August 2005, and we had one of our best cruise vacations ever despite some of what I would call the "shake down" issues with a new ship and a new crew. There was just something very nice about being on what effectively was a brand new ship. You also said that there would be 10 of you from age 5 to 66. Carnival would definitely have a very good program for children. Ultimately, you probably won't go wrong with any of the ships. I hope this helps.

John
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  #9  
Old August 11th, 2007, 02:02 PM
full_of_questions full_of_questions is offline
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Thanks for everyones very helpful advice! We are pretty sure we will be booking the Carnival cruise, the desire to sail on a brand new ship is just too strong.
Because there are so many of us, what's the latest you think it would be safe to wait to book?
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  #10  
Old August 11th, 2007, 07:13 PM
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I would recommend to book now. If you have a good travel agent they will check any price amendments or actions which can be advantaged for you and will adjust the rates accordingly.


BUT I would like to RECALL my statement!

If really the transit time to the port of embarquement is a matter for you:

DO NOT USE UK PORTS.


You might save 1 hour flight time to Amsterdam or Copenhagen but you will spend more time to get to the ports from the airport and vice versa.



UK Airports are the most time killing airports I know in Europe! Especially Heathrow.


Optimistic:

depending to the traffic at the airport (airside)
depending to the operation and the ways in the terminal (terminal)
depending to the ways to ground transportation (in UK it's more tough than in the US since July 2007 - Glasgow airport attack)
depending to the traffice around London

you'll need min. 3 1/2 - 4 hours before you leave the aircraft to pier at Dover or Harwich (a little more...).



But under the circumstances to optimize the total travel time I really would check alternatives:

from Copenhagen:

optimistic: 75-90 minutes after you leave the plane until you are at the port.

from Amsterdam:

optimistic: 90-120 minutes after you leave the plane until you are at the port.

from Rotterdam:

optimistic: 105-135 minutes after you leave the plane until your are at the port.



So if total transit time is really a matter of you:

it's much more smoother to use Copenhagen as port of embarquement.

1. no long ways in Copenhagen Kastrup Airport
2. no long immigration time - it's much more smoother than in London
3. no long waiting for your baggage
4. no long ways to Ground Transportation
5. no long way from the airport to the Cruise Terminal

Amsterdam is also an Alternative but

a) a little longer ways in the terminals than Copenhagen
b) a little longer time for immigration than Copenhagen but less than London
c) waiting for baggage could be as long as in London (last time 45 minutes)
d) a very little longer ways to Ground Transportation
e1) subject you are starting from Amsterdam: same short way to Cruise Terminal
e2) subject you are starting from Rotterdam: longer than Amsterdam and Copenhagen but much more shorter than Harwich or Dover!!! And escpecially: trains are leaving just from the airport directly to Rotterdam - but even a private transfer by taxi is not out of the world.

AND WHEN YOU ARE FLYING BACK YOU WILL APPRECIATE THE SECURITY MEASUREMENTS and the CARRY ON BAGGAGE-POLICY OUTSIDE UK: There you can still take two pieces of baggage with you and they are not so overruled like in the UK.





Double check your decision!!! That's my PERSONAL opinion.

Regards
HeinBloed

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Old August 11th, 2007, 07:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by full_of_questions View Post
Thanks for everyones very helpful advice! We are pretty sure we will be booking the Carnival cruise, the desire to sail on a brand new ship is just too strong.
Because there are so many of us, what's the latest you think it would be safe to wait to book?
Your question is very difficult to answer because it depends on various factors. Let me discuss a few. Are you trying to get several cabins either in a row or close together? If so, the earlier you book, the better your opportunity to get such cabins. Are you trying to get cabins to accomodate a third or possibly a fourth person? If so, there can be a limited number of cabins to meet your needs. Obviously, the earlier you book, getting cabins to accomodate 3 or 4 people won't be much of a problem. However, if you wait a long time to book, there may then be limited cabins to accomodate 3 or 4 people. Are you trying to get the best price? Sometimes you can get a very good price by booking early. Other times, if the ship isn't filling up very quickly, you could see some more discounted prices the closer you get to the actual sailing date. Wanting to book on a new ship presents another issue in that it's my guess that many of the initial sailings of a new ship tend to book up earlier rather than later just because people want to sail on a new ship. Another factor is the longer you wait to book the cruise, you may have some difficulty getting the flights you desire, especially if you're trying to get a direct flight for several people on the same flight. I always tend to think that if you're pretty certain about going on a particular cruise, then book it early. If the price goes down, your TA can get a price adjustment. If your plans change, you can cancel the cruise before your final payment is due and get a full refund of your deposit. I hope this helps.

John
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  #12  
Old August 11th, 2007, 07:49 PM
ollienbertsmum ollienbertsmum is offline
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At this point I have to agree with Heinblod about both the time taken from Uk airports to port and disadvantage of taking only one item of hand luggage.

However with kids in the party, they can help out with hand luggage - it is not such a problem.

Also by being in a group you could hire a mini coach like we did - it was door to door service and really cheap. You could not fly out of UK earlier than 1 pm - and that would mean leaving the ship at 7 am.

However....

I do not think that the travel to and from the ship are the most important factors in the cruise. It is more important to check that you have the ports you want (with a full day in port), the dining style you want - and with the whole family with you, entertainment for all ages. If you want a pre or post cruise stay, you also want to choose the departure port.

We got all of this (a group aged between 12 and 50) from the Jewel of the Seas, but as Jhunt said, you probably would have a fantastic time on any of the ships.

Once you make your choice, why wait to book? Air prices always go up and up.

Have a great family trip
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Ollie, Bert and their Mum

Voyager of the Seas July 2006 Western Med 2292
Jewel of the Seas July 2007 Baltic -cant remember the stateroom, I just remember that we had a brilliant time!
Adventure of the Seas July 2010 Western Med 7289
Liberty of the Seas July 2011 Western Med 7331 and 7329
Adventure of the Seas July 2012 Western Med (they just get better) 6616
Norwegian Epic July 2013 - Western Med well at least we are going on a different line this time

so many more cruises to come I hope

Last edited by ollienbertsmum; August 11th, 2007 at 07:50 PM. Reason: typo errors
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  #13  
Old August 12th, 2007, 11:31 AM
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Default good choice

I went through the same research before I, too, booked the Carnival Splendor. With a 16-year old, the quality of the teen program (and the flexibility of the folks who staff it) it critical to his enjoyment of a cruise (AND, gives me plenty of time to have my own fun). . . As long as he shows up for dinner, showered and presentably dressed, days at sea are his own. I love Carnival--your family will too. And don't forget to join us on the Roll Call board once you book!!
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