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gkkapp

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  1. gkkapp

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  2. The Malbork Castle tour was excellent. We did this on a Princess cruise so cannot speak for other cruise lines. We had a great lunch at a restaurant near the castle, Gosciniec & Hotel nad Wisla . Roads in Gdansk are VERY busy. This is one port that I would advise doing a ship's tour as getting back to the ship on time can be a problem. On our first visit we did a private tour with some other people and cut it really close getting back . <<<Karen>>>
  3. Here's what we did in 2012 using the "Paris on Your Own" excursion: Today we booked a ship's tour – Paris on Your Own. Basically we paid for a bus to take us from the ship into Paris and get us back in time before the ship sailed. We had a very early breakfast in the buffet, and went to the ship's theater to await our tour group being called. The trip into Paris was uneventful and took about three hours. The scenery along the way was nice. Arriving in Paris we rode down the Champs Elysee, past the Arc de Triomphe and were let off near the Place de la Concorde. Luckily, we quickly found a taxi that would transport four people (many taxis won't) and we rode to Notre Dame Cathedral. We walked around the outside, taking pictures as we went. On the north side of the Cathedral under the rose window is a sidewalk cafe we discovered on the Internet called La Rosace. We ate lunch there, a ham and cheese sandwich for us and crêpes for our friends. We took advantage of their free restroom. After lunch we got in the long but fast moving queue to visit the inside of this vast church. In spite of the wall-to-wall people we were able to take a few pictures and admire the architecture. Leaving the church, we walked past the flower market and in front of St. Chapelle. We then crossed the Seine River and started walking along the river towards our bus pick-up point. Karen was able to purchase an oil painting of the Arc de Triomphe along the way. When we came to the Louvre, we walked through a large archway into a courtyard. A second archway took us to the famous glass pyramid. Lots of photos were taken. We continued on through the Tuileries Gardens and around the Place de la Concorde. It was time to return to the pick-up point for our return to the ship. On the way back we drove past the Eiffel Tower, which we had only seen from a distance, so we had a great photo opportunity. Traffic was a bit heavy as we rode back to Le Havre and got worse as we neared the ship. Finally we were there, and quickly made our way to the dining room for our “last supper”. If we were going now we would go on the other side of the Seine to the Eiffel Tower. Glad we saw Notre Dame when we did. We had about 4 hours and if you plan ahead as to what you really want to see the excursion is well worth it. <<<Karen>>>
  4. Been there a few times. Nice knitted sweaters, hats and gloves at pretty good prices (last there in 2013, missed it in 2016 due to rain!!). They also have linen goods like shawls and table cloths. They had both adult and children's sizes. In 2016 there were more booths at the dock area but prices might have been higher. <<<Karen>>>
  5. For Belfast try City and Causeway Tours https://www.cityandcauseway.com/ We had a great tour with them this past May. <<<Karen>>>
  6. We have been on 3 Princess Baltic cruises, 2010, 2013 and 2016, and will be on again in June. Each year there was a folkloric show in the evening of the first day. All were very good and just long enough. Your kids should find it to their liking, lots of music and lively dancing. Then it's off to bed so you all are fresh for the next day. Lots of people stay on the ship for the show rather then pay extra for one. <<<Karen>>>
  7. Gee- I hope all is well, too. I did see that his website was down but thought he was just redoing it. He is so good I hope he hasn't given up guiding. I looked at his Facebook page and.....he used my Trip Advisor review on it . <<<Karen>>>
  8. Hi Coral- Last May we did The Guernsey Explorer 90 minute bus tour: https://www.visitguernsey.com/see-and-do/things-to-do/the-guernsey-explorer/ While not a complete tour it gave us a general idea of Guernsey. We booked the first tour, around 10:00am, so we had time to stroll around St Peter Port afterward. I must say that I had back problems and could not have walked for a long time or spent a long time sitting. The tour worked well for us and I am now pain free after spine surgery back in October. Off to the Baltic's this summer. <<<Karen>>>
  9. If you want Red or any other private tour operator now is the time to book. Tours fill up fast. Not sure why his website is down but emailing him through his Facebook page should work. He was quick to reply when I contacted him about this time last year. <<<Karen>>>
  10. Are these two tours ship run tours?? We have been to Kirkwall twice and used private tours both times. This past May we used Red's tours. Looks like his website is "underconstruction" so try: https://www.facebook.com/redsorkneytours/ I put together a group of 6 people by posting on the roll call for the cruise. Red did a great job . Kirkwall and the Orkneys are amazing. His Neolithic Sites tour was great, much better then the tour we took our first time there. There is so much to see there and you don't want to see it looking out of a bus window. Here's a copy of my review on Trip Advisor: In 2012 we visited Kirkwall and did a tour of the Neolithic sites with a well known local tour operator. We thought it was a great tour. May 20, 2019 we made a return visit to Kirkwall and toured with Red's Orkney Tours. What a difference!!! We saw so much more and learned so much more then we did the first time. Red, David Hamilton, was one of the best tour guides we have ever had and we've had plenty over the years. He was at the dock waiting even though we were late due to tendering problems. There were 6 people in our group arranged through the Roll Call group on Cruise Critic for our cruise. We fit nicely in David's clean van and he was a careful driver. He rearranged to tour stops due to our late start but nothing was left out. At each stop he explained what we were seeing in clear, concise detail. We understood the significance of each site much better then we did in 2012. He had water and granola bars plus local fudge to share with us. We paid at the end of the tour, he did not want a deposit or payment in full before the tour. All in all you can't go wrong with Red's Tours. Hope this helps. <<<Karen>>>
  11. I am re-posting this review of our 2016 tour in St Petersburg with Best Guides. We are going again in July and will use Best Guides again for another custom tour. This was our third Baltic cruise so we decided to do something different since we had done the “standard tour” twice using a different one of the big well known companies each time.. I am interested in religious art especially icons and Novgorod, south of St Petersburg, is the birth place of Russian icon painting. Could we go there? Internet research turned up several new to me tour companies offering tours to Novgorod. I contacted them plus the well known companies often seen on this board. The new companies were VERY expensive for what they offered. Two of the better known companies (used before) replied but said they would get back to me. I'm still waiting. I received a quick response from Best Guides. They already offer a tour to Novgorod. I began working with Natalie and came up with the following: we would go to Novgorod on the first day and have a walking tour around the center of St Petersburg on the second day. We told them some places we would like to visit and a place and time schedule was worked out for the walking tour. We expected to pay more as it would only be the two of us but their price was only a bit more then what a standard tour for two would have cost. Here's a link to their Novgorod tour: http://www.bestguides-spb.com/tour-novgorod.html Natalie was quick to reply and easy to work with even when we made several changes over time to both parts of the tour. How did all this work out.....well, you always have doubts and fears. Will they be there to meet you at the dock, will ride to Novgorod be safe (it's about a three hour trip each way) etc. On June 11 we arrived in St Petersburg and quickly got off the ship and through boarder control. There was a representative from Best Guides along with our driver, Anatoly, waiting to meet us. Anatoly took us to his van and we were off. He was an excellent, careful driver and the drive to Novgorod was pleasant with lots to see, old wooden houses, small towns etc. Our guide, Galena, was there to meet us and we began by walking into the “Kremlin” area of Novgorod. I won't go into detail but will be happy to answer questions. It was a truly wonderful day except for the rain. Even with that we saw everything as promised and Galena was excellent with lots of information about the meaning of religious paintings and icons. The ride back to St Petersburg was uneventful and Anatoly (who, by the way, did not speak English but that was never a problem) indicated he would be our driver tomorrow. He was there to meet us on Sunday with our guide for the day, Elena Isakova. Again, rather then going into detail, our day worked out wonderfully. Elena was a excellent, knowledgeable guide. From the first stop at an Orthodox church to see and hear some of the service, to the Central Naval Museum, not usually on a tour but a place DH wanted to see, and finally the Peter and Paul Fortress we saw everything we wanted to see and more. We had a long walk along the Nevsky Prospect that made us feel like everyday Russians out for a stroll. Stopped in at the office and paid with a credit card, no problem. All in all we could not have been happier with service and guides from Best Guides. We would use them again in a heart beat. They were easy to work with and quickly responded to our emails. Being able to pay with a credit card on the second day was a plus because we did not have to bring a lot of cash with us. Apparently, the big two companies (I will name them if asked) were not interested providing anything but the “standard tour”. Best Guides stepped up gave us exactly what we wanted. They certainly earned their name as they were the “Best Guides. It was truly a "customized" tour. The two highly rated companies that did not "reply back" were Alla and SPB. We toured with both companies, Alla in 2010 and SPB in 2013 so we thought we would use one of them again. Neither wanted our business. You will see from the review that a customized tour can be done. The cost was $800 total for both days, only a bit more pp then the going rate for a two day tour in 2016. Considering the drive to Novgorod and back we thought it was a bargain <<<Karen>>>
  12. In Kirkwall last May I purchased some hand spun yarn at the craft fair on the upper floor of the Town Hall building. I believe it is open when cruise ships are in. https://www.facebook.com/orkneyartsandcrafts/ <<<Karen>>>
  13. We used City and Causeway Tours: https://www.cityandcauseway.com/ last May and they did a great job. Tell them your time frame and I'm sure they could work something out for you. <<<Karen>>>
  14. We came in a few days early both in 2016 and this year and visited the Dockyard. Chose to stay in Southampton both times as we had been to London before. We stayed at the Premier Inn West Quey and the train station is an easy walk from there. I should mention that we took the National Express bus done from Heathrow and you can just pull your suitcase to the hotel from the bus station. The next day we walked over to the train station and bought same day return tickets to Portsmouth. Spent the best part of the day there touring the HMS Victory, the HMS Warrior and this year the Mary Rose exhibit, not to be missed!!! Make sure to check out "Hatch" . We also checked out the other exhibits. When we'd had enough it was back on the train and back to the hotel. In 2016 we also went to Winchester and this year to Salisbury both easy train trips. We had no problems both times going to Portsmouth and people are always willing to get you "set right" if you have any problems. Hope this helps. <<<Karen>>>
  15. I agree 100%. We had Stephen as our driver/guide and he was great. One of the couples were golf nuts. The Open (British) was being played in Northern Ireland and we made a special stop at the golf course pro shop so they could get some souvenirs. Gee, I even bought a ball marker . <<<Karen>>>
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