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SarahD112

First cruise in Europe...lots of questions!!!

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We have sailed many times in the Caribbean and have been to Europe a few times, but this is the first time to combine the two. We are sailing May 29 of 2020 on the Anthem out of Southampton England to Oslo, Norway, Bruges, Belgium, Paris/Le Havre, France and Hamburg, hGermany. 

 

I haven’t been been able to find any posts except one from 2013 comparing European sailings to Caribbean sailings. We have chosen My Time Dining because it sounds like excursion days will be long, but we might want to eat earlier on sea days (there are three). Anyone know what to expect for dress code in the dining room - both regular and formal nights? I’m assuming a little dressier than Caribbean?  Not as warm either, so a different type of clothing altogether, I’m thinking. 

 

Late May/June in Northern Europe will be much cooler than any time of year in the Caribbean. So what does everyone do all day on sea days? I’m guessing not lay by the pool! Or does Anthem have covered pools? Are there more non-water activities going on? We’re used to steel drum bands, frozen drinks in hand and sun by the pool. 

 

Any guesses as to whether there will be kids/young adults onboard? My kids will be 17 and 30. Friends we’re sailing with have kids more along the ages of 11 and 13. I’m thinking that since Anthem is one of Royal’s larger ships, the demographic may skew a little younger than the smaller ships in Europe?  

 

Any tips anyone has are much appreciated. We’ve not been to any of the towns we are visiting, so what to see would be great. If it’s safe, I’d like to go into Paris, but husband interested in Normandy excursion. Thinking to fly in a day ahead of time and spend two days at the end in London. Best bet to book airfare as soon as it comes out?

 

Thanks.

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We've done some cruises out of Europe though not to the ports you are going and have also done Norwegian cruise lines. We were in Norway last year end of May and was fortunate with 60 degree weather and no rain (which was unusual! ) Wouldn't hurt to take raincoats. 

Yes we saw quite a few kids and there were actually some people in the pools!

Airline tickets I like to check google flights and get an idea what they are running check frequently. When you see a price you like grab it!

We have taken our 3 young adult kids, son-in-law and grandbaby  and I have found if we travel out of New York (a 6 hour drive for us) it is way cheaper!  The 1 year I saved over $3000 so well worth the drive! Be open to checking different airports etc!

This year I found tickets to Ireland for under $410 others are surprised Im going so cheap but I am very happy!

Also be willing to book your own excursions,  I found excursions were extremely expensive over there!

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The last Monday in May is a Bank Holiday week in England so all schools are closed so will probably have a lot of children on the cruise. We did a 14 night cruise out of Southampton last year and formal night ranges from ball gowns to normal smart clothes. I was amazed ar how many people turned up at the docks carrying suit carriers. Most people tended to dress smartly most evenings but some just turned up in jeans, hope this helps 

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You need to check out distances from the port to the towns.

 

Le Havre is a 3hr drive each way from Paris. Far better to visit some quintessentially beautiful towns like Rouen, or Honfleur, or the Normandy landing beaches which you mention.

 

Zebrugge is 30 mins from Bruges, there are busses at the port gates that will run a regular shuttle into Bruges for about €20pp. Far cheaper than ships transfer. 

 

Oslo you are docked right in town. 

Edited by little britain

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In Oslo we went to the Viking Longships museum, a bit sparse, the Kon Tiki museum, just OK, and lastly the "Fram" museum. 

The Fram was a little ship prominent in polar exploration in the early 20th century.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fram

Exhibit is excellent, best of the lot!

 

Bruges, port was Zeebrugge, right? We went on a WW1 battlefield tour. Very good and very moving. Visited where the poem "In Flanders Fields" was written, city of Ypres and so on. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Flanders_Fields

 

Le Havre, IMHO drive to Paris etc too long unless perhaps it's the only chance you ever have to visit. Do it as a ship's tour.

We went on excursion to Honfleur. Very nice but kids likely would be bored.

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16 minutes ago, little britain said:

You need to check out distances from the port to the towns.

 

Le Havre is a 3hr drive each way from Paris. Far better to visit some quintessentially beautiful towns like Rouen, or Honfleur, or the Normandy landing beaches which you mention.

 

Zebrugge is 30 mins from Bruges, there are busses at the port gates that will run a regular shuttle into Bruges for about €20pp. Far cheaper than ships transfer. 

 

Oslo you are docked right in town. 

 

Yep I agree!!  I would 100% recommend Honfleur when you dock in Le Havre.  Its absolutely beautiful. :-)

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Haven't done the ports you are doing, but have done 3 European cruises.  In my experience, people did dress more in keeping  with the suggested Dress Code online than in the Caribbean.  Still not mandatory, but seems more dressy.   

On sea days you'll likely want to rest up.  Europe cruises are very port intensive and long days.  You'll want to see as much as you can so you'll be off the ship for very long days.  Anthem is designed as more of a "cold weather" ship.  I've not been on her, but have been on Quantum.  Lot's of indoor activities available. You'll find plenty to do, but if you're like us, you'll enjoy the down time during sea days.  

For me, Normandy would be the way to go.  We stayed in Paris in 2017 and did a Day tour to Normandy.  I am retired Military, so maybe that has some impact on my feelings, but one of the most moving events of my life was walking through the American Cemetery and reflecting on the sacrifice of so many.  Likewise, walking on Omaha Beach and knowing what kind of day they had to endure.  Very emotional and in my opinion, something everyone should do.  Paris, considering the long journey from the port, would be to rushed for me.  If you want to see Paris, you really need a number of days there.  

Anyway, sounds like a wonderful cruise!  Have a great time!  

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Sounds like a great itinerary!

 

I'm different in that I actually would go into Paris, especially if you and the kids haven't done it before. If you have been recently or plan on going then maybe skip it and do Normandy.

 

I definitely find on European cruises, given the older crown, the dress code is closer followed. My DH does not like to dress up, he wears golf shirts, and I've seen a few dirty looks - ha ha. I always wear a dress, but nothing fancy.

 

In Brugges, we did the orange umbrella walking tour... it was a few hours and it was great.  We took pre-arranged taxi into town. We also managed to walk around the market, eat chocolate and eat Belgium waffles. 

 

As for activities on the ship, I think you'll still find there are things to do even if it is a bit cool. You'll be so wiped out from your excursions, I find I don't have as much energy on a European cruise. I prefer to rest on the off days, personally. I also love sitting in a hot tub when it's cool outside!

 

Have a great time!

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Unless you will never have a chance to see Paris again Inwould recommend against it.  We just hired a taxi in port and went to Etretat and Honfleur.  They were beautiful little French towns.  Had some gelatto and walked around each for a bit independently on our own.  

 

We also did the Normandy beaches on another trip.  A longer drive but for a WWII buff it’s nice to see.  Just be warned there isn’t much “aura”. It’s just a standard beach with people sunbathing and maybe an embankment here or there. The cemetery is nice.

 

The drive is just too far for Paris unless this is your only chance.  You really need to do Paris on a land tour to appreciate it.

 

It’s been a while since I’ve been to Oslo, but I remember enjoying the Viking museum there. 

 

Brugges I can’t remember much about it but i think there was a geodesic structure that was famous there.  That’s i took a pic of.

 

There crowd will be older,  but there will be some kids.  Betting at least 50-100 on a ship that size.  Depends a little on the cruise length.  The longer the cruise the less the number of kids.  I have been on some Baltic cruises with only 27 kids so it can vary.

 

It’s slightly more formal but not significantly so.  The airlines have really killed formal nights.

 

I have been on the Anthem and Ovation.  They are excellent cold weather ships.   Two indoor pools,  one which is adults only.  An outdoor pool area,  bumper cars, roller skating, 270.  It’s a great ship with tons to do.  Have a great time!

 

 

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10 hours ago, SarahD112 said:

I haven’t been been able to find any posts except one from 2013 comparing European sailings to Caribbean sailings. We have chosen My Time Dining because it sounds like excursion days will be long, but we might want to eat earlier on sea days (there are three). Anyone know what to expect for dress code in the dining room - both regular and formal nights? I’m assuming a little dressier than Caribbean?  Not as warm either, so a different type of clothing altogether, I’m thinking. 

 

Any guesses as to whether there will be kids/young adults onboard? My kids will be 17 and 30. Friends we’re sailing with have kids more along the ages of 11 and 13. I’m thinking that since Anthem is one of Royal’s larger ships, the demographic may skew a little younger than the smaller ships in Europe?  

 

Thinking to fly in a day ahead of time and spend two days at the end in London. Best bet to book airfare as soon as it comes out?

 

Thanks.

 

Done 4 12 niters Mediterranean cruises.  My 1st was on the Brilliance in 2007.  The dress code has evolved as in the Caribbean.  As others have mentioned, all Euro cruises are tour intensive and many in the Medit. were in the 9-10 hours as the ports are far from the main attractions.  For example--Rome and Florence are minimum 1.5 hours from the port of Civitavecchia and Livorno respectively.

 

With regards to air fare--don't book immediately, but just track the fares for a bit.  I've noticed, at least in the US, that initially when flights are released (9 mos. prior) they tend to be much higher.  Also, see what Choice Air (RCL booking arm) offers.  Provides some protection if any problems with flights.

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The Friday that you board will be the last day of half term in the UK so probably not too many kids on your cruise, they will be on the one before. 

Weather in May/June in the UK and Northern Europe can be anything from cloudy, rainy and a bit chilly to warm temps in mid 20s and glorious sunshine so come prepared!

Cruises from the UK tend to be quite dressy with the majority abiding by the formal night suggestions and even on other nights lots of smart clothes. Many of your fellow cruisers are likely to be British so less people having to fly.

 

As others have said Paris is quite a distance from Le Havre so lots of time spent travelling and you won't have much time to see everything. I would pick the Normandy beaches if they interest you.

 

We did a fairly similar itinerary last year on MSC and will be doing a 7 night on Indy in May with Oslo, Hamburg and Zeebrugge stops which I'm sure I will post about when we return (or maybe even from the ship).

 

Julie

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9 hours ago, kernow said:

The Friday that you board will be the last day of half term in the UK so probably not too many kids on your cruise, they will be on the one before. 

Weather in May/June in the UK and Northern Europe can be anything from cloudy, rainy and a bit chilly to warm temps in mid 20s and glorious sunshine so come prepared!

Cruises from the UK tend to be quite dressy with the majority abiding by the formal night suggestions and even on other nights lots of smart clothes. Many of your fellow cruisers are likely to be British so less people having to fly.

 

As others have said Paris is quite a distance from Le Havre so lots of time spent travelling and you won't have much time to see everything. I would pick the Normandy beaches if they interest you.

 

We did a fairly similar itinerary last year on MSC and will be doing a 7 night on Indy in May with Oslo, Hamburg and Zeebrugge stops which I'm sure I will post about when we return (or maybe even from the ship).

 

Julie

I will definitely look for your posts in May!

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We did a similar cruise a while back in September, while the kids were still in school, which I suspect it would be the same for you. I had just turned 30 and DH was in his mid 30s, we were part of the youngest adults on the ship. They were a few kids, very just a handful. The guests were 75% seniors. I think out of all the cruises we’ve been on it was the oldest crowd we had encountered. It was just find as it made it for a very civil and quiet cruise. I remember many people doting on our baby as it reminded them of their grandchildren back home. 

We booked private excursions and they turned out great. I don’t remember the tour operators as this was 11 years ago. 

This sailing was also the only time I recall going through seas in any cruise we have ever gone on. The captain announced it in advance and if happened in the evening after dinner. I think it was the passage from the UK to the other side of Europe that always less than smooth seas. 

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2 hours ago, Florida_cruisers said:

We did a similar cruise a while back in September, while the kids were still in school, which I suspect it would be the same for you. I had just turned 30 and DH was in his mid 30s, we were part of the youngest adults on the ship. They were a few kids, very just a handful. The guests were 75% seniors. I think out of all the cruises we’ve been on it was the oldest crowd we had encountered. It was just find as it made it for a very civil and quiet cruise. I remember many people doting on our baby as it reminded them of their grandchildren back home. 

Just a note to say that most European cruises are a mixture of ages, depending on the time of year and itinerary. Typically you find a higher number of 'seniors' on longer cruise itineraries (more than 7-8 nights) and, personally, I found the highest percentage to be on longer cruise itineraries in the Caribbean. The transatlantics we have done have been similarly skewed more. However, personally, the European cruises we've done have had the highest percentage of people in their 30s and 40s. Early September is when all of the kids have just gone back to school in Europe so perhaps fewer people with children sailed then? Apart from that, there's definitely not an overabundance of older passengers on the cruises (anymore than all cruises) -- what there tends to be though in Europe outside of the summer months is a much lower percentage of children. There are regulations and fines for taking children out of school in the UK and other parts of Europe. This means very few families with school-age children can travel outside of the 6 week summer break and other school breaks.

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3 minutes ago, londongal796 said:

Just a note to say that most European cruises are a mixture of ages, depending on the time of year and itinerary. Typically you find a higher number of 'seniors' on longer cruise itineraries (more than 7-8 nights) and, personally, I found the highest percentage to be on longer cruise itineraries in the Caribbean. The transatlantics we have done have been similarly skewed more. However, personally, the European cruises we've done have had the highest percentage of people in their 30s and 40s. Early September is when all of the kids have just gone back to school in Europe so perhaps fewer people with children sailed then? Apart from that, there's definitely not an overabundance of older passengers on the cruises (anymore than all cruises) -- what there tends to be though in Europe outside of the summer months is a much lower percentage of children. There are regulations and fines for taking children out of school in the UK and other parts of Europe. This means very few families with school-age children can travel outside of the 6 week summer break and other school breaks.

You are absolutely right, our cruise was 13 nights. 

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This is great information. I want to take one of these soooo bad

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General rules of thumb if you want to avoid kids. We have two kids, four and eight. So we pay very close attention to kid counts.

 

Warmer itineraries have more kids than colder itineraries.

 

Ships leaving from North America have more kids than those leaving from pretty much any other content.

 

Obviously cruises during the summer, holiday, and spring break seasons have more kids then does not during those times.

 

Obviously cruises on ships that are kid friendly have more kids. From my experience the most kid friendly cruise lines in order of kid friendliness on mainstream cruise lines are Disney, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian, Celebrity, Princess, Holland American.

 

If you want to avoid kids take some northern repo that is 14 days or longer.   We were on the Norwegian Breakaway On a northern transitatlantic last October, and there were literally six kids on board.  The moment my kids boarded the ship, the kids club staff immediately stopped them to make sure they would come to the program so they would have somebody there.

 

If you want the most kids possible, take Disney during the summer or spring break. There will be as many kids as there are adults.

 

European summer Cruises can have a reasonable amount of kids on board based on the size of the ship, however once school starts, the kids disappear almost immediately.  The Mediterranean definitely has more kids than the Baltic or or northern itineraries however.

 

 The UK incurs heavy fines if they pull their kids out of school too much. We homeschooled our children for a little bit so we could buy a little more travel time, and we met a couple from the UK that found it hard to believe that you were allowed to homeschool your kids in the US and just travel.  

 

From talking with them, and I’m not sure how accurate this is or not, so UK people please feel free to chime in, but they definitely were not allowed to do that. As he was very jealous. Not sure how many days you can miss in the UK before they get on you, but he said they will definitely get on you for pulling your kids to travel.

Edited by rimmit

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On 2/21/2019 at 5:29 AM, Stokie33 said:

The last Monday in May is a Bank Holiday week in England so all schools are closed so will probably have a lot of children on the cruise.

BUT, the children only have one week holiday, so if yours is a 14 night cruise, most children need to be back at school, as parents are fined for keeping children off school.

It is also exam season, when 16-18 year olds are taking important exams.

The 6 week summer school holidays for the majority of U.K. children  is mid to late July to the beginning of September.

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This particular cruise on Anthem is 8 nights - and I’m hoping for some kids, teens and young adults, not trying to avoid them. Our UK friend sailing with us is bringing her younger two, but the older one (15?) will not be able to go because of exams. Maybe there will be other American kids on the ship. Schools in the south will be out for summer, like ours. I think quite a few northern schools still in session. But if you want to do the itinerary...it’s only offered once a year. So we didn’t have any choice of dates. It is what it is. Just glad we were able to make it work for us next summer - between high school soccer for one kid and a college age student,  we have a narrow window to work with!

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UK kids will be on half term week of 5/25 so I think few, if any, will be on a 8n cruise starting 5/29 as they will need to be back at school the following Monday. 

Edited by little britain

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1 hour ago, SarahD112 said:

This particular cruise on Anthem is 8 nights - and I’m hoping for some kids, teens and young adults, not trying to avoid them. Our UK friend sailing with us is bringing her younger two, but the older one (15?) will not be able to go because of exams. Maybe there will be other American kids on the ship. Schools in the south will be out for summer, like ours. I think quite a few northern schools still in session. But if you want to do the itinerary...it’s only offered once a year. So we didn’t have any choice of dates. It is what it is. Just glad we were able to make it work for us next summer - between high school soccer for one kid and a college age student,  we have a narrow window to work with!

 We are doing a 12 day Mediterranean out of Barcelona leaving on May 30    Like you here in the Midwest our kids will be out of school by then but I'm not expecting a large number of European kids on our cruise, but am hoping for some American kids (hopefully older teams). My daughter has afriend who lives in Madrid will still be in school for another week or two   

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On 2/21/2019 at 2:21 AM, SarahD112 said:

We have sailed many times in the Caribbean and have been to Europe a few times, but this is the first time to combine the two. We are sailing May 29 of 2020 on the Anthem out of Southampton England to Oslo, Norway, Bruges, Belgium, Paris/Le Havre, France and Hamburg, hGermany. 

 

I haven’t been been able to find any posts except one from 2013 comparing European sailings to Caribbean sailings. We have chosen My Time Dining because it sounds like excursion days will be long, but we might want to eat earlier on sea days (there are three). Anyone know what to expect for dress code in the dining room - both regular and formal nights? I’m assuming a little dressier than Caribbean?  Not as warm either, so a different type of clothing altogether, I’m thinking. 

 

Late May/June in Northern Europe will be much cooler than any time of year in the Caribbean. So what does everyone do all day on sea days? I’m guessing not lay by the pool! Or does Anthem have covered pools? Are there more non-water activities going on? We’re used to steel drum bands, frozen drinks in hand and sun by the pool. 

 

Any guesses as to whether there will be kids/young adults onboard? My kids will be 17 and 30. Friends we’re sailing with have kids more along the ages of 11 and 13. I’m thinking that since Anthem is one of Royal’s larger ships, the demographic may skew a little younger than the smaller ships in Europe?  

 

Any tips anyone has are much appreciated. We’ve not been to any of the towns we are visiting, so what to see would be great. If it’s safe, I’d like to go into Paris, but husband interested in Normandy excursion. Thinking to fly in a day ahead of time and spend two days at the end in London. Best bet to book airfare as soon as it comes out?

 

Thanks.

These ports are in colder Northern Europe and different to the Warm Mediterranean ports of Barcelona,Rome,Naples etc.

For Bruges (Zebbrugge port) there are lots of nice chocolate shops.

Once we took a tour to Ypres and saw the Menin gate and Flanders Field museum in memory of the battle of the Somme in world war 1.

Le Havre is nothing special and Paris being 2 hours away is not really a viable option.

Last time we took the ships shuttle to a big warehouse shopping centre which was the second stop as the town centre first stop looked dull.

Oslo is nice but very expensive.

 

Edited by grapau27

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We did the 7-night Northern European Cities this past summer. The only port we did not have was La Havre.

 

Oslo was actually probably our favorite place. DH and I just spent the day on our own. It's so convenient being docked right in town! We walked to the Opera House and walked on the roof, which was really cool. The inside of the building is beautiful, too (and it has free restrooms!). We took the tram up to a stop near the Royal Palace. I wanted to go to Queen Sonja's Art Stable, but we did not have time. We walked through the park and saw the Palace from the outside. I was disappointed we had missed their summer opening by a week or so, because I have a strong interest in European monarchies. From there we went to the National Gallery of Art, which was amazing but is now closed because they are combining it with the National Museum. It does reopen sometime in 2020, though, so you might keep an eye on that. From there we walked down Karl Johann's Gate (the main shopping street in Oslo) and then took the tram back to near the port. 

 

Bruges was a close second. We did a walking tour that included the Begijnhof. Then we had some free time and so I went to the Church of our Lady to see the Michelangelo sculpture that was rescued by the Monuments Men. After that we took a canal boat tour, had a bit more free time and then finished up with a horse-drawn wagon ride back to where the buses pick up/drop off. 

 

In Hamburg we went to St. Nicholas Church, which was bombed in WWII and is now a museum about the war. You can also go up in the tower in a glass elevator. Then we went to Miniatur Wunderland. We could probably have spent all day there. It was absolutely amazing. It's very crowded, though. People told us we were lucky to be going in the afternoon because it's more crowded in the mornings. I'd hate to see it in the morning! The coffee shop next door is excellent. 

 

Our cruise was in August and we had 3 sea days. On our busiest day, we did the All-Access tour, had lunch, and went to the ice show. The other two days we really just puttered around. We'd spent 9 days in London before the cruise and honestly it was nice to just relax and read! I've never been on a Caribbean itinerary, so I've never been in the pool on a cruise! Just the hot tubs in the evening! 

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