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SarahD112

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

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29 minutes ago, cft8 said:

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! 

Thank you for all the specifics! I’m taking screenshots in case I can’t find the thread a year from now. Did you book independent tours or rccl tours? And how did you find the dinner dress code? I’m trying to keep it to one suitcase plus a carry on and backpack per person! Usually I would wear a nice top with capris or a sundress, but I don’t think it will be warm enough for northern cities in end of May/early June.

 

Thanks again for all the feedback!

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Planning a European cruise is so overwhelming for me!  With DH having way less vacation than me, we have limited time...  and, there are just so many options!  And it’s so pricey for a balcony (if we’re going to go, I for sure want a balcony).  It seems like every year, I research a possible European trip, get overwhelmed, then book something different 😉. Our 25th anniversary will be in 2023, and DH will have more vacation then, so maybe that is a good year for Europe 🙂

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9 hours ago, SarahD112 said:

Thank you for all the specifics! I’m taking screenshots in case I can’t find the thread a year from now. Did you book independent tours or rccl tours? And how did you find the dinner dress code? I’m trying to keep it to one suitcase plus a carry on and backpack per person! Usually I would wear a nice top with capris or a sundress, but I don’t think it will be warm enough for northern cities in end of May/early June.

 

Thanks again for all the feedback!

You’re welcome! 

 

We go with a private group, so our excursions are through RCCL but they are customized for us. Oslo we just went out in our own - no tour at all. 

 

I didn’t find the dress code all that dressy. On port days I wore what I’d worn to port to dinner (but it was capris and casual tops, not jeans and t-shirts) because we had traditional dining in the early seating and we were always getting back right before so we barely had time to drop our bags in the cabin and run a brush through our hair, much less change clothes! One formal night I wore a sundress with a cardigan over it. I forget what I wore for the other one, but it wasn’t cocktail attire. Normally I like to dress up, but I had had knee surgery in May and I was not allowed to wear heels, plus like you I was trying to keep the baggage down. DH wore a button down and sport coat, no tie.  Like I said I don’t have any Caribbean itineraries to compare to, but it wasn’t much different from any other RCCL cruise I’ve been on - I saw the full range from gowns to capris.

 

I’d just keep an eye on the weather. It was actually pretty warm in August (we were hot a lot of the time in London, actually). It wasn’t as hot on the cruise, but it was still short sleeves weather. I’ve been in London in May and it’s been warm. It’s probably not going to be 90, but it’s probably going to be warm enough for short sleeves and maybe a light sweater or jacket. 

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We were on a Holland America cruise to Norway last May with our then 22 year old daughter and loved Oslo.  It is a very walkable city that you can do on your own.  We took the ferry to see the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History and enjoyed walking through the neighborhoods to get there. The museum is spread out over many acres with many buildings to explore, including a Stave Church (great to see if you have any Disney Frozen fans) and lots of farm animals. We then went to the Akershus Fortress (again, if you have any Frozen fans, worthwhile to see) and the Resistance Museum (husband is a fan of WW II history).  Lots of walking but so worthwhile.

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1 hour ago, vacationlover_mn said:

Planning a European cruise is so overwhelming for me!  With DH having way less vacation than me, we have limited time...  and, there are just so many options!  And it’s so pricey for a balcony (if we’re going to go, I for sure want a balcony).  It seems like every year, I research a possible European trip, get overwhelmed, then book something different 😉. Our 25th anniversary will be in 2023, and DH will have more vacation then, so maybe that is a good year for Europe 🙂

I hear you on the cost! One thing I found out in booking the kids’ interior cabin - all interior cabins on Anthem are virtual balconies - so you can at least see live picture of what it outside. 

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We did a Transatlantic a few years ago and used Overlord Tours to do Normandy when we stopped at LaHavre. Found a group of folks on the Roll Call who had booked this small van with them and were looking for people interested in the tour. We loved it. The tour company was excellent, the tour was great and we really liked having only 8 of us in the van and not tied to a big bus. They picked us up early, around 8am and we were back before 6, but they'll work with you and the ship's itinerary. We stopped at the Battery of Longues sur Mer, Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery at Coleville sur Mer, Pointe du Hoc,  lunch a Saint Mère Eglise, 12th century church at Angoville au Plain, there were a few others stops that we decided on but i forget. We did pay a little extra because it was considered a private tour but we all thought it was one of the best excursions any of us ever took. Some friends of ours took a bus into Paris and regretted it. The bus ride was really long...maybe 3+ hours and then they only had about 4 hours there and were back on the bus. 

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Europe cruises are so port intensive and focused on the culture and exploration that the focus isn’t on the ship half as much as it is in the Caribbean. You’re exhausted when you return to the ship, so it’s more about resting up for the next exciting port adventure than doing it all onboard. The sea days have the same typical activities and are the time to soak up ship time. You may have cooler weather, but you’ll still have plenty of fun. That cruise likely won’t have as many young people for your kids, but there should still be some. London is awesome and should be explored; 2 days is a good amount of time. Take the tube everywhere because traffic is awful. Yes, definitely fly in the day before at least. Airfare is all over the place, so track it when it first comes out and see if you feel it’s a fair price. If so, book. The flight times will likely change a few times between booking and flying. I recommend starting to track prices now, pretending you’re going this summer/fall to get a rough idea of pricing. Happy planning! I ❤️ Europe!

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7 hours ago, vacationlover_mn said:

Planning a European cruise is so overwhelming for me!  With DH having way less vacation than me, we have limited time...  and, there are just so many options!  And it’s so pricey for a balcony (if we’re going to go, I for sure want a balcony).  It seems like every year, I research a possible European trip, get overwhelmed, then book something different 😉. Our 25th anniversary will be in 2023, and DH will have more vacation then, so maybe that is a good year for Europe 🙂

 The European cruises tend to be port heavy on our 12 day Mediterranean were only at sea 3 1/2 days I couldn't justify the additional expense of a balcony so we went back to an inside cabin which we haven't done in years     But I figured on the sea days we could hang out on the top deck    Now if I was doing an Alaskan to her I would pay the additional price for a balcony   

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54 minutes ago, cruisequeen4ever said:

Europe cruises are so port intensive and focused on the culture and exploration that the focus isn’t on the ship half as much as it is in the Caribbean. You’re exhausted when you return to the ship, so it’s more about resting up for the next exciting port adventure than doing it all onboard. The sea days have the same typical activities and are the time to soak up ship time. You may have cooler weather, but you’ll still have plenty of fun. That cruise likely won’t have as many young people for your kids, but there should still be some. London is awesome and should be explored; 2 days is a good amount of time. Take the tube everywhere because traffic is awful. Yes, definitely fly in the day before at least. Airfare is all over the place, so track it when it first comes out and see if you feel it’s a fair price. If so, book. The flight times will likely change a few times between booking and flying. I recommend starting to track prices now, pretending you’re going this summer/fall to get a rough idea of pricing. Happy planning! I ❤️ Europe!

I would love to get a rough idea of flight costs, but I’m thinking it may not be apples to apples for this May, since it’s so close. My travel agent advised buying 9-11 months out, and is guessing $1100-1300/ticket. She said if I see less than that to jump on it. I don’t know if i could watch another time of year that would be similarly priced- Christmas, for example? But I’ve no idea if that will be more or less - or a good comparison. Might have to do some research there. Surely someone has out that info out there. We’ll be flying American Airlines, since we’ll have enough miles for two of the four tickets I’ll need. 

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On 2/20/2019 at 9:21 PM, 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.

Great ports that you’re visiting. TripAdvisor yelp are helpful for information. Be aware of smoking issues on land as well as onboard. Eating out in a cafe is nice until someone lites up! We learned quickly and ate inside most often. Check out your credit card information pre trip ours had favorable exchange rates. Local currency is great to have.

Kids will love the Anthem. I wish I was a kid again with all the amazing activities.

Some food onboard may be slightly different based on Europe sources.

Research places to eat pre cruise and have a plan. We enjoyed our land meals although a different trip.

Wearing non specific USA sports apparel is a good idea. Like Rebook. But not teams.

We used RCL laundry at discounts usually offered after day 2 as we did land trip before cruise. 

Some currency is different between countries check ahead of time. Very envious of your ship and ports. Enjoy.

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30 minutes ago, SarahD112 said:

I would love to get a rough idea of flight costs, but I’m thinking it may not be apples to apples for this May, since it’s so close. My travel agent advised buying 9-11 months out, and is guessing $1100-1300/ticket. She said if I see less than that to jump on it. I don’t know if i could watch another time of year that would be similarly priced- Christmas, for example? But I’ve no idea if that will be more or less - or a good comparison. Might have to do some research there. Surely someone has out that info out there. We’ll be flying American Airlines, since we’ll have enough miles for two of the four tickets I’ll need. 

 

$1100-1300 a ticket seems high. We’re flying to London in August, from New York, and we got flights on British Air for $375 a person round trip, extra for early seat selection. No advice on the European cruise, as we are taking our first one this summer. We did spend 5 days in London last summer, so much to see there.

Also, just as a point of reference we bought the flights about 7 months before. Last summer we got great prices about 4 months before.

Edited by Mrs.Dukes

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1 hour ago, SarahD112 said:

I would love to get a rough idea of flight costs, but I’m thinking it may not be apples to apples for this May, since it’s so close. My travel agent advised buying 9-11 months out, and is guessing $1100-1300/ticket. She said if I see less than that to jump on it. I don’t know if i could watch another time of year that would be similarly priced- Christmas, for example? But I’ve no idea if that will be more or less - or a good comparison. Might have to do some research there. Surely someone has out that info out there. We’ll be flying American Airlines, since we’ll have enough miles for two of the four tickets I’ll need. 

 

I think your TA might need to watch ticket prices a little more.... 1100-1300 seems really high for London.   At $1500 you can travel nearly anywhere in the world.   1100-1300 is closer to pricing to Rome or the Middle East.  Where are you flying from.  That obviously makes a big difference, but for east coast that seems high.

 

From my experience I have found the sweet spot for our travel to be around 90 days out.   Prices can fluctuate wildly,  but I’ve noticed when book 11 months out many airlines are still not available and competition seems to be low so prices are high.  The closer to the date the more airlines have their bookings available.  Obviously if you are booking in the last 6 weeks prices will rise notably.

 

Ultimately, there are a million variables in flight pricing and you just need to book when you see a price that seems good.   Historically I have had the best luck at around 3 months out but there are many times I have gotten better deals a little farther or closer to the travel date.

Edited by rimmit

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I don’t know where you’re flying from but AA ORD to LHR return is about USD 720 for regular economy for 11 May out, 1 June return.

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10 minutes ago, little britain said:

Look at low cost carrier Norwegian... they fly to several USA airports. 

 

We got a great deal on a one way from JFK for a TA that ended in NYC.   911.10 from JFK to Copenhagen including 3 bags on a 787.   Nice new plane.  Inflight entertainment.  Direct flight.  

 

Just wish we didn’t have to drive 10 hours to JFK that day to catch the flight.  LOL.

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Crazy! Looked at flights on American for this May. Nashville to London $1436+. JFK to London $673. Even crazier is that Charlotte to London is $1550, but New York THROUGH Charlotte to London is $673. As I said, we should have at least two tickets free with American Airlines miles, so need to stick with that. But may be flying southwest from Nashville to New York. Will mean having to get from La Guardia to JFK. Using miles, you pay A LOT of taxes to fly a partner airline, so need to stick with AA flights. It’s an additional $500+ in carrier fees to use AA miles on British Airways. 😳

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Regarding pricing for flights to London from the US -- honestly, as an American who has lived in the UK for 10+ years, I rarely fly during the summer months because there is a huge premium on flights then -- easily in the quoted $1100-1300 of your TA. The lowest I have ever seen prices is $500-600 and that is in February/March when there is 0 demand for those flights. The 'average' we pay is between $700-1000 when it's semi-off-peak. Summertime flights are easily $1000+. I finally flew home during the summer for the first time last year and paid about $1200 roundtrip. If you find a crazy good deal, grab it. But be prepared to pay the price quoted because that's the normal pricing.

 

Edit: Forgot to say that Air2Sea / ChoiceAir with Royal Caribbean often have unbelievably amazing pricing for international flights. My dad managed to snag a multi-way fare (one-way fare into Europe and one-way fare back out via a different airport) for $650 which is almost unheard of. So do check that out!

Edited by londongal796

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On 2/23/2019 at 12:14 PM, SarahD112 said:

I would love to get a rough idea of flight costs, but I’m thinking it may not be apples to apples for this May, since it’s so close. My travel agent advised buying 9-11 months out, and is guessing $1100-1300/ticket. She said if I see less than that to jump on it. I don’t know if i could watch another time of year that would be similarly priced- Christmas, for example? But I’ve no idea if that will be more or less - or a good comparison. Might have to do some research there. Surely someone has out that info out there. We’ll be flying American Airlines, since we’ll have enough miles for two of the four tickets I’ll need. 

Well, even though this summer is around the corner, we’ve bought some of our Europe tickets in January, some in February, and some in March. I begin tracking in the fall but don’t buy until closer to final payment. Your case is different, though, because you’re locked into 1 airline and need to use miles for 2 tickets. Then the other 2 tickets are going to have to be the same flights as the mileage ones. That could result in you paying more than the cheapest rate. In other words, the mileage flights aren’t necessarily the routing you’d get the best price on by paying cash. I think you should heed your TA and buy earlier to ensure you all end up on the same flights. 

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35 minutes ago, cruisequeen4ever said:

Well, even though this summer is around the corner, we’ve bought some of our Europe tickets in January, some in February, and some in March. I begin tracking in the fall but don’t buy until closer to final payment. Your case is different, though, because you’re locked into 1 airline and need to use miles for 2 tickets. Then the other 2 tickets are going to have to be the same flights as the mileage ones. That could result in you paying more than the cheapest rate. In other words, the mileage flights aren’t necessarily the routing you’d get the best price on by paying cash. I think you should heed your TA and buy earlier to ensure you all end up on the same flights. 

Good point - I am restricted to one airline, so I can’t risk those flights filling up. And the price is so much less from JFK than BNA, that I’m probably going to book two of us on southwest from bna-lga. I have a lot of moving parts. 😂

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