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Baltic cruise suggestion please!


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Thanks everyone for taking the time to read this. I'm taking my mother (75) on a cruise this summer. I'll also have my son (13) and daughter (15) along.  I'm divorced (single father).  My mom has never been out of the country but is a pretty good traveler in general and in good health.  My kids are seasoned travelers and this will be their 2nd cruise (first was on MSC in the Med.)  I'm well traveled and very much a DIY excursions person.    

 

So, we've more or less decided on a Baltic Cruise in July. I've come up with 3 options.  With all things somewhat equal what would you choose? 

Keep in mind two teenagers and my mom's experience.  

 

Regal Princess  - Copenhagen departure 11 nights.   This one's the cheapest. - balcony 

Norwegian Getaway - Copenhagen 9 nights.    Most expensive - balcony

Serenade of the Seas (Royal) - Stockholm 7 nights.  - May have to have window cabins. 

 

Anybody have any opinions on these ships?  There's also several MSC options, but I think I'd like to try a different cruise line. And when I did research here a few years ago, it seems Costa is the cheapest for a reason.  I also remember the clientele on MSC was decidedly European which didn't bother me at all, but my mom may feel more at home with a more American group, if there's such a thing on a Baltic cruise. 

 

The other option is always British Isles cruise, if you think the Baltic is too big a leap for mom!  

 

Thanks!!

 

   

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I think your mom would love a Baltic cruise - the itinerary is fabulous!

FYI - the Getaway (NCL) and Regal Princess often dock in Nynashamn rather than Stockholm thereby missing the gorgeous sail in and out of the Stockholm archipelago. I would choose a cruise that docks in Stockholm (so, not Regal or Getaway. I would definitely NOT choose MSC for 2 reasons: (1) I agree with your assessment that your mom would most likely be more comfortable surrounded by guests whose native language is English and (2) the port stops offered by MSC are usually of a shorter duration that RCCL, NCL, Princess, etc. You want as long in port as possible as this will allow more flexibility to see/do what you want.

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We are doing the Getaway  on July 13 with our oldest grandson (20) and oldest granddaughter (17). We have been on the Getaway probably 3 or 4 times before and we really like the ship especially the entertainment. The Million Dollar Quartet is my favorite show on a cruise ship and Howl  at the Moon (dueling piano players) is pretty good in my opinion also. If you do choose a ship that leaves from Copenhagen in July there is a big jazz festival going on for 10 days. I think the fourth through fourteenth but I might be off a day or two in that. Hope this helps.

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We are huge Princess fans and are in fact doing Regal out of Copenhagen in June. Regal is amazing ship fully integrated with Medallion and has awesome internet service (at least it did last year in Caribbean). Normally Princess is my first choice and NCL second, we have not sailed RCCL in a long time. 

Why dont go with longer cruise (11 nights) and give Princess a chance? They are cheapest per your post, so you will have more $ to go on excursions with! Princess has a bit different "feel" than NCL. I would say it is more "classic" with great entertainment for all ages. My DS (10) loves cruising and he really liked Regal, especially the Princess Live! Princess ships also have great teen clubs with their own dedicated hangout spaces/hot tubs/discos.

If you need extra info, ask. We have loved our cruise on Regal!

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I am also looking at an Oceania Line on the Marina with a really good deal. I haven’t had time to even look at them in depth. Would two teens, a single dad, and a 75yr old lady feel out of place?  

We aren’t fancy people but not party animals either. Lol 

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9 hours ago, dogs4fun said:

I think your mom would love a Baltic cruise - the itinerary is fabulous!

FYI - the Getaway (NCL) and Regal Princess often dock in Nynashamn rather than Stockholm thereby missing the gorgeous sail in and out of the Stockholm archipelago.


Sometimes they also changed location in the last minute or once final payments are done.
Nynäshamn means you are forced to spend several hours on travel to/from Stockholm or getting
your time in port cut be several hours. For a Baltic cruise choose a different cruise line evenif you like the ship
because most of the time will be spent in the ports anyway.

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14 hours ago, sunsetpizza said:

I am also looking at an Oceania Line on the Marina with a really good deal. I haven’t had time to even look at them in depth. Would two teens, a single dad, and a 75yr old lady feel out of place?  

We aren’t fancy people but not party animals either. Lol 

Oceania is more upscale than the cruise lines that you previously mentioned - the Marina is a beautiful ship and the amenities are excellent (food is much better too). I don't understand what you mean by "out of place" - there is enough to appeal to any age group IMO. 

The Baltic itineraries are VERY port intensive. I would be much less concerned about the amenities aboard ship than I would be about time spent in each port of call as most of the time you will be off the ship and exploring in the fascinating cities that you visit.

I would be more concerned about the ship if this was a simple cruise to the Caribbean rather than a Baltic cruise. That said, the Marina is wonderful!

Edited by dogs4fun
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It might help to know the actual itineraries for each cruise as to which is better.  The Baltic is amazing, and my kids loved the trip.  They were 10, 13, 16, 16 at the time.  I agree it's port intensive and which ship you're on is probably not as important.

 

Oceania seems to skew older, and even the mention of kids on board in their forum here on CC will give some posters hives.  There were a small handful of kids (like 5?) on our Oceania cruise, but it was French Polynesia in March.  They may be a few more on a European cruise during the summer.  Well behaved kids would be fine, regardless of what some CC members would say, but there will be no kids club and very few other kids for your kids to befriend at the pool, etc, if they need that sort of thing.

 

We did MSC for the Med, and if you can do the Yacht Club, I'd seriously consider going with them.  That would indeed be special for your mom.  There will be more kids as well.  My daughter brought her Nintendo Switch and had instant friends every night in the lounge.

 

Either way, the Baltic will be fine for your mom.  In some ways, it's less "foreign" than the Med since more people seem to speak English and the customer service in Scandinavian countries is top notch.

 

Another idea - IcelandAir lets you do a stopover up to 7 days on one leg of the trip.  A cheaper cruise may give you enough extra cash to do 2-3 days in Iceland, which is my favorite country on the planet.

 

 

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29 minutes ago, ljandgb said:

It might help to know the actual itineraries for each cruise as to which is better.  The Baltic is amazing, and my kids loved the trip.  They were 10, 13, 16, 16 at the time.  I agree it's port intensive and which ship you're on is probably not as important.

 

Oceania seems to skew older, and even the mention of kids on board in their forum here on CC will give some posters hives.  There were a small handful of kids (like 5?) on our Oceania cruise, but it was French Polynesia in March.  They may be a few more on a European cruise during the summer.  Well behaved kids would be fine, regardless of what some CC members would say, but there will be no kids club and very few other kids for your kids to befriend at the pool, etc, if they need that sort of thing.

Agree - the Baltic cruises generally tend to attract a more mature group - especially HAL. 

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The Baltic is all about the ports..........

 

Don't settle for a single-day port-of-call visit to St Petersburg. Two days is fine, three is better.

 

Don't choose a ship with the itinerary Stockholm (Nynashamn). 

It's on the coast, an hour from the city. More important, ships that port at Nyneshamn don't go through the archipelago of islands on the sail-in to Stockholm - one of the most amazing sail-ins in the world.

Look for Stockholm (Stadsgarden) or Stockholm (Friihamnen). Stadsgarden is right in the centre, Frihamnen just a short bus or taxi ride away.

If the itinerary just shows "Stockholm", insist on knowing the port before you book.

 

Check hours in port. Some ships (particularly Italian ships) are often in port for half-days.

The only port you can justice to in a half-day is Tallinn (well-worth the visit, but not as extensive as other cities)

 

I suggest you choose which ship / cruise line after you've whittled-out those which have limited itineraries.

 

JB :classic_smile:

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Some ships might have a "Boj 1 Strömmen" berthing location in Stockholm and then you will almost be as
in the middle of the city as possible but you will have to tender. The tender will drop you off
close to the harbour ferries though.

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I’m going to suggest a Baltic in August. It’s on the NCL Spirit from August 17 till September 1. It is a 15 night cruise with only one sea day so level of accommodation doesn’t have to be that high. It leaves from Stockholm and ends up at Southampton. It has an overnight in SPB and hits all the Baltic stops. On the way to Southampton, there’s stops at Amsterdam, Zeebrugge , and LeHavre.

https://www.ncl.com/ca/en/cruises/15-day-scandinavia-russia-and-amsterdam-ultimate-baltic-from-stockholm?itineraryCode=SPIRIT15STOHELLEDTLLRIXKLJGDYRSKCPHOSLIJMZEELEHSOU

I think there’s a little something for everyone on this cruise. The Spirit only carries 2000 passengers so it’s not overwhelming. 

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8 hours ago, lamchops said:

I’m going to suggest a Baltic in August. It’s on the NCL Spirit from August 17 till September 1. It is a 15 night cruise with only one sea day so level of accommodation doesn’t have to be that high. It leaves from Stockholm and ends up at Southampton. It has an overnight in SPB and hits all the Baltic stops. On the way to Southampton, there’s stops at Amsterdam, Zeebrugge , and LeHavre.

https://www.ncl.com/ca/en/cruises/15-day-scandinavia-russia-and-amsterdam-ultimate-baltic-from-stockholm?itineraryCode=SPIRIT15STOHELLEDTLLRIXKLJGDYRSKCPHOSLIJMZEELEHSOU

I think there’s a little something for everyone on this cruise. The Spirit only carries 2000 passengers so it’s not overwhelming. 

 

Here's that NCL itinerary. It needs studying quite carefully.

 

15-Day Scandinavia, Russia & Amsterdam: Ultimate Baltic from Stockholm

Day Cruise Ports Arrive Depart
Sat Stockholm, Sweden (EMBARK) --- 5:00 pm
Sun Helsinki, Finland 8:00 am 5:00 pm
Mon St. Petersburg, Russia 7:00 am ---
Tue St. Petersburg, Russia --- 7:00 pm
Wed Tallinn, Estonia 7:00 am 4:00 pm
Thu Riga, Latvia 9:00 am 5:00 pm
Fri Klaipeda, Lithuania 8:00 am 5:00 pm
Sat Gdynia, Poland 7:00 am 3:00 pm
Sun Berlin (Rostock), Germany 7:00 am 9:00 pm
Mon Copenhagen, Denmark 11:00 am 8:00 pm
Tue Oslo, Norway 12:00 pm 11:59 pm
Wed At Sea --- ---
Thu Amsterdam (Ijmuiden), Netherlands 8:00 am 7:00 pm
Fri Brussels / Bruges (Zeebrugge), Belgium 7:00 am 6:00 pm
Sat Le Havre (Paris), France 7:00 am 7:00 pm
Sun Southampton (London), England (DISEMBARK) 5:00 am ---

 

It departs "Stockholm", but doesn't mention whether in the city or at Nyneshamn. Since it's a smaller ship (the main reason some ships berth at Nyneshamn is that they're too big to sail thro the amazing archipelago) it hopefully starts in the city. But you really do need to be sure of that departure point. And as with most cruises, if you fly in same-day you'll see little or nothing of Stockholm so it makes sense to fly in at least one day early.

 

St Petersburg has the important two days / overnight here.

 

Tallinn is a 4pm departure, but that's still enough time for most folk.

 

Gdynia is a 3pm departure. I don't know this port, I don't know if that's sufficient time.

 

Berlin (Rostock). Most ship berths at nearby Warnemunde, I'm guessing this ship is small enough to get into Rostock. From either, Berlin is a three hour journey each-way by road or rail. But like most ships at this port-of-call, it's an early arrival & 9pm departure, so Berlin is an option - albeit an expensive and rushed one. Many cruisers who berth at Warnemunde head for Rostock for the day.

 

Ijmuiden (Amsterdam) is mentioned on the accompanying blurb as an overnite  but clearly it isn't :classic_huh:. Most ships berth in Amsterdam, just a 15 minute walk from the centre. Ijmuiden is something over half an hour by road to Amsterdam, or over an hour by a convoluted combination of bus & train. But some ships berth much further away in Rotterdam - and still call it "Amsterdam" :classic_rolleyes:.

 

Copenhagen The mid-evening departure time means a little more time than most ships give.

 

Brussels/Bruges (Zeebrugge)  Bruges is about 15 - 30 mins from Zeebrugge, depending on your choice of transport. Brussels is over an hour e/w, but folk generally go to Bruges or one of several equally-local options.

 

Le Havre (Paris). (Most cruse lines phrase it the same way). Paris is two hours from Le Havre by road or rail, though there are more-local options. As with most cruise ships, it's a mid-evening sailaway so, like Berlin from Rostock, it's an option - albeit an expensive and rushed one. NB. With Le Havre as the last port-of-call, some cruisers arrange to leave the ship there in order to spend a few days in Paris & fly home from there - NCL do not permit this.

 

Southampton (London) is quoted as 5am arrival. Yes, that's about the time when most ships arrive. But disembarkation isn't  normally until about 7am for unassisted, with regular disembarkation from about 7.30am. And London's main airports are 55 miles and 84 miles from Southampton - a very variable 2 hrs+ and 2.5 hours+ drive on a weekday. So don't go booking flights until you've figured or asked about timings.

 

Like most cruises, this one has both advantages and disadvantages.

 

JB :classic_smile:

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Thanks all!  Some great information.  I have to be home by August 10th for the kids school starts.  And since I’ve kind of waited until last minute, finding balconies together, or even close was very hard.  I ended up booking Princess on July 26th.  It won’t be the best cabin selection, or the best Stockholm port, but it’ll do just fine.  

2 nts in St. Petersburg and the part times are fairly long it seems.  Should be plenty to do on the ship for the teens and adults,  now it’s on to planning the ports.  I’ll definitely do the two day tour in Russia, and mostly on our own at the other ports,  

 

someone mentioned Iceland stopover, but in actually taking a two week trip there in June so no need for that!  

 

I work for an airline so I’m fortunate that I never have to look at these trips as a once in a lifetime chance.   If there’s something we don’t get to see, we will go back! 

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1 hour ago, FilthyFifthAggie77 said:

We are also booked on the Regal Princess on July 26.  We received notification from Princess a few weeks ago that the itinerary has changed and they are now docking in Stockholm.  Yea!

Really? Fantastic!   

 

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4 hours ago, FilthyFifthAggie77 said:

We are also booked on the Regal Princess on July 26.  We received notification from Princess a few weeks ago that the itinerary has changed and they are now docking in Stockholm.  Yea!

I hope you are right.

We are on the Regal cruise starting next week.

When I booked, it was listed as Stockholm.

Then they changed it to Nynäshamn.

No reasonable explanation.

Then they changed it back to Stockholm with great fanfare.

Then they changed it back to Nynäshamn without any explanation.

 

The port of Stockholm website is still showing Regal as Nynäshamn on the 28th July.

https://www.portsofstockholm.com/vessel-calls/

 

The sail into Stockholm is fantastic so I hope Princess aren't playing around with you.

 

Jim

 

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4 hours ago, FollowingTheSun said:

I hope you are right.

We are on the Regal cruise starting next week.

When I booked, it was listed as Stockholm.

Then they changed it to Nynäshamn.

No reasonable explanation.

Then they changed it back to Stockholm with great fanfare.

Then they changed it back to Nynäshamn without any explanation.

 

The port of Stockholm website is still showing Regal as Nynäshamn on the 28th July.

https://www.portsofstockholm.com/vessel-calls/

 

The sail into Stockholm is fantastic so I hope Princess aren't playing around with you.

 

Jim

 

 

Hi Jim,

 

I think this is all about Regal Princess's size, that she's larger than the Swedish authorities have in the past permitted to sail thro' the archipelago & that Princess have been negotiating with the authorities, citing her more-advanced maneuverability. 

I'm none-too-sure of the precise outcome of those negotiations, though she's sailed in a number of times since her first sail-in back in 2015..

https://boards.cruisecritic.co.uk/topic/2138735-regal-princess-docked-in-stockholm-today/

 

Cruise Critic's local member Desdichado62 might hopefully know more. 

 

In adverse sea conditions (particularly wind or fog), ships at or about the max size have very occasionally been diverted to Nyneshamn, and that includes Regal Princess.

Fingers-crossed for you, but you might not know until late the previous evening.

 

JB :classic_smile:

 

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There are weight restrictions at 160'000 GT but the practical limit is ships like the Regal Princess (140 KGT).

There aren't any technical explanations to why Regal Princess couldn't sail into Stockholm
each time but sometimes the two suitable berths might occupied by other ships.

 

http://www.sjofartsverket.se/en/Maritime-services/Pilotage/Pilot-Areas/Stockholm-Pilot-Area/Standards--Procedures/Fairway-Standards/Stockholm/Ships-not-Tanker-Stockholm/

http://www.sjofartsverket.se/en/Maritime-services/Pilotage/Pilot-Areas/Stockholm-Pilot-Area/Standards--Procedures/Fairway-Standards/

 

Also be aware that when RP goes into Stockholm it will depart of few hours earlier then the other ships.

Edited by Desdichado62
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