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claireruth

Baltic cruise with kids?

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My husband and I have been talking about taking our kids to Europe next summer (they'll be 11 and 14, both boys) and were looking at a 10 day Baltic cruise.  Just curious to hear from others who have done this cruise if the ports were interesting for kids these ages?  I haven't looked into what we would do at each stop yet.  We've done two cruises as a family, one Caribbean and one Mexico, so I figured this one would be pretty different since I presume the weather will be a lot cooler.  TIA!

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Did this last summer with my twin 14 year olds on RCCL.  They loved it.  Nice comfortable weather and the ports, except for St. Petersburg, are walkable/explorable from the ship.  One of my girls is special needs, so we couldn't rent bikes, but the bike tours in many ports looked perfect for families.  We did a private tour in St. Petersburg with SPB Tours and they did a wonderful job choosing an itinerary that was fun for the kids.  I also left my girls on board for an evening tour, and one stayed back one day because she didn't want to walk around Helsinki.   A few days beforehand in Europe was really helpful getting everyone into the right time zone and hitting the very busy Baltic cruise running (we did Copenhagen for two nights and then flew the day before into Stockholm, then spent 5 days in Stockholm after).

 

One of my girls tried hard to find other kids to hang out with, but didn't have much luck - lots of kids a little younger than her in the teen club.  One of her friends on another ship though had tons of teens to hang with, so it's probably luck of the draw, but it was still one of their favorite trips. 

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A Baltic cruise is amazing for kids.  If you can afford it, please try to get a private tour in St. Petersburg for just your family to maximize your chances of being able to see as much as possible in this lovely city.  I didn't know about it before I sailed, but Best Guides has an excellent reputation with families on the baltic board, and I also didn't know about a model railway village in St. Petersburg that is supposed to be excellent.  You can find more information about what we did in the review in my signature line below (my son was younger though, at 3.5 when we sailed).  Have a great trip!

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We've only cruised the Caribbean, but we took a 2 week land trip to France and Spain.  Our boys were 14 and daughter 15.  I made sure that in addition to history/sightseeing tours, to schedule something active and also let them go off on their own for a while.  That depends on the area you are visiting, but normally areas catering to tourists are ok if you use common sense.  I rented bikes for a week in Girona, Spain and let them ride around on their own sometimes.  Mostly, the boys rode to a park to play soccer and bought a lot of snacks, but I've found that when they perceive a destination as boring, giving them a little freedom makes everything more interesting to them and they are more agreeable when I insist on doing something as a family.

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We did it this summer with our three teens/tweens.  And - they say - this was their best cruise yet.   We sailed with Disney, and the families on board hailed from all over.  The kids made such good friends and would go on to keep in touch well after.

 

Baltic cruises - unlike those in the Med - aren't as port intensive, and there are typically several sea days.  Pick a ship with a good number of kids activities and then let them be.  The kids will love the ports so much more if you allow them their fun on board.

 

Everyone was impressed with SPB.  The kids found it really cool being in Russia (and telling their friends about it).  SPB doesn't offer much in the way of kids activities, but you can treat it as a history break.  A good guide will make it come alive.

 

Stockholm was another favorite - for its modern museums and a fun amusement park.  Our eldest was beginning to care about university, so the Nobel Museum impressed him the most.

 

Both Tallinn and Helsinki are very walkable.  We rented electric scooters - they were everywhere in Scandinavia - and buzzed across town in no time.  Our ship also stopped at Fredericia, which was sensational.  The birthplace of Lego and a Lego amusement park to boot!

 

A Baltic cruise will also allow you to visit Copenhagen, which is such a great city.  Particularly, for families.  Above all, most Baltic cruises are long, so the kids will make good friends to hang out with.  If your kids don't feel like venturing out in a certain port, let them enjoy the ship.    Just pick the right ship!

 

 

Edited by intr3pid

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"Baltic cruises - unlike those in the Med - aren't as port intensive, and there are typically several sea days. "

 

That might be the case on Disney, since it is a 7 night cruise with 4 days spent in port and two sea days.    

 

Most (but not all) Baltic cruises on other lines spend two days in St. Petersburg and one day in Germany, so it can become a very port intensive cruise.  For example, on NCL  their basic Baltic cruise is 9 days, with the same two sea days as Disney and the addition of a stop in Germany and an extra day in St. Petersburg.

 

 Many of these cities have a lot to see - Stockholm and St. Petersburg in particular - so it might be a very port intensive cruise, depending upon how much you would like to accomplish during your port days.   If you'd like more sea days, you can sail from Southampton or Amsterdam instead of from Copenhagen, and if you'd like a less intensive trip you can find one that only spends one day in St. Petersburg (though you might be tempted to pack more into one day).

 

 

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6 minutes ago, kitkat343 said:

Most (but not all) Baltic cruises on other lines spend two days in St. Petersburg and one day in Germany, so it can become a very port intensive cruise.  For example, on NCL  their basic Baltic cruise is 9 days, with the same two sea days as Disney and the addition of a stop in Germany and an extra day in St. Petersburg.

The Disney cruise being referred to here was a 10-nighter with an overnight in SPB and 3 days at sea.  For cruises 10 nights or longer,  you typically have 3 or more days at sea.  Princess, HAL, Cunard, RCL Celebrity all have very similar itineraries.

 

NCL's 9-night itinerary is more of an exception -- they have preferential berthing rights at Copenhagen.  Only the shorter itineraries - 7 nights from Costa and occasionally RCL - are actually port-intensive.  But you must sail out of Stockholm or you wont make it to the ports in time.  MSC sails out of Copenhagen for 7 nights but still keeps two sea days in the itinerary. 

 

For us, 3 sea days in a 10- or 11-night cruise is a standard cruise.  Port-intensive would be the Med cruises.  NCL's own itineraries out of Venice have 0 sea days.  Even Disney's Med cruises sometimes lack any sea day.

 

 

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