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I'm posting this topic on the main Royal Caribbean page to seek a wider audience.  

 

DH and I are cruising on the Anthem of the Seas in late May, calling on Le Havre the day before the annual D-Day observance.  The timing is bad, because many independent tour guides to the D-Day sites are fully booked already.  The ship offers several shore excursions, but they are probably going to be large in size.  The tours are called, "D-Day Landing Beaches", "D-Day Beaches and Bayeux Tapestry". and "The Beaches of Normandy".  All are purportedly full day tours.  The small group size tour offered by the ship is fully booked.  

 

I've tentatively booked "The Beaches of Normandy" at 189.75 pp.  The tour is supposed to go to Omaha Beach,  the American Cemetery, and the Caen Memorial Museum.  A buffet lunch is included.  Has anyone experienced any of these mass tours through RCCL or similiar through another cruise line?  If so, what are your thoughts/recommendations?  Are they simply too crowded and chaotic to enjoy?  Should I just pony up for a private tour?  My roll call has been very slow and passive.  Your thoughts are much appreciated!  

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If such a tour is personally meaningful to you, then you should probably pony up for the private tour. My dad was a pilot in Europe in WWII, but not personally involved in D-Day. He had lots of other stories though. So I would be satisfied with just a ship tour to see Omaha Beach and other locations as a historical event. The photos of what occurred there are truly amazing. 

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17 minutes ago, Coralc said:

If such a tour is personally meaningful to you, then you should probably pony up for the private tour. My dad was a pilot in Europe in WWII, but not personally involved in D-Day. He had lots of other stories though. So I would be satisfied with just a ship tour to see Omaha Beach and other locations as a historical event. The photos of what occurred there are truly amazing. 

 

I can't say that it's personally meaningful, but I don't want to get stuck in a very large group where it's difficult to hear the guide and the tour quality is poor.  

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I don't know then. Most of the ship tours we have been on have been fine. Omaha Beach will look like a beach. 

Edited by Coralc
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Several years ago we did the one with Bayeaux tapestry.  It was really very good.  When got to the beach and cemetery it was overcast and a little rainy.  Seemed so appropriate.   Bayeaux was great.  Fabulous tapestry, lovely sit down lunch and the town was wonderful to wander through.  Also remember visiting an old church with incredible stained glass windows.  Had a great tour guide.  Was definitely worth it.  Didn't feel crowded even though a big bus.

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7 hours ago, Coralc said:

I don't know then. Most of the ship tours we have been on have been fine. Omaha Beach will look like a beach. 

It may be just another beach, but it's also a very significant "just another beach".  

 

The major thing I got from visiting there was how different it was in reality vs. what people have used for movies.  Not even close to the same- and by that I mean that it's bigger and less protection for the landing troops.  And when you get to the cliff tops, seeing the perspective from the German guns, it really puts the bravery of the invasion into a totally different sphere.

 

OP- if you are really worried about hearing, there are a ton of good books out there documenting what you are going to see- read those and then figure out where you are when you are on the beach.  We did private tours many years ago, and they left you alone in the various locations to let you really think.  Very moving.  FWIW, the small tour we took did Utah, Omaha, and the Cemetery all on one day- and I never felt rushed- so swapping in the museum for Utah should be fine.  (the next day we did a Band of Brothers tour, which was really cool, especially since I had read other 101st Airborne books than just Ambrose).

 

Oh, and one more thing- do some family history, and see if you have any relatives buried in the cemetery- then go find them.  

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1 hour ago, John&LaLa said:

We did the ships tour last year. I highly reccomend

I agree.

 

We did the ship's tour a few years ago.  Lots of time to explore on our own.  Very moving.  Great French guide.

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I highly recommend a private tour rather than the big bus tour put on by the cruise line.  I was in an 8 passenger van along with 7 others I met on Cruise Critic, and it was great having just the 8 of us.  When we got to the beaches, we were all alone on the beach with our very informative guide.  I don’t think the experience would have been as moving with 50 people rather than 8.  If you can’t find a private or semi-private tour, the ship would would be better than not going at all.  For me, this was a long-awaited once in a lifetime experience and I wanted it to be the best possible experience.  

Edited by nwcruiselover
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We did a ships tour off Navigator in October 2018, and it was fantastic however we went from Cherbourg stop and we had choice of tour that did Omaha or the one that did Utah (the other American landing) and the museum there.  We did Utah and the Museum and easily the best excursion of our trip.  I’d say do the ships tour that resonates best with you.  

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2 hours ago, splashsmom said:

I agree.

 

We did the ship's tour a few years ago.  Lots of time to explore on our own.  Very moving.  Great French guide.

 

We had extra time, so we stopped in Bayeux. 

It Wasn't part of our tour. 

 

We visited Point du Hauk in the rain. At first I was dissapointed,  but then you put it into perspective and are grateful for the experience 

 

Would love to go back

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We also have done this tour - it was fantastic.  The "big" bus feel just wasn't there....bus is used to get you to the cemetery, beach, and museum.  Had plenty of time at the cemetery to walk around on our own as well as time at the beach.  The museum was fantastic - wish we had more time to go through it.  Lunch at the museum was ok...……….bottle of wine for every 4 people I believe, salad, chicken entrée, dessert, coffee.  It lasted way too long in my opinion because we only had a couple of hours to go through the museum after - again, it was not a lot of time for such an interesting museum.  It is a 2 hour trip each way from the port to the beach, so bring something to keep you occupied, although our guide did talk the entire way there to give us some background history.  Way back he was quiet the whole time, which was nice and relaxing.

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I haven’t been on a cruise excursion there, but I spent a weekend in area when I was in college... back in ‘97. The museum in Caen is fantastic and the landing beaches/American cemetery absolutely surreal. My friend and I went with a private tour guide but, honestly, we spent most of the time - particularly in the museum - on our own. 

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21 hours ago, Coralc said:

I don't know then. Most of the ship tours we have been on have been fine. Omaha Beach will look like a beach. 


I’m guessing you’ve never been there. 

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18 hours ago, mduffy1834 said:

We also have done this tour - it was fantastic.  The "big" bus feel just wasn't there....bus is used to get you to the cemetery, beach, and museum.  Had plenty of time at the cemetery to walk around on our own as well as time at the beach.  The museum was fantastic - wish we had more time to go through it.  Lunch at the museum was ok...……….bottle of wine for every 4 people I believe, salad, chicken entrée, dessert, coffee.  It lasted way too long in my opinion because we only had a couple of hours to go through the museum after - again, it was not a lot of time for such an interesting museum.  It is a 2 hour trip each way from the port to the beach, so bring something to keep you occupied, although our guide did talk the entire way there to give us some background history.  Way back he was quiet the whole time, which was nice and relaxing.

We also did this tour and agree that the bus was just transportation with lots of free time at each of the stops. We did not care for the lunch. I wish we could have figured out a way to bring something to eat and skip lunch. All in all, it was a very nice tour and well worth the money. 

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Thank you all for your thoughts!  DH and I are going with a private tour.  We have another couple that's joining us and are waiting for two more people to complete our small group.  

 

This is likely our only chance to visit the D-Day sites as there are many other places on our bucket list.   We don't want to have any regrets.  

 

 

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On 1/10/2020 at 10:16 PM, EuroDate20 said:

. . . We don't want to have any regrets.  

 

 

There is no way you can  come close to seeing everything in an 8-10 hour shore excursion. Decide what you want to see the most and choose the excursion that gets you there.  Personally, if my time was that brief, I would not want to miss the cemetary,  Pointe de Hoc, and the Bayeux Tapestry.  The tapestry is obviously a different matter altogether from the DDay sites, but it is fascinating.

 

I would also recommend becoming familiar with the course of the battle to better understand what you see.

 

About 10 years ago, we took a ferry across the channel after a cruise on Indy and spent 3 days in Normandy. Highly recommend that option.  Still many things to see if we go back. 

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I forgot you will be approaching the area from the east end of the beaches,  If you have an option to see Pegasus Bridge or the British beaches where there are still remnants of the Mulberry Harbors, well worth it.

 

The Museum in Caen is great, but with your limited time I would recommend spending it seeing the actual sites.

 

Although it is a somewhat sanitized version of the battle, I recommend watching the Longest Day to get an overview of the battle.

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I would opt for a private tour over one through the ship.  While I've never been disapponted in a ships tour, I have been on many that get slowed down due to the number of people on them (as there always seems to be a few people at each stop that take longer than they should to get back to the bus).

 

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2 hours ago, lovemylab said:

I would opt for a private tour over one through the ship.  While I've never been disapponted in a ships tour, I have been on many that get slowed down due to the number of people on them (as there always seems to be a few people at each stop that take longer than they should to get back to the bus).

 

 

That's one of the reasons why I decided to go with the private tour with 2 other couples.  Easier to get 6 people organized than to corral 12+ people!  And while I don't expect to see everything, I want to make the most of the opportunity and time in port.  

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