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What Do People Do In Europe Before Or After Transatlantic Cruise


Reggiefan
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The question is admittedly broad and general, so I suspect that the range of responses, if people care to respond, will be large. But I am curious as to what most from the US do in Europe if they spend some time in independent travel after their eastbound, or before their westbound, Transatlantic cruise--especially if they travel in the late fall or winter. The reason for the question is that I am at least considering eastbound cruises in 2021 arriving in the UK on November 5 and December 10. I would like to travel in Europe for roughly two weeks after the cruise. The problem with the former cruise is that as far as weather, November (as well as December) can be challenging months in northern Europe, and the problem with the latter cruise is both the weather and the challenge of flying home so close to Christmas. Ideally, I would like to spend time in London, and then Belgium and the Netherlands. But this does not seem the right time of the year to visit the Low Countries in particular.

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Not on every TA, but before and after some of them, QM2 extends the crossing from Southampton to Hamburg.  Hamburg is a great city in itself, and also has extensive rail links to many other German and European cities.  One time we started in Vienna, then to Berlin, and then to Hamburg, boarding QM2 several days later.

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As has been mentioned, Germany is great in December. Christmas markets galore! Gluhwein (with Schnapps of course) everywhere. Great atmosphere.

 

A few years ago, our two children took us to Berlin as their Christmas present. More than 60 markets in the city alone. I'm still sure the whole trip cost me more than it cost them. Still, it's the thought.

 

If Berlin is too far, Dusseldorf and Koln are also worth a visit.

 

London has "Winter Wonderland" in Hyde Park in December.

 

Remember, there's no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.

 

Stewart

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Yes, I really wouldn't worry about the NW European weather. All the great cities have plenty to do out of the weather, and London, Bruges and Amsterdam, at any rate, look just as romantic, if not more so, in autumnal weather. And, while it will probably rain, it won't rain all the time, and is unlikely to be that cold. Bring a mac, and you'll be fine.

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Late November is a terrific time to visit Europe, as we learned last year when we spent 10 days in Normandy and Vienna.  The temperatures were cool but not anywhere near frigid, so easily managed with a mid-weight jacket.  Best of all, though, is that there were NO CROWDS.  It was heavenly.  We lingered in front of the Bayeux tapestry; we walked right in to Schonbrunn.  Some of the restuarants in Normandy were closed for the season, but other than that minor inconvenience it was one of our nicest vacations.

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Oct of 2011 (wow, going on 10 years ago) we took a week and toured southwest England by car, picking up in Southampton and returning at Heathrow before our flight home. Pleasant fall weather, neither too hot nor too cold with blue skies (maybe we got lucky).

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Thanks to all who have responded, providing much appreciated insight. Yes, as nearly everyone has guessed, I am talking about the QM2. Despite the loss of time going eastbound, I am inclined to do an eastbound trip. Travel during December holds some appeal, despite some increase in crowds and hotel pricing compared to December, but I do not want to spend Christmas in Europe, limiting the number of days that can be spent post-cruise after the December 10 departure, and raising the challenge of flying back shortly before Christmas.

 

Ideally, I would like to spend some time in the UK--a quick night in Bath and a few nights in London--before travel to Brugge and Amsterdam, two places I have never travelled to. But for that itinerary, the choice becomes largely more time in Europe in November or the Christmas-time experience with the expense and flight issues previously noted. But then life is about choices, and these are decidedly pleasant ones to navigate.

 

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36 minutes ago, exlondoner said:

I think there is now a direct connection from Waterloo to Amsterdam - or would be, but for the pesky virus.

I kind of wish it was still Waterloo, but it's St Pancras (on the plus side a much nicer station)

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1 hour ago, JP82 said:

I kind of wish it was still Waterloo, but it's St Pancras (on the plus side a much nicer station)

 

Ooooops. As you say, wishful thinking. And I think Waterloo is a pretty nice station, especially the part that was built for Eurostar.

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Some very nice Christmas markets in the UK as well.  We wandered around the one at Winchester Cathedral before doing a westbound December TA.  Only problem is that so close to Christmas, restaurants are frequently booked for Christmas parties.  With no reservations, we wound up having dinner at a Cote Brasserie a few blocks away from the Cathedral area; not the worst thing, but still not The Old Vine or the Wykeham Arms.

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On 10/14/2020 at 10:11 PM, MarkBearSF said:

London, Eurostar to Paris. Optionally, fast train (Thalys) to Amsterdam. 

Mark, Eurostar now has trains to Amsterdam, so there is no need to change in Brussels. And Yes, I find St. Pancras a much nicer station than the old Waterloo International. 

Edited by Bigmike911
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As an alternative to visiting London after a TA, Manchester in North West England could be worth a thought.

 

There are direct trains from Southampton Central.  After your stay you can get a train or tram to Manchester International Airport for direct flights to the USA. 

 

From Manchester you could also visit Liverpool, Blackpool, the Peak District, the Lake District or North Wales and Chester.

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We sailed on the QM2 in late October and then flew to Paris as we had a lot of luggage and did not want to manage that on the Eurostar.  We stayed for 3 weeks, had a terrific time, but the weather was not the best (cold and rainy) and the days were very short.  Then we flew to Malta and Sicily and enjoyed terrific sunny weather in late November and into December with very few tourists around.  Then we flew back to England and sailed the QM2 back to NYC.

 

Yes, the pleasure of traveling in northern Europe in November is to miss the crowds.  But be prepared with warm clothes and a big umbrella.  And the sun sets around 4:00 in the afternoon so plan to spend a lot of lovely nights inside beautiful restaurants.  Of course all of this would be in a virus-free world.

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  • 4 weeks later...

We sailed over last December, arriving into the UK mid-month and then spent a few days in London shopping and seeing friends before flying home.  Like @alc13 and @tv24 I love being in Europe in the off season.  Fewer tourists and of course the whole culture is designed around that climate, so in that way you are sort of protected against inclement weather.  

 

One thing I am always cognizent of is a post-QM2 TA hangover.  After 7 blissful days aboard ship being well fed and looked after, re-entry into the real world can be jarring on either side of the Atlantic.  As a result, I try make sure we spend  a night or two in a really nice, comfortable hotel to minimize the shock.  A first world problem if there ever was one.

Edited by ClipperinSFO
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We often travel in Italy - or visit family in England in the Fall (sometimes England after Italy)- October being a great month in both locations - and coming home by ship certainly beats flying - and the Atlantic is usually still warm. So it's often QM2 to New York (an hour or so from home) or whatever TA repositioning looks good.  A great one was on Celebrity from Harwich - giving stops in La Rochelle, a Spanish port for Santiago di Campostella, Lisbon, Madeira and then Miami - for a sleeper train up to NY.

 

Another good one in a November was Royal Caribbean (not a favorite line, but sometimes the itinerary wins out) from Rome to Galveston - arriving a few days before Thanksgiving - which we spent with daughter and her family in Houston, before flying home. 

 

There are many, many ways to combine cruises with land.

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My perfect voyage is fly to London before a weekend. Have dinners with good English friends on the weekends and then fly to Hamburg a couple of days before the QM2 sails, there is lots to do there. For the big kid in any man a visit to https://www.miniatur-wunderland.com/  is mandatory.  I stay at a favorite hotel in St. James in London, The Cavendish, and at the Vier Jareszeiten in Hamburg. Hamburg is my favorite German city, bar none. The Venice of the North. I prefer it in summer, but even in November it has been pleasant.

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We are taking QM2 to Southampton and the next day s 12 day Sky Princess around UK. Then renting a car for 4 weeks in France, getting back to Southampton to sail on Oceana 15 days back to FLL.  Will leave one large bag with cruise clothes in Southampton and only travel with 2 backpacks and 2 small suitcases for France land trip. 

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