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Cruise virgin with stupid questions!

Cardiff, United...
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Cruise virgin with stupid questions!

Hello all,

We're thinking of doing a cruise to Scandinavia as we fancy going to all of the capital cities and a cruise seems to be the easiest way of doing it in one go. We know absolutely nothing about cruises, so any advice would be much appreciated.

My first question is about excursions.

This is probably a stupid question, but i assume you can still get ashore at each port without booking the ship's excursions? We prefer to explore on our own and wouldn't want to have to go with a large group on a set itinerary.

Chatham, Ontario
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1. Re: Cruise virgin with stupid questions!

There are no stupid questions on this board!

You can go ashore on your own in virtually every port, with very few exceptions.

One of those exceptions might be on your itinerary: St. Petersburg, Russia. There, you must either get a pricey visa to tour on your own (not recommended, unless you're fluent in Russian) or else be booked on a tour, either ship's own, or private. If you'll be visiting St. Petersburg, please post again, and I can give you recommendations.

Most of the Scandinavian capitals are very easy to do on your own.

wirral
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2. Re: Cruise virgin with stupid questions!

I must say that we enjoyed the 2 Norwegian Fjords cruises we took much more than the Scandinavian Cities cruise.Yes as fannish says there is either a walk or a bus shuttle to the town/city centre from the ship.But in the main if you want to see the best sights of any port of call (rather than just the shopping centre) you need a guide however much reading up you do beforehand.The ship excursions are expensive and as you fear there is a bit of a herd element to them.

One can't generalise about excursions on cruises in that Scandinavian area.We had a memorable excursion from Flam on 2 different railways a Norwegian lunch and a scenic coach trip back to the ship.Also a dire excursion to a cheese farm and a tiny church.The church was locked and the curator arrived late to allow us in out of the pouring rain.The cheese farm told us how the cheese was made ,showed us the utensils but not it being made.Then the the farmer sang-what a joke!We also had days when we didn't leave the ship when in port or did our own thing.I think it pays to be selective.

Cardiff, United...
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3. Re: Cruise virgin with stupid questions!

Thanks both for your replies.

Do you know of any cruises that don't go to St Petersburg (as we've been there before)?

Chicago, IL
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4. Re: Cruise virgin with stupid questions!

Well, I haven't had a poor shore ex experience like Wirral's so my bias is toward taking them. I recall a two week Med cruise where we did a shore ex each day for the first week but we were so exhausted that we decided to do no shore ex the second week and just wing it. We saw a lot the second week too but didn't know much about it. I recall overhearing the guide in the Picasso museum in Barcelona explain the perspective on one of Picasso's early (before the blue or modern period) paintings then going back and looking at it again. We had missed the whole, cool point....because we didn't know what to look for.

These days you may be able to book a cruise that has the personal audio headsets. If so you won't have to group so closely together to hear the guide.

Note that Wirral is suggesting a Norwegian Fjords cruise. If you want to follow that advice check out Hurtigruten, formerly Norwegian Coastal

wirral
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5. Re: Cruise virgin with stupid questions!

That's a good mention of Hurtigruten Charlie.They are actually working ferries not cruise ships but their itineraries because of that are more port intensive and more Real Life Norway.And they do have cabins for cruisers.I noticed they have been advertising more widely in UK Press this year.

The big downside is that being Norwegian catering for Norwegians in the main,food and especially drinks prices are local and therefore infinitely more expensive than on American or British ships which are priced on their own currencies.The Scandinavians have a high standard of living (and a high quality too) but it is at the high cost of their currencies for everyday items.You notice this even when going ashore on a ship ex as we did.

Yes cruises to Scandinavia and Iceland don't call at St Petersburg which instead figures on Baltic cruises.

Chatham, Ontario
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6. Re: Cruise virgin with stupid questions!

Wirral and Charlie have both given good advice, per usual.

While this site doesn't search all of the options open to you in the UK (it caters to Americans), I do like the search function at:

http://vacationstogo.com/

Custom search lets you specify what port you want to leave from, where you want to go, and any port (like St. Petersburg) you want to exclude.

One option I found is Grand Princess, departing July 3 from Southampton, 7 days, stops in Zeebrugge, Copenhagen, Oslo, Helsingborg. Another is Ocean Princess departing August 14 from Dover, 7 days, stops in Amsterdam, Kiel Canal, Travemunde, Oslo, and Copenhagen.

IMO cruisers who just wander off the ship with no plan, having done no research, don't see much they couldn't see in any other city. Sadly, no one can do this for you, because only you know what interests you.

7. Re: Cruise virgin with stupid questions!

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