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  #1  
Old February 21st, 2012, 06:38 PM
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Default Baltic Cruise August 2013

I am itching to book a Baltic cruise for August 2013. I've narrowed it down to 3 cruise lines, Oceania being #1. I have to have a better idea on pricing before I decide. Does anyone know when the schedules for August 2013 will be out? I've been planning this for over a year, don't cruise lines know to make their schedules out earlier than they do?
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10/14 - Celebrity Summit (Caribbean)
8/13 - Oceania Marina (Baltics)
11/11 - Norwegian Star (Western Caribbean)
8/10 - Avalon Luminary (Rhine River)
9/07 - Oceania Regatta (Mediterranean)
8/05 - RCI Adventure of the Seas (Caribbean)
11/02 - HAL Amsterdam (Southern Caribbean)
8/01 - Norwegian Sky (Alaska)
11/99 - HAL Veendam (Western Caribbean)
11/93 - RCI Monarch of the Seas (Caribbean)
4/61 - Cunard RMS Sylvania (Transatlantic - NY/Liverpool)
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Old February 21st, 2012, 06:56 PM
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I am also waiting to book for Aug 2013 and my TA say's the cruise listings should be out sometime in March
Bill
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  #3  
Old February 22nd, 2012, 01:42 PM
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Default Baltics, Summer of 2013

We too are considering a Baltics Cruise with Oceania in the Summer of 2013, anxious to hear what ships/ itineraries will be available.

Does anyone know what months are the best in the Summer to do a Baltics Cruise?

We are also considering Celebrity and Princess along with Oceania.
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Old February 22nd, 2012, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by BPCruiser View Post
We are also considering Celebrity and Princess along with Oceania.
These are the other 2 that I'm looking at too!!
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10/14 - Celebrity Summit (Caribbean)
8/13 - Oceania Marina (Baltics)
11/11 - Norwegian Star (Western Caribbean)
8/10 - Avalon Luminary (Rhine River)
9/07 - Oceania Regatta (Mediterranean)
8/05 - RCI Adventure of the Seas (Caribbean)
11/02 - HAL Amsterdam (Southern Caribbean)
8/01 - Norwegian Sky (Alaska)
11/99 - HAL Veendam (Western Caribbean)
11/93 - RCI Monarch of the Seas (Caribbean)
4/61 - Cunard RMS Sylvania (Transatlantic - NY/Liverpool)
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  #5  
Old February 22nd, 2012, 02:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CTKath View Post
These are the other 2 that I'm looking at too!!
Do you know anything about what is the preferred months to do a Baltic Cruise? Would like to select one for 2013 that maximizes time in St Petersburg as well as a few Sea days to relax.
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  #6  
Old February 22nd, 2012, 02:51 PM
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If its offered, try to do a Baltic cruise on one of the R class ships (Regatta or Nautica). The itinerary should include 3 days (as opposed to 2 days you'd typically get on Celebrity or Princess) in St Petersburg and the smaller R class ships can dock downtown, near the Hermitage. Much better than the new industrial port the bigger ships have to use.

Did this a few years back on the Regatta, it was a great trip.

We went early July. Weather was great. Long, long days. (White Nights) Sun didn't go down until after 10 and was up again by 3.

The itineraries typically come out in mid March.
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Old February 22nd, 2012, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by cruzmaven View Post
If its offered, try to do a Baltic cruise on one of the R class ships (Regatta or Nautica). The itinerary should include 3 days (as opposed to 2 days you'd typically get on Celebrity or Princess) in St Petersburg and the smaller R class ships can dock downtown, near the Hermitage. Much better than the new industrial port the bigger ships have to use.

Did this a few years back on the Regatta, it was a great trip.

We went early July. Weather was great. Long, long days. (White Nights) Sun didn't go down until after 10 and was up again by 3.

The itineraries typically come out in mid March.
Thanks for the info!!! Glad to know that the R Class ships can dock near the Downtown area!
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  #8  
Old February 22nd, 2012, 04:09 PM
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We all wish the cruise lines would come out with itineraries earlier...BUT, in reality, there are too many problems...The cruise lines need to make arrangements for the dock space in each port...and that requires some cooperation from the local authorities and they can often be the bottleneck...and there is a limited capacity to how much any of these cruise lines can deal with at one time...Often, the cruise lines end up having to change the itineraries somewhere down the line...World politics, local labor or construction issues, local events...We usually book early and we've been on more than one cruise where the cruise line has had to alter the itinerary...Then you have a lot of upset passengers--"I only booked this cruise because of X Port and now you've gone and changed it!"...

In any event, as someone who has cruised on seven different lines and has cruised several times in the Baltic, here's my two cents:

Drop Princess from your list right up front, unless, possibly it's one of the old R-Ships--and, even then, you are better off with Oceania or Azamara--better operation on the same basic ship...

Most Princess ships are just a little more crowded and uncomfortable. The food and service on Celebrity is simply better...and the food on Oceania is WAY better...

We did the Baltic once on Princess and really wished we had gone with someone else...

Obviously, you can compare prices...but also compare itineraries carefully...Oceania typically has itineraries that include three days in St. Petersburg...and that is the highlight of this route...Azamara may as well...

We were fortunate with Celebrity's Baltic cruises to find itineraries with LONG days in port--up to Midnight in places like Amsterdam and Warnemunde--really helps with getting a decent amount of time to tour such places...

I would look at Oceania, Celebrity...and also Azamara and maybe HAL...

Good luck...
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  #9  
Old February 22nd, 2012, 04:14 PM
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We went late June (not with O) but the weather was great for touring
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  #10  
Old February 22nd, 2012, 06:58 PM
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Many thanks for the good recommendations! My DH's Birthday is early July so maybe we can plan at that time for next Summer. Have alerted my TA to let me know as soon as O releases their Summer schedule for the Baltics for 2013

Thanks Again!
Brenda
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  #11  
Old February 23rd, 2012, 09:08 AM
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We did the Baltics on the Celebrity Eclipse in August 2012 (last cruise of the season) and loved it. We considered O (we sail them often) but chose Celebrity for several reasons.

1. price was thousands less (we were in a Concierge Class hump cabin with oversized balcony for less than the price of an outside on O)
2. O had no sea days (critically needed for this itinerary IMO)

This was a very exhausting trip IMO. I could not have survived one more day in St. Petersburg! and I needed sea days to recoup after exhausting sightseeing. If you have a great tour guide (like SPB), 2 full days in St. Petersburg will be enough.

Whatever line you choose, it is a must do cruise.
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Looking forward to:
Azamara Quest Croatia RT Venice September 2014 and follow with short stay in Florence and 2 weeks in Tuscany & Umbria

Oceania Nautica Capetown to Singapore January 2015
with pre cruise safari

Viking Imperial Jewels of China May 2015

Azamara Journey b2b Athens to Athens to Istanbul September 2015 returning to States on Seabourn Odyssey TA October 2015

Antarctica on NatGeo Explorer February 2016 and back to fabulous Buenos Aires

Seabourn Odyssey TA April 2016 with stay in Southern Spain

Hoping to book Oceania Norwegian Fjords 2016 and Abercrombie & Kent Cuba 2015 or 2016

email me at pacheco18@comcast.net
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  #12  
Old February 23rd, 2012, 03:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BPCruiser View Post
Many thanks for the good recommendations! My DH's Birthday is early July so maybe we can plan at that time for next Summer. Have alerted my TA to let me know as soon as O releases their Summer schedule for the Baltics for 2013

Thanks Again!
Brenda
HAL has a wonderful itinerary leaving London June 1 on the Prisendam. It even has a stop in Hamburg which has become a very exciting city again.
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  #13  
Old February 23rd, 2012, 05:12 PM
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Contrary to Laraine's (pacheco18) desires I don't need sea days to rest. For me Oceania's port intensive iteneraries are perfect. I look at cruise ships as floating hotels. I want a nice hotel but the real attraction is the ports.

Also, 3 days in St. Petersberg (with a good guide) still doesn't cover everything there is to see. IMHO.

Just goes to show that there is a cruise suited for everyone - you just have to figure out what you want.

Robbie
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  #14  
Old February 23rd, 2012, 05:34 PM
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As to a preference for sea days, when I started cruising I hated them. I wanted to be on land every day.

Then when Ren bellied up we ended up doing a Buenos Aires-Valpo cruise (which replaced our planned January 2002 cruise Singapore to Hong Kong) which because of the nature of the beast had lots of sea days. Usually it was a two day sail from one port to the next. It gave us an appreciation of just how large South America is (and also how unpopulated it is outside of the B.A. and Santiago). The result was that I learned to LOVE sea days.

Our October 2011 cruise on Marina was wonderful but I deeply regretted that we only had one sea day. It wasn't because I was exhausted by the days in port ... I just now like sea days for their own value. (But to create more sea days on that itinerary would have meant driving in a lot of circles.)

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Old February 23rd, 2012, 06:30 PM
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On "At Sea Days":

When we first started cruising, my wife completely abhored the idea of an "at sea day". She felt she was wasting vacation days...paying for vacation without getting to go somewhere and see something...

But, after a good many cruises, we have come to really value well-placed at sea days...I don't think I'd like the typical Transatlantic--where you have 6 or 7 at sea days in a row to start the cruise, then hit ports 5 or 6 days in a row...BUT, "well-placed" at sea days are wonderful...especially when we cruise Europe--where the ports are fabulous and with so much to see and with long days in port...

As an example, here is the itinerary of our 2010 Baltic cruise:

Prior to the cruise, we flew in nine nights early and rented a car and toured around Cornwall, Devon and Dorset...By the time we got to the ship, we were pretty much worn out...
Saturday, July 10: Embark Southampton
Sunday, July 11: Bruges 8 am to 3 pm...we did a private Segway tour and wandered about the town...
Monday, July 12: At Sea --Absolutely marvelous...after 9 days of touring pre-cruise, a day centered around checking out of a hotel and checking onto the ship and a day, albeit shorter than most, touring a fascinating port, it was nice to have a day lounging about the ship--and no responsibility to get up early to catch a tour...

Tuesday, July 13: Warnemunde (Berlin) 9 am to midnight...We did a VERY long private small-group tour to Berlin-- a 3-hour drive in each direction, returning to the ship late...
Wednesday, July 14: At Sea--Again, wonderful...after such a long day touring around Berlin, nice to have a day to recoup and relax...

Thursday, July 15: Stockholm 8 am to 5 pm—Here we did a full day Shore Excursion: Stockholm and its Archipelago...

Friday, July 16: Helsinki 10 am to 6 pm—Another full day Shore Excursion: Helsinki, Porvoo, Cruise and Lunch

Saturday, July 17: St. Petersburg from 7 am—We did a private small-group full day tour followed by a night canal boat "fun" tour, returning to the ship very late...and exhausted...
Sunday, July 18: St. Petersburg until 6 pm—The second day of our private tour...a hectic pace...

Monday, July 19: Tallinn 8 am to 5 pm—Off the ship early for another full day Shore Excursion: Tallinn and Medieval Rakvere
Tuesday, July 20: At Sea --Okay, after five straight days of LONG, exhausting tours, this at sea day was more than welcome...after rising early to grab a breakfast and head off the ship first thing, it was nice to finally sleep in a little...and relax...

Wednesday, July 21: At Sea--And, yes, it was very nice to do that twice in a row...We had been travelling since June 30 and had spent most of our days touring anywhere from 8 to 15 hours a day...

Thursday, July 22: Rotterdam (Amsterdam) 9 am to midnight—We had a private, small-group JAM PACKED tour that tried to fit in all of the sights of Amsterdam...returning us to the ship very late at night...
Friday, July 23: At Sea--After a FULL day and LATE night in Amsterdam, it was so nice to just recouperate and enjoy the ship for one last day before the end of the cruise...

Saturday, July 24: Disembark in Southampton...and up to London for two more nights of dining out, touring and West End shows...

So, as you can see, there were FIVE nicely spaced at sea days....
But around it was a very INTENSIVE cruise--Late nights in Berlin, St. Petersburg, Amsterdam...long days in all of the ports...

And these ports are not the type one just lounges around it...it's museums, palaces, historic sites and much more...It's tours with a great deal of walking...The guide only takes you so far in a vehicle--the cities don't work with the concept of just driving by...

You get up on port mornings and get out early...and you fit in as much as you can...and then, at some point, you just need a breather...

Now, you also must know that I am not some old geezer who just can't keep up the pace...Among your typical Oceania cruisers, my wife and I are among the youngsters...It's just an exhausting pace for anyone...

We did a similar Baltic itinerary on Princess in 2001...but that one was packed into just 10 days...IIRC, just one at sea day...We didn't enjoy it nearly as much...

I'd rather the cruise be a little more spaced out...Sure, I want to see a lot, but I also want to take a deep breath every now and then...and I want to enjoy the ship a little as well...

My August cruise on Marina was 16 nights--with only one at sea day scheduled...We had an Oceania Suite...and our biggest regret was that we had so little time on the otherwise wonderful itinerary to actually enjoy that suite...

I do agree that different people have different desires...HOWEVER, I think the "at sea" day thing is something we all grow into...You don't think you'd like it NOW...but you'll learn!
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Viking Emerald, 17 night China 6/2014*RCCL Allure of the Seas, 7 night Eastern Caribbean 1/2014*Golden Princess 3 night Baja 11/2013*Celebrity Silhouette, 13 night Adriatic 6/2013*RCCL Mariner of the Seas, 7 night Western Caribbean 12/2012*Celebrity Eclipse, 14 night Iceland/Norway 7/2012*Celebrity Century, 13 night Australia/New Zealand 12/2011-12*Oceania Marina, 16 night Western Europe 8/2011*Carnival Paradise, 3 night Baja 2/2011*RCCL Allure of the Seas, 7 night Western Caribbean 1/2011*Celebrity Eclipse, 14 night Baltic 7/2010*Celebrity Summit, 7 night Southern Caribbean 3/2010*RCCL Mariner of the Seas, 7 night Mexican Riviera 1/2010*Oceania Nautica, 14 night Med/Egypt/Israel 6/2009*RCCL Mariner of the Seas, 1 night Pre-Inaugural 2/2009*Sapphire Princess, 7 night Mexican Riviera 12/2008-9*Celebrity Constellation, 14 night Baltic 7/2008*RCCL Vision of the Seas, 7 night Mexican Riviera 3/2008*Carnival Liberty, 8 night Panama 7/2007*RCCL Liberty of the Seas, 7 night Western Caribbean 6/2007*RCCL Monarch of the Seas, 5 night Baja 1/2007*Oceania Nautica, 14 night Mediterranean 7/2006*RCCL Monarch of the Seas, 3 night Baja 4/2006*Celebrity Constellation, 14 night No. Europe 7/2005*Celebrity Constellation, 7 night So. Caribbean 3/2005*Celebrity Summit, 13 night Alaska Cruisetour 7/2004*RCCL Monarch of the Seas, 3 night Baja 1/2004*Celebrity Millennium, 13 night Mediterranean 8/2003*RCCL Grandeur of the Seas, 7 night Mexican Riviera 7/2002*Crown Princess, 10 night Baltic/Russia 8/2001*Carnival Elation, 7 night Mexican Riviera 8/2000*RCCL Grandeur of the Seas, 7 night Eastern Caribbean 8/1999*Carnival Jubilee, 7 night Mexican Riviera 7/1997*RCCL Viking Serenade, 4 night Baja 7/1996*RCCL Viking Serenade, 3 night Baja 6/1994*Norwegian Southward, 3 night Baja 12/1992*Premier Big Red Boat Atlantic-Disney cruise 3/1989
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 08:17 PM
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I learned ... to the point of enjoying transatlantic cruises which is something I NEVER thought would happen!

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Old February 24th, 2012, 02:18 AM
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Bruin Steve and Mura,

You guys are experienced cruisers so I defer to that experience. Perhaps I will come to enjoy some sea days.

Steve - I do note that your description of your Baltic tour illustrates a different cruising style than mine. You did a lot of heavy duty tours in every port. If we are comfortable with the languatge and safety we do a lot on our own. For example, we spent a full day in Tallinn on our own with a good guide book. We stopped for a drink when we wanted. We talked to people on the street and that led us to some "off the beaten path" experiences. Did you know there is a museum of education there? (Wife's a teacher).

In Warnemunde we passed up the long day trip to Berlin and spent the morning in Warnemunde in the shops and at the fish market, checked out the beach and then took the local ferry to Rostock which is a very pretty city. We met an Australian lady in the tourist office who lives there and gave us a map with detailed notes on things to see. We took a late afternoon ferry back, had a leasurely dinner and watched the Berlin tours drag in. In Riga we heard organ music in a Luthern church and stepped in to listen to the organist practicing. We heard there about a noon organ concert in the Catholic Cathedral on a 13th century organ. Lovely old cathedral and a nice 45 min Bach concert for 5 euros.

We are not opposed to private tours but usually use them when public transportation is difficult or language or culture is a barrier to communication. (Like the middle east, or Africa) That is not usually the case in Scandinavia or the Baltic (excepting St. Petersberg). Doing our own thing allows us to pace ourselves and still see what we want. Sometimes we get distracted and don't see everything we wanted. Sometimes we get tired (or disappointed) and we quit early. That's OK, we can come back another time.

As I said before, different styles for different folks.

Robbie

Last edited by robbie21; February 24th, 2012 at 02:20 AM.
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Old February 24th, 2012, 04:05 AM
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Mura - I just did my first Transatlantic on Marina in December. TOO MANY sea days in a row for me. Never again.

On the Baltic cruise, my friend and I did Boot Camp (very rigorous -- jumping jacks were the warmup!) on the 4 sea days on the Eclipse. But at least we had a chance to relax after that.

Robbie -- My itinerary was similar to BruinSteve's, but we did organized private tours only in Berlin and St. Petersburg. Even going at our own pace in most ports, it was the most exhausting (but wonderful) cruise I have ever taken.

I now almost always look for a cruise with nicely spaced sea days. Enjoying a few days on the ship is part of the plan . . . a good book, my knitting, a chaise in a quiet place, some sun, a drink with an umbrella, a nap.......
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Looking forward to:
Azamara Quest Croatia RT Venice September 2014 and follow with short stay in Florence and 2 weeks in Tuscany & Umbria

Oceania Nautica Capetown to Singapore January 2015
with pre cruise safari

Viking Imperial Jewels of China May 2015

Azamara Journey b2b Athens to Athens to Istanbul September 2015 returning to States on Seabourn Odyssey TA October 2015

Antarctica on NatGeo Explorer February 2016 and back to fabulous Buenos Aires

Seabourn Odyssey TA April 2016 with stay in Southern Spain

Hoping to book Oceania Norwegian Fjords 2016 and Abercrombie & Kent Cuba 2015 or 2016

email me at pacheco18@comcast.net
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Old February 24th, 2012, 11:08 AM
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Robbie,
Trust me I understand what you are saying...
We have toured just about every port in the region in a variety of ways...
That last cruise, we went with a lot of long tours...

Our previous visit to Tallinn, we just did it on our own...Walked off the ship and into town, walked around town at our own pace...But, having seen Tallinn, we wanted to visit Rakvere as well...and the lengthy shore excursion was the only practical way to do that...

In Copenhagen, we have never relied on a shore excursion...We've spent multiple days there in the past and know the town fairly well, so the last couple of visits, aside from a night canal boat ride through the ship's shorex, we have alwasy just walked inot town and did what we wanted at our own pace...

Stockholm is another town we know well and where we have spent longer visits...But, this last cruise, like in Tallinn, we wanted to do something OUTSIDE of Stockholm, hence the Archipelago shorex...and a long day...

We've also done Helsinki on a prior trip on our own (though relying mainly on the HOHO bus)...

Of course, with St. Petersburg, there aren't that many options for "on your own"...

So, our traveling style varies...

Even so, I believe the tendency FOR MOST PEOPLE is to wear themselves out a bit...Most people don't travel to these places often...and, if they find themselves in these places once in their lives, they'd like to see as much as there is to see...So, it really doesn't matter if they have a private tour, a shore excursion or attempt it "on their own"--it will likely be a long day of touring in port...

I have been to many places where I have been content to just head to the town square and sit down at a bar or coffee shop or in the central square and watch people and soak in the atmosphere...BUT I am realistic here, I don't believe most cruisers "settle" for that...They are in Stockholm or Copenhagen or Amsterdam and they have a list of the top attractions and they want to see as many as they can...

Take Amsterdam, for example...I had been there before...spent multiple days there in a fairly laid back manner...my wife hadn't...So, we've got the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House, Rejksmuseum, Portuguese Synagogue, Red Light District, Canal boats and more...Which do I tell my wife we can skip? In all actuality, our private tour here beat the heck out of any other possible method of seeing Amsterdam in a day...Our guide was incredibly organized and had the entire day planned like clockwork...He knew which order to do things that made the most sense, he prearranged reservations in the Van Gogh and the Anne Frank House that allowed us to avoid lines and waits (and, trust me, the lines for those were LONG and we were taken right to the front)...He arranged a private showing of a double canal house and garden...

Had we attempted to do Amsterdam "on our own", even with my prior familiarity with this town, we could not have seen half the things we did...and it still would NOT have been less wearing or an easier pace...

There is a tendency by some folks on these boards who like to do "their own thing" in ports to think they are somehow having a more genuine experience or a better day...to somehow think that "on your own" is the best way to do things...It isn't...

Obviously, it works better for SOME people in SOME ports...

My advice is to go on your own IF:
1) It's a small walkable port where you intend to have a quiet, relaxed day
or
2) If it's a port you have visited before and know WELL...

If you have not been to a particular port before and it is a larger city or a town with a number of tourist sites you would like to see--especially if they are spread out a bit, it makes great sense to have a tour of some kind arranged. Private small group tours, where available, are optimal...You can design the itinerary and you can control the pace. You have the advantage of having a local guide who knows his/her way around and knows the quirks of the local sites...

I got the impression that, in the case of the OP here, it would be their first visit to this region...I expect that they will want to make efficient use of their port days...If one's itinerary gives them a 9:00 am to Midnight stop in Amsterdam or Warnemunde or Stockholm, it is hard to picture they might be content to pace themselves in such a manner where a good at sea day wouldn't be appreciated...

JMHO...
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  #20  
Old February 24th, 2012, 12:50 PM
robbie21 robbie21 is online now
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Washington State
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Steve,

I think we're getting down to a core issue here. That is the cruisers objectives or goals of their visit and their willingness to tolerate uncertainty. So, the first challenge is to know yourself - what you really want and what you are comfortable with.

As you state, there are a lot of people who exhaust themselves because they
a. will never visit this port again, and,
b. have been told that there is a set of "Must see" sights.

They rush off to "check off" each of these sights, often without taking the time to understand what they are seeing. If their goal is to fill out the check list, more power to them. There are plenty of guides who will help them. I understand this approach to travel and I have certainly done this myself on occasion and will again in the future.

My travel goal (particularly in the Baltic) is to better understand the culture and history of the city or country I am visiting. That is often better achieved by getting a bit off the "Check off list" approach. For example, the excellent little Museum of the City of Amsterdam gives a far better understanding of the people of Amsterdam and what has shaped them than the Van Gogh or Rejksmuseum. That little Education Museum in Tallinn clearly showed the efforts to maintain their culture during the period of Russian occupation. I got a clearer understanding of the pride of their culture there than anywhere else.

I don't think we are in substantial disagreement. I would take your advice....

"My advice is to go on your own IF:
1) It's a small walkable port where you intend to have a quiet, relaxed day
or
2) If it's a port you have visited before and know WELL..."

and add the caution, up front, to think carefully about what your goals are for this visit.

I would also comment that your #2 advice is applicable only to the timid or very cautious traveller. It is entirely feasible for anyone who wants to visit any port in the Baltic on your own with a map and a good guidebook whether or not they have been there before. It is a personal choice. There is no "right" answer.

This has been an interesting thread - its helped me to clarify some of my travel goals.

Robbie
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