We're cruising on the Prinsendam in late June 2007, docking in the following ports: Livorno, Monte Carlo, Marseille, Almeria, Cadiz, Lisbon, Bilbao, La Rochelle, Lorient, St. Helier, Zeebrugge and Amsterdam. We understand that excursion choices are personal, but we are new to cruises and welcome any advice from veterans regarding booking shore excursions (book in all ports? explore some on our own? which ports ok to hang out on our own? leave the port area for the larger inland cities? longer vs. shorter excusions? book in advance? anything else?). We welcome both general advice and advice specific to any of these ports. Thanks so much.
Hi lira. Our sister site, http://www.europeportreviews.com/ should be of help for most of these ports. Once on the site, scroll down the left side for the cities you will be visiting.
Sounds like a wonderful cruise!
Hello lira and welcome to cruise-chat;
first let me tell you how envious I am; I've wanted to cruise on Prinsendam since I first heard about it--it's what I consider the ideal size. And your itinerary looks facinating. Of your ports-of-call Livorno and Monte Carlo are the only two I can offer advice on.
In Monte Carlo we did a walking tour in the morning before the heat of the day, and then a motorcoach tour along the coast in the afternoon (all ship-sponsored as it was our first time there).
From Livorno the usual choices are Florence and Pisa. Don't try to do both; you won't see much of either. My advice: spend the day in Florence and save Pisa for another trip.
Unless you are familiar with a city I would stick with the ship-sponsored tours--don't set off on your own, unless it is to rent a private car and driver, which can be very expensive.
Book in advance. Half the fun of a trip is the planning. Look over the offerings on HAL's website or send for their brochure. Pick things that look interesting to you.
The biggest mistake my wife and I made on our first European cruise was trying to do too much. Our thinking at the time was, "who knows when we'll get back here--let's do as much as we can". We saw a lot but came home exhausted. If we had it to do over again we would choose a more leisurely pace. I would suggest either a morning or afternoon tour; not both. Morning is usually best; it is cooler and you can go back and relax on the ship. Save the all day tours for something special, like Florence.
I could go on and on but I'm sure others have much more to offer you.
Have a wonderful trip. You are on a great ship and a great cruise line with a facinating itinerary.
Keep us posted.
Couldn't agree with you more regarding Prinsendam - I'm looking at booking her on a North Cape cruise in 2008. I missed cruising on her during her days with Royal Viking but I have friends who did and loved her then.
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