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  1. From reading the boards for several years, I'd say that people are generally quite happy with all the major tour companies. I would also like to support the above recommendation to consider a private tour for just your family/group if you can afford it. For us, it was an absolute necessity because we had a 3 year old with us, but even without the toddler the truth is that St. Petersburg has so much to see in 2 days, you will want to maximize your experience. We were able to identify exactly what art we wanted to see in the Hermitage, and customize our tour, and take breaks whenever we needed to. This tour is particularly grueling, with a lot to see in Stockholm with a shorter port day if you are docking directly there, and a lot of walking and wonderful sites everywhere I would say that if you can afford it, I would put the extra money to being on the smallest possible tour group. Also, we were able to easily tour all the other cities independently without tours (even with a 3 year old in tow) thanks to the amazing public transportation available in the Baltic countries.
  2. Is it too late to get insurance that will let you cancel if covid restrictions or illness affects your trip Wendy? I usually get cancel for any reason insurance because I'm traveling with 3 small kids, and know I need to get that within 24 hours of my first deposit. But I don't know what the rules are for covid insurance and hopefully someone else can help you. I hope you are able to travel - norway is a really special cruise.
  3. Actually, upon further reflection its the Baltics in which the room doesn't much matter because you will be too tired to enjoy it. A balcony in Norway would be really nice, especially if you sail into Geiranger. I agree with Hallasm - Geiranger, Olden and Flåm were my three favorite ports (didn't get to Ålesund though so can't compare). There are descriptions of what we did in each port in my signature line.
  4. We took a 3 year old on the Baltic cruise and a 6 and 2 year old on the Norway one. They were both wonderful cruises. In St. Petersburg, I'd highly recommend a private tour (just your family). You want to be able to customize the itinerary and take breaks whenever you need to. Our family was able to skip all the lines at the museums. Your grandkids might really like Stolle, which is a chain across St. Petersburg. A detailed review of our cruise is in my signature line. I wouldn't worry about the room type - you will be too tired to enjoy it much.
  5. One of our neighbor's kids has such a severe gluten allergy that their body cannot process gluten at all and they've had to have surgery to relieve the pressure. They try to take all their trips with Disney cruises because they are so confident in their ability to help their child. If no one with personal experience chimes in (the board is pretty dead now due to covid) you might also want to post on the different cruise lines to see if anyone can answer. Best of luck to you.
  6. I'd certainly get the first vaccine. When is the cruise scheduled? They might be fairly close to allowing 5-11 year olds to be vaccinated soon. Some parents have gone to CVS and lied about the child being 12, but then the birth date on your vaccination card won't match the passport which could be a different problem.
  7. Geiranger is amazing. We were in Geiranger in mid-may, and were there 3 days prior to the seasonal avalanche that is needed before they can open the road to dalsnibba. Even without the Geiranger Skywalk, it was a wonderful day. The road opens mid-May to June 1st so you should be okay sailing into Geiranger on June 1st unless it is an extremely unlucky year. Having sailed in mid-May the scenery was gorgeous, since the waterfalls were really full with all the snow melt, but it was a little harder to arrange tours. We did a tour of goat farms in Flam after the railroad, and it was a little harder on the company to arrange because the goats were still at their winter farms (they move all the goats late in the spring) and it took awhile for the tour company to arrange our tour. And as noted above we did miss the Geiranger skywalk. I knew that was a possibility prior to booking, but had a child who turned two the day before we sailed and this was the only cruise that went to Geiranger and Flam that year on Cunard (Cunard is one of the few cruise lines that takes 2 year olds into their drop off daycare) so we didn't have any other options. Overall, I was glad to have taken the cruise but with more flexibility, I'd recommend considering the June tour instead of the mid-May one, especially since Geiranger is such a highlight for most people.
  8. It's tough because the recommendation normally would be to take the kids outside for kids club activities when the weather allows, but then you have the risk of a kid getting lost unless they have a way of securing outdoor space and fencing it in so the kids can't wander off.
  9. We are also in our 40s, and find HAL's passengers frustrating. We have small children, and many of the older passengers on HAL are pretty hostile to families (ship employees were excellent though). We also really liked Princess. I would strongly recommend with Norway to go for the itinerary that most appeals to you rather than the ship, and we found a great itinerary on Cunard a few years ago to Norway (Cunard doesn't solve your problems of being on a sleepy/stuffy ship though).
  10. It would also be recommended that you make sure he has a passport. A birth certificate might be sufficient for a closed loop cruise, but if anything happens and you need to fly home it is very difficult to arrange getting a passport without both parents present when you submit the application. I don't know how old your grandson is, but we've travelled extensively with small children. Private tours greatly enhance the experience for smaller children, since you can tailor the itinerary to the child's interests, and kids don't have a lot of patience for waiting for large numbers of people to arrive back at where they rebound the buses (and someone will always be late!) A private tour for just your family might not cost more than a cruise tour; one that includes other people will almost always be cheaper.
  11. If my kids were old enough to be vaccinated, I'd be willing to cruise. But I would still get travel insurance with medical coverage that would cover medical evacuation because the medical facilities wherever you sail are probably going to be overwhelmed. Please also note that my whole family got covid just before the vaccines were released. We were all only sick with a symptoms no worse than a mild cold, so hopefully since your family is vaccinated it would be a similar experience if it happened. I hope my kids can get vaccinated soon so we can travel again.
  12. this is a three hour tour using the panorama bus, so it’s feasible if it takes 2 hours to get to geiranger (I can’t confirm the travel time because we docked in geiranger). https://www.geirangerfjord.no/panorama-exclusive-bus
  13. We did a Baltic cruise with a 3 year old, and he loved it. Most of the ports were different, but if you are still considering other cruises I'd recommend reading the cruise review for my Baltic cruise in my signature line below. The highlights of that trip for my son were Stockholm, Tallinn, St. Petersburg and Copenhagen. We also visited Warmeneude. Since my son really loves trains, we decided to spend the day visiting the Moli steam train. You can get a sense of what the Moli is like here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcNrBY8VqGw . The Moli train makes a very scenic tour passing through Bad Doberan very close to the buildings and visits beautiful fields and trees. We took the s-bahn to get from Warmeneude to Bad Doberan. You need to switch trains in Rostock. Please check the schedule, since you might need to wait in Rostock for the next train (we missed our connection and needed to wait a half hour in Rostock). We might have been better off taking bus #119, which is a 30 minute direct bus to Bad Doberan. It leaves once an hour, so you need to check the timetable to see which public transportation option would be fastest, and consider the fact that the bus station is further away than the train station (possibly a 10-15 minute walk). The Molli steam train is timed to meet up with arriving buses and trains in Bad Doberean so you shouldn't have to wait there once you arrive. Bad Doberan has several charming cafes with outdoor seating, where you can enjoy an ice cream and watch as the Moli train passes inches from your table. Due to the rain, we ate at Cafe Zikke, which was off the main street in Bad Doberan and had more indoor seating than the restaurants on the main street. The flammkuchen was excellent (the waitress described these as savory tarts, and it was similar to a pizza). Overall, it was a lovely and enjoyable day, but had we not been traveling with our son we probably would have chosen a cruise that arrived in Germany on a day other than a Monday so we could visit the Schwerin castle and tour historic Wismar. The town of Warnemünde is a lovely seaside village that is very pleasant to walk around. We had an excellent seafood dinner at Twee Linden, which is within walking distance of the port: ( http://www.yelp.de/biz/twee-linden-warnemünde )
  14. I'm not sure about right now, but pre-covid, Princess was considered to be one of the top lines for Alaska, and I was extremely impressed with their kids club staff. Pre-covid, children under 3 could attend the kids club with parental supervision. They did a wonderful job with our 2 year old. Given the fact that there is so much to see in Alaska, I'm not sure I'd pay the premium to sail with Disney on an Alaska cruise. I sailed to Alaska while pregnant with my first, so I can't speak as to whether kids would like it, but I do believe so based upon the many cruises I took with my kids (we live on the East Coast, or else that would have been a top cruise to take them on. For now, I'm focusing on taking them on cruises to places I haven't been because its so challenging traveling with young kids I want to at least be able to see something new). But an Alaskan cruise is the top vacation I recommend for families on the west coast. We pulled out kindergartener out of school to go to Norway, and it was a wonderful experience for the whole family. I would do that again in a heartbeat.
  15. In researching potential cruises, I found this announcement under the carnival website Camp Ocean™: We do not currently plan to offer our supervised children’s programs in order to minimize the risk for children under 12 who were granted an exemption because they could not be vaccinated. Circle “C”® & CLUB O2®: Given that teens sailing will be vaccinated, the teen clubs will operate as usual. : https://www.carnival.com/Legal/covid-19-legal-notices/covid-19-guest-protocols?icid=advisory_cruisehealth_052521 If the kids clubs are a primary reason why you sail, please check with your lines as to their current offerings prior to booking or choosing to sail if you have cancel for any reason insurance.
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