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Thinking about Northern Europe cruise

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Would like to take my son on a Northern Europe cruise for high school graduation next summer - don't know which are the best ports to see, which cruise line is the best for this area - any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
(Have traveled on RCCL Majesty of the Seas and getting ready to go on Celebrity Infinity to Alaska) - need to start planning next cruise so that I don't get depressed upon return [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]
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We've cruised twice in Europe in the past three years and have another booked for next July...

In August 2001, we did the Baltic/Russia route on Princess...
This past August, we did the Mediterranean with Celebrity...
And in July 2005, we have the Celebrity Constellation booked for the Britain/Ireland/Norwegian Fjords, etc. route...

We are sending my parents, as a gift, this coming week on the Celebrity Constellation to the Baltic/Russia...

On the choice of ships/cruise lines: We were terribly underwhelmed with our experience on Princess in the Baltic...First of all, the crowd was VERY MUCH older...The entertainment was poor and the ship virtually shut down at 10:00 pm every night...The route was only 10 nights as opposed to the 14 Celebrity does or the 12 RCI was doing, yet it cost about the same price...Princess used some extremely inconvenient ports--for example, rather than sail directly into Stockholm as other lkines do, Princess tenders in at Nynashamn--a long bus ride out of Stockholm...this made Stockholm excursions costly and wasted 3 hours of our port time for the bus ride back an forth...

Overall, I feel Celebrity just does a superior job...Look into the Celebrity Constellation...For a second choice, I'd check out the new Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Sea...

As to ports, first realize there are two basic itineraries on Northern Europe (obviously with a little variation chruise to cruise):
1) Norwegian Fjords--typically sailing out of Dover or Harwich (near London) and sailing north, usually making some stops in Ireland/Britain/Scotland before making a few stops along the Atlantic coast of Norway and returning to England...Generally, the draw is the spectacular scenery...
2) Baltic/Russia--This is the more typical cruise, basically circling the Baltic sea and stopping in such ports as St. Petersburg, Tallin, Gdansk, Rostock, Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki...There are variations...Many go Dover to Dover, Princess Copenhagen to Copenhagen...Celebrity (like the one my folks are doing) has some one-ways--Dover to Stockhol or vice-versa...I prefer one-ways if you can find them--because they often allow for more ports and give you the opportunity to do pre-and post-cruise stays in two different cities...

Not all Baltic cruises visit ALL of those ports...
Of the ports, St. Petersburg clearly stands out for a number of reasons...and most cruises give you two days there (Oceania has routes that stop for three days)...
Copenhagen is the next in line in terms of great cities to visit...
Tallinn and Gdansk are both fascinating and beautiful...
And, obviously, all of the other ports have their attractions as well...

Good luck...

Summit, July 3, 2004: Alaska: 13 night cruisetour
Constellation, July 16, 2005: Northern Europe: 14 nights
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We chose the Orient Lines ship Marco Polo "Grand Scandinavia" because in 14 days, it covered both the Baltic cities and the fjords.

The cruise started with two days (on board) in Stockholm, and ended with two days (in a hotel) in Copenhagen.

Stops were (in no particular order): Oslo, Helsinki, St Petersburg (2 days), Tallinn, Copenhagen, Aarhus, Bergen, Flam, Geiranger. Great trip!
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We just returned from Constellation's Baltic cruise. On the whole, this ship also was an older crowd. I think it has a lot to do with the length and the cost for the entire trip.
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Elaine...I think these cruises are port-intensive..so I would choose according to itinerary and budget. I don't think any of them will have a "party scene". It will be more of a "scenic" and/or "cultural" experience for your son.
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>We just returned from Constellation's Baltic cruise. On the whole, this ship also was an older crowd. I think it has a lot to do with the length and the cost for the entire trip.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

We did the Constellation Baltic cruise the first 2 weeks of August last year. Ther were lots of teenagers on board and they all seemed to be having a great time. This type of cruise is different than many other cruises because it does tend to be more cultural/historical than those the Caribbean, for example. Therefore, it does attract a different group of people. But the demographics on our ship was pretty broad in terms of age and the variety of places people were from. It was great!!

Happy sailing. Joanie
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