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Sandra1616

Do you feel you see enough of a country on a multi-country tour?

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Hi there,

I would like to ask those whom have already been on a cruise, if they felt they saw enough of the countries they visited in a multi country cruise? Have any of you tried cruises + tours? Thanks, Sandra

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No of course you do not see "enough" of a country in a port-day. But you get a taste that might guide you regarding what city or country you may want to come back to on, perhaps, a land tour or independent visit.

 

Out of our first Mediterranean cruise, we particularly enjoyed Gibraltar, Barcelona, and Dubrovnik. Have been back to Barcelona (x2) and Dubrovnik! Hmm, need to fit Gibraltar in there soon! OTOH, I do not have any strong urge to visit France, Monte Carlo, or Italy (from that cruise).

 

I also knew that just disembarking in Copenhagen was not going to be enough and extended our cruise with a few days in an apartment there. Wisely, if I do say so!

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not even remotely, and there are some places where cruising is NOT the way  to travel to see any  bit of a country.  

 

furthermore, My NSHO is that some itineraries are too exhausting trying to fit so much into a week. you cannot enjoy any of it.  

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Cruising is just one way of seeing the world.

It's very easy to go from place to place in your floating hotel, with a captain driving you overnight. Especially easy for those with mobility issues or tired bones. And because of the geography, for places like most Caribbean islands or the Baltic or the fjords cruising is by far the best way to travel.

 

But of course you don't see enough, even on a single-country cruise.

The hours in port are way too short, and rarely include an evening. You can't get immersed in a place on a one-day port-of-call visit.

In the same way, folk don't get immersed when taking an AI resort vacation, eating the same food & drinking the same drinks as at home and mixing with folk from their own country. To many Brits, the Spanish costas are "Brighton or Blackpool with guaranteed sunshine and cheap booze". But whatever floats your boat.....

 

Cruises do give a taster - often enough to say "I'm coming back here for a proper visit".  Which we've done with Croatia (twice), Hong Kong & Bangkok amongst others.

On the other hand, there's also the risk of seeing the touristy bits on a one-day visit - "been there, done that, got the tee-shirt" - making it perhaps less worthwhile to return. 

 

Like Crystalspin and many other CC members, we try to spend time in the embarkation port. And we seek out cruises with the occasional overnight in port,  and one-way cruises like Rome to Venice or Singapore to Hong Kong so that we can spend proper time in both the embarkation port and the disembarkation port.

 

But we also enjoy city breaks and road trips.

(And the day will come when the driving and organisation gets to be too much and we look to rail journeys and coach tours)

 

Sometimes cruising is best. 

But I've yet to find an ocean cruiser that'll take us up the Swiss Alps or through the Serengeti bush or along the Rocky Mountain trail. :classic_wink:

 

JB :classic_smile:

  

Edited by John Bull

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Agree with the other posters. Just in general cruising is not the way to "get enough of" any single location, if you want to experience that location. You get a taste of the location. Now, in some locations, for me, that is enough. I don't have a strong desire to return to many of the caribbean islands we cruised to  and have an immersive land experience there. The only non-caribbean cruise that I have taken was a med cruise and it did help me choose which locations I would return to if I wanted to go back on a land trip. But to "see" a place, a cruise is not the way to do it. To have an enjoyable vacation to a location you would't necessarily want to experience or to visit many locations to narrow down a list of where to go back to; a cruise is perfect.

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If you want to see a place a cruise is fine.  If you want to visit a place a cruise is not. 

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I agree with the “taste of the the port,” however that might not be a bad thing. We took our family of 5 to Europe for 20 days a few years back- we stayed in 4 different locations (the Cotswolds, England; Edinburgh, Scotland; London, England; Paris, France) and moving between locations (especially with our 3 kids in tow) was very stressful. Managing luggage, accommodations, transportation, etc was at times very not fun and didn’t feel like vacation. [Note: Traveling with children is a trip, not a vacation.] There is a bit of appeal with the cruise ship in that your accommodations are moving with you as you travel and you still have access to food/entertainment/ship facilities. Does that mean that you might miss out on an immersive experience? Yes! But can cruise travel make certain aspects of your trip less stressful? Also yes! You just have to weigh the pros and cons and then determine what you want out of your vacation.   

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Generally no, you don't really see enough from a cruise, however, it does depend on the country.

 

For example, we rented bikes on our cruise stop in Grand Turk and were able to see the much of the island by getting around that way. I know there are other parts of Turks and Caicos outside of Grand Turk, but I felt that we saw enough in the hours that we were there.

 

We spent two weeks in Thailand on a land vacation and still felt that wasn't enough time to see everything, so going there as a cruise stop definitely wouldn't have been enough for us.

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It probably depends on the cruise and the destination. When I did Aranui I really felt like I had gotten to know the Marquesas, but then each island was quite small so easy to explore in a day and we had a program that was geared to educating passengers about the islands and people. 

 

You take a country like France for example and there is no way a cruise can possibly let you experience all the diversity of such a large country. The coast line and rivers are just a tiny part of France and the cities so packed you only really scratch the surface on a day tour not to mention you will never know what it is like at night and how a city changes through the day. It is just practicality but then if people want an in-depth experience of a country they just choose not to cruise. 

 

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If the “countries” you refer to are, perhaps, St. Martin, Sint Maarten, Jamaica, Barbados, and the like, yes - you do “see enough”.  If you referr to Spain, France or Italy and the like - of course not.  Many of the ports are an hour or more away from what cruise line advertisers tell you you can experience - which gives perhaps four or five hours to get a glimpse of places like Paris, or Rome or Florence..

 

 If you are going to fly from Ontario to visit Europe, pick a place or two to stay in Europe. If you want to cruise, fly to a closer port and cruise. Trying to cram both together is, in my view, a costly futility.    

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This is one of the reasons I think river cruising has gained in popularity.  It allows access to places not along a coastline, and it allows more time in certain countries.  To me it's a combination of ocean and land cruising.  

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One of the reasons I enjoy a Costa or MSC and such if for the international feel, the decorating  ,food and entertainment on board.  We went to Japan on cruise and saw absolutely nothing of Japan except a small portion of the major temples in the country with 10 hr calls in port.  Train or self drive would have been so much better.  But I did get to color a map to show I had been to that country. 

I suppose it depends on what you expect to get out of the journey.  Coloring in a map that proves you've been there, or seeing all the museums or the inner roads.

 

Edited by JMorris271

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Mostly yes, and I have added a tour at either end of a river cruise. But it depends on what my goals were and the country. I don't think there is a one size fits all answer. I have not been to more places than I have been to, so I am usually looking for something that is kind of a highlights experience. 

 

My first river cruise was on the Danube and was a Christmas Markets cruise. It was OK that we went thru three countries on the river boat because the trip was more about these markets than the details of the countries they were in. I was able to add in a couple of non-market stops that I cared about - a tour of Terezin from the pre-trip in Prague and a show of the Lippizaners in their home base in Vienna. So I felt my coverage, against what I wanted to see, was excellent.

 

My second trip was along the Rhine, spotted a bit of Germany and France but added a couple of days in Amsterdam. Also fine, and frankly left me ready to let Germany be for a while to go somewhere else.

 

I want a more concentrated experience for my upcoming river trip, so it'll be southern France with closer together stops. But I am OK with highlights in Barcelona so three nights will be enough.

 

All of the above said, I am researching New Zealand right now for a couple of years out and it is clear that a ship-based trip will not do what I want. It'll take putting together some land tours and probably three weeks to feel like I gave both island a fair chance. I will have to handle that quite differently than the river cruises.

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We're doing a cruise in the fall with this itinerary. We will have three days in St.Petersburg but only one day ports in the others (but they're pretty long days). No, it won't be long enough at all but it will allow us to hit way more than we could on a single trip non-cruising.

 

MNA200908.jpg

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OP: define "see enough".  I've spent months in places and do not see "see enough".  "if it's Tuesday, it must be Belgium" type travel does not appeal to me as a way of seeing anything.   You can see everything very quickly if you define "to see" as "to look at".  Drive-bys are very popular for list people.  Check that off. Check that off. And I don't find river cruises any different that ocean cruises.  You are just on a different body of water and see smaller towns usually.  Durnstein, Austria is no more representative of all Austria than is Vienna. A cruise, river or ocean, lets you nibble at a country.

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"Feel" is not the word we would use.  After more then fifty years of extensive cruising and independent land travel we simply think of "tour" as a 4 letter word and a completely inadequate way to see and experience any country.  That being said we do understand that some countries almost require the use of a tour and there are also many folks who are unable, unwilling, or simply afraid to do travel on their own.

 

We subscribe to the philosophy that the best way to experience a country is by using multiple methods.  

 

Why don't we like the use of "feel?"  Because we "know" that using a tour severely limits one's ability to truly experience a country.  Just being part of a "group" and being led by the hand results in many travel limitation.  We used to post about what we called the "It its Tuesday it Must be Belgium" syndrome.  That old comedy movie does a terrific job expressing a big problem with group tours.  

 

As to cruising, we simply love to cruise and have done it extensively for over 45 years.  To us the perfect trip involves both a long cruise coupled with a DIY land trip pre and/or post cruise.

 

Hank

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Thanks Hiltner for your comments.  Although DH and I had never taken a tour previously, for our first trip to India, we did book Tauck.  They delivered exactly as promised which was a lot, but DH and I were looking for something more relaxing.  So everyday, we would go out with the group for a morning visit somewhere, and then we would take a taxi back to the hotel to relax by the pool. Some of the other tour members questioned why we had booked with with a tour if we weren't going with them on the daily excursions.  Out tour guide explained to them that while they were touring, my DH and I were on vacation.  Travel provides different people with different experiences and meets/exceeds/falls short of expectations based on the traveller.

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17 minutes ago, CruisingAlong4Now said:

Thanks Hiltner for your comments.  Although DH and I had never taken a tour previously, for our first trip to India, we did book Tauck.  They delivered exactly as promised which was a lot, but DH and I were looking for something more relaxing.  So everyday, we would go out with the group for a morning visit somewhere, and then we would take a taxi back to the hotel to relax by the pool. Some of the other tour members questioned why we had booked with with a tour if we weren't going with them on the daily excursions.  Out tour guide explained to them that while they were touring, my DH and I were on vacation.  Travel provides different people with different experiences and meets/exceeds/falls short of expectations based on the traveller.

We've likely stopped doing escorted land tours for somewhat the same reason. While we don't lie by a pool we do like to go off on our own and mingle with the locals. Quite a few of our escorted had us moving from place to place every day with maybe an hour 'off.' And some of our tours were very long days so we didn't really feel like searching out locals fave restaurants. But we learned an enormous amount and saw tons so there were positives. We're not sure that cruising is going to play much part in our future travels. I see more like packing light and doing trains in Europe as an example.

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2 hours ago, clo said:

We've likely stopped doing escorted land tours for somewhat the same reason. While we don't lie by a pool we do like to go off on our own and mingle with the locals. Quite a few of our escorted had us moving from place to place every day with maybe an hour 'off.' And some of our tours were very long days so we didn't really feel like searching out locals fave restaurants. But we learned an enormous amount and saw tons so there were positives. We're not sure that cruising is going to play much part in our future travels. I see more like packing light and doing trains in Europe as an example.

 

We have been on a few escorted land tours in Europe.  To us the actual sightseeing wasn't much different than a ship's excursion, except we stayed in Hotels.  Best for sure are the DIY trips.  But I have to say that Mrs Ldubs does a terrific job setting up our "on our own" trips.  

 

PS: Last "own our own" trip was Northern Italy with some days in Switzerland.  The regional train system is fantastic.  

 

 

Edited by ldubs

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13 minutes ago, ldubs said:

But I have to say that Mrs Ldubs does a terrific job setting up our "on our own" trips.  

Is she the one who uses Tauck Tours as a guide? They have a great reputation.

 

14 minutes ago, ldubs said:

PS: Last "own our own" trip was Northern Italy with some days in Switzerland.  The regional train system is fantastic.  

 

That's just what we have in mind. We did a Gate 1 trip in Tuscany where we got air, hotel and rental car and then DIY. Verizon assured me that my phone GPS would work fine so we didn't get that in our rental car. It didn't work and Verizon was super nice but couldn't figure it out. We got lost every single day. And getting back to Milan to fly home we got lost FIVE times. And Bob is a great one for NOT getting lost. Trains sound divine.

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For many Caribbean ports, yes, the day in port is enough.  

 

We cruise for two reasons--first, because it's easier to get to some ports via cruise ship, and second because some places we want to get a taste of in order to decide if we want to return.  (We are looking at a cruise with three days in Israel in 2022 as an example).

 

But do we ever get out of a port stop what we do when we take a land based trip? Absolutely not.  We spent a week in Poland last November and that didn't even scratch the surface of that amazing country.  We stayed in Warsaw and Krakow and both feel that we could easily spend over a month in Poland before we felt satisfied that we had seen the things we wanted to.  Same thing with London--I'm amused by the people who want to go to London for five hours on a Portsmouth visit.  A person could spend months in that one city and still not see and do everything it has to offer.


There is also the ability to do things on your own at your pace and visit at times when it won't be crowded when you visit independently.  But as others have mentioned, not having to pack and unpack, sleeping in the same bed each night (our last holiday was 16 days and we had six different accommodations!), and not having to figure out how to get between cities can be relaxing.  

Edited by ducklite

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10 minutes ago, clo said:

Is she the one who uses Tauck Tours as a guide? They have a great reputation.

 

That's just what we have in mind. We did a Gate 1 trip in Tuscany where we got air, hotel and rental car and then DIY. Verizon assured me that my phone GPS would work fine so we didn't get that in our rental car. It didn't work and Verizon was super nice but couldn't figure it out. We got lost every single day. And getting back to Milan to fly home we got lost FIVE times. And Bob is a great one for NOT getting lost. Trains sound divine.

 

No, Mrs Ldubs figures out where she wants to go and what she wants to see, figures out best towns/hotels for "base camps", then kind of sets up our daily itinerary objectives.  

 

We have done the rental car before doing a long round trip out of Frankfurt to Prague, Budapest, Vienna, & Salzburg.  It was a fantastic trip.  Getting lost was half the fun. Haha.  

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We've had many driving holidays in Europe, but the least stressful was using Inter Rail tickets. We started in the Netherlands, and worked our way down through Germany to Austria, taking as long or short a time in any place we wanted. By using a small rolling case and sending a few articles to the laundry. we survived for a fortnight before making our way back to the ferry to the UK.

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I always have to chuckle when I hear that all Caribbean Islands look the same.  This is usually from folk who do not venture from the immediate port areas.

 

I have cruised solo a bit and used some of those sailings as "recon" or scouting trips.  On my very 1st cruise in 2003, I stepped off the ship onto a speedboat that whisked me away to San Pedro Island in Belize (otherwise known as the Isla Bonita of Madonna's song).  I enjoyed the snorkeling at Hol Chan Preserve, the original "shark ray alley", that we returned a few years later for a week's stay.

 

Other islands/locations I scouted out 1st through cruising but later returned for week long land vacays were Jamaica, Playa del Carmen, St Kitts, Panama and Costa Rica.

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This is the kind of argument people often use against cruising when they're reaching.

 

If your goal is to explore an entire country, cruising is probably not for you.

 

If your goal is to have a variety of different experiences, cultures, with convenient transportation, cruising is a great option.

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