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ljandgb

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  1. I'll second working with TJ. We used them for our private tour and they were excellent. We added a stop they'd never done, at the request of my cat loving daughter. They were very helpful and accommodating. I'm sure they could help you craft a great tour.
  2. Regarding food choices - as mentioned, there aren't a lot of dining locations on most river ships. There just isn't enough room for multiple venues. There is also a difference between lines as far as the one dining room goes. Some lines have little to no choice on what is being served (same meal for everyone with an option to "opt out" for a chicken breast instead.) Some lines have a wider menu to choose from, some lines have a timed dinner seating, others are come and go. I think one of the biggest differences is evenings. There just is very little to do on a river cruise if the ship is underway. If shows, etc, are a big part of your vacation, you will be disappointed. Some lines set sail before dinner and you are effectively a captive audience until after breakfast, with limited options between - go to your room, sit in the lounge, perhaps enjoy a small concert or talk in the lounge if it's offered. Other lines stay in port until after dinner or overnight. For me, I prefer that, where I have the chance to try local restaurants, explore a bit, etc. Agree a verandah can be very hit or miss. We had a french balcony, and it was great to lay in bed and see out the window - right up until we woke up one morning 18" from the Tauck ship moored next to us. There is always ample seating on the top of the ship to enjoy the scenery.
  3. Connecting rooms can help given the littles a bit more room to move. You can also save money by putting some folks across the hall in an inside cabin. Where you are signed up and where you actually sleep can be different. DCL does't do bed checks. πŸ™‚
  4. We did a private tour with Miguel Corral, which went up into the hills to Valldemossa then around town in Palma. There were 8 of us, with a large well air-conditioned van. He was very good, and able to cater to both my 75 yo mom who needed to slow down the pace at one point, and my 17 yo daughter, who wanted to do a bit of shopping.
  5. *Your Darn autocorrect! Now that I'm off my phone, most south coast tours stop at Vik. I'd just look at various tours for some of the differences. Add a glacier walk? Horse ride? Zip lining? And like I said, big bus vs small van. There's little chance of seeing the NL late May to early September. The flip side of being there when you do have a chance to see them is you'll be doing a lot of driving in the dark, so will miss the scenery.
  6. What time of year will you be there? Any south coast tour that does not include Jokulsarlon is fine, as they all hit the standard sites. You’re biggest decision is big bus or smaller van/mini bus.
  7. They are a reputable company but that is a VERY long day, with a good 8 hours of drive time. If you only have one day in port and are ok with that much time in a bus, then go for it. If you have more time, or prefer less drive time, do a south coast tour that does not include Jokulsarlon. It is 2+ hours beyond the rest of the south coast sites. There is also no guarantee there will be any ice in the lagoon or on the beach, just to forewarn you. It comes and goes with the winds and tides.
  8. There's no bad weather, only inadequate clothing. πŸ™‚ We were rained on a few times on our October Rhine cruise, and it was very cold while we went thru the gorge area with all the castles. It was fine. We had rain coats, umbrellas, hats, gloves, and warm jackets. I hate wet shoes, too, and have waterproof hiking shoes. A little clunky, but comfortable, warm and dry goes a long way.
  9. We used TJ for a one day private tour of SPB with our family of 8. I couldn't recommend them highly enough.
  10. It might help to know the actual itineraries for each cruise as to which is better. The Baltic is amazing, and my kids loved the trip. They were 10, 13, 16, 16 at the time. I agree it's port intensive and which ship you're on is probably not as important. Oceania seems to skew older, and even the mention of kids on board in their forum here on CC will give some posters hives. There were a small handful of kids (like 5?) on our Oceania cruise, but it was French Polynesia in March. They may be a few more on a European cruise during the summer. Well behaved kids would be fine, regardless of what some CC members would say, but there will be no kids club and very few other kids for your kids to befriend at the pool, etc, if they need that sort of thing. We did MSC for the Med, and if you can do the Yacht Club, I'd seriously consider going with them. That would indeed be special for your mom. There will be more kids as well. My daughter brought her Nintendo Switch and had instant friends every night in the lounge. Either way, the Baltic will be fine for your mom. In some ways, it's less "foreign" than the Med since more people seem to speak English and the customer service in Scandinavian countries is top notch. Another idea - IcelandAir lets you do a stopover up to 7 days on one leg of the trip. A cheaper cruise may give you enough extra cash to do 2-3 days in Iceland, which is my favorite country on the planet.
  11. We did a land tour to Amalfi with a family group of 8. I'd just second that transporting that amount of people is a challenge. You can get an 8 passenger van, but it is large and many of the non-highway roads in that area can have very narrow sections. It was my husband's first experience driving in Europe and it stressed him out so much he won't drive anywhere again. (That's a whole other issue I have to deal with!) Or you can get two smaller cars if you have enough willing drivers. Take out as much insurance as you can. Our car lost a tail light in a parking lot, our friend's car lost a side mirror. Everyone in the line ahead of us had some sort of damage, and one lady had no car at all to return. It had been totaled. If you don't drive, the train system is quite good, but make sure you stay somewhere near it or can confirm you can get a taxi/uber from where you stay. The biggest issue will be luggage. It can be hard to schlep your luggage thru some of the train stations as there are frequently stairs but no elevators. Also, you may wish to keep your luggage near you, which can be a challenge with a large group. We rented a villa thru VRBO, and the managers were happy to arrange a boat tour to Capri and another to Positano and the coast. I'm sure it was her buddy driving the boat, but it was reasonably priced and a great day to be had. Sorrento is a nice town and I think would be great for a base in that area. It's easy to get to, relatively small, very picturesque. Agree the "beach" there is not fantastic, so don't count that if beaches are a necessity for your trip. Our VRBO had a pool, which was all our kids needed. The Med in July was still very cold, so beaches required a bit of fortitude anyways.
  12. Civitia de Bagnoregio was my mom's favorite stop on our Med cruise. It is an old, mostly abandoned village atop a crumbling hill. You can only access it from a long, somewhat steep walkway. Google images of it to get an idea. I really liked Orvieto and would have liked to spend more time there. Both are fairly touristy, FWIW. I also liked the drive from Civitavecchia. Lots of fields with the occasional Roman ruin jutting out. It was a welcome break from the crowds.
  13. You could do Pisa/Florence, but it will be rushed - it may be more about checking boxes than soaking in the culture. Pisa itself can be as short as walk in, take a picture of the tower, and leave. Climbing the tower takes time, and there are several other buildings that are interesting in their own right, with lots of interesting tidbits of history. The chandelier in the church was designed by Galileo, for example, and the Camposanto was practically empty of people and full of the same sorts of interesting historical trivia. The train is a straight shot from Pisa, thru Lucca, to Florence, and about 45 minutes, if I remember correctly (maybe a bit more) from Pisa to Florence. Lucca is much closer. Personally, I loved Lucca. It's charming.
  14. Truly, not to be argumentative, but there are plenty of nice clothes in technical fabrics that weight next to nothing, take up very little space, and wash/dry very quickly. Now jeans, yes, heavy and bulky, but then I never take them traveling anyways. That's the beauty of the world - to each his own preferences.
  15. We loved Fakarava. It is practically undeveloped and the snorkeling was amazing just off the shore. If you are ending in Papeete, consider spending a night or two in Moorea. It is an easy ferry ride next to the cruise ship terminal. You can get the overwater bungalow experience without the overdevelopment of Papeete or the prices of Bora Bora. It's every bit as beautiful.
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