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Old 10-04-2017, 07:45 AM
 
Location: Coastal Georgia
37,097 posts, read 45,613,761 times
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We know we want England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Our families are from there, and we’d rather go there than try to go to a lot of different countries.

We have it narrowed down to a few tours, or an NCL cruise. The durations are 11-12 Days.
We are fairly fit, but no spring chickens, so all the choices are age appropriate.

The cruise is appealing because there’d be no schlepping luggage on and off a bus. The meals will be predictable and abundant. Drawbacks are it goes from port to port, but not the interior of the countries, and also I’m afraid it would be full of decrepit old people and we wouldn’t have as much fun as we would with a tour group.

Our tour of choice is one in which we are on our own for arranging flights and hotels before and after, and we are responsible to get ourselves to the pickup point. I know my husband pretty well and he would not like to have to figure out getting somewhere on the London tube while dragging luggage.

Tour choice 2 seems to offer assistance in booking flights and airport transfers, etc. so that is how we’re leaning, but tour 1 is with a company that my daughters family has used so we know they’re good.

Call me confused.
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Old 10-04-2017, 08:50 AM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ > Raleigh, NC
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If you want to see those countries, don't take the cruise. Most of the ports are way too far from major tourist sites. You'll spend a lot of the time on busses. (And I LIKE cruises!)

You're going to get a lot of people on here bashing the idea of taking a tour. If that truly is what your husband prefers, don't listen to them. I would, however, look for a tour that includes down time. Time for you both to explore on your own, to stop in a pub for a pint and something to eat, to walk on the High Street. Me - I visit grocery stores in foreign countries. Whatever appeals to You. What you DO NOT want is a tour where you're being shuffled about for 10-12 hours a day just so they can crowd in a "visit" to every single well-known tourist site. Look for tours that have multiple nights at the same hotel versus hopping to a new hotel every day.

I'd suggest you skip some of those countries - you're covering WAY too much territory in 11 days to really enjoy them. I'd personally only do England first, but if you insist on going to two countries, make it England and Wales or England and Scotland. (I've been to all, and found Wales the least interesting for a first time tourist. Certainly, leave Ireland for another trip.

One more thing: on an organized tour, the only schlepping of bags you're going to do is bring them down to the lobby. Pack in an organized manner and that's easy. (We use packing cubes - one for pants, one for tops, one for underwear and pajamas, one for toiletries.)

(PS - NCL would not be "full of decrepit old people." And that the food is predictable is not an advantage - why bother traveling if you're not going to experience unique features of those countries and cultures? And food is an intrinsic part of that experience.)
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Old 10-04-2017, 09:02 AM
 
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I would do it on my own personally. England is really easy to get around and you can use the tour itinerary as a guideline. But I don't like being on a set schedule or in a group because you don't experience the true culture that way.

If you do a tour make sure you choose a good one. I would go with the one your daughter used since you know they had a good experience.
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Old 10-04-2017, 09:20 AM
 
Location: Upland, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jkgourmet View Post
If you want to see those countries, don't take the cruise. Most of the ports are way too far from major tourist sites. You'll spend a lot of the time on busses. (And I LIKE cruises!)

You're going to get a lot of people on here bashing the idea of taking a tour. If that truly is what your husband prefers, don't listen to them. I would, however, look for a tour that includes down time. Time for you both to explore on your own, to stop in a pub for a pint and something to eat, to walk on the High Street. Me - I visit grocery stores in foreign countries. Whatever appeals to You. What you DO NOT want is a tour where you're being shuffled about for 10-12 hours a day just so they can crowd in a "visit" to every single well-known tourist site. Look for tours that have multiple nights at the same hotel versus hopping to a new hotel every day.

I'd suggest you skip some of those countries - you're covering WAY too much territory in 11 days to really enjoy them. I'd personally only do England first, but if you insist on going to two countries, make it England and Wales or England and Scotland. (I've been to all, and found Wales the least interesting for a first time tourist. Certainly, leave Ireland for another trip.

One more thing: on an organized tour, the only schlepping of bags you're going to do is bring them down to the lobby. Pack in an organized manner and that's easy. (We use packing cubes - one for pants, one for tops, one for underwear and pajamas, one for toiletries.)

(PS - NCL would not be "full of decrepit old people." And that the food is predictable is not an advantage - why bother traveling if you're not going to experience unique features of those countries and cultures? And food is an intrinsic part of that experience.)
I thought I was the only one who loves going to foreign grocery stores! Love it!

Good info in this post!
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Old 10-04-2017, 10:07 AM
 
Location: North State (California)
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JK has good points. I also agree that 11 days is not enough time to do all that area. While the countries are small, there is a lot of history. When we did bus tours, we never had to deal with our bags, just put them out in the hall way for pick up & the porters took them to the bus, & the same on arrivals. I love cruises, & they are fine for some countries, but the British isles would not be one of them, imo.
Have fun.

I love grocery shops abroad too.
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Old 10-04-2017, 10:19 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
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UK is very easy to get around. I don't feel it is appropriately enjoyed via Ocean cruising, but ... you need to make your own choices.

If you are into cruising, the river cruises of Western Europe are wonderful. (I would do Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany for starters (French Canal cruise would be nice too!)

I really enjoy staying with and conversing with locals (wherever I travel). UK and Ireland brought a lot of interesting people into our life!

Wales was my favorite, largely due to the people and spending time learning from and about them. They were great hosts.

From my experience a "Cruise" does not allow you to 'engage' with the locals. Tourist trips are not something I seek or enjoy. (sights / events / shopping / special offers on 'Port Stops', guided tours...)

11 days would allow you to see ONE country / Isle, but not all.
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Old 10-04-2017, 10:24 AM
 
Location: North State (California)
39,503 posts, read 2,978,735 times
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I will also agree with stealth, that river cruises, in mainland Europe are wonderful, you get to see lots of wonderful things, & also have time to walk the towns you visit, but the geography of mainland Europe is different than the British isles, where you really want to go inland.
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Old 10-04-2017, 10:51 AM
 
Location: Coastal Georgia
37,097 posts, read 45,613,761 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annabanana123 View Post
I would do it on my own personally. England is really easy to get around and you can use the tour itinerary as a guideline. But I don't like being on a set schedule or in a group because you don't experience the true culture that way.

If you do a tour make sure you choose a good one. I would go with the one your daughter used since you know they had a good experience.
We absolutely wouldnt do it on our own. Believe me, you would not want to be in a car, driving on the wrong side of the road, with my husband who has a very poor sense of direction, and can barely find the milk in the refrigerator.

I asked my daughter this morning and the latest tour they went on this summer wasn’t t as good as the first time, so that sort solidifies my opinion to go with tour 2.

Last edited by gentlearts; 10-04-2017 at 10:59 AM..
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Old 10-04-2017, 11:02 AM
 
Location: Coastal Georgia
37,097 posts, read 45,613,761 times
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Thanks for the tip about the grocery stores. I would be very interested in that.

I’m very glad to hear that luggage is taken care of on a tour. There are several stops were we stay for two nights, so I think there is “decompression” sort of built in. Also, there are two ferry rides back and forth to Ireland.

I think this will be our chance to get our toe in the water, so if there is a next time, we’ll be a bit braver.
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Old 10-04-2017, 11:02 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,555 posts, read 39,934,465 times
Reputation: 23688
Quote:
Originally Posted by gentlearts View Post
We absolutely wouldnt do it on our own. Believe me, you would not want to be in a car, driving on the wrong side of the road, with my husband who has a very poor sense of direction, and can barely find the milk in the refrigerator.

I asked my daughter this morning and the latest tour they went on this summer wasn’t t as good as the first time.
Consider hiring a private guide! / minivan tour! (My Hand is up volunteering!)

I have planned to do this in countries that are best experienced knowing the language. (South America). I found a couple options of hiring college age kids (If I drove). In your case, a fellow 'local' retiree might be the perfect fit and make a bloody delightful time of it.

When we were there last yr, all our hosts insisted on driving us around for a day or two. (all inclusive in our $10 - $20 / night accommodations) They had National Heritage Trust passes that were very helpful! (Free entry to 400+ sites) Coming from USA, you need to join the Royal Oak society BEFORE you leave USA and arrive in UK. We came from the east (Dubai) so didn't have access to Royal Oak. So the hosts were quite generous in treating us as visitors.

6 of our hosts were retired teachers who had lots of history to teach us. 2 worked PT as Cruise ship tour guides for local excursions. (We treasured the FREE tours and explanations from them, as well as our evenings and meals spent together)

Consider also THE WEATHER!!!!/ season.
As one who comes from 280 days / yr of rain (in USA), the UK can really 'wash-you-out'!
Our May and June time-frame was really quite good for weather in UK / Ireland. (some luck happened, but it is one of the driest seasons)

Might as well head over in April and enjoy a Netherlands Tulip Cruise, then UK / Ireland while you are nearby! (We did Portugal in between Netherlands and UK, so we could 'Warm-up")!

After UK, Head back to Netherlands for a summer Andre Rieu concert in his hometown of Maastricht! https://www.andrerieu.com/en/news/ma...t-concert-2017

BTW: we eat via local grocers and farmer's markets while overseas. (When our hosts don't pack a free lunch for us)

Last edited by StealthRabbit; 10-04-2017 at 11:12 AM..
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