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Snyders22000

Mouseketeer
Joined
Aug 1, 2013
We did Normandy on our own last Spring with our 3 kids ages 10,8,6. We stayed in Bayuex which was a perfect base for a few nights. We arranged a private tour with Oliver who owns Oliver 44 tours. He is a “one man show” and does his own tours. He actually used to work for Disney and was really great with our kids. He picked us up in Bayuex and took us around to many of the Dday sights (several of the main beaches, the American Cemetery, several bunkers and old artillery pieces, and some of the important small towns). He would give us some background history at each stop and show the kids historical pictures of the events that took place there, and then he’d give us time to explore each place on our own. I’m sure you could easily book a multi day tour with him if you wanted to explore more. Bayuex has a fabulous Saturday market with lots of local foods, flowers, and even small animals for sale. We also really enjoyed visiting the Bayuex Tapestry museum (had a great children’s audio guide), and the town cathedral. There was also a nice Dday museum in town (it was closed when we were there).



I'm looking out to future trips (only 4 more summers left before my son goes off to college!) trying to decide what we want to do next. We've got Alaska booked with Nat Geo for 2020, and Japan is on the list for 2022 or 2023. That leaves two open years, and for 2021 I am leaning strongly towards a trip to France that includes Normandy and the D-Day beaches. This is an area that I have not been able to visit, and I think it's something my son definitely should see (and he is really interested in history, so it's not a hard sell).

We typically travel for 10-14 days, so a trip of that length should leave us enough time to also visit Provence and the South of France (I've wanted to go to Eze for years) and maybe even sneak in a day at Disneyland Paris (I'm not too keen on spending additional time beyond that in Paris, since been-there-done-that).

I would like the time we spend in Normandy to be with a guided tour, only because we get so much more out of visits to historical sites when we have guides. I've looked at some of the D-Day specific trips (Nat Geo has an awesome one), but I think that is just too much time focused on history when there are other things I also want to do while we are there. I want something in between a day-trip from Paris and a 7-10 day war-intensive history course.

The option I'm leaning toward the most is the Backroads Travel Brittany and Normandy bike tour (preferably with the premier hotels). That's a 6 day tour with two days focused heavily on D-Day history. That would leave us another 4-6 days to see other parts of France on our own.

However, I am most definitely open to suggestions and would love to hear from anyone here who has done something similar, especially in the Normandy area. I'm open to private/custom tours, too (at least for the Normandy area - I think I can piecemeal the rest of it together myself).

I'm also looking for suggestions for pre-trip add-ons for Alaska next summer that we can do on our own. We will be flying to/from Anchorage.
 

Cousin Orville

Inventor of Air Cooling
Joined
Aug 27, 2000
So happy to hear that you’re going to get to do a trip. It sounds like it will be fabulous.
Thanks!

That sounds great-we're doing Slovenia and Croatia next July for my big birthday. I'll be interested to hear what y'all will be doing/did :) I'm afraid I'm going to love the region as I do Budapest/Prague and will be annoying my DH for a trip in the winter, too.
We loved Budapest & Prague as well. We went 5 years ago (again around Christmas). We'd love to return some day! Slovenia and Croatia seem like the next logical trip after a trip to central Europe.

I'd love to return.
If you go to Montenegro check with your credit card company for some cards don't work in that country. Just got back a couple months ago from Croatia and Montenegro and had a wonderful time. Both countries get their incomes mostly from tourism so they both seem to LOVE tourists.
Thanks for the tip. We've read both countries are very friendly to tourists. We stopped 1 day in Split on a Cruise last year and fell in love with the area. Can't wait to spend more time in Croatia!
 

*WDW*Groupie*

DIS Veteran
Joined
Oct 2, 2006
This thread has been very quiet lately!

I called Nat Geo yesterday to inquire about the ages of the teenagers on our May, 2019 voyage (it's sold out with an 11 cabin wait list). They told me they only have 1 other teenager booked between 16 and 20. My dd isn't thrilled about this as the cruise is 17 days long (and it's just the 2 of us traveling).

So I started digging and found a 7 day Arctic cruise with Quark that hits the mark for us. I thought we could tour St. Petersburg, Bergen and Voss on our own before joining Quark in Oslo. Quark tells me that they have 20 and 19 year olds booked and a reservation that hasn't put the deposit down yet with an under-20. They haven't sold out yet. It's also a brand new ship -- not quite as nice as the Endurance, but still looks really nice. Cost-wise it is MUCH less expensive (a fifth of the price).

The primary differences are that Nat Geo spends 5 days cruising the Arctic while Quark spends 4 and Nat Geo goes slightly up the east side of Svalbard while Quark remains solidly on the east side (but goes further north than Nat Geo). The other differences we would make up on our own in Norway (exploring the fjords). I'm not hugely into flora and fauna, which is the focus of much of these cruises, so 7 days wouldn't really bother me (and ship food can get old fast for me). Also I'm not terribly worried about my deposit as Nat Geo gives most of it back and I'm hoping I could put anything they don't refund towards another trip.

I looked up reviews on Quark and they get stellar reviews online.

What would you do? Any thoughts?
 
  • Aelin1977

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jan 29, 2018
    This thread has been very quiet lately!

    I called Nat Geo yesterday to inquire about the ages of the teenagers on our May, 2019 voyage (it's sold out with an 11 cabin wait list). They told me they only have 1 other teenager booked between 16 and 20. My dd isn't thrilled about this as the cruise is 17 days long (and it's just the 2 of us traveling).

    So I started digging and found a 7 day Arctic cruise with Quark that hits the mark for us. I thought we could tour St. Petersburg, Bergen and Voss on our own before joining Quark in Oslo. Quark tells me that they have 20 and 19 year olds booked and a reservation that hasn't put the deposit down yet with an under-20. They haven't sold out yet. It's also a brand new ship -- not quite as nice as the Endurance, but still looks really nice. Cost-wise it is MUCH less expensive (a fifth of the price).

    The primary differences are that Nat Geo spends 5 days cruising the Arctic while Quark spends 4 and Nat Geo goes slightly up the east side of Svalbard while Quark remains solidly on the east side (but goes further north than Nat Geo). The other differences we would make up on our own in Norway (exploring the fjords). I'm not hugely into flora and fauna, which is the focus of much of these cruises, so 7 days wouldn't really bother me (and ship food can get old fast for me). Also I'm not terribly worried about my deposit as Nat Geo gives most of it back and I'm hoping I could put anything they don't refund towards another trip.

    I looked up reviews on Quark and they get stellar reviews online.

    What would you do? Any thoughts?
    Go with the company that's going to give you what you want. If you feel Quark is the better trip and it meets your needs, go with them. I've done 3 trips with Nat Geo over the past few years and the quality of service has diminished. For us, we will only consider Nat Geo now if they are the only ones with the exact trip we want but they will not be our go to provider or even our first choice if we can help it.
     

    *WDW*Groupie*

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 2, 2006
    A quick update: I jumped ship (no pun intended).

    Dd and I are going to fly into St. Petersburg (4 nights - see a Russian ballet and do private tours of the museums / palaces), fly from there to Bergen (2 nights - 1 day of white water rafting and waterfall rappelling in Voss), then fly (I think) to Alesund (4 nights - hiking the fjords including a picnic lunch, horseback riding and a boat ride around the fjords) before meeting the group in Oslo for our flight to Longyearbyen. To be honest my deposit for Nat Geo was half of the total cost for the Quark expedition (and we got a verandah cabin, so not the lowest stateroom). Total cost for the entire trip will be around half of what the Nat Geo cruise would've cost and I am much happier with our itinerary as I am a very active / fit person and like to incorporate that into my travels whenever possible (nod to my ropes course pic taken on the Italy / Switzerland ABD!)!

    I am using Scott Dunn to arrange the Russia / Norway portion of our trip as I want everything to be seamless and I am not comfortable arranging Russia on my own. I am SUPER excited for this trip! I've been wanting to visit Russia (specifically St. Petersburg) for quite some time.
     
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    WDWmom08

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 12, 2008
    A quick update: I jumped ship (no pun intended).

    Dd and I are going to fly into St. Petersburg (4 nights - see a Russian ballet and do private tours of the museums / palaces), fly from there to Bergen (2 nights - 1 day of white water rafting and waterfall rappelling in Voss), then fly (I think) to Alesund (4 nights - hiking the fjords including a picnic lunch, horseback riding and a boat ride around the fjords) before meeting the group in Oslo for our flight to Longyearbyen. To be honest my deposit for Nat Geo was half of the total cost for the Quark expedition (and we got a verandah cabin, so not the lowest stateroom). Total cost for the entire trip will be around half of what the Nat Geo cruise would've cost and I am much happier with our itinerary as I am a very active / fit person and like to incorporate that into my travels whenever possible (nod to my ropes course pic taken on the Italy / Switzerland ABD!)!

    I am using Scott Dunn to arrange the Russia / Norway portion of our trip as I want everything to be seamless and I am not comfortable arranging Russia on my own. I am SUPER excited for this trip! I've been wanting to visit Russia (specifically St. Petersburg) for quite some time.
    Can I ask what the per day, per person cost for Scott Dunn is?
     

    *WDW*Groupie*

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 2, 2006
    So 2 weeks is the earliest they can manually push it through? Good to know. My charge from HGVC Craigendarroch didn't credit either. I waited about 8 weeks before doing chat and they put it through. I wonder if it's the international locations that tends to have issues.
    Can I ask what the per day, per person cost for Scott Dunn is?
    I don't have the quote from them yet (they said tomorrow afternoon). But you give them a price per person you want to work with and they will plan the trip accordingly. I gave them a price on the low side to give myself some cushion for add-ons I will almost certainly decide are "must dos". Also the dinners are only included in Alesund -- in St. Petersburg and Bergen we will be on our own for most lunches and all dinners (which is fine with me). I am arranging (and paying for) our activities in Bergen but they are arranging our transportation there and to Alesund. They seem to be very, very flexible with what activities you want included, which I really like. So far I am very impressed with them.
     
  • GuardMusic

    Castaway Club Platinum
    Joined
    Jul 18, 2005
    I’ve now done two Amawaterways cruises: one with Disney (Danube) and one without (Rhine). More than one person expressed (I remember @sayhello and @tink1970 were some) they’d be interested in hearing the differences so here are my thoughts. I want to stress that we LOVED our ABD river cruise. The reason we chose Ama-only for the second cruise was because of the single supplement.
    Thank you for this comparison; it was definitely what I needed to see as we plan ahead for... 2024!
     

    tink1970

    DCL Platinum
    Joined
    Dec 29, 2012
    Has anyone traveled with CIE Tours?

    I did a 3 or 4 years ago for a tour of Ireland. It was fine-I used them because there wouldn't be children and I didn't want to drive. Nothing fancy, some random stuff I could have lived without but I thought the guide was actually better than the guide I had on a similar tour with Tauck. I did find Limerick sort of sketchy but for the most part enjoyed the majority of my trip with them. Definitely not high end but was a decent tour.
     

    OhanaCuz

    I can finally say that I've been on an ABD.
    Joined
    Jan 22, 2014
    Thank you for this comparison; it was definitely what I needed to see as we plan ahead for... 2024!
    You're welcome. I've had a couple of people ask me about it. I loved both cruises and actually like the Disney one more, but the single supplement was a huge issue.
     
  • Travel60

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Feb 8, 2012
    Thank you for all the information, at the moment I am leaning towards Tauck (mainly due to price, for 4 of us with the guide tip (thanks Bobo 912) the Tauck trip is almost $3,000 cheaper than ABD. Now that being said we would have to do the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain on our own. Is it feasible to think we can just walk there from our hotel?

    Also for anyone who has travelled to Italy do you have any tips or suggestions to avoid the pick pocketors? I have bought my husband a travel wallet that clips inside his pants and I wasn't planning on carrying a purse, but I would like to have my camera with me, potentially just on my wrist. Besides pick pocketors is there anything else we should be aware of and watch out for?
    You asked about pickpockets. In Rome, as in much of Europe, pickpocketing is an art form. But, much like large cities in US, you just need to keep your head about you. Don't be obviously American (shorts and white tennis shoes!) and don't have your head buried in a map or a phone. Walk with purpose and be alert to anyone near you. In addition to the wallet you bought your husband, there are very slim wallets on a string designed to go around your neck and under your shirt. A camera on your wrist might make an easy target for a snatch and run...I carried my camera on a strap around my neck and kept one hand on it at all times.
     

    nemofans

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 25, 2007
    Which Tauck trip are you doing? We just did the Sweet Life one and we did go to Trevi Fountain on our walking tour with them. This was the only spot we truly felt we may be pickpocketed as it was jammed with people. My DH wore a travel wallet around his waist under his shirt. I used a Kipling purse that had a crossbody strap and a fanny pack clip. https://smile.amazon.com/Kipling-Merryl-Convertible-Waistpack-Black/dp/B073HPB8Q5/ref=sr_1_57?dchild=1&keywords=kipling+travel+purse&qid=1571412923&sr=8-57&th=1&psc=1
    This purse works well for Universal trips bc they allow fanny packs but not purses on rides. This purse allows me to switch to what kind of strap I want to use easily.

    We did do Spanish Steps on our own. We walked from our hotel through Borghese Park to the Spanish Steps on our arrival day since our flight landed in the morning.
     

    emilymad

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 17, 2003
    Which Tauck trip are you doing? We just did the Sweet Life one and we did go to Trevi Fountain on our walking tour with them. This was the only spot we truly felt we may be pickpocketed as it was jammed with people. My DH wore a travel wallet around his waist under his shirt. I used a Kipling purse that had a crossbody strap and a fanny pack clip. https://smile.amazon.com/Kipling-Merryl-Convertible-Waistpack-Black/dp/B073HPB8Q5/ref=sr_1_57?dchild=1&keywords=kipling+travel+purse&qid=1571412923&sr=8-57&th=1&psc=1
    This purse works well for Universal trips bc they allow fanny packs but not purses on rides. This purse allows me to switch to what kind of strap I want to use easily.

    We did do Spanish Steps on our own. We walked from our hotel through Borghese Park to the Spanish Steps on our arrival day since our flight landed in the morning.
    How did you like the Sweet Life trip?
     

    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    I used a Kipling purse that had a crossbody strap and a fanny pack clip. https://smile.amazon.com/Kipling-Merryl-Convertible-Waistpack-Black/dp/B073HPB8Q5/ref=sr_1_57?dchild=1&keywords=kipling+travel+purse&qid=1571412923&sr=8-57&th=1&psc=1
    This purse works well for Universal trips bc they allow fanny packs but not purses on rides. This purse allows me to switch to what kind of strap I want to use easily.
    Universal doesn't allow purses on any rides? Do all the rides have lockers? I haven't been to Universal in like 7 years, but I'm going in February. This is really interesting information.

    Thanks, Sayhello
     

    RSM

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 9, 2009
    Universal doesn't allow purses on any rides? Do all the rides have lockers? I haven't been to Universal in like 7 years, but I'm going in February. This is really interesting information.

    Thanks, Sayhello
    Yes. On a lot of the rides at Universal you need to take change out of your pocket, no car keys, no phones, etc. You need to pass through a metal detector. They do have lockers for temporary storage. Several years ago, I think shortly after they made the change, I had asked one of the managers what drove them to add the metal detectors. He said that someone was taking a selfie on one of the roller coasters (the Hulk I think), dropped the phone and it flew back and hit the person in the row behind them in the face and caused pretty significant injury. Whether it is true or not, I don't know, but it sounds plausible.
     

    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    Yes. On a lot of the rides at Universal you need to take change out of your pocket, no car keys, no phones, etc. You need to pass through a metal detector. They do have lockers for temporary storage. Several years ago, I think shortly after they made the change, I had asked one of the managers what drove them to add the metal detectors. He said that someone was taking a selfie on one of the roller coasters (the Hulk I think), dropped the phone and it flew back and hit the person in the row behind them in the face and caused pretty significant injury. Whether it is true or not, I don't know, but it sounds plausible.
    Interesting! Thanks. But they *do* allow fanny packs? I love taking photos in the queues, but if everything's in a locker, I can't do that...

    Sayhello
     

    RSM

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 9, 2009
    They do allow fanny packs, but you still need to go through the metal detectors for certain rides. Just guessing that they would make you put a cell phone in a locker even with a fanny pack. Just because someone has a fanny pack doesn't mean that they wouldn't pull out a cell phone during a ride. Even when you have your park pass on a lanyard, you are asked to put it under your shirt. Again, this isn't all rides at Universal, it tends to be those that are high speed or ones that invert you.
     

    Bobo912

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 16, 2008
    Interesting! Thanks. But they *do* allow fanny packs? I love taking photos in the queues, but if everything's in a locker, I can't do that...

    Sayhello
    Only Rip Ride Rockit and Hulk have metal detectors and you can't bring your phone even if it is secured. For all of the other rides you'll be okay with your phone in a fanny pack if it's small. I didn't carry a bag at all, but I always tucked my phone into a pocket with a button or zipper and it was fine. I think you are going to love the new Hagrid coaster. It is my new favorite ride. :)
     


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