So surprisingly for me, my kids and I all enjoyed the Northern European ports more than the warmer Spain and Portugal ports. I thought for sure they’d enjoy lounging and the beach days but they loved getting out and about in the last three ports: Rotterdam, Hamburg and Le Havre.
May 9, 2019 Sea Day
We’re really boring sea day people. I got a massage which was nice. My son got tired of the kids club and would only go if another English boy was in there which got kind of annoying. I made the decision to allow him to stay in the room alone so I could go to the MDR for dinner because he tended to get bored part way through. It was fun though and we played a lot of Skipbo and ate lots of gelato and cakes from the Phoenician Plaza which was our favorite place to get snacks during the day. Like I mentioned we didn’t have a drink plan and paid as we went. None of the bartenders this cruise were as good as the ones we had on Magnifica though and all were pretty grumpy it felt.
May 10, 2019 Rotterdam
This was my favorite day of the whole cruise. When I was first looking at cruises to take the kids on this was the port that drew me in because one of the big things on my bucketlist (that I actually have written out) was to go to Keukenhof Gardens during tulip season and this cruise fell right before they closed for the season. I was super annoyed that it took until 3:30pm and a very unorganized disembarkation process to get off the cruise. Due to the delay I did the fastest thing which was to take a taxi that was already waiting to the Rotterdam train station. It was 20 euros which was a bit much for a 5 minute ride. No taxis used metered which I thought was ridiculous since they seemed to be the official cabs the port pushes. Uber would have been much cheaper but I didn’t want to wait. We got tickets to Schipol which is where I had prebooked tickets with busfare for the tulip festival. We didn’t get there until around 4:30pm. But it was my favorite thing and it was so amazing that we’re booking a land trip for April 2020 so we can go spend a full day next year.
After Keukenhof we took the bus and then train back to Rotterdam. The city was a lot nicer than I had expected after reading pretty bad reviews on how horrible Rotterdam is from people who were very upset that we weren’t docking in Amsterdam anymore (which I think is super cheap of MSC honestly, raise the fare by 10 euros and go back to Amsterdam, I’m sure people would prefer it). We got some food, went into some shops and walked about 40 minutes back to the ship which was actually really nice in the evening since it was an overnight port.
May 11, 2019 Sea Day
Just another Sea Day of the same thing. My daughter loved the kids club. It’s been a while since I mentioned it but the staff is beyond amazing and honestly the biggest draw to MSC for me until my daughter ages out in a couple years.
May 12, 2019 Hamburg
So we docked into Hamburg on a Sunday which really limits transportation options. I had read up a ton before we left and the consensus is that a taxi or tour/shuttle is necessary. I read about a couple people who walked but that info was hard to find. All the tours didn’t allow me to really choose what to do for the day and the shuttle hours were horrible that MSC offered with the last shuttle departing the city a few hours before we left port. We decided to walk and it was not as bad as everyone says it is.
The walk was super easy. I typed in the Hard Rock into my google maps because I knew it was really close on the other side of the Elbe Tunnel and would send me the right way. The beginning part of the walk was all industrial but was really safe. The tunnel was AMAZING and super cool. Altogether the walk took about 40 minutes, other transport methods would have taken 25 minutes or so but you’d miss the tunnel and it costed a lot more and this was free. If it wasn’t Sunday I’d be tempted to use the ferry boat but it wasn’t an option.
Hamburg I really catered to the kids for the most part. I took them to Planten un Blumen which is an amazing park with beautiful gardens. The playground was awesome and the kids easily killed an hour there. We then walked by the Rathaus and St. Nicholas’ church. Both were really fun and the walk around the city was easy. We did use the metro a couple times when the kids got lazy. The all day ticket was less than 7 euros and the kids were both free with an adult, super cheap compared to some places. The day we were there was also the Harbour Birthday and there was a huge festival that we enjoyed before taking the tunnel back to the ship.