Port Canaveral is under construction and was full of detours - it took the bus driver three or four circuits before he got us to the termi8nal. When we arrived we had to tote our baggage a hundred yards or so to the terminal from the bus parking area, but after that the embarkation process was smooth, easy and uncrowded.
Norwegian Sun is a medium aged ship and on the repositioning transatlantic portion of the cruise it was only about half occupied it appeared. The ship was well laid out with easy access and responsive elevators. the drew was informed, well-trained and efficient, from room steward to bartenders. The cabin we had was on Deck 4, the lowest one but it had a porthole that was sufficiently large to see out. We were so close to the water the waves occasionally broke higher than the window. Exciting. The beds were comfortable but the storage space was a bit cramped for a 21-day cruise.
There was little in the way of organized activity on the transatlantic leg, but once we got to the main part of the Baltic cruise things picked up. Overall, the ship didn't have the spontaneity of Carnival, for example.
There is a corporate, "by-the-book" feeling to it.
There was a series of lectures by a scientist named Dr. Ricci that could have been very good but he was an older fellow and had a hard time keeping on the subject and presenting a coherent presentation. The subject was Astrophysics and Cosmology.
We played a lot of trivia, etc, but there were no prizes awarded at the game time- you collected signatures on an "activity card" and then traded them in for prizes on the last day. After participating in 28 events,and winning several, I got a pen and a key chain- a little chintzy, I thought. Entertainment was average.
Norwegian uses the "Freestyle" unreserved dining, but there are about seven specialty restaurants that charge for dinner. We never went to any of them. One of them opened at about 5pm and used up half the "Lido Deck" dining area, which was inconvenient. The specialty restaurants didn't seem to be doing much business. Personally, I prefer an assigned seating so you get yo know your table-mates. The two regular dining rooms served fairly adequate food but nothing special. Of course- no "midnight buffet"- now gone along with many of the other perks of cruising. the weather was not good transiting the Atlantic so there were only a couple of deck barbecue events.
The Lido Deck restaurant did a good business, but was heavy with Indian cuisine- curry of one sort or another every day- but there were also a few other interesting and tasty specials. All-in-all, not great but adequate. There was 24-hour a day pizza delivery- 16" pie for five dollars, or free in the Lido Restaurant. There was a formal night but nobody participated.
Smoking- If you care, smoking was extremely limited on board. There was a small rather cold area on deck, albeit well protected from the winds, and you could smoke in the casino all the time.
The Azores- A beautiful Mediterranean-like atmosphere with warm and friendly people- we had a magnificent seafood meal ashore, and the town of Ponta Delgado was beautiful.
Amsterdam, Netherlands- We took a ship's shore excursion to the towns of Volendam and Marken- little villages and very "touristy, especially Volendam. We were too long in the rather dull town of Marken and too little time in Volendam, a much larger town with more to do.
Copenhagen, Denmark- My favorite port- beautiful city and very friendly pewople. Had lunch in town at an outdoor cafe on the canal,
"Heerings"- and I highly recommend it. Be prepared tho- lunch was $118.00 for two, including beer. Great food, especially the "Golden Lobster Soup" which is easily a meal in itself.
Warnemunde, Germany- We took a ship's excursion called Chugging on the Molli and rode a steam train along the coast to the town of Heiligendam- very picturesque o0ld resort city with a stop for coffee and cake at a beautiful old hotel. There was a lot of shopping on the pier for the usual souvenirs.
Tallinn, Estonia- A beautiful city but if you take the old town tour be advised there is a lot of walking and rough cobblestone surfaces. It was like the little village you imagine at the bottom of the hill from Cinderella's castle- we had coffee at an outdoor cafe and bought some great wool caps- the weather was sunny but quite cool at each stop. A hamburger and fries was $15 at the "Arizona Restaurant". Also went out to the open-air museum where they have many styles of old Estonian homes, mostly log cabins- again more walking but the forest atmosphere was beautiful and very restful
St. Petersburg, Russia- Amazing palaces, full of gold - it's incredible what extravagance the tsar's enjoyed- took the tours of Catherine's Palace and the Hermitage- the Hermitage museum was very crowded- it was a local holiday- and uncomfortably warm inside. Many staircases and no elevators, so it was quite a workout- On the second day in St. Petersburg we took a very pleasant boat ride on the Neva River where all the points of interest are easily seen.
But overall, the city seemed old and grey, leaving an impression of melancholy. Don't miss the ruins of the naval fortress about twelve miles east of the city as the ship leaves port.
Helsinki, Finland- Took the ships city tour and boat ride and were impressed with the city, but it is a bit cold and sterile. Had I known earlier I would have explored the city on my own- altho the dock is quite some distance from town.
Stockholm, Sweden- Our last port before returni9ng to Copenhagen. A beautiful city full of lo0re. We visited the "Vasa" museum to see the restoration of a 17th century Swedish warship, but the highlight of that stop was a hot dog stand next door where we enjoyed Swedish hot dogs of local sausage and one of lamb- sublime. The ship docked right across from town and there was a great view of the city from the deck.
Smooth and efficient- our bags were checked to the airport and there we took a flight to Frankfurt and from there to Washington, DC. We used ships airport transfer bus.