Our third ocean cruise was on the Norwegian Sun to the Balkans, visiting Copenhagen, Denmark; Berlin (Warnemuende) Germany; Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden; return to Copenhagen. We have wanted to visit the Balkans for some time and this trip was well worth it.
There are plenty of reviews on the Norwegian Sun ... It is one of the older ships in the fleet and some reviews said it was "small". I actually prefer these to the really big ones not sure why just do. It is a "cookie cutter" ship like most of the mid range vessels around today. No serious complaints as always you get what you paid for and the Norwegian Sun is fine. The only complaint was the food. I noted several other reviews that were similar to mine. It wasn't any one big thing just cumulative small things. Some of the most noted included: cold food, poor service in the late night bar and food area, and a less than impressive selection and frankly taste.
In regards to taste it must be remembered like most cruise lines much of the food is "shipped in" in the case of Norwegian a good deal of the meat, fish, and dry goods are sent from Miami. The meat and fish is frozen so tasteless. We ate in the dining room two evenings ... and on the first night we had lobster tails ... we sat with three other couples everyone agreed that there was no taste. This was one of a number of incidents of little flavour in the food. They did well in the buffet area to disguise this problem with pretty good curries, perhaps a few too many curries. Desserts were simply not very good ... to many custard/gelatine based ones ... One small annoyance that was consistence was cold gravy. Now it sounds like a small thing but considering the roast beef was often cold, hot gravy would have been nice. This I brought up with the restaurant manager suggesting that a heated pot might work better than an open porcelain bowl ... he was going to look into it. Now just to make it clear this was not a one off but consistent and on one evening I watched and saw them bring a new bowl of gravy to the carving stand so went over with high hopes ... it was ice cold and had just come from the kitchen. The carver nodded and said he knew ... seemed a bit embarrassed. A last nag and one I reported two years before to NCL comments. There is no green tea, my partner is a green tea drinker and is a bit of an expert. They do use "Lipton Brand" that does produce a acceptable product. They do have a "green tea" but it is actually an herbal blend. Yes all small things but generally the organization, management and menu could stand some improvement. As someone who has assisted in managing commercial kitchens there, problems are fixable but there is work to do. These are not big problems but seem consistent and annoying.
Great! I would recommend all the stops. In most cases you do not have to take their overpriced tours. The exceptions are Berlin and St. Petersburg. Berlin can be done on your own but it is a hassle with a long train ride - 2 hours each way. St. Petersburg is just too confusing. Remember there are other tour companies and a number of the people we travelled with used the local talent instead of the tours offered by the ship and liked them. You will stay in St. Petersburg two days. The choice on the second day was limited. Local companies had a much better itinerary and you could buy one for both days. Our dinner companions on two nights and who we got to know a little arranged with a local company to take a tour. They arranged all this with 14 other passengers and had a great time. Next time I would do this rather than the cruise tours. I did separate reviews for Catherine's Palace and the Hermitage so will not repeat them here.
Berlin?, interesting but would not repeat it too long and just was not of interest ... the curried sausage and country potatoes was a culinary oddity but if you like junk food quite good. Closer was a world heritage site and several people rented bicycles and just toured the countryside and the site. They all gave it a thumbs up. Your choice.
The Stockholm visit was very interesting but only half a day. I believe this has now been extended by several hours. Tours are note necessary.
Our favourite stop was definitely Tallinn. Take a walk, visit the museums and eat in a local restaurant.
So all in all a good cruise and worth the money.