Family of four, two teenage daughters. 2nd time cruisers first time on NCL as part of a family reunion. Cruise was part of a 3 week long Europe trip. Chosen somewhat because of HAL and Norway, but honestly more because it fit our schedule of Europe travel.
Took taxi from Rotterdam train station to cruise port. Easy to figure out where to go at first. Dropped off luggage, then went upstairs to waiting room. We were there about an hour before our 1:00 time on our boarding passes and were ushered into a table like sitting area to fill out health forms, and we thought to wait until 1. About 12:15 we asked the person working if they would call the 1:00 group, and she said no we could go anytime. Guess they did not really want to say that, hoping more that they could sell some drinks before hand. Because we were in a Neptune suite, we got to skip most of the line and check in was quick and easy and it was up to board the ship. Did the picture thing, checked out our room really quickly and joined the buffet for lunch. Not too much of a zoo. After lunch we went back down to our room. Luggage was waiting outside of door, not sure if we had gone a bit later if it would have been inside, but it seemed most of the suites had luggage still outside. Lots of time to check out ship before leaving since it was not scheduled to leave until 4. This was nice. Safety drill - "changed so more realistic". We were ushered to our respective spots and shown how to put on life vest. None of us had them. I guess the more realistic is that is was done on the spot we would meet, but I'm thinking in a real emergency I am not going to watch someone put on a lifevest, I might put my own on....
Neptune suite 7030. Chosen because got a real good deal on the suite, plus with the family of four in the middle of a European scamper, we wanted this to be special for the kids and really get a chance to relax. Found the room to be fantastic. Couch made up into a bed at night during dinner and a couch again during the day. Kids never complained that it was an uncomfortable sleep. Parents bed was a king and incredibly comfortable. Changing area with an extra sink gave everyone plenty of room when dressing. Balcony had a table with chairs around it and 2 lounge chairs. Many an afternoon sail away was spent there with a glass of wine. 7030 was the first room with a "cover" over the balcony due to the deck above moving slightly out. This cover was maybe one or two feet and usually did not bother me much, but I would have preferred it not to be there. Lower numbers would not have had that cover.
Neptune lounge concierges were fantastic. Changed out dining sitting right away to a fixed 8 oclock sitting at a table for four on window. Any other questions or issues were handled immediately. I had pre-ordered a tux which was supposed to be in my room upon arrival. It was not, but she handled the situation and had one before we left. When it did not quite fit right, a call was made to their tailor right away and the issue was resolved. The room stewards were fantastic. We had late sleepers so with the bed couch thing it must have been a pain for them, but they were great about it and we never saw them in the room. Dinner service exceptional with all involved, but especially the wine steward and bus boy who knew our names and kid names within a day and whom were easy to strike up conversations with. If I had to say one thing really stood out, I would say the service was the top of the list.
All dinners but one were eaten in the MDR. Food was good to fantastic. Proportions not huge so never got that too full feeling. Many times we wanted to try something for all of us, so never had a problem ordering a "table" dish of whatever (for example escargots!) One of my daughters is a vegetarian, and she was never at a loss of things to order. Only once did she not like what she got. Breakfasts were a combination of buffets, room service and once in the pinnacle grill. Did not like that the breakfast menu was always the same, with limited choices. I like breakfasts and like some different things that I would not normally get, but never was that an option. Lunches were usually at the buffet, pizza, or grill. Nothing spectacular, but nothing ever really poor. Same kind of thing as breakfast, basically the same things offered each day. Lots of choices so you would not have to repeat if you did not want, but some variety would have been nice. The one night we ate in the Pinnacle was a real hit and miss. Two of us really liked what we got, two did not. Overall, I would say not worth the extra cost.
This was a giant let down. None of the shows was very good. Without offending anyone, maybe HAL on their Norway cruise realizes that the average age on the ship is about 70 and that travelers from Holland are not very enthusiastic so they don't try and make it great. But really, the entertainment sucked. What really disappointed me was that the audience on crew night and on the finals of the passenger dancing with the stars competition were so unenthusiastic. C'mon people, these are amateur entertainers, your crew and fellow passengers trying not to embarass themselves. Show some spark and cheer them on.
12 teenagers on board, but they did have a teen center. My kids did not participate, maybe because the one time they went, they were the only ones there. Didn't really bother them. They were happy to hang out with each other and just goof off. This was drastically different than our first cruise which was NCL where there were lots of kids. The great thing was, though, that they were never treated differently by any of the crew members. In fact, it was just the opposite. I think they got more attention and bonuses from the crew as one of the only kids on board.
We did the trivia challenge each day, and a few other things. But the reality is that this was not a cruise full of things to do that interested us. We loved the beauty of Norway and the time to relax as a family. Cruise director did a nice job trying to drum up excitement.
We did all excursions on our own. In Oslo we trammed then walked about 10 minutes to the Holboklen Ski jump area. Very cool museum, especially for skiers, and very cool to go to the top of the ski jump and see what these guys really face. TV does not do it justice to see how steep and huge these jumps are. Great view from up there also. From there we trammed and walked down to the "naked statue park". Beautiful park and funky statues. Trammed back to city center, walked on top of opera house and called it a day. Easy to do all by ourselves. Kristiansaand we walked around the area, it's not really big, and found a free wifi cafe so we check emails and have a coffee. Stavanger, walked around, again its not big. Nothing spectacular about the town, but the trip out through the fjords around there was spectacular. Lastly in Flam, we rented bikes and biked around the area for an hour. Nice easy riding and a beautiful area. We first had thought about taking the train up and biking down from the top which I still think would be great, but with two cruises in port, there were no open seats on the train. The fjords outside of Flam are one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen. For those who have been to Yosemite, it reminded me of that on the water. Tons of waterfalls, sheer rock faces, ...Our other cruise was to Alaska, and while I would say overall the scenery of Alaska was better than Norway, nothing in Alaska comes even close to Flam and that area.
We wanted to stay on the ship as long as possible. This was due to the fact that we had teenage sleepers and more so because our next stop in Europe wasn't too far away and we knew we couldn't check in really early so there was no rush to get off. By the time they "kicked us off" at 9:30 almost no one was left so it was really easy to get off and get our things and go.
This cruise did just what we wanted. Gave the family a chance to relax a bit and enjoy each other and be pampered. The Rotterdam is a nice ship for what it does. Don't choose it if you are looking for bells and whistles and tons of things to do. It is showing some signs of wear, but in general is holding up really well.
if you rent bikes, do it at the camp grounds - they don't have a two hour minimum. In one hour we could ride out the end of the bike path and back to the waterfall. Outside of Flam, the fjords are incredible.
Homenkollen Ski jump is worth the trip. Easy tram trip and 10 minute walk. Ski enthusiasts will love the museum and those who remember Wide World of Sports and the thrill of victory and agony of defeat will really appreciate being able to go to the top of the jump. Frog... park is beautiful. Naked people statues are a trip.