We flew from London to Copenhagen on embarkation day. A short, relaxing journey and arrived keen to get to the ship, only to find chaos surrounding transfers from the airport to the port! Some people had been waiting over an hour!NCL really could do with some better organisation on this point. After 30 minutes or so we eventually boarded the transfer bus to the port. The building we were taken to was very hot, but the lines moved fairly quickly and we were soon on board. By now it was 2pm, so we took a guess that our cabin would be ready and quickly located it. I was a little disappointed that there was not the welcome on board that we had experienced on previous NCL cruises, and that we had to go in search of a mini map for the ship instead of being provide with one. But, hey, life's short and as I've already said these were minor irritations and I include them for information only.
No surprises here, similar to previous. We did however find the previous occupants shorts on a shelf! The room did not appear as clean as perhaps it could be, and certainly there was good layer of dust by the end of the week!
Ship in general.
Smaller than the Gem and with some areas we found quite difficult to navigate our way to, presumably because of changes to the interior to add extra cabins. We particularly enjoyed the adults only hot tub on deck 13 and never had any problems finding a lounger. The Red Lion Pub was also one our favourite places, with a good atmosphere, entertainment and great bar staff!
As I've already stated, we spent a good deal of our time enjoying the entertainment ( and the popcorn!) in the Red Lion- generally karaoke early evening then rock guitarist later. It was a good place to meet and have fun with fellow passengers. We went to some shows in the main theatre all were enjoyable especially 'Elements' on the last night.
Food and dining options.
The quality of food was variable, but on the whole good. We mainly ate in the MDR in the evenings and Blue Lagoon for breakfast. We only ventured into the Market Cafe (buffet) a couple of times, finding it very noisy and congested- not dissimilar to a school canteen!
Ports of Call.
Warnemunde, Germany - We took an independent tour (SPB Tours) to Berlin. A long day but well worth the journey into Berlin in our opinion. We had a fantastic guide, saw so much and learned a great deal.
Tallinn, Estonia - We printed out a walking tour and had a relaxing meander through this beautiful town.
St Petersburg, Russia - Again we had booked an independent tour with SPB tours, choosing the 2 day deluxe tour. Our guide was terrific, we saw many attractions and enjoyed great weather!
Helsinki, Finland - our least favourite port, but still pleasant. We took the ship's excursion 'Helsinki by land and sea'. The pace of the trip was just right, as by now we were getting tired! It included a boat trip, time for shopping at the outdoor market, and sightseeing coach trip. The only thing we didn't enjoy was the incessant narration of the tour guides!
Stockholm, Sweden - tour with SPB. Good overview of a lovely city.
Disembarkation - Chaotic!
Conclusion - A wonderful once in a lifetime trip!