Norweigan Star Baltics Cruise Sept. 2013: Norwegian Star Cruise Review by cs94wahoowa
Overall Member Rating
Norweigan Star Baltics Cruise Sept. 2013
Destination: Baltic Sea
I had read a lot of reviews before booking, but we choice NCL for ports of call and because it stayed in St. Petersburg for 2 days.
If you're expecting Gordon Ramsey to pop in and give you a celebrity foodie experience, you'll be disappointed. That said, we heard a lot of complaints about the food, and we found it to be pretty good. I mean, it's cruise food, and after 9 days, you just want to eat something that you cooked, but it was good.
The breakfast buffet was packed with choices. The lunch buffet was pretty much the same every day (but then, why aren't you eating in port?) and the dinner buffet was varied. Though because I had a gluten free restriction, we found dinner in the dining room to be the best bet.
The key is to More find a server you like and request them every night for special treatment. Also, get to know your maitre d. Ours made sure that I was gluten free each day (with a gluten free cake made special for our anniversary to boot!)
The dining room food was good, chicken mostly overcooked, but still good.
We ate at 2 specialty restaurants. Moderno and Teppenyaki. Moderno was "meh" - good to shake up your dining but not a must do. Teppenyaki (Japenese steak house feel) was excellent and entertaining. No wonder it was "sold out" every night for space.
The cabin was nicer than the other cruises we'd been on. Cramped, but a toilet room with a sliding door and slightly bigger shower. Our neighbors were ridiculously noisy, bring earplugs to sleep. The view was partially blocked, but still provided natural light.
It shows its age, a little, but it's a nice ship. A lot of folks complained about the amount of outdoor space. I found it to be plenty for the Baltic (probably not for the Caribbean, though.)
One word, excellent.
Didn't catch many of them, because we were pooped after each day in port. But the final show, Elements, was really good. Still a bit cruise ship cheesy, but very entertaining.
Guessing it's a European thing, but this was the least participatory cruise I've been on. No one wanted their photos taken, no one was enthusiastic at shows, etc.
They were very concerned with washing your hands, and were always ready for a spray and a "washy washy". Ha! Less
Port and Shore Excursions
Those two cities were nice enough, but I feel like this stop could've been a stop in Latvia or something. It's a "meh"
Helsinki was my husband's favorite port of the cruise, and was up there on my list. It's a newer city, with no medieval core, but still charmingly European, and compact. The food was great (fresh salmon!) and the hop-on hop-off bus was convenient (not so in Stockholm - more on that later.)
I'd give St. Petersburg a 3+. I was expecting it to be my favorite city, because it was the reason we booked the cruise. I think it wasn't for several reasons.
1. You really have to do a tour. Even with a private tour, we would have rather gone on our own. But with Visas and language barriers, it's just not feasible.
2. St Petersburg is opulent. Beautiful. Almost too much. And with all that opulence, it's still a cold city. It's Soviet past is hard to shake. Much is being rennovated, and our tour was awesome, it's jut it lacked, well, heart.
3. There's a lot to see and take in. It's almost too much.
Why do cruises even bother stopping in a port for 6 hours. Then the ship was an hour late, the hop on hop off bus was a mess - it was a frustrating start to a day in a cool city. Not enough time to truly evaluate, but the Old Town was really cool.
We're anti-tour folks, as we like to spend the time we want to spend in the places we want to spend it, without being shuffled around. With Rick Steeve's book in hand, we explored Tallinn on our own, and found it to be a charming medieval city. I was really suprised, and enjoyed our time there.