Norwegian Star Cruise Review by M_J: Excellent Baltic Experience
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Excellent Baltic Experience
Pre-Cruise We had a direct overnight flight from Newark to Copenhagen. Arrived at CPH at around 1 pm and purchased 3 day Copenhagen cards that covered unlimited train, metro and bus as well as entry to many of the city’s museums. We took the train to the Østerport station and then the bus to the Adina Apartment Hotel. With the several wrong turns we made finding the bus stop, we could easily have walked directly to the hotel. The Adina was a great choice, with a bedroom, full kitchen, seating area and dining table. Our room was on the top floor with a view of the city. There was free wifi in the lobby and an exercise center and indoor pool available. There was a nicely stocked Netto supermarket in the building. The 26 bus was right outside the door and passed most of the major attractions. We had 2 full days in Copenhagen and saw several museums, took a Netto boat ride and spent some time in the botanic garden. Sunday was the Copenhagen marathon and we were More
surprised at how little it impacted our movements.
Day 1 Copenhagen
We had heard that the 26 bus would take us directly to the ship. Google Maps and the hotel desk both told us it was a long walk and a cab should cost about 100 kroner. Unfortunately, the cab driver got lost, adding to the cost – and the 26 bus to Færgehavn Nord – UNICEF stopped directly in front of the ship AND in the parking lot where bags were dropped.
Embarkation was smooth. NCL paperwork said that we couldn’t embark until 1 pm. Since we had to check out of the hotel at 11, we went to the ship, and were pleasantly surprised to be onboard before noon. We had lunch at Versailles and the room was ready by 1 pm. Our cabin was on deck 10. This was our first time on the Star and the rooms seemed smaller than similar class on other NCL ships, but we managed to find room for everything and as long as only 1 person moved around the bed at any time, we did fine.
We usually eat in the main dining room but decided to try the Unlimited Dining Plan which gives you a discounted price to dine in any of the specialty restaurants each night. We had dinner in Le Bistro. The duck was excellent, the service not so much.
Day 2 Warnemunde
We connected with others on the Cruise Critic rollcall and decided to use Alla Tours for all ports. We did not want to spend the day in transit to Berlin so we chose a tour that included Rostock and Schwerin Castle. It was a good choice. The guide, Karin, was excellent. We walked through Warnemunde and took the train to Rostock. In Rostock, we took a tram to the city center and had a walking tour of the old town and a stop in the cathedral to listen to the organ and see the atomic clock. Then we took the train to Schwerin. After a lovely lunch at a local hotel we toured the castle. It was unseasonably hot in Schwerin so Karin ordered cabs to whisk us back to the station where we caught the train to Rostock and then back to Warnemunde.
Day 2 Sea Day
The sea was like glass and the sun was warm. We were sorry that we didn’t bring our bathing suits. We spent some time in the large wicker chair on deck 13 forward, watching the joggers and walkers. Had lunch at the Topside Grill, took a nap, the early show and then had a steak at Cagney’s. The steak was cooked perfectly.
Day 3 Tallin
The meeting point was outside the port gates. In this port, the Alla Tours meeting point was very disorganized, and it took a while to sort out the groups. Eventually we boarded a bus to take us to the upper portion of the old town where we started our walking tour. Be careful – there are uneven cobblestones underfoot and it is easy to twist an ankle. The walking tour ended at the foot of the old town where we had enough free time for lunch. The pizza was good, but maybe not too authentic for the Baltic.
There were many Hop-On Hop-Off buses available right at the port, and the Old Town is walk-able from the port.
Day 4 and 5 St. Petersburg
This was the reason we picked this itinerary and we weren’t disappointed. We did a 2 day tour with Alla that included Yusupov Palace, the Hermitage, Catherine’s Palace, Peterhof Garden, Church on the Spilled Blood, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, a boat ride and Peter and Paul Cathedral. The weather was unseasonably warm (85 degrees in Russia in May). Our guide was very knowledgeable and the driver was able to get the bus close to the attractions despite several road closures due to President Putin being in town.
Day 6 Helsinki
This was another beautiful day. We did a 3 hour bus tour of Helsinki, with a stop at the marketplace near the harbor that had both food and arts and crafts vendors. The vendor’s wares included jewelry, wood products, clothing and fur items. We found this a great place to pick up gifts for the family.
There were Hop-On Hop-Off buses available at the port.
Day 7 Stockholm
The approach to Sotckholm is an archipelago of islands. It is worth getting up early to watch the islands pass by, and just as impressive to watch them as the ship was heading back to the Baltic.
The Star was moored next to the Viking Line dock. There were Hop-On Hop-Off buses and boats that you could walk to from the port, and the Old Town was about a mile from the ship. The day we were in port, there were 5 cruise ships there, including one that was tendering into the Old Town. This caused a bit of gridlock around the attractions.
We did an Alla Tour that included stops at the City Hall (don’t miss this – the golden hall mosaics on the second floor are amazing), the Vasa Museum and the Old Town.
Day 8 At Sea
We really appreciated the day to relax before the end of the cruise. This was the only day that was overcast and the sea was not completely calm. It kept most of the passengers inside – the better to spend money at the Russian bazaar set up in Ginza. We thought both the prices and selection were good.
During the cruise, we had dinner at Cagney’s, Le Bistro, Teppanaki and La Cucina and breakfast and lunch at Versailles, Blue Lagoon and the Market Café. We thought the food was very good. We had steak and shrimp several times and they were always cooked properly. Most times, the service was good. We did have an issue in one of the restaurants. We filled in a ‘Dear Hugo’ sheet at the service desk. The food services manager found us at dinner the next evening, apologized and bought us a bottle of wine.
The senior crew members were very visible on this cruise and all the staff were friendly and seemed to like their jobs. We went to several of the shows and enjoyed all of them. Each night there was a different act, including acrobatics and juggling. We didn’t use the spa, the casino or play bingo.
Day 9 – Disembarkation
Leaving the ship was very smooth. We used the NCL transfer to the airport. There were NCL staff pointing us to the buses and picking up the luggage at the airport was simple. Less
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Cabin review: Norwegian Star 10696
The location was perfect - just ahead of the aft elevators. Room was very narrow, and only one person could move between the balcony and doorway at one time. Bathroom was small but well designed, although the shower could have had better pressure. There was limited drawer space but additional shelves in the closet allowed us to find room for everything. The only real complaint is that the extra pull-out bed was very hard as a seat.