Norwegian Star Cruise Review by scotirene: Fascinating Baltic Ports
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Fascinating Baltic Ports
Very enjoyable cruise but very busy, with early rises nearly every day in order to enjoy maximum time ashore.
Biggest problem - getting to the ship in Copenhagen. Oceankaj, our quay, is off most of the city maps. We were advised by the tourist office that shuttle bus 26 ( not regular bus 26) goes to Oceankaj but on the Sunday we embarked there was no sign of a shuttle bus. We went on regular 26, from Oster gate as advised, which dropped us at Indiakaj - with lots of others - 6 kilometers from Oceankaj! We had to take a taxi at an additional 120 Kroners, to get to the ship. On the return we took the Hop On bus from the ship at a cost of 25 Euros to get to town and used the ticket for further sightseeing before departure.
One warning - be careful if using the left luggage at the Central Station. My brother nearly lost his bag with his valuables. He put it down to wrestle with his case and when he turned round it was gone. Fortunately they have CCTV. Someone grabbed his More bag, threw it into a locker on top of a suitcase and closed the door! The attendant was able to retrieve it for us. Whew!
Food aboard was fine, despite adverse reviews. We ate once in the French Bistro, for my 70th birthday on sail day (enjoyable), and once in the Tempannyaki restaurant (great fun), but the rest of the time we dined in Aqua or Versailles, both good. We preferred Aqua for the decor and the reduced noise. We booked the Jazz Brunch on the first day at sea and that proved a highlight - if it had been available we would have booked it for the later at sea day also, as it allowed us to sleep a bit later and still enjoy a leisurely served breakfast. On shore days we went for the express breakfast in Aqua - much more enjoyable than a buffet breakfast on deck 12 and just as quick. One comment - coffee was generally not good, except by paying extra in the Java Cafe. They served coffee free in the restaurants after meals but did not offer it unless asked. The separate dessert menu was offered if we did not choose dessert at the beginning, but it only mentioned pay extra coffees (from the Java Cafe?) Tea was awful everywhere - Liptons - which has not been served in the UK for 50 years. (Hardly anyone in the world, including here in the US, knows now how to make good tea nowadays, instead serving hot instead of boiling water to make it at the table instead of filling a pot in the kitchen.)
We had only one complaint about ship service. My brother booked the special event package online in advance for my 70th birthday and the request was ignored. I did have choc strawberries in the cabin on arrival day, but we think this was a standard ship gift for a birthday. The birthday cake and bottle of wine booked did not appear - the Bistro knew nothing about my birthday, so no cake - we would have done better in the main restaurants where there is always a ceremony and cake for events.
We booked the tour to Berlin and the two day tour in St Petersburg with SPB. The company proved very satisfactory, most efficient and with good guides and comfortable mini buses.
On other days we made our own way ashore. The Hop On bus in Tallinn was a con. It was a branch of the regular city buses. For 15 euros it took us directly to the far side of the Old Town but we discovered later that we could not use the other buses to go farther afield as they were too infrequent - an hourly service - and we would have done better to walk directly from the ship the half mile to the start of the Old Town and just see the town on foot.
In Helsinki we would recommend getting a Hop On bus from the port - it's a long walk round the port to get to the beginning of the town and another long walk from there to the tourist area by the harbor - and back. We reckon we walked 8 or 9 miles in total that day with getting to and from the harbor, round the islands (it was worth taking the cheap boat out to the Unesco military museum which takes up the whole of two islands) through downtown to the Rock Church (amazing place) and then back to the ship.
In Stockholm we got the Hop On boat from the quay at the ship straight to the Vasa Ship museum (well worth a visit) - the boats go straight to the museum until 11am and then follow the Hop On route round the harbor area - it takes about an hour for the full boat tour. We spent several hours in the Vasa museum and still had time to wander around the medieval town, see the palace and parliament and get the boat back. Less
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