This trip has been a dream of mine for many years, and it didn't disappoint. My husband and I have cruised only with Royal Caribbean and Holland America so we were looking at what was different with a critical eye. We were traveling with my sister and brother-in-law.
We got to Copenhagen 3 days early, both to adjust to the time change (we failed - didn't sleep well until a few days into the cruise) but had a wonderful time enjoying this jewel of a city. We stayed at the Phoenix Hotel, perfect location, great staff, and very charming (read SMALL) rooms. I was sure to pack their little bottles of hair conditioner since I knew from previous posts that the ship doesn't provide this in our category. We also purchased the Copenhagen Card which got us unlimited public transportation and admissions to sights. Worth every penny.
Cruise day - embarkation was a breeze, and we went straight to the buffet for lunch before exploring the ship. The ambience in the buffet is similar to a high school cafeteria, but the choices were good and everybody could find more than enough to try. One big suggestion for NCL in all their dining venues - please note which dishes are vegetarian, etc. other lines do that and it is expected by those who are vegetarian.
Our stateroom was exactly what we chose, we were very pleasantly surprised though at the ingenious design of the 3 section bathroom. Great job! Our steward Frederick was lovely, always remembering us by name and bringing my husband extra blankets, etc. I will miss him.
Other positive things we noted: we were not approached all the time by over -zealous bar waiters, we enjoyed the casual yet upscale Aqua dress code (we ate there often), a full ship that you never had to fight for a pool chair, outstanding entertainment, very personable Captain who personally came to talk to my sister at the staff question and answer session, wonderful cruise director who races throughout the ship, and very happy crew. The grill and ice cream was also a nice treat, but I wish were open longer hours.
Downsides: the librarian was only in the library for an hour or so each day. Why have a library? And a major biggie - toilet seat covers in public rest rooms.
I used the walking track on deck 13 and decks 7 often, the weather was spectacular. Always I saw maintenance being done on the ship, which was immaculate.
We explored most of the ports on our own, except in St. Petersburg where we hired the Red October company to give a private tour to the 4 of us. It was pricey, but we were able to customize exactly what we wanted to see, the Great Chorale Synagogue is magnificent and not on any ship excursion. Another advantage of a small group-we waited in not one line to get into the sites where there were major lines. We did take the Hop on, Hop off bus in Stockholm from the ship as it guaranteed us a seat on the first bus and with a short time there, we wanted to maximize what we could see.
Disembarkation was a breeze. We walked right off the ship handling our own luggage, got right in a cab, and were at the airport in half an hour.
Given the right itinerary, I would sail NCL again anytime!