Sun shines despite iffy weather
Baltic & Northern Europe
This was our fourth cruise, all with NCL, and our second on the Norwegian Sun. The crew was terrific, the activities plentiful, the entertainment better than usual and the food generally exceptional. Our cabin was dandy, and the stewards most helpful. The ship is in great shape and user friendly. The main drawback was that we were a long way from either the aft or forward elevator options and the BH has mobility issues. Next time we'll be more sensitive about access. We took all breakfasts in the Garden Cafe aft on 11. I am in the habit of starting earlier than most and often had a hard time finding a cup of coffee and orange to get going. By the time BH was ready for breakfast, the garden cafe was jammed. The food is fine but the atmosphere was grumpy as folks looked for open seats or people willing to share. Most other meals we took in the main restaurant, the Seven Seas, and we were not disappointed by food, service or selection.We shared tables six times and were always glad of More
the chance to meet new folks and talk about shared interests. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
We grabbed a HOHO not too far from the debark ramp and spent several hours seeing the town. The ticket was more than we expected. The double-decker bus was about worn out and the canned commentary barely sufficient. Tivoli Gardens was fun, but I got serious sticker shock: $18 each just to have a look around.
We got a late start, still recovering from St. Petersburg, and caught the NCL-arranged tour bus into town for $6 each. Walked around downtown and saw the high spots for a couple of hours. Such friendly people, those Finns! I'd love to go back and see more of the country over a much longer time.
I joined the stampede to the train for Berlin's Top 10 while BH walked around the port town. It was my first time in Berlin. The NCL-arranged visit was well organized, and the guides and drivers were terrific. We saw a lot, probably more than most of us could take in. Most impressive was the Holocaust Memorial, from which we walked about half a mile to the Brandenburg Gate where a rock concert was beginning. As Warnemunde and the whole route into the capital were part of East Germany, it was interesting to see how much of the Soviet influence remains and how much has been obliterated.
We arranged a two-day experience outside the NCL umbrella with Anastasia. We were four couples on a van sufficient for twice as many, but the tab was less than half the similar package on a 50-person bus set up by the cruise line's partner. Alexander and Anna took great care of us as we hit all the high points from downtown to Pushkin to Peterhof. The company had the right to jack up the price because we were fewer than the minimum dozen but did not. On the second day, when a planned hydroplane trip to Peterhof to start the day didn't work out, an Anastasia manger gave us each a $30 reduction on the spot and did not add it back in when we were able to return to downtown by hydroplane from Peterhof. I had hoped to add an evening experience but was fragged by the time we got back to the Sun after a full, full first day. In almost every place, Anna finagled us to the head of any long line. That saved at least two hours getting into Hermitage and even more getting into Catherine's Palace out in Pushkin.
We anchored off Nyneshaum and the crew lowered all the large lifeboats ro tender us in. We opted for a bus tour of the small port city rather than spend the time and considerable bucks for a quick look at Stockholm. The bus driver was a woman of middle years in traditional costume; Emma, the guide, was a thoroughly charming 20-year-old recently returned from a year in Australia. She was wearing a traditional crown of fresh flowers celebrating the summer solstice and heavily promoting the afternoon activities at the town park.
HOHO again, much better than the experience in Copenhagen and for a better price on better equipment. The port has accommodated dozens of souvenir stands along the walk to the tour-bus area. I thought it was tacky, but BH had great fun looking over the mostly local offerings.