Baltic Capitals Cruise
Baltic & Northern Europe
My husband, mother and her boyfriend and I all took this cruise. We flew into Copenhagen and took the ship transfer from the airport to the ship. Everything went very smooth and getting onto the ship was the quickest and easiest of any cruise i've ever been on and my mom agreed with that one as well. Overall the first day was quite the waste and a blur, due to 10+ hours of travel the jet lag really got to us. I'd recommend flying in a day early if you are coming from a long distance so you can enjoy your first night on the ship.
We ate dinner mostly in the 7 Seas dining room. We found that the service there was better than the 4 Seasons which we tried twice. The 7 Seas is also more formal which fits us a bit better than the casual. The food was ok, nothing special. I get better food at my favorite resturaunts at home and found myself comparing to the quality I get at home and it was sub par in comparison. We also found we weren't that fond of freestyle dining. It was our More
first time on NCL and are used to the same waiter every evening. We ended up finding a waiter that went above and beyond the others we had and ended up requesting him for the last 4 nights. That made us much happier to have someone know what we liked to drink etc... and he was the only one that explained the food on the menu to us and recommended certain dishes. I was dissapointed there was no crab or filet on the menu. We had lobster one night but it was only half of a tail and a bit overcooked (rubbery). We chose NCL for the itenerary and price, not for freestyle. Most of the resturaunts had a cover charge so there wasn't much selection for free dining, it seemed in order to get the quality food you had to pay which we didn't like.
We ate one dinner at Moderno Brazillian steakhouse, it was by far the best meal we had on the ship. There was an extra $20 charge per person, but it was worth it. The meat was excellent and they fed you until you were ready to burst. The only place on the ship we got good cuts of meat. The steaks on the dining room menu were worse cuts than sirloin. Very thin.
We ate breakfast at Moderno because we found it was less busy and the waffle line was short. Overall the buffet was horrible, the food was cold on many occasions. Such as the burgers were pre cooked and put into a pan. And when you order at the sports bar and such they just pull the food off the buffet to give to you. The hot dog buns were almost stale and too thick, we were not impressed at all with the buffet. They did however have a good pasta station and in the afternoon a crepe station which I found to be the only edible food on the buffet. Most lunches we ate in port and really enjoyed the local food, more on that in the port reviews.
We had a room on the 5th deck oceanview. It was on the smaller side as compared to a Carnival room but larger than the room we had on Princess. There wasn't much closet space, but we managed to squeeze everything in. The small couch was quite hard and we never sat on it. The bathroom is to be expected on a cruise ship, nice and small. Being bed snobs we packed our own memory foam and pillows, which made the bed tolerable. Without it, only those who like firm beds would be happpy.
We went to all the evening shows and the entertainment was excellent. The on ship singers and dancers were top notch (and being a musician myself, I am quite picky). The entertainment they brought on was hit and miss. The group 4Ever was excellent, went to both of their shows, amazing voices! I even got their CD which I hardly ever do. There was also a magician which was quite amature and we did not enjoy at all. I had more fun figuring out how he did his tricks than actually watching him. They also had a trapeze, circus type act duo, I just peeked my head in but was not impressed. Having just seen Cirque Du Soleil and being a big fan, its hard to be impressed by anything else. Overall the entertianment on this ship was far superior than any other cruise i've been on, big kudos to them for that.
I did not use the casino, spa, pools or fitness center, so I can not comment on those services. At the end of the cruise we stayed in Copenhagen for an extra 2 nights so more on that in the port review. Getting off the ship was just as easy as getting on and there was a small wait for a taxi to our hotel. We were able to get a mini van to fit the 4 of us and our pile of luggage just fine. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
This isn't a port unless you give yourself extra time before or after the cruise. We stayed in the Maritime Hotel, it was very nice, provided breakfast and free internet. Comfortable classic european rooms and it was about 2 blocks from Nyhaven which was central to alot of sightseeing. The first day we got off the ship, dropped our luggage and walked to the train station. We took the hour train ride to Helsignor to see Kronborg Castle, well worth the ride. We then took the train another 15 min to Fredricksburg Castle. After the train you have to take the 301 or 302 bus to get to the castle. Also well worth it! The gardens were spectacular. We took the train back to Copenhagen and took a taxi to the hotel from the train station because by this point we are completly exhaused! We had dinner at Nyhaven Street in an Italian place, very good but so expensive!! Everything in this city is EXPENSIVE!!! A coke is like $5 US, our dinners averaged $100 for two people. A banana in the grocery was $1. The second day we stayed in the city. Walked to Nyhaven and got a day long Hop on Hop off tour including a canal tour. The canal tour was well worth it. We then took the whole green loop and got off at a castle and the little mermaid. We had lunch at a side street cafe and had sandwiches. After a nice nap we took a taxi to Tivoli, walked around and had dinner. Waited until the lights came on, enjoyed a ballet and orchestra performance. Well worth the enterance fee. I didn't ride any rides because I was pregnant on this trip, but they sure looked like fun!
Here we walked off the ship and the 4 of us found a taxi to take us to the main information center by the main square. You can also take the 15 or 16 bus about 2 blocks away from the ship. Make sure to get the all day pass for 7 Euros. That also includes all buses, the ferry ride to the fortress and trams. Well worth it. We stopped in at the info center to get a map of the city. My husband and I took the ferry to the fortress and walked around. It was a nice picture stop, but we didn't do the museums (being musemed out from the previous port). We wanted an easy day after the marathon in St. Petersburg. There was a great market by the water and the ferries. I had a great lunch of local food, whitefish, potatoes and salad at one of the market tents for very reasonable price. We also did shopping in the market, much better deals than the souviner shops and it was local crafts being sold by the artists themselves. My favorite kind of souviner. If you are into jewlery, Spectrolite is the "gem" to get at this port. Amber can be found in all ports as well as on the ship. We took the 16 bus back to the pier. This was a nice compact city center and easy to get around, not much walking and good public transport. There was a hop on hop off bus at the end of the pier, they were charging 25 Euros, after seeing the city and using the public transport for 7 Euro, the hop on hop off is a rip off. I guess unless you don't like public transport, would not recomend using the hop on hop off here, this city is very easy on your own.
On this port we walked off the ship and stopped in at the tourist info at the end of the pier, it was in a shop. There we got a few good maps with walking routes and highlights. There was also detailed directions for the trains and trams to get us to the right spots. The walk to the train was easy and we got a group ticket for the 4 of us which saved us 1 person's train fare. Germany takes Euros and we had no problem with our credit cards. Not having a chip wasn't a problem. We took the train to Rostock and walked around a bit. It was very rainy and windy and even with umbrellas we ended up getting soaked. We headed back to Warnemunde and tried to enjoy the city. We had dessert and coffee at a local shop which was very nice. Being wet and cold we called it an early day and headed back to the ship. This port would have been a lot better had the weather cooperated, but we made the most of it. Also being the first day we were still tired from jet lag and wanted to take it easy.
By far the best port, this city is amazing! The 4 of us prearranged a private tour through Insider Tours. We had our own guide, van and driver for both days in port. We chose the active tour and saw everything plus more that all the ships tours offered. It was a total of 19.5 hours of sightseeing. We saw: The Hermitage, Church of Spilt Blood, St. Isaac's Church, Peter and Paul Fortress, Peterhof, Catherine's Palace, Yusopov Palace, A local church, walked Nevsky Prospect, stopped to see the sphynx by the river, old lighhouses by the river, the boat that signaled for the revolution in 1917, the first log building in St. Petersburg, a quality souvineer shop and many other picture stops. Our guide picking up on the fact that we were avid photographers, the driver would let us out for quick picture stops whenever we wanted. We also stopped at small cafe's for lunch both days to have some local food. Being in a small group was key. We were able to go into the individual enterances and not have to wait in line with the other groups. This got us in and out of places much faster so we could see more places. We also didn't have to wait for 20 min bathroom stops and for those wanderers that hold up tours in large buses. Our small van could park very close to enterances so there was not much walking in and out of places. I would not do this city any other way, the personal attention, ability to set our own pace was worth every darn penny for a private tour. Especially only having 2 days, we made the most of it. There was absolutely no problem getting off the ship and through customs. We were free to come and go as we pleased and it didn't matter that we didn't book with the ship.
Due to the ship docking 60K south of Stockholm we booked a ship tour called city highlights leisure time. Talk about herding cattle! We took the bus ride into Stockholm where we stopped at one spot to take pictures. We then went to the Vasa museum, where we only had an hour. 20 min of that was waiting for people in the bathroom, 20 min for our guide to talk and 20 min for us to wander by ourselves. If you really want to see this museum, do it by yourself so you can spend as much time as you want. We then waited another 20 min on the bus for a stragler that doesn't know how to read a watch. We then made one more stop at a waterfront picture spot. We were let off at the Opera house and had up to 4 hours of free time. Busses left anytime between 2:30 and 3:30 so you could just show up and take any bus back due to the large number of people on this tour. We walked in the old city island down the main shopping street. We went to the Noble Museum (my mom and I being science geeks, it was wonderful! my husband not being a science geek was less amused). We then stopped for lunch at a nice resturaunt, the best meal by far! My husband had reindeer and I had sweedish venison meatballs. It cost us about $97 US dollars but was well worth it! Very quality food, and very good cuts of meat. Highly Recommended! Too bad I forgot the name :( We didn't have too much time for anything else. I found a wifi hot spot to check my e-mail from my phone and we took the bus ride back. I would love to go back and spend more time in this city.
Here we walked off the ship and stopped at the tourist info booth at the end of the pier. They were part of the carts/shoppping strip as part of the port. This port also has free wifi with placed to charge computers and sit down. I took advantage of this at the end of the day to catch up on news/e-mail etc... We got a nice map of the old city of Tallin. Tallin also takes Euros. We walked to old town, about a 15 min walk and had a nice time wandering the small midevil streets of the town. We stopped in a few churches, but all the museums were closed the day we were in port. There are lots of souviner shops and places to eat. Walking to the city, around and back to the ship took us about 5 hours. Wear sturdy walking shoes, the cobblestones are brutal! My Keen hiking boots never left my feet in all the ports. Overall there isn't too much to do in this city, but the hills make for nice city views and wandering around is most of the fun.