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6 Copenhagen to Arctic Cruise Reviews

We chose Norwegian Star as it was going to northern Norway and one of our group was particularly keen to visit the North Cape. Whilst my wife and I are regular cruisers (we average 2 a year) the reminder of our group were either novices or ... Read More
We chose Norwegian Star as it was going to northern Norway and one of our group was particularly keen to visit the North Cape. Whilst my wife and I are regular cruisers (we average 2 a year) the reminder of our group were either novices or had cruised once before. There were 6 of us in total and we joined the ship in Copenhagen, embarkation was relatively painless and despite the check in area being very full from arrival to actually getting onboard took approximately 30 mins. Whilst our cabins were not available we had been informed of this during check in so we took the opportunity to explore the ship. Norwegian Star is a small ship in comparison to newer ships (she is 15 years old) but for this cruise she was completely full; passengers were a mix of Germans, American, South Koreans, Australians with small contingents of Spainish, French and British. As I said the ship is not in the first flush of youth and is beginning to show her age particularly in the area of fixture and fittings, which are reaching the end of their operational life (shower fittings that leak, dents and scratches to walls etc and occasional issues with the public toilets), however, once made aware these problems are quickly rectified. Our cabin (8568) was an obstructed view on the port (left) forward section of the ship and whilst not the largest cabin we've had it was sufficient for our needs with plenty of storage space. The "obstructed" view was not as bad as some and we had more than sufficient natural light and a decent view and was not an issue. The only thing to note was when the beds are combined (to make a double) the space between one end of the bed is insufficient to get through, although stepping over won't be too much of an issue for the able bodied. As already mentioned and in line with most other lines our cabin was not available until approximately 2 hours after embarking, but when the announcement was made we headed straight for the cabin and all our luggage had already arrived. Again in line with with all other cruise lines you get what you pay for so toiletries were limited, just shampoo and shower gel in wall mounted containers was available neither were we entitled to a kettle (reserved for deck 10 and above) nor chocolates at night. As an incentive we had been "given" the ultimate drinks package which had we purchased it onboard would have cost 70 USD per person per day. Having seen the amount and vitriol this matter generates I will just say the only disappointment is that it does not include coffees and teas purchased from the coffee shop which I consider to be a little mean spirited - on other ships we've sailed on it was included and it enhanced the benefit of the package and resulted in more people participating. It is also noteworthy that cakes are charged for at the coffee shop which again is not the case on upmarket lines. We also paid to use the onboard spa and I initially thought this a mistake as the weather was so good we spent the majority of our time on the upper deck sunbathing and swimming (it is worth nothing that it is always possible to get sun beds and there is a large number of beds in the pool area - although these are the first to go). However, as we streamed further north the weather did turn with overcast skys, wind and at times rain and this was when having access to the Spa became beneficial. FOOD The main restaurants onboard open for every meal are Versailles and O'Sheehans with both having waiter service and Market Cafe self service (open from 6 am - 10:30 pm) the food in all three is of a good quality but can get busy: Versaille and Market Cafe for breakfast and dinner (particularly prior to shows and early morning port arrivals) and O'Sheehans in the afternoon when people come back onboard (O'Sheehans is open 24hr). Aqua is open for dinner and occasionally lunch (I think) and serves very similar food to Versaille (they share a kitchen) again the food is of a good standard. The main difference between Versaille and Aqua is the decor. With other lines we've enjoyed the speciality restraurant package so we purchased a similar restaurant package which entitles you to a meal in 3 of the 4 A-la-carte restaurants. We chose La Cucuina (Italian), Cagney's (Steak) and Le Bistro (French). The main reason we choose this option is to have an enjoyable relaxed meal in special surroundings. Regretfully this was not the case with La Cucuina the food was if anything a little worse than that available in the normal restaurants, with the pasta being to al-dente for my taste and the atmosphere being dull and lifeless we all agreed that if we encountered the same in the other two restaurants we would request our money back. We then tried Cagney's (steak) and whilst the atmosphere was better the food was of a varying standard - your steak is measured by its uncooked weight and 4 of our party order the same steak, weight and cooked the same we received different sizes and level of cooked meat. As a party of 6 we were sat at a table for 4 (despite our pre booking our number of diners and arrival time), and despite the restaurant being less than half full, consequently we ate cheek by jowl and elbow to elbow whilst not an issue for the starter it became one for the entree. Such was the lack of room to move and the impact on our enjoyment that some of us gave up with less than a third of the entree eaten and decided against a desert. We've still to try the French restaurant and I'll provide an update in due course. Entertainment The shows are of a high quality with something for everyone - you won't like every show but you should enjoy most. We feel the standard of entertainment is one of the best we've encountered. Bars The ship lacks a place to sit inside enjoying the scenery with a drink - given that we're in the Artic sitting on deck with a glass of wine watching stunning scenery go by is not an enjoyable pastime not least as it gets cold and wet. The other annoying thing is the insistence of having music in the bars - the problem being that the music is provided by live musicians who are very good but the bars are so small and full (hence noisy) that to be heard the music has to be played loudly thus making conversation all but impossible. The situation is not helped by the number of restaurants - this looks to me like an accountant has had an input - this results in less people going for pre dinner drinks and post dinner going to the threate (pre show) to enjoy a drink and conversation. Perhaps of greatest concern is hygiene management - as is now industry standard hand gel is provided at each dining venue as well as outside of all public toilets. On a worryingly number of occasions we've found the containers to be empty and even after informing senior members of staff found the situation to still get exist some 40 minutes later. 2 of our group are health professionals and thus we've taken to carrying our own hand gel just in case. However, the service provided by the staff is high and nothing is to much trouble - you feel if you asked for polar bear nose in aspic they do their best to provide. So far the impression is one of a ship past its best and an organisation run by accountants which results in too much penny pinching and reduced quality - we previously considered NCL and Celebrity to be of a similar standard but this seems to be no longer the case with NCL going the way of P&O whilst Celebrity going from strength to strength. Hope this helpful to you. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
I gave the review a four has a compromise rating. We chose this sailing strictly for the itinerary and that truly delivered. This was our 38th cruise, 7th RCI and second on the Serenade, last one being the Inaugural TA in September 2003. ... Read More
I gave the review a four has a compromise rating. We chose this sailing strictly for the itinerary and that truly delivered. This was our 38th cruise, 7th RCI and second on the Serenade, last one being the Inaugural TA in September 2003. Our last RCI cruise was on the Freedom in 2013. The difference between the RCI product offered in 2003 and 2013 was very evident. The difference between 2013 and now is staggering, especially when it comes to the quality or lack their of for the food offerings and preparation. We are Diamond as a result of reciprosity with a sister cruise line. The itinerary was a 5+, service provided by wait and housekeeping staff a 5, and the quality of the food and presentation in both MDR and Windjammer a 2, at best. Most likely the reason you can now purchase 5 nights on the Specialty Restaurants for $100 per person. As for the entertainment, it was a mixed bag. While the singers and dancers were excellent, the production shows themselves need some fine tuning. Some Guest entertainers were better than others. Activities on Seas days have also dramatically changed. With the exception of Trivia and dance lessons in the Centrum, everything else is geared to selling something which is a definite turn-off. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Enjoyed the ports of call as there was great weather and scenery. We had minor rain only on one June day. Traveling above the arctic circle with having no sunset was expected, but still strange. You have to travel in winter to see the ... Read More
Enjoyed the ports of call as there was great weather and scenery. We had minor rain only on one June day. Traveling above the arctic circle with having no sunset was expected, but still strange. You have to travel in winter to see the northern lights. The two most northern stops were smaller and more desolate, but the southern ports were quaint to larger cities with deep fjords and greenery abounding. -5 stars Food and food service was excellent and would rate as good as or better than Princess with whom we have cruised 4 times before. Shopping seemed bland and specials not really special - 2 stars Shows were good, but most were way too loud. - 5 stars but you really have to pick you seats if you don't want to be blasted. Onboard activities- rather slow and for an experienced cruiser, rather dull - 2 stars Dancing- 2 stars, since the centrum is really not a place to dance and the dancing lounge was empty Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Embarkation at Copenhagen's Ocean Quay was fast and simple, we arrived at 10.50 and were enjoying our first drink at 11.30. The ship was, as expected, in great condition. The range of dining options is similar to other RCL ships and ... Read More
Embarkation at Copenhagen's Ocean Quay was fast and simple, we arrived at 10.50 and were enjoying our first drink at 11.30. The ship was, as expected, in great condition. The range of dining options is similar to other RCL ships and the food was good but not exceptional; there has been a deterioration in choice in recent years. This was our 21st cruise and will not be our last with Royal Caribbean. We ate in Chops and Giovanni's Table and had fantastic evenings. We never found time for Izumi, but our daughter and son-in-law (on their honeymoon) did twice and loved every moment. We did not eat at Rita's Cantina as the range of food did not suit our tastes. The Windjammer was always packed with guests who assumed they could live there if they wanted for the whole time it was open, regardless of anyone else. Some tables were occupied by people for hours, reading books and keeping chairs for 'friends' and not being challenged by staff - we think because of language differences. The same thing happened in the Vortex some times. We accept this as part of the cruise experience and as always work around the differences in culture and language to assure we do not adversely affect other people's cruises. We actually made several new friends whose first language is not English. As for the Vortex - we spent most of our relaxing time there. The views from there during the four days of constant daylight were amazing and the service was excellent. With only one exception the officers and crew were attentive, professional, helpful, caring and offered outstanding service. This one person, was in my view, very unprofessional, rude and ignorant and only after I finally confronted them on the last night, did they actually become polite (they were not an officer, wait staff, cleaner, bar staff, medical , engineering, security or our cabin attendant). We are diamond plus members and enjoyed all of the benefits offered, except one, where we were treated as second class passengers, rather than loyal RCL cruisers. The diamond lounge manager was helpful, informative, professional and dealt with our questions quickly and in a friendly way. We spent much of our time in the diamond lounge rather than the concierge lounge. My Time dining was very good mainly because we were part of a group who had arranged a table of ten and table of six, which we rotated through our group over the cruise. The waiter, assistant waiter, head waiter and dining room manager delivered a great experience. We had a few issues, all of which were resolved immediately on raising them with the correct person. One benefit we get is the help of the Concierge for bookings and queries but he seemed happier to direct us to either guest services or shore excursions for dealing with our questions and issues. The ports were as expected, fabulous Norwegian Fjords, towns and over four days of endless daylight - and experience not to be missed. We use RCL for one excursion, after having it changed twice and being overcharged we enjoyed a fabulous visit to two fishing villages in Honningsvag. We skipped the North Cape as neither of us wanted the long coach trip. We saw it from the ship twice anyway, as we sailed by. Probably the most impressive change since our last visit was the use of the Sea Walk in Geiranger - thank you RCL for ensuring Serenade used it. We are too tired and fed up to use tendering if we can avoid it. On arrival back. In Copenhagen we chose an RCL city tour and airport drop-off, a three hour tour which was, after a confusing start, was great. One thing o watch out for though is that RCL assume everyone needs three hours to checkin at the airport. As we flew at 2.10pm they tried to get us to change our transfer. but for the UK and our airline we only needed two hours. This meant that tickets stating "suitable for flights after 3pm" were ok for us. This took some pursuading on my part though. We only went to two shows in the theatre, both very good, the rest were as we usually find, mediocre attempts at entertainment - that is of course a personal view - we just don't enjoy the shows. We did take advantage of the spa services and instead of going ashore in Tromso, we enjoyed a couples massage - at a very enriched price.... but a real treat for my wife's birthday. Overall an excellent adventure that actually helped us celebrate a wedding, a birthday and ten years of friendship with over 40 friends on this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
This cruise took us to places that we would never get to visit otherwise, a truly once a life time experience. The North Cape, midnight sun and Geiranger Fjord are all unforgetable. We ate mostly at the main dining room. Food: Steak ... Read More
This cruise took us to places that we would never get to visit otherwise, a truly once a life time experience. The North Cape, midnight sun and Geiranger Fjord are all unforgetable. We ate mostly at the main dining room. Food: Steak and fish at dinner are all excellent. Breakfast and lunch in the dining room have extra items, such as shrimp cocktail, whole strawberries and made to order tossed salad, at lunch, in addition to ordering from the menu. It is easier to get a seat there than trying to find a table at the Windjammer on Deck 11, as people want to see the views from there. Our party of ten (siblings and spouses between ages of 54-66) were able to sit together at all meals with My Time Dining. Service: Staff was always friendly and really seemed to want to see that the guests enjoy their time on board. We appreciate that there was no corkage fee on the wine bottles we brought to the dining room. The ship is on the older side, but well maintained. Onboard Activities: We tried to stay active with all the food we were eating. There were many dance and exercise classes to choose from. The dance classes were really fun and the instructors did a great job. I wish there were more information given on the places we visit, besides trying to sell the excursions. The excursions were quite expensive, but it was the only way to visit the North Cape while at Honningsvag. This is the first time we sail on Royal Caribbean after six crises on other cruise lines. We would be happy to go back on a Royal Caribbean ship in future. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
It was not a good start from Day 1 - when our luggage had not been delivered to our cabin after many hours I discovered them some distance away and delivered them myself. Some bags remained there until 8pm that night and people were asking ... Read More
It was not a good start from Day 1 - when our luggage had not been delivered to our cabin after many hours I discovered them some distance away and delivered them myself. Some bags remained there until 8pm that night and people were asking where their luggage was as they hadn't received it by then. The men's steam sauna never worked properly the whole Arctic cruise and when I mentioned this to the area's supervisor she was so rude to me that I didn't bother coming back while she was there. The women's steam sauna had similar problems according to my wife. We didn't see any ice or anything remotely Arctic in the Arctic Circle cruise - it was just another day at sea. In their advertising for this cruise Royal Caribbean have a photo of an iceberg but we certainly didn't see any. Also at Olden their photos advertising the glaciers for their shore excursions are nothing like what we ultimately saw because nearly all the glacial ice has gone and there is very little to see. The food in the Park Café was poor and the buffet was operating under what seemed restricted hours. However the food in the dining room was fine although some of the wait staff expected tips at the end of the cruise. Usually on a cruise the bed linen is changed after four days but we had to ask our cabin steward otherwise we don't think it would have been done and he expected extra tips as well. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015

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