27 Dover to Baltic Sea Norwegian Sun Cruise Reviews

We lost several nights of sleep in our interior room because of loud banging and vibration. The sounds were similar to a sledgehammer on steel and happened during rough weather (and we had some). These loud bangs occurred up to 200 times ... Read More
We lost several nights of sleep in our interior room because of loud banging and vibration. The sounds were similar to a sledgehammer on steel and happened during rough weather (and we had some). These loud bangs occurred up to 200 times per night depending on size of the waves. The sounds were also heard by several staff members although no solution was ever found. The buffet was miserable. Guests frequently had to wait up to 10 minutes to get a coffee cup. Seating was extremely crowded and the seating area was dirty. Trays were unavailable to carry food to a table. The tongs used in the buffet required brute strength to operate, hard to pick up food with them. Wait staff wandered around with cleaning rags and totally ignored the dirty tables. I put a bag on the floor under the table while eating and the bottom of the bag was loaded with crumbs and food when I picked it up. The staff at the main dining rooms offered much better service. The ship's public toilets frequently did not offer toilet paper nor paper towels. Additionally, the hand dryers often did not work. Overall the room stewards were quite helpful and cheerful but too many of the other staff members such as those at the public counters bordered on rude, hard to detect a welcoming manner aboard this ship. We opted for transportation from the ship to the hotel in London and for 4 hours the van driver wandered around trying to find the Kensington Hilton. Finally he dropped us at a Hilton which turned out to be the wrong one and we taxied to the correct location at our expense. Just another nail in the coffin. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Norwegian Sun by Georgia (Magnolia Blossom) Baltic Capitals from Dover August 3, 2010 About us. 57/62 year old semi-retired professionals. Our 36th cruises, 12th on NCL and 4th on the Sun. This was our second cruise to the Baltic, the ... Read More
Norwegian Sun by Georgia (Magnolia Blossom) Baltic Capitals from Dover August 3, 2010 About us. 57/62 year old semi-retired professionals. Our 36th cruises, 12th on NCL and 4th on the Sun. This was our second cruise to the Baltic, the first being on the NCL Dream in 2004. Not terribly fussy, pretty laid back. We were travelling with 10 friends, some of my review may reference their critique of events we missed. Embarkation - Port of Dover This was our second sailing from Dover and they have a new terminal since our 2004 sailing. The terminal is modern and well laid out. The staff was very friendly and efficient. From the time we entered the door to key card in hand was about 20 minutes. Boarding began at 11:40 although rooms were not ready. In the past a bag check area was available for dropping your carry ons but it was not available this time. Lunch was served in the buffet and the Seven Seas dining room opened at 12:30, which we chose and had a nice relaxing start to our cruise. About the time we were finishing up our coffee it was announced that rooms were ready. The Ship The interior is done in NCL's typical understated style and is filled with bronze colored woods, brass and bronzy colored granite. In places the interior seemed somewhat stark but overall it is a sleek and elegant ship no glitz or neon. The atrium area is a bit on the small side and the panoramic elevators are oddly shaped (kind of keyhole shaped, narrow at the entrance, ballooning out toward the rear), which made for difficulty in loading and offloading.There are a lot of elevators on this ship and they seemed to run more quickly than on most. The central staircases are of the typical spiral type, making attractive places for photos. Several bars, the Internet cafe and customer service areas all rim the atrium. Hallways are nearly devoid of artwork; the artworks in the stairways were large florals, with a different flower for each floor (if it's poppies, I must be near the cabin!). Dining There are two main dining rooms, appointed primarily with two- and four-person tables. They are easily rearranged for larger groups. The Seven Seas dining room is on the stern, so it has windows on three sides allowing for many window tables. There were no booths, just tables (although some tables had unusual center legs, making it difficult to cross your legs). The Four Seasons dining room is also on deck 5 and more central. The menu is the same in each dining room. The buffet was well laid out and only the beverage area was weird. The ice dispenser was in the center rather than at the beginning near the glassware. The omelet and waffle stations were in a separate location - Pacific Heights which is on the opposite side of the elevators from the buffet. Pacific Heights is a much less crowded area for breakfast but the only serve the above items, along with coffee, tea and o.j. If you want other items for breakfast you can walk over to the buffet and return with them. It is necessary to wear a shirt and shoes in the buffet. An outside buffet area serves nearly identical fare, plus hot dogs and hamburgers. Its seating area was on the stern - a very pleasant spot where you could dine in your bathing suit. You do need to pass through the indoor buffet to get there, but you didn't need to be fully dressed if you were just passing through. There is a complimentary ice cream bar off the pool area which was open most of the time. The ice cream bar, Sprinkles, has soft ice cream in vanilla and chocolate and scoop ice cream in vanilla, chocolate and strawberry as well as a sherbet which varies each day. They only serve cones, so if you want a dish of ice cream grab a cup from the nearby drink station and they will put it in that. Several specialty restaurants were available such as a tapas bar, sushi bar, Japanese, Italian, and French restaurant and a steak house. All but the tapas bar and Pacific Heights required an additional fee. Pacific Heights is a lighter fare/health conscious restaurant and no additional cost applies. The "pay" restaurants require reservations and the cost is from $15-$30. There was no 50% reduction for early dining on this sailing. On the two final sea days there were specialty lunches. An Indian cuisine and a jazz brunch. Both were $15 and well worth it. Spa The spa, off the pool area, had a large assortment of exercise equipment. Several exercise classes were available for a fee. The spa is operated by the Mandara company, and thus operates much like those on other lines. The steam room and saunas were small but free, which is a pleasant return as they had been charging for the steam and sauna. The showers in the spa were much more spacious than the cabin showers and had liquid soap and shampoo available. The showers had transparent doors which might give bashful folks a problem. For those who find the cabin showers too confining, go to the spa. The spa offers the usual spa treatments along with acupuncture and tooth whitening. Entertainment The theater seats were high-backed, which created a bit of a problem for short people like me who had to crane a bit to see above the back. Seating down front was much more comfortable. There were two levels to the theater, and several poles created partial obstructions. I thought the music was lacking on this cruise. There was a pianist who played nightly in one of the lounges. In the Observation Lounge there was a rotation of a DJ, a Latin singing group and the Sun Orchestra for dancing at various times. The main band played a wide variety of musical styles but most of it was geared to a much younger crowd than us so we didn't hang around long for them. On previous cruises there was usually a couple who did nice mellow music for dancing or easy conversation and there was no such couple on this cruise. Lounges There were several lounges, and the Observation Lounge on Deck 12 at the bow provides a beautiful, sweeping view. It is a nice place to hide away during the day and read, as it did not seem to be used much. It is nicely appointed with rattan furniture and a medium size dance floor. Dazzles is more centrally located and has a larger dance floor and many activities e.g. game shows, art auctions were held there. A champagne bar adjoins the atrium as does a coffee bar. The Sports Bar on Deck 12 had many TV screens and served 22 types of beer. It is a great place to view the world and serves complimentary chips and salsa and guacamole each evening. It is open from 5P to 5AM for pizza and pasta. The pool area has two pools divided by a raised area of four Jacuzzis. The pool water is salt water. Walking decks are the promenade, with 3-1/2 laps per mile and festive murals all the way around; and the sports deck, which has a padded walking surface but requires something like 12 laps to the mile. The promenade deck is the boat deck so it is covered walking while the sports deck is sunny. Casino The casino is well laid out and has the usual variety of slots, video poker and table games. There are quite a few penny and nickel machines, a goodly number of quarter and the balance are 50 cents through $5. There are video poker machines ranging from penny to $1. Table games are craps, blackjack, roulette, Let it Ride, Caribbean Stud, Baccarat and Texas Hold-em. There is also a separate poker room for Texas Holdem. Service was prompt and courteous. The usual blackjack and slots tournaments were held throughout the cruise and I believe there was a poker tourney too but I'm not positive. The slots now use paper tickets so I found that to be a welcomed change. Cabin Ours was an interior II cabin on Deck 9. Storage was more than ample. The desk area had one electrical outlet which was the only one in the cabin. A refrigerator, TV, were standard. The bathroom has a circular shower with a curtain held snugly in place by vertical rods in the curtain. Six storage shelves were provided. There is a real toilet paper holder (so the tissue does not fly off the holder with use), a wall mounted hair dryer, and an outlet for electric razors. The shower has normal single handle controls and an adjustable-height shower head. Liquid soap and shampoo dispensers were in the shower. The bedding is the typical NCL duvet and quality cotton. Robes and coffee makers have been removed from interior cabins but as we were gold members I had requested them prior to cruising and they were there on arrival. Our cabin was 9311, an interior due to budget limitations on this sailing, plus the itinerary did not make it seem as though a balcony would be money well spent. The white nights also bother my husband a bit, so a nice dark inside cabin was perfect for those 10 PM sunsets and 5 AM sunrises. Our cabin was next to an A/C Room which meant we had no neighbors on one side and it was very quiet. Entertainment We did not take in any shows other than the Celtic flutist who was fabulous and one of the production shows, Cirque something, which was not to our liking and we left before it was over. We had seen a Cirque production on another ship but this one lacked any true acrobatics and the music and costuming seemed very thrown together. Our travelling companions went to quite a few of the shows and found them okay, but nothing to rave about. Being such a long cruise, many of the evenings were filled with cruiser participation shows such as talent, dancing with the stars and an employee talent show. The usual game shows, bingo and poolside activities were offered. The ship also has a mesh enclosed basketball court, ping-pong area, and golf driving range and shuffleboard. In the library the usual board games were available for checkout, and bridge gatherings were held. Friends of Bill and Friends of Dorothy had regurlarly posted meetings. A Veterans meeting was scheduled this time which my husband always enjoys. Food The quality was a bit better than most other ships, but that is such a matter of personal taste that it is hard to judge. The menus seem to have been revamped along with the new "Whatever" advertising program. In the past I've thought menu descriptions a bit confusing and this time they were a bit abbreviated but the food quality had improved considerably since our trip last October on the Star. We had dinner at the buffet one evening when we were too pooped to read a menu. I always enjoy the chilled soups and only one disappointed me. Aside from the jazz brunch we did not eat in any of the specialty restaurants that required additional costs. We enjoyed tapas in Las Ramblas, and the menu changed each night. Pacific Heights has the same menu each night and does require reservations even though it is free. An Indian meal was offered for lunch on one of the sea days for $15. One of our friends went and said it was very good. Wine service was handled by the waiters and went smoothly. There was no wine program available unless you are a Latitudes member; then you could buy five and get one free. Thankfully, there was no nightly entertainment by dancing waiters, and the dress code was enforced. The Sun now allows nice jeans in the dining room but I saw a few people turned away for shorts and no ball caps were visible either. Buffet food was the usual fare, of good quality and available from about 6 am to midnight. Food was also available at times in the casino. Room service is available 24 hours and is free but you should tip the waiter. Cleanliness The ship was the cleanest I've ever been on. Hand sanitizing was strictly enforced at embarkations and at all buffet lines and restaurant entrances. They've even added one to the glass elevators, which seemed ridiculous, especially since the kids who "lived" in the elevators had a good time triggering the dispenser and making a puddle on the floor. Although this ship is due for dry dock in January, it does not look as though it's been years since refurbishment. With very few exceptions the ship is in excellent shape. Staff One of the friendliest staff I've encountered. They all seemed particularly adept at remembering names throughout the week - a nice touch. I cannot say I encountered a single rude or indifferent staff member. Disembarking NCL has an express system whereby if you carry all your luggage off yourself, you can be in the first group off the ship. Quite a few people seemed to opt for this. We were off the ship by 6:05 a.m. Unlike the US, there is no immigration or customs at the pier - just walk off and you're done. Those guests with luggage were assigned a color by their flight times. You could wait in your cabin until your color was called, although they did ask that you vacate your cabin by 9:00 a.m. This and That Tips are added to your account automatically unless you request otherwise. Security was very good. They seem to have gotten absolutely rabid about liquor smuggling as well as irons, so attempt it at your own risk. You can request an iron and ironing board from the reception desk. You are allowed to keep it 3 hours. Photographers: Almost invisible! The photography staff was available for formal photos and as always at the pier, but they were not in your face every time you turned around. Announcements were kept to a minimum. There was no captain's party for everyone. Just a Latitude's party which was at 1 pm on a sea day. There was a separate captain's party for silver, gold and platinum members. There were only 12 people in attendance so we had a senior officer per person! It was held in Las Ramblas and billed as wine and cheese but you could order whatever beverage you liked. Drinks were of good quality and volume but the prices are that of a high end hotel/restaurant. Passengers were a middle aged crowd with quite a few younger folks. There were 900 children on board, according to one of the officers, but it did not seem as though there were that many since they were pretty well behaved. I did notice that the TechStyles room (near the internet cafe) had a sign on it for families with children 2 and under. There was an assortment of toys for younger children in a nice indoor play area. It was hard to judge the ethnic mix of the cruisers but I'd say 50% of the cruisers were anglo. There were quite a few Spaniards and Romanians Announcements were made in English, German, Spanish and French. During the muster drill another language was used but I cannot remember what it was. It is no longer necessary to bring your life vest to the muster drill. Movies on the TV were available in multiple languages. Several entertainment and cultural programs were done in Spanish as well as English. Money exchange is available but the rates are not good, so you are better off even at the airport! A local ATM is actually your bet bet. We found that Euros and US dollars worked everywhere. As for Internet access, the ship has about 10 stations available.. Per-minute use was 75 cents and packages were available including wireless. Phone service is available from your cabin for $7.95/minute. The jewelry shop onboard is a Columbian Emeralds shop. There is no longer creamer on the tables in the dining rooms - it is milk. If you want cream, ask for it and they will bring you a pile of single serving creamer. This is a pet peeve of mine since I use a lot of cream and it looks so tacky, not to mention they were difficult to open. You can buy a future cruise certificate which is a good deal if you plan to cruise in the next 4 years. You pay $250 for a certificate which will act as your deposit for the entire cabin (unless you are in suites or above)when you book a cruise within 4 years. As an incentive you are given an immediate $100 OBC. Ports of Call We arranged our own tours for all but one port, but I will provide what information I have based on others reports. Copenhagen - we docked in Free Port, which is the further port from downtown. It is about a 20 minute walk to the other pier. Both Hoho lines pick up at the pier. We used City Sightseeing and found that contrary to reports on CC, the buses do not accept credit cards, only euros. I have forgotten how much it was, but you can find that information on their website. We got off downtown, walked around and did a canal tour with Nette (?) tours for $3/person. He took US, euros, pounds - whatever you had. The tour was an hour and very informative. A great deal in our opinion. Be sure to have a few small denomination dollars or euros in case you need to use a public restroom. The attendant will give you change if you have small denominations. To return to the ship you need to transfer to a line not shown on the internet map - the blue line. The main lines of the Hoho's drop you at the area near the mermaid statue (who is currently vacationing in China) and then the blue bus takes you back to the ship. The blue bus is not marked and does not look like the standard hoho, which picked you up at the pier so you will need to ask various bus drivers if they are the blue line driver. Two of our group did a segway tour and had a blast. They highly recommend it. You can find them on the internet. Warnemunde. We took the train to Rostock and had a fabulous day walking about. We lucked in to a choral presentation at the huge church with the astronomical clock and it was indeed a treat. We dined at the market on sausage and apple streudel and had a grand meal on the cheap. We took the ferry back to Rostock and since there was a huge boat festival that day we sailed amidst tall sailing ships, pirate ships, Chinese junks, and boats of all flavors. What a treat. Half our group did a tour to Berlin and found the 12 hour day long but enjoyed their trip. The 3 hour each way drive did not seem like fun to me. Tallin. There is no need to do a tour here. The walk from the ship to old town is about 15 minutes. The reception desk will give you maps of town if you need them (this was true of Rostock too). We used Rick Steve's book and walking guide, which has always served us well. The streets here are very rocky and steep so if you have mobility issues it could be a problem. Second to St. Petersburg, Tallin was everyone's favorite port. St. Petersburg. We arranged for a private tour with Anastasia Tours and had a spectacular time. There was no comparison to our previous visit when we used ship excursions. An articulate, educated guide, nice quick dining, complete flexibility and topped off the first day with a canal tour, champagne and chocolate. The tour per person for both days total came to $5 less than one day on a ship's tour. I cannot recommend this option highly enough to you. The weather was very warm, the news said it was the highest temps in 1,000 years, and since none of the buildings are air conditioned it got pretty warm. But even on our previous trip I would remind people about the a/c and advise you to leave your heavier clothes on the bus. The palaces and Hermitage get very warm with all those people in them. You are not allowed to bring back packs or water into the palaces or museums. You can take photos but in the Hermitage you cannot use a flash. Local merchants would take USDs except in gift shops in the churches. Our guide had rubles she would swap for our purchases there. Helsinki. The only place we did a ship's tour to PourVoo (pronounced PourVoe) It was a nice ride in the countryside to a cute little town, with a cute little church and then to see a few of the more popular sites in town but not worth $160. Although, lunch was very, very nice Stockholm. We anchored at Nynsham and as we had been to Stockholm before and were tired we decided to stay onboard. A delightfully, relaxing day. They use the life boats for tenders and it takes 10 minutes to reach shore. The drive into Stockholm is one hour if you have an excursion. I got mixed answers on why NCL has chosen to dock this far out and finally got the bottom line from one of the officers who said, they really don't know. It is a corporate office decision and they do not tell them why - just where. Everyone I talked to enjoyed their visit to Stockholm but felt they were terribly rushed and quite frustrated with the experience since some of them had only 45 minutes at the Vasa and 30 minutes to shop or eat or whatever. Next year NCL is doing this sailing out of Copenhagen rather than Dover and maybe it will allow more time in Stockholm. London. We arrived three days early to tour London. One of our group is a Brit and gave us the insiders tour. Fortunately we were there on a Sunday which allowed us to go to the Chelsey Street Flower Market, which was absolutely fabulous. Then off to Curry Lane (I think it was called) - block after block of Indian food vendors and restaurants. We had a grand Indian meal. We got to take in choral evensong at Westminster, which was breath taking. On the way to Dover, our private bus stopped at Canterbury Cathedral so we could go to 8 am mass and tour the church. Spectacular. We had arranged for First Choice Minibus to pick us up at LHR, take us to the Holiday Inn Express Victoria. On Tuesday he transferred us to the port via Canterbury then fetched us at disembarking at whisked us off to LHR. Very curteous and much cheaper than the NCL transfers. Not the cheapest way to travel, by far, but with a group it made it quite affordable. With 12 people all transportation came to $94/per person. Overall: I would gladly recommend this cruise and ship to anyone. . Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
My previous three reviews were long rambling affairs. This one will be a lot briefer (well for me). If you want A LOT more detail then go to Travelpod (link found from our signature) where our whole five week holiday can be found in far ... Read More
My previous three reviews were long rambling affairs. This one will be a lot briefer (well for me). If you want A LOT more detail then go to Travelpod (link found from our signature) where our whole five week holiday can be found in far greater detail. We enjoyed our cruise on the Sun and our first NCL experience. Our original holiday was five weeks in the UK but both of us were thinking (without the other knowing) about adding a Baltic cruise seeing as we were so close. The Baltic Capitals cruise on Sun ticked all of the boxes. We stayed in London five nights before hiring a car and and spending another in Canterbury before arriving in Dover on embarkation day. Dropped our bags off at the dock before going back and dropping the car off back at the ferry terminal. Then went up to Dover Castle and got a cab back to the the dock at just after 1pm. Embarkation - easiest ever. Bought some Danish and Estonian currency inside the terminal before we went upstairs. No queue. From the time we left the currency guy to the time we walked onto the Sun was maybe 10 minutes, no more. Cabin not ready so went up onto deck out behind the buffet restaurant. Had a bite to eat and a beer. When announcement was made that cabins were ready we went down to Oslo deck (the one only accessible by stairs) and checked out our cabin. Small but functional and plenty of room for all of the stuff we'd brought for a five week holiday. Bed comfy, actually very comfy and pointing out from the window which is what my partner prefers. Bathroom fine if a little little but so what. Shower was hot, toilet flushed, toiletries ok (even if I did use the shampoo to wash with and the body wash to clean my hair with until I made a comment about the nice minty shampoo!). We enjoyed the food although discussions with other cruisers resulted in comments about the small size of servings and the amount of salt in dishes. We had no issue with either. We ate in both main dining rooms for dinner, Il Adagio, Le Bistro, East meets West (Indian lunch buffet), had some tapas (just ok), breakfast in whichever of the dining rooms it was served in (very nice) and grabbed food on the way through the buffet but ate it out the back or in the sparts bar. Il Adagio was better experience and way better value than Le Bistro Maybe we're easy to please but there really wasn't anything we didn't like. Service in all eating places was good except for night of chocolate buffet when they rushed us out and ignored the birthday of one of our group despite numerous hints. No biggy. Bars - nice bar staff. As expected drinks weren't cheap but that didn't stop us spending well over $1000 on drinks over our twelve days. If we can't afford to drink then we can't affrd to holiday. Liked the observation lounge, the back deck bar, the bar on level seven (?) of the atrium. Too many wait staff new our names way too soon :) Meet and greet was well attended by both cruise critters and ship's crew - all senior staff including the captain attended. Shows - went to a couple and didn;t think much of them. Very good dancers but throught the singers were pretty ordinary. Didn;t bother with special acts. Casino - didn;t spend a cent but couldn't avoid walking through it due to strange passenger flows of the ship. Ports - here's where NCL dropped the ball but at least we went in forewarned though that didn't help our experience one bit. Copenhagen - we were in town with half a dozen other ships. Only and Aida ship and Das Shiff were closer. Took maybe 30 minutes to walk into town, maybe a bit more. Taxis and HoHo busses were available on the road beside the ship if you weren't a walker. Ship docks on Sunday so not much open early but it was all open later in the day. Walked through fort, went to the national museum (very good), a design museum (very ordinary), took a canal cruise (great), visited the statue museum (weird). Enjoyed Copenhagen. Warnemunde - hired a car from Hertz that was delivered to the carpark next to the ship (EUR30 extra for this). Drove to Lubeck. Weather atrocious and Lubeck disappointing (our thoughts, nothing more). Fun driving on the autobahn at 160kmh. Weather cleared when we got back to warnemunde and had a lovely late afternoon/early evening around the little harbour where the fishing boats are docked. Enjoyed Warnemunde. Tallinn - took HoHo available in carpark in front of dock to get an idea of the city and then got off in upper town. Really interesting town. Had lunch at Old Hansa - no reservation needed - and it was a highlight of our whole holiday. Bought some rubles for St P at a currency exchange on the dock. Walked back to ship. Enjoyed Tallinn. Saint Petersburg - we were one couple of hundreds of cruisers who had booked independent tours. Night before arrival Cruise Daily had advice that NCL excursion passengers would be debarking from midships gangway and independents from forward gangway. Forward stairwell was filled up to reception (deck 5) by 7.45. I went out onto deck 6 just after 8am and streams of passengers were leaving the ship from both gangways although there was no moeb=vement in the forward stairwell. I went to reception and asked if ship had been cleared and was told no. Then I asked why were passengers leaving the ship if that was true and was told they weren't. Gee I hate getting lied to and told the receptionist just that. They finally let independents leave the ship at about 8.30, at least 30 minutes after NCL excursions. Why even mention the two gangways if you are going to block access and have people skulking along crew corridors to debark through both? Anyways, the weather was again atrocious - wet and windy but not that cold - but St P was fabulous. No issues with immigration - they were singularly disinterested. We booked our tour with SPb and the tour and Elena were fantastic. We also took the Evening Fun tour with SPb that involved a private cruise with much vodka that was also great. Helsinki - weather improved greatly and although ship wasn't docked in the inner harbour it was less than 30 minutes away on foot. Local bus left from just outside the dock. We bussed in and walked back out to the dock. Took ferry out to the fort (very interesting), had lunch including reindeer balls (!!) in the markets with all of the locals, took the 3T tram, went to the Design Museum (great). Loved Helsinki, really loved it. Helped that the weather was great as well. Stockholm - another NCL minus. Ship anchored at Nynashamn. Independents could only collect tender tickets from 7.45 even though ship's tenders were out in the water before 7.30. We were on first tender and on shore and on our way to the station by 8.30. We found out later that when the train was pulling away from the station at 9.05, friends on the first NCL on Your Own bus were wlaking in the Vasa. Three tender platforms - why not one for independents? No matter we loved Stockholm even with the hour plus less than we had to explore. In hindsight we would have taken the NCL drop off for USD59 each instead of the train. The one advantage we did have was two Aussie expats, friends of fellow cruisers, who showed us around the city. Weather again was terrific - shorts and short sleave shirts. Loved Stockholm. Last two days were sea days so we had a chance to wind down before the next part of our holiday. Day one was sunny but windy. The captain warned us that our last day would be bad and it was the roughest weather we've encountered in four cruisers. Was in equal measures hilarious and awful. His prediction of 6pm better conditions was spot on but the weather had taken it's toll and the bars and restaurants were all pretty quiet. Sad. Debarkation was as easy as embarkation. We elected the 'do it yourself' option and just wheeled our bags off sometime before 9am. Would we cruise with NCL again? Most likely if we found the right cruise. Food good, crew good, ship good, itinerary good, freestyle suited us perfectly. The lack of recognition and blatant discrimination against independent passengers might make us think twice but all in all it was a great experience Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Great cruise overall. I was diappointed and felt deceived by the advertising initally when I booked because they call it the Baltic capitals and in fact when you get to germany Warnemunde it is a 4 hour train journey to Berlin. When you ... Read More
Great cruise overall. I was diappointed and felt deceived by the advertising initally when I booked because they call it the Baltic capitals and in fact when you get to germany Warnemunde it is a 4 hour train journey to Berlin. When you get to Sweeden, Nynaeshamn is about an hour away from the caital Stockholm. So what a con!! NCL should have provided the transportation to the so called 'Baltic Capitals' if they are advertising it as such. Instead they want you to spend extortionate sums on excursions!!! Well here are the prices of the excursions which you don't find out so easily until you're on board. Copenhagen, Denmark: Cruise excursion $59.99 per person!! Rip of or what!! We took the City Sightseeing HO HO (Hop on Hop off) Bus which cost the equivalent of $21 as compared with almost $60 and what's more kids go half price! It's a great and beautiful city to visit. Warnemunde, Germany: Berlin excursion to include Prusian Palaces $374. We visited Warnemunde which is a great town just waliking distance from the port and go the flavour of Germany. There is a pleasant beach there too. Tallinn, Estonia: Well this is a small town and we just took a cab (plenty where the ship docks) and paid the driver 20 euros to take us to the new town which is at a higher level. The driver suggested this route as it is a pleasant walk downhill to the old town and you can explore the whole of Tallinn on foot saving yourself $129 cruise excursion per person!! Rip off, honestly!! St Petersburg: Well you kind of have no choice here but to either pre-arrange or go with the cruise as it going to hit you with a nuclear explosion in your wallet which ever way you go. We tried to pre-arrange with Del-rus and that was a waste of time. They are not that cheap, in fact there is very ittle difference in the price between these on-line opportunistic operators and the cruise. Because NCL docks for 2 days, Delrus only offered us the the sightseeing tour on the first day and we wanted this to be on the 2nd day . The 1st day we preferred to go the a Russian ballet in the evening and just enjoy the ship facilites during the day. Delrus was totally inflexible and so we arranged everything through NCL and the prices were a pleasant surprise, for once they were on par with the others or may be it's just because they all want to rip us off in St.P? Helsinki was straight forward. NCL charge $65 per person for the sight seeing. We got on the number 16 bus a short walk from the port at a cost of 2.5 euros each. You can also take the 14B bus into town. In Helsinkin you can use your map and just do a walking tour-it's not that big. When you come out of most of these ports there are tourist info centres or maps and usually the city sightseeing buses are visible so you don't really have to go with the cruise excursion and pay through the roof. Nynaeshamn, Sweden: Here because of the tight time frame (you only have 9-10 hours on shore and with time travel and pressure to get back to the ship on time we just took the ship excursion with a guided tour. We spoke to some of the others and could have saved a packet by taking the bus and train. Again tour guides, maps and info together with the Sightseeing hop on hop off buses are all there outside the ship so don't worry. You can so it on your own. The cabins were good, food fantastic and the two service restaurants; Seven Seas and four seasons were absolutely top class and made us feel really special. We went to one of the paid restaurants called Tapas, a japanese cuisine with waiters juggling and being very flambouyant and skillful and entertaining with sumptous food. This was a birthday treat for me as was this cruise. The soda packs we had did have their limitations: soda means soda no juices. It also means the cheap club sodas not the branded named ones. The lemonade was always tasting off as it was on tap. The Gym was fairly well equiped and usually very overcrowded esp the treadmill. Weights were lacking for biceps except for free weights. They could have done with an abductor and adductor for the legs. Sauna and Steam were good as were the hot tubs and the pool area. LOts of games facilities like table tennis, golf all free. Cards room very nice plus games room with pleny of well stocked board games, A well stocked lirary for the avid readers. The evening entertainments were all absolutely top class. The SHOUT show on the 8th August brought tears to my eyes with the sounds of the sixties and swinging London etc. All good calibre performers. You should never miss a show!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Just arrived back from Baltic Capitals cruise on the Norwegian Sun, and what a wonderful time we had. Freestyle dining suited our needs perfectly, and the food on the whole was very good. Our inside cabin was fine, and our friends ( family ... Read More
Just arrived back from Baltic Capitals cruise on the Norwegian Sun, and what a wonderful time we had. Freestyle dining suited our needs perfectly, and the food on the whole was very good. Our inside cabin was fine, and our friends ( family of 4 arrived without a cabin number) were upgraded to balcony, and as they were first timers that was a nice surprise. As we have only cruised on Golden Princess before, we can only compare NCL against that. Breakfast buffets in Garden Cafe and Great Outdoors is a dog eat dog affair when it comes to finding a table, food is fine but it is a bit shambolic, the whole experience My tip would be to go to Seven Seas and have waiter service, or Pacific Heights for omelette's and waffles, but check times for this. Buffets are open at MOST but not all times during the day with a nice selection of fair on offer. Dinner in Seven Seas, Four Seasons and Pacific Heights were all very good. We did try Il Adagio ($10 cover charge) but found menu no better than the other restaurants and the service was very slow, so we never tried any of the others. Although most of the staff are polite and nice, there are a few that need a week in "charm school" especially when asking for a table for seven (our group size) apparently pushing two tables together is the hardest thing in the world to do, until a waiter/waitress says that it will be no problem, then you see an icy glare from seating manager. It does become apparent that NCL go for cheap docking fees as you seem to be docked at the furthest point away from were you want to be in some ports. We thought that the $12 per person per day service charge was a bit steep on top of 15% gratuities on drinks, so I went to Reception and got it reduced to a more reasonable (in my opinion) figure, but they will only let you do this on the last two days of the cruise, why? Who know's. On your first day aboard beware of a staff member coming around asking if you would to attend a Indian Buffet on the 2nd week of the cruise. He quite conveniently forgets to tell you there will be $15 per person cover charge on it. These are just a few little niggles we found, there were no major problems and we would not hesitate to cruise on the Norwegian Sun again if the itinerary suited us, we had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Norwegian Sun - Scandinavia and St. Petersburg, Russia - August 3 - August 15 Cruise Critic - "Sailorlady" I traveled with a friend, both of us seniors, ages 70 and 80, in good health and with stamina. We were both professional ... Read More
Norwegian Sun - Scandinavia and St. Petersburg, Russia - August 3 - August 15 Cruise Critic - "Sailorlady" I traveled with a friend, both of us seniors, ages 70 and 80, in good health and with stamina. We were both professional women with children. It would have been more comfortable for us if we had not traveled in mid-summer because of the heat and the crowds everywhere. We traveled with a tour group we had used before and which we find efficient. However, the London hotel, Lancaster London Hotel, was a disappointment. Although clean, they cater to mid-east visitors, according to the manager, up to 70% in July and August. These people partied outside under our windows all night. The management did nothing to stop this. We toured London, saw the crown jewels, disappointed they do not let people try them on, and then were met the morning of August 3 by an NCL bus to take us to Dover for embarkation. We were glad we were in NCL's hands from the time we left the hotel until our return Aug. 15. Everything went smoothly. We are Latitudes members and this enabled us to go through check-in quickly for which we were thankful. Sadly, we did not receive notice of a Latitudes gathering on the ship. We would have liked to meet our fellow Latitudes travelers. NCL's routine to embark, disembark, and leave on excursions was the most efficient of any ship I have been on. Congratulations to the staff. Our stateroom was aft on Deck 9 with a balcony. It was clean and well tended by the stewards. However, it was small and crowded. One twin bed stuck out in the passageway so that we had to walk sideways to get to the bathroom, closet, or door. There did not appear to be any way to reconfigure the room to correct this problem. We loved the towel animals the steward left for us each day. My friend didn't want to take hers apart which left us short one towel! The fire drill could have been handled better. This consisted of everyone going to their station and watching the staff demonstrate how to put on the life jacket. We think it would be better to have the passengers practice this. I still do not know how to do it. The general condition of the ship is good, very clean, We appreciated staff requiring antibacterial spray for hands before entering the dining room. Also this spray was available all over the ship and in the elevators where it provided entertainment for children who rode the elevators all day. The two formal dining rooms were well run. The staff was attentive and efficient and the food was good. The other informal dining areas were also well run with good food and provided an opportunity to eat on the outside decks. We missed the opportunity to mingle with other passengers which used to be available when seating was assigned. There is less formality now which seems to please most passengers but which we thought lessened the friendliness of the previous system. We think a method needs to be instituted whereby those who wish to share find this easy to do with marked places set aside for that. Also, when seating was assigned, passengers got to know the wait staff and staff got to interact with the passengers. It was a pleasure to leave them a gratuity at the end of the trip to show appreciation. Now the ship charges passengers per day for "tips" which are no more than I suppose an extra check in the employee'w paycheck. How depressing this must be for them since they are never personally acknowledged for their good work. You see different wait staff every day. This is a small ship with limited activities for adults. The library is adequate and provides a quiet reading place. The theater provides nightly entertainment which is all right. There is a Windjammer Lounge which featured a really good piano player each evening. He knew all the favorite songs and had a wide repertoire of songs. There is dancing and music on the top deck lounger. We did not visit the casino,the spa, or the outdoor pools. There are some activities for teen-age children but nothing for little children who are required to find their own amusement mostly by running up and down the halls and bumping into people. Parents with small children would be much better served on a Disney ship which is prepared to entertain them. We arranged all our shore excursions through NCL and were very pleased with the quality of the tours. As previously mentioned, the excursion crew were super efficient and the guides on shore were good, knowledgeable about their cities, and pleasant. We chose the walking tours because we wanted to get among the people and the cities to appreciate their history and architecture. This was doable at our ages and good physical condition but at times we were used up trying to keep up. Seniors should seriously consider if they are capable of walking, often fast, for hours over cobblestones, before choosing this type of excursion. Most places take US currency and credit cards. We erred by not obtaining a small amount of local currency when we took the day trips because you need the local currency in small amounts to buy things like a soda or ice cream cone. These vendors are small and do not take US dollars or credit cards. $5 - $10 in local currency should be enough. We took all of the tours except Berlin which was a 13 hour trip. Those people who went liked it. There was Copenhagen with a picture of the Little Mermaid because she is now in China at some fair; skipped Germany; toured Tallin, Estonia which is a charming medieval city with a lovely cathedral. One is reminded of the many countries which enslaved little Estonia in the past, so glad they are free now. Everywhere we went, except Russia, the guides complained about the Swedes always attacking them, although that probably hasn't happened in hundreds of years. Memories are long there. St. Petersburg was wonderful. We saw the summer palace which is beautifully restoreed. So much gold everywhere! Had a lovely lunch there and later had a canal boat ride. We visited The Hermitage and it's wonderful art galleries and were able to walk around St. Petersburg. There is a tour mostly by canal boat which would probably better serve those seniors who are less active. NCL's routine to embark, disembark, and leave on excursions was the most efficient of any ship I have been on. Congratulations to the staff. Our stateroom was aft on Deck 9, with balcony. It was clean and well tended by the stewards. However, it was small and crowded. One twin bed stuck out in the passageway so that we had to walk sideways to get to the bathroom, closet, or door. There did not appear to be any way to reconfigure the room to prevent this. We loved the towel animals the steward left for us each day. The fire drill could have been handled better. This consisted of everyone going to their station and watching the staff demonstrate how to put on the life jacket. We think it would be better to have the passengers do it. I still do not know how to do it. The general condition of the ship is good, very clean. We appreciated The two formal dining rooms were well run. The staff was attentive and efficient and the food was good. The other informal dining areas were also well run with good food and provided an opportunity to eat on the outside decks. We missed the opportunity to mingle with other passengers as used to be available when seating was assigned. There is less formality now which seems to please most passengers but which we thought lessened the friendliness of the previous system. We think a method needs to be instituted whereby those who wish to share find this easy to do with places set aside for that. Also, when seating was assigned passengers got to know the wait staff and staff got to interact with the passengers. It was a pleasure to leave them a gratuity at the end of the trip to show appreciation. Now the ship charges passengers per day for "tips" which are no more than I suppose an extra check in the employee's check. How depressing this must be for them since they are never personally acknowledged for their good work. You see different wait staff every day. This is a small ship with limited activities for adults. The library is adequate and provides a quiet reading place. The theater provides nightly entertainment which is all right. There is a Windjammer Lounge which featured a really good piano player each evening. He knew all the favorite songs and had a wide repertoire of songs. There is dancing and music on the top deck lounge. There are some activities for teen-age children but nothing for little children who are required to find their own amusement mostly by running up and down the halls and bumping into people. Parents with small children would be much better served on a Disney ship which is prepared to entertain them. We arranged all our shore excursions through NCL and were very pleased with the quality of the tours. As previously mentioned, the excursion crew were super efficient and the guides were good, knowledgeable about their cities, and pleasant. We chose the walking tours because we wanted to get among the people and the cities to appreciate their history and architecture. This was doable at our ages and good physical condition but at times we were used up to the max trying to keep up. Seniors should seriously consider if they are capable of walking, often fast, for three hours over cobblestones before choosing this type of excursion. Most places take US currency and credit cards. We erred by not obtaining a small amount of local currency when we took the day trips because you need the local currency is small amounts to buy things like a soda or ice cream cone. These vendors are small and do not take US dollars or credit cards. $5 - $10 in local currency should be enough. We took all of the tours except Berlin which was a 13 hour trip. There was Copenhagen with a picture of the Little Mermaid because she is now in China at some fair; skipped Germany; toured Tallin, Estonia which is a charming medieval city with a lovely cathedral. One is reminded of the many countries which enslaved little Estonia in the past, so glad they are free now. Everywhere we went, except Russia, the guides complained about the Swedes always attacking them. Memories are long there. St. Petersburg was wonderful. We saw the summer palace which is beautifully restored. So much gold everywhere! Had a lovely lunch there and later a canal boat ride. We visited The Hermitage and it's wonderful art galleries and were able to walk around St. Petersburg. There is a tour mostly by canal boat which would probably better serve those seniors who are less active. Helsinki was lovely and we got to go out of the city to Eero Saarinen's compound which interested us from an architectural point of view. It's an easy walking city. Stockholm appears to be a well regulated, clean city but with not much architectural interest, the buildings being mostly big boxes. However, the trip to the Vasa museum to see the reconstructed Vasa warship which had been sunk in the harbor for 300 years is worth the trip. Also we saw a Lutheran church carved out of solid rock, an amazing sight. And so back to Dover and the NCL bus to the airport and home. Again the bus was clean, comfortable, and on time. NCL disembarking procedure simplicity and efficiency. In summary, this is a good trip on a clean ship but from a senior's point of view people need to be sure of their physical capabilities if they choose the most strenuous walking tours. Also mid-summer is not a good time for seniors to go because of the heat and crowds and families with small children on board. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
The cruise started out great. One week before the cruise, NCL called and offered to upgrade us to a mini-suite from a outside cabin with balcony for a minimal charge. It was an easy decision since we increased floor space by 50%. ... Read More
The cruise started out great. One week before the cruise, NCL called and offered to upgrade us to a mini-suite from a outside cabin with balcony for a minimal charge. It was an easy decision since we increased floor space by 50%. Embarkment was easy. The room we had was beautiful. The largest we have ever had and nicely accommodated. We had a wonderful cabin stewart, Michael When we sailed from Dover, you could hear a whistling coming from the outside balcony door. We temporarily fixed with a towel. It was reported to cabin stewart and fixed the next day by carpenter putting in weatherstripping. A few days into cruise, the paint and primer from the balcony of our neighbor's cabin fell onto our balcony in middle of the night. Hopefully this was corrected once shipped docked in Dover. Overall--ship is in need of updating--worn carpentry and fading paint. Destinations were great. We did private tours or walked on our own in all locations except Stockholm. There we used an NCL excursion and was sorely disappointed since it failed to come close to matching the description. Including being short on time. It confirmed our decision to arrange our own tours as the best approach. Tallin is a beautiful stop and very easy to do without a planned tour. Same is true for Copenhagen and Helsinki. St. Petersburg and Berlin you need an arranged tour. Many people have private tours. Our tour in Berlin was higher price than NCL, but St. Petersburg arrangements lower cost. Both times we had great tour guides. Stockholm is where boat doesn't dock and you tender. An hour trip into stockholm. We did note that many cruise ships appear to anchor closer to stockholm to avoid the one hour trip. No such option for the Berlin stop. Since all cruise ships dock at Warnemunde and there is a 2-3 hour ride to Berlin Food on Board was mediocre compared to other cruise lines. There was a sameness each day. As others have noted, the buffet is a zoo--too small an area for the ship. Where possible, we had breakfast at Seven Seas The outdoor cafe (next to the inside buffet) is only place available for food between 2.30 & 5 pm. Ship is not flexible. On day it poured rain (Copenhagen)--rather than open indoor buffet, ship made all passengers go out in rain to get food. Most passengers came back to ship early because of rain. No one was happy to go back out in rain to have lunch. We did not use any of the specialty dinner sites. We also discovered late in cruise, that if you ask for something not on the menu (like a baked potato)--you could get one. This is a good tip to know from the beginning of the cruise. Back to our primary theme. We are very glad we took the trip and enjoyed all of the destinations (particularly Tallin, St. Petersburg and Berlin). However, in future we will look at other cruise lines, unless NCL is offering only trip that meets our destination and timing needs. To all, have a great trip. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Although we've been on over 25 cruises, this was the first cruise for our brother & sister-in-law. They have been planning & saving for over a year, and this will probably be their first, last and only cruise for health ... Read More
Although we've been on over 25 cruises, this was the first cruise for our brother & sister-in-law. They have been planning & saving for over a year, and this will probably be their first, last and only cruise for health reasons. At the last minute we were able to get upgrades (from inside to balcony and penthouse suite) thanks to booking direct with NCL. There was a little additional cost, but it was surely worth it! Using internet (and cruise critic) we rented a flat(2bdrm, 2 ba)in London for a week before the trip and used London Pass to see and go everywhere. Because we had alot of luggage and couldn't manage it ourselves we opted for the NCL transfers, which worked perfectly. Our cabin had a large balcony at the front of the ship which couldn't be used because of bad weather. Although only 1 large room, the bathroom was as big if not bigger, with walk in closet, dressing area, jacuzzi tub, separate shower and toilet stall. But the cabin wasn't the best part. In a suite NCL gives you a concierge (karin) who was wonderful. You feel like you are on a different cruise than everyone else. Beautiful breakfast and lunch in a specialty restaurant (no extra charge). This was great because the buffet never had enough seats. We only had 2 "optional" dinners, and both were worth the charge. Murder mystery dinner for $20 ea, including wine and lobster! And the teppan for our anniversay, which was really special. As Karin arranged all else, we just said where and when for dinner. Food was probably the best I've had on any of our cruises. As we are seasoned travelers, we didn't like the selection or cost of most NCL shore excursions. In copenhagen it rained, but the hop-on-hop-off bus got us to our favorite places anyway for alot less. In Warnemunde we again decided against shore excursions in favor of just staying around the town. So glad we did- it cleared up and a 15 minute walk into town was perfect. Lots of shops and Biergardens. We didn't know what to expect in Tallin, so took the NCL tour (1/2 day, under $60). Again, had a great day. Turns out we visited on their 2nd independence day. What a beautiful country, and beautiful people. Very warm. St Petersburg we used TJ Travel through Cruise Critic. Again, a winner! We had a group of 10, and they allowed us to customize the standard tour for a few dollars more. Tour guide Alex was wonderful- made sure we saw everything. Our tour started with hydrofoil to Peterhof, where we had lunch. Then to Catherine's palace. Then a canal ride through the city. Next day included the Hermitage early admission, where we had most rooms to ourselves! Our only complaint was NCL held up independent travelers for shore excursions. Helsinki again was the hop-on-hop-off, and we fell in love with that city also. Because we anchored in Nynashamn we felt we had to take NCL tours. We had hoped that the "Swedish Experience" which allowed 3 hours free time would be leisurely, but it was not. After a 1 hr bus ride to Stockholm, the traffic was so bad getting around and through the VASA that we barely had time to eat and get any souvenirs. We were stressed to get back to the bus or face a $200e cab ride back. Our only disappointment was the entertainment staff. Had a problem with a dancer that did rather spoil it for me. I usually dance the night away and close the bars, but this time I stayed in my suite and read a book. Only a few problems- wish the 400 kids would have been better controlled- the cigar lounge that we were guaranteed was there hasn't been used for smoking for 5 years, and the problem with the dance staff. All in all- one of our best cruises. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
To get a picture of where we're coming from, consider: 1.) My wife and I are what I would describe as a healthy/active (runners/bicyclists) couple ages 58 and 59. 2.) This was our 17th cruise and 8th with NCL, and they've all ... Read More
To get a picture of where we're coming from, consider: 1.) My wife and I are what I would describe as a healthy/active (runners/bicyclists) couple ages 58 and 59. 2.) This was our 17th cruise and 8th with NCL, and they've all been great. 3.) We are a pretty laid back, go-with-the-flow couple who enjoy the adventure of travel and always view the glass as half full. With that in mind ... every cruise we have taken has been outstanding, but this very well may have been the best of all -- taking into consideration the ports of call, the beautiful ship and friendly, not to mention accommodating staff, and the wonderful new friends we made on this 12-day journey. We booked the cruise through NCL, but not before doing our homework -- research on the Internet. We arranged for our travel to and from London, in addition to Dover, England. Our flights coming and going were on time, and no luggage was lost! And we found our way to/from Dover in great shape. We arrived early, spending two days in London before heading to Dover. We couldn't have picked a better location -- a nice, comfortable and reasonably priced hotel (Central Park/under $100) north of Kensington Gardens and just around the corner from the Bayswater Tube Station, and walking distance from Buckingham Palace among other wonderful sights. Note: We purchased Oyster Cards (great way to see London via the Tube and Buses and worth checking out on Internet) at the airport Tube Station, then took the Tube to the Bayswater Station, a short walk from our hotel (and were able to check in early as our room was ready by 10 a.m.). Stairs were involved along the way, but we managed to pull this off -- one suitcase and one carry-on apiece. Thank goodness for wheels on suitcases! After two exhaustive but wonderful days of sightseeing in London -- we look forward to returning! -- we headed to Dover, about a 2-hour bus ride south of London. We took the Tube from Bayswater to Victoria Station, then proceeded to the bus station (National Express ... check out on Internet) a block away from Victoria Station. Our round-trip ticket to Dover was around $30 U.S. each, considerably less than NCL transfers. Train service to Dover is also available at Victoria Station, but taking the bus was more economical. The bus, I might add, was very nice, air-conditioned and with plenty of room for luggage. We were dropped off at the Ferry Station in Dover, where we could see the NCL Sun docked. It was such a beautiful sunny day, instead of waiting for a taxi (8 pounds/about $12 U.S.) to the pier, we decided to walk -- and it was a pleasant 20-25 minute walk along the harbor. Embarkation was a breeze. We dropped off our luggage outside the terminal, then were checked in right away and were on the ship by 1:30 p.m. And ... our room was ready! Note: We had a Meet and Greet party of Cruise Critic members on the first day at sea, and it was great to put a face on those who participated in the Roll Call. It was a very nice get-together, where we met several couples who were signed up for our SPB Tour in St. Petersburg, Russia. It was a good exchange and the friends we made here made the cruise all the more memorable. We got together with our new friends seemingly every night in Las Ramblas to compare notes. It was all about the people, the journey. Previous postings on cruise critic indicated the Sun was showing its age and was more than a bit frayed around the edges. We understand the ship is headed for refurbishment over the winter, but we found that it still sparkles. It was clean, easy to get around, and the staff was always courteous and helpful. And no ship we've ever been on has better running/jogging tracks (areas) than NCL. We also found the food and service in the main dinning rooms -- the Four Seasons and the Seven Seas -- to be very good. We never had to wait to be seated. Service was prompt and the food plentiful and delicious. And, again, the staff was always attentive to making the dinning experience enjoyable. We never felt the need/desire to check out a specialty (pay extra) restaurant. There also was a wide variety of food to choose from in the Garden Cafe, and it was a most comfortable setting -- never felt like it was overcrowded, good flow. Pacific Heights is worth looking into for pasta, pizza, etc. The Sports Bar was also a very good venue for lunch/dinner. We found the entertainment -- from the shows in the Stardust Lounge, folk singer Kim Doolittle in Las Ramblas, the pianist and violinist, etc. -- to be very good. The production of "Shout," the mod musical based on the popular British magazine, the flautist's performance and Tracey Shield's tribute to "Celine Dion" were exceptional. Drinks were pricey, but we knew that going in. But the ports of call were the highlight of this cruise, and they were all outstanding. We hit the ground running each day, and were pretty spent by the time the sun went down. Note: We found that most places -- merchants -- accepted U.S. currency, credit cards at the very least. It was sunny, cool and windy pulling away from the Cliffs of Dover on Day 1, and there were plenty of great photo opportunities. From that day forward, temperatures heated up and -- if you didn't know any better, you'd have thought we were in the Caribbean -- but no complaints here. The pool, I might add, was in use every single day of the cruise, and it was nice to sit outside for breakfast or lunch on days at sea. Copenhagen, Denmark: It was a bit overcast when we landed, but cleared up as the day wore on. We walked off the ship and toured the city on our own. And this was very doable -- about a pleasant 20-minute walk into the city. Note: There was a video of "The Little Mermaid" at the spot along the way where she generally sits. That is because she presently is at the World Expo in Shanghai, China. Warnemunde, Germany: We went back-and-forth over the idea of taking the Berlin Tour, but decided to explore Warnemunde and nearby Rostock (a 20-minute train ride) on our own. We don't regret our decision, but understand from our cruise friends that the Berlin Tour was super -- those who took one of the NCL Tour options and those who went on a private tour (SPB). The trip to Berlin was 6 hours round trip, but -- again -- well worth it from our friends who chose this option. We had a wonderful time, walking off the ship and doing our own city tour of Warnemunde before grabbing a bite to eat (light lunch) and taking the train to Rostock. This was very enjoyable, even though most of the stores in Rostock were closed (It was Sunday, and a newly passed national law forbids stores from opening on Sunday. Some stores, however, chose to ignore this law). Nonetheless, it was a memorable experience. After dinner, we strolled along the water/beaches of Warnemunde. It was a busy but relaxing day. Tallin, Estonia: I had no idea what to expect here, but this was a charming, medieval city which smacked of the days of Robin Hood -- castles, cobblestone streets and all. We, again, walked off the boat and did our own city sightseeing tour. It was easy to get around, although the cobblestone streets were a twisted ankle ready to happen (watch your step!). St. Petersburg, Russia: This 2-day stop was the highlight of this fabulous trip. We were booked on SPB's Baltic Pearl Tour, a 2-day excursion that left few stones unturned -- Catherine's Palace, Peterhof's gardens, Church of Spilled Blood, Hermitage Museum, Peter and Paul's fortress, subway ride, hydrofoil ride, canal boat ride, visit to local market, etc. And the heatwave? Our SPB guide (Elena) informed us it was over 100 degrees on our first day in St. Petersburg, its hottest day on record. The sun was intense and the museums were not air-conditioned, but it was tolerable -- Thank goodness the humidity was not a bear. Note: Passengers were allowed to get off the ship around 8 a.m. Clearing Russian customs took from 30-45 minutes if you were in the first wave. We were very pleased with our SPB Tour, but also heard good things from those who took Anastasia and TJ tours. It is worth looking into. We felt it was a better deal -- value-wise -- than NCL could provide. To NCL's credit, those taking private tours were not discriminated against. Helsinki, Finland: We walked off the ship and made our way into the city, a comfortable 20-30 minute walk, to do our own city sightseeing tour. Researching our ports of call before departing helped greatly. We had maps and a plan for seeing most of the major sights at every stop. It was a busy city, but a fun one to navigate. We also had fun jumping on the "Pub Train," outside of the train station for a light tour of the city, while sipping on a beer. Nynashamn (Stockholm), Sweden: The window of opportunity here (7 a.m.-6 p.m.) was tight, but we made the most of it. Stockholm is an hour (bus/train) ride away. And this is a port that requires a tender from the ship to the pier. Thanks to cruise critic postings, we were aware of a bus/train option to Stockholm, and we opted to give it a try. We were off the ship and tendered to the pier by 9 a.m. Here we -- along with a number of our NCL friends -- went out the gate, turned left and made our way to the Train Station (15-20 minute walk). We purchased a pass ($13 U.S.) that would allow us to use the Train, Buses and even the Ferry in Stockholm. Due to construction, we took a bus (35x) to Vasterhaninge where we caught the train (35) to Stockholm. We were there in 1 hour, where we met up with a good friend of ours (former foreign exchange student to U.S. from Sweden now living in Stockholm), who gave us a tour of this beautiful city. We caught the 2:50 p.m. train (bus at Vasterhaninge) back to Nyashamn and arrived (1 hour later) in plenty of time to catch the last tender to the ship (4:30 p.m.). We strolled through the harbor at Nyashamn and took pictures before heading to the pier. There was a long line for tendering, but we weren't bothered by that. We caught a tender at 5 p.m. -- the second to last one. We had two very relaxing, not to mention welcome, days at sea before arriving back at Dover. Disembarkation was a breeze. We stayed in London (Radisson Edwardian Heathrow/excellent hotel under $100) that day/night (our 36th wedding anniversary) before flying out the next morning and were in no real hurry to get off the ship. We walked off around 9 a.m., picked up our luggage and -- it being another nice sunny day! -- elected to walk back into town (city center) where we caught the bus back to London (Victoria Station). From there we made our way to our airport hotel. And from there we headed back into London for casual sightseeing and dinner at the same restaurant where we had our first dinner in London. It was returning to where this journey all began, a nice way to wrap it all up. And it was a wonderful journey, made all the more memorable for the wonderful new friends we made along the way. We look forward to our next adventure! Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
This was our first cruise with NCL and also our first cruise in 8 years. If I had to sum it up in only one word - it would be FABULOUS. The weather was perfect, although very hot in St Petersburg and Tallin. The ship docks near the old ... Read More
This was our first cruise with NCL and also our first cruise in 8 years. If I had to sum it up in only one word - it would be FABULOUS. The weather was perfect, although very hot in St Petersburg and Tallin. The ship docks near the old town in Tallin, so we just walked there and had a look around. We did NCL excursions at all other ports and they were all terrific. Most people on the ship probably do NCL tours, but a lot of people on Cruise Critic and other message boards make arrangements to do private tours. We chose NCL tours as they were hassle-free, you just rock up and everything is done for you. But if you want to save money it is a good alternative to meet people here and do private tours. I went to the meet and greet on the first sea day and met some lovely cruise critic members. The funny thing is, the ship is so big that some of the people I met that day I did not see anywhere again! One couple I didn't meet up with until our last port day. It is funny how it works out like that, some people you see everywhere. All of the ports are just wonderful. The Copenhagen tour we were supposed to do was of the Carlsberg Brewery but this was cancelled so we did a similar tour that went to a small brewery in the Tivoli Gardens. They encourage you to drink as much as you like so maybe this was a good change! We also did a cruise of the city under the small bridges. All tour guides are extremely knowledgeable, the one that took us to the Hermitage in St Petersburg knew the story behind each and every painting. She would walk into a room backwards pointing out all of the wonderful treasures and their history non-stop. Absolutely wonderful. Both of the tours in Russia were all day tours with lunch and wine included. The lunches were a three course hot meal both days, were ok but nothing special. The palaces are a must see, we did two full day tours as I said and they were hot days as the palaces and museums are not air-conditioned, but they were the highlights of our trip. We did a tour from Warnemunde to Rostock by private tram and this was really interesting. I would have liked to go to Berlin but as it is 3 hours each way we chose to do the Rostock tour. You cruise back to the port (again with free beer on the boat) which was really good. The tours in Stockholm and Helsinki were also great, the cities are really clean and very interesting. I particularly loved Stockholm and I am looking forward to going back there one day. There was a wonderful vibe to the place although the traffic around the Vasa Museum was so intense it took about 20 minutes to get out of the parking lot. Our balcony room 9033 was good, the service excellent. Anything we asked for was brought to us promptly and with a smile. All of the staff smile and say good morning, good evening etc. The cruise director and her staff were particularly good, remembering names and where you were from. The boys that do the bingo and disco are especially funny. We loved the trivia sessions and met some lovely people from all over the world. When you come back to your room at night there is a towel animal sitting on the bed - we just loved these! There is heaps to do on the ship too, we didn't make it to every show but the ones we did see were terrific. The comedian was ok, the magician was good, the singers and dancers are very good. The tribute to show tunes was especially good. The soccer world cup was on while we were there. The Sun organised for the match to be shown live in the disco - picture it, 300 screaming Spaniards decked out in their supporters gear and Spanish flags and noise-makers and three of us sitting together in orange shirts drinking Heineken! But it was a great experience, I will never forget it, even if Holland did lose the cup. The food was excellent, a huge variety. Sometimes the buffet was very crowded, although we usually had our meals in the formal restaurants. Why fight the crowds when you can have your meal brought to your table? We did not have to wait at any restaurant to be seated. We also used room service for port days so we could be out in good time. We didn't try the surcharge restaurants so I cannot comment on their quality although plenty of people we met on the boat enjoyed them. We also ate in the Pacific Heights which is a great place for lunch. Nice stir fry and pasta there. Didn't try the pizza but it looked good. The ice cream bar in the bistro also got a work out from us, just love our ice cream. We participated in the Murder Night, and that was a lot of fun too. It cost $20 I think, and came with a meal and I think a drink or two as well. The drinks are more expensive than being in a pub, but not more than you would pay at a resort or nice hotel. We had cocktails almost every evening and the bill was $13.69 for two (this includes the service charge). Beers and wine are of course cheaper than cocktails. We did not sign up for the wine specials but if you enjoy wine with every dinner I would recommend that you do sign up. We often will drink before dinner (which is why I remember the cost of the cocktails!) instead of with our meals, although we did have a bottle of champagne with our first lunch. So that is about it. Would I sail with NCL again? Most definitely. The freestyle cruising is great, just go for meals wherever and whenever you want. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
This was our 8th cruise, Celebrity cruise on the Century round the western Caribbean being the 1st and then Ocean Village around the Mediterranean 6 times and we loved the relaxed style on both of the ships that were Ocean Village 1 & ... Read More
This was our 8th cruise, Celebrity cruise on the Century round the western Caribbean being the 1st and then Ocean Village around the Mediterranean 6 times and we loved the relaxed style on both of the ships that were Ocean Village 1 & 2 so when we saw that NCL Sun was sailing from Dover for the Baltic a place we had wanted to visit it looked perfect, freestyle cruising and no flight involved. We set of for the port of Dover on the 9th July Friday morning and booked into a Travelodge outside Canterbury for the night, the next morning after breakfast we continued on to Dover and left our car with Relyon Parking who promptly transferred us to the cruise terminal, check in and boarding was friendly and efficient we were given priority boarding. Our suite was unavailable until 14:00hrs so we had lunch in the Garden Cafe and did a little exploring around the ship, it was in pretty good shape certainly not new but very tidy and a nice layout. When we got into our cabin 9054 it was pretty much on par with the rest of the ship a little cramped but adequate, a bottle of Scotch & Vodka awaited us as I had requested prior to the cruise and a bucket of ice to follow (we brought our own mixers) Schweppes the best!!. The coast was shrouded in mist when we sailed so the famous white cliffs of Dover were blanked out so no photographs of them and it was pretty much like that until we were well out into the North Sea. It was when we were changing for dinner that we noticed the vibration in the cabin in was really bad trying to sit and read was impossible it was as if we were suffering from Parkinson's disease, we approached the customer services desk to explain what was happening and was told it was because the ship was going fast and that it was worst in his cabin on deck 3 as if that was supposed to make it all OK, wrong!! Another cabin would but alas there are none available the ship is full, well don't let it spoil the cruise I thought until we returned to the cabin for bed when we were shaken to sleep. Day at sea cabin still vibrating even worse out on the balcony, we decided to have breakfast in the Garden Cafe it was very hectic trying to find empty tables and then joining the throng for buffet breakfast, first oddity was that there were no trays on which to carry your plate that was to hot to handle most of the time and then there was no side plates for bread rolls and butter, only small matters but why were they not provided, bacon was that overcooked streaky stuff little cocktail sausages and any combination of tomato, beans hash browns and eggs not forgetting the fruit and cereal and grits etc, I don't know what brought it about but after the 3rd day English bacon and sausage appeared on the menu thanks to whoever. Evening meals were in the Seven Seas and Four Seasons Restaurants and were nothing to write home about, the wine waiter failed to appear at the table in the Four Seasons the first night saved me $35 for a bottle of wine and that was the cheap stuff, the staff in general were lacking in friendliness not chatty nor smiling enough. We enjoyed the entertainment in the Stardust Lounge what a hard working professional troop and great guest entertainers. All of the ports of call were enjoyable and the highlight of them all was St Petersburg, we did a private tour 2 full days with SPB tours 7 of us had all joined up via Roll call and we had a young Russian guide named Eugene who was terrific perfect English and so knowledgeable, and to finish we were met at the end of the tour by the director Victoria with whom I had been in touch with when booking, I recommend them for future cruisers. I have to say that overall we had a wonderful time and the weather could not have been better but the down side was NCL are far too expensive for drinks and they just don’t seem to have got casual cruising quite organised properly, we certainly will miss Ocean Village when she relocates to Australia. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
The Sun is due for refurbishment soon but can by no means be described as shabby.The atrium is multi levelled with panoramic lifts which is very pretty.The spa is smaller than on the Jewel class ships and lacks the relaxation area with ... Read More
The Sun is due for refurbishment soon but can by no means be described as shabby.The atrium is multi levelled with panoramic lifts which is very pretty.The spa is smaller than on the Jewel class ships and lacks the relaxation area with lounge chairs and jacuzzi and floor length windows to gaze out at sea -a shame as would have been a boon on the first few cool days.The sauna and steam room are free to use for guests and they regularly had specials reducing the treatment costs Freestyle dining suits us-we're not "foodies" so did not try any of the surcharge restaurants .we found the variety of food and venues fine.Drinks are expensive -we took the wine package which gave a 20% discount -the main advantage was once the bottle was opened you could take the remainder around the ship with you including to your cabin for a drink on the balcony We had a cruise critic meet and greet the first sea day which was good to put face to names.Thanks to Patty our organiser she made sure the teenagers/young adults broke away to form their own group which helped to break the ice.As a result of that our 18 year old daughter joined up with 2 other girls the same age who hit Dazzles night club each night,met lots of new friends she now has as facebook contacts and occasionally returned to the cabin before dawn! We became regulars at the Ramblas bar each evening to listen to the guitarist/singer Kim Dolittle and hang out with our new found friends. Other bars hosted a 3 girl classical ensemble,a latino group and pianists Weather in Dover for sailaway was sunny but the next sea day was cool and windy but the temperatures gradually rose until we hit Tallinn and Russia in the middle of a heatwave!Temperatures then gradually dropped to pleasant enough to be able to enjoy the last few days on deck. On the 1st sea day after Helsinki be on deck mid afternoon as you sail under a spectacular road bridge linking 2 Danish land masses.The ship appears to only just clear[on the outward leg this is passed in the middle of the night] St Petersburg was definitely the highlight of the trip but in common with most cruise lines NCL were guilty of misleading info regarding the requirements for a visa quotation from literature "guests participating on NCL organised shore excursions in St Petersburg do not need to obtain an individual Russian visa as NCL will arrange group visa for all particpants. Guests who are NOT participating in the NCL shore excursions and wish to explore on their own are REQUIRED to obtain a Russian Tourist visa prior to leaving home" What they do not disclose is the 3rd option widely known on cruise critic International cruise ship passengers are permitted to visit Russian ports without a visa for a period of up to 72 hours IF they are part of an organised tour operated by a licensed Russian tour company approved by the Russian Immigration Service[the same group visa descibed by NCL] We used Anastasia other friends used Alla or SPB and we were all very happy with our guides and paid a lot less than the ships tours.However the majority of passengers were suckered into the ships tours because of this misleading wording. Immigration was apparantly very busy first thing as everyone wanted to be off the ship ASAP to join their tours.we arranged to meet our guide later at 9-30 and encontered very little queues Because my husband has walking difficulties we arranged for a shorter customised tour .However Russia was in the middle of a heatwave and a lot of people came back at the end of the day exhausted and "museumed out" as they were not air conditioned.We found our days just long enough and we saw all main sights we were interested in Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
My wife and I and another couple arranged out Baltic Cruise through a tour package that took us to London for two nights and a transfer to the "Beautiful Norwegian Sun" in Dover. The four of us have 7 previous cruises together, ... Read More
My wife and I and another couple arranged out Baltic Cruise through a tour package that took us to London for two nights and a transfer to the "Beautiful Norwegian Sun" in Dover. The four of us have 7 previous cruises together, and the other couple has half a dozen more. To say that the four of us were disappointed in the ship is an understatement. To start with, the rooms were small to the point of being cramped. As the trip went on, we came to understand that the ship's "Freestyle" slogan was a cover for service that was just the opposite. Example - there is no set dinner seating so you can eat whenever and wherever you want - as long as you want to eat the limited hours the dining room is open. Breakfast service, for instance, shuts down at 10:30 am, and lunch starts an hour later, even on sea days, meaning you cannot sleep in and eat breakfast when you want. The ship's layout is clearly for the cruise line's convenience, not for the passengers. Do you need to go from one end of the ship to the other? Well, there is no hallway. You need to walk through the casino on 6, walk through a nightclub and the shops on 7, or go outside on 6 or 11. Since one of the two main dining rooms is on 5 at the rear, those circuitous routes were necessary once or twice a day. Listing all the other little inconveniences makes one sound like a griper, so I made a list of some things we really liked. • The bakery makes all the breads and they were excellent. • Wonderful soups were on the dining room menu at lunch and dinner. • We found morning coffee service to the cabin to be prompt. • Dinner portions were small but tasty, helping us stay closer to our diets. • And the cabin staff worked hard to make life good for us. The last day was awful. We were awakened at 4:30 am by the noise of the thrusters for docking. Then NCL got us onto buses for the airport at 7 am, allowing us a leisurely 5 hours at Heathrow to wait for our airplane. By the time we got home, we had been up 23 straight hours, which did nothing to help our jet lag. Needless to say, this will be our last trip on NCL. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
This was our 3rd cruise, and our first time to the Baltic, even though we had travelled to St Peters burg in the past. It was our first time travelling with Norwegian. We had been on a cruise with Costa and one with Royal Caribbean We ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise, and our first time to the Baltic, even though we had travelled to St Peters burg in the past. It was our first time travelling with Norwegian. We had been on a cruise with Costa and one with Royal Caribbean We booked a transfer from the airport to Dover and we were picked up just as we arrived in the arrivals hall. We had to wait for an hour before the bus took us to Dover. The check in was fast despite the huge amount of people and the check out was excellent as one could choose the time they wanted to check out. Once we boarded the ship we started discovering the food and ship! The food on the sun was varied every day and we loved it. There were different cuisines and a good variety of whatever one fancied. Being a sweet lover, I must admit that there were days when the sweets weren't as good as I expected however I really could not complain. We had an inside cabin and it was a good idea with the white nights as we would have pitch darkness. The Cabin was beautiful and spacious and there was a good variety of programs on TV. They showed most of the world cup games on the journey which was a blessing! The entertainment was varied each night and there were a good variety of shows and activities to participate in throughout the day and night. I must admit it was a very good cruise experience and the ports of call were different and beautiful. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Personal Background: We're from the Los Angeles area, and this was probably our 10th cruise and fourth with our 14 year old son with us. First time on NCL and first time to the Baltic. Previous lines included Princess, Holland ... Read More
Personal Background: We're from the Los Angeles area, and this was probably our 10th cruise and fourth with our 14 year old son with us. First time on NCL and first time to the Baltic. Previous lines included Princess, Holland America, Carnival, and Celebrity. We like them all, but Princess is probably our favorite line by a small margin. It just feels a little more elegant, maybe. We've traveled to some of the usual places: Caribbean, Alaska, Mexico, Panama Canal, around Cape Horn, but never in Europe. We have two older daughters, who used to cruise with us, but they're off on their own now, so it's just us and our 14 year old son. We like the bigger ships for their stability and variety. Travel to and from Embarkation: We flew from Los Angeles to Heathrow, and spent three days in London before heading to Dover. Public transportation in England is fantastic, so we took the Heathrow Express train into London from the airport. Great system. Walk on from within the terminal, and in our case, get off at Paddington Station, which was within walking distance of our hotel. Cheaper than a cab and much faster. We stayed at the Hilton Metropole on Edgeware Road. Very nice hotel and fairly good location. Expensive, but what the heck, we're on vacation. We had a double with a roll-away, but they also offer triples. Quiet rooms, well-appointed, very good service. Two underground stations right nearby, plus lots of buses. I like to run, and it was an easy run to Hyde Park, where you could run for miles. We took the National Express bus from London to Dover. The bus system in England is great. Frequent departures, a fair number of stops, but not bad, and the buses are comfortable. Best of all, they're cheap! If we had used the ship's transfer service, it would have cost the three of us a total of $450 for roundtrips. The national express bus was only $88 roundtrip total for the three of us. We saved over $350. It lets you out in mid-town, Dover, and you take a taxi to the docks. Taxis were a block up the street and our ride only cost 1 pound each because the taxi company brought out a van and took a bunch of us to the docks. Our trip home was a mirror image of our trip out. I highly recommend using the public system in England. You'll save a bundle of money, and have very close to the same level of convenience. Embarkation: Our last cruise before this one was the Panama Canal on Holland America in 2009. The embarkation process then was very smooth and efficient. This was even better, in fact, the best yet. Very little delay, and because most of the paperwork was taken care of on-line before boarding, very little paperwork to worry about. Once on board, our cabin was easy to find thanks to all of the ship's staff providing directions. Overall, a very nice first impression. Our cabin: 4250 Our cabin location was great, close to stairs, elevators, the main dining room, restaurants and entertainment, but out of the way of traffic. Cabin stewards were just a delight, but the cabin was a little small for three tall people (my wife is 6 feet, son is 6 feet and still growing, and I'm 6'5"). Not an issue during the daytime, but when the sofa bed was set up, it got a little cramped. The bathroom was nice, but also a little small, but it wasn't really an issue for us because almost all cruise bathrooms are like that. You just deal with it. When we boarded the ship and first got to our room, the air conditioning wasn't cooling the room so we contacted housekeeping to get it fixed and they sent someone out right away. The system improved somewhat after they replaced a filter and made some adjustments, but it still couldn't cool like we preferred. Fortunately, two-thirds of our trip was in cool to cold weather, so it was manageable. Not sure what a Caribbean cruise would have been like with the air conditioner working like it did. Overall, the cabin was very nice, but the furnishings in the room felt just a shade worn and dated, like it was due for refurbishment. Ship info The ship's public areas were extremely well-maintained and easy to navigate. The outside of the ship says freestyle fun, but the style inside says Scandinavian modern, not glitzy, probably understated is a good word. It's probably a matter of taste whether you like it a lot or a little. We were somewhere in between. Princess seems a little more elegant, and Holland America a little richer, but these are quibbles. The public areas were very nice. The fitness room was well-equipped and the ship had the best jogging track, by far, that I've experienced on board ship. We always travel on larger ships, but even so, it's not always easy to get a long track with no obstructions. On the Sun, three and a half laps equaled a mile, which was just great. If you're a jogger, this is wonderful. The pool area was nice, about average size, but with no sliding roof cover, it was too cold (we sailed June 16-28) to use most of the time. We were a little unlucky with the weather because it was cold until our second day in St Petersburg, when it finally warmed up for the rest of the trip. The ship's entertainment was outstanding, some of the best I've seen anywhere, especially the Broadway-type shows. Dining Freestyle is the only way to go. In fact, we won't travel on a ship that doesn't offer some version of that. NCL's freestyle program is excellent, with its relaxed dress code and anytime dining. This feature really helps make a vacation truly a vacation. No rigid times or codes to follow. Great! Dining variety, food quality and service were also very good. We sampled everything, including the extra-cost specialty restaurants. The Italian and Japanese restaurants were excellent and well-worth the service charge, but the steakhouse steaks just didn't have much flavor. The buffet restaurant was also excellent. The only complaint we can offer is the layout of the beverage stations, which were placed along the main hallway to and from the buffet line. People were coming in, going out, getting beverages, balancing plates of food, all in a space wide enough for only two people. It's a design problem that can't be fixed without major remodeling. Maybe when the ship goes in for refurbishment, they'll do something about it. I'm sure I'm not the first to remark on this issue. Children and teens: Our 14 year old had a great time. The demographics on this trip skewed a little older, so there weren't that many kids or teens on board, but there were 40 teens (out of almost 2000 passengers), 10 of which used the teen center and bonded into a typical teen-age pack. We only saw him at night and on port tours. He loved it. The ship's teen counselors were very familiar with the ways of teens and nothing was forced on them, and they had a comfortable place to hang out. We can't speak for the children's program, but we did see them now and then when we went to the teen center to see what our son was up to, and the program looked very well-run with the kids engaged in a number of fun activities. Port & Shore Excursions I'll detail the ports in the next section, and they were all great. This will be kind of an overview of how we approached planning for the itinerary. The Baltic is one neat itinerary, and it exceeded our expectations. Starting in London, having the bonus of Dover, and then going to the Baltic ports makes for a fantastic look at Northern Europe. The ship of course offers a number of tours, but we've learned over the years that you can usually do better, and often much better, by booking your own tours with local tour companies, which we did. I scoured the internet looking for tours and travel options, which I like to do. Some people may not like to do that, but for me, it's fun and there's so much information available at your fingertips that you can not only find an independent tour operation, but also get excellent user reviews on their features and quality. It's hard to go wrong if you do your homework first. Anyway, that's what we did in every port we went to, including St. Petersburg, and it worked out great. We got more and saved money in the bargain. See below for some details. Dover Dover is a beautiful little English town. The white cliffs of Dover are truly white and an impressive sight. The castle above the town is exceptional: large and well preserved. Well worth a visit. The town itself feels so British. Kind of a strange thing to say (after all, we were in England), but when you come from a huge city like London, which is very cosmopolitan and where we spent three days before our cruise, you don't get as much of that traditional British feel. If we had it to do over again, we'd have gone to Dover for at least two days before embarking. It's just a delightful place. Copenhagen Beautiful, but not as nice as the other ports on our itinerary, which isn't a criticism of Copenhagen, but rather a tribute to the other ports. We toured the city on a hop-on-hop-off double decker bus, which is a great way to see the city. We went to Tivoli Gardens, which were as beautiful as advertised, but we'd heard so much about them that we expected something the size of Central Park in NY or Golden Gate Park in SF. Not close. You can walk it in about half an hour. Nice visit, but not extraordinary. It's really small in relative terms. Warnemunde This was an unexpected delight. It was the least known port on our itinerary, but we absolutely loved it. Many passengers elect to skip this port and take the train into Berlin, but since the train trip was 3 hours one way, we opted to stay in Warnemunde, and it was a fabulous choice. The ship docked right at the city; we just got off and walked into this beautiful German fishing port and beach resort. Beautiful shops and restaurants stretch along a narrow river that empties into the Baltic. Lots of colorful boats docked on both sides of the river, with walkways, trees and flowers lining the river. I don't think Disney could have done a better job. The shopping and food were excellent, especially the German bakeries. A nice bonus is a long beach-front walkway that fronts a very broad sandy beach for miles. The hotels along the beachfront are mostly fairly modern, and most of the architecture along the river is quaint rather than old, so we also went to Rostok by train, just 20 minutes away, to see a very well-preserved medieval city. Again, no tour was necessary. The trains ran every 15 minutes or so and dropped you off at the Rostok main train station, which is within a long walk of the medieval city center, or if you don't want to walk, just go down one level in the train station and catch one of the trolleys that run right to the main plaza in front of the medieval center. We had a great day and evening because the ship didn't leave until 11 PM due to the long day-trip to Berlin. Warnemunde was a delight, and the shopping was excellent. Tallinn, Estonia We'd heard a lot about Tallinn from my sister and her husband, who had visited it a few months earlier. They raved about it and we weren't disappointed. Old Tallinn is located right next to the cruise docks. It's very well-preserved, almost a complete medieval city, and quiet. When we went, there were very few other people about, no crowds at all, no waits in the restaurants, no lines anywhere for anything. Nice way to see the city. If you're interested in the medieval and subsequent historical period, this is an excellent way to see how life was like back then. A few modern shops and restaurants are located throughout the city, but they all fit nicely into the medieval structures. Variety is somewhat limited compared to other ports, but it's not bad. No tour is necessary; the city is just a very short walk over from the dock, and it's easy to tour on your own. Once you're inside the walls, it's impossible to get lost. St. Petersburg This city was just stunning. The palaces and churches, gardens and canals, were just jaw-dropping. Two days is not enough to see everything, but we did our best, starting early and finishing as late as possible. We used Alla Tours, a russian tour company, for both days and they were wonderful. Great guide, great itinerary (each day was packed), nice small tour group (14 people), and we bypassed the lines at the museums, palaces, and other monuments (wait until you see the lines at the Hermitage!). The russian museums are extremely popular with the locals as well as tourists, so be ready for lots of people and lots of crowding. Alla Tours was great because they took care of everything: visas, tour tickets, transportation, everything. My wife got an upset stomach on our second day, and they even arranged to take her back to the ship right away, without disrupting the tour itinerary. I'm not being critical of the ship's tours, because they are good, and for many people, they happen to be just right, but we got a lot more with Alla Tours and had a smaller group to be with, which makes a big difference when you get inside the crowded museums and churches. Helsinki Great port with wonderful, friendly people. We went off on our own again, riding the hop-on-hop-off buses. Almost everyone spoke English, and Helsinki has special tourist guides walking around the major tourist areas ready and willing to help you with directions, opinions about sights to see, and questions in general. It's a beautiful city, especially around the waterfront, and also very easy to navigate. There was a farmer's market in the main port area, which added a splash of bright color to the predominately white buildings surrounding the waterfront. Lots of flowers, vegetables, trinkets, souvenirs, and similar stuff. Some decent bargains. All in all, a great port visit. Stockholm This was our last port and it was wonderful. Like Helsinki, a very beautiful city. When you go, though, be aware that the ship may not dock at Stockholm itself. In our case, we docked at Nynashamn, which is a good 45 minute bus trip outside the city. Not sure why that was the case (I heard no dock available, or would take too long to cruise there), but we had very little port time available, which was a disappointment becuase there was lots to see and do in Stockholm. Fortunately, there was a hop-on-hop-off bus right at the port in Nynashamn to take you into the city and around the sights. Nonetheless, we only had from roughly 10 AM to 3PM to see Stockholm. Not enough. Don't miss the Vasa Museum. Extremely impressive and well-worth the trip. Disembarkation Also the best yet. Being able to walk off with your bags anytime is a great innovation. No hassle to put them out at night, then go find them again once you get off the ship. Very smooth and virtually no waiting. Summary NCL did an excellent job. We would sail with them again. It was a very pleasant experience. The cabin stewards deserve special praise. They were tremendous: genuinely friendly and anxious to make sure we had everything we needed. We even bumped into them in one of the ports, and even though they were on some of their rare free time, they were just as courteous and helpful as they were on board ship. We can't say enough about their service and friendship. People really do make the difference, and NCL has some excellent people. Also, keep in mind that if you go in June, you're going during the summer solstice, and when you get up to St. Petersburg and Helsinki, you're so far north, that the sun almost never sets. Amazing. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
This was our 3rd cruise, 2nd with ncl. Sailed on Pride of America around Hawaii several years ago. My wife and I are in our mid 60's and love to cruise and wish we had more money so we could do it a lot. We like to use hotels and ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise, 2nd with ncl. Sailed on Pride of America around Hawaii several years ago. My wife and I are in our mid 60's and love to cruise and wish we had more money so we could do it a lot. We like to use hotels and excursions provided by the cruise line. Making my own arrangements doesn't sound like vacation to me. We flew into London on June 15th and stayed overnight at the Holiday Inn Kensington Forum. Hotel was very nice and we slept well. After the flight from the USA, probably would have slept well on the sidewalk, however. I hate flying! On the 16th, NCL provided bus transportation to Dover, to meet the ship. Embarkation was a breeze. The room weren't ready yet, so we went to the pool deck and had lunch. They had set up several charcoal grills beside the pool and were cooking our lunch. The Garden Buffet was also open if you wanted to eat there. Soon after lunch, our room was ready, so we checked it out. Our luggage showed up a few minutes later and we unpacked. There was more that enough room to unpack everything and shove the empty suitcases under the bed. This would be our home away from home for the next 12 days. Some folks on previous cruises on this ship have said the ship was a bit "rough around the edges" due to its age. This is true, but nothing that would hinder us from enjoying the cruise. The crew was always very friendly and helpful and would carry on a conversation with you. It was always very clean and the crew really pushed hand sanitizers and squirted you hands at every opportunity. Never heard of anyone being sick on this cruise. Our stateroom was quite adequate for our needs. There is a 3-prong 115 volt outlet and a 2-prong European 220 volt outlet. We carried an adapter so we could use both outlets. The cruise was too cool to spend a lot of time out on the balcony, but we enjoyed it mostly on the return part of the cruise when the temperatures had improved. We used one of the ncl excursions at each port and thoroughly enjoyed them although the 8-hour ones were a bit strenuous for us because of all the walking. We felt like we go our moneys worth out of them and saw so much! Food on the ship was, for the most part, delicious and plentiful. We weren't impressed with the lobster we had at the steakhouse or the main dining room. We ate at the steakhouse, Italian, and french restaurants and really liked the french one the best. We ordered a 32 ounce rib eye for 2 and they brought it to the table and cut it in strips for us. It was delicious! By the way, the lobster tank advertised at the steakhouse only contained gold fish. The lobsters they serve are small and have little taste. We ate at the main dining rooms most of the time for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Never had to wait and the service was quite good. There was always something delicious to eat. My only complaint was seating for the Garden Buffet. There isn't enough and they were sending folks to deck 12 for seating, which was inconvenient. When the weather go warmer, more people could sit on the aft under the tarp and that helped. We only attended 2 shows and they were very good. We aren't hard to please, so if you're looking for Broadway, forget it. By the way, the pools are heated. I saw a post somewhere that said they weren't. Disembarkation was a breeze. We had scheduled the Canterbury excursion from the ship to our London hotel, so we left the ship basically like any other excursion. We walked to the bus and were on our way. That was a very enjoyable excursion and gave us time to unwind after 12 days on the ship. We stayed at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London for 3 nights post cruise. That is a wonderful hotel! The included breakfasts were fabulous and the rooms were huge. We went to see a play and took a couple of tours and wore ourselves out, but it was worth it. I would never attempt to drive in London! Traffic is horrendous! Overall, this cruise was better than we expected, considering the negatives we had read on the boards. I try not to let the negative reports bother me since there are always many very positive reports also. We has a great vacation and we would certainly tell everyone to try it! We miss the ship and our stateroom and the never ending food. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
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 ... Read More
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 the chance to meet new folks and talk about shared interests. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
We are frequent cruisers who are familiar with NCL. We like the casual "freestyle" format and are therefore willing to suffer the over-the-top hustle of NCL and its subcontractors to sell you drinks, excursions, jewelry, wifi, ... Read More
We are frequent cruisers who are familiar with NCL. We like the casual "freestyle" format and are therefore willing to suffer the over-the-top hustle of NCL and its subcontractors to sell you drinks, excursions, jewelry, wifi, artwork, casino plays, bingo, pull tabs, dining options, etc, etc. We were told that NCL operates on the basis of not making a profit on cruise ticket but counts on selling you "stuff". For instance, the NCL return transfer by private train to Berlin (not a tour)cost $289 vs $32 if you took the regular train service on your own. The only difference is that you must change trains once in each direction. We liked our cabin, the food in the main dining rooms, the entertainment, embarking/debarking processes, the uncrowded feel of the ship - no line-ups! We didn't like the lack of honest information about non-NCL travel options in ports, NCL's use of port facilities farthest(and cheapest for NCL) from the center of cities visited, poor information in the daily letter (too much space taken up with the sales hustle and not enough real information about no cost options) and the loss of our once free espresso drinks. Although we paid approximately $275 US per day for our cruise, an excellent price, others paid as little as $200 US per couple per day for a balcony cabin. For cruisers like us who just pay the $12 per person per day "gratuity" while on board, this is an outstanding value. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
I went with a group tour, so the travel agent chose NCL. None of the group were impressed. Embarkation went very smoothly and i must say professionally. However, upon entering the ship, you were on your own. I finally asked one of the ... Read More
I went with a group tour, so the travel agent chose NCL. None of the group were impressed. Embarkation went very smoothly and i must say professionally. However, upon entering the ship, you were on your own. I finally asked one of the employees, "Where do I go?" she stated if i was hungry go up to the 11th deck. That was it. I went to 11th deck. a very nice bbq was underway. The band was playing, all in all it was good. My room was ready right on time, with luggage waiting. I called room service and asked for an iron, this was a BIG mistake. i was informed VERY rudely, that this was not done on the day of embarkation. So, I went to dinner wrinkled. I made the second mistake by calling and asking for an iron the second day. Let me state, i am aware of the fire hazard, and even MORE aware that they want you to pay for their services, however, i did not want to wait 2 days for a pressed shirt. I was told even more rudely that I would have to be in my room for the next 15 or 20 minutes, if I wanted an iron. i said, "NO,problem, I am calling from my room..." I waited and hour and twenty minutes and still no iron, second night of "wrinkled dinner." I have fun going to the grocery store, let alone on a cruise! I could not let rudeness pass,I called and asked for a manager. Explaining what went on I told the manager that I did not travel thousands of miles to get worked up over an iron, but I could not allow rudeness to go unreported. He apologized profusely and said he would look into it. the next day he sent word for me to meet him, and told me he had spoken to the lady in housekeeping, i said good and went on to enjoy my vaycay. They next day a bottle of wine and a fruit and cheese plate arrived to my room. This was nice, but i don't like merlot and don't eat cheese! I just wanted an iron! 12 days later and still wrinkled dinner shirts!!moving on. The public room looked dated and that about cover it. As for the constant sales pitches from photos to colombian emeralds international, I felt I was on the set of home shopping network with no off button. Dining..NOTHING special. I don't sing praises over adequate food and out of the 12 days, only five meals were above average. The best meal cost me $30.00 extra at the french bistro. Worth every penny. The other 4 good meals were in the Seven Seas and the Four Seasons restaurants. The buffet was ok for breakfast but seating was horrible. 50 degrees makes dining outside a little rough and as people like to linger, this was a challenge EVERYDAY. I skipped dessert at dinner to go to the much talked about "Chocolate Buffet". What a disgusting joke.I like to eat and can find something anywhere, no here. Everything was inedible, i sat at a table with 13 other guest and we just looked at each other. Someone actually worked all day on this?! It ALL tasted like it was made from cheap Palmer's Easter candy chocolate,Gross beyond words. The waiters came around saying,"Would you "LIKE" a glass of champagne? Not would you "WOULD YOU LIKE TO BUY A GLASS OF CHAMPAGNE". They made plenty of very vocal enemies right then. I just left the room. The shore excursion were very enjoyable, keep in mind I only purchased one from NCL. The Norwegian sun was a perfectly fine floating Super Eight Motel, taking me from port to port, but what a huge disappointment! the staff was for the most part VERY young filipinos that became too comfortable performing their jobs as the two weeks passed by. i don't want to hear the sing, make passes at co-workers, while i am walking to my dinner table.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
This is our 4th cruise -- FIRST on any NCL vessel ! We choose NCL -- most because of the itinerary--- we wanted to see the cities they had to offer... also because the dates were compatible with our schedules. This review is going to jump ... Read More
This is our 4th cruise -- FIRST on any NCL vessel ! We choose NCL -- most because of the itinerary--- we wanted to see the cities they had to offer... also because the dates were compatible with our schedules. This review is going to jump around because things will come-up as I remember them but I am going to try to be chronological, 'logical' and honest!!! We booked our cruise directly on-line -- through the NCL website... in my opinion... not the easiest booking site to use !!! Also, when questions arose, it was difficult to get the answers I wanted or needed with out having to re-explain the situation many, many times. My first problem was with the room categories and room descriptions. When I first booked, they 'accidently' assigned me to a room that was designed for wheelchair/handicap access. It took me 3 calls to correct this. I did not want to keep a handicap access room from someone that needed it! But to get the same room and the same category required me to 'try my chances" -- all over again -- from the beginning. The operator could not correct the error and hold a room for me. Once that was corrected, the on-line process was rather smooth-- until I got to the online booking for the excursions! I feel the excursion descriptions were LIMITED and awkward to access. If you booked an excursion(on-line)-- which I HIGHLY recommend---you,then, had to go back to the beginning - to move on to your next choice....rather than merely being able to transition(smoothly) on to your next excursion choice. If you changed your mind(later) --then, you lost your original choice-- without the option of going back to it! The on-line operators and the EXCURSION help desk was not any more help or any more informative. They merely read or described the same information that was offered on-line!***more on the actual excursions(themselves)later*** We booked our air travel through NCL.... I have mixed emotions about that! We live by a major gateway city(Detroit). We were booked on United(not my first choice) and we had to rely on connecting flights. This caused some time delays-- because of airline delays. We would have preferred another option. Also,NCL made it every difficult-- if you booked airfare through the cruise line-- to arrive early or stay later(at the beginning or end of your trip). This is only added for informational purposes-- so that you can make the best decisions for yourself). Ncl also offers limited choices of hotels to use (in London) -- so, again--- make your choices wisely. In our case it paid-off because airfares jumped so drastically about the time of our trip-- but the time delays left a bad taste-- and a less than favorable start to our trip! We booked our transfers from Heathrow Airport to the cruise dock(Dover). It is definitely at 2-hour plus ride!!! But the cruise ship was LATE docking and, therefore, the buses that they use to transfer passengers were-- late.SO build that into your plans, too! Back tracking a little..... the NCL representatives that are supposed to meet you as you get off the plane--after baggage and customs-- we VERRRRY difficult to find!!!! We had to 'team-up' with our passengers to SEARCH for them. Then when the buses were late-- there was not any information communicated to the waiting passengers. The response was always--another 15-t0-20 minutes! The Norwegian Sun is an older(??newly updated??)ship. It was "refurbished" in 2004. It shows ! It is smaller-- if you can consider 2000 passengers small? In my opinion it shows its age and it shows its size-- especially if you take into account the number of days at sea-- this cruise involves! I felt confined and limited. But you also have to take into account the region of Europe you are visiting. The cruise is named Northern Europe and Baltic. Even June was colder than I realized or planned for.. think more like early fall or late spring in the Midwest or New England states. So the size and the number of passengers dictate what there is to do and the spaces you can use -- at this time of the year. And I wish that NCL was more ""informative" about this --- in the packing of clothes. They put little effort into that type of necessary information. Free style dining is a UNIQUE idea..... and it definitely has it pluses & Minuses!!! The obvious plus is that you can eat whatever you want whenever you want. But that is also a MINUS. The food over-all suffered because they had to have so many options available so long for so many. The dining experiences of other cruise lines was not there on NCL. They had many restaurants that were available --- for and extra cover charge.... and the food was DEFINITELY better there! But you don not expect to spend and extra $20.00 or $40.00 or even as high as an extra $60.00 for their best dining experience. Some cruise lines have pizza and ice cream available 24/7... NCL Norwegian Sun did not. And the Pizza STUNK!!!. Think BAD frozen pizza!!!!! The ice tea was brown water--- no tea taste what-so-ever! They ran out of orange REPEATEDLY-- at breakfast and they did not have milk available other than for coffee. The dining rooms were typical of any and may other ships.... but the wait staff definitely needed some more training. One night it took 3 people to understand my drink order! They serve bread individually -- rather than leaving the basket at the table. Asking for more bread was a constant effort. Also they INSISTED on ordering your entire meal at once.... you had to decided on your desert before you even had a cocktail. I think that this is a reflection of the FREESTYLR mentality... they always seemed to be rushing you through your meal... unless you were ordering wine-- then they realize you were spending more money$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$! Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
We had a lovely 12 days aboard the Norwegian Sun, a lot of good things on this boat, but as its a review i will start off with what i thought the faults were....... first, hygiene, dont get me wrong, great facilities for hand cleansing all ... Read More
We had a lovely 12 days aboard the Norwegian Sun, a lot of good things on this boat, but as its a review i will start off with what i thought the faults were....... first, hygiene, dont get me wrong, great facilities for hand cleansing all over the boat, but one thing i noticed in the Garden Cafe, and all the waiters do it, is when you sit down at a table thats not been cleared, the waiters come along and clean your table with the previous occupants napkin, now i dont know if the person sitting previously at the table blew his nose or wiped his mouth on the said napkin, really not acceptable. Eating, i would advise anybody going aboard the Sun in the future to go to the waiter served restaurants as much as possible, the buffet restaurant, the "garden cafe" is like a cattle market, very unorganised, not enough seating, having to eat your breakfast outside on a chilly morning is not a nice experience, the staff should be encouraged to move folk on, who have clearly finished there meal, but who seem to clearly enjoy watching people carryimg plates of food searching for a table. Excursions, a lot of money i thought for very little, we took an excursion every day we were docked, can somebody please tell the tour guides there is more to a city than churches, we passed many an interisting place only to have a stop at another church, our bus was 99% english speaking, but on one tour in Estonia the tour guide could barely speak the language, my advice would be, if you can, try and do your own trips, there was plenty shuttle buses, taxis at all ports except St Petersburg. But, please dont let those complaints put you off, we had a fantastic 12 days cruise and would go back on the Norwegian Sun tomorrow if we could, the restaurant apart from the garden cafe were superb, entertainment was superb, the stateroom we had was spacious and clean, the cabin stewards were very helpful, maybe to helpful, obviously looking for a good tip. would i advise anybody to sail on The Sun, my answer would be an emphatic yes Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
The following contains my review of the cruise I took with my family (wife, and two teenage girls, ages 13 & 16) of the Baltic Capitals departing on June 4 2010 from Dover. We felt this trip would be the "trip of a lifetime" ... Read More
The following contains my review of the cruise I took with my family (wife, and two teenage girls, ages 13 & 16) of the Baltic Capitals departing on June 4 2010 from Dover. We felt this trip would be the "trip of a lifetime" for the family and were not disappointed. The cities visited on this cruise were both very historic and scenic. This was not our first cruise. We have been on cruises with both NCL and Disney. We consider ourselves to be a "Disney Family" and visit the parks annually, so we consider ourselves to be spoiled by the Disney experience. I tell you this to give you an idea of my level of expectation from a cruise line. When we started looking at cruises and ran across this itinerary, my wife and I first wrote it off as unaffordable, but since we had cruised with NCL before, decided to give them a call and see if our "repeat customer" classification would give us any discounts. At first it did not, but they noted our interest in this cruise and a few months later when NCL was trying to fill the ship they gave us a call and made us an offer we could not refuse. (this is important, you will see later in the dislikes) The itinerary for this cruise was as follows: Fri London (Dover) - 4:00 PM Sat At Sea - - Sun Copenhagen 9:00 AM 6:00 PM Mon Berlin (Warnemuende) 7:30 AM 10:00 PM Tue At Sea - - Wed Tallinn 9:00 AM 5:30 PM Thu Fri St. Petersburg 8:00 AM - Overnight 7:00 PM Sat Helsinki 8:00 AM 5:30 PM Sun Stockholm (Nynashamn) 7:00 AM 6:00 PM Mon At Sea - - Tue At Sea - - Wed London (Dover) 5:00 AM - We booked our own transportation to/from Dover. We gave ourselves an extra day on the front for travel and stayed two full days in London after the cruise. I strongly recommend planning at least a day on each end, more if you can afford it. We wish we had taken more time to tour London before heading home and would have enjoyed seeing more of Dover before the cruise. I've seen some complaints posted here about the bathrooms and beds on the SUN. This was not my experience. We booked a mini-suite, category AE. We found the bed to be very comfortable and the bathroom was great. The walk-in closet had enough room for all four of us for the 12 night cruise. The bathroom was divided between a vanity (sink on one side, dressing table on the other) and bathroom (WC). The tub was full size with shower and the toilet while a "sea going" toilet, was full size as well and comfortable to use. We had all the square footage we needed for four people. The bathroom/closet area had the square footage of some rooms on other ships. I've also seen complaints about the buffet dining options on the SUN. I understand where these come from. The two main buffet dining rooms are the Garden Cafe and Garden Deck (I think this is the name, it is the outdoor dining option). These where the only food options at certain times during the day. Most complaints posted have to do with the "traffic flow" and I can understand the statements. I cannot refute the statements, but I feel the traffic flow issue is not one of ship design, but due to rude individuals. If everyone had been polite and worked together, the experience would have been better. These buffets are setup to be multiple lines each with something different. (salad, desert, drinks, main entrEe) There are no signs or traffic control devices so everyone is left up to act in a civilized manner. At times it was over crowded, but we found if we moved to the outdoor buffet, there were less traffic issues during high traffic times. I feel that FreeStyle dining options may make this worse unless more "specialty" dining locations would open for breakfast and lunch (without fees of course). The SUN is an older ship and may not have all the advanced motion control devices of more modern ships, but this did not seem to matter except on extreme windy or high sea conditions. I did not experience any issues, but my wife and daughters did fell a bit queasy on a one occasion. While the ship is older, it is well taken care of. If you looked hard you could see minor signs of wear, but overall I think it is well maintained. In summary, we enjoyed the cruise and our experience on the SUN. We will consider NCL again, but next time we will begin the process better informed and understanding more about Freestyle cruising (or FEEstyle as I call it). I will take all of our experiences with this cruise into account when making the final decision. Now for the likes and dislikes... Likes... • The mini-suite was very good. The square footage was plenty. The bathroom was a pleasant surprise. • Our room steward, Caesar, did a wonderful job of keeping our suite clean and did everything he could to make our cruise enjoyable. • The cruise management (hotel, food services, ...) staff was genuinely interested in providing the best service possible. Any complaints where handled professionally. • Restaurant wait staff was very good and attentive to our every desire. Some nights we visited one of the main dining rooms just for dessert and they were happy to wait on us, full meal, or not. Also we are not ones to drink "specialty" beverages, and we would only be asked once per sitting if we wanted something from the bar. We were always served fast, bread plate and glasses kept full. Never a long wait to be seated and got window seats most nights. • The choice of cities was perfect for this cruise. We were impressed by each location and wish we could have spent more time in each city. We now know where in Europe we want to visit in the future. • The Teen Center staff was very good and our teenagers enjoyed hanging out. This amenity needs to be promoted more. • Laundry specials on at-sea days where anything stuffed in a laundry bag was cleaned for $25. • The ship was clean and sanitary. You could tell there was a focus on keeping it this way. • The gym facilities were complete and well maintained. Never had to wait for a cycle or treadmill. • Embark/Disembark process was as efficient as to be expected in each port. When necessary the staff would make changes to address the volume. If more people were boarding, both stations became boarding, more people leaving, both became disembarking stations. They tried to keep two scanning stations open at all times. • The Dover port was great. Easiest sea port I've gone through. Quick check in, a little wait while the ship was cleared for boarding, but not a port problem. Very quick and easy disembark process and not a long wait for a taxi even though we needed a van. (this was probably because it is small and hosts only one ship at a time). • Cruise Critic and the message boards. It was here that I learned a lot in preparing for this cruise and found a group that I joined to tour St Petersburg. (ok, not part of the cruise, but I felt it needed mentioning) • Anastasia Tours... we used Anastasia's services to tour St Petersburg and it was great. Dislikes... • Mandatory Service fee. I feel that we should have the option to tip what we feel appropriate. Disney (and NCL on earlier cruises) gave us a form at the end of the cruise where we could note how much to tip each staff team. I prefer this over the "freestyle" way of just adding a dollar amount per PERSON. Not just being cheap, but I want control and feel that this provides the staff with more incentive to earn my business. In fact we tipped our steward above the service fee...he was that good. • The coupon booklet sent before cruise was worthless. Specials onboard were as good or better and the coupons could not be combined with other offers. I feel these are a worthless sales tool that was used to quiet our complaints about additional fees and service charges above the price of the cruise. Also, we found opportunities for on-board credits that NCL would not honor once we were booked (Tropicanna points) due to our booking code. • Up-selling of Freestyle options. It seemed that NCL turned a large number of the staff into sales people to push the multitude of specialty restaurants and excursion options. Also the first day of the cruise the soft drink package was pushed. • Fees for soft drinks and juices. This not only cost, but slowed the dining process as these drinks came from the bar. There was self service for coffee, tea, milk, water and some juices at the buffets. • Room under the Observation Lounge that became a night club some nights. The music got too loud one night, but I must say that the front desk crew took care of it when I complained. • Pull out bed / couch was hard and not comfortable for sleep or sitting. • Internet access is unbearably slow and the staff untrained to assist. • Limited WIFI and Internet access points. While there were Internet ports in the room for wired access, I was told these did not work. • Options for shore excursions. Choices were limited and very pricy. We did our own tours and were quite satisfied ( both price and quality). • Porting in Nynashamn but calling it Stockholm. Now we enjoyed our stay in Nynashamn, but it is a 1 to 2 hour trip to Stockholm. With only 10 hours at this port, it was too short to spend 4 hours traveling to and from Stockholm, a feeling I heard expressed by those who took one of the trips to Stockholm. Nynashamn is a very nice TOWN but they could not have handled 3000 visitors on a Sunday (day we visited). • Photography department customer service skills were poor and staff limited so they were not available most of the time. We were trying to get a photo from each port, but we missed the photographers one day and they refused to offer us any alternatives. We asked for a blank photo (border only) for the port we missed and they refused. • Limited number of staff for teen center. The two that worked the center were great but they could only do so much and the time the center was open was limited leaving our teens with time on their hand which they wanted to spend on the Internet (expensive and slow, see above). • Nightly entertainment was less entertaining than desired, but a good way to kill a few hours in the evening. Felt more like summer camp than professional entertainment. • Limited choice of activities for at-sea days without spending money. Most activities (such as bingo) involved spending 20-60 dollars or more if your choice is the casino. • Smoking in the casino. The casino is in the middle of the ship and the only way to move from one end to the other on floor seven (I think). On at-sea days you could get whiffs of smoke in the atrium. In this day, I would like to see a non-smoking ship or at least no smoking inside. The casino was the only indoor smoking area and all smokers headed there instead of going outside. • Lack of facilities to allow us to do our own laundry. This caused us to pack more because the posted laundry fees were too outrageous for us to consider sending our laundry out and we could not be guaranteed there would be on-board "laundry bag" specials. Our understanding is that some of NCL ships do have do-it-yourself laundry, but the SUN does not. I hope this helps you make an informed decision about your cruising plans. While the "dislikes" list is longer, the "likes" cover the points I feel are most important, but I do hope someone at NCL sees this list and tries to shorten the dislike list. I can tell you that NCL is reviewing CruiseCritic postings and taking note of the comments. We had a "Meet and Greet" with other Cruise Critic members and the ship staff stopped by to introduce themselves. They stayed to listen to our comments. Do take the time to look through the message boards and once you book your cruise, join a roll call. You will not be disappointed with the information you find here on CruiseCritic. John. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Again looking forward to a cruise on an NCL ship I have to say that albeit my wife and I enjoyed this cruise and it was value for money the Norwegian Sun is a tired ship needing refurbishment. Also some crew members, rank and file and ... Read More
Again looking forward to a cruise on an NCL ship I have to say that albeit my wife and I enjoyed this cruise and it was value for money the Norwegian Sun is a tired ship needing refurbishment. Also some crew members, rank and file and supervisors were in need of customer relations training. Sometimes and accepting those crew who were very good indeed many who we discovered were new on board had an attitude of that customers were there for their entertainment. We cruised from The Port of Dover which travelling to it by car from our home in the Cotswolds was an experience in itself what with the journey mainly being on congested motorways to join the ship for a six cities/towns in six countries cruise of the Baltic with the weather being cold and sometimes very windy but however the experience was not to be missed and was very enjoyable. Embarkation/Disembarkation at Dover was comfortable, swift with very efficient staff but I know it appears petty but there was no newsagent to get those last items of literature and as we were departing on a Sunday the day most clients would purchase their last UK newspapers etc. The Ship was a disappointment when we compared it with the Norwegian Jade upon which we cruised last year. Clearly the Norwegian Sun is one off NCLs older ships and in parts this ship really did cry out for refurbishment. Our well-appointed outside balcony stateroom gave no cause for criticism with as usual with NCL ships there being plenty of storage. Personal hygiene on board by way of automatic sanitizers supplemented with staff at all entrances was given a high priority.Indeed some clients refusing to use these facilities were politely to so do. There was the usual NCL numerous eating areas some included in the cruise price with others having an additional charge. Personally we had breakfast in our stateroom, the Garden Cafe for most lunches and the Four Seasons for occasional evening meals but we much preferred the Pacific Heights restaurant. This latter venue which attracted no extra charge had a shorter but more tempting menu than the Garden Cafe etc., and whole design and position of not over crowded seating along with excellent staff really was a bonus. The excursions arranged by NCL was very expensive so we only took a St Petersburg excursion in this manner the rest of the time and having researched the cruise port cities/towns we explored these ourselves. We used the Internet and find out about the Hop on Hop of Buses ETC., before we sailed which we find is always more enjoyable because we meet real local people rather than being moved around like cattle. The Entertainment in the theatre was not an attraction to us but we did attend the show A Tribute to Celine Dion given by Tracey Shield who was brilliant, also a documentary film on the Norsemen first discoverers of what is now America. Other clients did say the entertainment was very good indeed. In Conclusion the cruise was value for money but as the ship really does need a refurbishment with many of the waiters and bar persons requiring customer relations training. In this regard up front line management was conspicuous by its absence which was very surprising when we looked back at our 2009 cruise with NCL on the Norwegian Jade Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
First let me start by saying that we have been planning this cruise for over a year and Cruise Critic was a fantastic resource for us to use. Second, what I am about to state are our experiences and only our experiences. Therefore, I hope ... Read More
First let me start by saying that we have been planning this cruise for over a year and Cruise Critic was a fantastic resource for us to use. Second, what I am about to state are our experiences and only our experiences. Therefore, I hope that there is no rebuttals such as "I can't believe you were on the same cruise", etc. because this is what we experienced and that is what I want to share. O.K. now that is out of the way here goes: Pre-cruise: We arrived in London three days prior to our cruise because we wanted to see the city. The first night we just walked around. The second day we took an all day tour offered by Golden Tours (Basically same as Gray line). We really enjoyed the sights of London and actually got to see the Queen at Westminster Abbey. That was the highlight of the tour. A couple of lowlights: At the Changing of the Guard we were across the street and only got to watch the troops enter the square. Once they entered the square we had to leave. The River Ride consisted on getting on the boat and three stops later getting off. It was not the one hour river tour that is advertised by other companies. Other than that it was a nice day. The third day we took the National Express Bus to Dover. It was very nice and scenic ride. Once we got to Dover we had to wait about 10 minutes to catch a cab to our hotel (Premier Inn - Ferry Terminal). You cannot check into the hotel until it is 2:00 p.m. so we walked into town, had lunch, etc. The hotel is o.k. for one night and the pub is very nice. One thing to note: The hotel does not have AC. The day we arrived the room was very stuffy and opening the window didn't help that much either. We were supposed to meet up with some folks from our Roll Call but somehow we missed each other. (Hint 1: After taking a cab to your hotel, immediately make a reservation with a cab company for a ride the next morning to the port. If not you may have to wait a long time to get a cab). (Hint 2: If you are meeting somewhere beforehand make sure you know how to find each other by wearing a hat or having a sign, etc.) Embarkation: Our cab arrived on time to pick us up at 10:45 a.m. and off to the port we went. When we arrived there was no line so when we walked up to the counter and received a 'Blue' boarding pass, got our pictures taken, etc. and off to the waiting area we went. After waiting about 30 to 40 minutes they started boarding the 'Red' boarding pass. I asked a lady and she said the 'Red' was for Latitudes members so I showed her we were Silver and she walked us to the front of the line because we had been waiting so long and on board we went. (Hint 3: When checking in at Dover make sure you go to the Latitudes Check in even if there is no one in the other lines) Copenhagen Denmark: Of course NCL was parked at the furthest port from town - Freeport (Theme starts developing). We weren't sure what we were going to do in Denmark so when we go off the ship we decided to use the HOHO bus. There are two companies that sell HOHO passes (more on this later) so we purchased the Hop On Hop Off Bus, not the CitySightSeeing HOHO bus. The guy on the bus stated that there will be special buses leaving from City Square up to 4:00 p.m. to get back to the ship. So we got off at stop three, Rosenborg. This was a beautiful place to visit and see the Crown Jewels. Afterwards we walked and saw the Changing of the Guard and visited the palace where the Prince will be living. After lunch we took a Canal Tour and we got hailed on for about three minutes. Other than the wind and a little rain the canal tour was really nice. Once the canal tour was over we decided we needed to get on the HOHO bus and take it back to stop one, City Square to get back to the ship. So we went to the bus stop. One CitySightSeeing HOHO bus after another would come by but not OURS!!! As it was starting to get late we decided to make a run for it. We basically walked as fast as we could for about 1 ½ miles to city square. There we ran into some people that were from the ship waiting on our HOHO bus. At 4:00 p.m. (last bus back to the ship) a bus showed up but said he was NOT the 'Ship bus' and no others were coming. Someone finally talked him into taking us back...Thank goodness... We did not see one bus from our company all day. (Hint four: If you are taking the HOHO bus in Copenhagen, I would recommend taking the CitySightSeeing HOHO bus because it seemed they were everywhere-- From my experience only). Germany - We decided not to do Berlin and just take the train to Rostock. It was about 20 minutes to Rostock by train. We bought the all day pass for 4.80 euro so we wouldn't have to worry about transfers, etc. After we got to Rostock we took the number 5 tram to Market Square and walked around for a couple of hours. It was a really nice town. After the walk we went back the train and back to port. We walked around some, saw the canal, had smoked fish from a vendor, had lunch and then went looking for a supermarket. When you are in Warnumunde there is an Information center. If you walk pass that and continue to your left, you will come to an old church. Right across the street is a supermarket where we bought all kinds of candy and I got a couple bottle of Spatlase (sp) German wine...yum yum (Yes I paid the $15 when I got back on board). This was a very nice relaxing beautiful day. Tallinn Estonia - Got the walking tour from Cruise critic and off we went. About ½ way through the tour my camera BROKE!!!!! (Hint Five: Take an EXTRA camera with you!!!)!!!!! After walking the tour we stopped at Olde Hansa for lunch. We had the mushroom soup, Honey Beer, Dried Elk meat and some other appetizer. I know that some people just love this place (as our friend did) but we didn't care for the food except the Mushroom soup. It was delicious. Our friend and others from our Roll call said it was the best meal of the trip for them (as I mention our experiences only)!! After lunch we continued our walk and had a nice day in Tallinn. This is a great place to see an Old Medieval city. St Petersburg, Russia - We did the two day Denrus tour in St. Petersburg. The tour guide was wonderful and this was the highlight of the cruise for most of the people on our ship. For my wife and I,Russia was a little disappointing. I don't know what we were expecting but it wasn't what we saw. Like I said this is only my experience because others were talking about St. Petersburg being the greatest place in the world. Helsinki, Finland - NCL docked at the far western docks about 2 ½ miles from town. We got off the ship took the 16 bus into town and then took the 3T tram around town. The price of the all day pass also includes a ferry ride to the fortress and back so we did that as well. (Hint 6: Buy the all day Travelers pass from the bus driver. It is 6.8 euro per person and includes buses, trams and the ferry ride to the fortress. Well worth the money). After this we stood in line for the bus back to the ship in the same place we got off. Luckily some nice lady told us we had to go across the square and up a few blocks to catch the bus back to the ship because the bus, even thought it was 16, was going to the north part of the city. It was another beautiful day (Hint 7: When you get off the bus look across the square, there is an information center with a Blue i. Once you walk to that shop walk up a block or two (away from water) and there is where you catch the 16 back to the ship. There is a bus stop sign there.) Stockholm Sweden - Once again NCL picks the cheapest place to dock and you have to tender here. Stockholm is about a 45 minute bus ride from Nynasham. We did the Land and Sea tour and it was very nice. The Vasa Museum is a great place to visit and the Old Town is exactly what we expected Europe to be like. This was one of our favorite ports and once again we had great weather. Disembarkation: NCL makes this very simple. Ship: The ship is starting to show her age a little but it is still beautiful. Crew: The crew does a fantastic job but I don't feel that there are enough of them. This is one area that I think the Revenue officer is making cuts. I have never been in a bar and have to go up to the bar myself to get a drink or wait for someone to clean off a table and then not wipe it off. Like I said, the crew the Sun had were ABSOLUTELY Fantastic. There just isn't enough of them!!! Food: I think that is difficult to make menu's for a 12 night cruise sound exciting but the food was O.K. There were some dishes that were great, some o.k. and some I would never eat again. With that said you could always find something that would satisfy your pallet. (Hint 8: Most mornings for breakfast if you want an omelet or fried eggs, go out back on deck 11 to the outdoor cafe. They have an omelet station and we never had to wait we went up there. Then just take your food into the Sports Bar) Overall Experience: This was our 7th cruise on NCL and we can see some changes that will make it easier to choose another cruise line. It just seems that some of the corners they are cutting shouldn't be (like cutting crew, docking at the cheapest most out of the way docks). As far as the Baltics go, we are so thankful that we were able to take this cruise and REALLY enjoyed the trip. There are a few of the ports that we may never want to see again but then there are the ones that we would love to go back to again. Once again, this is based on the experience we had on the cruise not the experience everyone else had. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
We arrived in London a few days early and stayed in central London to see the sights. We pre-planned tours with Grayline before leaving and the tours leave right by Victoria Station and with restaurants right there everything was really ... Read More
We arrived in London a few days early and stayed in central London to see the sights. We pre-planned tours with Grayline before leaving and the tours leave right by Victoria Station and with restaurants right there everything was really convenient. We stayed at the Comfort Inn which was walking distance from the station but remember that many hotels in London do not have air conditioning so our second floor room was really hot. We discovered the cheapest way to Dover to meet the ship was taking National Express from Victoria Coach Station into Dover (on sale for 4 pounds per person). Just remember to pre-arrange for a taxi to meet you in Dover to take you to the pier (12 pounds). When we arrived at the terminal porters took the luggage and put it on the ship while we walked into the terminal building. Within 15 minutes we were on the ship heading to the buffet (12:15 on the ship). The ship is really nice but they were so concerned about the spread of disease that they became overbearing with the spray. They sprayed your hands upon entering the buffet. Then if you wanted to check the options in Pacific Heights they sprayed your hands again. Have to grab something from the Garden Cafe well another spray and sprayed again to eat your meal you left on the table in Pacific Heights. With all the spray our hands started to dry out which resulted in having to use more hand lotion. The ports of call are all really good but more information should be given about the amount of time spent traveling to locations, while at the location etc. Some locations had over an hour transport time each way leaving only about an hour at a location that easily could use more. Also some tours did not provide enough information about the sights to be seen so booking a morning and afternnon tour resulted in seeing some of the same things. Going through immigration in St. Petersburg was a breeze nothing to be concerned with. Never had any trouble at any of the ports with immigration. One thing that I wish I knew before leaving home was that all ports of call accept US dollars to purchase items. The only time we needed local currency was for small shops or bakeries. The only trouble that we encountered in any port was the evening performance in St Petersburg. We were on the bus that unfortunately could not make it through traffic to get to the folklore show. Our driver did not know how to go and after driving for over 2 hours we were taken back to the ship. It took the ship only about a day or two to remove the charge for the show from our account. Food on board is simply fair. The buffet is very small and not well organized it takes a long time to go through to get anything that you might be interested in eating and everything is always warm never hot. We were surprised that one day they served gumbo that was too spicy for us and that was the only option over a cold soup. Being in the Baltic it was quite chilly each day and a hot bowl of soup was always welcomed. The main dining rooms had standard items on them but nothing that really jumped out at you, nothing special. The specialty restaurants are available but tacking on an addition $10-$25 per person to the bill is too much for most people especially with the cost of shore excursions for each port being really high. Portions in the dining room are somewhat small so we generally picked the pasta dish, when offered, as an additional dish for all of us to share. This gave all of us enough to eat for dinner. Late night dining is very different indeed. On most ships they have pizza available in the evening but not on this ship. In the evening they offered the items that were left from dinner plus hot dogs. We were surprised that on several days that tours did not return until 2:00 or later or even the overnight day in Russia the buffet still closed at the standard time leaving many people scrambling to find something to eat. Plan ahead and take something to your cabin if your tour is coming in late. We were upgraded to a mini-suite which was a first for us. The room is beautiful with plenty of room to walk around and put everything for the entire trip. It was well worth the extra money to have the extra space. I only wish that it had been warmer to really enjoy the balcony. Entertainment on board was good and bad. They brought several people on board from the different ports for shows. Some were good while others should keep their day jobs. The ballet pair on board were good however the need for the male dancer to never wear a shirt is a mystery to me. Most shows were alright but nothing anyone would want to see more than once. A couple it was hard to sit through the show the one time. All in all the cruise was a great way to see the Baltic capitals at a very reasonable price. If you are looking for interesting things to do and great food you may think about a different cruise line. NCL is definitely for the budget minded cruiser who wants to see the sights and relax. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Norwegian Sun Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 3.5 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.8
Family 3.5 3.8
Shore Excursion 3.5 3.7
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 3.5 4.1
Value For Money 3.5 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

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