Norwegian Star Cruise Review by bobscoffee
- Sail Date: May 2016
- Destination: Baltic Sea
- Cabin Type: Penthouse with Large Balcony
As word of advice to future cruisers and this itinerary – a lot of walking is involved. We saw several people struggle with the physical activity involved. Much of the walking is on cobblestone and could be somewhat uneven.
Another reason we chose NCL was because of their “free-style” cruising and dining options. The options available for dining allowed us to vary our menu and we took advantage of three of their specialty restaurants, Cagney’s Steakhouse, Moderno (Brazilian) and La Cucinia. The other evenings, we rotated between the Aqua and Versailles for dining. We booked our dining reservation times weeks before embarkation, so it was just a matter of arriving at the time of our reservation. We never had a wait of more than about 5 minutes. The food was absolutely amazing.
We took advantage of an upgrade offer and chose a suite. We later realized that suites come with butler service. Cipriano (our butler) absolutely spoiled us. Every afternoon, he would bring a plate of snacks, whether it be sandwiches and chips, cookies, assortment of cheeses or fresh cut fruit.
The entire staff went out of their way to make our cruise enjoyable.
The highlight of our trip was our tour in Saint Petersburg. When planning our tours for Saint Petersburg and not wanting to book the shore excursion through the cruise line, we found Guide Guru. At this time, Guide Guru is probably one of the best kept secrets of shore excursions.
We only wanted a one day overview of Saint Petersburg, not a full two day excursion. We chose the tour "Baltic Inspiration - Light" for our day tour. After clearing Russian immigration, our tour guide "Anna" and driver "Dmitri" met us outside the port doors.
We were the ONLY people to book this tour, which meant we had a PRIVATE tour guide and PRIVATE driver. Our day was AMAZING. Anna was extremely knowledgeable and well versed in our tour. We went to an amazing restaurant for lunch where we experienced Pelmeni, which is dumplings stuffed with meat. While on tour, we toured the Spilled Blood Church and the Hemitage. Both of these were to say the least, breathtaking.
For our second outing that evening, we chose the "Canal Cruise." We met our evening tour guide "Tatiana" and once again our wonderful driver from the day "Dmitri." We were the ONLY two who had booked this tour, so once again, we experienced a private tour. Tatiana was also very knowledgeable of what was on our tour. During the canal cruise, we were given headsets and a receiver to listen to the commentary of the sights from the canal cruise. As an added bonus, Tatiana brought along Vodka, juice and a cookie/cake, which turned our cruise into a "Vodka Canal Cruise."
Both of our Saint Petersburg tours were simply amazing. Our guides were extremely knowledgeable and friendly. The guides were very protective of us as foreign visitors to their home, and made sure to make us feel safe and away from those who could take advantage us.
We fully recommend Guide Guru for tour. They have made us a fan for life and we will look for them on any future travels.
The “Best of Berlin” tour is a long and tiring day. A 2 ½ hour train ride from the port into Berlin, and of course return, bookend the tour. But, we were able to see many of the historical sites in Berlin.
For Tallinn and Helsinki, we chose one of the “Hop-on-Hop-off” tour buses. As a word of advice, remember there is more than one “Hop-on-Hop-off” bus tour operating. Pay attention to which company you have purchased tickets and the graphics on the bus.
We realized that the time spent in Stockholm would be limited, but at least we were able to get a quick overview. We chose the “Old Town, Ice Bar and Vasa Museum.” We discussed scrapping this tour and doing one of our own with a “Hop-on-Hop-off” but decided to stay with the booked tour to make sure we returned to the ship on time. We definitely want to return someday to Sweden for a longer stay by land. This tour left the ship at about 9:30 and returned around 3:30. We were surprised and a little disappointed that a stop for a quick lunch was not included in this tour. The tour guide keep telling us of the famous Swedish smorgasbords and Swedish meatballs, and all that did was make us want some.
The disembarkation day was made somewhat, and unnecessarily hectic, with their schedule. We were not supposed to leave (based on color tag) until 8:00. Around 7:30 the announcement came over the speaker that it was time for the “blue tags” to disembark. We weren’t quite ready, but rushed off of the ship, only to find that we had to wait another 30 minutes or so for our transfer bus to the airport to arrive. So “hurry up and wait” also applies to the cruise line.
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed this cruise. The dining options and food was amazing. This is our third cruise with NCL and have booked our fourth for 2017.
If on the Baltic capitals cruise, make sure to set your alarm early as you enter the Stockholm Archipelago. This part of the trip into and out of Stockholm takes about 4 hours, but the views are amazing.
We could only find one 110v plug. All others in the cabin were 220v. Luckily we had a voltage converter.
Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
Brandenburg Gate Walking TourAnother there it is, take a picture, get back on the bus.View All 14 Brandenburg Gate Walking Tour Reviews
Checkpoint CharlieThere it is, take a picture, get back on the bus.View All 17 Checkpoint Charlie Reviews
Holocaust MemorialImpressive sight.View All 12 Holocaust Memorial Reviews
CopenhagenArrive in Copenhagen two days early to acclimate to time change. Used Hop-on-Hop-Off tour.View All 853 Copenhagen Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Copenhagen Cruise Port Review
HelsinkiHelsinki was somewhat disappointing. We personally wish the time could have been moved to Stockholm.View All 691 Helsinki Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Helsinki Cruise Port Review
Private TourTwo tours booked - Baltic Inspiration - Light for the day tour and the Canal Cruise for the evening. This was the highlight of our trip.View All 143 Private Tour Reviews
Ice BarOnly 20 or so minutes spent here in total, with only about 5 actually inside the Ice Bar. The drink served was cut thin.View All 21 Ice Bar Reviews
Stockholm Old Town TourSmall amount of time given to see Old Town. No lunch provided during the day trip.View All 36 Stockholm Old Town Tour Reviews
Vasa MuseumWhile impressive, would have preferred more time in Old Town.View All 81 Vasa Museum Reviews
TallinnHop-on-Hop-off on our own. Enjoyed the day. As the cruise director informed the night before, we expected Shrek to come around the corner at any time.View All 795 Tallinn Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Tallinn Cruise Port Review