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We are family of 4 with 2 daughters aged 4 and 6. Last year we cruised Alaska with Carnival Spirit and had an amazing time. The girls loved kids club, we couldn't get them off the boat at ports and found that kids club was educational, teaching them about the animals of the region. We also found the food in the dining room to be great and struggled to choose each night between a range of delicious meals. We had a balcony room on the Spirit which meant that we had a queen sized bed while the girls had bunks nearby - this was a fairly good sleeping arrangement for us. This year we sailed the Baltics with NCL as we got a really good deal. We found that there were positives and negatives with the kids club. Positive - NCL kids club are open all evening, Carnival shut between 6pm and 7:30pm most nights. This meant that with Carnival we ate with the kids, while on NCL we picked them up, fed them in the kids cafe (a wonderful thing, the seating for just families), and dropped them back to kids club while we had dinner in peace. Negative - there was no educational content on NCL. They had a pirate night, but really I thought something like a viking night may have been more appropriate given we were in the viking area of the world. We were in places with so much history, but NCL was mainly focused on commercial activities such as Blues Clues and Dora. Negative - my kids often didn't want to go to kids club, it definitely didn't hold them like the Carnival one did (where they'd cry all the way up the hall because we'd pulled them out). Negative - NCL charge for kids on Port days while on Carnival it was free. The food in the NCL main dining room was also average. Most nights I struggled to find something I wanted to eat and then it was pretty bland. Carnival did much better there. We tried Mamas and found it to be not worth the cover charge. We tried Le Bistro and found it to be quite nice, but our favorite restaurant was Chin Chin - the asian was great. It's a pity we didn't discover this early in the cruise as there was a lot on the menu that appealed. The pools were better on NCL in that they were heated to around 31 degrees which is what you need in the Baltics as it was generally quite cool on deck. The pools were much cooler and less tempting on the Carnival Spirit. The oceanview room on the NCL had great storage, I was able to fit all our clothes into the spaces provided, while really struggled on the Spirit. However the beds were 2 singles with a trundle popped up in between and a bunk above one of the singles - a bit squishy. That said, it wasn't a balcony room like we had on the Spirit. I don't think we'd try to squeeze the 4 of us into an oceanview room again.The bathroom on NCL was better with sliding doors to turn it into a separate toilet, vanity and shower. On Carnival it was just one room. The separation was much better for our family. We loved the ports and enjoyed our seadays. The cruise was great, and we met lots of nice people.    

Family Baltic Cruise Review

Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by ashnbart

Trip Details
We are family of 4 with 2 daughters aged 4 and 6. Last year we cruised Alaska with Carnival Spirit and had an amazing time. The girls loved kids club, we couldn't get them off the boat at ports and found that kids club was educational, teaching them about the animals of the region. We also found the food in the dining room to be great and struggled to choose each night between a range of delicious meals. We had a balcony room on the Spirit which meant that we had a queen sized bed while the girls had bunks nearby - this was a fairly good sleeping arrangement for us. This year we sailed the Baltics with NCL as we got a really good deal. We found that there were positives and negatives with the kids club. Positive - NCL kids club are open all evening, Carnival shut between 6pm and 7:30pm most nights. This meant that with Carnival we ate with the kids, while on NCL we picked them up, fed them in the kids cafe (a wonderful thing, the seating for just families), and dropped them back to kids club while we had dinner in peace. Negative - there was no educational content on NCL. They had a pirate night, but really I thought something like a viking night may have been more appropriate given we were in the viking area of the world. We were in places with so much history, but NCL was mainly focused on commercial activities such as Blues Clues and Dora. Negative - my kids often didn't want to go to kids club, it definitely didn't hold them like the Carnival one did (where they'd cry all the way up the hall because we'd pulled them out). Negative - NCL charge for kids on Port days while on Carnival it was free. The food in the NCL main dining room was also average. Most nights I struggled to find something I wanted to eat and then it was pretty bland. Carnival did much better there. We tried Mamas and found it to be not worth the cover charge. We tried Le Bistro and found it to be quite nice, but our favorite restaurant was Chin Chin - the asian was great. It's a pity we didn't discover this early in the cruise as there was a lot on the menu that appealed. The pools were better on NCL in that they were heated to around 31 degrees which is what you need in the Baltics as it was generally quite cool on deck. The pools were much cooler and less tempting on the Carnival Spirit. The oceanview room on the NCL had great storage, I was able to fit all our clothes into the spaces provided, while really struggled on the Spirit. However the beds were 2 singles with a trundle popped up in between and a bunk above one of the singles - a bit squishy. That said, it wasn't a balcony room like we had on the Spirit. I don't think we'd try to squeeze the 4 of us into an oceanview room again.The bathroom on NCL was better with sliding doors to turn it into a separate toilet, vanity and shower. On Carnival it was just one room. The separation was much better for our family. We loved the ports and enjoyed our seadays. The cruise was great, and we met lots of nice people.  
 
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Cabin Review

Cabin 8554
Oceanview cabin 8554 - great cupboard space, loved the 3 way bathroom, bedding cramped with 3 beds across wall taking up entire room, hallway quiet, handy to elevators without being too close to the stairs (where kids sometimes were gathering), obstructed view, but still OK. 
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Copenhagen
    Nyhaven was gorgeous. We did a canal tour with Bato Boat which was inexpensive and interesting. The main town is also lovely with cobblestones and the palace.
    The little mermaid is only little but still a must see, just to have the photos to show off.
    Tivoli gardens is over-rated. It's pretty, but most rides have approx 140cm height restrictions so our 4 and 6 year old daughters were limited to very babyish rides. Disneyland Paris was much better in that area in that they were allowed on nearly everything.
    We also hit the pharmacies to get our 6 year old an asthma spacer and found it was $AU80 while I spent $AU25 on one at home. So it's not cheap.
     
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  • Helsinki
    Backing up after St Petersburg was always going to be tough, but Helsinki was very cold and drizzly which didn't help it's cause. We went to Suomenolina which was interesting but not exciting. I think we might have been happier staying on the boat. We did speak to some people who went to Porvoo and loved it so that may have been a worthwhile excursion.
     
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  • Rostock (Warnemunde)
    We didn't make the long trek to Berlin, instead took the trains to Schwerin to see the castle. It is a lovely fairytale castle and the gardens are also gorgeous. There isn't much inside it to see though, so it's more about the exterior of the building. Schwerin itself was also very pretty although it's over an hour from Warnemunde (change trains at Rostock).
    We had a little look around Rostock as well and found it to be quite pretty.
     
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  • St. Petersburg
    St Petersburg was incredible. We did a tour with TJ tours and found them to be very helpful in organising everything and replying to emails prior to the tour as well as being great during the tour. We formed our tour group through Cruise critic and did the "Relaxed Tour" which was great for families (our tour had 4 families - 2 6 year olds, a 4 year old, a 2 year old and a nearly 2 year old - under 7's were free which was great and unique to TJ Tours). Sofia was our guide and she was lovely. She was happy to talk about anything and was very interesting and knowledgable. We went to the Peterhof gardens, Catherine's Palace, Spilled Blood Church and the Hermitage as well as fitting in some shopping. She was totally relaxed about us buying from street vendors as well though (while some people we met at dinner commented that their "Anastasia" guide was forbidding them to buy from street vendors and only letting them shop where she got a commission).
    We were blown away by the size of everything in St Petersburg - everything is built huge - palaces and general buildings alike. The Hermitage is unmissable. So much art in a place that is an artwork in itself. The ceilings and staircases are so amazing. We loved it in there, and could have spent a week in there happily - although don't try it without a guide, you'd get lost. It is huge!
     
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  • Stockholm
    Stockholm was a gorgeous port. We had far too short a day there though so we didn't get everything done we wanted to.
    We took the hop-on hop-off boat which was great, although one was broken down the morning we got there so they were a little slow. We hit the Gamla Stan first and adored the place, it was so pretty, although the castle really isn't that nice. We did a tour of the cathedral which was really interesting with it's St George and the Dragon statue.
    From there we went to the Vasa and joined a tour there. Amazing museum, the kids loved it. They even loved the movie which talked through the restoration. The boat is so well restored and there is so many other artifacts there as well as recreations that you can spend quite a while there.
    Then we hit Tivoli Grund and the kids barely had enough time for 3 rides before we had to race back to our boat. A lovely day (nice and warm too), but over too quickly.
     
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