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Norwegian Breakaway 9-day Baltic Cruise June 16 – June 25, 2018. Issues: Port of Rostock Ship docked in cargo port in Rostock Germany, not the tourist port. Shuttles (fee paid by guests) were needed to get to Rostock for a promised several hours of shopping. All businesses in Rostock were closed for Sunday. Very poor planning by NCL. Excursions were sold by NCl for Berlin trip (over 1-hour bus trip each way). Again, most businesses and attractions were closed because it was Sunday. Very poor planning by NCL. Port of Stockholm Ship docked in Nynashamn instead of Stockholm 1-hour bus shuttle (fee paid by guests) to Stockholm Reduced time in Stockholm Chaotic bus logistics for the return to the ship – exhausted seniors told to wait for 2 ½ more hours for the “correct” bus transport to return to ship, even though seating was available on the existing buses. Ship docked on Saturday following Midsummer Festival kickoff – most shops and stores in Stockholm were closed. This is an event known to occur at least 1 year in advance. Extremely poor planning by NCL. Port of Helsinki The captain decided to bypass this stop. The first reason given to the passengers was the Baltic was too stormy to allow docking in Helsinki. After the crew learned the passengers had checked the live feed from the Port Authority of Helsinki online and saw the Royal Caribbean ship Navigator (which had been docked in St Petersburg next to our ship and left approximately the same time the NCL Breakaway did) safely docked in Helsinki, the story from the captain changed to “abnormally low tide” in the port. Once again, tidal charts are available years in advance. The suspicion among the passengers was a business dispute between NCL and the Port of Helsinki. NCL has gone to the same business model as the airlines – charge for services and conveniences that were previously included in the base fare. I find this highly distressful. Charge a fare that covers all these items and don’t “nickel and dime” your customers. This added a layer of stress and aggravation to the cruise experience that was not needed. I will investigate this policy with the utmost scrutiny on any future cruise. This cruise was marketed as being sold on primarily North American customers. Among the 4,000 passengers barely 40% were North American. The majority were South Asian (Indian) and Chinese. The usual North American societal norms of behavior (no pushing, wait your turn, the concept of “indoor voice” vs “outdoor voice”, observe disease prevention protocols when dining) were completely foreign to these passengers. There was no venue on board to escape the constant noise and pushing and shoving of this demographic, other than to hide in our cabin or try to drink ourselves into a stupor. The food, usually a selling point of an expensive cruise, was bland at best. There was no effort to provide any good fish dishes that we had been looking forward to. The Director of Restaurants was Indian, and most of the dishes offered were either Indian, Chinese or fast food American style. Extremely disappointing. I would have no desire to book another cruise in the near future. I will never book another cruise with NCL – that door is closed forever. As this event required air travel to and from Europe, 2 weeks vacation and significant other expenses and efforts, my expectations were understandably high. I paid for an NCL experience and got Carnival service. That business model is not long term sustainable in my opinion.

NCL Breakaway Baltic 9 Day Cruise

Norwegian Breakaway Cruise Review by Flying-Suitcase

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: June 2018
  • Destination: Baltic Sea
  • Cabin Type: Balcony Stateroom
Norwegian Breakaway 9-day Baltic Cruise June 16 – June 25, 2018.

Issues:

Port of Rostock

Ship docked in cargo port in Rostock Germany, not the tourist port. Shuttles (fee paid by guests) were needed to get to Rostock for a promised several hours of shopping. All businesses in Rostock were closed for Sunday. Very poor planning by NCL.

Excursions were sold by NCl for Berlin trip (over 1-hour bus trip each way). Again, most businesses and attractions were closed because it was Sunday. Very poor planning by NCL.

Port of Stockholm

Ship docked in Nynashamn instead of Stockholm

1-hour bus shuttle (fee paid by guests) to Stockholm

Reduced time in Stockholm

Chaotic bus logistics for the return to the ship – exhausted seniors told to wait for 2 ½ more hours for the “correct” bus transport to return to ship, even though seating was available on the existing buses.

Ship docked on Saturday following Midsummer Festival kickoff – most shops and stores in Stockholm were closed. This is an event known to occur at least 1 year in advance. Extremely poor planning by NCL.

Port of Helsinki

The captain decided to bypass this stop. The first reason given to the passengers was the Baltic was too stormy to allow docking in Helsinki. After the crew learned the passengers had checked the live feed from the Port Authority of Helsinki online and saw the Royal Caribbean ship Navigator (which had been docked in St Petersburg next to our ship and left approximately the same time the NCL Breakaway did) safely docked in Helsinki, the story from the captain changed to “abnormally low tide” in the port. Once again, tidal charts are available years in advance. The suspicion among the passengers was a business dispute between NCL and the Port of Helsinki.

NCL has gone to the same business model as the airlines – charge for services and conveniences that were previously included in the base fare. I find this highly distressful. Charge a fare that covers all these items and don’t “nickel and dime” your customers. This added a layer of stress and aggravation to the cruise experience that was not needed. I will investigate this policy with the utmost scrutiny on any future cruise.

This cruise was marketed as being sold on primarily North American customers. Among the 4,000 passengers barely 40% were North American. The majority were South Asian (Indian) and Chinese. The usual North American societal norms of behavior (no pushing, wait your turn, the concept of “indoor voice” vs “outdoor voice”, observe disease prevention protocols when dining) were completely foreign to these passengers. There was no venue on board to escape the constant noise and pushing and shoving of this demographic, other than to hide in our cabin or try to drink ourselves into a stupor.

The food, usually a selling point of an expensive cruise, was bland at best. There was no effort to provide any good fish dishes that we had been looking forward to. The Director of Restaurants was Indian, and most of the dishes offered were either Indian, Chinese or fast food American style. Extremely disappointing.

I would have no desire to book another cruise in the near future. I will never book another cruise with NCL – that door is closed forever. As this event required air travel to and from Europe, 2 weeks vacation and significant other expenses and efforts, my expectations were understandably high. I paid for an NCL experience and got Carnival service. That business model is not long term sustainable in my opinion.
Flying-Suitcase’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Balcony Stateroom
Cabin BD 1847
Cabin was nice, clean and spacious. Routine rust chipping hammering disturbed us. When we inquired about it, we were told it was "emergency repairs". Considering the "Beautification In Progress" debacle on the NCL Sun Panama cruise, you would think they would have learned a lesson. I guess not.
Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Russian Folk Dance
    entertaining, solid "B" grade.
    a free glass of champagne offered at intermission. We wanted to also split a small glass of orange juice so me could have an ersatz mimosa, but were told that they were only for children. There were no children in the audience. I was tempted to put a 20 euro note on the table an suggest another container of orange juice be purchased. That was a sour note on the evening.
    View All 41 Russian Folk Dance Reviews
  • Stockholm
    Ship docked in Nynashamn instead of Stockholm
    1-hour bus shuttle (fee paid by guests) to Stockholm
    Reduced time in Stockholm
    Chaotic bus logistics for the return to the ship – exhausted seniors told to wait for 2 ½ more hours for the “correct” bus transport to return to ship, even though seating was available on the existing buses.
    Ship docked on Saturday following Midsummer Festival kickoff – most shops and stores in Stockholm were closed. This is an event known to occur at least 1 year in advance. Extremely poor planning by NCL.
    View All 823 Stockholm Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Stockholm Cruise Port Review