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First experience with NCL. Had a bad experience with customer service between booking and sailing. As a first-timer I would have expected more from a company in the service industry to try and build rapport to make me a repeat customer, but that will not happen. There was a tremendous price drop with nothing to make up for it. Embarkation was frustrating because the key cards they issued in the terminal did not work and we had to wait over an hour for guest services to issue a new one. Disembarkation was super easy, walk off with your own luggage. Ship was fine, some floor plans were a bit confusing. Activities on board could have been scheduled better, but a decent variety of options. Food was ok. Buffet was always very crowded and hard to find seats. Dining room meals took a long time. I liked the casual nature of the ship. Itinerary was wonderful. Amsterdam-Berlin-Gdansk-Klaipeda-Helsinki-St. Petersburg-Tallinn-Stockholm-Riga-Copenhagen-Amsterdam. It was exhausting to have so many ports in a row without sea days, but it was worth it. DO NOT book a St. Petersburg excursion with the cruiseline. There are many companies that you can use that qualify you for the visa-free entry that are much more affordable and use smaller groups for an all around better experience. Most of the ports are easy to do yourself. I highly recommend Rick Steve's Scandinavian & Northern European Cruise Ports book for information about the ports, transportation, and walking tours to do yourself.

Great Itinerary, Bad Customer Service

Norwegian Pearl Cruise Review by SeptCruise1st

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
First experience with NCL. Had a bad experience with customer service between booking and sailing. As a first-timer I would have expected more from a company in the service industry to try and build rapport to make me a repeat customer, but that will not happen. There was a tremendous price drop with nothing to make up for it.

Embarkation was frustrating because the key cards they issued in the terminal did not work and we had to wait over an hour for guest services to issue a new one. Disembarkation was super easy, walk off with your own luggage.

Ship was fine, some floor plans were a bit confusing. Activities on board could have been scheduled better, but a decent variety of options. Food was ok. Buffet was always very crowded and hard to find seats. Dining room meals took a long time. I liked the casual nature of the ship.

Itinerary was wonderful. Amsterdam-Berlin-Gdansk-Klaipeda-Helsinki-St. Petersburg-Tallinn-Stockholm-Riga-Copenhagen-Amsterdam. It was exhausting to have so many ports in a row without sea days, but it was worth it. DO NOT book a St. Petersburg excursion with the cruiseline. There are many companies that you can use that qualify you for the visa-free entry that are much more affordable and use smaller groups for an all around better experience. Most of the ports are easy to do yourself. I highly recommend Rick Steve's Scandinavian & Northern European Cruise Ports book for information about the ports, transportation, and walking tours to do yourself.
SeptCruise1st’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
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Shore Excursions
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Copenhagen
    Copenhagen is wonderful, but the port that NCL parked as was in the middle of nowhere. NCL offered no shuttle (they had offered shuttles at other ports, for a fee of course). If you wanted to get anywhere, you had to get a taxi (estimated to cost $45 into the city) or pay for the Hop On Hop Off bus. We wanted to do the HOHO anyway, but it was just a shuttle to our port, we were then dropped off where we could get on any of the three HOHO routes and had to eventually make our way back to a certain point to get a shuttle back. There are two companies that run similar routes, both are red in color, and many people were confused. The bus routes took a long time, so it was hard to actually see or do anything in Copenhagen.
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  • Gdansk (Warsaw)
    Went to Gdansk, about a 45 minute car ride away. We were lucky to meet people on the shop that had data plans, so we took Uber from the port to Gdansk. I recommend Rick Steve's Scandinavian & Northern European Cruise Ports book, we used it to do a walking tour in Gdansk. We planned to take train back to Gdynia, ended up on a train going the wrong direction, so ultimately took Uber back. If taking the train, be sure to ask if it is the right one!
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  • Helsinki
    We loved Helsinki! The Hop On Hop Off picks up/drops off at the port. You save money by booking directly with the company when you get there rather than through the ship's excursion for it. The HOHO made it easy to get around and see the sights we wanted to.
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  • Klaipeda
    We took a shore excursion with the ship that included a visit to an Amber workshop. I couldn't find any local tour companies that offered that option. Other than that, it would have been very easy to do on your own, very close walk from the ship into old town. This port is not included in the Rick Steve's port book, so had to do independent research.
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  • Riga
    Very easy to walk to old town from the ship. I recommend Rick Steve's Scandinavian & Northern European Cruise Ports book, it has directions and a walking tour you can follow. We ended up doing a little trolley ride around, which was a cheap way to get a quick overview of the sites.
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  • Berlin
    We booked an independent tour to save money, rather than paying the NCL prices. Berlin is a 3 hour bus ride away from the port, but it passed quickly. The time in Berlin was somewhat short, but we were able to see the highlights (Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg Gate, etc)
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  • St. Petersburg
    St. Petersburg was amazing! Save your money and DO NOT book with the cruise line for excursions. There are numerous companies you can book with that handle the visa situation and you can save so much money. I wanted to see 4 things: Hermitage, Catherine's Palace, Church of the Spilled Blood, and The Peterhof. There was no way to even do excursions with NCL to be able to see those 4 things. With Alla Tours, we were able to see those 4, plus do a Neva River Cruise and go to St. Issac's Cathedral. We also did an evening tour of the Faberge Museum.
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  • Stockholm
    Stockhom was great, but our timing wasn't. We docked at 7am, but nothing opened until 9am and the Hop On Hop Off buses didn't start until 10am. We had pre-purchased the Stockholm Card, but then had to pay extra for ferry transportation from the port to the Vasa Museum because of the times. But that ferry, the Emilie, is very convenient there are signs and lines to follow from the ship to the ferry dock, it is cheap, and it is a quick trip to the Vasa. We were able to do the Vasa, Nordic Museum, then the HOHO was running for the rest of our transportation needs. We did both the bus and the boat.
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  • Tallinn
    Very easy to walk to and do on your own. I recommend Rick Steve's Scandinavian & Northern European Cruise Ports book for directions and a walking tour you can follow.
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