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I went with my fiancee for the 9-day Baltic Sea cruise, we've been on plenty of trips to Europe before, but this was only our 2nd cruise. It was a good experience, although as more independent travelers, the itinerary was a bit confining. The ship: -I was worried about seasickness, but felt pretty much absolutely no motion the entire cruise. At worst, it was the rumbling of the ship's engines when sitting in an aft restaurant. -Our inside stateroom was quite a bit larger than I expected. There was plenty of room for movement and storage, and the bathroom was larger than what we had in our Copenhagen hotel. And we definitely turned up the A/C during the heat wave. -Really only 5 decks are publicly useful: 6/7/8/15/16. If you need to get from one end to the other quickly, the outside of Deck 7 under the lifeboats was always wide open. And it was our fresh air deck during the frequent rainstorms when we didn't feel like getting wet and windswept. -We didn't need a balcony stateroom, there is cushioned deck furniture outside the gift shop on Deck 8 to enjoy the scenery. This deck also wraps all the way around the stern, plenty of wide-open space for solitude or romance, although none of the decks actually goes all the way out to the front of the ship. -The shows were there to pass the time and not much else. Burn the Floor was lively and quite packed, Million Dollar Quartet was overly long. The magician and flamenco guitarist in the Headliners club were nice, but the obstructed view seating was horrible. -The smoking area is on deck 15 port side, and the smoke is not well-contained. Avoid this area if you don't want to smell like smoke. -The better pool (for non-kids) is the "Spice H2O" area on deck 16, enter near the arcade. It was actually nicer when the speakers malfunctioned, otherwise it did get a bit loud. Although there really weren't that many kids in the main pool area, the ones that did come had large, noisy extended families that liked to stand in the walkways. -The climbing wall was hardly ever open, and when it was, the line was long. -We took advantage of the $20 fill-it-up laundry bag on Day 4. It was all returned nicely folded the next afternoon, although I swear things shrunk slightly. And find your room-number stickers on all your clothes so you can peel them off. -The touchscreens are useful to see what events were happening. The restaurant capacity indicators never seemed accurate. And we could never reserve any show tickets with them, it would always freeze on the last screen after inserting our keycard. The food: -Never sprung for any of the "extra" restaurants. Savor, Taste, and Tropicana all have the same menus, and their own seating/waiting lists. We seemed to have the best luck with wait time for a table at the Tropicana, but there were a couple nights where the wait time to have our food served there was quite long. -The food was decent (Applebee's quality?) and could have varied options over 9 nights, so we never had the same dish twice. -Did the Shanghai noodle bar once, but it has to be reserved, and not same-day. You can order more than 1 serving of each appetizer/entree, and you probably should (I'm not a big eater, and even I thought the portions were quite small.) -No card swipe at the buffet, so you can enter as many times as you like. We made a fair number of trips to the ice cream booth... -But the buffet's "snack" times had a pretty barren selection. If we were hungry after the restaurants closed at 10:00, we went to O'Sheehan's. -The deck 8 Moderno restaurant also offers breakfast, and the lines weren't as long as the main deck 15 buffet. -You can't bring liquids on board at any time (except for sealed wine). We didn't feel like spending $3.45 for a Pepsi or $15 for 6 bottles of water onboard, so although there are signs stopping you, we filled up our water bottles with ice and water from the buffet dispensers. We didn't push our luck with the "flavored water" dispensers, but those just tasted like dilute Crystal Light. -And we always asked for a glass of iced tea with our sit-down meals. The people: -Far fewer American tourists than I would've thought, probably no more than about 5-10% of the total onboard. -At least who we came in contact with, the largest groups were: Chinese, Germans, Indians, Russians, Spaniards -Really not that many kids either, the kiddie pool and waterslides were never even remotely crowded. -Our cabin steward was Benjie from the Philippines, very friendly and efficient, and we had quite a few conversations about life and the ship. -However, there were a handful of waitstaff and a restaurant concierge also from the Philippines who were quite rude and obviously unhappy. -The cruise directors were so peppy all the time, even at a 6:30 am excursion call, I really don't know how they do it. -The folks at the spa and gift shop and photographers are there to sell you stuff. It's not a full-on hard sell, but there is some aggression to their pitches. -Do you want to buy art? Are you sure you don't want to look at art? How about more art? The incessant art gallery sales pitches were almost as bad as telemarketers. The ports: -We could use the port Wifi only in Helsinki and Tallinn. Otherwise, it's only the ship's Wifi. -The ship's $100+ Wifi package was apparently painfully slow. It was nice to disconnect from the world for a week. -We had a $50 per cabin (NOT per person) shore excursion credit, which made it more cost-effective to use the ship's excursion buses in Helsinki, Tallinn, and Stockholm. Without it, we would've done it ourselves in Helsinki and Tallinn. -Also, if you are on a ship excursion, even if it's just the local sightseeing bus, you will get to disembark before do-it-yourself folks. -The excursion credit doesn't show up in your onboard account until after the day's trip, but still use the TV in the cabin to view your account so there's no surprise at disembarkation. The line on the final day to contest your account is extra long. -Rostock: -The dock is in the middle of nowhere. We bought our own train tickets from Rostock HBF to Berlin (27 euro each way). Hardest part was actually getting a taxi from the port to Rostock HBF, all the waiting taxis only wanted to take groups all the way to Berlin. Eventually, we pooled with a few others to convince one cabbie to take us downtown. 15 minute drive for 50 euro, made it in time for the 8:34 train. -One cabbie claimed there was a bus stop a few minutes away from the port. If there was, I never heard from anyone that found it. -Becuase of the cab difficulty, we didn't want to chance taking the 6:13 return train from Berlin, so we took the 4:13 train. 5 hours in Berlin obviously wasn't enough, however in 88-degree weather, it was still tiring. And unlike the ship excursion train, the regular trains were air-conditioned. -But we didn't have cab trouble back to the ship in Rostock, many taxis were waiting, and we got charged 35 euro this time. -Helsinki: -If you don't use the ship's hop-on/hop-off bus excursion, there are still plenty of others waiting right outside the ship. -It's a very long 2+ mile walk from the port to downtown, but it is against the seawall. -We got to the Temppeliaukio Church even before it opened, and there was a long line to buy entrance tickets. The little gift shop across the street, Anne's, also sells entrance wristbands at no additional charge. We got ours there, and were first in the pre-paid line to enter, along with tour groups. -The buses were supposed to run every 15-20 minutes, but it was more like either 5 or 30 minutes between them. -Made it to the National Museum a few minutes before it opened at 11, very nice exhibits. -Walked down Mannerheim to Stockmann's department store, we picked up some unique food in the gourmet supermarket in the basement. -Enjoyed perusing the outdoor marketplace near the cathedrals, everything from cheap souvenir stalls and handcrafts to a farmer's market. Cloudberries plus vanilla ice cream was a treat. -St. Petersburg: -We bought the 2-day excursion through NCL. I know others booked local tour companies on their own, we probably would've done that if we had a larger group to split the cost. -But I have no real complaints with our excursion. Obviously 2 hours in the Hermitage isn't enough, and we fell far enough behind the tour group a few times that we lost reception in our headset, but it was still a nice taste of the museum. -Lunch was simply food, not gourmet or even really local cuisine. Both days came with sparkling wine and a shot of vodka, too. -There was sufficient time at the photostops, although there were no stops along Nevsky Prospekt. I really wanted to see how the Metro looked. -Of course the shopping stops were pre-determined. Same stuff as the gift shops in the cruise terminal, although slightly less expensive. Not useful if you want something really nice or unique, but good enough for souvenir trinkets. -Catherine Palace was impressive, although the ushers are forceful in moving you along. No photos in the Amber Room, but I did take some from the doorway of the next room. I thought the ballroom was far more memorable. -The outside walk through Peterhof's fountains was nice. The inside tour was a mess: a long wait outside and very hot and crowded inside. -But 92 degrees and sticky is not a good time to be in the city. Flying bugs everywhere! -Tallinn: -With our ship credit, the hop-on bus was essentially free. It allowed us to visit Kadriorg Palace, which was far enough outside the old city that we wouldn't have gone otherwise. -The walk from the ship to downtown is much more manageable than in Helsinki, but we took the bus back anyway. It was 90 degrees and I'd sweated through my shirt by noon. -Started with Toompea and worked our way downhill. Strongly suggest this way unless you want to work out your calves. -Things here are probably 1/4 the price they are in Copenhagen. -If you only get to 1 of the viewing platforms, go to Kohtuotsa (the one farthest east). -Pikk and Lai streets are obviously touristy. If you can get to Balti Jaam market just outside the west wall, it was far more local. -Enjoyed the KGB museum along with all the antique stores with Soviet and Nazi items on display, they were like dusty free museums. -Stockholm: -Rather, it was Nynashamn, a good 50 to 60-minute bus ride away from the city. Take that into account when looking at ship itineraries. -The NCL bus excursion was very convenient for time and location, although $50 off sure helped. And we got an hour's worth of trip planning on the bus Wifi on the ride home, until my phone/camera battery died. Too many pictures... -The bus stops at the opera house, and the walk to the Vasa museum took exactly the right amount of time for it to open. Get there early, because the place was packed within an hour. -If it weren't so hot, we would've went to Skansen. Instead we went to the Nordic Museum, which was still quite fascinating. -The tram is expensive, but we took #7 back to Kungstradgarden just in time for the band and Changing of the Guard. -Gamla Stan is a nice place to get lost in, especially side streets or the east side away from Vasterlanggatan. Shop around a little, too, the same postcards cost anywhere from 2 SEK to 15 SEK. -Even better, cross the bridge back to the city center. We only had a short amount of time in Mood and Galleria malls before we had to catch the last bus back at 4:30 though. -Copenhagen: -We spent the night before departure here, along with 4 nights after. (Ended up going to Amsterdam for 3 nights after that, flights home were half the price that way). -My gosh, this city is expensive, and I've lived in San Francisco and Boston. -Having already lived in northern California, that's why I skipped visiting Christianshavn. -Buses are convenient to use, but suggest using the online trip planner because we always seemed to need to transfer. -Of all the castles, Rosenborg is easily the most memorable. The Amalienborg museum was quite minimal, and only the reception rooms at Christiansborg were worth seeing. -For Americans used to Disney World, Tivoli is small and nothing special. But it is still worth experiencing, the fireworks were great, the free ballet shows were enjoyable, although the Illuminations light show was very weak. And single ticket rides at $5, $10, or $15 apiece seemed extravagant, but we had to put down the $10 apiece for The Flying Trunk ride, which is kind of like It's a Small World. Not a suggested itinerary if you're looking for a relaxing family vacation, but we had a good time sightseeing, and it was a nice taste of Scandinavia for a reasonable price.

Good experience, scenic ports for a novice cruiser

Norwegian Getaway Cruise Review by smoky2250

4 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: July 2019
  • Destination: Baltic Sea
  • Cabin Type: Inside Stateroom
I went with my fiancee for the 9-day Baltic Sea cruise, we've been on plenty of trips to Europe before, but this was only our 2nd cruise. It was a good experience, although as more independent travelers, the itinerary was a bit confining.

The ship:

-I was worried about seasickness, but felt pretty much absolutely no motion the entire cruise. At worst, it was the rumbling of the ship's engines when sitting in an aft restaurant.

-Our inside stateroom was quite a bit larger than I expected. There was plenty of room for movement and storage, and the bathroom was larger than what we had in our Copenhagen hotel. And we definitely turned up the A/C during the heat wave.

-Really only 5 decks are publicly useful: 6/7/8/15/16. If you need to get from one end to the other quickly, the outside of Deck 7 under the lifeboats was always wide open. And it was our fresh air deck during the frequent rainstorms when we didn't feel like getting wet and windswept.

-We didn't need a balcony stateroom, there is cushioned deck furniture outside the gift shop on Deck 8 to enjoy the scenery. This deck also wraps all the way around the stern, plenty of wide-open space for solitude or romance, although none of the decks actually goes all the way out to the front of the ship.

-The shows were there to pass the time and not much else. Burn the Floor was lively and quite packed, Million Dollar Quartet was overly long. The magician and flamenco guitarist in the Headliners club were nice, but the obstructed view seating was horrible.

-The smoking area is on deck 15 port side, and the smoke is not well-contained. Avoid this area if you don't want to smell like smoke.

-The better pool (for non-kids) is the "Spice H2O" area on deck 16, enter near the arcade. It was actually nicer when the speakers malfunctioned, otherwise it did get a bit loud. Although there really weren't that many kids in the main pool area, the ones that did come had large, noisy extended families that liked to stand in the walkways.

-The climbing wall was hardly ever open, and when it was, the line was long.

-We took advantage of the $20 fill-it-up laundry bag on Day 4. It was all returned nicely folded the next afternoon, although I swear things shrunk slightly. And find your room-number stickers on all your clothes so you can peel them off.

-The touchscreens are useful to see what events were happening. The restaurant capacity indicators never seemed accurate. And we could never reserve any show tickets with them, it would always freeze on the last screen after inserting our keycard.

The food:

-Never sprung for any of the "extra" restaurants. Savor, Taste, and Tropicana all have the same menus, and their own seating/waiting lists. We seemed to have the best luck with wait time for a table at the Tropicana, but there were a couple nights where the wait time to have our food served there was quite long.

-The food was decent (Applebee's quality?) and could have varied options over 9 nights, so we never had the same dish twice.

-Did the Shanghai noodle bar once, but it has to be reserved, and not same-day. You can order more than 1 serving of each appetizer/entree, and you probably should (I'm not a big eater, and even I thought the portions were quite small.)

-No card swipe at the buffet, so you can enter as many times as you like. We made a fair number of trips to the ice cream booth...

-But the buffet's "snack" times had a pretty barren selection. If we were hungry after the restaurants closed at 10:00, we went to O'Sheehan's.

-The deck 8 Moderno restaurant also offers breakfast, and the lines weren't as long as the main deck 15 buffet.

-You can't bring liquids on board at any time (except for sealed wine). We didn't feel like spending $3.45 for a Pepsi or $15 for 6 bottles of water onboard, so although there are signs stopping you, we filled up our water bottles with ice and water from the buffet dispensers. We didn't push our luck with the "flavored water" dispensers, but those just tasted like dilute Crystal Light.

-And we always asked for a glass of iced tea with our sit-down meals.

The people:

-Far fewer American tourists than I would've thought, probably no more than about 5-10% of the total onboard.

-At least who we came in contact with, the largest groups were: Chinese, Germans, Indians, Russians, Spaniards

-Really not that many kids either, the kiddie pool and waterslides were never even remotely crowded.

-Our cabin steward was Benjie from the Philippines, very friendly and efficient, and we had quite a few conversations about life and the ship.

-However, there were a handful of waitstaff and a restaurant concierge also from the Philippines who were quite rude and obviously unhappy.

-The cruise directors were so peppy all the time, even at a 6:30 am excursion call, I really don't know how they do it.

-The folks at the spa and gift shop and photographers are there to sell you stuff. It's not a full-on hard sell, but there is some aggression to their pitches.

-Do you want to buy art? Are you sure you don't want to look at art? How about more art? The incessant art gallery sales pitches were almost as bad as telemarketers.

The ports:

-We could use the port Wifi only in Helsinki and Tallinn. Otherwise, it's only the ship's Wifi.

-The ship's $100+ Wifi package was apparently painfully slow. It was nice to disconnect from the world for a week.

-We had a $50 per cabin (NOT per person) shore excursion credit, which made it more cost-effective to use the ship's excursion buses in Helsinki, Tallinn, and Stockholm. Without it, we would've done it ourselves in Helsinki and Tallinn.

-Also, if you are on a ship excursion, even if it's just the local sightseeing bus, you will get to disembark before do-it-yourself folks.

-The excursion credit doesn't show up in your onboard account until after the day's trip, but still use the TV in the cabin to view your account so there's no surprise at disembarkation. The line on the final day to contest your account is extra long.

-Rostock:

-The dock is in the middle of nowhere. We bought our own train tickets from Rostock HBF to Berlin (27 euro each way). Hardest part was actually getting a taxi from the port to Rostock HBF, all the waiting taxis only wanted to take groups all the way to Berlin. Eventually, we pooled with a few others to convince one cabbie to take us downtown. 15 minute drive for 50 euro, made it in time for the 8:34 train.

-One cabbie claimed there was a bus stop a few minutes away from the port. If there was, I never heard from anyone that found it.

-Becuase of the cab difficulty, we didn't want to chance taking the 6:13 return train from Berlin, so we took the 4:13 train. 5 hours in Berlin obviously wasn't enough, however in 88-degree weather, it was still tiring. And unlike the ship excursion train, the regular trains were air-conditioned.

-But we didn't have cab trouble back to the ship in Rostock, many taxis were waiting, and we got charged 35 euro this time.

-Helsinki:

-If you don't use the ship's hop-on/hop-off bus excursion, there are still plenty of others waiting right outside the ship.

-It's a very long 2+ mile walk from the port to downtown, but it is against the seawall.

-We got to the Temppeliaukio Church even before it opened, and there was a long line to buy entrance tickets. The little gift shop across the street, Anne's, also sells entrance wristbands at no additional charge. We got ours there, and were first in the pre-paid line to enter, along with tour groups.

-The buses were supposed to run every 15-20 minutes, but it was more like either 5 or 30 minutes between them.

-Made it to the National Museum a few minutes before it opened at 11, very nice exhibits.

-Walked down Mannerheim to Stockmann's department store, we picked up some unique food in the gourmet supermarket in the basement.

-Enjoyed perusing the outdoor marketplace near the cathedrals, everything from cheap souvenir stalls and handcrafts to a farmer's market. Cloudberries plus vanilla ice cream was a treat.

-St. Petersburg:

-We bought the 2-day excursion through NCL. I know others booked local tour companies on their own, we probably would've done that if we had a larger group to split the cost.

-But I have no real complaints with our excursion. Obviously 2 hours in the Hermitage isn't enough, and we fell far enough behind the tour group a few times that we lost reception in our headset, but it was still a nice taste of the museum.

-Lunch was simply food, not gourmet or even really local cuisine. Both days came with sparkling wine and a shot of vodka, too.

-There was sufficient time at the photostops, although there were no stops along Nevsky Prospekt. I really wanted to see how the Metro looked.

-Of course the shopping stops were pre-determined. Same stuff as the gift shops in the cruise terminal, although slightly less expensive. Not useful if you want something really nice or unique, but good enough for souvenir trinkets.

-Catherine Palace was impressive, although the ushers are forceful in moving you along. No photos in the Amber Room, but I did take some from the doorway of the next room. I thought the ballroom was far more memorable.

-The outside walk through Peterhof's fountains was nice. The inside tour was a mess: a long wait outside and very hot and crowded inside.

-But 92 degrees and sticky is not a good time to be in the city. Flying bugs everywhere!

-Tallinn:

-With our ship credit, the hop-on bus was essentially free. It allowed us to visit Kadriorg Palace, which was far enough outside the old city that we wouldn't have gone otherwise.

-The walk from the ship to downtown is much more manageable than in Helsinki, but we took the bus back anyway. It was 90 degrees and I'd sweated through my shirt by noon.

-Started with Toompea and worked our way downhill. Strongly suggest this way unless you want to work out your calves.

-Things here are probably 1/4 the price they are in Copenhagen.

-If you only get to 1 of the viewing platforms, go to Kohtuotsa (the one farthest east).

-Pikk and Lai streets are obviously touristy. If you can get to Balti Jaam market just outside the west wall, it was far more local.

-Enjoyed the KGB museum along with all the antique stores with Soviet and Nazi items on display, they were like dusty free museums.

-Stockholm:

-Rather, it was Nynashamn, a good 50 to 60-minute bus ride away from the city. Take that into account when looking at ship itineraries.

-The NCL bus excursion was very convenient for time and location, although $50 off sure helped. And we got an hour's worth of trip planning on the bus Wifi on the ride home, until my phone/camera battery died. Too many pictures...

-The bus stops at the opera house, and the walk to the Vasa museum took exactly the right amount of time for it to open. Get there early, because the place was packed within an hour.

-If it weren't so hot, we would've went to Skansen. Instead we went to the Nordic Museum, which was still quite fascinating.

-The tram is expensive, but we took #7 back to Kungstradgarden just in time for the band and Changing of the Guard.

-Gamla Stan is a nice place to get lost in, especially side streets or the east side away from Vasterlanggatan. Shop around a little, too, the same postcards cost anywhere from 2 SEK to 15 SEK.

-Even better, cross the bridge back to the city center. We only had a short amount of time in Mood and Galleria malls before we had to catch the last bus back at 4:30 though.

-Copenhagen:

-We spent the night before departure here, along with 4 nights after. (Ended up going to Amsterdam for 3 nights after that, flights home were half the price that way).

-My gosh, this city is expensive, and I've lived in San Francisco and Boston.

-Having already lived in northern California, that's why I skipped visiting Christianshavn.

-Buses are convenient to use, but suggest using the online trip planner because we always seemed to need to transfer.

-Of all the castles, Rosenborg is easily the most memorable. The Amalienborg museum was quite minimal, and only the reception rooms at Christiansborg were worth seeing.

-For Americans used to Disney World, Tivoli is small and nothing special. But it is still worth experiencing, the fireworks were great, the free ballet shows were enjoyable, although the Illuminations light show was very weak. And single ticket rides at $5, $10, or $15 apiece seemed extravagant, but we had to put down the $10 apiece for The Flying Trunk ride, which is kind of like It's a Small World.

Not a suggested itinerary if you're looking for a relaxing family vacation, but we had a good time sightseeing, and it was a nice taste of Scandinavia for a reasonable price.
smoky2250’s Full Rating Summary
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Copenhagen
    -We spent the night before departure here, along with 4 nights after. (Ended up going to Amsterdam for 3 nights after that, flights home were half the price that way).
    -My gosh, this city is expensive, and I've lived in San Francisco and Boston.
    -Having already lived in northern California, that's why I skipped visiting Christianshavn.
    -Buses are convenient to use, but suggest using the online trip planner because we always seemed to need to transfer.
    -Of all the castles, Rosenborg is easily the most memorable. The Amalienborg museum was quite minimal, and only the reception rooms at Christiansborg were worth seeing.
    -For Americans used to Disney World, Tivoli is small and nothing special. But it is still worth experiencing, the fireworks were great, the free ballet shows were enjoyable, although the Illuminations light show was very weak. And single ticket rides at $5, $10, or $15 apiece seemed extravagant, but we had to put down the $10 apiece for The Flying Trunk ride, which is kind of like It's a Small World.
    View All 1,092 Copenhagen Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Copenhagen Cruise Port Review
  • Helsinki
    -If you don't use the ship's hop-on/hop-off bus excursion, there are still plenty of others waiting right outside the ship.
    -It's a scenic but very long walk from the port to downtown (and back).
    -We got to the Temppeliaukio Church even before it opened, and there was a long line to buy entrance tickets. The little gift shop across the street, Anne's, also sells entrance wristbands at no additional charge. We got ours there, and were first in the pre-paid line to enter, along with tour groups.
    -The buses were supposed to run every 15-20 minutes, but it was more like either 5 or 30 minutes between them.
    -Made it to the National Museum a few minutes before it opened at 11, very nice exhibits.
    -Walked down Mannerheim to Stockmann's department store, we picked up some unique food in the gourmet supermarket in the basement.
    -Went to both cathedrals downtown and the bustling outdoor marketplace on the waterfront, and got the hop-on bus there back to the ship.
    View All 839 Helsinki Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Helsinki Cruise Port Review
  • Rostock (Warnemunde)
    -The dock is in the middle of nowhere. We bought our own train tickets from Rostock HBF to Berlin (27 euro each way). Hardest part was actually getting a taxi from the port to Rostock HBF, all the waiting taxis only wanted to take groups all the way to Berlin. Eventually, we pooled with a few others to convince one cabbie to take us downtown. 15 minute drive for 50 euro, made it in time for the 8:34 train.
    -One cabbie claimed there was a bus stop a few minutes away from the port. If there was, I never heard from anyone that found it.
    -Becuase of the cab difficulty, we didn't want to chance taking the 6:13 return train from Berlin, so we took the 4:13 train. 5 hours in Berlin obviously wasn't enough, however in 88-degree weather, it was still tiring. And unlike the ship excursion train, the regular trains were air-conditioned.
    -But we didn't have cab trouble back to the ship in Rostock, many taxis were waiting, and we got charged 35 euro this time.
    -Our eventual walking route went from Brandenburg Gate down Unter den Linden and Friedrichstrasse to Checkpoint Charlie, back past Topography of Terror to Potsdamer Platz.
    View All 364 Rostock (Warnemunde) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Rostock (Warnemunde) Cruise Port Review
  • St. Petersburg
    -We bought the 2-day excursion through NCL. I know others booked local tour companies on their own, we probably would've done that if we had a larger group to split the cost.
    -But I have no complaints with our excursion. Obviously 2 hours in the Hermitage isn't enough, and we fell far enough behind the tour group a few times that we lost reception in our headset, but it was still a nice taste of the museum.
    -Lunch was simply food, not gourmet or even really local cuisine. Both days came with sparkling wine and a shot of vodka, too.
    -There was sufficient time at the photostops, although there were no stops along Nevsky Prospekt. I really wanted to see how the Metro looked.
    -Of course the shopping stops were pre-determined. Same stuff as the gift shops in the cruise terminal, although slightly less expensive. Not useful if you want something really nice or unique, but good enough for souvenir trinkets.
    -Catherine Palace was impressive, although the ushers are forceful in moving you along. No photos in the Amber Room, but I did take some from the doorway of the next room. I thought the ballroom was far more memorable.
    -The outside walk through Peterhof's fountains was nice. The inside tour was a mess: a long wait outside and very hot and crowded inside.
    -But 92 degrees and sticky is not a good time to be in the city. Flying bugs everywhere!
    View All 606 St. Petersburg Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's St. Petersburg Cruise Port Review
  • Stockholm
    -Rather, it was Nynashamn, a good 50 to 60-minute bus ride away from the city. Take that into account when looking at ship itineraries.
    -The NCL bus excursion was very convenient for time and location, although $50 off sure helped. And we got an hour's worth of trip planning on the bus Wifi on the ride home, until my phone/camera battery died. Too many pictures...
    -The bus stops at the opera house, and the walk to the Vasa museum took exactly the right amount of time for it to open. Get there early, because the place was packed within an hour.
    -If it weren't so hot, we would've went to Skansen. Instead we went to the Nordic Museum, which was still quite fascinating.
    -The tram is expensive, but we took #7 back to Kungstradgarden just in time for the band and Changing of the Guard. We followed them up the south side of the palace and got great views just west of the parade square.
    -Gamla Stan is a nice place to get lost in, especially side streets or the east side away from Vasterlanggatan. Shop around a little, too, the same postcards cost anywhere from 2 SEK to 15 SEK.
    -Even better, cross the bridge back to the city center. We only had a short amount of time in Mood and Galleria malls before we had to catch the last bus back at 4:30 though.
    View All 823 Stockholm Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Stockholm Cruise Port Review
  • Tallinn
    -With our ship credit, the hop-on bus was essentially free. It allowed us to visit Kadriorg Palace, which was far enough outside the old city that we wouldn't have gone otherwise.
    -The walk from the ship to downtown is much more manageable than in Helsinki, but we took the bus back anyway. It was 90 degrees and I'd sweated through my shirt by noon.
    -Started with Toompea and worked our way downhill. Strongly suggest this way unless you want to work out your calves.
    -Signs say the front gallery at the Nevsky Cathedral is open, but only to Orthodox members. The usher politely shoos you out otherwise.
    -Had my first sodas in like a week, dirt-cheap at a convenience store, and I needed the hydration. Things here are probably 1/4 the price they are in Copenhagen.
    -If you only get to 1 of the viewing platforms, go to Kohtuotsa (the one farthest east).
    -Pikk and Lai streets are obviously touristy. If you can get to Balti Jaam market just outside the west wall, it was far more local.
    -Enjoyed the KGB museum along with all the antique stores with Soviet and Nazi items on display, they were like dusty free museums.
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