We used our cruise next and invited our niece and nephew to come with us. I fixed our itinerary for at least a 1-2 night stay before embarkation. The date to board was on the 11th of October. My wife made arrangements with NCL knowingly ... Read More
We used our cruise next and invited our niece and nephew to come with us. I fixed our itinerary for at least a 1-2 night stay before embarkation. The date to board was on the 11th of October. My wife made arrangements with NCL knowingly that the agent will at LEAST get us an early arrival on the 10th. After getting confirmation via e-mail on the 24th of August, that our arrival time was at 8:00pm on the 10th, my wife tried got a hold to one of their agent and his only response was someone will get back within 72 hours. My wife was able to contact O from NCL to arrange an early arrival but was declined since everything was already booked. My wife was trying to cancel the hotel since it was too expensive at $370 for 2 person for one lousy night in a small room. But we got the same exact answer given earlier, they could not cancel reservation.
I believe our late cruise to the Baltic was one of the last ones to sail. So, every port that we docked, we were just the only HUGE ship at the port. And I guess this was one of advantages when we did the excursion in St. Petersburg where there were lesser tourist at major attractions.
We also had an onboard credit and had dilemma what to use it for. Our options where shore excursion which will still be much more expensive, specialty dining, when complimentary dining are already par quality dining itself and lastly the internet package of 250 minutes which I took. Aside from how slow the internet was, which I already knew from previous comments by other travelers, be very watchful and always check your usage. The day before the last day at sea, I still had 36 minutes to spare and use for the next day. As soon as I was going to check my emails, it showed that I already have exhausted all my minutes. I brought the issue to their IT department and was given extra 60 minutes.
All on board staff were very friendly, cabin crew was nice and food was very good. We loved getting our breakfast either at Savor or Taste where it is a sit down and food are freshly prepared (kind of). I also recommend O’Sheehan’s chicken wings where we always go for our late night snack. Love all the entertainment show that they offer. We didn’t quite do all the activities on board because of the cold weather. Overall, the drawback was just the late arrival that NCL has given us and still hoping that they would make the refunds they promised.
Now, all about our shore escapades:
The person who picked us up from the airport was very friendly and gave us some pointers and recommendations for a place to eat local food. After check-in, we immediately went to Frk Barners Kaelder, where the driver mentioned for us to eat which was a short walk from Scandic Copenhagen Hotel. We didn’t expect for the price to be so high that we just ended up ordering appetizers. The only place we could get to after dinner was Tivoli Food Hall. We should’ve opted to eat at this place as it was very reasonable price. We could no longer go inside Tivoli Garden, which were on their soft opening for Halloween, since we did not want to spend $24 for each which was closing in 30 minutes. We tried to walk along Stroget but noticed that most store are already closed, we retreated back to the hotel. It was pouring rain the next day and neither uber nor lyft was available and out pick up time from the hotel was 11:15am that a stroll to anywhere was impossible.
We did not avail of the NCL shore excursion. We just got off the ship and walked a couple minutes to the train station. You don’t even have to buy the ticket from the machine as what everybody tried to do that caused a long wait. We just used the app, trainline and bought the ticket which was very convenient and fast. The ticket only cost $60 each with a return. As soon as we had confirmation, we boarded the train and travelled for 3 hours to the central station and got out of the public square in Potsdamer Platz. Pretty much walked around to see all major sights (Public Square, Panoramapunkt, Holocaust Memorial, Brandenburg Gate, Galeries Lafayette, Gendarmenmrkt, Checkpoint Charlie) to check out. We chose to ride the taxi from GendarmenMrkt back to the station which cost less than 9euro.
Aside from Copenhagen, Tallinn was an all-day rain as well. We made a huge mistake taking the taxi going to Old Town, driver immediately charged us 20 euros. We lately found out about the app, Bolt (you can also use in St. Petersburg) which is exactly the same as uber/lyft that charges way a LOT less. The taxi driver also dropped us off in the uphill area so it would be much easier for us to walk going back. We didn’t cover that much of Tallinn due to the downpour. We first started on a nice overlooking spot where a sign said “The Times We Had”, and made our way to Old Town, St. Patrick’s, Saint Olaf’s Church but was closed, so we were not able to climb to check out the view. We also went to Balti Jaama Turg Food Market, Telliskivi Creative City & Linnahall. Bolt saved us a lot of time and kept us dry for at least a while.
St. Petersburg, Russia:
We didn’t bother applying for a visa since it was just for 2 days but since our companions (nephew/niece) are both from UK, they applied for an e-visa which was free starting October 1st of this year and had to apply for less than a week before embarkation. Me and my wife on our part had to use TJ Travel. I tried Alla Tours but could not get through their website. Maybe it was for the better as we had a great time with TJ Travel. Our Guide was Elizabeth or Liza and our driver was Alexander. Liza was very friendly and informative. A great guide and very knowledgeable and that made the trip more exciting. Our group of 13 was always on time that made the whole tour swift and spontaneously that was able to get to see all included in the itinerary list and much MORE! We also ate at some local restaurant that was delicious. I and my wife got to see and roam around after lunch but make sure not to go out too far. The tour also had their own special place to buy your souvenir where they also serve you hot coffee and even a shot of vodka. Unfortunately, I received an email 3 days before the trip that the fountain at Peterhof will close on October 13th.
When we got off the ship, a minute walk from the ship, a public bus (#14) was waiting. And it only cost 8 euro each for the whole day getting around. We started from Sibelius Monument, Regatta for a quick sticky roll and hot chocolate (highly recommend), we went afterwards to Temppeliaukion Kirkko and were delighted to get a chance and to listen to an orchestra practicing. We also went inside Kampin Kappell. Then we went to Old Market Hall/Kapaturi Market, Esplanade, Market Square, the Tori Quarters, the Senate Square, Helsinki Cathedral and finally Uspenski Cathedral. If only there was more time.
The final leg of the cruise. Another mistake on our part and hopefully you gain from our experience. Read some of the post from previous people who already took the same trip mostly took the Hop on Hop off (HOHO). So, we bought tickets before the trip not knowingly will be a tremendous waste of money and time. Just to let you know also that going to Stockholm from Nynashamn is a one hour train ride. Outside from the ship after the gate, on your right, there was a tent that sells tickets for $27 that also is good for bus rides. When you arrive at the Central Station, you go down to the right side where Mc Donald’s is located that would be the first station of the HOHO. We skipped the 2nd and 3rd stop since we knew that we were going to spend more of our time there and decided to stop at the 4th stop where a scenic view awaits after a short distance of walk. By the time we got back to ride another HOHO, it wasted more than 30 minutes of our time and the driver was VERY SLOW! At that point, we decided just to use the bus and explore ourselves. We went to Drottninggatan, NK for some shopping, walked at Kungstradgarden, visited Cathedral Storkyrkan, wondered around Gamla Stan and Stortorget Square, Royal Palace and Tessin Palace. We also crossed and walked at the narrowest alley which was awesome. We ended at Ostermalmstorg and got back to Central Station to catch the train going back. We missed Vasa Museum and I heard it was a must. So let me know how good it is.
The journey to the train station requires at least a 20 minute walk but there is a bus which is included with the ticket that you purchase that will take you to the station. It’s about a 5 minute walk from the ship and takes 2 stops by the bus to the station. A helpful advice if you wish, especially when it’s pouring rain. Read Less