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7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose this cruise because of where it was going. Have not ocean cruised for over 10 years. The ship is lovely & new. We thought the staff was great. The emphasis was on music and we enjoyed the Lincoln Center stage concerts so very ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of where it was going. Have not ocean cruised for over 10 years. The ship is lovely & new. We thought the staff was great. The emphasis was on music and we enjoyed the Lincoln Center stage concerts so very much! The World Stage was a mixed bag for us. The acts varied from classical vocals, to comedy, to dance. For this stage I would have liked to see group scenes, comedians that work together. One guy is not to energetic. We did not attend all of those. BB King was terrific as well. Food.. we did not take advantage of the specialty restaurants. Another way tp pick our pockets. The Lido breakfasts were great! Lunches were fine too. The main dining room was very hit or miss. I was looking forward to fish but each of the 3 entrees I tried were not well prepared. My husband tried more and had some good results. The Norwegian salmon was the best. The servings of vegetables were very, very small. Sauces were tasteless and often smeared on plate for effect, not enough to enjoy. I had salmon with one asparagus spear! Often the potatoes were just 2 bites worth. Over all, choices were varied and so were the results. I had a couple pasta dishes that were terrific. The curry one night was superb. Excursions...so outrageously over priced that we didn’t even consider. Did a couple private ones that were great and much cheaper. The thermal spa was nice...we did spring for this, but felt like it was not worth the charge. Wine overpriced and why no local Norwegian craft beers not available? The port talks were fun, but honestly of little help. Neither were the port maps or info helpful at all. We came to see Norway and did...on our own. Hiked most of the time while off the boat. The fitness area was excellent and we took full advantage of this area. But really...$20 for spin class? The stretch classes looked too crowded so again, did our own thing. Over 50% of the passengers were Dutch, there were a lot of Chinese as well. Our assigned table mates were just awful so we went rogue and came in as our music scheduled allowed. Overall, the charges for drinks, excursions, WIFI, classes etc were too highpriced , but we enjoyed the music and the movies. The 5 sea days were lovely and relaxing. Each stop was interesting. We were blessed with many good days of weather. The laundry service was excellent and the embarkation as well as debarkation was well done. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
With 4 cruises behind us and having visited many countries we decided we would like to visit Northern Europe. MSC was the cheapest option as Royal Caribbean and Norweigan were a lot more expensive so we decided to try this option, we ... Read More
With 4 cruises behind us and having visited many countries we decided we would like to visit Northern Europe. MSC was the cheapest option as Royal Caribbean and Norweigan were a lot more expensive so we decided to try this option, we were not very pleased with a few things, the ship is very new so this itself was fabulous however as the saying goes "you get what you pay for".. We spoke with many others on board from various parts of the world and we all felt that once on board the ship it seemed to be like "we have your money so entertain yourself".. from past experience on RCC and Thompson (TUI) ships there was always music or entertainment by the poolside and especially on the days at sea, on this very large ship there was no music to be heard and no cruise director to be found to participate in games etc. the only time we saw this lady was at the beginning and end of each show in the evening times. The marketplace in particular is a dangerous zone and needs a "huge restructure" as there is no queueing system in place and easily knocked off your feet in a heartbeat. some nationalities in particular have no manners in this area or at the lifts around this area and we saw elderly people almost run-down.... :-( this includes some workers in the marketplace as well as customers. we spoke with some waiters in the Panorama dining area and they agreed about the Buffet area and said that many people had mentioned it but nothing was done.. very sad to see this ongoing problem is not being rectified considering this is an expensive holiday for each family and MSC don't seem to be happy to take on board people's comments. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
This cruise had an amazing itinerary--the wonders of the Norwegian fjords, charming little ports, the Arctic with its eerie light, and the fascinating little medieval stave church at Urnes. We loved all the sights, were very lucky with the ... Read More
This cruise had an amazing itinerary--the wonders of the Norwegian fjords, charming little ports, the Arctic with its eerie light, and the fascinating little medieval stave church at Urnes. We loved all the sights, were very lucky with the weather (just missing the weeks and weeks of rain), and enjoyed experiencing Holland America's newest ship. The Nieuw Statendam is stunning. We thought our Vista Suite cabin was the most thoughtfully-designed cabin ever (especially the easy walk-in glass shower), loved the glorious fresh flowers and the interesting art in the public spaces, and especially enjoyed the serene Retreat of the Explorations Lounge on Deck 12 where there was always excellent coffee (though not free), stylish coffee table books to browse, and a few shelves of briskly traded cruisers' fiction paperbacks. And definitely the most relaxing music on the ship. Only the garish decoration of the main dining room seemed out of place (a kind of interior design fail of a bold burgundy and orangey-yellow modern carpet underneath lipstick red and metallic red ceiling fixtures. And for some reason truly terrible pop music. It's a loud place, both literally and metaphorically.). The Step One Dance Company's performance, which we'd already seen twice on the Eurodam, we loved all over again, but all the rest of the entertainment was C, not B, list. No one, however, probably chooses Holland America for the shows. It's the music venues that are the real entertainment--especially the lively BB King Blues Club band. Lots of dancers on this cruise: The Americans all danced as they did in high school, the Asians did ballroom dancing moves with dramatic arm and hand gestures, and the Dutch and the Norwegians took it all in with anthropological interest. :) The food in the dining room was always good and the presentations were lovely. The soups weren't as good as the soups I had admired so much on the Eurodam, perhaps, but oh my the salmon! Tamarind was the only supplemental charge restaurant we know to try--though after the astonishingly good Indonesian restaurants we'd sampled in Amsterdam, we were disappointed in the Tamarind's Indonesian night. Everywhere we ate, there was attentive and professional service, though the staff didn't make the effort to be friendly or to remember names in the way the staff on the Eurodam had done on our cruise to Hawaii in February. There didn't really seem to be much of a sense of esprit de corps among the staff, perhaps because the Captain seemed humorless and even a little dour--or maybe the ship is just too new to have developed a sense of community yet. The one thing that I always winced at was the tendency of the wait staff to announce that it was "Yummy, Yummy Time!" when the dessert menu came around. Oh, please. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We went looking for a Norway/fjord cruise and an extension on our own for a couple of days in Iceland - this ship seemed to fit the bill. Virtually brand new ship and this was our first time on Viking. Our initial impression was that ... Read More
We went looking for a Norway/fjord cruise and an extension on our own for a couple of days in Iceland - this ship seemed to fit the bill. Virtually brand new ship and this was our first time on Viking. Our initial impression was that the decor and furnishings on this ship are excellent and well thought-out. The public area furniture is comfortable but not clunky and the general decor is Scandinavian modern minimalist. We liked all of the public areas, particularly the covered pool ( pretty chilly up in Norway even in the summer)and the spa area which has steam room, saunas and everything you could want. The staff was largely Asian and over the top in friendliness and quality of service. The passenger demographic was older but not incapacitated - no kids, no casino, no half-baked broadway reviews etc. Our stateroom on deck 4 was very comfortable, quiet and outfitted with the usual higher end amenities, flat screen TV, comfortable bed, well thought out lighting etc. Minor issue: I wish the max setting of the TV volume were a bit higher as my hearing is not what it used to be. And, while the shower (no bath) was great, it occasionally was beset by the temperature gremlins, turning hot and cold randomly. I was told that a fix for this is in the works. The food was overall very good to excellent - not quite as good as Crystal but close. Breakfast and lunch were in the buffet areas by the pool or the World cafe - sometimes I wish they would open the Restaurant for breakfast or lunch, but I can see the economics of not doing this. The regular coffee was surprisingly good for a cruise ship - first time in my experience and specialty coffees were available in various locations. We bought the Silver liquor package - this gives you 24/7 access to top shelf liquor and a large assortment of wines, but even if you don't get it, the per/drink prices are very reasonable. $15 pp/pday tips on your closing statement. The Chef's Table is a specialty restaurant where the menu is fixed and changes every day or frequently. We tried it one night and did not like the concept. We prefer the Thomas Keller type approach on Seabourne where at least some choices are available. The Italian specialty restaurant Manfredi's was fantastic - great Italian dishes and my personal favorite - Dover Sole meuniere. We booked our own side tours as we don't like the bus-tour experience. Overall, this is a lovely ship with user friendly systems and user friendly staff. We will be back. Fer shur. Happy trails. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We choose this ship due to the itinerary which was one of the few things we ended up happy with. We booked initially in Dec. Two weeks after final payment the price on our trip dropped by more than 60%. I was offered a $250 on board credit ... Read More
We choose this ship due to the itinerary which was one of the few things we ended up happy with. We booked initially in Dec. Two weeks after final payment the price on our trip dropped by more than 60%. I was offered a $250 on board credit as a consolation to the almost $7000 drop. Not ever cruising NCL prior I was baffled. I have never seen a cruise line struggle to fill cabins to the extent they created such a massive drop. That should have been our first clue! We boarded the ship and there was a massive wet brown stain on my carpet that the room steward tried to cover with the ottoman. The sheets were stained in three places and the mirror had two large handprints in the middle of it. Second clue? After calling housekeeping and front desk and to deal with the carpet I was told they would replace it in two days. Three days later they finally did. We went to La Cucina on the first night and were told my sons dining and drink packages were never paid for. They were part of our fare and had the receipt. They refused to acknowledge the receipt I had with me saying they had to make contact with the mainland. For 5 days they could apparently not make contact with the mainland and it took me having to have my husband call from the US to Orlando to have this fixed. It was their mistake. They somehow dropped it from his booking. No apologies from anyone. That seemed to be the theme throughout the cruise-we had exactly 4 crew members on the cruise that made our trip enjoyable and I will make a point to send a card to NCL about them because the rest of the crew just did not seem to care about anything. La Cucina was a huge disappointment and we barely ate our food. When the waiter picked up our plates he asked how it was and we said "honestly, not very good". He then proceeded to say OK and took our food away...never once asking how he could fix it. Their excursions are marked up beyond belief. We just were flabbergasted that they charged $199 for a Flam railroad ticket when you can walk right off (or better yet book ahead of time) for less than 1/4 of that! The only NCL excursion we did was Paris on Your Own. Our 6 hours in Paris was reduced to 2 1/2. No apologies. They really didn't care. They left over an hour after the ship cleared for no apparent reason. The ship itself is in good condition and we did enjoy and make use of the thermal suite everyday. Food, which I understand is subjective, was not at all the quality you find on Disney or Celebrity or even Royal. We struggled to find anything decent to eat most nights at dinner. You almost have to have a dining package for most nights. And even that is iffy...Cagneys and Le Bistro were good. The Mojito Bar is a bright spot. If you dare to cruise with them head there and hang out with Roberto and drown your sorrows that you didnt pick a better line. The perfect end to the cruise...the last night the sliding door in the shower fell off! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
Chose this cruise because of the itinerary and all the stops it had to offer. The experiences in these wonderful ports were almost ruined because of the poor customer service provided by this ship. A special mention however goes to our ... Read More
Chose this cruise because of the itinerary and all the stops it had to offer. The experiences in these wonderful ports were almost ruined because of the poor customer service provided by this ship. A special mention however goes to our cabin steward, Victor, who took great care of us and Reuben's staff at the Java Café who tended exceptionally well to our every drinking need! The embarkation process in Amsterdam was the worst we've encountered in over 12 cruises, making everyone wait in a large room like a bunch of cattle. There were 5 couples in total traveling in our group; the Pearl staff offered nothing to accommodate our group especially on sea days and seemed put-out that we would ask for somewhere to hang out as a group. Food was subpar, even in the specialty restaurants. Getting off the ship at ports was poorly organized as was the process for shore excursions resulting in a chaotic mess at most stops. The worst stop by far was the Tilbury port. If not booked on a ship shore excursion there was no offer of advice or help maneuvering the area - the long lines at the shuttle bus to the train stations could have been averted if the ship offered tickets for sale as they did for other ports; the train tickets to London likewise could have been offered for presale as a service to their passengers. The Pearl did NOTHING despite, we were told, a request from the locals to provide this presale service. It took over 3 hours to get off the ship and to the train station, so any plans we had for London were abandoned. We were fortunate to grab one of London's black cabs - our driver Steve saved the day with a 2 hour tour of London and his entertaining commentary. As Platinum level rewards members, my husband and I experienced no special acknowledgement. Despite what NCL advertises, there is no concierge service and, once again, the desk services team seemed surprised/put out that we expected it. We most likely will be taking our business elsewhere for our next cruise Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose this cruise as we had always wanted to visit Iceland & Norway. The travel arrangements from the UK were good. The transfer from airport to ship was well organised and our guide was very knowledgeable and gave us a very ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we had always wanted to visit Iceland & Norway. The travel arrangements from the UK were good. The transfer from airport to ship was well organised and our guide was very knowledgeable and gave us a very good summary of Iceland’s history as well as pointing out landmarks during the transfer. Embarkation was quick and smooth as we had pre registered our credit card. No long queues as can happen on some cruises. The cabin was very clean and comfortable. The whole ship was clean and people were working constantly to keep it spick and span. There were a number of restaurants to dine in. Some had to be booked but it was possible to eat a number of times in these. It was not possible to book in the main restaurant. On 2 occasions we had to wait but were then brought a drink while waiting. We ate in the World cafe, a buffet for breakfast and lunch but not for dinner. We prefer more formal dining for dinner. The choice of food was good and the presentation was interesting. Overall a good standard. The lectures on board were very interesting and enriching, especially those given about the Geology of Iceland. The optional excursions were good but expensive. Some of the included excursions were coach trips. These were OK but not exciting. We enjoyed our trip very much and rate it among the best we have ever done. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
This ship is beautiful and always spotless.We have been on about 95 cruises, many different cruise lines and ships .I usually do not write reviews, but after reading a scathing review by someone who was on this ship for 3 months in Feb. ... Read More
This ship is beautiful and always spotless.We have been on about 95 cruises, many different cruise lines and ships .I usually do not write reviews, but after reading a scathing review by someone who was on this ship for 3 months in Feb. 2019, I felt a few points should be mentioned. This person complained about everything, especially the staff, we had some issues but, we ALWAYS treat people with respect and never talk down to anyone. We departed the Viking Sun 5 days ago, I find it difficult to believe we were on the same ship. One morning we had breakfast in the Restaurant and the service for us was very slow. We kept getting coffee and danish but no entree until I spoke "nicely" to the head waiter(Tony), he immediately went into the kitchen to get our food.Tony kept apologizing and said this should never happen. Later that afternoon we went back to our room and on our table was a bottle of sparkling wine and 4 delicious chocolate covered strawberries.There was also a card apologizing for the bad breakfast service.Later at dinner I saw Tony again and shook his hand and thanked him, we always had great service after that. The food on this ship is not excellent all the time but, all the staff is, from the servers to the ladies in Guest services. This cruse is actually called Homelands and was 14 days.We loved our Penthouse veranda, and all the beautiful public spaces, this ship is a pleasure to sail on. I just wish we had more than 1 sea day.Cruise director Corrine Bach is a greatly talented person and also very nice. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and had sailed previously on the Pearl and knew we loved this ship. We enjoyed every detail of every day onboard the Pearl! From our captains ( Captain Paul went on vacation mid cruise and Captain Gio ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and had sailed previously on the Pearl and knew we loved this ship. We enjoyed every detail of every day onboard the Pearl! From our captains ( Captain Paul went on vacation mid cruise and Captain Gio took over), General Manager (Cary Turecamo, who showed us such kindness and kept all aspects of the ship running smoothly), Jana (Group Sevice Coordinator), Alex (Concierge, who graciously helped us with so many questions), and Claudia Ungureanu (CFA, who we loved getting to know and was so generous with her kindness to us) we were taken care of so very well! We had free air travel as one of our perks and all went smoothly. We flew from JFK on Delta to Amsterdam and KLM on our trip back to the states. Both flights were smoother and we were served 2 meals, along with free wifi and current movies. We arrived at the airport Saturday morning and found a representative for our bus transfer easily. Embarkation and disembarkation were a breeze for us. The entertainment was varied for many interests. They even had local group come on board to entertain in Ireland. My favorite show, though, was the Crew Talent Show. This crew is a wonderful group of caring people and it was so fun to get to see them shine in their talents! Our food was delicious. We ate in the main dining area most nights and ate in Le Bistro and Cagneys also. For breakfast and lunch we were blessed to dine in Modernos! Oh, my! The staff there were wonderful and the food was excellent! We were spoiled! We also ate in O'sheehans and at the buffet. Needless to say, we didn't miss a meal. There's a great coffee machine on the back near the Great Outdoors dining area....freshly ground beans. Excellent regular or decaf. The Great Outdoors is the perfect place to eat with wonderful views off the back of the ship. We had a very full itinerary visiting Scotland, Ireland, N Ireland, Norway, France, England, and Belgium. We cannot decide which port was our favorite! We had wonderful weather ( a little rain off and on on one of our days in Scotland), but all other days were beautiful! Do take a rain/windbreaker. I had mine daily and used it for times that it was breezy. We saw such varied beauty in each port that it was breathtaking each day! Wonderful! Our port excursions were as follows: Edinburgh, Scotland Woke @ 5:30...upstairs to see sail in.  Tender over was nice.  Caught hoho very near port.  Easy and a rep helped us with ticket exchange. Bus at 9. Rode several stops and changed to green bus for live commentary. Fun knowledge. Beautiful day...sunny and warmer than we"d hoped. Did the route our on the bus and got off to walk Royal Mile...and find Greyfriars Bobby.bar and cemetery.  Ate at Biblia for fish & chips and soup.  Very good and cute place with good music and wifi. Shopped some then finished the route and back to ship. Tender back was a "TRIP"!!! Wavy and in a lifeboat...what a ride!!!  Rocking and rolling.  Invergordon, Scotland Off to meet Wow Scotland tour.  Nice new van holding 30? Graham..driver, Sandy was tour guide..he was wonderful.. very witty and knowledgeable.  We went to the Edinburgh castle first, with stops for talks along the walk there.  The castle was outside-only viewing but gorgeous views of city and River. Back to the bus for a trip to the Monastery...beautiful area with huge trees and gravesites. On through the highlands with beautiful green vistas of mountains, water, fields of barley for whiskey...yellow fields of canola, pastures of cows, sheep, llamas, pigs, even long haired Scotland cows (coos). Many babies...cows, sheep, swans, chickens, and sea birds.  We had cloudy skies and cold winds but everything was still breathtakingly beautiful.  A yellow Bush, that has stickers but smells like coconut, was everywhere.  Unbelievably lush rhododendron just taking over the sides of roadway ... not native but thriving and invasive. Thistle  just looks brushy, as does lavender...blooms in August but has slight purple hues, not overwhelming like photos appear.  Made it along winding country (1car) roads to Loch Ness ...it is a huge lake, can't see it all!  Didn't see Nessie but we did see rain!  It was an off and on rain all day but didn't overwhelm and we had raingear. It was never hard rain, just slight drizzle but pesky. We went to a battlefield and I didn't walk out to it since raining and very windy/cold.  I did listen to info, then shopped in gift store. Next was Clava Cairns...beautiful and interesting displays of rocks, along with great info of history and folk tales which surrounds them. Very  interesting day with unforgettable scenery! Back onboard ship by 3 to depart at 4.  We were serenaded by an 8-10 piece Highland band...bagpipes & drums.  Played until we were almost unable to see them. Wonderful send off from Invergordon!  Haugesund, Norway... Out on deck while docking.  Beautiful. Off at 11. Free shuttle into town center where we caught the city bus 210 to Skudeneshavn.  It was a beautiful 90 min ride.  We passed thru smaller towns, saw homes, fields of sheep (Rocks piled in lines to form borders between properties. Many little fishing boat hamlets.  So pretty.  Skudeneshavn was so beautiful.  Rows of white houses and buildings with shops and restaurants. All along the most beautiful seaside scenery. The sun came out and we took off jackets...not sure temps but would guess 70s. I walked a trail through a wooded rocky area and saw the Moon stone...local lore is that a meteorite fell but geologists say 800 million years old and think it washed up there with shift from the melt. Interesting. Caught bus back and had the cutest driver...very nice to us, and very professional to be so young. Back in Haugesund to shop and walk around.  Much to see and not much time but enjoyed.  Shuttle back to port at 5. Got windy and cold. Flam, Norway.. Awake 5:30...up to watch entry thru fjords to Flam..breath taking scenery. Quiet and majestic. Off by 8...very easy disembark straight to RR sta.  Stood in line to make sure but already had tickets printed via internet. The ride was great! Scenery amazing.  An hour to top with quick stop for pics of huge waterfall and dancing maiden.  Got video.  Many people got off to stay a bit...some rode bikes down.  Sun came out b4 we got to top.   On decks to see sail away.  Late again due to late passengers..2 this time.  Backing out of port no room to turn yet. Turned on a dime! Amazing! Hated to leave the outside.  Geiranger, Norway... Breakfast to wonderful views of fjord. A few passengers got off in Hellesint. Then we cruised on thru Geiranger Fjord, the longest fjord.Highest waterfalls. Outside to take pics of 7 sisters and Suitor Waterfalls.  Very breezy and cold but surreal. So quiet and majestic. Sitting for great view in Moderno area with chairs.  Nice music. Perfect. Watched Norwegian moving pier...their design.  Like a folding measurer... scissors out to boat...didn't have to dock at pier or be tendered. Great invention. Off before 11.  Beautuful sunshine..warm temps...no jacket needed and by end of day...long sleeves too warm.  No internet here...had it but never connected for us. I walked a path that went around the water and wound by a school, old folks home, church and camp ground.  Many people camping....mainly small campers and many tents. Lovely area right at base of waterfall.  I walked along to near the top of waterfall.  Beautiful, forceful and so clear. Back to shop some b4 tour at 1. Big bus that went on hairpin curves all the way to top...took an hour with 2 viewing stops.  Beautiful...in the snow at the top but not windy and we were warm.  Buses and cars must stop to take turns making curves.  Amazing driving by our driver. We saw so many views of waterfalls, a huge frozen lake and many places to stay overnight.  Saw no wildlife. The top had many photo ops and we stayed half an hour. They're working on a bldg up there so will change soon.  The road closes in early Oct ...impassable.  Has to thaw in late spring b4 any travel on it.  There was an avalanche leading into Geiranger in Dec and they were stuck for 10 days with no transport other than the ferry to Hellesint...takes an hour. We then went to another overlook that had views of 7 sisters waterfalls from different angle.  Also a glass area that a waterfall flows over so u can see thru it. Back onboard at 4.  Cpt speaking now saying we'll  be late because some tour cruise excursions are running late.  Belfast, N Ireland...Giants Causeway Tour was excellent! Driver, guide. FUNNY! David. This tour was great!  We covered Dunlace Castle, Giants Causeway, 2 more castles, old town Belfast with history and reasons.  Saw walled off areas and gates dividing streets and neighbors.  Sad time for them.  But he was SO happy that Belfast has changed *miracle* and growing.  Seeing things they would never have seen in the 70s. So many deaths and devastation.  Saw Titanic memorial... also saw new area of downtown Belfast.  Thru the days we drive through moors, seaside cliffs, beaches near water, farmlands full of sheep and cows.  We also went thru many glens and saw the beauty of so many different kinds of terrain. Throughout the trip, he talked of folklore and history and made everything so interesting.  Never a dull moment.  We heard of trolls, banshees, giants.  Best tour guide ever and certainly worth the price for a day full of beauty and knowledge about Belfast. We ate at a pub at Giants causeway...fish and chips..very good and cute pub. 13.75 pounds. Order at bar and tell table # ...they serve you. Also bus had wifi and a bag in each seat with water, chips, a frig magnet, and postcard.  Great welcome gesture. Back to the ship just in time to board with a few min to spare.  No shopping near port so wasn't tempted to linger. Dublin, Ireland Got off easily in port..just went on our own. Took shuttle to city centre $15 pp... pick up right off ship. Then dropped at Stop 10 (Merrion Square) of hoho...got green bus with live commentary.  Jokes getting a little off color...not for kids.  Got off at Ha Penny Bridge for pics, then walked 2 blocks to pubs & shops.  Wandered around.  Ate fish & chips at Leo Burdocks..neat little pub where many famous folks have eaten. Used to use coal for fuel to fry fish and chips.  Cod very fresh, white, crisp crust. Chips wonderful thick sliced French fries. Went to St Stephens Park..huge with tons of tourists enjoying nature.  Also went to Trinity College. Looked a bit more and found bus to head back at 5.  We lucked out on weather AGAIN.  Few sprinkles for few min but we weren't out in it. Le Havre, France... Off ship at 8 to nice clean port bldg. Nothing but a place to buy shuttle to town centre. 5 Euros for all day riding.  Gift shop closed still.  Rainy looking.  Going prepared with umbrellas and rain coats.  Le Havre is beautiful but we had plans for Hon Fluer. We walked around for a couple of hours and saw many statues, beautiful churches and buildings. Le Havre was destroyed during WW11 and was rebuilt to reflect its former glory. World Soccer being held here...US womens team plays tomorrow...they won! 11:00 bus to Hon Fleur for 3 hours.  Half hour ride over on Bee Le Havre. Already had tickets from online. Hon Fleur was so pretty.  Beautiful old buildings, churches and a fortress surrounding a port area.  Picturesque views in every direction. It was windy and cool after our 30 min shuttle from Le Havre. But in just a few min the sun was out again and jackets came off.  We watched a pirates ship getting ready to sail and when it started away from shore, fired cannons 4 times.  There were many different plaques and memorials to those who died in WW2...including American soldiers. Among other nationalities. We shared a jambon baguette and frites for lunch ..deja vue moment from 1973. Really nice to be back in France together. After walking around to see everything and a little shopping,  it was time to head back to the ship. Rain held off for our day until we were walking from the shuttle to the ship.  Got a little wet but our raincoats helped. Tilbury, England... Docked at 9. Walked to train station from port...15 min. Brisk walking along nice sidewalk. Bought tickets easily since we beat 1st shuttle bus to station. ( free shuttle) 40 min train ride to Fenchurch station.  Nice train...commuters. off to the Sky Garden.  Had free tour tickets for 11:30. Went thru security before allowed to go up to 35th floor. Elevators fast and continuous run up and down.  At top were wonderful views of London and Thames River.  Going up more stairs gave views of 360.  Different views highlighted on windows with titled bldgs. Down to catch hoho.  Got yellow line with live commentary. Rode to see all around, then swapped to blue line to go by Kensington and Buckingham Palace...mainly can only see gardens...slight/quick view thru gardens.  Rode until time to walk back to Fenchurch by 5 to catch train. No problems. Walked back to ship. his trip was a dream trip for us! Brugges, Belgium We had a shuttle from ship to port building.  Then we took shuttle express to Brugges...it took about half an hour.  We were glad to have pre purchased because they were full. It was 20 each.  The ship offered one for 15 but only took folks to the train station, then they had to get from there to Brugges. They can't deliver to city center so we all walked to town ...took about 30minutes to the square.  We looked around a bit and decided to take a horse drawn carriage ride.  We shared with a couple from Australia and paid 25 euros per couple for a 30 min tour around the old part of the city. (50 Eu for carriage) It was nice on the cobblestone streets. There are so many old beautiful buildings! She took a 5 min break to feed and water Adeline (horse)...we took a pics of swans and surroundings. Finished our tour and went to find canal boat tour.  There was quite a line, but a beautiful day and well worth the wait! Our "captain" was young and very well spoken in English ...also knew so many details about the sites we saw.  The ride was half an hour and we saw so many places and heard the historic details of them.  He was a very good guide.  Also, I sat next to him so had a great view and could hear perfectly. We went to find Belgian Waffles.  YUM! Strawberry and whipped cream on a freshly made waffle from Chez Albert.  So delish..sat on the steps to eat it.  We bought frites from a stand...also very good.  The streets were crowded with people enjoying the day, shopping, listening to street music, eating, loving life. SO many people! I shopped a little more then we headed out on our walk back to the shuttle.  Stopped for a quick walk in Minnewater Park.  Beautiful! Could stay there for hours! So many enjoying the beautiful weather with friends and family. Many locals riding bikes...many school children on tours. Back on shuttle to ship was perfect timing. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose this cruise (Viking Homelands) because it offered us the opportunity to visit each of the Scandinavian countries and St. Petersburg. We arrived two days early to have extra time to explore Stockholm - we could have used more time ... Read More
We chose this cruise (Viking Homelands) because it offered us the opportunity to visit each of the Scandinavian countries and St. Petersburg. We arrived two days early to have extra time to explore Stockholm - we could have used more time to do it justice! Note that we did this on our own, not through Viking. It was much less expensive and we stayed at the same hotel. It was a quick 5 minute taxi ride to the ship.At the end of the tour we took the renowned train from Bergen, Norway to Oslo and then stayed an extra day to enjoy the sights. There was a wide range of excursions and they were all interesting and well organized. All but one of the guides were exceptional. The ship is well laid out, beautifully designed and immaculately clean. We ate in all the restaurants except the Captain's Table and found each to offer delicious food and an appropriate ambience. We made it to most of the Afternoon Tea gatherings - a nice touch. We especially appreciated that in The Restaurant, we could choose whether we wanted a table alone or one to share. We often chose the option to share a table, as it provided an easy way to meet interesting new people! We took the tour of the Spa the first day so we understood all it had to offer at no charge, and used it almost every day. (The hot tub is a great way to end each day of touring!) We had three massages between the two of us and they were excellent. There is a launderette on every deck!!!!! There are four washer/dryer combinations. They are easy to use and automatically provide detergent. This made it possible to pack for two weeks in one suitcase, for free! The talks were informative. Unfortunately, the preview of the next day's stop was scheduled for the middle of the dinner hour (6:30pm), which resulted in too many people showing up for dinner at 7:15pm. I imagine the various kitchens and wait staff didn't appreciate the crowds any more than we did! (It was a disappointment to offer that feedback and be told there was no other time feasible. I had suggested that they offer it via the TV in the room, so people could watch it at their leisure.) The staff is exceptional. Everyone I met spoke to me and did everything possible to assist. The senior leadership were visible and friendly and provided a personal thank you or questions to every piece of feedback offered on their survey. The entertainment was very good. The six crew members who sang and danced did a terrific job. Note - you really don't need local currency at the destinations. Most restaurants - and public rest rooms! - will take (and many prefer) a credit card over cash. Many will also accept Euros. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
We initially chose the cruise for the itinerary from Amsterdam which included British Isles,Norway, Normandy and Belgium. We did a combination of NCL excursions and private excursions and all met or exceeded our expectations with special ... Read More
We initially chose the cruise for the itinerary from Amsterdam which included British Isles,Norway, Normandy and Belgium. We did a combination of NCL excursions and private excursions and all met or exceeded our expectations with special note to all 3 excursions in Norway(the majestic fjords were breathtaking), the tour at Giants Causeway with Nigel of Daria ( best 6 pounds I ever spent) and excellent job of Kurt to show us the wonders of Bruge, Belgium The crew on NCL were excellent with special mention of Victor our stateroom attendant, Nikola and Monika in Magnums, Emerson the best bar tender on the high seas in the Whiskey Bar, Cary the most visible and friendliest Hotel GM I have ever experienced, Red our waiter in Summer Palace who has a good voice as well, Stephen Macha Macha wine steward and deck attendant, Cristyna and bar tenders in the Casino and so many other people in restaurants and bars. Thank you and Salamat to all. Entertainment was very good with special mention to great job by Patricia in Magnums, Funky Roots in various locales, The Pearl show singers and dancers and the presentation of Legends Dining was very good to excellent with all 4 meals in Specialty restaurants with our favourite being Cagney's . In the Summer Palace main ding room food was good to very good with our expereience being enhanced by fun and efficient service from Red and his assistant waiter. Dining room captains more attentive than what we usually see. The Buffet was good for breakfast and food good in O Sheehans with service a little uneven. We were so busy with excursions on most did not take in too many activities but did play trivia quite a bit and the activity staff were friendly. Thank you staff on NCl Pearl for a great vacation for my wife and me and our four other travel companions Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
Although the Pearl is not one of the larger NCL ships, we chose this cruise for the Itinerary it offered to Scotland, Norway, Ireland, France, London, Belgium and Amsterdam. Embarkation went smoothly in Amsterdam as well as the day we ... Read More
Although the Pearl is not one of the larger NCL ships, we chose this cruise for the Itinerary it offered to Scotland, Norway, Ireland, France, London, Belgium and Amsterdam. Embarkation went smoothly in Amsterdam as well as the day we ended our cruise in Amsterdam. Our ship was very clean, having been refurbished in 2017. We had a Mini Suite on Deck 11 and was pretty nice and roomy for us, considering we usually get Balcony cabins. Our cabin steward was from Indonesia. Dedy was very friendly and helpful to us the whole cruise. The entertainment was outstanding, with at least 11 different shows in the theatre of our 14 day trip. The lounges were great, and we enjoyed the Spinnaker Lounge allot. There were plenty of activities offered during the cruise. Dining and services were pretty good, although some food was not as good as others, we found plenty of venues to eat at, and we mixed it up, having eaten in 5 Specialty Restaurants and the rest in the Main Dining and O'Sheihans and Garden Buffett. Takes at least 90 minutes though. We found the whole staff of the ship very friendly and helpful. The only rudeness we noticed came from ship passengers. I think their expectations are too much and they should research a ship well before choosing a cruise and ship. All of our shore excursions were great! We especially loved our Flam and Geiranger, Norway Fjords scenery. Totally beautiful! We have sailed on the larger NCL ships, Epic and Breakaway before, and enjoyed them. But in our opinion, the Pearl was outstanding for us and we enjoyed our 14 day cruise of a lifetime. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We booked last minute, so right price, right ports and right ship Overall very impressed, but let me break it down. The entertainment was varied, highlight being FUNKY ROOTS who entertained for everyone, the shows were a mixed bag, a ... Read More
We booked last minute, so right price, right ports and right ship Overall very impressed, but let me break it down. The entertainment was varied, highlight being FUNKY ROOTS who entertained for everyone, the shows were a mixed bag, a late night comedian would of been great, also Ge Luz who played some great music in Atrium. The cabin was small, with a bunk bed taking half of the room which we did not require and toliet poory positioned, but Maria was accomodating in every way. Towels were soft and shower powerful which is not the norm. Cruise staff should be more personable than spending time dancing.. All in all, a small ship with personal service which gave us a great holiday overall. I had food poisoning one night due to buffet food left too long outside. We did not use ship shore excursions as ridicously priced and felt shuttle fees are outrageous bearing in mind we arrive and nowhere to go if you dont pay? Food and drink service was superb, in every outlet. staff had a good command of English which is rare to find on some ships and a joy to converse with. The ports were very good, always something to do if you wanted, the local towns a delight. Breakfast in restaurant closes too early and only place you can find smoked salmon? Too much paperwork handed out for daily schedule, so a free online app should be provided, not one you had to pay for. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
I had a voucher PLUS I like the solo cabin option. However, the solo lounge director staff was unable to get us to know once another.. Still nice to have our own place for coffee, etc. I never had to wait too long at the ... Read More
I had a voucher PLUS I like the solo cabin option. However, the solo lounge director staff was unable to get us to know once another.. Still nice to have our own place for coffee, etc. I never had to wait too long at the complimentary restaurants. However, at Taste and Savour the service was very slow and many of the staff appeared to have a language issue. NCL need to make sure each waitstaff has a good understanding of English. Also, when I asked someone for something and it was NOT in there service area, instead of getting it, they passed the request along to someone else which caused taking additional time. Several time I had to ask the manager to provide menus as no one claimed responsibility as our waitstaff!!!! Speciality restaurant service was excellent. I had three excellent massages. But please cut the hard sell. So off-putting.The LGBT meet and greet in the Sunset Bar was well attended and bar staff friendly. Even the cruise director stopped by to introduce himself. I avoided NCL shore excursions. Very expensive and more intimate to find your own tour guides,especially in St. Petersburg. I only took SPB tour as many of the ports could be seen on your own with a local map. Disembarkation was a disaster. Took much too long. Just get off the ship early and do not wait until you tag color is called. I would book NCL again but only on a smaller ship. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
I have sailed before on Windstar, Ponant and Seabourn. From boarding in Dover( a dream of ease ) to disembarking in Copenhagen, both were effortless and lovely experiences compared to air travel these days, that I refer to as "combat ... Read More
I have sailed before on Windstar, Ponant and Seabourn. From boarding in Dover( a dream of ease ) to disembarking in Copenhagen, both were effortless and lovely experiences compared to air travel these days, that I refer to as "combat travel"! They know your name within a day or two, and the service is remarkable from all departments! They enable you to note your preferences before hand as far as the stocking of your bar and type of soft drinks you would like. Preferences for bedding conditions are all taken into consideration, which is great for us with back issues. The food that is overseen by Thomas Keller went from very good to excellent in all dining venues. The Sushi restaurant is a great lunch choice as they have very good bento boxes! They have enough dining spot choices, without having too many, that seems to lessen the food quality on other luxury cruise lines. From breakfast in my suite daily, to most of my meals in The Restaurant in the evening were terrific. An example of how great they are is how the chief chef Jes Paskins was relayed a passing comment that I love mussels. Within a few hours he appeared at my table in The Restaurant and asked when I would like them? (lunch or dinner the next day), He also asked me how I would like them prepared. He prepared them as requested in the French classic style, which then was reduced with cream. Incredible result the next evening at dinner! He is an enigma, and has a personality you won't forget! The tour director Chris Harley was great and very caring. He also is a super talented singer from the London West Inn and made my visits to their Grand Salon very memorable. All performers were not your typical seafaring talent! The bartenders, stewardesses, guest services staff are beyond professional and caring. You can feel they actually care about your welfare and comfort at all times! The entertainers in the Observation Lounge on deck 11, Rachael & Vlad are quality light jazz performers! The bartender on deck 5 Vanessen with a great personality, makes the best "sour margarita" i have had on a ship! They almost perceive what you need before you ask, which is uncanny. I have thought of cruising on other cruise lines, but this last cruise on the Ovation has "sealed the deal" for me, and I already look forward to my next booked cruise for Nov. 27th of this year for 24 days with anticipation of returning to their wonderful care! Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We took the June 7, 2019 Northern Europe cruise out of Copenhagen, Denmark in a Haven Spa suite (14728). We are a couple traveling without children from Arizona to Denmark via London. There is a direct British Airways flight from Phoenix ... Read More
We took the June 7, 2019 Northern Europe cruise out of Copenhagen, Denmark in a Haven Spa suite (14728). We are a couple traveling without children from Arizona to Denmark via London. There is a direct British Airways flight from Phoenix to London and then we hopped a short flight to Copenhagen. Arriving the day before departure left us a day to wander around Copenhagen. We had booked an inexpensive hotel in Copenhagen called "Wakeup Copenhagen, Borgergade." It was cheap and clean, but we discovered it was designed for tiny, tiny people. It was so small it was hard to turn around in the shower. We are small, trim people and found it so cramped that we booked a different hotel at the end of the cruise, even though we lost our payment for "Wakeup." The second hotel was the Best Western in Copenhagen and was slightly larger, but still small. I have never been to Copenhagen before, so the room size surprised me. It appears to be the norm, so you are warned. We embarked around 12:30 PM on the 7th. As Haven dwellers, we expected a smooth process and it was not. There was an issue with the NCL keycard printing process. We are both latitude members and in the Haven, but we wound up with a standard keycard for my wife and a latitude card for myself and neither were haven cards. This took 15 minutes and it looked like everyone had the same problem. We had to get the card issue fixed onboard and the woman working on the ship said in not so many words that somebody made a major error. Not sure what happened, but it was a hassle. Haven priority boarding did not really matter as we arrived so early that we just walked on board. Once on board we hung out for a bit in the Haven lounge and then we went to our rooms about an hour later. We had sailed on Getaway before, so we felt no urge to wander around the ship. However, the ship went through a refit the month before, so the furniture, carpeting and some amenities on the ship were updated. Everything looked great and the addition of a full-sized Starbucks kept my caffeine needs in check. I am sure there were many other updates I did not catch, but the main one I noticed was the main theatre looked much updated and the Illusionarium was altered to support the Cirque show rather than the magic show. The Haven Spa cabin was very nice, but something of a letdown. Due to booking late, our Haven options were limited. The spa suites are all outside the Haven area and their main feature is a large jet tub right next to the bed, Haven access and the thermal suite is included. Otherwise they resemble the other mini-suites. The in-room tub was silly, yes it was large and had jets, but it took forever to fill and the experience was lackluster. I used it once to try it out and never even looked at it for the rest of the trip. The Thermal Suite included with our room once again proved to be worth every penny. A great place to recover after a brutal day of excursions or the sea days. That said, the up-charge for the Haven spa room was likely not worth it. Just get a haven room and pay for the Thermal Suite. Likely cheaper and you do not loose 25% of your room to a useless spa tub. The room steward did a good job, but the towel animals went extinct due to their impact on the ship's laundry load. (Someone asked about them during the Q & A with ship's officers. You can get them on request now.) Wife noticed that we no longer got new shampoo bottles every day, or new slippers that come with the Haven. Small things, but it looks like NCL was doing some cost-reduction. Nothing too annoying, just thought I would mention it. Steward also distinguished himself by not bothering us at all. Unlike the butler. Our butler was very annoying. We almost never make use of them and he was clearly fishing for "tippable" moments from us. I guess some people like the attention, but we started putting up the 'do not disturb sign" just to fend him off. Shipboard dining was the usual mixed bag. The Haven restaurant was good as usual, but the limited, unchanging menu hit us hard this time as it included a lot of fish, lamb and duck, not our favorites. Still Haven dining had the advantage of being always available, quiet and tasty. We ate their most days for our meals, but did venture out to some other dining options. The Garden Buffet is both useful and painful simultaneously. Useful in that the food is tasty, available and fast. Painful in that it is too small for the passenger load. Going at peak times before port days means that everyone is trying to eat before the same disembarkation time. It is awful, no seating, crowds and pushy idiots from countries with no concept of "getting in line." We only ate there at odd hours or to grab a snack. "Shanghai's" is a noodle/dim sum restaurant that is a blight on dining. Truly awful noodle dishes came out lukewarm, with soggy noodles and tasteless broth. The only edible thing on the plate was the spring roll that likely came out of a freezer. Avoid this place like it is infectious. Cagney's had a great steak and was excellent. The other places we ate at were fine and not worth mentioning. Just be aware the lines can be long on the sea days and your should book in advance. Entertainment was the usual trivia/bingo/shows/sales pitches. A note on the sales pitches, they were frequent and intrusive. Your cabin has a message system built into the TV and 90% of my messages were some sales pitch for various goods, Cruisenext and services. NCL needs to reduce the load on the sales efforts. It reached the point of satire by the end of the trip. It was just too obvious and silly to not laugh at. A particularly humorous retail moment happened after St. Petersburg. There is a "Russia Bazaar" held on board that the staff talked up as "high-quality products" and "better value" than the souvenir options on shore in Russia. We had already bought our nesting dolls (they are everywhere) on shore, but I happened to be walking by when they set up the "Russia Bazaar." I noticed that the boxes the Russian products were coming out of were labeled "Kowloon, Hong Kong." It is possible the boxes were merely reused to store the Russian goods between cruises. As to the other possibility, I shall let you draw your own conclusion. A word on "CruiseNext," the NCL deposit system. They basically give you a discount if you give them some money up front. In our case, we knew we were going again with the four year time limit, so we put in $500.00 and they gave us $250 in onboard credit. We were happy with that, but on the last day suddenly a new offer appeared that stated if you deposit $500, you get $500 towards your next cruise for a total of $1000. However, you do not get the $250 credit now. I asked to convert from the $250/$250 deal to the $500/$1000 deal. They did it without question. We were just confused why the second option only appeared on the last day of the cruise. We hit the trivia a few times on sea days and the Bingo games were fun (we won twice is the only reason. We played on their money). The only issue with Bingo is NCL is making a killing and the pots are tiny. A $49.00 buy-in to play and pots hovering around $300-$400 is terrible. Given the number of players a similar ashore game would pay much better. Still, it is fun so long as you can afford it. "Burn the Floor" for the second time was nice. Good show and some talented dancers. Haven dwellers had some reserved seats which was great. Cirque Dreams and Steam was the highlight of on-board entertainment. Even on a tiny stage, the performance was impressive. We have seen various Cirque shows and this was among the "tightest" in terms of bang for your buck on a small stage. Well worth attending, even with the up-charge. I also did the "Escape the Big Top" escape room, also held in the Illusionarium. I have done escape rooms before, but this one was very poorly designed. Several puzzles used color coding as part of the puzzle and I am color blind, so that was tough. Also, there are red herring puzzles in the room, which is extremely controversial among escape room designers. You do it in a randomly assigned group and I got a nice group that included some kids. It was an amusing 45 minutes, but the odds of getting out hit zero the moment I saw who was on my team. Your mileage may vary if you go with a larger group you know that likes puzzles. We were on a colder cruise, so the pool deck did not see a lot of action. A couple of mildly sunny days got the kids in the pools, bu the adults stuck to the hot tubs. This means the Haven's separate deck and pool was barely used. We even got confined to the indoor areas on a sea day because of waterspouts potentially landing on the deck! We did not travel with kids, so I have no comment on the kid's activities. Ports and Shore Excursions We never book excursions through NCL due to the massive markup, so all the excursion below were made through Viator Warnemunde, Germany NCL pitches this port as an opportunity to visit Berlin. Sure, if you enjoy hours in a bus and few hours in one of the great cities of the world, burning rubber between photo ops and then more hours in a bus to get back in a single day. We decided to book the more rational "Hanseatic Rostock and Fairytale Schwerin Shore Excursion." It is about an hour away and you spend the day going through a charming medieval city and castle. The Viator tour cost $245 for two people and the entire experience went smoothly. As one would expect in Germany. Lots of great photo opportunities. Tallinn, Estonia Talinn is so tiny that we just got off the boat and walked around. No other transport was needed. We checked out the city and its architecture, ate lunch in a restaurant that was vaguely medieval in style and cuisine (Olde Hansa is the name. A little cheesy, but it was fun and the food was good). We spent a couple of hours in the "Kiek in de Kök" museum. Built inside an old fortress, this was a great museum and be sure to pay for the "Bastion Tunnels" upgrade to wander the old tunnels, now used as a museum. It is quite a hike in terms of length and stairs. Lots of stairs. Worth the effort though. St. Petersburg, Russia (Overnight) Once again, we book the Viator excursion called "St. Petersburg 2-Day Grand Shore Excursion Tour." At $513 for two people it was a good deal for the amount of destinations you see. Here is the tour itinerary Expert, professional and personable guide for two days Experienced and conscientious driver with a comfortable air-conditioned vehicle for two days All port fees & local Russian taxes Lunch on both days Subway ride Canal cruise (boat ride) Bottled still water (one bottle per person per day) Electronic headsets for groups of 7 and more Photo permissions inside museums Entry/Admission - The State Hermitage Museum Entry/Admission - Park And Gardens of Peterhof Entry/Admission - Catherine Palace and Park Entry/Admission - Yusupov Palace on Moika River Entry/Admission - Savior on the Spilled Blood Entry/Admission - The Museum Complex The State Museum St. Isaac’s Cathedral Entry/Admission - Peter and Paul Fortress (Petropavlovskaya Krepost) Entry/Admission - Peter and Paul Cathedral I usually loathe this type of guided-tour-with-headset-transmitters-follow-the-flag, but in this case it was necessary. Russia, unlike the rest of the countries on this cruise made us go through stern-looking immigration officers stamping passports to get ashore. If you do not have a tour, you have to get a separate visa. It is doable, but we were just looking for an easy excursion day with minimal hassle. There is no such thing as an "easy" excursion in St. Petersburg. This was a hard two days. Every stop on the list above is spectacular from both a historical and cultural perspective...and more crowded than any destination I have ever visited. The first day we hit every stop except Peterhof and Catherine's Palace. Turns out we were there starting Tuesday and a couple of places were closed on Wednesday, so they packed it in to he first day. I did not know this at the time, but it made for a long, hard day. Words cannot describe some of the things I saw in St. Petersburg. The art and architecture are among the most beautiful I have ever seen. The Hermitage in particular is stunning. However, the Russian authorities know this and push more people than comfortable through these locations. The Hermitage was packed with tour groups, literally shoulder to shoulder, shuffling along like zombies. That was the worst, but all the urban locations were nearly as bad. Only on the second day did you get some relief at Peterhof because it is about an hour outside of town and is a giant park. Much nicer. That said, still go see these places. It may be miserable, but walking into a room with 26 Rembrandts hanging was remarkable. The tour itself was nice and our guide spoke excellent English. Helsinki, Finland Weather bit us here and we just walked around town taking in the city. We took the "Hop on, hop off" bus around to the Rock Church. As a suggestion, if you go to the cafe run by the church on the left of the entrance you can get a cup of coffee and a discount ticket to the church. The regular ticket line was long and we just walked in. They had a small choir singing and the acoustics were interesting. Too many people though. Death by tourist. For some reason the Sibelius Monument (he was a composer) is a tourist stop. Not much to see, just a large piece of modern art. Took all of five minutes to exhaust that stop and we got on the next bus. We took some photos of old buildings and then headed back to the dock where there was a sort of flea market (tourist junk) and food vendors. I got a reindeer burger (tasty with mustard) and the wife got vendace. Vendace are small fish cooked and salted, basically sardines. However, after taking a few bites a large, aggressive sea gull swooped down and attacked her lunch! The look like an ongoing issue at the port, so hide in a tent before eating. Weather was poor (cold and wet, with wind), so Helsinki was not a truly memorable stop. Except for the seagull. That is burned in our memory forever. Stockholm, Sweden. Again, no excursion because I did not see the need in a country with spectacular public transit. However, I did buy a "Hop On Hop Off" (HOHO) bus ticket from the Stromma company. The ship docks at Nynashamn about an hour from Stockholm and the "Hop On Hop Off" bus makes a couple of special runs between the dock and Stockholm. However, I did not catch that they leave the port at 1000. We got off at 0800. The driver explained that many people get confused by this and they just walk 20 minutes and buy a train ticket at the local station. The trip to Stockholm takes an hour. Once there you can use the HOHO ticket inside the city. We took this option and it worked well. Tickets for the train were inexpensive and you need to buy them at the tourist office just outside the port area. You cannot miss it. Once you have a ticket, just follow a blue line painted on the ground for 20 minutes to the station. We got off at the main station in Stockholm and decided to start with the Vasa Museum. Vasa is a ship that sank and was raised and put into a museum. We hopped into a cab and promptly spent 20 minutes in traffic. After creeping along we got out of our driver that the South Korean president was in town and security had tangled up the entire downtown. The HOHO buses were not running at all! Thanks Stromma for not telling the people who pre-bought tickets about a massive issue with your service. I was not happy. However, while stewing at the thought of losing out on precious time stuck in traffic, I noticed 20 men in full military regalia ride by on horseback. We bailed on the cab and discovered the South Korean leader was getting a full military parade/escort to meet the king. Amazing experience and we felt so lucky to have seen it. Security was super-tight, so we could not get in the palace, but the parade more than made up for it. Traffic was a disaster, but I remembered that our HOHO ticket included their HOHO boat that ran around the harbor. We took it from the palace without issue and hopped off at the Vasa Museum. Vasa is amazing! A huge sailing ship that sank hours after it was launched and basically raised nearly intact in 1961. I loved it and the associated museum is fascinating. We also visited the Nobel Museum. Small, but fascinating history of Nobel winners and the man himself. There was a Martin Luther King Jr. exhibit going and it was interesting to see American history from a different perspective. After a quick lunch at a restaurant named "Paris, Texas" (expensive but very tasty), we headed back to the ship. No real issues navigating the public transit. It was easy. In Nynashamn is a small chocolate shop named "ChokladHuset" that you should see the sign on the way back from the train station. Expensive, but excellent chocolate. Their claim to fame is they do the chocolate for the Nobel prize winners when they visit. Copenhagen, Denmark Although this was the embark/disembarkation port, we were there long enough to do some things before and after the cruise. We basically wandered around. The Kastellet is an old fortress near the center of the city converted to a lovely park. We also visited Tivoli Park, a 100+ years old amusement park. Do not think Disneyland here. It is a small, charming affair with some rides that look better suited to a local amusement park in rural America. Lots of places to eat, play carnival games and generally enjoy the long evenings. We even found an open, unattended fire pit to sit around! Be warned, while entrance is cheap, we got beef stew and a bottle of water for $71.00 USD. Tasty, but clearly your are paying a premium on top of the already expensive Danish restaurant prices. Copenhagen is on the return visit list for us. Wish we had more time here. Disembarkation in Copenhagen, Denmark This next bit got my blood up. We got a letter stating that the port has limited transportation options (including cabs) were limited at the port on disembarkation day. So we bought the $15/person transfer to the main train station offered by NCL. This meant we got off the ship at 0940 in the morning. As haven dwellers we could have been the first off. Instead we had to sit around for hours only to watch perhaps 20 taxi cabs waiting near the port. Because of this we did not go through the Haven disembarkation process and went out with the rest of the passengers. This was painful, long, crowded waits to get off and, my favorite, an idiot decided to carry his own luggage off the ship. Normally you leave it outside your cabin the night before and then pick it up on the dock. This genius (who was elderly and wearing a back brace!) tried to carry all his own luggage off through a crowd of surly people down two flights of narrow stairs. He got some help from good samaritans, but the level of stupid was impressive. Bottom line, NCL oversold the transport issues in Copenhagen to sell their transport option. Summary It was a great cruise with a few glitches. Nothing that would prevent me from suggesting you check it out. My lessons learned include: 1. Skip the spa suite 2. Check hotel room size better before leaving 3. Wear comfortable shoes. The cobblestones are murder on your feet! 4. The weather went from hot to cold and miserable. Pack appropriate gear. Have fun! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
Let me start with the positive - the ports were fantastic and our family enjoyed every minute visiting the beautiful cities. We found the disembarkation and embarkation process efficient considering the number of passengers on this ship. ... Read More
Let me start with the positive - the ports were fantastic and our family enjoyed every minute visiting the beautiful cities. We found the disembarkation and embarkation process efficient considering the number of passengers on this ship. The two NCL excursions we participated in were a good value for the money and were very well run. Our independent tours through TJ Travel were fantastic. I agree with an earlier reviewer that this ship is designed for warm weather travel, making the interior public areas very crowded, so bring warm clothing so you can take advantage of the outdoor areas and activities. We were very fortunate and had beautiful weather the entire trip. It was hit or miss with staff overall, some were friendly but most seemed to be going through the motions and giving their minimum effort to engage with guests. Our room steward did his job, but made sure we knew when he was off the clock, which we thought was odd since the only thing we asked him for were some extra towels. Our issue is with the overall cleanliness, food handling and sanitation practices aboard this ship and is the main reason we will never sail with NCL again. I understand staff can only do so much, but sanitation practices are critical aboard a ship - especially one of this size. Public areas including the railings and elevators were not wiped down and sanitized during the cruise; by the end of the cruise, visible fingerprints and grime could easily be seen throughout the ship. Vomit in the public bathrooms was not cleaned promptly. Cafe' (buffet) staff did not practice or enforce basic sanitation practices (despite signage everywhere) other than "washy washy" and passengers reused dishes and routinely filled personal beverage cups right in front of staff and staff did nothing to stop them despite our comments and complaints. A large amount of passengers were coughing and sneezing openly throughout the ship, making proper sanitation practices all the more important. Our first specialty dining experience at Moderno went well and the food and service was very good. Our next dining experience at La Cucina was not so. The members of my family ordered different food items at La Cusina, but we all wound up with identical gastrointestinal distress afterward indicating whomever handled our food did not follow basic food sanitation practices; we all refused to attend our last pre-paid dining experience at Cagney's for this reason. I have shared my experience with NCL, and can only hope that for the sake of future passengers they will review and improve the food handling and sanitation practices aboard this ship. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
Tons of fun on the NCL Getaway June 7th, 2019 cruise. The ship just got off from a 1-month dry dock and you could tell all the wall furnishings, artwork, carpet, paint, and other details were attended too. Embarkation: Fast and ... Read More
Tons of fun on the NCL Getaway June 7th, 2019 cruise. The ship just got off from a 1-month dry dock and you could tell all the wall furnishings, artwork, carpet, paint, and other details were attended too. Embarkation: Fast and painless Took about 35 min or so. Food: Recommend eating at Savor/Taste whenever you have the chance. These two dining rooms are 2 of the 3 main dining halls apart from the buffet. They have their own kitchen and you can taste the difference. First night line was long-about 45-minute wait but only 15-20 each night thereafter. They did allow reservations on the last night and thank goodness we did that. People were waiting for an hour or so I hear. Tropicana allows reservations but they go really fast. Book for your entire cruise if you don't want to wait. The food and service were lacking compared to Savor/Taste. Tropicana has nightly entertainment which can be fun. Buffett was a buffet, not horrible or great. Crazy, crazy busy ALL the time. We sat outside a few times-a little chilly but a nice break from the crowds. Cabin: BEST CABIN out of my 7 cruises. Had 2 adults, 2 kids. Plenty of storage (2 closets and multiple drawers. Bunk bed plus lower couch bed which kids enjoyed. Bring a window curtain or shower curtain with hooks and you can partition off the room at night time. Entertainment: Free Burn the floor was meh. Great dancers-but there was no storyline or anything to keep you entertained. It was just dancing for 45 minutes. Wish we would have seen Million Dollar Quartet- one of the guys showed up at the Dueling Pianos and he was AMAZING. Dueling Pianos was good fun. Mr. and Mrs. Smith was great. The Comedian was dumb...but with enough alcohol I was laughing. I enjoyed Escape the Big Top-its like Escape the Room. Did not wish to pay for any shows. Water Slides-Kids loved it. Slides are not heated so there were really cold when we went. Pools were a little warmer and many ppl enjoyed. Ropes Course is great with a zip line to at the end. Not to be missed. Mini Golf and rock climbing were great! Osheehans games are fun! Mini bowling ($6/person/game) Pretty expensive and not included in the all-inclusive game package. Air hockey, Pool, Basketball and some others. You will find more in the arcade room too. If you have kids, the all-inclusive game package is worth it. Each game is crazy expensive- 1.50 and up I believe. Kids Camp/Splash Academy: $6/meal which I think is crazy. There is a show performed by the kid's last sea day and if your child does not want to participate, they can't go during that 3 hour block of time. SPA: Booked a couples massage. Was good-not the best. Ended with a hard sales pitch. No Sauna, hot tub, amenities or a shower after... There is a 20% off coupon first sea day-art auction. If you want to use SPA, go get that coupon. Otherwise, the daily deals are ok, but spots filled up fast. Couldn't get into Thalassotherapy Pool-they only sell a limited amount of passes and had zero Sea days available. Ports: Berlin: Best of Berlin & Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp by Viator. Highly Recommend. (ULK tours) Probably one of the best tours I've been on. I was debating the 3hour bus ride both ways...but it was worth it. The camp really made the tour. This was one of the longest days we had, but since there isn't much to see during the bus ride- you have a built-in nap. :) St. Petersburg: Beautiful and surprising! Tour from TJ Travel: 2 day St. Petersburg City Tour. We got SUPER lucky and had Olga who was smart, funny and customized our tour due to the traffic. We overheard many saying they did not like St. Petersburg because of the lines and the number of people. There were quite a few ships in during our stay and line to Hermitage was NUTS. We ended up going first thing on the 2nd day and waited only 30 minutes. The otherwise-the line wrapped around the building. Probably a 2-3 hour wait. Petergof was AMAZING and equally surprising was the Subway Station! Make sure your guide allows you a few minutes at each stop to just look around. It's quite something. Side note: Our tour started at 8:45am and we got outside probably around 9am. You could see most tour operators were waiting outside and not leaving people who had reservations. NCL sends a notice the night prior saying NCL tours only will get off first, and then after 8:45, other tours. You get assigned a group number ( I think there are 12 groups total). The passport line after getting off the ship added to the time it took to get to the tour. (The 2nd day went faster since they entered your information already) Plan accordingly. Tallinn: Walked from cruise port to Old Town-easy walk. About 15-20 minutes. No tour needed. Beautiful place just to stroll around and grab some espresso. We all enjoyed it! Helsinki: Hop On Hop Off by Stromma with Canal Tour. Lots of mini islands which was nice to see. We did not hop off and tour any places as it was freezing for us. The bus was right outside by port. Stockholm: BEAUTIFUL and I wish I had more time there. It would take a few days to explore. Hop on Hop Off by Stromma...EXCEPT this was a horrible experience. They were allowing people getting off the ship to buy at the port-which is fine, if they had enough buses and if it was organized. Took an hour or more just to get on the bus and then an hour or so to drive into town. Then they make you get off by the ABBA museum to catch another bus or get on the canal tour. Another 45 min to get on the canal tour. So we wasted a ton of time with this bus company. Not to mention AC did not work on any of the buses and it was deathly hot. There weren't enough buses to take everyone back to the ship either...so the company had to call in another bus everyone...This took another 1.5 off of our day at port. Book a real tour because this city is not to be missed. It probably would have been one of my favorites. Copenhagen: We spent 3 days after the cruise. Originally had Hotel Nebo booked-which we stayed at before the cruise. Do not recommend at all...ended up at Hotel Tivoli which was great! Spent the entire day at Tivoli (11 hours) and that wasn't enough. My parents (in their 70's) had fun and went on rides. The gardens are beautiful and the food was good. Copenhagen Zoo on the next day. One of the best Zoo's I've been to! Watched a baby polar bear play and jump in the water while the dad ate. Saw a baby kangaroo come out from the mother's pouch and watched others jump around the fields. The panda was eating its bamboo and the monkeys were playing. The 3rd day was just walking around enjoying the city, did a canal tour (highly recommend) and enjoyed local food. Great tour overall. I would say there will be mixed reviews-but it is what you make of it. It's your vacation and some things won't go according to plan or what you hoped for. We just roll with it. It all works out and makes for some great memories in the end. Was the ship too crowded? Yeah. I would opt to go on a smaller cruise next time. Did I enjoy it? Absolutely-one of the better ones. Would I do NCL again? Yes Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
The itinerary was what we were looking for, hoped previous experience with NCL would be improved upon, not to be. The good... We made it to all the ports, even if it was a little late a couple of days. Our room steward was very ... Read More
The itinerary was what we were looking for, hoped previous experience with NCL would be improved upon, not to be. The good... We made it to all the ports, even if it was a little late a couple of days. Our room steward was very competent and attentive for the most part. The show Million Dollar Quartet was excellent. We did not use any NCL shore excursions, mainly due to the cost and previous reviews. We used an independent company for Berlin and St Petersburg, which were very good, but used Hop on hop off tours in other cities. Most are okay, although construction, traffic and street closures impacted the ease of getting around. Highly recommend using "Free Tour" walking tours, available in many cities. The bad.... The Internet. We had been warned, but reviews I read made me hope things had improved. Not so. Given that WiFi is available in every port, I would discourage anyone from purchasing the Internet packages. The IT staff were terrible, Even leaving passengers standing at their desk, leaving without any explanation. I had over 100 minutes on my account as we were coming into Copenhagen which I hoped to use to check on travel arrangements, only to find they had cut off access to my plan, and wanted me to sign up again! Giving you bonus minutes only helps if you can get on the Internet. All your time should not be used loving on and logging off. Very slow. The meals.... Trying to get anything at the trough they call the Garden Cafe was a joke. Limited variety, mediocre to poor food, and (although not the ship's fault) incredible rude fellow passengers made it a very unpleasant experience. You should not have to pay extra plus an automatic gratuity to get good food! As the cruise progressed, both my husband and I developed breathing issues while in the cabin. Headaches, clogged throats and sneezing. We asked the steward if they had used some kind of chemical carpet cleaner, but he said no, but by the time we left the ship, neither of us was healthy and both had hacking coughs. We noticed several other passengers in the same condition. The disembarkation process was a joke. As we were taking our own luggage and had a very early shuttle to catch, we asked multiple crew where to line up. Four people, four different answers. Unless you were travelling with NCL arranged shuttles, they had no idea. We almost missed our bus, no thanks to this confusion. A simple direction on the paper delivered to our stateroom directing those who planned to "walk off" to go to the forward elevators would have helped a lot. Instead they just said N/A. Publuc announcements would really have helped, too, but none seems forthcoming. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
Dining: Freestyle dining is probably the best part of this cruise from a family perspective. We tried all the complimentary restaurants but the buffet remained our preferred dining area since it offered the widest selection. Our ... Read More
Dining: Freestyle dining is probably the best part of this cruise from a family perspective. We tried all the complimentary restaurants but the buffet remained our preferred dining area since it offered the widest selection. Our favorite non-comp restaurant was Moderno because the meat was delicious and there was a wonderful variety. The waiter brings different types and cuts of meat to the table which you choose whether to try or not. It also had an excellent salad bar with seafood, sushi, green salad, soups, cheeses, and cured meat. Family activities: Our family enjoyed having so much to do onboard. The water slides, ropes course, climbing wall, pools, and games in the library were all viable alternatives to just putting the kids in the very popular kids club. Kids club: The kids club was excellent. Our youngest (3) never wanted to leave and woke up every morning asking to go back to the club. The 9 and 11 year old also enjoyed themselves. The 11 year old could sign in and sign out after two hours. We left our youngest onboard in the kids club while we toured St Petersburg. There was an additional charge for meals on port days ($6 per child per meal) if the kids received their meal while at kids club. We booked our kids in/reserved a place for them ahead of time to ensure that there was space for them while we did our St Petersburg shore excursion. We had to change our day 2 SP excursion since kids club opened at 8am so we changed to an afternoon excursion. On sea days kids club closed for lunch and dinner. Kids club also put together a wonderful circus variety show for parents. During the cruise they taught the kids circus tricks and then the kids performed them in the theater as a big group on our final day at sea. Kids club was no charge until 10:30pm. From 10:30pm-1:30am it was $6/hour $4/hour additional sibling. Teen club: Very happy with their teen club. Our teenager probably had the best time of anyone in our family and was definitely the most hesitant about the cruise. Didn't actually hear much from our tight lipped teen except that it was "really good" which is high praise from that child. It was open until 1:30am, no charge. Guppies: For 2 and under it was a parent/caregiver playroom where parents stayed with the baby and it had opening/closing times. Exercise: The gym was excellent and the jogging track offered lovely views for runners. There was a separate weight room and another room with boxing equipment plus the cardio area which had seaviews. Cons: The ship is huge and it's also quite crowded in the atrium area. Depending on the time of day it was impossible to get a seat and all public spaces in general were often crowded. We didnt mind the crowds. When you book on a huge ship then it's reasonable to assume that there will be crowds. Shore excursions: The shore excursions were all excellent. Some family members booked NCL excursions at every port and there were no complaints. It was really easy to explore the German port town on your own. The train in Germany was literally 5 min walk from the ship and the port had a lovely boardwalk. Tallin was about a 20 min walk from the port and easy to do independently. SP needed an organized shore excursion and our only issue was with timing and kids club opening hours which was solved by doing a half day afternoon excursion on day 2. The HOHO in Helsinki was perfect for our family. Our only issue was the Hoho in Stockholm which had a badly organized return to the ship. Public transportation in Copenhagen: Transportation from the ship to the airport was easy. We used the public bus which had a ticket kiosk literally in front of the debarkation area. The bus took us straight to the metro station where we caught the metro directly to the airport. It took us about 40 minutes. The bus stops right at the ship and is far cheaper than a taxi. One adult ticket allows two kids 12 and under to ride free of charge on the bus and metro. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
Full disclosure-this is about number 40 cruise for us over about 30 years of cruising. First, let me tell you all of the GOOD things about the cruise. 1. The food was universally very good. We have cruised on some of the best (and ... Read More
Full disclosure-this is about number 40 cruise for us over about 30 years of cruising. First, let me tell you all of the GOOD things about the cruise. 1. The food was universally very good. We have cruised on some of the best (and worst) and overall the food on the NCL Getaway is very good and in some restaurants just excellent. The best restaurant on-board hands down is Le Bistro. Cagney's is a close second. La Cucino's is just ok. Pretty boring and just ok Italian. The best (no additional charge place) on the ship is O'Sheehan's. It is fun, great service, great food and always open. It is a great alternative for breakfast. The staff is universally good. Dining rooms: Savour is the best. Taste is the worst--poor management and nasty front staff ruin the dining room experience at Taste. The Tropicana is also good and fun with live music. The buffet was just a mess for us. We had a very large tour group from Asia on-board that dominated the buffet whenever it was open. After a couple of attempts we just gave up on getting close to the food or having a place to sit. As mentioned O'Sheehan's was a great alternative. 2. The ship was just overhauled so it is bright and clean. In general a very nice ship. They made a couple of huge errors in design mentioned below. 3. The bars (and there is one every 50 feet) are all nice, well-staffed, and fun. 4. The dinner/circus act is fun and the folks are incredibly talented. Illusionarium I think is the name of the separate dining and performance area. Do not miss this act and dinner. You will have to arrange it in advance of your trip. Ok, now for the BAD stuff with the ship. 1. The internet does not work. Not even a little bit. For those of us who have to work even while on a ship it is a disaster. The manager, to his credit, knows that it is really bad. It is impossible to work or even search on the internet. It is the worst experience for us since the implementation of internet on ships. It is a deal-killer for us as I have to have internet capability. I was refunded all of my cost but that does not solve the issue. 2. The ship's excursion staff is the worst we ever encountered. They are just lost with no management or oversight. Rude, incompetent, and sullen is the best i can do. We heard endless complaints about the staff and the quality of the trips offered by the ship. They fouled up the only ship arranged excursion we purchased. Ultimately we ended up canceling because of the staff errors. It was to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. Although we scheduled our trip months in advance (along with this one excursion) when we got on-board they told us that our trip was full and that instead of a 130pm departure we were booked on a 6am departure....huh? Again, no coordination and no one to talk to about the issues. 3. The entertainment is high school level. Sorry, but if you expect anything in the way of entertainment do not look to this ship. The Burn the Floor group is painful. The bands on board were loud. Loud because that was all they could do. Compared to other ships the Getaway has to do better than the folks we had on board. 4. The casino. My suggestion is do not go near it. Over 14 days we saw no one....not a soul...win anything on the slots. We talked to folks who were using the casino and to a person they said exactly what i am telling you. The payout for the slots has to be hideous. I asked what the payout percentage was and they refused to discuss it. That has to tell you something. Walk through it or just donate your money to them and save time. 5. Maybe the poorest design on any ship we have been on is the band/performance/public area on the 6th floor which opens to the 7th floor. It is dead in the center of the 6th floor. It is a horrible place to stick bands as it is just deafening and you cannot get away from it. The sound is ramped-up to an uncomfortable level. It is like a garage band in your neighbors garage that you can hear all over the neighborhood. HInts: 1. In Bergen do a hop on hop off and wander on your own. 2. In Reykjavik walk from the ship and take a taxi downtown. It is about the same price as the mess they have with the bus transports. It is faster and way less hassle. 3. Go to Vitar (or any other trip planner for the stops) and get a private provider for wherever you want to go. It is cheaper, better planned, and a lot less hassle than fighting with hundreds of others who will push you out of the way to be first on a cruise ship bus. 4. Do not believe the provided by the cruise director or others about needing to use the ship provided excursions. You can rent a taxi or private tour for the same or less than you pay to be one of two hundred on a ship excursion. 5. Edinburgh and Copenhagen on your own or on a hop on hop off. Both cities are just wonderful and you cannot get lost. 6. Departing Copenhagen. Stay at the airport area and take the train to the city center. You cannot get lost and it is cheap, clean, and fun. The Marriott AC (the totally weird hotel design) close to the train and the airport is perfect. You can walk to the train station in five minutes. 7. The Tivoli in Copenhagen is worth every penny. A zillion cute restaurants, wonderful gardens, and a fun place to spend a few hours. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
My wife and I, and another couple booked 2 MSC European cruises about a year in advance. The first, on the MSC Orchestra, sailed from Hamburg on June 5th and visited ports in Scotland and Ireland. This was our first experience with MSC. ... Read More
My wife and I, and another couple booked 2 MSC European cruises about a year in advance. The first, on the MSC Orchestra, sailed from Hamburg on June 5th and visited ports in Scotland and Ireland. This was our first experience with MSC. Overall, this was a lower priced cruise, and the lesson learned is you get what you pay for (unless it's on the drink package, then you may not even get that). When we bought the cruise, we also purchased the Deluxe drink package that was supposedly the best and it included the most expensive drinks. Since then, MSC has redefined their drink packages and our Deluxe had been renamed Premium which covers drinks costing up to 10 Euros. They also changed the prices of some of the best spirits to be 11 Euros or more effectively moving the best quality drinks out of our package into the new Premium Plus category - hence my 'Bait & Switch' title. We tried to explain the situation to the bar staff and also complained to customer service, but to no avail. On rum drinks, the best we could get was 8 yr old Bicardi's rather than the Zacappa 23 that we'd paid for. I cannot fault the bar staff, this was a recent corporate/management decision. The honest course of action would have been to honor the original package parameters. My only recourse is to warn other cruisers that if you buy an MSC package ahead of time, don't be surprised if it's downgraded by the time you sail. One of the highlights of the cruise was the excellent staff members who do the actual work on the ships. The bartender in the wine bar, Louis from Peru, was an absolute professional. He is personable, extremely knowledgeable, multilingual, a natural leader for the rest of the staff, and an awesome singer & magician. The rest of the staff Sri, Pascky, Akash and Ace all provided excellent customer service and are valuable assets to MSC. I am unimpressed with the leadership and management on MSC. The officers, while being polite to customers, were aloof and sometimes rude to the workers. In one instance, I watched a group of 4 officers hold an impromptu business discussion that went on for more than 5 minutes about 4 feet in front of the singer who was trying to entertain the people in the wine bar. The dining room staff worked hard to make it a good experience. Olvin, our principal table waiter was great. The food variety and quality was fine, but not up the standards we've seen on other cruise lines. There was no problem getting enough to eat, but the budget aspect of the cruise was evident in the very thin cuts of meat and limited wine selection available in the dining room. There was no sommelier or wine steward. Self disembarkation in Hamburg was a good experience and strongly recommended if available. Some ports don't allow it. We got off before the rush and caught a cab out front to the airport - easy. We would never book another MSC cruise. The price was lower, but the way they cut corners and redefine services erodes the experience. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose this cruise to circumnavigate the British Isles and found nothing but dissapointment. We have recently returned from a cruise around the British Isles on MSC Orchestra (5th June Hamburg). If MSC gave us free tickets to cruise ... Read More
We chose this cruise to circumnavigate the British Isles and found nothing but dissapointment. We have recently returned from a cruise around the British Isles on MSC Orchestra (5th June Hamburg). If MSC gave us free tickets to cruise again we wouldn't accept them. Our first encounter was at embarkation with queue after queue checking the same thing over and over followed by sit-down lunch (deck5 ) where we were refused 2 glasses of water and both the waiter and maitre de argued with us over our need to pay around EUR1 per glass to get tap water! This continued at the dinner table also. Secondly, our anticipation of having a great time was greatly diminished when the cabin staff told us we would not be provided with a box of tissues and we had to use toilet paper in their place! Thirdly, we booked a Fantastica Balcony Stateroom at the rear of the ship (smaller than most others) and expected a 5 star room - the bathroom shower has plastic curtains! No facial tissues and one roll of toilet paper - enough said. On review there are more than 21 items (including the cheap rate shows) that are far less quality, service and level of acceptability in comparison to other cruise ships of the same standard. MSC = more sur charges. All up you would be better advised to choose another cruise company and experience a level of professionality you deserve on a cruise. FYI - we have cruised over 15 times with other companies - all balcony suites, no complaints - all inclusive. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
This cruise was chosen for its itinerary. The ship is a fancy barge where you pay extra for anything you may need. We were expected to pay for a glass of tap water in the formal restaurant. They do not provided any facial tissues in the ... Read More
This cruise was chosen for its itinerary. The ship is a fancy barge where you pay extra for anything you may need. We were expected to pay for a glass of tap water in the formal restaurant. They do not provided any facial tissues in the balcony stateroom. They allow open smoking in several areas inside the ship which permeayes the showroom and other bars! There are over 21 points for improvement with this cruise company. The entertainment us cheap, appears unrehearsed and karaoke like most nights. Embarkmemt required showing proof you were a real person I've 3 times and queuING each time. If you are a first timer cruiser this cruise may be good for you as you would not know how low a standard MSC is. Of course you may like to pay to have open dining but other crise companies have all the above plus more included in their offer Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
From the beginning of the embarkation to the end I would have to say that we were sorry that we chose Costa. No communication had been given to us for getting to the ship from the airport. The phone number we were given was not in service. ... Read More
From the beginning of the embarkation to the end I would have to say that we were sorry that we chose Costa. No communication had been given to us for getting to the ship from the airport. The phone number we were given was not in service. We worked it out with a taxi at the beginning and end of the cruise at the cost of €100 each way. The itinerary was what we wanted and the tours were well done but for the language barrier. English was at the bottom of their priority list and messages were read after at least 4 other languages first. No one spoke English with less than a severe accent and making it difficulties follow. The crew was sour and rarely smiled. Our safety drill was a series of lining us up at the muster station. Pushed into rows of three, shoulder to shoulder I resented being touched by these serious crew members. Don’t touch me! Tell me. Oh yes, you can’t speak English. The food was mediocre at best. I’ve never lost weight on a cruise before. Communication and manners were lacking almost always. There were no substitutions in the dining room and vegetables were lacking. Any other cruise we’ve been on offer alternatives every day. The buffet was also lacking taste, variety, and tender meat choices. The same menus were offered every day. We could not have butter unless we asked for it and waited for someone to get it from the kitchen. Coffee was offered with breakfast and after that we had to pay for it at the bar. They actually have a drink pkg for coffee juice and water. Most of all, the waiters pushing past you with trays or reaching across you to serve or remove dishes was so rude. Whether you had to step aside for them as they rushed by or get shoved out of line as they filled the clean cup tray, the waiters were rude. Even in the dining room our orders were mixed up and waiters could not seem to serve plates in a mannerly way. They still reached across our faces to serve others. The entertainment was mediocre at best except for one singer and 3 acrobats. The dancers were not nearly what we have seen on any other cruise. Their poor synchronization accompanied poor routines. I guess what frustrated us most was the inattention to the English speaking guests with brief announcements which we did not understand. As well, the tour guides who could speak good English were few with a lack of ability to converse with us. Speaking of inattentive behaviour on the part of the crew, we were mainly ignored with little or no eye contact. The sour looks on most of the employees’ faces indicated a poor work climate perhaps and poor morale amongst staff. Wait staff never helped in any way but to clear dishes at the buffet. No smiles, no good morning, no ability to understand what you might be asking for, such as “Do you have hot cereal this morning, porridge, oatmeal, cream of wheat?” Our room steward was sweet and did his best with a stale-smelling stateroom. The pillows seemed to need washing and the carpets required a good shampoo. (So did our soap dispenser in the bathroom) Another warning is that the added 15% per day is a required fee. They do not regard it as a tip. In fact, they told us that we were free to tip individuals but we could not withhold any of the 15% per day charge for our severely poor service in the dining room. Speaking of money I’d like to say how angry I was at not being able to get an accounting of my charges. I had to have my husband with me because all room charges were put on his account only (even though we signed equal status for charges.) I was the one who booked the cruise, arranged for the tours, paid for our two watches that we bought, all on my Visa not my husband’s. When I asked them to change the accounting they told me that it could not be changed because of the system. All charges and payments would be under the man’s name in a cabin. Really, is this 1950? All said, our itinerary was ideal and the tours worth the money even without good tour guides. There was a lot of written information on each port to follow along. Within the opulence of this ship a number of disappointments seized us and threatened our joy of going to see the land of my heritage. But Norway out-performed this costa ship with its grandeur and awe inspiring beauty. Read Less

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