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1,992 Baltic Sea Cruise Reviews

When I saw the itinerary for this cruise I had to book immediately: Stockholm, St. Petersburg (2 nights), Tallinn, Klaipeda, Gdynia, Riga, Oslo, Copenhagen, Brussels, Le Havre, Amsterdam, Helsinki, Southampton. The itinerary did not ... Read More
When I saw the itinerary for this cruise I had to book immediately: Stockholm, St. Petersburg (2 nights), Tallinn, Klaipeda, Gdynia, Riga, Oslo, Copenhagen, Brussels, Le Havre, Amsterdam, Helsinki, Southampton. The itinerary did not disappoint although a couple of NCL's excursions did, particularly the one in Tallinn. I had been on the Spirit before so I knew that the ship is older and some things need updating (It's going into dry dock for a major refurbishment in Feb. 2020.) However, I like this ship because it's small and easy to get around. I especially like the observation deck on 12. My balcony cabin was very nice and comfortable. This was my first cruise as a solo traveller and I must say I was initially apprehensive about what the experience would be like. There was no need to worry though. NCL hosts regular solo get- togethers and dinners. The other solo cruisers were delightful and I'm grateful to NCL for providing the opportunity to meet them. NCL's solos representative did a terrific job in making everyone feel welcome. (The complementary champagne and wine was very much appreciated also.) Now to discuss some of the things that could have been improved. First of all, the main dining room, Windows, has very slow service and the food quality uneven. Some of the entertainment (a female singer, a juggler, magician and acrobats) was not to my liking but that is mostly personal preference, of course. In the 15 days, I went to only 4 or 5 shows because many of the acts just didn't appeal to me. The negatives were not so great as to seriously impact my overall enjoyment of this cruise. I definitely plan on cruising with NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Excellent cruise. The captain provided informative narratives each day. The production shows were outstanding. The art lectures were quite interesting. Food was outstanding, particularly at dinner in the dining room. Most nights I ... Read More
Excellent cruise. The captain provided informative narratives each day. The production shows were outstanding. The art lectures were quite interesting. Food was outstanding, particularly at dinner in the dining room. Most nights I ordered the fish entree and was never disappointed! There were so many choices of healthy deliciously prepared vegetarian dishes at the buffet as well as a wide selection of amazing desserts. We appreciated our balcony room when we pulled out of Oslo. What breathtaking scenery. If you are thinking about going on this cruise, consider these things: You are at ports from a few hours to a couple of days. As a result you only get a small picture of each city. Rather than spending hours going to and from Berlin, consider staying in the port town. It has a wonderful family beach and a delightful village--perfect for people watching and absorbing the culture. Helsinki is another place that I believe for the short time you are there that you can experience it best without a tour. Get a ticket for the cruise ship shuttle which will take you to 4 different locations, then explore major attractions on your own. St. Petersburg and Stockholm are best experienced with a tours. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We flew onto Copenhagen the day before the cruise making our way to the ship on our own. This cruise went to many places in northern and Eastern Europe in the former Soviet block. We enjoy visiting historic and UNESCO sites and St. ... Read More
We flew onto Copenhagen the day before the cruise making our way to the ship on our own. This cruise went to many places in northern and Eastern Europe in the former Soviet block. We enjoy visiting historic and UNESCO sites and St. Petersburg’s palaces and churches and the Peterhof Palace and gardens were wonderfully beautiful on a grand scale. In the evening we enjoyed a variety of traditional Russian folk dance and song complete with an intermission that included pastries and champagne in a beautiful private palace. In Finland we toured the city and drove into the countryside to visit a classic old village and then off to a vineyard at an old farm for a wonderful luncheon and in Estonia we toured a lovely mid-evil town from the 1600’s that survived WW2. In Germany we visited Rostock which was heavily bombed during the war because of the submarine and aircraft manufacturing that existed. Today it’s the home of large shipyards which build cruise ships among other vessels. After touring the cathedral which houses a calendar clock made in the 1420’s and still operating with its original works we drove to the Schwerin Castle. In Stockholm the Vasa Museum and a walk through the old city were spectacular. The Vasa was a 17th century wooden sailing ship with two gun decks that was unstable and had sunk during its maiden voyage in front of the royal palace in 1628. Because the water in the Baltic has such a low salinity level the ship remained nearly completely intact. The visit to Oslo was too short but the sail away through the fjord was beautiful. We had previously visited Oslo so this time we only took a boat cruise around the area. The city itself is beautiful in there are sculptures everywhere the most impressive being in the Vigeland Sculpture Park where hundreds of lifelike granite sculptures depict every stage of human emotion. At the conclusion of the cruise everything during the disembarkation went extremely smoothly and efficiently. Our bags were delivered directly to the airport where we retrieved them for our flight home. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Embarkation was very smooth and we were on ship within 20 minutes of arriving at the port. Our cabin C212 was ready for us and luggage arrived very soon. Anyone using this cabin in future should note that although the theatre is on deck ... Read More
Embarkation was very smooth and we were on ship within 20 minutes of arriving at the port. Our cabin C212 was ready for us and luggage arrived very soon. Anyone using this cabin in future should note that although the theatre is on deck 6 and 7 the sound travels all the way to deck 10 where we heard every rehearsal and every show very loudly. You would have thought that perhaps they could have put some kind of sound baffle in between decks but I guess not. Our cabin steward was very good and our wait staff in the MDR were wonderful. The food in both MDR and buffet was up to the usual standard. Princess excursions were expensive and we only used them once. This was for a disembarkation tour which took us to a fishing village just outside of Copenhagen before dropping us off at the airport. We only went on this tour as our flight was not until 4.30. At the other ports we just got off the ship and did our own thing. In St Petersburg we used Cruiseexcursions.com for a 2 day tour and our guide, Natalie was very knowledgable. I can thoroughly recommend that tour which is about half the price of the Princess one and includes a visa. Nynashamn was the only disappointing port. We were told it was a lovely place where people from Stockholm came to relax but there was nothing there. We should have taken the train into Stockholm which seemed really easy to do. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Embarkation was a breeze especially since the ship was in port overnight. Liked our cabin, especially the bathroom. There is never enough storage but Viking has tried to include more than other lines. A few days into the trip we ... Read More
Embarkation was a breeze especially since the ship was in port overnight. Liked our cabin, especially the bathroom. There is never enough storage but Viking has tried to include more than other lines. A few days into the trip we asked for a pad over the mattress because the mattress needed to be softer for us....it was brought immediately....our cabin attendant, Fery, is the best!! The ship is beautiful, spacious and never really felt crowded. The food in the Restaurant was the best and our favorite waiter, Edward, always had excellent recommendations. The food in the specialty restaurants was good but not excellent...really enjoyed the restaurant food more. The singing team put on great shows. Got to know and enjoy the company of Damien who shared his pictures of the puffins he got on an excursion with us. The excursions were o.k., some better than others. I usually plan my own excursions but since everything was expensive on this trip, opted for the included ones. Would we go again.....most likely not....For us there was too little to do on the ship. If they included different crafts other than embroidery and /or more ways to interact with other passengers...only had one Trival pursuit type game the entire trip. Not all day is spent off the ship on excursions, something should be offered besides food and drink even on port days. It was a beautiful scenic trip, but now we gave seen what we wanted to see in Iceland. The Faroe Islands were an interesting stop and Norway was exceptionally beautiful...our second time to Flam. BTW.... If you plan to take the ships train/bicycle tour, be aware that the bike ride does not begin at the trains terminal, but about half way down on the way back to the city. My husband was disappointed and had we known we would have planned the bike ride independently from the terminus. All in all, we had a pleasant time on board and in the ports. If you are happy doing your own thing most of the time...Viking is a good choice...definitely for the oldest crowd...which we are not there yet and probably won't be before we stop traveling. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We chose this cruise after browsing the MSC Cruises website for a itinerary that was a little out of the ordinary. We found this itinerary very interesting because of the stops in Iceland and Greenland. We are former non-adventurous ... Read More
We chose this cruise after browsing the MSC Cruises website for a itinerary that was a little out of the ordinary. We found this itinerary very interesting because of the stops in Iceland and Greenland. We are former non-adventurous travelers/backpackers (enjoying street food and restaurants, friends' places or motels and hostels, and public transportation or rental cars and, of course, planes for longer distances) converting to the convenience of cruise travel. CHECK IN: We had the Aurea experience and we were assigned a time when to arrive for the check in around 4pm which gave us time to buy things in town, later i'll explain why. The embarkation was very easy, we arrived to the terminal by taxi, dropped the luggage at a designated place and walked to the main entrance where the security and check in was. We were offered a cup of fruit juice. The process was very quick. We did not know the luggage had to be dropped at a separate entrance from the main one, but our taxi driver knew, so that helped. We were given a time when to check in. After the check in they took our souvenirs pictures that were later available at the photography point. As soon as we boarded they took our pictures for the passengers database and they told us that the cruise cards would be in our cabin which they were. Our friendly cabin steward Leonel came to introduce himself to us after 30 minutes. Our hand luggage arrived one at the time in the next couple of hours. We boarded without our big suitcases because they were lost at the airport and we took this three weeks cruise without them. We waited for all our hand luggage to arrive to count what exactly we had with us. We had a baby with us so all the baby stuff was in our hand luggage, leaving not much space for our clothes. We shopped briefly at a couple of stores for basic clothes and toiletries before boarding. We had travel insurance and after we came back we placed a refund request to get reimbursed. This seems a common issue occurring at the Hamburg airport. THE EMBARKATION TERMINAL: The terminal in Altona itself is quite a big space, but everything was marked and easy to follow. The luggage drop point was not intuitively placed, but, as I mentioned, our taxi driver knew where to go. Employees spoke multiple languages. All seemed done quite efficiently to us. THE CABIN: We got the balcony cabin with the Aurea experience which included alcohol and non-alcohol drinks under 6 Euro, a couple of massages per cabin that my wife enjoyed very much, a few cabin amenities, and the choice of dinner time. Cabin space was good and we could move comfortably around. We had a travel crib with us that we moved on the bed so my wife could sleep next to our baby and attend her by night in case, while I slept on the extended sofa bed. The bathroom was on the small side and the shower curtain would occasionally stick to parts of my body during the shower if the hooks were not properly set apart. 3 or 4 inches wide on each side would have been better, but i understans space is at premium on a ship. There was shampoo and shower gel as detergents in the shower cabin and hand soap similar to the shampoo in the sink. We washed several clothing items and baby bottles in the small bathroom sink (especially baby items) and hang them to drip and partially dry on the clothes line inside the shower and then to dry either on top of the mirror frame or on the AC vent in the middle of the room. The Aurea experience included a bathrobe each, slippers, a room scent diffuser and 2 complimentary bottles of water. The small cabin fridge had several snacks and drinks that we did not use because the aurea package included them at the bar upstairs. On top of the fridge there was a TV set which was quite small and offered some channels in several languages probably based on the most common nationalities of the passengers including English, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, Russian and Chinese and a few channels about ship safety, excursions, and destinations plus finally a general welcome channel with time and date. We did not find movies in demand included in the offering, but we did not really watch much TV. There were 2 mirrors, one small in front of the sofa over the desk, and one big in front of the bed. The desk had 3 drawers on each side and one central which we used to keep baby stuff. Over the desk there were 2x110V and 2x220 electric outlets. I suggest to bring a cord extender if you need to charge multiple devices, use a CPAP or just need extra outlets on the other side of the bed. There was one small square ottoman and a small table which we moved under the desk. On each nightstand there was a lamp. The main light switch would turn on all the lights in the cabin. The card slot was on the right near the front door. The main closet provided enough storage for us especially since we did not have many clothes anyways and no big luggage , which could have been stored under the bed. The two door wardrobe offered space for clothes to hang and the third had 6 drawers and 2 shelves including one for a combination safe. The life jackets were on top of the wardrobe. The bed was a double twin bed that could be separated on request. We kept it together and we used to for our travel crib. Beds were quite hard for my taste as I prefer softer beds. There were 2 pillows each. The sofa was a sleeper one with room for 2 children or one adult. It also had 3 sofa pillows. Overall the decor was very simple and well made. All seemed very easy to clean and maintain by the crew. Room was quiet and we could hear the sound of waves through the window doors, occasionally people walking outside, but on strong wind days the wind would pass under the main cabin door making some noise which was annoying. Maybe the door seal needed to be replaced. Our cabin was on deck 12 under the spa so there were not many people walking because the nearest elevator was used to reach the spa, the gym and partially the pool, while to access other public areas one had to get to the the elevator on the opposite side, as the middle one would not reach the upper floor because of the pool area (or else they would have had to create an elevator exit in the middle of the pool!) It was also near the curved shape of the ship so we were a little more sheltered from wind and weather than those who had the cabin mid-ship. Our cabin steward Leonel was very friendly and always greeted us with a smile. We liked the balance between days at sea and days at ports and we actually spent some time in our cabin to relax during sea days. FOOD: We are not picky passengers, at least, I think. We found the cruise food quite good and varied. Quality was not gourmet/fine dining, but was very enjoyable. Some items were always available like pizza and french fries and some others appeared on rotation and some once including some ethnic ones like Indian tikka masala or Sardinian malloreddus pasta. I could not often find beef dishes in the buffet, but there were other choices of meats like chicken and pork and some unusual wild board (cooked in red sauce) or others more ordinary like hot docs and burgers. Some dishes featured cuts of meats that I feel not all passengers will like, or bacon cooked British style, not crispy American style, or pasta too overcooked to please Italians. My breakfast was very protein-rich with eggs and bacon and potatoes and roasted tomatoes which I loved. We are not vegans or vegetarians, but there were many options if we were. My wife got "food bored" a couple of times, but I was always able to find something just walking a little further. The buffet area is big and tables are sometimes full at peal times, but we always found a table for us. Sometimes restaurant employees would take us to a free table, which was a nice personal touch. Near each entrance there are tables reserved for people on wheelchairs. When we ordered drinks, or more often mineral water at the table, service was quite quick. One of our favorite waitress was Elizabeth Jirwa who would also stop a bit to entertain our baby. We tried the Shanghai restaurant on board (not included in the cruise fare) which offered a sampler dinner composed of salad, dumplings, sushi combo, sashimi, pad thai and fried banana dessert. The sashimi and the dumplings were really good. The other restaurants seemed to serve similar food that was served at the buffet, but with table service. A few times waiters would go around the tables serving risotto from a half Parmesan wheel of cheese which was really fun. THE AUREA EXPERIENCE: We were pleased with the level of comfort of our cabin. I wished the beds were softer, but the rest was of a very good value. We liked that we could conveniently order many things without surcharge because they were included in the cruise fare. We are not big drinkers and a glass of wine a day, not even every day, was just fine with us. We drank 2 or 3 bottles of water a day per person depending on the daily activities and gym use and prepared our baby food with it. We also like the fruit juices and a few energy drinks at the bar, and tea/herbal teas that were available in the buffet. The cabin was on desk 12 which offered nice views and the position was on a quiet area of the ship directly under the Aurea spa. I brought earplugs with me but I did not have to use them. My wife enjoyed the two free massages included and purchased a third one and a facial treatment. We purchased a couple of products at the Aurea shop which seemed discounted compared to normal prices. The had very good brands like Occitaine, Aveda and a few luxury brands as well. ITINERARY AND EXCURSIONS: As I said, we liked the combination of days at sea and days at port which offered a good balance between relax in cabin and a few sleep-in and days ashore visiting new places. The stops in Invergordon (fun visit to the Loch Ness and the castle nearby, but not much else), Seydisfjordur (nothing to see there, we spent time at a local bar under the sun like most of other passengers) were those we liked less. We liked the other ones more. Greenland is not like the polished Alaska with all the buildings freshly painted, but something more rustic and authentic with many chances of taking great pictures and meeting friendly locals, really a frontier country. Iceland was beautiful, modern and wild at the same time with all the old geothermal fields and recently built cities. While I was writing this review, I just found out that next year this cruise will be repeated without Invergordon (we did not see the monster of Loch Ness anyways, haha) and with an extra day in Reykjavik which we would have loved, because one day was not enough in our opinion. The excursions were well organized, but were expensive and we heard the same comments from other passengers. We did some on our own just using public transportation to reach a single place, and did others that involved several spots or a day tour by booking them on board. By the time we made up our mind, some were sold out, so my suggestion is to check and book a bit in advance, or while you decide, ask how many spots are left. We simply found out that in the smaller ports like Ilulissat, they don't have the capacity to accommodate many tourists at the same time for the same excursions, so availability was really limited not just by booking through the cruise line, but also through local tour operators. The geothermal tour in Akureyri and Reykjavik, the Ilulissat tour of the icebergs, the Italian Chapel in the Orkneys were our favorites. ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES: The main theater shows were fine, they were entertaining, based mostly on singing and dancing and made for an international crowd. We liked more the live bands in the bars and in particular the blues rock guitar player was amazing, but I can't remember or find his name in my notes. We liked both passengers and crew members talents nights which showcased some fun acts. Many evenings we were too tired to go out with our baby and we stayed in the cabin. My wife really enjoyed doing Origami classes held by Angela and I took a few dance classes which were fun. We never felt bored on board. I also went a few times to the gym to do steady bike and lift weights. The gym in deck 13 and faces the front of the ship which offers great views, so it's also a good photography spot. SUMMARY AND SOME PERSONAL NOTES: Before booking this cruise, I spend quite a lot of time reading review of this ship MSC Orchestra, about the cruise like, the Aurea experience, ports and experience on board in general. I encountered several one star reviews which almost made me not book this cruise with MSC. Most of them described rude crew members or handling of problems and described issues with food, shows, lack of English language on board and bad customer service in general. We eventually booked it because of the interesting itinerary in Iceland and Greenland where we have never been, and probably we won't have the chance to visit again. We did not have previous cruise experience with MSC and we did only one other cruise together with HAL. This said, during our 21 days on board, we were pleasantly surprised by the friendliness of the crew and staff on board. Our cabin steward Leonel was great and it was fun to practice some of my rusty Spanish with him, but he definitely spoke good English. He fixed an issue with the sink that would not hold the water when we pulled the stopper. We spent some time in the cabin, sometimes getting up late after 10 am, or waiting for our baby to wake up in the afternoon and we did not experience particular noises from other passengers or rude behaviors, running kids and noise from activities on board. A few times we heard the wind blow under the cabin door, which was annoying because it went on for quite some time. We wished the TV set was bigger and entertainment system was faster with a wider choice of channels and free movies, but we did not watch TV that much. We saw a couple of movies which were just fine. As announced by the daily program, we lost satellite coverage at the upper latitudes and no channels were available after a point during navigation. We spent quite some time going around the ship in the public areas and everything seemed well kept and in good order, including public bathrooms and light fixtures, clean floors and surfaces. We never saw long lines of people at the customer service desk, but only a few times in the buffet restaurant. We had to walk a bit to find a table at peak lunch and dinner times, like everyone got hungry at the same time including us, but we were always able to find one for the three of us. On several occasions one of the waiters personally helped us to find a table and a baby chair. We found a couple of times high chairs had problems with straps (maybe it was the same chair twice?), but when we asked the waiters they brought us another one. Announcements were in five languages, but done once or twice a day, and if done more, that was for exceptional things like bad weather forecast when they announced they closed the outdoor deck doors or to advertise a special event somewhere on the ship (themed parties, or crossing the polar circle), but never at inconvenient times. The urgent ones were played to all the speakers including those in the cabins, and one unfortunately woke up our baby, while the "fun" ones only to those in the public areas. We never encountered hordes of hungry passengers emptying the food trays or running children in the cafeteria. We saw and heard a few times children running in the long cabin corridor. We purchased a few items on board, but we did not experience the pushy or salesy attitude of anyone on board. We saw a few shows and they were enjoyable, not memorable, but, again, enjoyable. I know that the newer ships have the Cirque du Soleil on board, but this one is not one of the last generation and did not. Nonetheless we found them worth our time, especially the live music acts in the bars, the guitar player in one of the bars and the classical music trio. We like the white attire themed party where passengers and crew are invited to dress all in white. My wife loved the origami lessons. I went several times to the gym and except for one of the 6 or 7 treadmill that had problems and was switched off, the rest of the equipment was in good working condition. My wife went several times to the spa since basic access was included in our cruise ticket and enjoyed the steam room and the Jacuzzi pool. She went once to the hairdresser and had one facial treatment done and she was happy with the results in both cases. We booked a few land tours with the MSC excursions desk which we found quite pricey compared to an equivalent self organized tour with local transportation or a tour purchased on land through local tour operators or at a local tourist welcome center, but nonetheless well done. The buses picked up and dropped us back on time and we had enough time to visit at each stop. I understand that there is a lot of competition in this cruise market and that reviews play a big role when making a choice and putting one's money towards a holiday, that every experience is different and each trip is different and each one of us has different expectation, but will all what we experienced on board my wife and I can hardly agree with some of the one star reviews.except those experienced theft and few others who complained about bad service or communications issues in English. We found this cruise experience between life on board and excursions, food entertainment, itinerary and ports visited of very good value. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
As stated above ,this review is of 2 different cruises ,both from Newcastle ,to the Baltic sea on the 10th of August,with an immediate turn round on the 24th for another week around the Norwegian fjords,so if its overly long apologies in ... Read More
As stated above ,this review is of 2 different cruises ,both from Newcastle ,to the Baltic sea on the 10th of August,with an immediate turn round on the 24th for another week around the Norwegian fjords,so if its overly long apologies in advance. First of all,embarkation at Newcastle was not the perfect start for us. We arrived for the first shuttlebus from Newcastle station at 1145, to be told it was already full and the next one would be in an hour ,as there was a bus "missing".. Once at the port, checking in our luggage was fairly straightforward, there then followed a 50metre bus ride to a larger building where we waited a long time for our number to be called for boarding. The journey from our home in Sheffield took less time than all this. Our first impressions of the ship was that it had been partially, not fully, refurbished. The Atrium,shops and reception area were all brightness and bling, elsewhere the dominant colour was brown ,usually varnished wood, including most of the old furniture in the public areas, and the fittings in the cabin. We chose these cruises for their itineries, and in this case we were not disappointed. We had beautiful weather throughout the Baltic cruise, usually sunshine with low 20s temperatures, so in the majority of cases we did our own thing, eschewing museum visits and concentrated on outdoor activities .In Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Helsinki we took local boat trips with great city views. Marella provided a (good value) shuttle into Gothenburg ( which was mainly closed due to our early arrival and departure) and at Warnemünde we hired bikes to try and burn off some of the pounds gained on board. Along with most reviewers ,we felt St. Petersburg was the highlight, there we took a private tour for 2 days , very exhausting but well worth the money, with the advantage of a canal /river trip and early entry into various museums.This was specially good as otherwise we would have been queuing for hours! Our only disappointment was Tallinn, but this was because we were sharing the port with 3 other ships, all of which arrived simultaneously ,and the small capital was overwhelmed. So to the food.The Marketplace buffet had all the trappings of a cross-channel ferry, with a scrum and race for tables at breakfast time , but the quality was ok. The MDR (Latitude 53 ) had more or less the same menu but with waiter service and better wine. The menu changed each day. Best of all was the Vista Italian , only 2 different menus throughout the cruise , but top class, The only problem was that this soon became common knowledge and there was always a wait of up to an hour.. We found the Mediterranean Italian and Tapas both disappointing, and didn't try any of the speciality restaurants so can't comment there. Regarding entertainment and enrichment, this is where we felt Marella fell down and thought certain activities were inappropriate. The cruise was blessed with beautiful sailaways past islands and through archipelagoes. Was it necessary to have loud music and films on deck at these times? There was plenty of that to be had in the bars and cinemas, we would have preferred to sail away in peace and quiet, like in the sail -ins we usually missed due to early morning arrivals! Having said that, the music and games in the evening in the bars were fun, but the entertainment in the Broadway Show lounge (with the exception of the crew show) a bit so-so. We also felt Marella should have included lectures on board regarding the history and culture of the ports we were visiting, but all we got were talks about Baltic royalty, and a couple of shallow presentations from Destination Services who were simply trying to sell excursions. The staff were magnificent, and we'd give them 6 stars if we could. From the cabin staff, always there to help,bar staff serving drinks quickly and efficiently,to reception organising our transition from the 1st to the 2nd cruise.. There was only a slight problem in the restaurants, where service could sometimes be a bit too slow, or after a late start in Vista having 3 courses served in a gold medal winning time of 20 minutes. The 2nd cruise to the Fjords was only a week, but it was lovely to have the ship to ourselves in the 2-3 hours before the next group of passengers boarded, especially in the untypically warm Newcastle weather. There were more families with children this time, with pool safety regulations often being ignored, and bizarrely people who just wanted to drink all day ,which was a bit mystifying given the landscape. 2 of the ports here were tender ports, and Marella ,to our chagrin, always tendered people who had booked their excursions first. This meant in Olden, we arrived ashore too late to book anything locally. We used the ship's excursion in Geiranger, which was a long day, beautiful scenery but an amateurish guide.Not a patch on St.Pete. However, here the Norwegian authorities banned noisy sailaways. so instead we had classical music accompanying the fjord exits, which we found far more applicable. Indeed ,on one occasion we took our evening meal up on deck with us as the fjord slipped serenely by. Disembarkation back at Newcastle was a piece of cake compared to embarkation, and we got a train home an hour earlier than anticipated. Would we cruise again? Difficult to answer after all the adverse publicity the larger floating hotels have had, but Marella seems to pollute less than others, so its a possibility. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
I chose this cruise as I was travelling with 2 teenage kids and there seemed to be a lot for the family to enjoy together. Also, I am not a great fan of very hot weather, so the Med in August was out. This was a first cruise for us ... Read More
I chose this cruise as I was travelling with 2 teenage kids and there seemed to be a lot for the family to enjoy together. Also, I am not a great fan of very hot weather, so the Med in August was out. This was a first cruise for us all. I was interested to see the wide variety of people travelling from families with very young babies/children to the quite elderly. People who were working class to upper class from many different nationalities, so I could appreciate that there must be difficulties catering to every taste. On formal nights, dress ran from dinner jackets and full-length dresses to not bothered to dress up at all! I loved seeing the fjords; the highlight was Geirangerfjord. Stunning. What spoilt the cruise somewhat for me were the constant interventions to try and push you to spend more money. Would you like to attend the Art Auction, Wine Tasting, etc. Every time you left the boat, the crew would dress up in silly costumes and grab you as you disembarked to get your photo taken, which they would then try to sell you at $25 a pop. For one photo! Ditto on formal nights. As we were sailing away from Geirangerfjord, I was watching the beautiful scenery from the aft of the ship with a G&T in hand. Within the space of an hour, we were approached 4 times to be asked if we wanted to attend the Wine Tasting "for only $9.50" (but then they would try and sell you cases of the wine). Ditto with jewellery events, make-up events, etc. Sell, sell, sell constantly. It seemed like I could not find a quiet spot anywhere without getting pestered to pay for something extra. As a treat, I booked a couples massage for my husband and I (in itself expensive). At the end when we were delightfully woozy and relaxed, the therapists 'recommended' the products used which totalled more than $300!! Including a body brush for $45!!! (I paid £8 for mine). I asked where we could go to relax and 'come to' and have a drink of water and was told that it would cost an additional $40 to use the lounge!!! Outrageous! I have NEVER been for spa treatment without routinely being shown to a chill-out lounge area afterwards so that you can relax and slowly come to your senses and rehydrate. When you spend a LOT of money on an over-priced massage, you expect at least a sit-down and a glass of water to be thrown in. It has really made me think twice about doing another cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We had wanted to do a different cruise than our normal Italy/Spain vacation and thought this sounded like a perfect fit. We flew in from a 3 day stop in Iceland and landed in Copenhagen late the night before we boarded. I don't ... Read More
We had wanted to do a different cruise than our normal Italy/Spain vacation and thought this sounded like a perfect fit. We flew in from a 3 day stop in Iceland and landed in Copenhagen late the night before we boarded. I don't like arriving the same day as embarking. The boarding process was painless. The ship has been recently renovated and was lovely. The only complaint I had about the room is having the bed dead center in the room, allowing very little area to walk around the bed. It seemed to be a waste of space to have the bed blocking the seating area. There was plenty of storage room and the bathroom was spacious; even had a tub. The food was the high point on this cruise. Normally I am sick of the buffets by day 3 of cruising but that was not the case on this trip. The food was always fresh and there was a large assortment. We also ate at of 4 of the restaurants; they were awesome! The entertainment was good; not great but there was plenty to do in the evenings. I feel the gym could have had more equipment. There were quite a few times where there were no open machines when I tried to work out and I tried several different times of the day. The shore excursions were my biggest complaint on this trip. The Berlin tour was good. I wanted more information on WW I and WW II, not just the Berlin Wall. One of the members of our group went on the tour of the concentration camp and seemed to enjoy that one better. Tallinn was amazing and we did that on our own. A little research and we were good to go. We were told we would have two days in St. Petersburg but realistically it is 24 hours. Upon docking, we did the Evening at the Hermitage which was nice but the museum was actually closed when we took the tour. A lot of the lighting was turned off and none of the shops were open. However, it is only open for cruise tours and when you see the line during the day, you are grateful to have the experience you had. I had booked the Catherine's Palace and the St. Petersburg church tour before we left the US and was told it would be fine; two tours in one day. However personnel on the ship told me I couldn't make it and they would not refund money if we did not get back in time for the second tour. One of the people in our group went on the Catherine's Palace and had plenty of time when he got back before the second tour started. I was disappointed to say the least and the four hour St. Petersburg tour I took instead was very poorly done. It was basically driving around town in a bus looking at buildings. We were leaving port 24 hours after we got there. Not a two day stay. The last two excursions were a total waste of time. We did the hop on/hop off options for Stockholm and Helsinki and didn't have even enough time to make it around the entire route once. We were in town for a very short period of time and the options were very limited. I would have liked to have a more time in port and a later time to leave. We did the Copenhagen to the airport option and that was perfect. We had plenty of time to see the city with a great guide and then we were dropped at the airport. Two of us stayed with the luggage and the rest of us took the metro back into town and went to Tivoli Gardens and spent a few hours there. I would definitely do this tour again but would hope more time could be spent in port in some of the towns and less time between each destination. The distance is not so great we couldn't have more time in port. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We arived one day before embarkation to Copenhagen after a week in other parts of Europa so we mostly just explored the nyhavn area which is very pretty. Embarkation itself was super smooth we maybe took 15 min to board, rooms where ready ... Read More
We arived one day before embarkation to Copenhagen after a week in other parts of Europa so we mostly just explored the nyhavn area which is very pretty. Embarkation itself was super smooth we maybe took 15 min to board, rooms where ready at 1:30p and our luggage arrived at night as expected. The ship is beautiful, we could definitely tell it was recently renovated no complains on cleaniless and the public areas are spacious. We stayed in a family room for 4 for the first time and at first we where confused as the sofa bed was clearly only meant for 1 person. Only by asking around did we realize there was a ceiling bed that could be opened. We were very happy to hear this but I think they should include some sign or paper with this information in the room already because we grew upset at the beginning. The room is tight but there was enough storage for our family of four. We mostly at at the buffet and food was varied and good to great flavors, we could always find a table in the first few minutes we came. Other than that we dined twice at savor/taste and food is very good but it is missing a bit of presentation and flavor to be great. We also had lunch once in o sheenans but were disappointed with the mini portions and the service. We actually left before he could bring us all our orders or ask for dessert with how slow service is despite not being booked. The only specialty restaurant was Moderno and definitely recommend the quality of the meat os fantastic. The entertainment crew always had something to do its a shame the don't always have enough space or material for everyone interested to participate. The atrium simply does not have enough seating and the need to bring more paper for everyone to play. We had a great time in family dictionary for example but the only had paper for 7 teams it doesn’t make sense.This ship also has so many activities such as the arcade, bowling, mini golf the rope course and we enjoyed a bit of all it had to offer. Service overall is very good besides O Shennans we had no complaints. It may not be as personal than other cruises but everyone is kind and gets the job done. Though the cruise supposedly had 4600 guest (that not the capacity they advertise) we never felt it was so full we couldn't enjoy you just have to organize yourself to be at the activities before the begin and the shore excursions where fun. Btw the Cirque show is amazing you shouldnt miss it! Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We are a family of four, two parent and two kids ages 8 and 11. We selected this cruise and specifically, the aft-facing Haven one-bedroom suite because it perfectly fit our needs. Bottom line, if we did not stay in a Haven suite and ... Read More
We are a family of four, two parent and two kids ages 8 and 11. We selected this cruise and specifically, the aft-facing Haven one-bedroom suite because it perfectly fit our needs. Bottom line, if we did not stay in a Haven suite and experience all that the Haven has to offer, we probably would not pick this boat or Norwegian again. Pros: * Haven, Haven, Haven. A game changer. The exclusive pool, deck, hot tubs, bar / lounge, restaurant, and concierge was worth the added cost. We rarely had drinks or ate outside of the Haven (aside from three meals at the specialty restaurants). The quality of service was far superior to the service you received at any bar outside of Haven in the general areas. The Haven food quality is very good. Service is impeccable. * We had a one-bedroom aft-facing corner suite. It was amazing. The balcony makes all the difference. So spacious that we were able to exercise with plenty of room to spare. I read review(s) where folks complained about noise, smoke, etc. Nothing negative to say. The inside was very nice also. Two full baths, plenty of closets and great water pressure in the master bath. * The chicken wings at O'Sheehan's is pretty good! * Casinos were fine - nothing special. It was more about the people you met as you played the games. I lucked out and had a great time meeting folks. The craps dealers were hit or miss. Half were very professional and worked with us, the other half were angry and chose to enforce "rules" throughout the trip (dice are too high, you're taking too long, hands, drinks over the railing, etc.) * Soft serve ice cream in the main buffet restaurant was a hit with the kids * The activities for the kids were great. In many ways better than Disney cruises (although Disney's shows are great). There were not as many kids on this Norwegian cruise, providing whatever kids on the ship to more access to the climbing wall, ropes course and water slides. HUGE benefit. The sport court was also very well maintained and fun. Cons: * Tipping and service charges. Horrible system. I asked the staff and they either didn't know the specifics or chose not to disclose what they knew. The $18.50 per day per person service charge is dumb. Just embed it into the cost especially since we're told its essentially us paying the staffs' salaries. We were told that essentially this service charge "went to anyone we DIDN'T interact with", like the cooks, cleaners, etc. However, for anyone we did interact with, we're expected to "tip" them. Not a big deal, however, there's this issue of all prepaid gratuities from any drink or meal package you purchased. As it turns out this gratuity is pooled and shared among all service crew. The icing on the cake is that we were told the Haven staff - restaurant waiters/waitresses, bartenders, may or may not receive a penny of this even though they're the one's taking care of us 90% of the time. I'm getting mad just writing / reliving this. The point is, you will get nickel and dimed with service fees, gratuities, tip, etc. Just be warned. But also, be prepared and bring small bills onboard to take care of the staff throughout your cruise. Its the right thing to do despite Norwegian's idiotic system. * Quality of food prepared in the Haven restaurant was in the 4 - 4.5 range. The quality of food prepared elsewhere was between 3 - 3.5. The Noodle restaurant was absolutely horrible - 1.5. The Garden (buffet) was hit or miss as to be expected. The specialty restaurants - Teppinyaki, Cuccino, and the Brazilian steak restaurant were all marginal at best. Actually, Cuccino and the Brazilian steak were actually pretty bad. Skip it. Ocean Blue and sushi were pretty good. BOTTOMLINE: Haven all the way, bring cash for tips, lower your expectations regarding food quality, and know the kids will have a great time. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We boarded Boudicca at the beginning of August in Dover for her Fjords of Greenland cruise. We had booked a superior outside cabin but were upgraded to a junior suite some weeks before departure. This cabin, 5009, was at the front of the ... Read More
We boarded Boudicca at the beginning of August in Dover for her Fjords of Greenland cruise. We had booked a superior outside cabin but were upgraded to a junior suite some weeks before departure. This cabin, 5009, was at the front of the ship and was large, warm and very comfortable. The only noise to be heard was as the ship dropped anchor or used its bow thrusters. We were due to go north to Reykjavik up the west coast of Ireland but because of a severe storm in the Atlantic Captain Degerlund opted to sail the calmer waters of the North Sea. The overnight stay in Reykjavik was pleasant and having been before we chose to wander from the shuttle bus into town to visit the sights on both days. The ship sailed onto Greenland passing through the magnificent Prins Christiansund and Terssukatok to the first of three tiny ports, Qaqortoq. Here we tendered in to a small town for a wander. The following day we docked in Narsarsuag and took an excursion across the stunning bay to visit Erik the Red’s Viking ruins. Our final stop was Nanortalik, another tender port where the hospitable locals had laid on a choir in the impressive church, a kayak display and access to museum housed across many buildings. All the time icebergs floated by and the ship paused at massive glaciers en route. After returning through Prins Christiansund the final port of call was Kirwall in the Orkneys. Here we took an excursion with splendid guide, Kathleen, to Skara Brae, Skaill House and the Ring of Brodgar passing the impressive expanse of Scapa Flow on the way. Unfortunately we had no time to explore Kirwall itself as the ship was scheduled to arrive late and depart early. As is the case for out of the ordinary destinations, Fred laid on a wide range of lectures and there were the usual sea day activities. We did have one complaint: many of the public rooms were very cold, not ideal in a cold climate. However Boudicca looks good after her recent refurbishment and her crew provided excellent friendly service as always. We continue to feel that Fred’s Guest Services are the best in the business. Cruise Director Tim Spicer provided a breath of fresh air and as with the Captain was most approachable. One final point, the weather was good in all ports of call, particularly in Greenland where we able to take some stunning images. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Creds: I'm an 18-time cruiser, wife a 25-time cruiser, but our first on Princess. My first time flying to Europe to catch a boat; she did it once before. Complications for us, that relate to the cruise: Both retired, we figured ... Read More
Creds: I'm an 18-time cruiser, wife a 25-time cruiser, but our first on Princess. My first time flying to Europe to catch a boat; she did it once before. Complications for us, that relate to the cruise: Both retired, we figured it'd be dumb to fly over, cruise, fly right back. So, we self-planned a few days in London after our direct flight from Tampa; a "buffer"/safety night in Copenhagen before embarkation. At the other end, we did another half-day in Copenhagen before flying to Amsterdam, then training across the north coast (Ghent, Belgium was a magical, surprise revelation) to Paris for a few days before Chunneling back to London for our return flight. For the cruise, that meant that we were expecting travel stress (hotel-changing, train/air schedule worries, BA pilots' strike worries) with the 11-day cruise in the middle of it all to be our respite from stress. It pretty much did exactly that. Like all cruises, it was nice not to have to pack up every few days and move on. Regal Princess provided our comfortable moving hotel through the Baltic. The ship was very clean, very comfortable, possibly the most luxurious-feeling ship I've ever been on. We like included alternative venues for meals on a ship and Regal had a few. However, our best meal was the comp (with our booking) upscale steakhouse dinner. Of course, being a comp meal meant that the downside of it was that it was the very first meal we had on the ship - we had no choice - they were getting their commitment to us out of the way so they could make room for upsell diners who wouldn't reserve the first night. For whatever reason, our embarkation at Copenhagen was the fastest on record for either one of us. We did already have medallions for this cruise, which may have helped. (For the unfamiliar, Princess Medallion cruises provide a round RF medallion instead of a key card. Cabin doors, maitre-d's, and clerks can literally see you coming and who you are. Half the passengers wore them on the free neck-ribbons; we bought wrist bands. Apparently, those sci-fi movies with people swiping their wrists before entering someplace is now, and it's aboard Princess Medallion cruises. Aside from the sci-fi aspects, it was probably more convenient than a card. One aspect of the Medallion business is that Princess highly encouraged its use for many things: locating your cabin-mates, chatting, internet/intranet, games, casino, restaurant booking and so forth. But all these actions seemed to require downloading yet another app onto your phone to use and then trying to figure out how to make the app work like all the glitzy encouraging promotions make it look like. I had pre-purchased internet for the whole cruise, but "The Best Internet at Sea" only seemed to work ½ to ¾ of the time. If I'd get an internet cafe person's help, they'd race through what, to them, is a boring re-hash of simple steps, only to have my lack of a photographic memory apparently be my undoing. ("Turn this on, but that off, sign on, sign off, but it that's off, sign this off, see, simple?" I was able to locate my distant wife's position one time and never again. Neither of us were every able to get the chat thing to work. (Should mention that our last HAL cruise also had chat then would never work.) All that aside, the cruise was a fine one on a nice ship and provided the stress-free respite we needed in the middle of this European larger trip. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
My wife and I had a great time on a our first cruise, a 12 day, 9 port cruise around the British Aisles. The Regal Princess is an amazing ship with 3,000 passengers and 1,400 crew. Princess really hyped the "Medallion Class" ... Read More
My wife and I had a great time on a our first cruise, a 12 day, 9 port cruise around the British Aisles. The Regal Princess is an amazing ship with 3,000 passengers and 1,400 crew. Princess really hyped the "Medallion Class" cruise which turned out to be a medallion with NFC that let you unlock your door, record your leaving and returning to the ship, and pay for stuff. It also included some apps that let you find your way around the ship and order service wherever you were (except for the main theater). The ship had just been retrofitted with the technology and they had some problems with it the first few days; people couldn't connect to the apps, including me and I'm a programmer. There were long lines at the internet cafe for assistance. Our balcony cabin was very nice and we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of closet space since we'd brought 2 large suitcases. Plenty of room which was good because the Princess has a dress code in the evenings, which wasn't strictly enforced, for what they called "smart casual" for all of the dining rooms. Two "formal" nights compounded the packing problem but a sport jacket for me and a dress for my wife sufficed for formal night. The bed was great! Slept like a log. The staff on board the ship were excellent, very friendly and accommodating. I can't say enough about how great they were. We missed one port due to severe weather but that certainly isn't on the Regal Princess. The food on board was good but there wasn't anything that really lit it up for us. The food was somewhat bland and there were no desserts that I would call rich. A Hershey bar is richer than most of the chocolate desserts they had. We spent one evening at the premium restaurant, the Crown Grille, and the rib eye was excellent with and came with impeccable service. The service in the restaurants was very good although it seemed to take a long time to get coffee at the end of the meal, we couldn't figure that one out. Water, coffee, tea, and lemonade are included but soda was extra. I don't drink and we didn't sign up for one of the beverage packages they offer and we came out way ahead. The casino was a major fail. I know we're going to lose when we go to a casino but on the ship I may as well have thrown my money into the ocean and saved some time. Black Jack pays 6:5 for a black jack instead of 3:2; a "Fun Black Jack" game paid 21's and 20's even if you tied the dealer but all of the Kings were removed from the deck. The slots paid a minor win about every 10 spins. It wasn't fun and we stopped going early on. Shipboard activities were numerous and generally very good. Good local entertainment from Ireland and Scotland, some Broadway-like productions including one that blended magic, music and choreography that was unusual, karaoke, current movies, bingo, and music all over the ship. Some of the venues were small and finding a seat was difficult. There was always something going on. We went on several Princess sponsored excursions and they were all good with excellent guides. I have no idea what other lines charge but it cost $80 each for a 1/2 day excursion to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery, $170 each for a scenic tour of the Scottish highlands that included lunch, and $140 each for the Edinburgh Castle. While I'm touching on costs, Princess also charges a $14.50 per person per day gratuity which added $348 and included the embarkation/disembarkation days. We consider ourselves to be pretty frugal and we managed to spend a total of $1,635 (including excursions) while onboard. For all of the technology onboard you couldn't get your statement on anything other than paper. Overall we had a great time and I would recommend them to friends with the caveat that the cruise is going to cost you. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Exceptionnal logistics to embark, disembark and access to excursions on shore. Very efficient, well oragnised, easy to deal with. Roomy cabins with balconies for almost everyone. Very usefull medaillon (RF ID). The cabin door ... Read More
Exceptionnal logistics to embark, disembark and access to excursions on shore. Very efficient, well oragnised, easy to deal with. Roomy cabins with balconies for almost everyone. Very usefull medaillon (RF ID). The cabin door unlocks automatically as you approach it. You can buy anything on board and even on shore (to access hop-on hop-off bus tours starting at the dock), without further identification. The boat personnel equipment allows them to confirm your ID with a picture on their tablet. Exceptionnal food variety and quality at the buffet (Bistro Horizon). Conversely, dissapointing food preparation, cooking skills, and wine serving service at standard (Symphony, Harmony, Concerto) and specialty (Crown Grill, Sabatini's) restaurants. The best bet, after the buffet is to eat at small bistros (Crab Schack, Alfredo's, International Café and the like), which are all very good with food quality and service. Efficient room service, albeit very present in the corridors. High quality shows production with a good spectrum of styles to please everyone. But humour is difficult with such varied cultural background in the audience, especially when guests ar asked to participate on stage. Both the comedian and the ventriloquist generated some uncomfortable moments. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We chose this crew because of the itinerary and we wanted to try Holland America.. Embarkation (Amsterdam) was the best of any cruise we have been on (4 previous cruises). Disembarkation (also Amsterdam) was also the better than any of ... Read More
We chose this crew because of the itinerary and we wanted to try Holland America.. Embarkation (Amsterdam) was the best of any cruise we have been on (4 previous cruises). Disembarkation (also Amsterdam) was also the better than any of our previous cruises. Ship is big, new, and beautiful... Great layout and we never felt too crowded. Cabin was spacious with good amount of storage for suitcases and ample closet space. I would say dining was above average but we did not dine at any of the specialty restaurants. We "tried" to attend a few of the shows but never stayed for the duration they were just too boring. Service was outstanding throughout the ship for the duration. Ports were all good but we did not book any excursions through HAL as they were too expensive. We booked through a third party for much less and they were basically the same tours. Shops were somewhat limited but all the staff were friendly. Casino was sufficient (also a great staff) but I would have liked for them to have a Texas hold'em table. Overall a good cruise and we would probably give HAL another try possibly Antarctica. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Second time on QM2 & first since a supposed re-furbishment. As always Cunard smugly bang on about their heritage with artefacts & pictures everywhere yet overall the Cunard experience whilst generally very good it's not ... Read More
Second time on QM2 & first since a supposed re-furbishment. As always Cunard smugly bang on about their heritage with artefacts & pictures everywhere yet overall the Cunard experience whilst generally very good it's not 'that' special. Cabin immaculate except that the wooden ornamental balcony railing had come adrift from its metal frame. As to be expected public areas including lounge & bar areas immaculate & rather grand - with one exception ( see later ). Britannia dining room staff utterly charming & food was fine but evening meals taken to the accompaniment of frequent screeching of babies or hyper-active infants not Cunard's fault of course, but why take babies on a cruise it's not a floating creche? The self-service café or Kings Court or whatever still has all the ambience of a 1960's Wimpy bar with many seats in a sort of corridor or in bay windows that have some sort of blue tint on them - weird. The Kings Grille always empty & on the sole occasion I ventured there to get a cheese burger it was tasteless (the burger that is). McDonalds could teach Cunard a thing or two. Food from the café was never ever hot enough, so much so I played safe & stuck to cold meats etc. Given that class division is so obvious on the ship I doubt whether those in Princess or Queens Grille class would ever risk soiling their Gucci loafers in such a place. A certain aspect of the posh Commodore/commode Club was a disgrace. In several places the wood edging to the window apertures had split, come adrift & hanging loose. The inside of the toilet door adjacent to the library was covered in rust. It seems the QM2 is long overdue for it's next mild re-furb. Theatre entertainment was obviously on a low budget e.g. a shrieking girl singer & a so so conjuror/comedian - all a bit village hall I fear. BUT...a guitar concert was a joy as was a talk in the picture gallery. Good selection of day time activities too. Places visited were second time around so need to be ripped-off by over-priced excursions. Took lots of my own photographs including a photograph of a photograph taken with the captain - $35 for one print ! - no way Cunard. However enough good points to be looking forward to next booked Cunard cruise but NOT on QM2. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We chose this cruise for the many wonderful ports, cities, and towns. Every port was unique and we enjoyed them all. This was our first cruise on a Norwegian ship. The Spirit is a bit tired and dated. We liked that it’s a smaller ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the many wonderful ports, cities, and towns. Every port was unique and we enjoyed them all. This was our first cruise on a Norwegian ship. The Spirit is a bit tired and dated. We liked that it’s a smaller ship, less crowded than the massive ships. Fitness center and spa are very small and outdated. Food was ok. Plenty to do onboard and the staff was wonderful, very fun & friendly. Our cabin was ok... the bathroom was a good size which I appreciated. The balcony was very nice. Robes would have been wonderful. We've always had robes on other ships. Windows Dining was really nice, good food and meal choices. Loved the piano playing in the background We chose a few shore excursions and they were very organized with wonderful guides. We are not much for entertainment. We did not attend any shows. Sat in the Galaxy Lounge a lot, we enjoyed the views especially as we left port. The few singers we heard there were good. All public rooms were clean, again very tired but kept clean. Smoking allowed in the casino kept us out. This is the first cruise ship we have been on that allowed smoking inside or out. Holland America does not allow smoking inside at all. I appreciate that! The spa and fitness area is way too outdated and small. Very disappointing that our cabin had no cold water on 3 separate occasions making showering not only dangerous but impossible. We reported the problem, and they fixed it within an hour, a bit too late for early morning excursions, no showers ...ugh! We have cruised with 4 other cruise lines, Norwegian was our least favorite. It was ok. Again, I chose this cruise because of the wonderful ports of call, and that did not disappoint. The whole broken shower thing was a bit hard to swallow... Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
First time on an MSC cruise having previously had a number of cruises with Celebrity and Princess. Embarkation was smooth. Luggage was taken from us a few steps from our taxi and we proceeded to check-in hall where we were given a ... Read More
First time on an MSC cruise having previously had a number of cruises with Celebrity and Princess. Embarkation was smooth. Luggage was taken from us a few steps from our taxi and we proceeded to check-in hall where we were given a group number and asked to sit until called. Ten minutes later our number was called and we checked in and proceeded to ship. One of the smoothest check-in procedures of any cruise we have ever had. Our cabin was 12100 with a balcony and was midship. It was opposite an entrance to the hallway where two lifts are located but we heard little in the way of noise. The cabin was large with a 3 seater couch, flat screen TV and a small balcony. Only BBC World service channel in English but plenty of films to hire at 7 euro each if that is what you wanted to do. Tea and coffee making facilities replenished daily. Plenty of storage space and the bathroom had glass shower screen that could be folded back when not in use. Easily on a par with Celebrity and better than Princess cruise cabins. Food was the biggest let down. For breakfast we found the Inca & Maya buffet restaurant chaotic. There was a reasonable range of food both hot and cold but the hot food was seldom hot. Eggs were especially a problem as even new trays of fried eggs taken from the "hot" cupboard under servery were cold - no temperature probes ever seemed to be used to check how warm the food was and it was the same situation with omlettes, etc. In addition nobody checked whether coffee, juice or milk dispensers were topped up and on a number of cases I had to ask one of the white coats (head waiters?) to ask for this to be done. Lunchtime was better and the fresh pizza was great and varied with the cheeseburgers worth a mention as well. The midnight buffet we only visited once and the fish & chips were really good and tasty. The highlight for us was dinner each evening in the L'Arabesque restaurant where we had great service from an attentive waiter and hot food if sometimes the portion size was small. However, our waiter had no problem in bringing an extra portion or on at few occasions telling his assistant to double the portion without us asking. Speciality restaurant - Butchers Cut has recently replaced the previous Italian restaurant. The cost was an additional 62 euros plus 15% service charge for the two of us and the food was good. However at the beginning of the evening the staff looked after us but unfortunately we were sitting next to the table where the Captain and senior officers were to be seated with two VIP guests. When they arrived things changed as staff either ensured they were not in the same area as them or waited attentively next to their table. We sat for over 15 minutes with our main course plates waiting to be removed and had finished our wine but no one came near us. Eventually some one did and apologised for "forgetting" about us! What should have been a special evening was spoiled as we had to listen to senior officers in loud voices talk about the virtues of the newest ships! The total cost including drinks for what promised to be a wonderful experience was 135 euros for the two of us! Entertainment in the bars was fine although a bit repetitive and we did not fancy many of the shows in the theatre although the one we did attend "Songo Italiano" was excellent. One thing though there are kids and teen clubs but no adult only spaces! Tried to have a quiet beer in the sports bar to no avail as two different Italian groups of kids aged between 4 and 8 tried their hardest to destroy the ten pin bowling machine by throwing the balls in the air or climbing into the machine underneath where the pin mechanism operated watched on by parents and staff who did nothing. Eventally the ship mechanic had to be called as one lane ended up with all the pin cables twisted. Drinks package - We chose not to have a drinks package as we felt that they were not value for money. We had a bottle of decent wine each night with 3 or 4 drinks afterwards in the bars and we still saved money on the Premium package at 39 euros per person per day and I was drinking either beer and/or malt whisky with the better half on prosecco. Excursions were expensive and we found that with a bit of research precruise we could visit the same places for around 50% cheaper than MSC was charging but that is the same for all cruise lines. Downside on returning to ship for everyone (except Royal Yacht passengers) was that they seldom had more than one gangway open and this led to queues which was a problem in really cold port of calls. Other cruise lines provide hot coffee or tea in instances like this but with MSC it was only available for Yacht Club passengers. Shopping like most cruise ships there are a range of shops - duty free, clothes, gifts, jewellery, etc. Unfortunately every day and night they put out stalls to try and to sell mostly the same stuff as the shops to passengers. It detracts from the Italian styling of the ship and makes it feel down market. I know most ships do it but every day on MSC!!! The Phoenicians Plaza is an area where you can have a light breakfast and during the rest of the days complimentary snacks. It is surrounded by shops but they then set up stalls on the walkway to sell items forcing the tables into a smaller area. What should be a pleasant area to sit and have a coffee becomes a tight squeeze to make room for these stalls Disembarkation was the best of any cruise. Left cabin at 8am, met at theatre at ten past, off ship 8.15 in a taxi with luggage by 8.25am. We'll organised, quick and efficient. To conclude I would certainly consider MSC again but the food offering needs to improve in the buffet especially at breakfast. Plus give us an adult only space during the day to get away from unruly kids. In addition they should introduce feedback cards on the ships so that passengers can highlight good or bad practice from the staff or about the service they are receiving which would give the management the opportunity to start to address any issues. Also we had a card on our dinner table telling us who our waiter was but nothing in the cabin naming our steward. Why? As he was just as important in ensuring we had a good holiday. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
I'd heard about Royal Carribean and knew it had a good reputation. This was my first cruise. We had a great time! The stops were excellent;even Skagen where there wasn't too much to see, was a nice small town. The excursion ... Read More
I'd heard about Royal Carribean and knew it had a good reputation. This was my first cruise. We had a great time! The stops were excellent;even Skagen where there wasn't too much to see, was a nice small town. The excursion to St Petersburg was good, even though it was more expensive than some other providers.The 2 guides were full of information. It would have been better to get to the Hermitage early as it was just too crowded at 2pm. Ship entertainment was excellent.The shows were all good, and we LOVED Perry Grant who played alomost every evening for 3 hours in the Schooner bar. He's very very funny. We saw an excellent ice show in another hall one afternoon, and that was great. The staff are all lovely.The service is second to none.But we did feel the dress code was poor: too many people wearing (beach) shorts in the main restaurant was not good enough .These people should be restricted to the Windjammer for dinner if that's how they dress. There should definitely be a no-shorts (and possibly smart shirt only?) policy in the other restaurants. The excursions are very over priced.The fjord cruise in Stavanger was $280 for 2. We paid $110 for the same trip by booking direct. I'm aware all the other excursions were way over-priced. Drinks- the package is very expensive for the top option.With the discount on the first day it worked out at $1092 for 2 persons.After the first day the discount was taken away and it would have been over £2000 for 2. As light drinkers this was never an option.They should offer drinks deals by the day, as they do for wifi. -more later. Wifi- very annoying you have to pay for this, and a a high price. This should be free.I used it one day and it was VERY sloooow. One other beef- no irons were loaned to rooms.They claimed they were a fire hazard. Why do hotels offer them then? As a result it was $4 a shirt just to press.This is outrageous.If you don't allow a facility, you shouldn't then charge exhorbtant prices for cleaning and ironing. I sometimes got the feeling RCC were trying to bleed their customers dry whereever they could. it was my 60 th birthday on the cruise- I think RCC could offer a complimentary bottle of wine for all birthdays, especially big ones.It wouldn't cost them much . and would be excellent PR. In summary, though, it was excellent, and I'm sure my complaints are going to be similar or same with all cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We chose this cruise for the remarkable deal we found to cruise Northern Europe. Embarkation was very smooth, we waited about 30 min or so, but we arrived before our check-in time. The ship is very modern and has a real wow factor! This ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the remarkable deal we found to cruise Northern Europe. Embarkation was very smooth, we waited about 30 min or so, but we arrived before our check-in time. The ship is very modern and has a real wow factor! This was out 13th cruise. We’ve done Disney, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Carnival. MSC is definitely different from the “American” lines. Pool decks are much quieter, no music/games/contests like on the other ships. No sail away party. There was a giant screen; however, it never played any movies or shows, only beach scenery. The pools are salt water and we’re not terribly crowded except on sea days when it was nearly impossible to find a lounger even on the deck above. The thermal suite is lovely and a great place to relax. The kids club was good. Our boys enjoyed their time there. They do close at various points throughout the day in seas days, which was a bit of a pain. The food in the buffet was really just ok as was the main dining room. The speciality restaurants have much better food. The status match program is nice. I have a gold card so there were some perks, but not like ones On other lines. We got a bowl of fruit in our cabin and a string back pack. We were offered a free photo but it had to be from a particular party which was at 11 on the last sea day. Overall, any cruise it what you make of it. We chose MSC for the great itinerary. It can feel like you’re being nickeled and dimed, but we were prepared for that from other reviews. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
I was previously on the jewel and enjoyed norwegian. I chose this for the itinierary. The itinerary was amazing, i love freestyle dining, U got back from st pete at 9:40 and was still able to have a sit down dinner! food was overall ... Read More
I was previously on the jewel and enjoyed norwegian. I chose this for the itinierary. The itinerary was amazing, i love freestyle dining, U got back from st pete at 9:40 and was still able to have a sit down dinner! food was overall good (main dining room). the chinese restaurant was mediocre. The buffet was average, At breakfast, you have to ask for lox (smoked salmon) but they had it every day once i learned that. My room was on the 6th or 7th deck, and there was only 1 staircase that went to my room, but i was told that it was because this ship was bought and was not originally a norwegian ship The main entertainment was good. The game shows were fun. The ship died down after 10 tho; maybe because it was a baltic cruise. I would have liked to have a rock band in the pub more often. they did have a guy singing beatles songs. Getting off and onthe boat at each port was the smoothest i have ever experienced. They were lenient with people brining back water bottles as well To see 13 countries in 15 days, and have a lot of time in most (some were over 12 hours) was fantastic I also felt the photo team was less pushy this time, and it almost made me consider buying one -- but i didint it 15 days in 13 countries for what i paid, still amazed at the value Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Being a first generation Latvian, I was intrigued with this cruise as it was stopping in Riga, Latvia along with so many other Baltic countries. It was a perfect agenda in terms of the countries on the itinerary and a great way to explore ... Read More
Being a first generation Latvian, I was intrigued with this cruise as it was stopping in Riga, Latvia along with so many other Baltic countries. It was a perfect agenda in terms of the countries on the itinerary and a great way to explore the various cultures in 15 days. We had taken a previous sailing to the Baltic region on the Getaway in October 2017 which was terrible based on the cold, windy and wet weather on a cruise ship that is really not suitable for cold and inclement weather based on its "Miami Boardwalk" exterior design. First and foremost, this was our 5th or 6th voyage on the Spirit in the last 3 years. We truly enjoy the size of the ship, the crew that tends to be quite customer centric and the "Galaxy of the Stars" for viewing of daily arrivals and departures is awesome. As we reside in Italy and enjoy the convenience and destinations that the Spirit has frequented, we are highly disturbed that the vessel will be repositioned after the upgrade in February 2020 to the Asia coast. One would have hoped that following the upgrade previous loyal customers could have enjoyed the much needed refreshing. Now, I'll just cut to the chase with our opinions: *Embarkation in Southampton and disembarkation in Stockholm were excellent. Job well done as has been our experience with all NCL cruises. *The ship in itself is certainly a bit dated and tired and I am sure the February 2020 retrofit will serve it well. Regardless, we enjoy the Spirit based on the passenger capacity, the client age group and general design. *Our Cabin 9118 with balcony was located just outside of the midship elevators. No problems with noise or anything else. Despite needing an upgrade and a few minor repairs, the room was perfect. *Our Cabin steward was great. *THE BAD- TV reception was horrible. They stated that they were working with the satellite provider; however, it remained an ongoing issue. *EVEN WORSE- I am not a fan of propaganda and appreciate some level of honesty. We continue to find it INSULTING that NCL airs the propaganda channel MSNBC. Frankly it was refreshing to view the Russian channel RT. At least it was somewhat objective as was the French channel. DINING Opinions: 1) Le Bistro was excellent both in service and food quality!!! Great management and staff. Highly recommend. 2) Cagney's was just fair. Customer service was excellent as always; however, the food quality fell quite short. The steaks were simply poor in quality. 3) Shogun- I would pass on the restaurant. Seems to consistently deteriorate. 4) Garden Room- For a non upgrade restaurant, it was excellent in both customer service and food quality. Frankly, the food quality was far superior here compared to Cagney's. We certainly give the Garden Room 2 thumbs up. 5) Raffles- Great for breakfast, Okay for lunch but definitely a pass for dinner. 6) Blue Lagoon- A place that has improved over time and a good choice for "fast food". Now, back to rest of our thoughts: *Entertainment is O.K. for this sized ship and price point. Do not expect Vegas level talent. However, the drink service is awesome. *PORTS and EXCURSIONS- As noted, this itinerary was outstanding. Navigating the various ports were no issue at all. We took far more excursions than we normally do and despite being overpriced as we all know, ALL of them were excellent. They clearly exceeded our expectations. A disturbing disappointment: ***** We truly enjoy cruising and were eager to obtain some price quotes for some future cruises in 2020. Being young and recently retired, we live to travel the world. Provided to the CRUISE NEXT Manager ( a gentleman that I regret not securing his name) a list of cruises for pricing to only be told that he could ONLY provide me with a verbal quote. He said that written/documented quotes could ONLY BE PROVIDED AFTER BOOKING the cruise. What an absolute load of..... To say the least, I did not pursue future business with NCL as a result. Overall, we did very much enjoy ourselves and look forward to future cruises with whatever cruise company supports our expectations. We find that with the extensive sailing in the Mediterranean/European/Middle East areas, 13-15 days are perfect on the smaller ships such as the Spirit. Our experience has been that with the larger vessels that accommodate 3500+ passengers tend to really dampen the experience with disembarkation, dining and customer service. Bon voyage! Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We chose this Baltic cruise due to the ports since it's an amazing way to see somewhat far-flung European cities easily and without unpacking. This was also our belated honeymoon so we were looking for something with resort-like ... Read More
We chose this Baltic cruise due to the ports since it's an amazing way to see somewhat far-flung European cities easily and without unpacking. This was also our belated honeymoon so we were looking for something with resort-like amenities and a relaxing feel in addition to our European adventures. Pre-Cruise- We spent one night in Copenhagen and loved it. Highly recommend the Scandic Front hotel. Copenhagen ended up being one of our favorite cities. We also spent another night here after the cruise and wished we had longer! Tivoli and Nyhavn are must see's. Embarkation- It was fine, a little crowded, probably took 45 minutes Disembarkation- We carried off our own bags since we weren't going to the airport and didn't want a transfer. Everyone else had the same idea and it was very challenging to get an elevator. The Ship- It was recently renovated and everything looked nice and new. We were impressed with all the updates, though as a Librarian, I wish it had maintained more of a library. The main downside was the sheer number of other people. There were 4700 passengers and 1600 crew and it just felt crowded all the time inside all main areas of the ship. Because it was a colder climate, there really weren't many people outside so those areas were pleasant, but the atrium was packed all the time and if you didn't have restaurant reservations you were in trouble! The Food- The specialty dining was absolutely fabulous, some of the best food we ever ate. We especially loved Ocean Blue, Teppanyaki, and Cagney's. However, the main dining was just okay, the food was pretty basic, service was hit and miss, and the buffet was terrible. The food at the buffet was bad in itself, but the feeling of being at a cattle feeding trough and the impossibility of finding a seat was very unpleasant. Entertainment/Activities- These were fun, but again very crowded. You needed to arrive at least 30 minutes ahead of time if you wanted a seat. Our cruise was so busy with ports that we were pretty tired at night and didn't do a whole lot. The cruise director Francesco and Assistant Director Lester were very nice and helped make things fun. Ports- St. Petersburg- While we wished we had two full days, we really enjoyed it. Took a tour with an outside tour company (Shore Trips) and were able to see everything we wanted. Visas and getting around were easy with the company we chose. Helsinki- An unexpected favorite. We just went on our own and used the Hop on Hop Off for transit. We took a boat to Suomenlinna and loved being in nature and getting away from crowds. Tallinn- Amazing, medieval city. We went on our own and walked to town. It was a healthy walk, but very doable. Stockholm- We were very happy to dock in Stockholm and not Nynasham. This made our day much more usable. We did the Hop on Hop Off and were not fans. The route went away from the Vasa and Skansen museums and wasn't heading back there for an hour, so we ditched the bus and took a cab and beat all the crowds to the Vasa. This made a huge difference and we had time to see Skansen and have lunch in Gamla Stan as well. The Hop on Hop Off was kind of a disaster for returning to the ship with no space left on buses and many people left behind. From what I could see most people did eventually make it to the ship on time but had to wait for several buses to come and go. Sailing out of the Stockholm archipelago was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had. It was stunning to see all those tiny islands so close up on our huge ship. Not every itinerary goes that way, but if you can find one, you should definitely do it! Visby- This was a late addition to our itinerary, but we were glad. We loved it. A very cute, upscale summer resort town on Gotland. We took the Medieval Visby tour because we were tired of walking all day and enjoyed seeing everything and hearing about its Viking history. Being there during Medieval Week really added an aura of authenticity! Overall- We loved this cruise and all the ports. We think you don't really need to book shore excursions (except in Russia) because all of the ports and have taxis lined up and many are walking-friendly as well. We learned we probably prefer a smaller ship just due to the crowds, and we learned to make reservations ahead of time. Additionally, we highly recommend the Thermal Suite which was a haven (cheaper than the real Haven!) of peace and quiet with stunning forward views. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We choose this cruise for the uniqueness of the destination, the Baltic Countries. a great experience on the cruise but couple of things left us angry and wanting 1) Seafood Paella being served was a highlight as we love seafood and ... Read More
We choose this cruise for the uniqueness of the destination, the Baltic Countries. a great experience on the cruise but couple of things left us angry and wanting 1) Seafood Paella being served was a highlight as we love seafood and Paella, we know Halal is not offered but the paella had PORK sausages even though pork was not mentioned on the menu description. With the number of Muslims cruising with NCL, I would think they would at least be clear about that. live cooking omelets in the breakfast saw spatulas being used to turn ham filled and normal eggs, The Indian Dishes , in the garden Cafe had beef and pork dishes along with the vegetarian choices, which sort of says NCL does not care about the sensitivities of this segment of the market. The pullman beds were left out for the duration of the cruise and not closed daily which would have made the day time cabin use pleasant. Value for money, being specific an 1 year old infant being charged full 3rd person cost is not value for money in anyway as there is nothing infant friendly available or provided by the cruise line, Freestyle for adults is definitely a great way to cruise and value for money, but NCL has to look into the Muslim cruising market by making sure pork is properly marked and the utensils not used, at least by the crew handling the food, in an interchangeable manner, may be even take some pointers from other cruise line on how to avoid the same, like Carnival. We had 8 seniors in the group, for who there was no on board activity, that they could enjoy, These avoidable incidents would have enhanced the good experience Read Less
Sail Date July 2019

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