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117 Norwegian (NCL) Dover Cruise Reviews

Checked in at Dover this took us 3hrs processing did not start until 1 instead of 12 and then problems with checking in passports and debit card We then encountered bad weather so all time was spent inside ship we tried everything but ... Read More
Checked in at Dover this took us 3hrs processing did not start until 1 instead of 12 and then problems with checking in passports and debit card We then encountered bad weather so all time was spent inside ship we tried everything but choose was limited and could not be classed as quality entertainment, after stop at the Azores and improvement in weather we went on deck 12 to enjoy the sunshine and found that entertainment on deck was again limited spoke to captain and said we were on holiday and did not need background music, Entertainments was to two half hour sets and 1 hour set which ended by 4 each afternoon we heard the same songs and in the same order over and over again No entertainment staff on top deck for first 2 days then a few of entertainment team turned up and the games consisted to chucking a ping pong ball into a bucket, line dancing and chucking bags onto poles towards the end of the cruise we had male and female competition but all very third rate. Then an announcement by captain: trouble with shop by passing Miami nothing mentioned about people on back to back cruise. stood in line for 2 hours to be told problem with ship and we would have to take hand luggage and stay in hotel for night and then come back on board for the second part of our holiday. After speaking with another passenger who said they had been told back to back passengers would be staying on ship queued for another 1 and half to be told no we would be leaving ship and we would receive further information in our cabins of times of getting of ship etc. Arrived tampa could not leave ship, that night at 2am in the morning went to reception once again to confirm what time we should leave ship as nothing had been sent to our cabin, to be told we would be staying on ship (people were still queuing at this time as well due to lack of information being given out). Emigration took 3 hours we left ship and on return found we were 2 of approx 100 passengers on board. No entertainment staff cleaning everything they could clean, even in cafe staff on window ledge beside us as we ate and cleaning the empty chairs at our table only about 10 people including crew in cafe on deck 12, it was a ghost ship bars closed, no entertainment, no casino, food so limited it was a joke told a film on in theater so we went it was Helen Mirran and the film was unwatchable, no midnight buffet due to the known inspections which would be taking place on the Tampa port day, staff were saying it could be up to 3 days. wrote letters spoke to customers services staff with nothing but received in answer when we know you will know asked for something in writing nothing ever received, Left letters for staff, customer service manager and the cruise hotel director and also the captain, which i never received a reply to. 19th October a British couple who had been told with their 2 children they would be going to a hotel returned, they went to hotel as they and we had been instructed to and found they did not have a room they then had to wait for another room at a hotel near the airport for them to be found they were not brought back to the ship (why Not) On the day of the 2000+ passengers coming on board we went out into tampa for the day when we tried to get back on board the boat in the afternoon we were not allowed into the building due to passengers inside the building reaching capacity numbers and ncl once again having problems processing passengers, we had to wait outside for an hour and half before we could get onto ship That night i went to reception and demanded to speak to a manager i was let into office behind customer services and met a blank face and told sorry for the trouble you have had I will look into it and get back to you ( once again nothing ever received ) I did receive 6 strawberries in melted chocolate was this our compensation for such bad service from NCL, 36 hours in the port of tampa with nothing on board, it was a ghost ship apart from staff cleaning everything in groups. Food choose on whole cruise was very limited and in all food outlets apart from service charge outlets uneatable due to being cold, floor 8 menu was the same for 19 days but the food was hot. Casino closed at sea one night due to audit and the bar was also closed at 1pm Shows were repeated and at some shows people were walking out after a few minutes due to poor standard of entertainment This was our 2nd cruise on NCL and the back to back our 3rd out of 9 cruises i have been on in the past two years this was the worse and before this our 1st ncl cruise was rated 2nd bars were overrun on 2nd cruise and not enough waiting staff so queuing for over an hour sometimes to get a drink and towards the end of cruise could not order my husband a drink we had to produce ind cards and limited to 1 drink on each. It was a joke in reception showing a video of people enjoying themselves and fireworks from ship have you ever been on board a ship for 2400 people and be 1 of less then 100 people Other people had also been told they would have to leave ship but found out by going to reception that this was not the case no letters to staterooms Did ncl not care about the 100 who had done the 1st cruise and then were going on, the inspections took place with only the 100 as you had put all other passengers into hotels for the night before due leave date of ship why were they not kept on board, or was it because you wanted all crew to be cleaning ship for the inspections? cleaning in cabins next door and corridors took place into the hours of the early morning, I opened my cabin door and two men cleaning edge of carpet with toothbrushes Ship was meant to leave tampa early evening then 10 at two oclock the following morning nets were still around ship we could see them in water from our balcony It would have been something to receive an apology from NCL 6 strawberries does not cut it and i feel like i was treated with contempt as i was 1 of only 100 passengers in this position due to ship breaking down and inspections at tampa this is a holiday i look forward to each year and it was ruined by NCL who had a total lack of consideration for the 100 passengers who had booked back to back cruises Entertainment on deck on the 2nd cruise was better and went on until 7pm ever night on deck 12 and not 4 as on the 1st cruise, food was no better and the late food in the cafe was the same everything cold as always and uneatable bar service was worse and the time to get a drink could be up to 90 mins. All passengers on 1st cruise were giving a refund (days fare and tax) and 15% discount of next holiday for missing Miami, for being treated as non customers for 36 hours on board ship we got six strawberries and as my husband just reminded me 3 cookies I look forward to hearing from you and i hope you look at the service to customers on board the star as i expect it has given an impression of NCL you do not wish to have it passengers to come away with You need more staff better food (and make it hot) more quality entertainment, you must also ensure that there is entertainment on board that goes on until the early hours people are on holiday and dont expect to have to go to bed early every night due to lack of entertainment. Some of the staff you have are fantastic marsha casino zeron top deck and casino and the lady on floor 8 who left ship to return home to Peru to her 21 month baby after 8 months on board ship. Cabin boys were great but they know they will be left tips in cabins. To get service from a lot of staff you have to tip otherwise you could be ignored for long periods of time. The cruise director did a great job with limited resources and would seem to be responsible for all public announcements, but a lot of the staff were rude and could not be bothered (nearly all staff could do with training in customers service). Did NCL price this cruise wrong then made the passengers suffer due to getting it wrong? Getting of the ship was once again a nightmare meant to leave at 9 but gone 10 before we were called to join the line to get of the ship. We finally got off the boat so we could stand in line again for customs. Our first cruise with NCL on the Epic we rated the 2nd best of the 7 cruises we have been on in the past 2 years, this cruise we rate the worse and would we go back again. Never Never Never If it was not for the people we met I was one of the mad English ladies on deck 12 everyday and part of the British casino syndicate everynight and the food on floor eight, only place on ship which you could be guaranteed hot food, the menu was the same everyday of the 19 days on board except for the house special which got changed i think i would have jumped overboard Well rant over but be warned great difference in ships on the NCL fleet in terms of food entertainment and service Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We have cruised on NCL many times, as well as a number of other cruise lines. This has to rate as the worst cruising experience, ever. The only redeeming feature was that we met many friendly fellow cruisers from the US, UK and Germany. ... Read More
We have cruised on NCL many times, as well as a number of other cruise lines. This has to rate as the worst cruising experience, ever. The only redeeming feature was that we met many friendly fellow cruisers from the US, UK and Germany. Some we hope to remain friends with in the future. The food was poor, in our opinion, and so heavily salted that my wife and I had to ask for no-salt meals. The entertainment was mediocre, except for the electronic string quartet. The service in the restaurants was very slow, at times. Our propulsion system failed as we were approaching Florida, causing us to skip Miami and proceed to Tampa, where we arrived a day early, but had to leave the ship. We were shuttled from one hotel to another and spent most of our final day standing in lines with no information as to where we were staying. It was a very poorly handled situation, and I understand, that it was the second time in the past several months that the Star had a similar problem. It is highly doubtful that I can be persuaded to ever step foot on another NCL ship. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We departed Dover on 6 October 2015 after a couple of weeks in Morocco and the Saraha. A nice change and we were glad to be on the Star. I made the mistake of attempting to move our cabins and we ended up in the forward section of deck 8 ... Read More
We departed Dover on 6 October 2015 after a couple of weeks in Morocco and the Saraha. A nice change and we were glad to be on the Star. I made the mistake of attempting to move our cabins and we ended up in the forward section of deck 8 with an ocean view stateroom. This is not our first cruise, and it won't be our last on Norwegian. I should remind you that the placement of your stateroom above or below major entertainment areas should be a consideration when booking if you want a good nights sleep. Our stateroom was above the Stardust Theater but it wasn't an issue since we generally saw the first show, looked at other entertainment venues and went to our cabin after 10:00 pm. Things I liked about this cruise: Embarkation - smooth, efficient and timely. Cabin - large enough for comfort and good storage overall. Cruise Director: This is the first time that I couldn't find fault with the Cruise Director - group of people who try so hard to be friendly, happy and your best buddy that they are more than annoying. Ian - the cruise guy on this trip was a helpful, informative, entertaining and genuine. Of all the times we interacted directly or indirectly through ship wide announcements, I never felt that he was forced or ingenuine. Kudos to Ian the Cruise Director. Dining: Very good to excellent dining choices of well seasoned and prepared dishes served by professionals. Stateroom Attendant: "Johnathan" was an excellent steward who kept our stateroom spotless and ship shape. He was friendly, accomodating and a credit to Norwegian. Entertainment - The show cast was very good and gave very entertaining shows throughout the crossing. I enjoyed the musicianship of the duo Touche, the solos of the pianist, guitarist and trombone player from the house band. The bass player was also very good. Disappointing -the ship broke so we had to divert to Tampa without going to Miami. Having to depart the ship a day early was well done by US customs and the local Tampa staff, however the letter provided by the Star Captain and coordinating staff was less than adequate to the task of providing complete information to customers. Basically it was "You can stay or you can go by yourself and we won't tell you before we get to Tampa (and maybe afterwards) what all your options are." This can't be the only time an NCL ship has had a problem during a voyage, and there should have been a template available to who ever was providing the customers needed information and options a document with frequent updates. Two days of long lines at the customer service desks should have tipped off the cruise staff that they left too many issues unadressed. I suppose that the ship's administration was handicapped by what I believe is NCL's lack of administrative support, coordination, forward thinking and active corporate management. For me, I've enjoyed the ships, crews and entertainment of Norwegian Cruise Lines, but dread having to deal with their headquarters staff related issues. As an indication, the form for requesting an airline change fee is buried below layers of their web site, AND THE PROCEDURE WAS NEVER BRIEFED PRIOR TO DEBARKATION!!! Just a huge lack of complete communication, which I attribute to a less than adequate corporate headquarters staff. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We took this trip to visit my family in England as we do most years, 2010 was the last time we crossed on NCL, timing was the important factor we needed an early October crossing. Knowing it was hurricane season, we still chose this ... Read More
We took this trip to visit my family in England as we do most years, 2010 was the last time we crossed on NCL, timing was the important factor we needed an early October crossing. Knowing it was hurricane season, we still chose this trip, Joaquine joined us for a couple of days before the Azores. ' Twas a bit rough, up to 27 ft seas. The remainder of the crossing was perfect, water, a sheet of glass, my USNRet. husband said he had never seen the Atlantic so smooth taking pictures to show his pals. Our luck began before we left home with an upgrade from Mini Suite to a 405 sq.ft. suite, it was a wonderful treat with all of the frills. Our butler, Made, was a first for us. We had received the UDP so we were unable to judge the main dining room, no complaints about the cafe. I ate there most mornings before "morning stretch". Zumba was offered complimentary, great instruction both by a male dancer and the assistant C.D., our numbers grew as the word got out. I normally enjoy the pool but due to weather they didn't fill it 'till day 5, the outside was closed down for almost 48 hours during the storm. We participated in the T/A progressive trivia and missed a few options at that time of day, too much to do, too little time. Loads of activities, lectures even some of the evening entertainers and the C.D. with his magic performed extra afternoon shows. The entertainment troupe was newly formed at the beginning of our journey and improved immensely with time. My favorite guest entertainers "Oh What a Night" Jersey Boys style were exceptional. The cleanliness of the ship was impressive, I witnessed the early morning inspections on more than 1 occasion. The Star looked as good as new but had all of the charm of it's era, would take it again in a heartbeat, love those smaller ships. Finally the crew, so many smiles and always helpful, a couple of waitresses I could do without but they do work hard. Since the early 90's we have enjoyed the Norwegian Way. It was unfortunate that our ship had an azipod problem as we reached the Bahamas, the Captain chose to skip Miami and head straight for Tampa. We arrived a day & half early. NCL managed to arranged hotels and transportation changes and charges, we were more than satisfied but I have read a few cruise critic reports that were negative. Disembarkation was a breeze but more than half of the passengers were non U.S. passports making our line much shorter. Best part of all NO JETLAG! Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We have cruised many times with various lines, but this was the first time with NCL. We booked a Transatlantic crossing, and after reading some reviews we were a bit apprehensive. WE HAD NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT! - We found that embarkation ... Read More
We have cruised many times with various lines, but this was the first time with NCL. We booked a Transatlantic crossing, and after reading some reviews we were a bit apprehensive. WE HAD NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT! - We found that embarkation and disembarkation was very well organised, the cabin was a reasonable size, the shower room was the best we have had on any ship, the food was good, with lots of choices. The speciality restaurants were great, the crew and service fantastic, and the onboard activities and entertainment were good. We would not hesitate to sail with NCL again. Believe me, we are very critical, and when something is good, we say it is, but if something is bad - watch out! Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Generally, when we travel, the time comes that you just want to click your heels together and be back at home. This cruise was not one of those times. We are avid cruisers, having been on most lines. We left Colorado on the 3rd of ... Read More
Generally, when we travel, the time comes that you just want to click your heels together and be back at home. This cruise was not one of those times. We are avid cruisers, having been on most lines. We left Colorado on the 3rd of October. Although we’d booked our cruise only a couple of weeks prior to the sail date, we were able to take advantage of frequent flier points to keep our prices down. We spent the nights of the 4th and 5th at Holiday Inn-Ariel. Not a wonderful hotel, but good enough to keep us for 2 nights. We got an early check-in at about 1pm and hung out there for the rest of the day. The next day, they helped us with instructions as to which bus (route 285 and FREE) to take to get the Underground. We made it to London and spent the day on the hop-on, hop-off bus. Saw all of the highlights in the rain. The next morning, we took the “Hoppa bus” back to Heathrow and met up with others being bussed down to Dover. This transfer was $75, but well worth it, as carrying our luggage on a bus, on the Underground, to the train station, into a taxi and to the port sounded like a lot of work. When we figured out the cost, it was only a couple more dollars to take the NCL transfer, and once we were on the bus, it was the last we had to deal with our luggage until we had it delivered to our stateroom. We were celebrating our 34th anniversary on this trip, and everyone went out of their way to make it special. We were also NCL Silver tier prior to the trip and managed to skip Gold and go right to Platinum! No more long check-in lines for us with NCL again! Our stateroom. We generally get an “outside”, but decided to splurge with a Penthouse Suite (10226…aft corner). Was it ever worth it! At the terminal, we were whisked away to a line of one, met Roel (the concierge), got dinner reservations made, and were taken on the ship to Cagney’s for lunch. Now here’s where I started to worry, as we were seated, water was poured, lunch was ordered, and we were completely forgotten! Yes, we were served our lunch, but never checked on or offered anything else to drink. Dessert? Nope. (Not a problem, though, as we were excited to see our stateroom and then explore the ship). When our water ran out, I waved and waved and never was acknowledged. Luckily, we’d had bottled water for the bus ride which wasn’t removed during security screening, so we poured some for ourselves. NOT the way I’d thought we’d be treated! Staterooms were ready by 1:30PM. Within minutes of arriving, we met Asep, our room steward. He was wonderful throughout the trip! When, after a couple of rough nights, I mentioned that the duvet was just too warm, he found a blanket to substitute it with. Each time we passed him by, he’d chat. He’s probably the best room steward we’ve EVER had. Our luggage took quite a while to arrive. That was fine, as we used the time to explore the ship and start our use of the Ultimate Beverage Plan. I’d get that again, in a heartbeat! We were worried, as they have you sign a bill for the entire cost of the drink (including service charge), but when we finally got our bill at the end, the only costs were the tips we paid on top of the standard gratuity. Stateroom: Again, we had an aft-facing penthouse suite. The balcony had 2 lounge chairs with cushions and 2 chairs and a table. With all of that, there was still some room to maneuver and to stand by the rail and watch where we’d been (more on that later). The room had a king-sized bed, 4 chairs and a table, a pull-out single which was a comfy place to read, an ottoman (stained), the coffee maker, lots of glassware, a champagne bucket with a complementary bottle of champagne and a bottle of water…both on ice and cold! The bathroom seemed to have as much space as some cabins I’ve been in. Some folks say that the closet arrangement is awkward, but we really liked it as you could open doors on both sides to facilitate unpacking/packing, and dressing. There was so much storage space that we didn’t even open some of the drawers until we were packing to leave. (Too bad that the previous folks left a pear and a banana in one of those drawers! YUCK!) We didn’t meet our butler for a few hours, and when we did, he really didn’t offer much besides, “Is there anything I can help you with before I head back to the front where most of my cabins are”. I did get him to show me how to use the coffee maker, but there was no offer of unpacking, different pillows, etc. Oh well. He did deliver snacks between 4-4:30 each day, and changed them once we told him that we didn’t care for sweets. From that day forward, we got cheese. LOTS of cheese. General things: By now, most folks know that our ship had a problem and it shortened our cruise. Our aft balcony gave us a terrific view of both our “sea rescue” (they’d spotted something adrift, and we did a HARD left turn to approach it…apparently, it was a Canadian weather station which went adrift). After that, we began to see that the port Azipod wasn’t functioning correctly. Was it a result of the “rescue”? Who knows, but a LOT of folks saw this as the beginning of the end of their nice trip. When it was announced that our ship would skip Miami and end early, it began a panic. Lines everywhere. We took it in stride, and went out in the rain to play on the waterslide. Funny thing, the pool was closed for days, followed by the waterslides. They were doing repairs, I gather for the Western Caribbean cruises. But what about OUR trip? We had some beautiful days where we couldn’t make use of the pool. We also had a couple of VERY rough days. Some folks say 27 foot swells…personally, I believe that they were closer to 45 foot. Luckily, neither of us get sea-sick, though our steward had a tough time getting to the back of the ship to clean. He managed, though. We had shore excursion credit which we decided to use for Tampa. They don’t tell you, but it can NOT be combined. That is, you’re expected to use your credit in each port. $25 p/p with 2 ports wasn’t going to go far, and then Tampa excursions were cancelled. That’s $100 wasted, as we didn’t go on an overly price excursion in the Azores. Oh well, I won’t pick that again! The communication about getting off the ship early wasn’t as good as it could have been. Lines everywhere and a few folks threatening to sue. Really? We were relaxed about it, and NCL took good care of us by putting us up at the Marriott with $100 p/p vouchers for food and drink. On the Riverwalk, so we were able to walk to the aquarium. We met some of the most wonderful people on this trip, and hope to see many of them again. Internet: We had 250 free minutes. Usually, it took over 10 minutes to get into e-mail. When I ran into problems and went to see the internet manager, he was rude. I’m not sure that I can take another “working trip” unless internet service improves. And the manager? I hope that I’m not the only person he is rude to, and I hope that NCL finds a more pleasant person to replace him with. Entertainment: Kudos to the Cruise Director and his staff! There was an abundance of activities for various interests. If you’re “sporty”, there were basketball games, shuffleboard, etc. Like to dance? Lots of classes and dancing every day. A brain? Many trivia games daily, maritime lectures (Thanks, Dave!), etc. Crafty? Lots of things to do for them, as well. The production shows were just that….production shows. I’m not a juggling fan nor do I care for aerialists, but there was always something else to do….sometimes there was just too much to choose from! One place that they could improve would be to have a sing-along (either piano or guitar player who encouraged audience participation). Yes, they had a pianist and a guitar player, but we were not encouraged to participate. That would have made my evenings more fun. Staff: I’ve read other reviews and wonder what cruise those folks were on. The staff was about the best I’ve ever seen! The Maître ‘D of Aqua worked at the buffet during lunch, and always sought us out to chat. He also spent a LONG time helping fellow cruisers who’d had a rubber wheel separate from her wheelchair. Although communication was poor about NCL being able to help, he persevered and made sure that HER chair was repaired. The guys at 5 O’Clock were terrific, both our room steward and concierge were fabulous. Even the hotel director took time to talk to us, in a stairwell! Also, we were invited to dinner with the Captain (pay attention to your daily, as it was a small blurb about getting the chance to do this!), but he was too busy to attend. Instead, we ate with one other couple and the Staff Captain, and it was a highlight of the trip. Wonderful man with a myriad of stories. Food: Alright…this is VERY subjective. My husband was happy with nearly all of his meals. Personally, I found nearly everything over-salted. Makes me wonder what they were trying to hide….. Especially in Cagney’s. We had the UDP and ate in a variety of places. Food was fair to good, as far as I’m concerned. With so much of it, there was always something to eat, and I really never got hungry. Conclusion: I had worried about so many sea-days, prior to this trip. I shouldn’t have. NCL did a great job at mixing folks up and giving a lot of options as to what to do. Would I do this again? In a heartbeat! I just hope that I don’t have to bring work with me, next time! Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We left on 10/4/10 from Dover, England on the Norwegian Sun as a 1st timer on this cruise line for a 12 day Trans Atlantic to Pt.Canaveral. We encountered many problems and being the Sun is an older ship from the fleet, it might be ... Read More
We left on 10/4/10 from Dover, England on the Norwegian Sun as a 1st timer on this cruise line for a 12 day Trans Atlantic to Pt.Canaveral. We encountered many problems and being the Sun is an older ship from the fleet, it might be expected. Our toilet would not flush 5 different days of the trip and the worst was at 4AM with water overflowing on floor. Besides being ill with a high fever, this plumbing problem made it worse. All of these occurrences were documented by the reception desk. We were offered a different cabin but we declined because it was not a balcony as we already had. The disarray and confusion that happened on exiting the day of disembarkation was not acceptable.There should of been an organized meeting place for calling the colored tag groups of passengers to the gang plank instead of a mass of people falling upon each other. The food was nothing special. It was too crowded at the buffet with the staff getting in the way of the small walkway. Would of been nice if there was staff directing you to tables. We chose Norwegian because of Free Styling but with the discomfort that happened I would opt not to select it again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
This was my second TransAtlantic, first being on the QE2 (with a return on the Concorde :) ) about 20 years ago. It is not my preferred sailing itinerary, but my husband really likes the sea days. This was my 4th time on this cruiseship, ... Read More
This was my second TransAtlantic, first being on the QE2 (with a return on the Concorde :) ) about 20 years ago. It is not my preferred sailing itinerary, but my husband really likes the sea days. This was my 4th time on this cruiseship, with most recent, in March 2010 to South America. Other two times were to Alaska. Overall was cruise #67 for me, I'm Platinum with NCL. We were in the UK for 2 weeks prior to sailing, split between London and Glasgow. Stayed the night prior at the Premire Inn in Dover, after taking National Express Bus on one of their bargain runs from London at about $20 for both of us. The morning of the cruise, I easily rolled a suitcase to the laundry mat and had all clean clothes for the cruise. :) Embarkment was simple as, I didn't bother until about 1:30pm. The lobby of the hotel was lined up real early with people waiting. The ship is a nice size and easy to get around. Staff was consistently friendly and helpful. Our room stewards were excellent, as always for our inside cabin. We ate in the main dining room, buffet, Pacific Heights, Sports Bar, Italian and Le Bistro. There were enough choices to find something likable. Food is not my priority, price is. This cruise was a bargain give away, so any "food" complaint, I don't find too valid. All lines, after taking 4 cruises this year on three lines, have cut back, bottom fact. The only port was Lisbon, which I had a wonderful independent walking tour, set up by a Roll Call poster. It was excellent and loaded with history. The other port was skipped due to rerouting due to Hurricane Otto. There were a few days of rough sailing- I wished there were more, as it tells me, I'm on a ship. :) I admit, I am bored silly on sea days, so I spent a good deal of time reading and doing puzzles. There was a movie every day in a lounge which was limited in seating space. The shows were good, some great. Not too much going on during the daytime, that could have had more offerings, perhaps. Never any waits for the main dining room at breakfast or dinner. Service was excellent. Disembarkment was highly criticized, BUT this sailing required ALL guests to report to Customs on the ship, at scheduled times, which they did not. Repeated announcements had to be made. It WAS the best option having it done on the ship, as it avoided, having to haul luggage around and line waiting, which people did not seem to realize. People also did not seem to realize, these are features of today's travel, lines. :) We had prebooked with Cruise Express for the transfer to MCO. Very efficient and excellent value at $20pp. Overall another very good cruise for the two of us. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
After reading all the reviews of the Sun before leaving for our cruise, we were somewhat uncertain what to expect. We have to admit that we were pleasantly surprised with this cruise. We had excellent service and one of the quickest ... Read More
After reading all the reviews of the Sun before leaving for our cruise, we were somewhat uncertain what to expect. We have to admit that we were pleasantly surprised with this cruise. We had excellent service and one of the quickest embarkations ever. We were impressed with the staff from the time we stepped on board. We loved having a balcony room on the port side of the ship as we had the sun from morning until night. And that side of the ship seemed warmer and out of the breeze. We were disappointed, as were others, that we could not go to the Azores because of Hurricane Otto but respected the Captain for protecting his passengers and ship. We thought NCL would do something more than $4.23 credit per person to try and provide quality customer recovery. We realize no one controls the weather, but it would have been nice if they had given everyone a voucher to use at a restaurant or for ship activities. Our cabin stewards were great and we usually avoided the buffet and ate breakfast in the dining room or in the Pacific Heights. This is a very private area and we were very happy with the food provided there. We also enjoyed the Sports Bar especially the popcorn at 2 pm. We attended all the educational movies in the afternoon about Magellan, the Vikings, the Spanish Armada etc and felt there should have been more movies like that for a cruise across the Atlantic. I am not sure that NCL takes into consideration that a transatlantic cruise requires a different venue for daily events...9 days at sea requires some variety. We enjoyed golfing in the Ryder Cup which really enabled us to meet other golfers on the cruise. We truly enjoyed the DOTS Cruise Critic group and all the activities that were planned for us to socialize. In summary, we would love to do another TA cruise again. We highly recommend booking a balcony cabin as it was one of the best things about this cruise. We thoroughly enjoyed the privacy it gave us and the magnificent view of the ocean both day and night. The downside of this cruise for us was the NCL disembarkation. It was very unorganized and their was a noticeable lack of leadership among the staff. It was as if they hid from the chaos and didn't want to assist in the process. There was no excuse for the crowded halls of people waiting to leave. We stood in line for 45 minutes in a crowded stairway and we were among the carry off your own luggage group. At that point, we were happy we had not put down the deposit for a future NCL cruise. We never want to go through that craziness again. Everything else about the Sun was good for us and we would like to see the ship after it is dry docked...this cruise made us want to take another...maybe NCL, maybe not. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
We have been on NCL 3 times previously so we knew exactly what to expect. This ship exceeded our expectations. The staff were wonderful, especially our room stewards, Jonathan and Ferdinand. They went above and beyond to make us ... Read More
We have been on NCL 3 times previously so we knew exactly what to expect. This ship exceeded our expectations. The staff were wonderful, especially our room stewards, Jonathan and Ferdinand. They went above and beyond to make us comfortable. The only staff that were not so friendly were the counter servers in Las Ramblas. They acted as if we were bothering them asking for tapas--this is not the table wait staff. They were as friendly as could be. Getting on the ship was easy--we just walked on and our rooms were ready. We loved the food in the MDR's. We ate at La Bistro on my birthday. The food was outstanding, but the portions were so huge that an entire family could have dined on our two dinners. Some of the entertainment was fabulous. Some so-so. We especially enjoyed the hypnotist, comedian and comedian/juggler. We are not great fans of Las Vegas style entertainment, but that is us. Others love it. We visited the gym every morning and found the equipment to be the same as at home except for the TV screens on the treadmills, bikes and elipicticals.We had no complaints about the ship, food or entertainment, except the Dazzles Lounge. It smells of mildew and mold and seems to need a good airing out. Also, the cabin TV's are ancient and get uninteresting channels. We did like the FREE in room movies though. We enjoyed the relaxation of not having to hurry up to get off the ship because there was only one port day, Lisbon. The weather was miserable at the beginning of the cruise, and there were many seasick passengers, but we were not disturbed. We knew that crossing the Atlantic could be rough. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
I'd read complaints about the food not being very good on this ship, and the buffet area being short on seating, so I pleased to experience the opposite. My husband and I did not love every dish we tried, but over all the food was ... Read More
I'd read complaints about the food not being very good on this ship, and the buffet area being short on seating, so I pleased to experience the opposite. My husband and I did not love every dish we tried, but over all the food was good. The fish was always good. I was pleased with the variety of choices offered in the buffet at lunch and supper. Some days we ate every meal at the buffet and we never experienced a lack of table availability. I was surprised and pleased that both soft serve and regular ice cream was offered free. We tried two of the "pay extra" restaurants. The Italian place was just OK, nothing special. The Steak place served a very good shrimp cocktail. The 4 of us were pleased with the steaks. However 2 of us ordered "medium" and received WELL DONE. It took 3 tries to get my tenderloin done MEDIUM, (first one was dry - too well done, and second one was much too rare) The staff was very concerned about getting it done right, so we were impressed by their effort to please. Our room staff was very friendly and accomodating. No complaints about the room - the bed was fine. They could provide an option to the comforter. I found it much too warm for use most nights even with the AC turned up to the max. I asked for something less heavy, but nothing was substituted. We had a balcony room on the 10th level, slightly aft. The entertainment could have been better. Not enough choices during the day hours, and the evening music/dancing options were too late. We'd have liked some live music in a lounge area at about 7:3o so that if we did not care to go to the floor show, we'd have had an option for after supper. The TA part of the trip was fine. We had to skip a port due to a storm in that area, so too bad. Better to miss the port than sail into a storm, yet we heard complaints. The Carib. part of the cruise had major anoyances. In Port Canaveral getting off and on the ship was the most difficult I've ever experienced. The EASY OFF -take all of your luggage with you and walk off sooner than the other folks, was NOT easy. My husband lost one and a half hours of his excursion time due to not being able to get off at the time told to us. People gathered in the atrium area and became aggitated over standing in a long unmoving line. On our dis-embarcation day we were told that a pasenger fist fight broke out in the atrium over a line-jumping issue. Also there was a very badly handled line problem at the KEY WEST port. We were gine a notice that we had to come down to the Stardust by floors, starting at about 6AM. Then another notice came and said 7 AM. When we showed up at 7:25, we discovered no line movement had happened. We stood in line for awhile and then decided to go to breakfast. After breakfast the line was amazingly long! Some folks stood in that line nearly 2 hours! The staff should have used the PA to tell people to stop coming down, and/or told the early birds to go back to their rooms and await another anouncement to come down. Only two "officials" were doing the document checks, and they had arrived later than expected. Getting up very early, to stand for a long time in an unmoving line, is not a good way to start a day! In any large group of people there are those that do not care if their behavior is offensive. We experienced some of those. I would not have wanted to be on the Carib. portion of the cruise with children, due to the behavoir of some adults in the pool area. Too bad the SUN is not large enough to have an ADULTS ONLY pool area. Over all we had a good time, but it was not the best cruise experience. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
NCL Sun 09/20/2010 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Pictures of the Norwegian Sun are at http://www.pbase.com/wwll/ns The Good - 98% of the cruise was excellent. The Bad - Cruise Director Pedro Serra Pedro has the ... Read More
NCL Sun 09/20/2010 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Pictures of the Norwegian Sun are at http://www.pbase.com/wwll/ns The Good - 98% of the cruise was excellent. The Bad - Cruise Director Pedro Serra Pedro has the personality of a wet noodle. I expect the cruise director to be upbeat, a cheerleader that puts me in a vacation mood. He is depressing. Here are two instances that I specifically fault him. 1. At Faroe Islands we tendered in. The ship was anchored at 10 am. Tender tickets distribution for the masses, not those on excursions or VIPs, did not begin until 10:45 am. As a result there was a queue that ran from Deck 6 down to the Reception in Deck 5. People were beginning to riot. I went to the Reception and complained. The Reception said they told the cruise director of the problem. Tender tickets were finally distributed at 10:25 am. Why couldn't tickets be distributed by the Reception up to 18 hours before hand? 2. In Dublin NCL offered shuttle into town for US$10 per person. In Freestyle it said the journey was 45 minutes. People took that to mean the ship was quite a ways from town and used the shuttle. $10 was not a lot of money. The actual ride was like 15 minutes, mainly due to slow traffic. Some people I know actually walked into town in the morning in 20 minutes. In the evening it was pouring rain and they took a taxi back to the ship. I think this is a case of misrepresentation. The Ugly - entertainer Elvy Rose. Imagine Debbie Reynolds in one of Cher's outrageous outfits. Elvy is a Tina Turner wannabe. I lasted just one song and left. Pedro introduced Elvy Rose as a personal friend. Embarkation I took National Express from Victoria Coach Station in London to Dover. Bus fare was six pounds, plus one pound for insurance and one pound for priority boarding. There is no such thing as priority boarding so do not fall for that. When the bus was full, I got up and asked how many people were going to the Norwegian Sun and just about everybody was. I asked the driver to drop us off there. I put all my loose change in an envelop and gave it to the driver. I think he was pleased. We arrived at the ship at 12:10 pm and on the ship by 12:30. Nice. Cruise Critic Meet and Greet On the first day we met in the Observation Lounge on Deck 12. The Captain and several top officers showed up. [http://www.pbase.com/wwll/image/129241665] Cabin 6007 This is an outside cabin on the Promenade Deck. Outside the window is the jogging/walking track but it is blocked from 10 pm to 8 am. If you put your nose on the window you can peer in. 6007 is very convenient to everything. The cabin is clean and everything worked. There is no longer toiletries in the bathroom but you can ask the room stewards for lotion, etc. Activities There were plenty of activities for all ages. The casino is empty most of the time. I have played blackjack for 40 years and I have never seen the dealer kill gamblers like here. I attribute that to the shuffling machine. I watched one of the blackjack tournaments where an ordinary shoe was used and there the cards flowed quite regularly. The gym was well equipped and not crowded. However, the treadmills and other aerobic machines cannot be used before 8 am. Due to strange design the sauna is around the corner. I participated in trivia and was on the winning team for progressive trivia. [http://www.pbase.com/wwll/image/129241670] Food Food, food what glorious food. I thought the food in the main dining room was very good. The portions are small but the main dishes are very good. I have seen many complaints about the flow of traffic at Garden Cafe, the buffet. The key is to disregard the line and just cut in and get what you want. Take your plate to Pacific Heights on the other side, the aft of the ship or even upstairs to Deck 12 for seating. The food is okay for a quick bite. I prefer the dining rooms. A course-by-course photo diary of food on this cruise is at http://www.pbase.com/wwll/foodcruise I ordered a case of wine online and had it delivered to my hotel in London. I brought the wine on board and paid the corkage. London wine selection and prices are very good. We ate at Il Adagio and Le Bistro. Both were outstanding. At Il Adagio I had antipasto, salad, a 12-inch mixed pizza, seafood pasta and a huge ribeye steak florentina, plus tiramisu. At Le Bistro I had salmon mousse, terrine de foie gras, escargot, a salad and rack of lamb. The chocolate napoleon was the only disappointment. I had one dinner at Pacific Heights which was ordinary. I had stir-fried noodles for lunch there a couple of times and both times it was good. The chicken wings at the Sports Bar were to die for. The food was prepared to order. However, the Sports Bar only served food from 5:30 pm to 5:30 am. Entertainment The Jean Ann Ryan Company did 3 production shows. They were okay, not spectacular. In all the shows the pace was the same throughout. There were no crescendo or rest. The various other musical acts were so so. Some of the performers even acknowledged if they were better they would not be there. The exception was Kim Doolittle. She sang Celtic songs and was very good. Disembarkation I purchased NCL's transfer to Heathrow Airport. The ship certainly rush you off. On the ground it was confusion. There were no manifest of who should be on which bus. People could have gotten on buses without paying. I was at Heathrow at 10:45 am for my 3:45 pm flight. Ports BERGEN, NORWAY It rained and I have been there before so I took the free city bus and cruised around. The offering at the seafood market was poor so I passed. ALESUND, NORWAY Trollstigen or the Troll Road, is the most visited road in Norway. From Alesund we drove along fjords. Soon we were at the top of the Troll Road at 850 meters. My pictures cannot do justice to the view so I will try a word palette. In front of you is a near-vertical wall of a fjord. The gray is rocks, the green vegetation and the white ribbons are waterfalls and the air is misty. There are several waterfalls wherever you look. Since it has been raining water flows as torrents. The temperature was 7 C. To descend the Troll Road we made 11 hairpin turns when the road is at 9% slope. We traversed several waterfalls and at Stigfoss we stopped. Here you see this massive torrent splashing waterfall. You realize that the road is barely wide enough for two busses and the side of the road drops off for hundreds of meters. This view of waterfalls continued for 45 minutes until we got to Trollveggen which is the highest vertical mountain wall in Europe. This is a 1000-meter rock face. People jump using parachutes. Pictures of fjords and waterfalls from Alesund, Norway are at http://www.pbase.com/wwll/al SHETLAND ISLANDS, UK - Windswept and treeless The capital of the United Kingdom's North Sea Oil, Lerwick has five wind turbines that generates 15% of its electricity, with 200 more planned. We took a taxi to Scalloway, the old capital of the Shetlands. When we arrived at Scalloway Castle, the first thing we saw was a Chinese take-out. We spent a few minutes talking with the owners. Scalloway Castle is a forbidding ruin built by Earl Patrick Stewart in 1600 using forced labor. The Shetland was a supply point for the Norwegian Resistance during World War II and that is documented in the Scalloway Museum. We took some pictures of world famous Shetland ponies but we had to stay a distance as they bite. Pictures from the Shetland Islands are at http://www.pbase.com/wwll/sh FAROE ISLANDS There was a free shuttle bus from the ship to the entry of the Port, about a five-minute walk. Faroe Islands has the climate of San Francisco at 62 degrees north. Eighteen islands half way between Norway and Iceland, Faroe Islands are a self-governing region of Denmark. This was the only tender port of the cruise. I walked around the center of Thorshavn, the capital. The town can be seen in about 30 minutes. My pictures include shots of the Parliament and most of the important sights in Thorshavn. Pictures of the Faroe Islands are at http://www.pbase.com/wwll/fr ICELAND Iceland we know from the volcanic eruption earlier in 2010. Actually there is a volcanic eruption in Iceland every four years or so. Iceland has about 320,000 people in 103,000 square kilometers. It has no military and the police do not carry firearms. A group of about 12 of us went on a tour. We stopped first in the City Hall of Reykjavik, the capital. We just drove up and parked on the street. Try that in Washington. We had a short walking tour that covered most of the key government buildings. Our major stop out of Reykjavik was at Thingvellir or Parliament Plains National Park. This is a double feature. It is one of only two places on earth where one can see a rift valley. This is where the EuroAsia plate is separating from the North American plate. We actually walked across the rift valley. On the North American side one can see many layers of lava, about 9,000 years old. This is the location of the first Parliament in the world. In 930 C. E. chieftains gathered here to govern Iceland. They camped here for two weeks every summer. They had 'law speakers' who memorized laws. This continued until 1262 when they invited the King of Norway to govern them. The Icelanders needed help because they could not find enough trees to build ships. When Norway went into decline they were governed by the King of Denmark. I have a photo of a statute of the King of Denmark handing the people of Iceland a constitution, Iceland regained full independence in 1944. We then went to Geysir, a small version of Yellowstone. They have a geyser that erupts every three to five minutes but only for a few seconds. Gullfoss or the Golden Falls is a massive, two-tier waterfall. The water comes from a glacier so there was rock flour which makes it look muddy. We were fortunate to see a rainbow. Iceland's currency has devalued to about half of what it was two years ago. McDonald's and Burger King have closed because they do not want to buy US supplies. Fishing and fish processing make up 60% of the Gross Domestic Product. Aluminum processing is done because of inexpensive hydroelectric and geothermal power. Tourism has declined this year due to the volcanic eruption. There is national healthcare. Even universities are free but there is a high attrition rate. English is taught along with Danish. Iceland has benefited from global warming. In the last 20 years or so it has become much warmer. Pictures from Iceland are at http://www.pbase.com/wwll/ie GLASGOW While in Glasgow I went to the Burrell Collection. This jewel of a museum has an eclectic collection, set in a forest in a country park. An extensive collection of Chinese antiquities, though no painting. They have some fine bronzes and fantastic porcelain. Labels are only in English. I get the idea they do not understand the value of what they have. In the mezzanine there are many Degas pastels and Rodin pieces. They also have the largest paintings by Bounding I have ever seen. There is also a small Islamic art collection. Lunch at the cafe completed for me a wonderful though short museum experience. Pictures from the Burrell Collection in Glasgow, Scotland are at http://www.pbase.com/wwll/gg BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND The City of Belfast had free shuttle buses for us. In Belfast, the Norwegian Sun was berthed 150 meters across from where the Titanic was built. There is still White Star House, White Star being the company that owned the Titanic. Harland and Wolff, who built the Titanic, still owns two huge cranes in the shipyard that no longer has much business. We took a hop-on-hop-off tour of Belfast. Our narrator was knowledgeable and funny too. This part of Ireland used to be very wealthy but most of its industries have declined. We have all heard of the Troubles, the violent confrontation between Protestants and Catholics. All the main points were pointed out to us. With peace now mostly in place, the locations have become tourist attractions. The International Peace Wall is the main attraction. Murals that raged as battles are still very much in evidence. I was particularly impressed by the one of Bobby Sands, a Member of Parliament who starved himself to death. Our narrator pointed out most of the Troubles was limited to Belfast and even people in the rest of Northern Ireland could not understand the conflict. The origin of this conflict was the Penal Laws passed in Britain in the 17th century to assure the supremacy of the Church of England. These Laws essentially stripped non-conformists like Catholics and Presbyterians of property and opportunity. They appears to be similar to Britain's colonial policy. Picture from Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK are at http://www.pbase.com/wwll/bl DUBLIN, IRELAND Our last port of call was Dublin. In contrast to Glasgow and Belfast, Dublin was very clean. It is a delightful city. Once again we took the hop-on-hop-off bus tour. I spent most of the time at the Guinness Storehouse. Tickets are sold in the ground level, with a separate line for credit card users. One then goes up and learn about various aspects of making Guinness, from the barley to the water to the brewmasters. There are a couple of restaurants on Level 5 and every one headed to the Gravity Bar on Level 7. Gravity Bar is the highest point in Dublin and there is a 360-degree view with floor-to-ceiling windows. Here one gets a pint of the Guinness Draft. I picked up a ticket on the floor and got a bottle of Foreign Export Special to go with a roast beef sandwich. Phoenix Park is twice the size of New York's Central Park. There are two main residences in Phoenix Park: the US Embassy and the Prime Minister's House. The story is that there is a disadvantage to living in the Prime Minister's House: no take-out place will deliver to it! Pictures from Dublin, Ireland are at http://www.pbase.com/wwll/du Remember, 98% of the cruise was excellent. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
We just completed a 26 day cruise on the Norwegian Sun. This ship is going into dry dock in December so know ahead that there will be things that require updating, cleaning and repairs. We had sailed on Norwegian about 10 years ago ... Read More
We just completed a 26 day cruise on the Norwegian Sun. This ship is going into dry dock in December so know ahead that there will be things that require updating, cleaning and repairs. We had sailed on Norwegian about 10 years ago and had terrible experience with them so we were apprehensive about this trip. We checked all the reviews on the web and were prepared for some of the issues facing us. Working with the NCL web site was not good. Our reservation was locked and the technicians could not unlock it. We got NCL info on our 8 hour flight to Dover too late to find good seats. They provided us with their own cruise consultant and we didn't call often but most of our calls were left unanswered. This is a NO FRILLS cruise. Folks do not dress for dining at any time. Old tee shirts and frayed shorts seemed to be the daily choice of dress. Do not waste your precious luggage weight by bringing any formal clothes. Although it would be nice to dress properly in the evening in the two free dining rooms, it is not required. Do bring a bar of soap, toothpaste and shampoo. These are not provided. The crew and staff do need training on customer services. There is some sort of internal problem as there are few who will actually smile. We did see crew in the dining room who were a bit too friendly with each other behind the water pouring stations. I read one other reviewer on this site who also noticed this. They do have their own cabins below for those activities. Security did hold any luggage that looked like it might contain alcohol and did not deliver it to the cabin until the passenger came down to security and removed it. Drinks run from $7 up so be aware that your check out bill may be more expensive than the low cruise price. There are two dining rooms included in the cruise price and a buffet and outdoor cafe on Deck 11. Seating is at a premium and folks do seem to get agitated trying to find a seat. No trays are provided so you must get your drinks and find a table and then return to the buffet to get your food. When you return to the table you will find your drinks removed and someone else has claimed the table. So you start all over again. We had lots of handicap motorized vehicles on this trip. It became a major problem as there did not seem to be a slow speed limit. Most vehicles were so large that they filled the elevators and the drivers sped through the cafe. Just be aware as you might be run over or pushed as the aisle are not big enough for those high powered "cars". The pull-out couches were dirty. The air filters desperately need cleaning or replacing. If you have allergies, take your meds with you. I tried to surprise my husband for his big birthday coming up by upgrading (with money) to a suite on the second half of our journey. I was the only person at the Reception Desk. I was told that nothing was available. The Customer Service gal turned and walked away from me. She could have smiled and said "Let me check". Three days after that, a couple asked to join us at lunch. They were laughing as they had complained three days in a row about a small problem on one of the doors in their cabin and were just moved to a beautiful suite for FREE. So things are not always what they seem. The Reception Desk needs to know that they might be caught in a lie. Most complaints were about the staff at the Reception Desk. They were very rude and short with their answers. The Sun is sailing from the Port Canaveral to the East and West Caribbean. Perhaps this will be a good thing for those families who want to be casual and stay in their swim suits all day by the pool. You can eat in those clothes and wear the to the shows. The food is okay. It is not an upscale cruise. The entertainment was good. Instead of lecturers on the foreign ports, they showed copied TV shows from the PBS channels. Movies on board were old repeats in three languages. If you are bring children, add a CD player to your list to bring. And CDs. Their are activities on the ship but most areas do not have many seats. You must show up 45 minutes early and save your seat in order to partake in most activities. The bars are small so if you find a favorite, get there early. Bingo and the Art auctions are going all day long. Personally I would not go on another NCL cruise. Twice was enough for us. This was our 33rd cruise and third transatlantic crossing so we have some sense of what we wanted in our cruise experience. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
This was my first cruise with NCL. We chose it because of the amazing ports in which the ship called; Bergen and Alesund Norway, Shetland Island, Faroe Island, Iceland, Glasgow, Belfast and Dublin. The ports did not disappoint! They were ... Read More
This was my first cruise with NCL. We chose it because of the amazing ports in which the ship called; Bergen and Alesund Norway, Shetland Island, Faroe Island, Iceland, Glasgow, Belfast and Dublin. The ports did not disappoint! They were beautiful. Ship: The overall ship was in pretty decent condition considering this cruise was supposed to be a dry dock instead. Overall the ship was well maintained, some minor carpet and painting things that needed to be updated. The overall design of the ship was poor - no hallways (so you had to walk through the restaurants, bars, lounges or casino to get to other places). If you want to go to Seven Seas restaurant on deck 5 aft, you need to go either to deck 6 or deck 4 (on starboard side only) to get to it. The buffet design was a mess (only one buffet line) and entrances on either side of it plus minimal seating. Many of the spaces on board were dark feeling either due to lack of natural lighting or dark interior colors. Room: We were in an inside cabin on deck 4. There were only two of us and found that the room was fine in size. In retrospect I think I would have enjoyed an outside view or balcony better, we assumed that we wouldn't be spending much time in the room because of the ports and all the activities on board, but we found ourselves in the room more then we thought. We only had minor issues with the room (one day the toilet was stuck in vacuum mode, the shower track broke off and needed to be replaced, and a light that was out that was never replaced by crew). our room stewards were friendly and good although the last couple nights we noticed that our turn down service was skipped (the service hours were 6-9, we were usually in the room until 7:30 getting ready). This wasn't a big deal for us, so we didn't talk to anyone about it. Food: As previously mentioned the buffet was a mess. It was constantly busy in there and the design was so poor. One sea day, I saw two women just sitting on the floor eating since there were no more seats (and none in the adjoining overflow restaurants nearby). The women were mad. We always found seats in the outside areas around the restaurant, we just always dressed for cold weather in case we had to eat outside. Otherwise we usually dined at the 4 seasons dining room as it was closer and more convenient for us to get to. The menu is the same as the other dinning room anyways. We didn't do any of the other pay restaurants as the menus didn't appeal to us. The food in the main dining rooms for dinner were fine, they have a side menu that is the same every night, which was nice to know those staple foods were there. My partner only ordered off that menu once (out of 14 nights) and found all the dinner food to be good. I on the other hand am a vegetarian and had many problems with the menu. First it wasn't laid out quite well - many of the descriptions left out main ingredients and there were no notations of vegetarian food (minus the main course where one every night would be labeled vegetarian). On three occasions I ordered something of the menu that didn't state it had meat/seafood in it but did - even after letting my servers know that I didn't eat meat. After this I would always ask my servers for clarification on what did have meat in it and they would nervously get the manager to come explain the menu to me. Crew Service: Overall we found that the service from crew was inconsistent especially in the dining rooms. Although I liked the freedom of freestyle dining the one thing we missed was the service and interaction from the servers. We did have a few servers that were good - they followed up when we didn't like a dish, interacted with us well and were friendly. Most of our servers did their job but didn't interact with us - they asked the usually questions about our day but didn't make eye contact, didn't take time to get to know us. I think part of the reason is that we had different servers every night and the other part is the automatic service charge - the servers aren't motivated to get to know you or serve you well as they probably won't serve you again in the cruise and they already have their tips so their is little incentive to do more then the minimum. We recognize that they do work hard, but it takes little effort to smile, make eye contact or engage in conversation. Entertainment: Overall we felt the entertainment was inconsistent as well. I didn't find many of the activities in the daily interesting and those that we did they really weren't great. We did a couple of trivia games, they were fine but nothing overly special. We played bingo which was fine. We went to do one of the Wii events one day and it didn't even run due to a movie that was scheduled a half hour beforehand still running. We actually ended up playing a lot of cards on the sea days as there was very little else going on. The Assistant cruise director Nikki was great, very outgoing with the passengers and lots of energy. The rest of the cruise staff seemed pretty unhappy most of the time and didn't interact with us at all. The stage shows were hit and miss as well. There were some great entertainers brought on board in the second half of the trip - mostly a contortionist, a pick pocket expert and the MacDonald brothers (from Scotland). These acts were excellent and very entertaining. The other guest entertainers were good, not really our style. The permanent cast of dancers/singers were a mix matched group - normal dancers, singers, a ballroom pair, a lyrical/acrobatic pair, and a guy that did the silk rope. The dancers were fine and the silk rope guy did great. Their shows were amateur at best - the singers sang out of their range and destroyed a couple songs (I nearly walked out of the broadway review one because it was that bad). The acting was poor, the set design and costumes were also again amateur - I literally felt like I was at a high school production. Shore Excursions: We did excursions in the first 5 ports; Bergen, Alesund, Lerwick, Thorsavhn, and Reykjavik. Our tours were all great, very informtive and great tour guides. We had two minor problems the first in Bergen - the bus that we boarded off the ship had been recently vommitted in, although they still boarded us and made us wait for 10 minutes while a housekeeper was called to clean up, they credited us 10% refund which I thought was more than fair. The second issue was in Iceland on the golden circle tour - our guide gave us unclear directions for where we were eating lunch and we asked around with waiters and they either ignored us or 'didn't know' where our bus table was. We ended up being 5 minutes late, and my partner and I were left with only single seats at different tables. The waitress was not impressed and gave us a hard time when we asked to be seated together and finally the tour guide stepped in. He first tried to persuade us to sit at the empty seats separate but we refused as we had payed $170 per person for this tour and we should be able to dine with each other. The finally found us a place to sit together but the tour guide then acted very distant with us the rest of the day. The tour was great otherwise but it really dampened our experience. We didn't get much help from Shore excursions when we got back to the ship and we still had 3 more ports with no excursions booked, so we decided to do the remaining ports on our own (which actually saved us money and we got to see more). Disembarkation: We found that getting on and off the ship was a mess. Big lines, slow security, and disorganized routes. The one day in Iceland the tide went out and we needed to embark on deck 5 up a steep ramp - this was no fault of NCL but wasn't a pleasant experience for most. We also felt that the shore excursions meet was disorganized - you go to the stardust theater and wait until your tour is called, and then you proceed to stand at the exit for 10 minutes while they check your tickets and give you a sticker. Meanwhile many of the tours were late and sometimes you couldn't find a seat in the theater so they would send you to the balcony. The one day we were in Scotland, we disembarked on deck 5, but the line circled the atrium, went up the center stairs and all the way back through dazzles on deck 6. We waited for 20 minutes to get off the ship, and when we got down the stairs, there were all these people cutting in line - which was all observed by the guest service crew members and they didn't do anything. Overall: We chose this cruise for the ports of call and we very much enjoyed them. The rest of the experience left much to be desired. Would I cruise NCL again? Only if it was a port heavy cruise with ports of call that I couldn't get with another cruise line. I really love the idea of freestyle cruising but in practice it meant that we had lacking service and had mediocre entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
This was our 4th cruise with NCL so our expectations of a Freestyle Cruise and an exciting itinery were very high. Owing to the cruise being at the end of the European Season the passengers were somewhat elderly but that was not a problem ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise with NCL so our expectations of a Freestyle Cruise and an exciting itinery were very high. Owing to the cruise being at the end of the European Season the passengers were somewhat elderly but that was not a problem and we just had to be patient when it came to standing in line and moving around busy areas. The ship looked a little 'tired', although the crew did their best to keep it clean and tidy. I suspect a re-fit isn't too far away. I agree with the review from Roxy84 that the overall design of the ship is pretty poor. We too had problems finding our way around. We were on deck 10 so it was always a challenge finding the lower deck amenities. It was particularly unpleasant having to go through the smoke filled casino on several occasions. During bad weather it wasn't an option to use the Promenade Deck. The seating and buffet arrangements in the Garden Cafe were particularly poor with insufficient seating, even with the adjoining extra spaces, particularly at breakfast and lunch. A fellow guest summed it up well by saying that this ship is a summer ship with plenty of outside eating spaces which could not be used on most days on this stormy cruise. We were very disappointed with the on-board activities programme. I know this itinery was a one off for NCL but I am sure they could have employed a visiting speaker or speakers to give something about the places we were visiting even if it were something to do with glaciation and plate tectonics. One film on Lief Ericson was the sole contribution towards an itinery which offered so much. All 3 of our previous cruises offered so much more which also applied to the other activities on the Sun which seemed to centre around bingo, trivia and mainly paid for activities. Consequently we spent more time in our stateroom than we anticipated. The service we received was exactly what we expected. Friendly, helpful and of a very high standard in all areas of the ship. Our stateroom stewards were outstanding and they seemed to be genuinely friendly and they enjoyed interacting with their passengers. They said it was a happy ship and well lead by the captain who was very popular amongst the crew. With the exception of Greenock we went on the ship's excursions in all ports of call. Yes, they were expensive, but then we were visiting expensive countries. Overall thay offered very good value for money since the guides gave so much information which you couldn't get if you went solo. Also there's no chance of missing the ship. Hardanger Fiord from Bergen was good but cloud over the mountains and in some of the valleys spoilt the overall effect a bit. Walking tours of Alesund and Lerwick were interesting and the Golden Circle in Iceland was excellent. The Geysirs were fun to watch and the waterfall stunning. We were also lucky in having an excellent and very amusing guide. Giant's Causeway from Belfast was also a very worthwhile trip as was our trip to Powerscourt and Dublin. It was a bit of a crush in the Stardust Theatre waiting for your tour to be called but everyone was patient and eventually made it safely to their coaches and guides. We were pleased with our stateroom. It was our first time in a balcony and the extra room both inside and on the balcony was great. I spent quite a bit of time on the balcony and looking out to sea through the windows on the rough days and we spotted diving gannets, dolphins and whales. It was well worth the extra money. On paper, the dining options looked good and we particularly enjoyed eating in the Four Seasons. We didn't feel the need to pay the extra for the specialist restaurants. On my 60th birthday my wife arranged for me to have a birthday cake in the Four Seasons and the waiters gathered around to sing happy birthday. A nice touch! We then went to the chocolate evening in the Seven Seas, mainly to see what it was like, but ended up sampling a little of what was on offer. Apart from a few days suffering from sea sickness we mostly ate in the Garden Cafe. If you went after 7.30 in the evening it was very quiet so you could take your time over your choices. Unfortunately the buffet food was not as varied or as good as on previous NCL ships, particularly the deserts. This also applied at lunch. Entertainment was very mixed. Most of the main events in the Stardust Theatre didn't appeal to us and from what we heard we didn't miss much. We were disappointed to miss the comedian due to sea sickness but thoroughly enjoyed the MacDonald Brothers and the follow-up presentation by Bob Arno. The visiting Scottish and Irish Folk shows were also good. Embarkation was very quick due to us being latitudes members and disembarkation was just a stroll off because our car was parked at Dover and we were not tied to any particular time. In summary, we thoroughly enjoyed our ports of call, the crew were excellent, the activities and entertainment not up to the usual NCL standard, the food excellent in restaurants but disapointing in the buffet and the sea too rough in the North Sea and the North Atlantic. Would I cruise with NCL again? Yes because we prefer Freestyle Cruising. I am not sure whether I would sail on the Sun again unless the Garden Cafe was redesigned. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
We lost several nights of sleep in our interior room because of loud banging and vibration. The sounds were similar to a sledgehammer on steel and happened during rough weather (and we had some). These loud bangs occurred up to 200 times ... Read More
We lost several nights of sleep in our interior room because of loud banging and vibration. The sounds were similar to a sledgehammer on steel and happened during rough weather (and we had some). These loud bangs occurred up to 200 times per night depending on size of the waves. The sounds were also heard by several staff members although no solution was ever found. The buffet was miserable. Guests frequently had to wait up to 10 minutes to get a coffee cup. Seating was extremely crowded and the seating area was dirty. Trays were unavailable to carry food to a table. The tongs used in the buffet required brute strength to operate, hard to pick up food with them. Wait staff wandered around with cleaning rags and totally ignored the dirty tables. I put a bag on the floor under the table while eating and the bottom of the bag was loaded with crumbs and food when I picked it up. The staff at the main dining rooms offered much better service. The ship's public toilets frequently did not offer toilet paper nor paper towels. Additionally, the hand dryers often did not work. Overall the room stewards were quite helpful and cheerful but too many of the other staff members such as those at the public counters bordered on rude, hard to detect a welcoming manner aboard this ship. We opted for transportation from the ship to the hotel in London and for 4 hours the van driver wandered around trying to find the Kensington Hilton. Finally he dropped us at a Hilton which turned out to be the wrong one and we taxied to the correct location at our expense. Just another nail in the coffin. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
The cruise started out great. One week before the cruise, NCL called and offered to upgrade us to a mini-suite from a outside cabin with balcony for a minimal charge. It was an easy decision since we increased floor space by 50%. ... Read More
The cruise started out great. One week before the cruise, NCL called and offered to upgrade us to a mini-suite from a outside cabin with balcony for a minimal charge. It was an easy decision since we increased floor space by 50%. Embarkment was easy. The room we had was beautiful. The largest we have ever had and nicely accommodated. We had a wonderful cabin stewart, Michael When we sailed from Dover, you could hear a whistling coming from the outside balcony door. We temporarily fixed with a towel. It was reported to cabin stewart and fixed the next day by carpenter putting in weatherstripping. A few days into cruise, the paint and primer from the balcony of our neighbor's cabin fell onto our balcony in middle of the night. Hopefully this was corrected once shipped docked in Dover. Overall--ship is in need of updating--worn carpentry and fading paint. Destinations were great. We did private tours or walked on our own in all locations except Stockholm. There we used an NCL excursion and was sorely disappointed since it failed to come close to matching the description. Including being short on time. It confirmed our decision to arrange our own tours as the best approach. Tallin is a beautiful stop and very easy to do without a planned tour. Same is true for Copenhagen and Helsinki. St. Petersburg and Berlin you need an arranged tour. Many people have private tours. Our tour in Berlin was higher price than NCL, but St. Petersburg arrangements lower cost. Both times we had great tour guides. Stockholm is where boat doesn't dock and you tender. An hour trip into stockholm. We did note that many cruise ships appear to anchor closer to stockholm to avoid the one hour trip. No such option for the Berlin stop. Since all cruise ships dock at Warnemunde and there is a 2-3 hour ride to Berlin Food on Board was mediocre compared to other cruise lines. There was a sameness each day. As others have noted, the buffet is a zoo--too small an area for the ship. Where possible, we had breakfast at Seven Seas The outdoor cafe (next to the inside buffet) is only place available for food between 2.30 & 5 pm. Ship is not flexible. On day it poured rain (Copenhagen)--rather than open indoor buffet, ship made all passengers go out in rain to get food. Most passengers came back to ship early because of rain. No one was happy to go back out in rain to have lunch. We did not use any of the specialty dinner sites. We also discovered late in cruise, that if you ask for something not on the menu (like a baked potato)--you could get one. This is a good tip to know from the beginning of the cruise. Back to our primary theme. We are very glad we took the trip and enjoyed all of the destinations (particularly Tallin, St. Petersburg and Berlin). However, in future we will look at other cruise lines, unless NCL is offering only trip that meets our destination and timing needs. To all, have a great trip. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Just arrived back from Baltic Capitals cruise on the Norwegian Sun, and what a wonderful time we had. Freestyle dining suited our needs perfectly, and the food on the whole was very good. Our inside cabin was fine, and our friends ( family ... Read More
Just arrived back from Baltic Capitals cruise on the Norwegian Sun, and what a wonderful time we had. Freestyle dining suited our needs perfectly, and the food on the whole was very good. Our inside cabin was fine, and our friends ( family of 4 arrived without a cabin number) were upgraded to balcony, and as they were first timers that was a nice surprise. As we have only cruised on Golden Princess before, we can only compare NCL against that. Breakfast buffets in Garden Cafe and Great Outdoors is a dog eat dog affair when it comes to finding a table, food is fine but it is a bit shambolic, the whole experience My tip would be to go to Seven Seas and have waiter service, or Pacific Heights for omelette's and waffles, but check times for this. Buffets are open at MOST but not all times during the day with a nice selection of fair on offer. Dinner in Seven Seas, Four Seasons and Pacific Heights were all very good. We did try Il Adagio ($10 cover charge) but found menu no better than the other restaurants and the service was very slow, so we never tried any of the others. Although most of the staff are polite and nice, there are a few that need a week in "charm school" especially when asking for a table for seven (our group size) apparently pushing two tables together is the hardest thing in the world to do, until a waiter/waitress says that it will be no problem, then you see an icy glare from seating manager. It does become apparent that NCL go for cheap docking fees as you seem to be docked at the furthest point away from were you want to be in some ports. We thought that the $12 per person per day service charge was a bit steep on top of 15% gratuities on drinks, so I went to Reception and got it reduced to a more reasonable (in my opinion) figure, but they will only let you do this on the last two days of the cruise, why? Who know's. On your first day aboard beware of a staff member coming around asking if you would to attend a Indian Buffet on the 2nd week of the cruise. He quite conveniently forgets to tell you there will be $15 per person cover charge on it. These are just a few little niggles we found, there were no major problems and we would not hesitate to cruise on the Norwegian Sun again if the itinerary suited us, we had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Norwegian Sun by Georgia (Magnolia Blossom) Baltic Capitals from Dover August 3, 2010 About us. 57/62 year old semi-retired professionals. Our 36th cruises, 12th on NCL and 4th on the Sun. This was our second cruise to the Baltic, the ... Read More
Norwegian Sun by Georgia (Magnolia Blossom) Baltic Capitals from Dover August 3, 2010 About us. 57/62 year old semi-retired professionals. Our 36th cruises, 12th on NCL and 4th on the Sun. This was our second cruise to the Baltic, the first being on the NCL Dream in 2004. Not terribly fussy, pretty laid back. We were travelling with 10 friends, some of my review may reference their critique of events we missed. Embarkation - Port of Dover This was our second sailing from Dover and they have a new terminal since our 2004 sailing. The terminal is modern and well laid out. The staff was very friendly and efficient. From the time we entered the door to key card in hand was about 20 minutes. Boarding began at 11:40 although rooms were not ready. In the past a bag check area was available for dropping your carry ons but it was not available this time. Lunch was served in the buffet and the Seven Seas dining room opened at 12:30, which we chose and had a nice relaxing start to our cruise. About the time we were finishing up our coffee it was announced that rooms were ready. The Ship The interior is done in NCL's typical understated style and is filled with bronze colored woods, brass and bronzy colored granite. In places the interior seemed somewhat stark but overall it is a sleek and elegant ship no glitz or neon. The atrium area is a bit on the small side and the panoramic elevators are oddly shaped (kind of keyhole shaped, narrow at the entrance, ballooning out toward the rear), which made for difficulty in loading and offloading.There are a lot of elevators on this ship and they seemed to run more quickly than on most. The central staircases are of the typical spiral type, making attractive places for photos. Several bars, the Internet cafe and customer service areas all rim the atrium. Hallways are nearly devoid of artwork; the artworks in the stairways were large florals, with a different flower for each floor (if it's poppies, I must be near the cabin!). Dining There are two main dining rooms, appointed primarily with two- and four-person tables. They are easily rearranged for larger groups. The Seven Seas dining room is on the stern, so it has windows on three sides allowing for many window tables. There were no booths, just tables (although some tables had unusual center legs, making it difficult to cross your legs). The Four Seasons dining room is also on deck 5 and more central. The menu is the same in each dining room. The buffet was well laid out and only the beverage area was weird. The ice dispenser was in the center rather than at the beginning near the glassware. The omelet and waffle stations were in a separate location - Pacific Heights which is on the opposite side of the elevators from the buffet. Pacific Heights is a much less crowded area for breakfast but the only serve the above items, along with coffee, tea and o.j. If you want other items for breakfast you can walk over to the buffet and return with them. It is necessary to wear a shirt and shoes in the buffet. An outside buffet area serves nearly identical fare, plus hot dogs and hamburgers. Its seating area was on the stern - a very pleasant spot where you could dine in your bathing suit. You do need to pass through the indoor buffet to get there, but you didn't need to be fully dressed if you were just passing through. There is a complimentary ice cream bar off the pool area which was open most of the time. The ice cream bar, Sprinkles, has soft ice cream in vanilla and chocolate and scoop ice cream in vanilla, chocolate and strawberry as well as a sherbet which varies each day. They only serve cones, so if you want a dish of ice cream grab a cup from the nearby drink station and they will put it in that. Several specialty restaurants were available such as a tapas bar, sushi bar, Japanese, Italian, and French restaurant and a steak house. All but the tapas bar and Pacific Heights required an additional fee. Pacific Heights is a lighter fare/health conscious restaurant and no additional cost applies. The "pay" restaurants require reservations and the cost is from $15-$30. There was no 50% reduction for early dining on this sailing. On the two final sea days there were specialty lunches. An Indian cuisine and a jazz brunch. Both were $15 and well worth it. Spa The spa, off the pool area, had a large assortment of exercise equipment. Several exercise classes were available for a fee. The spa is operated by the Mandara company, and thus operates much like those on other lines. The steam room and saunas were small but free, which is a pleasant return as they had been charging for the steam and sauna. The showers in the spa were much more spacious than the cabin showers and had liquid soap and shampoo available. The showers had transparent doors which might give bashful folks a problem. For those who find the cabin showers too confining, go to the spa. The spa offers the usual spa treatments along with acupuncture and tooth whitening. Entertainment The theater seats were high-backed, which created a bit of a problem for short people like me who had to crane a bit to see above the back. Seating down front was much more comfortable. There were two levels to the theater, and several poles created partial obstructions. I thought the music was lacking on this cruise. There was a pianist who played nightly in one of the lounges. In the Observation Lounge there was a rotation of a DJ, a Latin singing group and the Sun Orchestra for dancing at various times. The main band played a wide variety of musical styles but most of it was geared to a much younger crowd than us so we didn't hang around long for them. On previous cruises there was usually a couple who did nice mellow music for dancing or easy conversation and there was no such couple on this cruise. Lounges There were several lounges, and the Observation Lounge on Deck 12 at the bow provides a beautiful, sweeping view. It is a nice place to hide away during the day and read, as it did not seem to be used much. It is nicely appointed with rattan furniture and a medium size dance floor. Dazzles is more centrally located and has a larger dance floor and many activities e.g. game shows, art auctions were held there. A champagne bar adjoins the atrium as does a coffee bar. The Sports Bar on Deck 12 had many TV screens and served 22 types of beer. It is a great place to view the world and serves complimentary chips and salsa and guacamole each evening. It is open from 5P to 5AM for pizza and pasta. The pool area has two pools divided by a raised area of four Jacuzzis. The pool water is salt water. Walking decks are the promenade, with 3-1/2 laps per mile and festive murals all the way around; and the sports deck, which has a padded walking surface but requires something like 12 laps to the mile. The promenade deck is the boat deck so it is covered walking while the sports deck is sunny. Casino The casino is well laid out and has the usual variety of slots, video poker and table games. There are quite a few penny and nickel machines, a goodly number of quarter and the balance are 50 cents through $5. There are video poker machines ranging from penny to $1. Table games are craps, blackjack, roulette, Let it Ride, Caribbean Stud, Baccarat and Texas Hold-em. There is also a separate poker room for Texas Holdem. Service was prompt and courteous. The usual blackjack and slots tournaments were held throughout the cruise and I believe there was a poker tourney too but I'm not positive. The slots now use paper tickets so I found that to be a welcomed change. Cabin Ours was an interior II cabin on Deck 9. Storage was more than ample. The desk area had one electrical outlet which was the only one in the cabin. A refrigerator, TV, were standard. The bathroom has a circular shower with a curtain held snugly in place by vertical rods in the curtain. Six storage shelves were provided. There is a real toilet paper holder (so the tissue does not fly off the holder with use), a wall mounted hair dryer, and an outlet for electric razors. The shower has normal single handle controls and an adjustable-height shower head. Liquid soap and shampoo dispensers were in the shower. The bedding is the typical NCL duvet and quality cotton. Robes and coffee makers have been removed from interior cabins but as we were gold members I had requested them prior to cruising and they were there on arrival. Our cabin was 9311, an interior due to budget limitations on this sailing, plus the itinerary did not make it seem as though a balcony would be money well spent. The white nights also bother my husband a bit, so a nice dark inside cabin was perfect for those 10 PM sunsets and 5 AM sunrises. Our cabin was next to an A/C Room which meant we had no neighbors on one side and it was very quiet. Entertainment We did not take in any shows other than the Celtic flutist who was fabulous and one of the production shows, Cirque something, which was not to our liking and we left before it was over. We had seen a Cirque production on another ship but this one lacked any true acrobatics and the music and costuming seemed very thrown together. Our travelling companions went to quite a few of the shows and found them okay, but nothing to rave about. Being such a long cruise, many of the evenings were filled with cruiser participation shows such as talent, dancing with the stars and an employee talent show. The usual game shows, bingo and poolside activities were offered. The ship also has a mesh enclosed basketball court, ping-pong area, and golf driving range and shuffleboard. In the library the usual board games were available for checkout, and bridge gatherings were held. Friends of Bill and Friends of Dorothy had regurlarly posted meetings. A Veterans meeting was scheduled this time which my husband always enjoys. Food The quality was a bit better than most other ships, but that is such a matter of personal taste that it is hard to judge. The menus seem to have been revamped along with the new "Whatever" advertising program. In the past I've thought menu descriptions a bit confusing and this time they were a bit abbreviated but the food quality had improved considerably since our trip last October on the Star. We had dinner at the buffet one evening when we were too pooped to read a menu. I always enjoy the chilled soups and only one disappointed me. Aside from the jazz brunch we did not eat in any of the specialty restaurants that required additional costs. We enjoyed tapas in Las Ramblas, and the menu changed each night. Pacific Heights has the same menu each night and does require reservations even though it is free. An Indian meal was offered for lunch on one of the sea days for $15. One of our friends went and said it was very good. Wine service was handled by the waiters and went smoothly. There was no wine program available unless you are a Latitudes member; then you could buy five and get one free. Thankfully, there was no nightly entertainment by dancing waiters, and the dress code was enforced. The Sun now allows nice jeans in the dining room but I saw a few people turned away for shorts and no ball caps were visible either. Buffet food was the usual fare, of good quality and available from about 6 am to midnight. Food was also available at times in the casino. Room service is available 24 hours and is free but you should tip the waiter. Cleanliness The ship was the cleanest I've ever been on. Hand sanitizing was strictly enforced at embarkations and at all buffet lines and restaurant entrances. They've even added one to the glass elevators, which seemed ridiculous, especially since the kids who "lived" in the elevators had a good time triggering the dispenser and making a puddle on the floor. Although this ship is due for dry dock in January, it does not look as though it's been years since refurbishment. With very few exceptions the ship is in excellent shape. Staff One of the friendliest staff I've encountered. They all seemed particularly adept at remembering names throughout the week - a nice touch. I cannot say I encountered a single rude or indifferent staff member. Disembarking NCL has an express system whereby if you carry all your luggage off yourself, you can be in the first group off the ship. Quite a few people seemed to opt for this. We were off the ship by 6:05 a.m. Unlike the US, there is no immigration or customs at the pier - just walk off and you're done. Those guests with luggage were assigned a color by their flight times. You could wait in your cabin until your color was called, although they did ask that you vacate your cabin by 9:00 a.m. This and That Tips are added to your account automatically unless you request otherwise. Security was very good. They seem to have gotten absolutely rabid about liquor smuggling as well as irons, so attempt it at your own risk. You can request an iron and ironing board from the reception desk. You are allowed to keep it 3 hours. Photographers: Almost invisible! The photography staff was available for formal photos and as always at the pier, but they were not in your face every time you turned around. Announcements were kept to a minimum. There was no captain's party for everyone. Just a Latitude's party which was at 1 pm on a sea day. There was a separate captain's party for silver, gold and platinum members. There were only 12 people in attendance so we had a senior officer per person! It was held in Las Ramblas and billed as wine and cheese but you could order whatever beverage you liked. Drinks were of good quality and volume but the prices are that of a high end hotel/restaurant. Passengers were a middle aged crowd with quite a few younger folks. There were 900 children on board, according to one of the officers, but it did not seem as though there were that many since they were pretty well behaved. I did notice that the TechStyles room (near the internet cafe) had a sign on it for families with children 2 and under. There was an assortment of toys for younger children in a nice indoor play area. It was hard to judge the ethnic mix of the cruisers but I'd say 50% of the cruisers were anglo. There were quite a few Spaniards and Romanians Announcements were made in English, German, Spanish and French. During the muster drill another language was used but I cannot remember what it was. It is no longer necessary to bring your life vest to the muster drill. Movies on the TV were available in multiple languages. Several entertainment and cultural programs were done in Spanish as well as English. Money exchange is available but the rates are not good, so you are better off even at the airport! A local ATM is actually your bet bet. We found that Euros and US dollars worked everywhere. As for Internet access, the ship has about 10 stations available.. Per-minute use was 75 cents and packages were available including wireless. Phone service is available from your cabin for $7.95/minute. The jewelry shop onboard is a Columbian Emeralds shop. There is no longer creamer on the tables in the dining rooms - it is milk. If you want cream, ask for it and they will bring you a pile of single serving creamer. This is a pet peeve of mine since I use a lot of cream and it looks so tacky, not to mention they were difficult to open. You can buy a future cruise certificate which is a good deal if you plan to cruise in the next 4 years. You pay $250 for a certificate which will act as your deposit for the entire cabin (unless you are in suites or above)when you book a cruise within 4 years. As an incentive you are given an immediate $100 OBC. Ports of Call We arranged our own tours for all but one port, but I will provide what information I have based on others reports. Copenhagen - we docked in Free Port, which is the further port from downtown. It is about a 20 minute walk to the other pier. Both Hoho lines pick up at the pier. We used City Sightseeing and found that contrary to reports on CC, the buses do not accept credit cards, only euros. I have forgotten how much it was, but you can find that information on their website. We got off downtown, walked around and did a canal tour with Nette (?) tours for $3/person. He took US, euros, pounds - whatever you had. The tour was an hour and very informative. A great deal in our opinion. Be sure to have a few small denomination dollars or euros in case you need to use a public restroom. The attendant will give you change if you have small denominations. To return to the ship you need to transfer to a line not shown on the internet map - the blue line. The main lines of the Hoho's drop you at the area near the mermaid statue (who is currently vacationing in China) and then the blue bus takes you back to the ship. The blue bus is not marked and does not look like the standard hoho, which picked you up at the pier so you will need to ask various bus drivers if they are the blue line driver. Two of our group did a segway tour and had a blast. They highly recommend it. You can find them on the internet. Warnemunde. We took the train to Rostock and had a fabulous day walking about. We lucked in to a choral presentation at the huge church with the astronomical clock and it was indeed a treat. We dined at the market on sausage and apple streudel and had a grand meal on the cheap. We took the ferry back to Rostock and since there was a huge boat festival that day we sailed amidst tall sailing ships, pirate ships, Chinese junks, and boats of all flavors. What a treat. Half our group did a tour to Berlin and found the 12 hour day long but enjoyed their trip. The 3 hour each way drive did not seem like fun to me. Tallin. There is no need to do a tour here. The walk from the ship to old town is about 15 minutes. The reception desk will give you maps of town if you need them (this was true of Rostock too). We used Rick Steve's book and walking guide, which has always served us well. The streets here are very rocky and steep so if you have mobility issues it could be a problem. Second to St. Petersburg, Tallin was everyone's favorite port. St. Petersburg. We arranged for a private tour with Anastasia Tours and had a spectacular time. There was no comparison to our previous visit when we used ship excursions. An articulate, educated guide, nice quick dining, complete flexibility and topped off the first day with a canal tour, champagne and chocolate. The tour per person for both days total came to $5 less than one day on a ship's tour. I cannot recommend this option highly enough to you. The weather was very warm, the news said it was the highest temps in 1,000 years, and since none of the buildings are air conditioned it got pretty warm. But even on our previous trip I would remind people about the a/c and advise you to leave your heavier clothes on the bus. The palaces and Hermitage get very warm with all those people in them. You are not allowed to bring back packs or water into the palaces or museums. You can take photos but in the Hermitage you cannot use a flash. Local merchants would take USDs except in gift shops in the churches. Our guide had rubles she would swap for our purchases there. Helsinki. The only place we did a ship's tour to PourVoo (pronounced PourVoe) It was a nice ride in the countryside to a cute little town, with a cute little church and then to see a few of the more popular sites in town but not worth $160. Although, lunch was very, very nice Stockholm. We anchored at Nynsham and as we had been to Stockholm before and were tired we decided to stay onboard. A delightfully, relaxing day. They use the life boats for tenders and it takes 10 minutes to reach shore. The drive into Stockholm is one hour if you have an excursion. I got mixed answers on why NCL has chosen to dock this far out and finally got the bottom line from one of the officers who said, they really don't know. It is a corporate office decision and they do not tell them why - just where. Everyone I talked to enjoyed their visit to Stockholm but felt they were terribly rushed and quite frustrated with the experience since some of them had only 45 minutes at the Vasa and 30 minutes to shop or eat or whatever. Next year NCL is doing this sailing out of Copenhagen rather than Dover and maybe it will allow more time in Stockholm. London. We arrived three days early to tour London. One of our group is a Brit and gave us the insiders tour. Fortunately we were there on a Sunday which allowed us to go to the Chelsey Street Flower Market, which was absolutely fabulous. Then off to Curry Lane (I think it was called) - block after block of Indian food vendors and restaurants. We had a grand Indian meal. We got to take in choral evensong at Westminster, which was breath taking. On the way to Dover, our private bus stopped at Canterbury Cathedral so we could go to 8 am mass and tour the church. Spectacular. We had arranged for First Choice Minibus to pick us up at LHR, take us to the Holiday Inn Express Victoria. On Tuesday he transferred us to the port via Canterbury then fetched us at disembarking at whisked us off to LHR. Very curteous and much cheaper than the NCL transfers. Not the cheapest way to travel, by far, but with a group it made it quite affordable. With 12 people all transportation came to $94/per person. Overall: I would gladly recommend this cruise and ship to anyone. . Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Great cruise overall. I was diappointed and felt deceived by the advertising initally when I booked because they call it the Baltic capitals and in fact when you get to germany Warnemunde it is a 4 hour train journey to Berlin. When you ... Read More
Great cruise overall. I was diappointed and felt deceived by the advertising initally when I booked because they call it the Baltic capitals and in fact when you get to germany Warnemunde it is a 4 hour train journey to Berlin. When you get to Sweeden, Nynaeshamn is about an hour away from the caital Stockholm. So what a con!! NCL should have provided the transportation to the so called 'Baltic Capitals' if they are advertising it as such. Instead they want you to spend extortionate sums on excursions!!! Well here are the prices of the excursions which you don't find out so easily until you're on board. Copenhagen, Denmark: Cruise excursion $59.99 per person!! Rip of or what!! We took the City Sightseeing HO HO (Hop on Hop off) Bus which cost the equivalent of $21 as compared with almost $60 and what's more kids go half price! It's a great and beautiful city to visit. Warnemunde, Germany: Berlin excursion to include Prusian Palaces $374. We visited Warnemunde which is a great town just waliking distance from the port and go the flavour of Germany. There is a pleasant beach there too. Tallinn, Estonia: Well this is a small town and we just took a cab (plenty where the ship docks) and paid the driver 20 euros to take us to the new town which is at a higher level. The driver suggested this route as it is a pleasant walk downhill to the old town and you can explore the whole of Tallinn on foot saving yourself $129 cruise excursion per person!! Rip off, honestly!! St Petersburg: Well you kind of have no choice here but to either pre-arrange or go with the cruise as it going to hit you with a nuclear explosion in your wallet which ever way you go. We tried to pre-arrange with Del-rus and that was a waste of time. They are not that cheap, in fact there is very ittle difference in the price between these on-line opportunistic operators and the cruise. Because NCL docks for 2 days, Delrus only offered us the the sightseeing tour on the first day and we wanted this to be on the 2nd day . The 1st day we preferred to go the a Russian ballet in the evening and just enjoy the ship facilites during the day. Delrus was totally inflexible and so we arranged everything through NCL and the prices were a pleasant surprise, for once they were on par with the others or may be it's just because they all want to rip us off in St.P? Helsinki was straight forward. NCL charge $65 per person for the sight seeing. We got on the number 16 bus a short walk from the port at a cost of 2.5 euros each. You can also take the 14B bus into town. In Helsinkin you can use your map and just do a walking tour-it's not that big. When you come out of most of these ports there are tourist info centres or maps and usually the city sightseeing buses are visible so you don't really have to go with the cruise excursion and pay through the roof. Nynaeshamn, Sweden: Here because of the tight time frame (you only have 9-10 hours on shore and with time travel and pressure to get back to the ship on time we just took the ship excursion with a guided tour. We spoke to some of the others and could have saved a packet by taking the bus and train. Again tour guides, maps and info together with the Sightseeing hop on hop off buses are all there outside the ship so don't worry. You can so it on your own. The cabins were good, food fantastic and the two service restaurants; Seven Seas and four seasons were absolutely top class and made us feel really special. We went to one of the paid restaurants called Tapas, a japanese cuisine with waiters juggling and being very flambouyant and skillful and entertaining with sumptous food. This was a birthday treat for me as was this cruise. The soda packs we had did have their limitations: soda means soda no juices. It also means the cheap club sodas not the branded named ones. The lemonade was always tasting off as it was on tap. The Gym was fairly well equiped and usually very overcrowded esp the treadmill. Weights were lacking for biceps except for free weights. They could have done with an abductor and adductor for the legs. Sauna and Steam were good as were the hot tubs and the pool area. LOts of games facilities like table tennis, golf all free. Cards room very nice plus games room with pleny of well stocked board games, A well stocked lirary for the avid readers. The evening entertainments were all absolutely top class. The SHOUT show on the 8th August brought tears to my eyes with the sounds of the sixties and swinging London etc. All good calibre performers. You should never miss a show!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Norwegian Sun - Scandinavia and St. Petersburg, Russia - August 3 - August 15 Cruise Critic - "Sailorlady" I traveled with a friend, both of us seniors, ages 70 and 80, in good health and with stamina. We were both professional ... Read More
Norwegian Sun - Scandinavia and St. Petersburg, Russia - August 3 - August 15 Cruise Critic - "Sailorlady" I traveled with a friend, both of us seniors, ages 70 and 80, in good health and with stamina. We were both professional women with children. It would have been more comfortable for us if we had not traveled in mid-summer because of the heat and the crowds everywhere. We traveled with a tour group we had used before and which we find efficient. However, the London hotel, Lancaster London Hotel, was a disappointment. Although clean, they cater to mid-east visitors, according to the manager, up to 70% in July and August. These people partied outside under our windows all night. The management did nothing to stop this. We toured London, saw the crown jewels, disappointed they do not let people try them on, and then were met the morning of August 3 by an NCL bus to take us to Dover for embarkation. We were glad we were in NCL's hands from the time we left the hotel until our return Aug. 15. Everything went smoothly. We are Latitudes members and this enabled us to go through check-in quickly for which we were thankful. Sadly, we did not receive notice of a Latitudes gathering on the ship. We would have liked to meet our fellow Latitudes travelers. NCL's routine to embark, disembark, and leave on excursions was the most efficient of any ship I have been on. Congratulations to the staff. Our stateroom was aft on Deck 9 with a balcony. It was clean and well tended by the stewards. However, it was small and crowded. One twin bed stuck out in the passageway so that we had to walk sideways to get to the bathroom, closet, or door. There did not appear to be any way to reconfigure the room to correct this problem. We loved the towel animals the steward left for us each day. My friend didn't want to take hers apart which left us short one towel! The fire drill could have been handled better. This consisted of everyone going to their station and watching the staff demonstrate how to put on the life jacket. We think it would be better to have the passengers practice this. I still do not know how to do it. The general condition of the ship is good, very clean, We appreciated staff requiring antibacterial spray for hands before entering the dining room. Also this spray was available all over the ship and in the elevators where it provided entertainment for children who rode the elevators all day. The two formal dining rooms were well run. The staff was attentive and efficient and the food was good. The other informal dining areas were also well run with good food and provided an opportunity to eat on the outside decks. We missed the opportunity to mingle with other passengers which used to be available when seating was assigned. There is less formality now which seems to please most passengers but which we thought lessened the friendliness of the previous system. We think a method needs to be instituted whereby those who wish to share find this easy to do with marked places set aside for that. Also, when seating was assigned, passengers got to know the wait staff and staff got to interact with the passengers. It was a pleasure to leave them a gratuity at the end of the trip to show appreciation. Now the ship charges passengers per day for "tips" which are no more than I suppose an extra check in the employee'w paycheck. How depressing this must be for them since they are never personally acknowledged for their good work. You see different wait staff every day. This is a small ship with limited activities for adults. The library is adequate and provides a quiet reading place. The theater provides nightly entertainment which is all right. There is a Windjammer Lounge which featured a really good piano player each evening. He knew all the favorite songs and had a wide repertoire of songs. There is dancing and music on the top deck lounger. We did not visit the casino,the spa, or the outdoor pools. There are some activities for teen-age children but nothing for little children who are required to find their own amusement mostly by running up and down the halls and bumping into people. Parents with small children would be much better served on a Disney ship which is prepared to entertain them. We arranged all our shore excursions through NCL and were very pleased with the quality of the tours. As previously mentioned, the excursion crew were super efficient and the guides on shore were good, knowledgeable about their cities, and pleasant. We chose the walking tours because we wanted to get among the people and the cities to appreciate their history and architecture. This was doable at our ages and good physical condition but at times we were used up trying to keep up. Seniors should seriously consider if they are capable of walking, often fast, for hours over cobblestones, before choosing this type of excursion. Most places take US currency and credit cards. We erred by not obtaining a small amount of local currency when we took the day trips because you need the local currency in small amounts to buy things like a soda or ice cream cone. These vendors are small and do not take US dollars or credit cards. $5 - $10 in local currency should be enough. We took all of the tours except Berlin which was a 13 hour trip. Those people who went liked it. There was Copenhagen with a picture of the Little Mermaid because she is now in China at some fair; skipped Germany; toured Tallin, Estonia which is a charming medieval city with a lovely cathedral. One is reminded of the many countries which enslaved little Estonia in the past, so glad they are free now. Everywhere we went, except Russia, the guides complained about the Swedes always attacking them, although that probably hasn't happened in hundreds of years. Memories are long there. St. Petersburg was wonderful. We saw the summer palace which is beautifully restoreed. So much gold everywhere! Had a lovely lunch there and later had a canal boat ride. We visited The Hermitage and it's wonderful art galleries and were able to walk around St. Petersburg. There is a tour mostly by canal boat which would probably better serve those seniors who are less active. NCL's routine to embark, disembark, and leave on excursions was the most efficient of any ship I have been on. Congratulations to the staff. Our stateroom was aft on Deck 9, with balcony. It was clean and well tended by the stewards. However, it was small and crowded. One twin bed stuck out in the passageway so that we had to walk sideways to get to the bathroom, closet, or door. There did not appear to be any way to reconfigure the room to prevent this. We loved the towel animals the steward left for us each day. The fire drill could have been handled better. This consisted of everyone going to their station and watching the staff demonstrate how to put on the life jacket. We think it would be better to have the passengers do it. I still do not know how to do it. The general condition of the ship is good, very clean. We appreciated The two formal dining rooms were well run. The staff was attentive and efficient and the food was good. The other informal dining areas were also well run with good food and provided an opportunity to eat on the outside decks. We missed the opportunity to mingle with other passengers as used to be available when seating was assigned. There is less formality now which seems to please most passengers but which we thought lessened the friendliness of the previous system. We think a method needs to be instituted whereby those who wish to share find this easy to do with places set aside for that. Also, when seating was assigned passengers got to know the wait staff and staff got to interact with the passengers. It was a pleasure to leave them a gratuity at the end of the trip to show appreciation. Now the ship charges passengers per day for "tips" which are no more than I suppose an extra check in the employee's check. How depressing this must be for them since they are never personally acknowledged for their good work. You see different wait staff every day. This is a small ship with limited activities for adults. The library is adequate and provides a quiet reading place. The theater provides nightly entertainment which is all right. There is a Windjammer Lounge which featured a really good piano player each evening. He knew all the favorite songs and had a wide repertoire of songs. There is dancing and music on the top deck lounge. There are some activities for teen-age children but nothing for little children who are required to find their own amusement mostly by running up and down the halls and bumping into people. Parents with small children would be much better served on a Disney ship which is prepared to entertain them. We arranged all our shore excursions through NCL and were very pleased with the quality of the tours. As previously mentioned, the excursion crew were super efficient and the guides were good, knowledgeable about their cities, and pleasant. We chose the walking tours because we wanted to get among the people and the cities to appreciate their history and architecture. This was doable at our ages and good physical condition but at times we were used up to the max trying to keep up. Seniors should seriously consider if they are capable of walking, often fast, for three hours over cobblestones before choosing this type of excursion. Most places take US currency and credit cards. We erred by not obtaining a small amount of local currency when we took the day trips because you need the local currency is small amounts to buy things like a soda or ice cream cone. These vendors are small and do not take US dollars or credit cards. $5 - $10 in local currency should be enough. We took all of the tours except Berlin which was a 13 hour trip. There was Copenhagen with a picture of the Little Mermaid because she is now in China at some fair; skipped Germany; toured Tallin, Estonia which is a charming medieval city with a lovely cathedral. One is reminded of the many countries which enslaved little Estonia in the past, so glad they are free now. Everywhere we went, except Russia, the guides complained about the Swedes always attacking them. Memories are long there. St. Petersburg was wonderful. We saw the summer palace which is beautifully restored. So much gold everywhere! Had a lovely lunch there and later a canal boat ride. We visited The Hermitage and it's wonderful art galleries and were able to walk around St. Petersburg. There is a tour mostly by canal boat which would probably better serve those seniors who are less active. Helsinki was lovely and we got to go out of the city to Eero Saarinen's compound which interested us from an architectural point of view. It's an easy walking city. Stockholm appears to be a well regulated, clean city but with not much architectural interest, the buildings being mostly big boxes. However, the trip to the Vasa museum to see the reconstructed Vasa warship which had been sunk in the harbor for 300 years is worth the trip. Also we saw a Lutheran church carved out of solid rock, an amazing sight. And so back to Dover and the NCL bus to the airport and home. Again the bus was clean, comfortable, and on time. NCL disembarking procedure simplicity and efficiency. In summary, this is a good trip on a clean ship but from a senior's point of view people need to be sure of their physical capabilities if they choose the most strenuous walking tours. Also mid-summer is not a good time for seniors to go because of the heat and crowds and families with small children on board. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Although we've been on over 25 cruises, this was the first cruise for our brother & sister-in-law. They have been planning & saving for over a year, and this will probably be their first, last and only cruise for health ... Read More
Although we've been on over 25 cruises, this was the first cruise for our brother & sister-in-law. They have been planning & saving for over a year, and this will probably be their first, last and only cruise for health reasons. At the last minute we were able to get upgrades (from inside to balcony and penthouse suite) thanks to booking direct with NCL. There was a little additional cost, but it was surely worth it! Using internet (and cruise critic) we rented a flat(2bdrm, 2 ba)in London for a week before the trip and used London Pass to see and go everywhere. Because we had alot of luggage and couldn't manage it ourselves we opted for the NCL transfers, which worked perfectly. Our cabin had a large balcony at the front of the ship which couldn't be used because of bad weather. Although only 1 large room, the bathroom was as big if not bigger, with walk in closet, dressing area, jacuzzi tub, separate shower and toilet stall. But the cabin wasn't the best part. In a suite NCL gives you a concierge (karin) who was wonderful. You feel like you are on a different cruise than everyone else. Beautiful breakfast and lunch in a specialty restaurant (no extra charge). This was great because the buffet never had enough seats. We only had 2 "optional" dinners, and both were worth the charge. Murder mystery dinner for $20 ea, including wine and lobster! And the teppan for our anniversay, which was really special. As Karin arranged all else, we just said where and when for dinner. Food was probably the best I've had on any of our cruises. As we are seasoned travelers, we didn't like the selection or cost of most NCL shore excursions. In copenhagen it rained, but the hop-on-hop-off bus got us to our favorite places anyway for alot less. In Warnemunde we again decided against shore excursions in favor of just staying around the town. So glad we did- it cleared up and a 15 minute walk into town was perfect. Lots of shops and Biergardens. We didn't know what to expect in Tallin, so took the NCL tour (1/2 day, under $60). Again, had a great day. Turns out we visited on their 2nd independence day. What a beautiful country, and beautiful people. Very warm. St Petersburg we used TJ Travel through Cruise Critic. Again, a winner! We had a group of 10, and they allowed us to customize the standard tour for a few dollars more. Tour guide Alex was wonderful- made sure we saw everything. Our tour started with hydrofoil to Peterhof, where we had lunch. Then to Catherine's palace. Then a canal ride through the city. Next day included the Hermitage early admission, where we had most rooms to ourselves! Our only complaint was NCL held up independent travelers for shore excursions. Helsinki again was the hop-on-hop-off, and we fell in love with that city also. Because we anchored in Nynashamn we felt we had to take NCL tours. We had hoped that the "Swedish Experience" which allowed 3 hours free time would be leisurely, but it was not. After a 1 hr bus ride to Stockholm, the traffic was so bad getting around and through the VASA that we barely had time to eat and get any souvenirs. We were stressed to get back to the bus or face a $200e cab ride back. Our only disappointment was the entertainment staff. Had a problem with a dancer that did rather spoil it for me. I usually dance the night away and close the bars, but this time I stayed in my suite and read a book. Only a few problems- wish the 400 kids would have been better controlled- the cigar lounge that we were guaranteed was there hasn't been used for smoking for 5 years, and the problem with the dance staff. All in all- one of our best cruises. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
My previous three reviews were long rambling affairs. This one will be a lot briefer (well for me). If you want A LOT more detail then go to Travelpod (link found from our signature) where our whole five week holiday can be found in far ... Read More
My previous three reviews were long rambling affairs. This one will be a lot briefer (well for me). If you want A LOT more detail then go to Travelpod (link found from our signature) where our whole five week holiday can be found in far greater detail. We enjoyed our cruise on the Sun and our first NCL experience. Our original holiday was five weeks in the UK but both of us were thinking (without the other knowing) about adding a Baltic cruise seeing as we were so close. The Baltic Capitals cruise on Sun ticked all of the boxes. We stayed in London five nights before hiring a car and and spending another in Canterbury before arriving in Dover on embarkation day. Dropped our bags off at the dock before going back and dropping the car off back at the ferry terminal. Then went up to Dover Castle and got a cab back to the the dock at just after 1pm. Embarkation - easiest ever. Bought some Danish and Estonian currency inside the terminal before we went upstairs. No queue. From the time we left the currency guy to the time we walked onto the Sun was maybe 10 minutes, no more. Cabin not ready so went up onto deck out behind the buffet restaurant. Had a bite to eat and a beer. When announcement was made that cabins were ready we went down to Oslo deck (the one only accessible by stairs) and checked out our cabin. Small but functional and plenty of room for all of the stuff we'd brought for a five week holiday. Bed comfy, actually very comfy and pointing out from the window which is what my partner prefers. Bathroom fine if a little little but so what. Shower was hot, toilet flushed, toiletries ok (even if I did use the shampoo to wash with and the body wash to clean my hair with until I made a comment about the nice minty shampoo!). We enjoyed the food although discussions with other cruisers resulted in comments about the small size of servings and the amount of salt in dishes. We had no issue with either. We ate in both main dining rooms for dinner, Il Adagio, Le Bistro, East meets West (Indian lunch buffet), had some tapas (just ok), breakfast in whichever of the dining rooms it was served in (very nice) and grabbed food on the way through the buffet but ate it out the back or in the sparts bar. Il Adagio was better experience and way better value than Le Bistro Maybe we're easy to please but there really wasn't anything we didn't like. Service in all eating places was good except for night of chocolate buffet when they rushed us out and ignored the birthday of one of our group despite numerous hints. No biggy. Bars - nice bar staff. As expected drinks weren't cheap but that didn't stop us spending well over $1000 on drinks over our twelve days. If we can't afford to drink then we can't affrd to holiday. Liked the observation lounge, the back deck bar, the bar on level seven (?) of the atrium. Too many wait staff new our names way too soon :) Meet and greet was well attended by both cruise critters and ship's crew - all senior staff including the captain attended. Shows - went to a couple and didn;t think much of them. Very good dancers but throught the singers were pretty ordinary. Didn;t bother with special acts. Casino - didn;t spend a cent but couldn't avoid walking through it due to strange passenger flows of the ship. Ports - here's where NCL dropped the ball but at least we went in forewarned though that didn't help our experience one bit. Copenhagen - we were in town with half a dozen other ships. Only and Aida ship and Das Shiff were closer. Took maybe 30 minutes to walk into town, maybe a bit more. Taxis and HoHo busses were available on the road beside the ship if you weren't a walker. Ship docks on Sunday so not much open early but it was all open later in the day. Walked through fort, went to the national museum (very good), a design museum (very ordinary), took a canal cruise (great), visited the statue museum (weird). Enjoyed Copenhagen. Warnemunde - hired a car from Hertz that was delivered to the carpark next to the ship (EUR30 extra for this). Drove to Lubeck. Weather atrocious and Lubeck disappointing (our thoughts, nothing more). Fun driving on the autobahn at 160kmh. Weather cleared when we got back to warnemunde and had a lovely late afternoon/early evening around the little harbour where the fishing boats are docked. Enjoyed Warnemunde. Tallinn - took HoHo available in carpark in front of dock to get an idea of the city and then got off in upper town. Really interesting town. Had lunch at Old Hansa - no reservation needed - and it was a highlight of our whole holiday. Bought some rubles for St P at a currency exchange on the dock. Walked back to ship. Enjoyed Tallinn. Saint Petersburg - we were one couple of hundreds of cruisers who had booked independent tours. Night before arrival Cruise Daily had advice that NCL excursion passengers would be debarking from midships gangway and independents from forward gangway. Forward stairwell was filled up to reception (deck 5) by 7.45. I went out onto deck 6 just after 8am and streams of passengers were leaving the ship from both gangways although there was no moeb=vement in the forward stairwell. I went to reception and asked if ship had been cleared and was told no. Then I asked why were passengers leaving the ship if that was true and was told they weren't. Gee I hate getting lied to and told the receptionist just that. They finally let independents leave the ship at about 8.30, at least 30 minutes after NCL excursions. Why even mention the two gangways if you are going to block access and have people skulking along crew corridors to debark through both? Anyways, the weather was again atrocious - wet and windy but not that cold - but St P was fabulous. No issues with immigration - they were singularly disinterested. We booked our tour with SPb and the tour and Elena were fantastic. We also took the Evening Fun tour with SPb that involved a private cruise with much vodka that was also great. Helsinki - weather improved greatly and although ship wasn't docked in the inner harbour it was less than 30 minutes away on foot. Local bus left from just outside the dock. We bussed in and walked back out to the dock. Took ferry out to the fort (very interesting), had lunch including reindeer balls (!!) in the markets with all of the locals, took the 3T tram, went to the Design Museum (great). Loved Helsinki, really loved it. Helped that the weather was great as well. Stockholm - another NCL minus. Ship anchored at Nynashamn. Independents could only collect tender tickets from 7.45 even though ship's tenders were out in the water before 7.30. We were on first tender and on shore and on our way to the station by 8.30. We found out later that when the train was pulling away from the station at 9.05, friends on the first NCL on Your Own bus were wlaking in the Vasa. Three tender platforms - why not one for independents? No matter we loved Stockholm even with the hour plus less than we had to explore. In hindsight we would have taken the NCL drop off for USD59 each instead of the train. The one advantage we did have was two Aussie expats, friends of fellow cruisers, who showed us around the city. Weather again was terrific - shorts and short sleave shirts. Loved Stockholm. Last two days were sea days so we had a chance to wind down before the next part of our holiday. Day one was sunny but windy. The captain warned us that our last day would be bad and it was the roughest weather we've encountered in four cruisers. Was in equal measures hilarious and awful. His prediction of 6pm better conditions was spot on but the weather had taken it's toll and the bars and restaurants were all pretty quiet. Sad. Debarkation was as easy as embarkation. We elected the 'do it yourself' option and just wheeled our bags off sometime before 9am. Would we cruise with NCL again? Most likely if we found the right cruise. Food good, crew good, ship good, itinerary good, freestyle suited us perfectly. The lack of recognition and blatant discrimination against independent passengers might make us think twice but all in all it was a great experience Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
The Sun is due for refurbishment soon but can by no means be described as shabby.The atrium is multi levelled with panoramic lifts which is very pretty.The spa is smaller than on the Jewel class ships and lacks the relaxation area with ... Read More
The Sun is due for refurbishment soon but can by no means be described as shabby.The atrium is multi levelled with panoramic lifts which is very pretty.The spa is smaller than on the Jewel class ships and lacks the relaxation area with lounge chairs and jacuzzi and floor length windows to gaze out at sea -a shame as would have been a boon on the first few cool days.The sauna and steam room are free to use for guests and they regularly had specials reducing the treatment costs Freestyle dining suits us-we're not "foodies" so did not try any of the surcharge restaurants .we found the variety of food and venues fine.Drinks are expensive -we took the wine package which gave a 20% discount -the main advantage was once the bottle was opened you could take the remainder around the ship with you including to your cabin for a drink on the balcony We had a cruise critic meet and greet the first sea day which was good to put face to names.Thanks to Patty our organiser she made sure the teenagers/young adults broke away to form their own group which helped to break the ice.As a result of that our 18 year old daughter joined up with 2 other girls the same age who hit Dazzles night club each night,met lots of new friends she now has as facebook contacts and occasionally returned to the cabin before dawn! We became regulars at the Ramblas bar each evening to listen to the guitarist/singer Kim Dolittle and hang out with our new found friends. Other bars hosted a 3 girl classical ensemble,a latino group and pianists Weather in Dover for sailaway was sunny but the next sea day was cool and windy but the temperatures gradually rose until we hit Tallinn and Russia in the middle of a heatwave!Temperatures then gradually dropped to pleasant enough to be able to enjoy the last few days on deck. On the 1st sea day after Helsinki be on deck mid afternoon as you sail under a spectacular road bridge linking 2 Danish land masses.The ship appears to only just clear[on the outward leg this is passed in the middle of the night] St Petersburg was definitely the highlight of the trip but in common with most cruise lines NCL were guilty of misleading info regarding the requirements for a visa quotation from literature "guests participating on NCL organised shore excursions in St Petersburg do not need to obtain an individual Russian visa as NCL will arrange group visa for all particpants. Guests who are NOT participating in the NCL shore excursions and wish to explore on their own are REQUIRED to obtain a Russian Tourist visa prior to leaving home" What they do not disclose is the 3rd option widely known on cruise critic International cruise ship passengers are permitted to visit Russian ports without a visa for a period of up to 72 hours IF they are part of an organised tour operated by a licensed Russian tour company approved by the Russian Immigration Service[the same group visa descibed by NCL] We used Anastasia other friends used Alla or SPB and we were all very happy with our guides and paid a lot less than the ships tours.However the majority of passengers were suckered into the ships tours because of this misleading wording. Immigration was apparantly very busy first thing as everyone wanted to be off the ship ASAP to join their tours.we arranged to meet our guide later at 9-30 and encontered very little queues Because my husband has walking difficulties we arranged for a shorter customised tour .However Russia was in the middle of a heatwave and a lot of people came back at the end of the day exhausted and "museumed out" as they were not air conditioned.We found our days just long enough and we saw all main sights we were interested in Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
This was our 8th cruise, Celebrity cruise on the Century round the western Caribbean being the 1st and then Ocean Village around the Mediterranean 6 times and we loved the relaxed style on both of the ships that were Ocean Village 1 & ... Read More
This was our 8th cruise, Celebrity cruise on the Century round the western Caribbean being the 1st and then Ocean Village around the Mediterranean 6 times and we loved the relaxed style on both of the ships that were Ocean Village 1 & 2 so when we saw that NCL Sun was sailing from Dover for the Baltic a place we had wanted to visit it looked perfect, freestyle cruising and no flight involved. We set of for the port of Dover on the 9th July Friday morning and booked into a Travelodge outside Canterbury for the night, the next morning after breakfast we continued on to Dover and left our car with Relyon Parking who promptly transferred us to the cruise terminal, check in and boarding was friendly and efficient we were given priority boarding. Our suite was unavailable until 14:00hrs so we had lunch in the Garden Cafe and did a little exploring around the ship, it was in pretty good shape certainly not new but very tidy and a nice layout. When we got into our cabin 9054 it was pretty much on par with the rest of the ship a little cramped but adequate, a bottle of Scotch & Vodka awaited us as I had requested prior to the cruise and a bucket of ice to follow (we brought our own mixers) Schweppes the best!!. The coast was shrouded in mist when we sailed so the famous white cliffs of Dover were blanked out so no photographs of them and it was pretty much like that until we were well out into the North Sea. It was when we were changing for dinner that we noticed the vibration in the cabin in was really bad trying to sit and read was impossible it was as if we were suffering from Parkinson's disease, we approached the customer services desk to explain what was happening and was told it was because the ship was going fast and that it was worst in his cabin on deck 3 as if that was supposed to make it all OK, wrong!! Another cabin would but alas there are none available the ship is full, well don't let it spoil the cruise I thought until we returned to the cabin for bed when we were shaken to sleep. Day at sea cabin still vibrating even worse out on the balcony, we decided to have breakfast in the Garden Cafe it was very hectic trying to find empty tables and then joining the throng for buffet breakfast, first oddity was that there were no trays on which to carry your plate that was to hot to handle most of the time and then there was no side plates for bread rolls and butter, only small matters but why were they not provided, bacon was that overcooked streaky stuff little cocktail sausages and any combination of tomato, beans hash browns and eggs not forgetting the fruit and cereal and grits etc, I don't know what brought it about but after the 3rd day English bacon and sausage appeared on the menu thanks to whoever. Evening meals were in the Seven Seas and Four Seasons Restaurants and were nothing to write home about, the wine waiter failed to appear at the table in the Four Seasons the first night saved me $35 for a bottle of wine and that was the cheap stuff, the staff in general were lacking in friendliness not chatty nor smiling enough. We enjoyed the entertainment in the Stardust Lounge what a hard working professional troop and great guest entertainers. All of the ports of call were enjoyable and the highlight of them all was St Petersburg, we did a private tour 2 full days with SPB tours 7 of us had all joined up via Roll call and we had a young Russian guide named Eugene who was terrific perfect English and so knowledgeable, and to finish we were met at the end of the tour by the director Victoria with whom I had been in touch with when booking, I recommend them for future cruisers. I have to say that overall we had a wonderful time and the weather could not have been better but the down side was NCL are far too expensive for drinks and they just don’t seem to have got casual cruising quite organised properly, we certainly will miss Ocean Village when she relocates to Australia. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
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