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About Simes123

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  1. P.s. it would have been nice to have done Nevsky Prospekt on foot for an hour or so, but that wasn’t part of our itinerary.
  2. Gosh no. We had two pretty full days with SPB and were comfortably toured out on each of the two days and happy to get back to the ship. They do have a couple of evening options if you want more time ashore but we didn’t take these and had no regrets. I don’t think the balance of time available could be used effectively enough to make the visa cost worthwhile, though the evening options appeared quite reasonable if you have the energy. No, we didn’t use the spa. P.s. it would have been nice to have done Nevsky Prospekt on foot for an hour or so, but that wasn’t part of our itinerary.
  3. We boarded around 1230, but think they started around 12. Didn’t take long.
  4. That would have to be St Petersburg for sure by far. All the ports had their interest, though I enjoyed Copenhagen, Stockholm and Tallinn the most behind St Petersburg.
  5. Aha - you might be right - yes, I was looking at the cheapest rate during the mock price scan, which is the sailaway rate. Will play some more - thanks for the steer.
  6. By all means try the Ice Bar - it's the sort of thing I'd always fancied giving a go - but it was a lot like going into an industrial freezer, while paying a premium for the same drinks you'd have got outside the freezer! I think a nominal charge would have been ok, but it's not somewhere you'll stay for more than 15 mins. Didn't see a shuttle other than organised excursion coaches. But the HoHo bus was right outside and we paid (via our Cruise Cards) around 30 euros each. Considering the convenience of it, I felt it was reasonable. Lectures - I don't recall seeing any lectures - there were a few daytime events that I thought were probably geared around sales - how to get a flat stomach in 30 days kind of thing. It's really port intensive, so we were happy to chill, drink, eat and wander on our sea days. Movies - there were movies on the TV - not sure if pay per view or not. We spent just minutes each day in our cabin if not sleeping. I think there was a movie scheduled in the Atrium one day - but didn't watch it. There was usually something going on in the Atrium whenever we went by or stopped by for drinks. We only had the 2 sea days - the first went by in a blur, the second seemed to drag, but as I mentioned that was probably because all of our ports of call were done by then and we were anticipating the end of our cruise. If I had lots of sea days, I'd probably have hit the gym more - (when I say more, I mean more than zero). By day 9, none of our clothes were fitting us at all. You won't go hungry. We walked loads on our port days too - generally 15k-25k steps each day. I guess if we had longer, we'd probably have paced our eating and drinking a bit more. One thing I didn't mention above - for Europeans, the Baltic has pretty good cellular coverage. Most days, I was able to get a data connection, at least up on deck 15 by a window. Aside from Russia, our UK data plan allowed free data roaming within our existing allowances. In Russia, it was fairly reasonable with our O2 network (7ukp a day capped). Our package included 1hr each of wifi, which we eked out for checking emails etc in our cabin when we couldn't get a cellular signal. Obviously on a TA sailing, you'll will spend time further away from land, so it might be worth bringing a tablet with some downloaded Netflix movies or similar to fill out the time. P.S - the three MDR all offer the same food (I think), but by and far we preferred Tropicana at dinner. Has a really nice feel - it's very open, so you feel like you are at a formal banquet in there, and they have bands/dancers depending on timing. Taste/Saviour we preferred for Breakfast, as we aren't a fan of the buffet experience (though we did use the Buffet for a couple of lunches, and it was fine). Enjoy your cruise - you'll have a great time I'm sure! Simon
  7. Some positive/negative observations - we were away 27 Aug to 5 Sep 19, Copenhagen - Warnemunde - Tallin - St Petersburg - Helsinki - Stockholm - Copenhagen. Inside cabin, forward, deck 14. Ship/Cabin: Great - only sailed on the Epic before, but our inside cabin felt quite a bit larger on the Getaway. Felt busy at times - it was a full ship. Plenty of space up on top, but it was fairly port intensive, so we didn't spend a whole lot of time up there. Great condition. Very little noise in our cabin, apart from noises from the toilet system occasionally slurping from the bathroom above. Bed - good size, mattress not the comfiest - gave me a bad back due to being a bit saggy. Embark/Debark: Swift and efficient overall - considering 4000 passengers needed to get off! Russia. Deluxe St Petersburg Tour with SPB - this was brilliant. Kate our guide was excellent. Debark was a little congested and chaotic on first day, but didn't take too long and we were through immigration without too much fuss. Shows: Bit disappointed overall. Had a much better experience on the Epic. Burn the Floor was good (has been edited down vs the Epic show we saw). Millionaire Quartet: Talented singers, but the story was pondering and as a consequence was way too long we felt. I was willing this to end, despite the competent singing. Steam/Cirque show. Was good given the limited size of the venue, and the accompanying meal was way better than on the Epic - could well have been an identical menu despite 3 years further on. Banquette seating wasn't great and limited view of the action. Wine Tasting Musical: This was dire. The show was really forced/pondering. The wines weren't great, and the meal/wines were served out of sync, and we were past the starter and onto mains before we started the 3 x White varieties. I'd give this a miss - wasn't worth the extra charge. Comedy Magician: Dire. Overall, in the 9 days we had on the Getaway, we felt our 7 days on the Epic were more rewarding entertainment/show wise. Entertainment: Pretty good overall, but the Duelling Piano Bar in Headliners (a highlight for us on the Epic) was depressing. The guys playing were ok, but they lacked an energy that seemed to suck any enthusiasm out of the small audience that attended and their repertoire of music was very America biased. We tried a few times, but it was the same throughout the cruise. Other venues/bands were good/excellent. Ice Bar: Totally give this a miss. $40 up charge on our UBP for the 2 of us, and obviously it's freezing even with the additional clothing they provide, so you can't stay in there long. I managed 2 quick vodka cocktails, my wife 1. Will never bother again - imagine entering a commercial freezer and paying extra for your "free" drinks to replicate the experience. Speciality Restaurants: We did Cagney's, Teppenyaki, Ocean Blue, Le Bistro and back to Cagney's. (We didn't bother with Moderno and the Italian based on our experiences on the Epic). Cagney's - still a hit. Best on board by far in our view. Teppenyaki - seems to have morphed into a loud, rowdy dining experience, rather than the Japanese eating experience it's meant to represent. Food was good, but we hated the atmosphere - this might be boat/staff specific, but there was lots of forced shouting/singing and an especially rowdy group/chef with one group. Ocean Blue - was good, but wasn't quite what we expected - I'd anticipated more fresh/raw seafood options. Le Bistro - was good, but not a patch on Cagney's. Aside from Cagney's which offered the same range of 4 courses as on the Epic, Ocean Blue and Le Bistro seemed to have cut back on the courses included in the SDP. I might be misremembering, but I'm sure Le Bistro at least offered a starter and a soup/salad course on the Epic - it was either or on the Getaway. But it was both options in Cagney's. Overall, the Specialty Dining hasn't really moved on in the 3 years since we last cruised with NCL. Menus have pretty much the same options, and are much more quality dining rather than contemporary fine dining in nature. That's not to knock them - you know what you are going to get, and what you get is a good standard but it's very American dining rather than European in nature. Buffet - only had a couple of lunches there, but what we ate was good and plenty of variety for fussy eaters. Minor entertainments: Usual Bingo/Deal or No Deal, Line Dancing, Trivia quizzes. A bit uninspiring I felt, but others seem to enjoy this kind of fare, so I'm probably just getting older and grumpier. It felt a bit like groundhog day after the Epic 🙂 Ports of Call: Warnemunde/Rostok - we did both, Rostok by train. Rostok the more interesting place to walk around. Tallin - lovely old town, walk from boat. St Petersburg - jewel in the crown, superb. Helsinki - bit of a come down after St Petersburg, but interesting to visit - we caught the hop on hop off bus from the port. Stockholm: Good port of call - lots to see and do, but the distance from the port is quite far - we again got the Hop On Hop Off from the port, but it was an hour each way to the city, which limits time in Stockholm - we'll probably do a long weekend there to do it more thoroughly (we are based in UK so it's not too far). Copenhagen - had a full day before and after our cruise. Great destination - worth spending more time there. Second sea day was the last day of the cruise - this aspect sucked a bit - it felt like we were on a really long ferry ride, rather than part of the vacation. The itinerary is what it is, but we couldn't help feeling that a second sea day would be better interleaved between interim ports of call rather than as the last day of a cruise. We'll avoid cruise itineraries that do this in future. Overall, we had a great time despite any negative aspects noted above. We still like the freestyle dining options that NCL offers, but think they need to refresh and modernise their specialty dining offering and entertainment options a bit. Good if it's your first time, but a repeat visitor after 3 years might expect something a bit different. We didn't note any formal dress up nights on this cruise, but that was fine by us - we tend to dress more formally for dinner anyway. Staff were great by and large, apart from a poor experience I had with Guest Services one day through to evening - I was passed from pillar to post, got shrugs from some staff and it took several attempts until eventually someone owned my query and was able to answer why certain charges had appeared on my account. It was a minor issue really, but for a while, I was quite annoyed about the lack of customer service that was being offered. Clearly NCL are trying to appeal to a broad church and demographic and we felt they are largely succeeding. It represents good value overall with the packages on offer in a competitive marketplace. We are sailing with them again on the Spirit in December, and I bought a couple of CND on this cruise so view any criticism in that positive context. We may try a different cruise line though soon to see what the other lines offer. Hope that's of use to someone! Cheers, Simon
  8. NCL are currently offering a couple of supposed offers via the UK website. Double Up promotion - until end Sep for Cruise Next Deposits 20% Off eligible sailings - Past Customers - need to log in. 1) The latter one is problematic - the blurb says the prices reflect the 20% discount. I've logged in, and also viewed not logged in, and the prices are the same. Is there a special jig you need to do to get 20% off, or is this somewhat(!) misleading, given the prices aren't reduced!? 2) Having just got back from the Baltic on the Getaway, I bought 2 x CNDs, and while on board, they also referenced 20% off eligible sailings on top of any existing offers. So assuming, I can get the 20% above, presumably I could get a further 20% off, and double down with CNDs on a single cruise? At the moment, I'm not seeing where the discount is though - the prices on one of the cruises we previously booked, is higher than the price we paid. Thanks for any info from more experienced NCL travellers. Simon
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