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Just Off the Norwegian Cruise Lines 9 Day Baltic Itinerary 25 – 5 July 2018.

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Disclaimer -We would like to pass on our impressions and thoughts of our cruise experienceto anyone planning for or getting ready to participate in a similar Itinerary. Everyone knows that reviews are subjective. One person’s gold is another’s trash. That said please remember this is our personal impressions and yours, of course, will vary. We ignore postings that are made in responseto our reviews that merely seek to flame. We will review subsequent posts in order to provide answers to questions asked. We appreciate this understanding. Please ignore any spelling or grammar errors –we want to get this posted swiftly before we lose focus on our experiences. Thank you.

 

Travel andEmbarkation - We are a semi-retired American couple (both 65 years of age) living as expats in an Asian country. This was our sixth cruise (3 on Princess and 3 on Norwegian). We were accompanied on this cruise by two of our granddaughters (age 14 and 12). We chose to make all our own arrangement for this trip including direct reservations with Norwegian Cruise Lines, air travel, hotel, and transfers (control freak syndrome).

 

We flew in two days ahead of the 25 June sail date so we could enjoy some time in Copenhagen with the girls. Our pre-cruise stay was as the Scandic Copenhagen (Vester Søgade 6 Copenhagen V) located just across the street from the Tivoli Amusement Park where we spent a good part of Sunday. We also visited the statue of the Little Mermaid. The weather was great.

 

On boarding day we took a taxi cab from the hotel at justafter 10:30 AM and arrived at Passenger Terminal #2 just prior to 11:00 AM. After dropping off our bags we walked directly to security and then to check-in without waiting in a single line. We walked on to the ship within 15 minutes of exiting the Taxi.

 

The Ship – Itis big. The Breakaway had just come out of dry dock recently and I have to say that the ship looked to be in excellent condition. We saw no signs of damage from sailing into Winter Storm Grayson last January. We also saw no evidence of on-going maintenance during our cruise such as what occurred on the Norwegian Sun during March 2018. Our mini-suite was Port Forward on the 8th deck and we generally walked the stairs and rarely took an elevator so crowded elevators were not a concern. We did noticethat often there were many waiting to ride.

 

We did not use the casino but we did walk through thearea a couple times and noticed a very heavy tobacco odor permeating the area. We decided that after the first day when walking from the front to the rear of the ship we would simply walk down a flight of stairs, crossed under the casino and walk back up the stairs on the other side. The odor, while evident is not, in our opinion, something to get into a huff about.

 

The often mentioned vibration in the rear of the ship isa fact. As our cabin was forward the only time we noticed it was when we were having a meal in either the Manhattan Room or the Buffet. It seems that at certain speeds there is a very noticeable “rumble and shake” at the stern.

 

Our granddaughters thoroughly enjoyed the swimming pool, rock climbing wall, rope course, and basketball court. The weather was agreeable most days. There are two swimming pools on deck 15 (one adult and one open). Both are small and certainly could be a real problem during a cruise in a warmer location but this cruise was in the Baltic.

 

Our Cabin– We had a mini-suite with large balcony on Deck # 8 Port Side Forward. Our cabin steward was very intuitive and was always available but never intrusive. He was very friendly and always helpful. Towels were replaced almost as soon as used and the room serviced regularly. The room was kept very clean.

 

We had a large sized bed located by the balcony door. The two girls used a convertible sofa and a Pullman bed. Both reported that the beds we comfortable. The room is more like a superior balcony then a mini-suite in size. The bathroom was very large and had a big glass door shower with a rain shower head and multiple body jets. If you would like separate shampoo and rinse you should consider bringing your own. We were not a fan of the product provided. The bathroom was spotless.

 

With the four of us I must say that storage space was acommodity. We managed. We had two lounge chairs, two regular chairs,and a large table on our balcony.

 

The television was surprisingly small and the channel selection was non-existent but useful for checking your shipboard accounts and reservations. Ship announcements were not broadcasted into the rooms so you had to listen from the outside if you wanted to hear the public announcements.

 

We had a 250 minute Wi-Fi package which lasted for the entire cruise and was fast enough to use our Voice over Internet Protocol application on our Cellular Telephones to made calls the girl’s parents.

 

There was a coffee maker with free coffee provided in our cabin but we did not use it as the coffee available at many locations around the ship provided plenty of very satisfactory coffee.

 

Dining &Entertainment - We ate breakfast and lunch in the buffet on deck 15. Breakfast was the standard fare with omelets made to order and a wide variety of breakfast foods to choose. In our opinion the buffet was well designed with adequate seating. The staff was very fast at removing plates and silverware and cleaning tables as people left. We never had a difficult time finding a seat. We found the food in the buffet to be generally good but quite repetitive. One thing that both my wife and I found a bit irksome was the nightly themes in the buffet. Highly advertised Russia Night, American Night, Grill Night, etc. never materialized. There may have been a couple of added entrees but certainly not a“Theme Night”. Others may have had differing impressions. The girls fell in love with the self-serve soft ice cream machine in the buffet.

 

We had dinner twice in the Manhattan Main Dining Room. Both were excellent meals. Having reservations we were seated immediately. We did notice a slight lag in service but the menu items were always appropriately hot, warm, or cold.

 

On the first sea day we ate at the Cirque Dreams and Dinner Entertainment venue. It was an excellent show that the girls obviously enjoyed very much. The food was OK and of adequate quantity but the menu was very limited.

 

On the second sea day we had dinner at Norwegian CruiseLine's hibachi-style Japanese restaurant -Teppanyaki. It was very entertaining and the food was very good.

 

Tours –We booked all our tours through NCL. As everyone knows this is a more expensive option but the benefits of ease of booking, guaranteed return to the ship, and tour operator vetting are hard forus to ignore. We did not want to take any risks with our grandchildren. A note to those of us who need to take a bathroom break often – Make sure you avail yourself at every opportunity as we found that facilities in all ports are somewhat limited and there are usually long waiting lines.

 

Rostock Germany – Picturesque Views & Molli Train. It was a great tour with an engaging guide. The short train ride on the narrow gauge coal fired steam train was very interesting with the shake and rattle and smell of the smoke was such a treat. We had German Chocolate cake and coffee/tea after the ride in a local hotel.

 

Helsinki Finland – Highlights and Architecture. We toured the former home of Finnish architects Eliel Saarinen, Armas Lindgren, and Herman Gesellius. The home was built in 1902 by a beautiful lake. The home is meticulously maintained and contains much of the original furniture. Later we stopped at the Senate Square in Helsinki where we saw the Lutheran Cathedral, and the Presidential Palace. We later visited the Temppeliaukio Rock Church (the highlight of the tour for us).

 

St. Petersburg Russia (2 days) – We visited the Hermitage Museum, Catherine’s Palace, and Peterhof Grand Palace along with an extensive bus tour of the city. Tours at all venues were extremely crowded with many (many) busses and tour groups all contending to view the exhibits at the same time. Our guide for the two days was a wonderful lady who was extremely knowledgeable and personable. She kept us all together and engaged with commentary and interesting conversation. There is very much information available on line and in other places concerning the exhibits in these locations so I will skip and lengthy dialog except to say that anytime you can get to see a da Vinci painting or a Michelangelo sculpture almost within arm’s reach you should jump at the chance. I remain in awe.

 

Tallinn Estonia – Upper Town and Kadriorg Palace. We dida walking tour of Tallinn Old Town where we entered the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral which has numerous gold icons and mosaics. We visited the Kadriorg Palace (now a museum) built by Peter Great in honor if his empress wife Catherine I. Our tour guide was an engaging lady who kept everyone’s attention with knowledgeable and interesting dialog.

 

Stockholm Sweden – Best of Stockholm. We visited the museum of the Swedish warship'Vasa', once considered one of the world's largest and the pride of Sweden's mighty navy. The present museum is built around the 17th century warship which sank in Stockholm's inner harbor on her maiden voyage in 1628. Next we visited Stockholm's oldest and coziest quarter, the old town of Gamla Stan. We viewed the exterior of the Royal Palace and walked through the narrow, twisting alleys and cobblestone streets. No opportunity was provided to enter any of the buildings. Our tour guide was somewhat inflexible and allowed no one to divert from his schedule or direction. Several of the tour participants asked to use a restroom but he continued to talk about glacial retreat while we suffered. We finally bolted from the group and went around asking for directions to facilities. We regret having taken this tour under these circumstances. Otherwise – Stockholm is a very beautiful city with much to see.

 

Overall we had a wonderful time and would recommend the Norwegian Breakaway and the Baltic itinerary. The Breakaway is a great ship for families having facilities for everyone. The one area for which we would like to see change is more family entertainment in the theater. Mature themes kept us from attending all but one of the shows – Burn the Floor – which we greatly enjoyed.

Edited by lpops
Corrected spacing and grammer

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Thanks for sharing! My family & I will be on this ship in less than 2 weeks. Just curious about the disembarkation (spelling is off I know) in St Petersburg. I know you were with an NCL tour so were you able to just walk off the ship and meet the group outside of immigration? or did you all have to meet up inside?

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Thanks for sharing! My family & I will be on this ship in less than 2 weeks. Just curious about the disembarkation (spelling is off I know) in St Petersburg. I know you were with an NCL tour so were you able to just walk off the ship and meet the group outside of immigration? or did you all have to meet up inside?

 

NCL sponsored tours: In St. Petersburg we met in the theater at 6:30 AM and were broken down into groups of 40 or so. The theater was filled to capacity. When our group was released to go to customs we went down to deck 4 and walked a short distance to immigration. We waited in line (short wait for us as we were in group 3) and presented out passport, cruise key card, and tour ticket to the inspector. It takes about 3-4 minutes after you give them the documents before you get your stamp. As you depart immigration you will directed to your bus. The second day you just go directly to immigration as you already know your bus number and the immigration process is much quicker since your information is already in the computer system. Returning to the ship you have to go back through immigration (again presenting you passport, cruise key card, and tour stub).

 

Other tours: You will be assigned to group (i.e. group A, Group B, etc.). Groups will begin meeting in the theater at 8:30 and released in order from there. I think you can request to be assigned to a group from the television in your stateroom or at the services desk. From there I assume the process is the same as for NCL sponsored tours. I have been told that after the morning rush lines are shorter and quicker. I can't verify that as we were in the morning madness.

 

All venues were extremely crowded (4 large ships in port the days we were there) Fortunately each berth has its own immigration facility but you still all converge at the museums and palaces.

 

 

We wish you a great time on your cruise.

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Thanks for your information! Your embarkation info is particularly helpful ad I plan our September cruise with my hubby and his Mom on Breakaway.

 

Can you share any information or advice on final disembarkation if you don't mind?

 

Thanks so much?

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Thanks for your information! Your embarkation info is particularly helpful ad I plan our September cruise with my hubby and his Mom on Breakaway.

 

Can you share any information or advice on final disembarkation if you don't mind?

 

Thanks so much?

 

You are welcome - glad to try and help.

 

The day before we arrived back in Copenhagen we started to receive disembarkation guidance. We were given the option of packing and placing our bags outside the door the evening before so they could be collected or, if you are willing and able, to keep the bags and do a walk off with your luggage. We decided to walk off with our luggage. We picked up some "Purple walk off" luggage tags from guest services and after breakfast we took the elevator down to deck 4 and walked off the ship. We were directed through the terminal and walked out the door and got into a taxi. No immigration nor customs inspection.

 

What you decide to do really depends on several things. Do you have a same day departure flight from Copenhagen? Have you signed up for a NCL transfer from the ship to the airport? Do you have an early or later flight?

 

We wish you a wonderful relaxing cruise.

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Thanks for taking the time to post about your experiences. We are also taking all NCL tours (different ones than you took) except for SPB, where we are taking a private tour. Looking forward to an active, exciting cruise!

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Thanks so much for your wonderful review. We leave tomorrow night for Copenhagen and are looking forward to this trip. You mentioned requesting an earlier time to join a group in STP. I am wondering (anyone else join in) if this is possible, then perhaps I could speak with the concierge? We are in the Haven and I know he/she can assist with other issues with tours, shows, etc. Other than that, would you recommend the Rostock NCL Trip? My husband is leaning in that direction now. So excited!

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Thank you for posting your wonderful review. I am on this sailing in August.

In St Petersburg do you think any of the crowds was due to the World Cup, which thankfully will be over when I get there.

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You are welcome - glad to try and help.

 

 

 

The day before we arrived back in Copenhagen we started to receive disembarkation guidance. We were given the option of packing and placing our bags outside the door the evening before so they could be collected or, if you are willing and able, to keep the bags and do a walk off with your luggage. We decided to walk off with our luggage. We picked up some "Purple walk off" luggage tags from guest services and after breakfast we took the elevator down to deck 4 and walked off the ship. We were directed through the terminal and walked out the door and got into a taxi. No immigration nor customs inspection.

 

 

 

What you decide to do really depends on several things. Do you have a same day departure flight from Copenhagen? Have you signed up for a NCL transfer from the ship to the airport? Do you have an early or later flight?

 

 

 

We wish you a wonderful relaxing cruise.

 

 

 

We are leaning towards the self walk-off depending on how much luggage DMIL brings! I am surprised yours was so smooth, when we have done it in the past there was usually a huge line for the elevators and a crowd at the gangway. What time were you able to do so without any issues?

 

I am arranging a private transfer to the airport for several of us in our rollcall and want to make it as easy as possible but all of us have flights before noon to catch so can’t wait but so long.

 

Thanks again for the advice and the best wishes for our cruise.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Great review.

Can you share a little information about the hotel you stayed at? Also, do you happen to remember how much the taxi fare was from your hotel to the ship?

Thanks!

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Thanks so much for your wonderful review. We leave tomorrow night for Copenhagen and are looking forward to this trip. You mentioned requesting an earlier time to join a group in STP. I am wondering (anyone else join in) if this is possible, then perhaps I could speak with the concierge? We are in the Haven and I know he/she can assist with other issues with tours, shows, etc. Other than that, would you recommend the Rostock NCL Trip? My husband is leaning in that direction now. So excited!

 

In St. Petersburg Haven customers were given extra consideration (as they should) in many areas. For the NCL sponsored tours Groups 1 & 2 were reserved for those in the Haven and were able to depart the ship without first going to the Theater so they were off the ship and into immigration before other groups were allowed off the ship. In the case you are using a different tour operator in STP I believe that Haven customers will be provided an early opportunity to join an early group if desired.

 

We greatly enjoyed out Rostock tour. The guide was a jewel and my wife and I are seeing how many places in the world we can ride trains in (especially coal/wood fired steam trains). For us Rostock was the least hurried and least crowed stop we made. We recommend the tour we took but think any choice would be a good one in that port.

 

We sincerely hope you have a great trip.

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Great review.

Can you share a little information about the hotel you stayed at? Also, do you happen to remember how much the taxi fare was from your hotel to the ship?

Thanks!

 

We stayed at the Scandic Copenhagen very near the city center and across the street from the Tivoli amusement park. It is one of two hotels in Copenhagen that NCL uses when you book through them (we booked individually). NCL will set up a welcome desk at the hotel where a very gracious lady was available to provide updated information concerning the ship. The hotel includes a buffet breakfast (one of the best I have ever had) included in the price of the room. Everyone at the hotel speaks wonderful English and were very friendly and helpful.

 

The taxi from the hotel to the ship took around 15 minutes and cost something less than 400 DDK (we did not request change).

 

Hope this helps. Have a great cruise!

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We are leaning towards the self walk-off depending on how much luggage DMIL brings! I am surprised yours was so smooth, when we have done it in the past there was usually a huge line for the elevators and a crowd at the gangway. What time were you able to do so without any issues?

 

I am arranging a private transfer to the airport for several of us in our rollcall and want to make it as easy as possible but all of us have flights before noon to catch so can’t wait but so long.

 

Thanks again for the advice and the best wishes for our cruise.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

We were very surprised how east things went. We had a good breakfast in the buffet, went back down the room and finished packing and walked off the ship at around 9:30. There was only one hitch in the process for us. As you mentioned the elevators were very busy (there were four of us with one bag each) so we each carried a bag down the stairs from our room on deck 8 to the ship exit on deck 4). No one was waiting at the gangway so we just walked up, had our card swiped, and walked off. We were probably very lucky and got there in between departing groups. We hope that you get as lucky if you decide to do a walk off.

 

Have a great trip.

Edited by lpops
Corrected grammer

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Thank you for posting your wonderful review. I am on this sailing in August.

In St Petersburg do you think any of the crowds was due to the World Cup, which thankfully will be over when I get there.

 

There was a lot of talk of the World Cup (especially on the ship) during our trip. I don't think that any of the crowds were related though as we were not interacting with airports, hotels, or public transportation while there. There could have been additional crowing at the museums and palaces from football fans but my impression was the vast majority of tourists were from the ships docked at the cruise terminal. Please try and enjoy even if crowded - There is so much history and significance there.

 

Have a great trip.

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