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NCL Spirit Trip Report: Summer Solstice Norway Cruise


luckybecky
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Our walking tour cost 100 NOK per person, about $12. This was the cheapest and most unbeatable deal of all our excursions. John, our fearless roll call leader, arranged it for us with a local guide. A similar tour offered by NCL cost $69 per person. However, our privately booked tour did require us to walk a fair distance (or spring for a taxi) to get to the meeting point with our guide, and back to the ship again. If we had done an NCL tour, I'm sure they would have arranged transportation.

 

Here is the NCL excursion information for Trondheim.

 

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Back on board, we went to dinner. I think this might have been the night we tried the Garden Dining room. My understanding is that it offers the same menu as the larger Windows dining room. We were initially seated at a table near the center of the room and I didn't care for it. It seemed crowded, with low ceilings, and dark. We asked if we could move nearer to a window, and that was better. But we never went back to the Garden room.

 

I thought I got pictures of the menu and food most every night, but now I can't seem to find any for this night.  

 

Later, we went to the evening show which featured a hypnotist. He put on an entertaining show, but I'm a skeptic. I'm not at all convinced the people were truly hypnotized. Still, the show was a fun diversion. 

 

Finally we finished the night with a turn in the casino, as we did most every night. We did OK. I roughly broke even. Paul lost, but not badly.
 

 

By the way, I forgot to post about yesterday's maintenance. This notice was placed in our room. 

 

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We noticed they were replacing the toilets on our deck. In the morning there were new toilets placed outside the door of many rooms on our floor. Ours was replaced on day 4 or 5. We also returned from an excursion one day to find a caution sign on our door! It turned out there was some painting happening on our balcony. The maintenance was done at times when we were off the ship and was never a bother to us.

 

I'll be back tomorrow to continue our tour of Norway. 

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On with our adventure!

 

Day 5

 

This was a sea day, but not just any sea day! Today, we crossed into the Arctic Circle and we had some beautiful scenic cruising to the Svartisen Glacier. Here is the schedule for today.

 

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Note that the schedule shows "no sunrise" and "no sunset." We had several days of continuous sunlight, and even when there was a sunset we only had twilight, before the sun came back up again, never true darkness for the duration of this cruise. The room curtains were pretty good at keeping out the light. 

 

We enjoyed a late breakfast. I loved the made to order omelet station. Breakfast at Raffles was always good with many choices, pretty much anything you could possibly want for an American or English breakfast.

 

The day began very gray and misty, but cleared up just in time for our arrival at the glacier. We actually had marvelous weather for almost the entire cruise. We really got lucky because it can be so cold in Norway. 

 

There was supposed to be a "line crossing celebration" at the pool when we crossed the line to the arctic circle. Unfortunately the weather had not cleared up yet and it was chilly with a light rain. So nothing was happening at the pool at the appointed time. We walked over to the Galaxy lounge and did not see anything happening there either. 

 

Later, a fellow cruiser told us that they did have some activity for the line crossing in the Galaxy lounge. I don't know how we missed it because we walked through there at the scheduled time. Oh well. 

 

As you pass into the arctic circle there is this tiny island with a globe shaped monument to mark the spot. As you can see the morning was still very gray so my pictures didn't turn out well but it was still cool to mark the moment. How many people can say they have done this?

 

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As we continued cruising the weather and the scenery got better and better. It was really lovely. We arrived at the glacier sometime after lunch if I remember correctly. It was beautiful. The captain turned the ship slowly around so you could have a nice vantage point from wherever you were on board. We just enjoyed a lazy afternoon soaking in the scenery and relaxing. 

 

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Today we received a notice in our stateroom regarding laundry service. A paper bag was placed in our room with a notice that any amount of clothes that fit in the bag would be washed and folded for $19.95.  The bag is a pretty good size, but it is very fragile paper that tears easily if you try to overstuff the bag. If you fold your clothes very neatly, you will be able to fit more than if you just wad them up and try to stuff them in there. I hand washed all of my blouses and lingere, doing one or two pieces every day to keep up. I always pack some powdered laundy detergent for this purpose, but you can even use the liquid soap from the shower, it will work fine.  There is a clothesline in the shower where you can hang items up to dry.

 

Tonight, we had our second specialty dining experience, this time at La Trattoria. La Trattoria is located at the rear of the Raffles buffet and is sectioned off with partition screens. It was very good and we enjoyed it. But I have to say that Carnival has NCL beat by far. Carnival's Italian dining venue is a flat price of $15 for multiple courses, anything you want. And they had more choices than La Trattoria. Here on NCL the cost would be much higher than $15 if you ordered a la carte. And we thought the food was really exceptional at the Carnival restaurant. Not trying to bash NCL, just sharing my opinion. We still enjoyed it. The food was very good and the service was excellent.

 

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Burrata caprese 

 

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Spaghetti Carbonara

 

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Spaghetti alla Turiddu

 

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Salmone Grigliato

 

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Filetto di manzo

 

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I forgot to take a picture of the dessert menu. We had some kind of chocolate tart, and cannoli. 

 

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4 hours ago, luckybecky said:

On with our adventure!

 

Day 5

 

This was a sea day, but not just any sea day! Today, we crossed into the Arctic Circle and we had some beautiful scenic cruising to the Svartisen Glacier. Here is the schedule for today.

 

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Note that the schedule shows "no sunrise" and "no sunset." We had several days of continuous sunlight, and even when there was a sunset we only had twilight, before the sun came back up again, never true darkness for the duration of this cruise. The room curtains were pretty good at keeping out the light. 

 

We enjoyed a late breakfast. I loved the made to order omelet station. Breakfast at Raffles was always good with many choices, pretty much anything you could possibly want for an American or English breakfast.

 

The day began very gray and misty, but cleared up just in time for our arrival at the glacier. We actually had marvelous weather for almost the entire cruise. We really got lucky because it can be so cold in Norway. 

 

There was supposed to be a "line crossing celebration" at the pool when we crossed the line to the arctic circle. Unfortunately the weather had not cleared up yet and it was chilly with a light rain. So nothing was happening at the pool at the appointed time. We walked over to the Galaxy lounge and did not see anything happening there either. 

 

Later, a fellow cruiser told us that they did have some activity for the line crossing in the Galaxy lounge. I don't know how we missed it because we walked through there at the scheduled time. Oh well. 

 

As you pass into the arctic circle there is this tiny island with a globe shaped monument to mark the spot. As you can see the morning was still very gray so my pictures didn't turn out well but it was still cool to mark the moment. How many people can say they have done this?

 

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Yes- they relocated the crossing into the Arctic Circle into Galaxy. They had a ceremony and we all got anointed as ‘blue nosers’. Lots of photos etc with the ship in the background. The entertainment team were dressed up, Leurina had a special hat/helmet on and one of the senior officers was also assisting with the ‘blue nosing’ of the passengers. 

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Thanks to those of you who have commented. I'm glad you are enjoying the review.

 

Hmm, several hours ago I posted about our evening at La Trattoria with menus and food pics, but for some reason the post is awaiting moderation. I'll continue with what we did after that and come back to repost about  La Trattoria if it doesn't show up eventually.

 

After supper, we saw the nightly show with the NCL show band and singers/dancers. They did an incredible job as always. 

 

OK, so on my scorecard so far, Carnival wins on the specialty restuarant question, but NCL is blowing Carnival away on the live music and production shows. We did not do any specialty dining on Celebrity so I can't comment on how they compare, but they also had exceptional live music and entertainment options. However, I did miss the comedy club which we always love on Carnival and haven't found on other cruise lines. It is hard to compare these large cruise lines to our experience on the small luxury line Paul Gauguin so I haven't talked about them. They are a totally different kind of experience.

 

I guess it is a draw for me so far. Each cruise line has things it does really well. We have had an amazing time on every cruise we have ever taken. We love them all!

 

It was another beautiful night.

 

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Day 6

 

Hammerfest! This claims to be the northernmost city in the world.

 

We did not plan any formal excursion here. Our plan was just to get off the ship and explore the town. From our pre trip planning, we knew that it was possible to hike up Mount Salen for scenic views of the town. 

 

Here is today's schedule.

 

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Remember I mentioned that we had $600 onboard credit? We are very frugal on board and spend very little on board, aside from small amounts in the casino, which we budget for and consider part of our entertainment expense. The prices are just ridiculous in the shops and it pains me to spend double or triple regular price for items we can get at home. So we decided to get our first ever massage. I've never been willing to spend the money for a massage but we had the credit so we might as well use it.

 

We weren't set to dock in Hammerfest until noon so we scheduled a couple's massage in the morning and it was great! This used up just over half of our credit. The ship was also running a charm bracelet special with new charms each day so I bought that, I think it was a total of $25. So we still have quite a bit of money to spend. (Unfortunately our credit could not be used in the casino or for gratuities)

 

Here is the spa brochure with prices.

 

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We got off the ship around lunchtime. It was a good 20 - 30 minute walk from the ship to the town center. NCL was offering a shuttle bus to take you to the center of town, I think they were charging $15 each way for this. We got off the ship and got in line for the shuttle.

 

After half an hour of waiting, with no movement whatsoever, I asked an NCL rep what was the bus schedule. She couldn't say. We finally gave up on waiting for the shuttle and just started walking to town. Later, we heard from John our roll call leader that the town shuttle was considered an excursion, and therefore would have been covered by our $50 per port excursion credit. We never used this credit but good to know. The shuttle was taking so long in the morning that we just gave up and walked.

 

Here we are with the ship in the background.

 

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We went into the Polar Bear Society which honestly seemed to just be a nice gift shop, with a very small museum attached. 

 

Then as we were walking by the port we noticed a lot of people craning their necks and taking photos in the harbor. I asked someone what was going on and they said there was a beluga whale hanging out. Sure enough, there he was, just hovering around the boats. We thought maybe something was wrong with him, because it just seemed odd that he was staying there and not swimming at all. 
 

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Later, the mystery was solved. This is the beluga that was in the news back in May, when he suddenly showed up in the Hammerfest harbor, eager to interact with humans and wearing a harness which had the words "St. Petersburg" written on it and which had fittings for a camera. The speculation was that the Russian Navy was training the whale and he escaped. He is completely domesticated. 

 

Later in the afternoon, a small boat pulled out and began interacting with the whale. We were up on the mountain and didn't hear the whole talk as the people on the boat explained his story, but apparently some people in Hammerfest have assumed responsibility for the care and feeding of the whale. We got back down to the dock in time to take a few photos before the boat led the whale out into open water for his afternoon exercise.

 

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We hiked up to the top of Mt. Salen which offers beautiful panoramic views of the town. We saw some reindeer grazing on the hillside and saw some  traditional Sami buildings. 
 

 

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Here are the excursions offered by NCL. There were only 4 excursions offered.

 

 

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Back on board, we had supper in Windows dining room. Here is the wine list. 

 

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And the menu for tonight

 

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Baked brie salad. I couldn't find any brie in there. 😏

 

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Braised lamb shank

 

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Pecan Crusted Turkey medallions

 

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Today we travelled to the North Cape, the northermost point in continental Europe. We had booked a tour with the company Blue Puffin along with several other roll call members. For some reason I had the mistaken impression that this would be a small group tour. Instead it was a full size tour bus -- 3 busses, apparently! Most of the roll call members ended up on a different bus so we didn't see much of them. I realized too late that we should have made plans with our fellow roll callers to meet either on board or just off the gangplank for our tours. We did not do this for most of our excursions so even though we often were doing the same things, we didn't always see our roll call friends. 

 

The drive from the town of Honningsvag where we docked to the North Cape was about one hour through the majestic but relatively barren landscape. Being so far north there were no trees. We saw lots of reindeer grazing along the way. We had a guide who gave us a lot of information along the way, particularly about the native Sami people. 

 

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We stopped to see some king crab.

 

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We arrived at the North Cape where a globe monument marks the spot atop a cliff that is 1000 feet high and there are sweeping views over the sea. It was very beautiful and very cold. 

 

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On the return trip we stopped at a small fishing village where we saw the traditional way they dry fish to preserve it. I think it might have been cod but don't remember for sure. Our guide said the fish will be good for up to 10 years this way. They just rehydrate it in water and enjoy it with a beer. I think I'll pass. 

 

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The little village was very charming.

 

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For the purpose of comparison, the cost for this tour with the company Blue Puffin was 979 NOK per person, but we had a 50 NOK per person Early Bird discount because we had booked many months in advance. So our total cost for 2 people was 1858 NOK, or approximately $220. An NCL excursion to the North Cape cost $149 per person, and did not include a guide, the stop to see the crab, or the stop at the fishing village.

 

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Here is the view as we left Honningsvag.

 

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After we sailed away from Honningsvag, we sailed past the North Cape where we had a view from the bottom of the cliff that we had stood atop a few hours earlier. If you zoom in you can almost see that globe monument on top.

 

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Tonight we ate in Windows dining room, where the food and service were very good as always.
 

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I've noticed that some items on the appetizer portion of the menu seem to be in regular rotation. The bruschetta and french onion soup have appeared on the menu several times, for example. That's OK, they were both very good.

 

 

Seared sea scallops

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Boston and red leaf lettuce salad

 

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Prime rib

 

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Veal scallopini oscar

 

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We went to the show Soul Rockin' Nights and finished our evening in the casino. I know on one night we went up to Galaxy and did some dancing but I don't remember which night. They had live music up there pretty much every night. It was yet another enchanted evening.

 

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Day 8

 

This was a sea day. I really don't remember what all we did today. I know we probably slept late and had a late breakfast at Raffles. 

 

We never used room service but here are the room service menus and the menu bar menu in case you are interested.

 

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We went to the Deal or No Deal game show in the afternoon. It was fun. They pick two people to go on stage and play the game, but audience members can buy a game card to play along. We won a dollar! LOL 

 

A little later that afternoon we went to the crew talent show. We have seen similar shows once or twice on other ships and always enjoy it. It takes a lot of nerve to get up on stage and the crew work really hard on their acts. It was a great show.

 

The evening show was a male vocal quartet called 4 Stations. They were great!

 

We had a second meal at Cagney's tonight. It was very good as before. As I mentioned, we had a 4 specialty dining credits included with our booking. I made our reservations  months in advance, and even then not all times were available at all venues. For some reason, Teppanyaki was not allowing online booking, so I reserved 2 dinners at Cagney's, one at La Trattoria, and one at Le Bistro. However, you'll remember that we still have quite a bit of onboard credit, so when we saw an opening at Teppanyaki we reserved it for a couple of days from now, giving us a total of 5 specialty dinners. They have some display boards that show availability for the restaurants. I definitely recommend that you make your reservations as early as possible because the boards always looked full.

 

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It was always a ton of food. We couldn't eat it all.

 

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