rollinsbl
Third Mate

Hometown: San Diego
Joined: 05/26/2013
2
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2
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rollinsbl's Past Cruises

Norwegian Spirit

March 2015 - Norwegian Spirit to Europe - Western Europe

Good cruise, interesting itinerary

Boarded ship, Spirit, in Barcelona after we had spent two days there on our own. Highly recommend at least two days to visit the city and see sights like Sagrada Familia. Use the Hop-on / Hop-off buses. There are two different companies which you can use. Both sell one or two day passes on the bus. We have stayed twice in two different hotels in Port Olympic area of Barcelona. Easy access to good restaurants and bus transportation to anywhere in the city. About 20 minutes to La Rambla on city busses. 

Spirit is the oldest Norwegian Cruise ship, built in 1998. Refurbished in 2010, but still shows some age. Had an issue with room safe and toilet vacuum flush but quick response by ship maintenance both times fixed the issues.  

Port visits were interesting. Casablanca definitely requires booking a shore excursion. Not much to do if you don't. Funchal was great and could be done on your own. Definitely ride the cable car up the hill and the toboggan down the hill. Great old town area to wander around. Tenerife is a good place to walk ashore and get a private cab / tour. For 20 Euros per person we went to the northern part of the island for some sightseeing and shopping. Prices are about half what they were in Funchal for ballcaps, beer, leather belts, etc. We spent approximately 5 hours touring in our private cab and were dropped off right in front of the ship exactly on time to board. The driver didn't even expect a tip for all he had shown us. 

Arrecife was a walking port with a central shopping pedestrian street full of stores and cafés. All had WiFi with password protection if you bought a beer, coffee, or snack. Others told us they had hired a cab to see some of the black sand beaches of the island. 

Malaga is beautiful and you could spend all day walking around the port area shopping and eating. We took a shore excursion to Grenada to see the inside of the Alhambra. We had been there before on our own 5 years earlier, but had missed being able to buy admission tickets by minutes after standing in line for over an hour.  That's why we booked the excursion to ensure we would get inside the palaces this visit. It was worth it. 

Back in Barcelona we walked off the ship and right into a pre-booked airport transfer van to the airport for a flight through Madrid to Paris. We found the van online at the Barcelona airport website. We were 10 total people and the price worked out to be 10 Euros per person. Taxis were also available for about 40 Euros per cab, but we would have had to take 4 to 5 cabs due to all the luggage and the size of the cabs. 

We really enjoy the Norwegian Freestyle cruising. Dress casually and comfortably and go to dinner when you want to at the Windows or Garden Room restaurants. We avoid Raffle Court because of the noise and chaos of cafeteria style eating. We ate most meals in Windows and the Garden room without any reservation. 

Good shows most nights. Good production singers and dancers. Also good special shows like 4ever,Cripton and Renata, etc. 

Discovered a new offer in the bars. Since we don't drink enough to make the "drink packages"worthwhile, we were typically ordering our pre-dinner cocktails in the Champagne lounge. On day three one of the waiters suggested that if we were going to always have the same drinks we should buy a bottle of whiskey that they keep for you at the bar. Saved us about 20% on drinks for the cruise. 

All told a good cruise. To be a great cruise, the ship needs another overhaul. Areas like the gym need to be updated and equipment in better working order. 

Staff are all very helpful and friendly and go out of their way to make sure you are enjoying the ship. A little tip on top of the service charge for drinks seems to go a long ways. 

We would definitely go on a fifth Norwegian Cruise if we see an itinerary we are interested in. We are planning to go to Hong Kong and SE Asia next. Unfortunately, Norwegian doesn't cruise there. 

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Norwegian Star

May 2014 - Norwegian Star to Europe - Northern Europe

Baltic Cruise with 15 family and friends

Great ports!  Ship is older, but well-maintained and clean.  Crew was friendly and helpful.  Shows were good with a wide variety of entertainment.  Dining rooms did a super job of seating and serving 15 of us every night, typically without a reservation at around 2030.  Did eat one night in La Cuchina (Italian) as a group, very good.  Entertainment in the bar areas was excellent, fun and easy listening. 

 

Difficult to find and get to the new cruise terminal in Copenhagen... taxi driver was lost within the port area, but we eventually followed another taxi and found the new entrance to the terminal. 

Check in and load aboard went very smoothly with little time waiting in line. 

Luggage was in the room after we had lunch at the buffet... very efficient! 

 

Underway was on time and provided some great views departing Copenhagen. 

Bought train tickets in Wannermunde for a ride to Rostock.  Returned and wandered around the port city of Wannermunde, had dinner on a canal and enjoyed the evening. 

Tallin was very easy to walk to the old city from the pier and spend time wandering around and shopping in the old city shops. 

Shore excursions in St. Petersburg required if you are US citizen or you can get your own visa with a letter of sponorship, but costly and takes time to process.  Norwegian sponsored shore excursions were well worth doing. 

Helsinki was easy to buy buy hop-on-hop-off bus passes at the pier and a boat tour at the center market of the city/port. 

Stockholm was overwhelmed with cruise ships the day we visited, 7 in port.  The Vasa museum tour was a must as a shore excursion since as an individual the line to buy a ticket was a kilometer long!  Even in the group the Vasa was still worth seeing for the one hour alloted... more time would have been better. Also, visited an ice bar for the experience and enjoyed vodka in an ice glass dressed in cold-weather gear in the bar. Having signed up for the shore excursion probably allowed us to bypass some lines and maximize our time in port in Stockholm. 

All the ports were very beautiful, with incredible scenery on arrivals and departures.  Sunrises were very early and sunsets were very late allowing for great views. 

Very good bargains onboard the ship... save your money in Russia, spend it on the ship at the Russian Bazzar on the last at-sea day.  You'll get better quality and a better price for the same merchandise the tour stops were offering. 

All in all, the cruise met expectations and the Baltic capitals are definitely worth visiting. 

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rollinsbl's Tips

Stockholm, Sweden - Great shore excursion to the Vasa museum, ice bar, and city highlights. Maximized shorter time in port.
Helsinki, Finland - Hop-on, Hop-off buses at the pier and easy to use for your own touring. Great boat tour of the islands with full facilities on board and snacks, beer, etc.
Copenhagen, Denmark - Spend at least two full days in Copenhagen before or after the cruise. See Tivoli Gardens, Nyhavn, shopping /pedestrian streets and plazas. Well worth it. Good boutique hotels in Nyhavn allowing you to walk to all.
Warnemunde (Berlin), Germany - Buy a train ticket on the pier for a 30 min train ride to Rostock. Walk around, shop, sightsee and have lunch. Take the train back to Warnemunde and wonder up and down both sides of the canal and to the beach and back. Have dinner and beers and watch the people!
Tallinn, Estonia - Beautiful old city and historic buildings all walkable from the pier.
Norwegian Star Norwegian Star - Lunch in the Marseille was one of our favorites.... avoid the crowds in the Main Buffet and enjoy quiet full service lunches while at sea in the main dining room.

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added Mar 26, 2015 cruise on Norwegian Spirit to their profile.

reviewed their Europe - Western Europe cruise on Norwegian Spirit and gave it 3 stars!

received a helpful vote on their Norwegian Star cruise review - Baltic Cruise with 15 family and friends

received a helpful vote on their Norwegian Star cruise review - Baltic Cruise with 15 family and friends

received a helpful vote on their Norwegian Star cruise review - Baltic Cruise with 15 family and friends

received a helpful vote on their Norwegian Star cruise review - Baltic Cruise with 15 family and friends

received a helpful vote on their Norwegian Star cruise review - Baltic Cruise with 15 family and friends

received a helpful vote on their Norwegian Star cruise review - Baltic Cruise with 15 family and friends

received a helpful vote on their Norwegian Star cruise review - Baltic Cruise with 15 family and friends

reviewed their Europe - Northern Europe cruise on Norwegian Star and gave it 4 stars!