Cruising the Baltic – life on board

It was with some excitement & a little trepidation that we arrived at the quay to board the Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Star. The cruise was going to all the places we wanted to visit … but we weren’t too sure about travelling with more than 2000 other travellers! Check in was very easy, having already done it on line, we left our luggage to be delivered to our stateroom and made our way to the Versailles Restaurant, one of the many free restaurants on board, for a pleasant lunch in front of the floor to ceiling windows.  Most people go to a buffet restaurant on embarcation, but I had read that it was much nicer & less crowded to dine at Versailles, with good service. And then to our cabin/stateroom, plenty of room, good storage, sliding glass doors to the balcony – what more could one wish for? Met our delightful steward, who looked after us impeccably during the voyage, & entertained us by leaving a different bed mate on our bed each night when he turned down the covers & pulled the curtains! He also made sure we had enough cofee capsules for our coffee machine, so we could have good coffee with which to start the day. I have to say the coffee on board was abysmal!  We could go to the coffee bar in the Grand Atrium & pay extra for a triple shot coffee – but even that wasn’t great. Not good for we coffeeholics!

We should have realised (but didn’t) that the ship wasn’t Norwegian at all, though the captain was Swedish – it was American, with lots of Filippino & Indonesian crew – our cabin steward was Jamaican. But it was mainly in the restaurants we noticed the difference – the menus were totally American, with appetizers (our entrees), entrees (our mains) & desserts – & American coffee!

As it was May we didn’t take advantage of the pool area or the lounge areas on deck, sadly. We did try several of the restaurants, both free & ones we had to pay a little extra for (I had booked some of these on line before we arrived). Our favourites were the French Le Bistro & the Italian La Cucina, with excellent food & perfect service.  We also breakfasted mostly at Versailles, in fact we didn’t really go to any self-service restaurants except for one morning (which experience sent us right back to Versailles!) We went to some of the evening shows which were very professional.

As it was Mother’s Day when we boarded our son had organised for chocolate-coated strawberries to be delivered to the cabin – fantastic idea!  But they never arrived, so a few days later he had to ask if I had received them as I hadn’t mentioned them. I contacted the Service Desk – no apology but they arrived 5 minutes later!

We could even manage to get our exercise on board!  Didn’t go to the gym, but 4 times around the walking track was just over a mile. There was a small basketball court & 2 golf practice nets, & maybe other equipment which we didn’t see. We picked up a couple of books from the library, & I was tempted to go to the Sudoku competition (didn’t give in to the urge) though we went to the Trivia competition – what a farce. One lot of questions about American songs, first finished won, we decided it was just a ploy to get people to the bar to buy drinks!

We deposited $US300.00 at the Service desk to cover any incidental costs, including a $US50.00 each for internet access. It cost me about $US2.50 each time just to get connected, but at the end of the voyage we still had credit – which we could only spend on board! No giving that cash back! So off to Duty Free to spend. The day we disembarked I decided to get the photo which was taken at boarding, went to the Service desk to pay & was told we still had more credit! So if I hadn’t decided on a photo we would have lost out. Not a great feeling.

The worst thing was not the fault of the cruise line, but our group all contracted influenza – despite having had flu shots before leaving, and taking immunity boosters as well. People coughing & spluttering all over the ship.  There were hand sanitisers everywhere – at the elevator doors, inside & outside the restaurants, & scattered around the ship – but although we used them we didn’t notice a lot of others doing the same. I met a man who became so ill he was in intensive care on board at a cost of $US10,000.00 per day! And it cost $US140.00 to visit the doctor. Luckily we had our own antibiotics, but it took a loooong time to recover.

So, good & bad experiences. would we cruise again? The jury’s still out!

Our stateroom

Our stateroom

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Stardust Theatre

Stardust Theatre

Our bedmate!

Our bedmate!

From the glass elevator looking down on the Grand Atrium

From the glass elevator looking down on the Grand Atrium

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