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About NCruiser2012

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  1. It takes several hours to get through the archipelago. I think we left Stockholm at 4:00. We probably left the archipelago around 7:00. Both sides of the ship, I imagine, will give a great view. We were on the starboard side of the ship. Some of the time we were on the port side and some of the time we were away from the port. I think it just depends on what berth the ship is assigned.
  2. We enjoyed breakfast at Taste only once and I wish we had eaten breakfast there more then once. It was very refined and lovely.
  3. We walked through the casino several times. It did smell like it was a place where people smoked, however it did not seem excessive to me. I did not notice the smell anywhere else in the ship or on other decks. That being said, I do not have a real aversion to smoke nor a respiratory problem, so I am not that sensitive to it. I suppose it also depends on how many people are smoking that particular day.
  4. Once we got through the lines in St. Petersburg, things went fairly well. We went with SPB tours again. Our guide was good, but I have had others that I liked better. We saw all the major sights. Our tour did not call for the hydrofoil. There were a lot of navel ships in port practicing for Navy Day which was happening the following week. Because of this, we had heard that the hydrofoils were shut down for the day. Lunch was not included in our tour. We ate the first day at the cafe in the Faberge Museum. The food was pretty good, but the service was slow. I had a delicious bowl of borscht. The museum itself was OK. There is one major room that contains the eggs. Our guide explained each egg in great detail. I would have rather seen them myself and then have the ability to explore the rest of the museum. The second day we ate at the pie shop which did not take credit cards. We had Rubles, but our guide said that she would pay the restaurant if needed and we could pay her back. The crust of the pies was not pastry like an American pie, but is more like a soft, sweetened bread crust. The food was good, quick and inexpensive. I enjoyed lunch very much that day. We walked a great deal those two days, but besides the hail, the weather was good. It did rain for a little bit and SPB gave us rain ponchos. That night was the night we ate at the buffet because they had Russian night. I was a little disappointed in the food. They served Beef Stroganoff and Chicken Kiev. The food was OK, but nothing special. There was some Russian cake which I did not try. The next night in Tallinn, the ship featured the Russia Bazaar. Previously, when we traveled on the Star, they were selling very reasonably priced items. On the Getaway, the items might have been more authentic, but they were very expensive. I did pick up a couple of Russian souvenirs in Tallinn which were inexpensive, but I am not sure how authentic they were.
  5. I read that too and that is why we went to the right. As you go into the building, the right most line splits into two, so theoretically this would be faster. Maybe it is faster, so that is why one person from each group would get into our line and then bring the entire family over. At one point we were 5th in line and the next minute we were 15th in line. That is when they wanted to bring in the 30 people from the tour. We were next in line for passport control and this guy walks over and gets in front of us. Did he think we would not notice?
  6. My son used the hot tub constantly. There is a family hot tub where I saw some kids. My son did go on the slides, but he said they were cold. The good news is that there was very little wait. I did not see a lot of people in the pool, but we were usually gone during the day.
  7. Your son was really good! My son really enjoys the guitar and was impressed by your son's playing ability. I thought the entertainment on this cruise was amazing. More on this later.
  8. I saw some of your other posts. Was your son Jerry Lee Lewis in Million Dollar Quartet? We enjoyed this show very much. The cast is so talented.
  9. Let me work backwards... Our tour was to start at 8:30 am. We were to be outside customs by 8:00-8:15. The ship was supposed to dock at 8:00. I think we got off early, maybe 7:30-7:45. We did not get outside the customs building until about 9:30. Just so you know, all the tour companies waited for passengers. Our guide said this was unusual that it took so long. It was almost as bad when we cruised two years ago, so it has nothing to do with the Getaway. This time I timed it and it took 2-3 minutes per person to go through customs, so you can understand our concern if they put 30 people ahead of us. I am not sure if another ship was in port or not. Maybe someone else on the trip remembers. I did not monitor the other lines. We were on the far right near the bathrooms. The sneaky people came from the right. I am not sure if it would be better to be further away from the bathrooms or not. In the scheme of things, a couple hours do not matter. It was just frustrating that it was so unorganized.
  10. I did notice that they were letting people off the ship early. You were smart! We went with SPB, but did not do a semi-private tours, so, even though we waited a long time in line, we still had to wait for others.
  11. NCL learned from Rostock. It was much more organized getting off the ship. Hanno was outside letting small groups get in line for customs. St. Petersburg customs was awful. We had to wait forever in line. It was at least an hour and a half. I don't mind waiting in line if it is organized, but it was a mess. They need to get some Disney rope corrals. I did not think Russia had computer problems, it just took a long time for them to scan and type in everyone's passport. If that is their procedure, I understand, but it is the line management that was a problem. We were in line, but actually moved backwards. People would go into the building, use the bathroom, and then wander right into line in front of us. This happened over and over, so we had to call people on this. They would just cut in line in back of us. Or, there would be 10 people in a group and each would be in a separate line. Then, when one person in our line got close to customs, the other 9 people would come over in front of us. The last straw was when a group of 30 people tried to convince the customs official that they were an hour late for their tour and the official was going to let them in the front of our line. Guess what, we were all an hour late for our tours. He finally made them go to the back of the line. As I said, a more organized approach would have helped immensely. Again, this was a Russian issue, not something NCL could control.
  12. Our cruise was a little different than most. Our next stop after the first sea day was Helsinki. We took the Hop-on-Hop-off bus. There are two lines that look exactly the same. We chose the Stromma company which says "City Sightseeing" on the side. It seems that this line had more buses. I did not do a scientific study, but we never had to wait long for a bus and there was always a line for the other company. The cost was 20 euros at the pier. They took credit cards. The tram was not a far walk. Does the tram go to the Sibelius monument? I am not sure. If you go to the Sibelius monument, walk on the other side of the monument and pass the tour buses. There is a very pretty cove with a place for coffee. We did not stop for coffee, but I have seen this place discussed on the Baltics board. The air was fresh and clean and everything smelled so good in Helsinki. We went to the market and bought a few souvenirs. Shop around a little because prices did vary. I was looking forward to grilled salmon, but it looked like it had been sitting there for awhile, so we did not eat at the market. There are some nice little shops just off Senate Square. At some, the prices were as cheap as the market prices. Last time we were in Helsinki, we ate at Strindberg and had a lovely meal in the upstairs restaurant. It was expensive but the food was interesting. We knew that the restaurant was closed for vacation when we visited this time. We ate at the first floor coffee shop which was not quite as good as the restaurant, but we still had a pleasant meal sitting outside. I had one smorrebrod and dessert which was more than enough food. If you need a quick meal, they serve food cafeteria style inside. I know the bus is more expensive than the tram, but it is so easy!
  13. I am glad you spoke to Silas because I never heard what the problem was. You are right - things were much better at the rest of the ports. Russia was handled well by NCL, but not by Russian customs. I am curious, why were the dynamics different on this cruise? What behavior was different?
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