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NCL China/Japan & some questions

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For anyone who has cruised China & Japan with NCL, do they tend to do a cultural show on board?  On our Baltic cruise, they has Russian dancers one night.  I really would like to do an excursion to Chinese acrobats, but with the other excursions we want to do it doesn't seem possible.  My mom is adamant that we do cruise ship tours especially in countries where we don't speak the language as we had 2 excursions have difficulty getting back on time on a previous cruise . Any info would be greatly appreciated?  Also is port or starboard preferred for  Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing (Tianjin), Kyoto(Osaka), and Tokyo (Yokohama)?  ( I know it can vary based on where they have to dock, but just curious if anyone has tended to see that one side is better for sail-ins than the other?)   Thanks in advance for your help!

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2 minutes ago, notes21 said:

Also is port or starboard preferred for  Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing (Tianjin), Kyoto(Osaka), and Tokyo (Yokohama)?


Hong Kong: Go to an upper deck, it is awesome on both sides.

Tianjin: Ship docks far from Beijing in an industrial port. Side doesn't matter.

Yokohama: Either side is fine, depends on dock.


In Shanghai and Osaka we were on small ships, the pier was located upriver. Port was better both times because the ship's bow was pointing upriver if I recall correctly. 

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NCL is one of those mass market lines that rarely sails in Asia.

Their staff has little Asia experience and few good Asian connections.

Port lectures are limited and unpredictable.

Excursion staff have limited shoreside experience and limited connections with tour operators.

Arranging your own tours can be done - but only well in advance.


Japanese ports offer free and paid onboard cultural events, but the cruise line needs to know how to arrange them.

NCL may or may not know how to do that.


Chinese ports do not offer anything onboard for free, so NCL would not only have to arrange that but also pay for it - not something they like to do.


NCL ships are too large to fit up the river to Shanghai. You will be docked at an industrial pier a long distance from Shanghai.

Better cruise lines with big ships offer free shuttles for the commute into Shanghai. NCL does not.

Tianjin / Xingang (port of Beijing) is not very nice. Nothing to see from any part of the ship.

Osaka, Yokohama, Hong Kong - you will have no idea  (until  the last minute) if you will dock starboard or port side.

In Hong Kong you  probably do not know if you will dock at Ocean Terminal or Kai Tak Terminal.

Ocean Terminal is a great location for touring / shopping / dining. Kai Tak is in the middle of nowhere.

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