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Anyone back from a HAL Baltic Cruise??

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We will be on the Noordam in August on their Gems of the Baltic cruise. Anyone have any tips, suggestions, etc.

Overall impression of Baltic cruise (any HAL ship)

How was embarkation & disembarkation?

Any comments on shore excursions?

Did anyone use RO & if so was there any problem getting off the ship for their tours?

How was the Noordam?

Anyone stay in Copenhagen pre or post cruise & if so where?

Lots of questions so would appreciate any info people can give. Thanks so much-


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We just returned from a Westerdam Baltic cruise about 5 days ago. This was our first cruise and one of the best trips we've ever taken. In all of our travels, we'd never been to any of the BAltic ports and found them all to be great fun.


Embarkation was a snap. We arrived about 11:30am and were on the ship eating lunch in less than 20 minutes. We had all of our papers ready and did the immigration form on-line which I think helped speed us through. Our room was ready with luggage in place before 2pm.

Disembarkation was just as easy. We stayed in our cabin until our color and number was called and then out to pick up luggage, over to a van for the luggage and onto a bus for our transport to London (we landed in Harwich). The only glitch was that there was a back-up on the M-way that caused the luggage to be delayed getting to the airport. Our bus took a different route and we waited for easily half an hour for the van to arrive.


We only took 2 HAL shore excursions, a walking tour of Helsinki and the Dukes of Gustrow tour in Warnemunde. The Helsinki tour was good - experienced guide and a nice walk though a park as well as the city. I can't recommend the Gustrow tour unless you get a different guide. The guide we had seemed bored by the whole experience.


I can't say enough good things about Red October. The guide was fantasic, very knowledgeable and experienced. Somehow we by-passed all of the horrible lines and got into every site without delay. There was also no problem getting off of the ship. No one tried to stop us or check our credentials (other than the normal scan of the ship card). We merely walked off, walked into immigration and handed the official our passports and Red October tickets. Passports were stamped and off we went.


We stayed at the Phoenix Hotel in Copenhagen pre-cruise and really enjoyed it. It was close to the Nyhavn area and to Rosenborg Castle. The grounds of the castle are lovely. One of the highlights of our stay was a canal tour that you can pick up at Nyhavn.


Let me know if you have other questions. I think you've picked a wonderful part of the world to visit.

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Overall impression of Baltic cruise (any HAL ship)

We were on the Oosterdam's maiden voyage -- Baltic.


How was embarkation & disembarkation?

Embarkation was quick, easy. Disembarkaton -- we were staying a few days in Copenhagen, so we didn't have a flight to catch. We told HAL what time we wanted to disembark -- and that was the time we were given. Someone was on the pier to direct us to our luggage and a taxi. Easy.


Did anyone use RO & if so was there any problem getting off the ship for their tours?

Red October is FABULOUS! HAL will tell you that passengers taking their tours get off first, but we just got in line. When we got to the migration, we were told Nyet. But Red October immediatley came to our rescue and whisked us off. I HIGHLY recommend Red October. One of our concerns was getting back on the ship on time -- we requested to be back 90 minutes prior to departure and that is when we returned.


Anyone stay in Copenhagen pre or post cruise & if so where?

Stayed in Copenhagen for 4 days. If I remember the name of the hotel, will let you know. It was a great location -- right across from Tivoli Gardens, near the bus stops and within walking distance of many places.


If I can be of further assistance, please contact me -- mindy@sharphaus.com

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Hi there,


as I read you were on HAL cruising the Baltic in August, I just felt the need to comment again on my 2002 HAL experience.

My husband and I have been crusing the Baltic for the past 4 years since our daughter has moved to Copenhagen. We usually do not take the tours offered by the ship as we believe they are mostly overprized for what you get in the end. However, in 2002 we took some shore excursions offered by HAL and were very disappointed! Especially the tour we took in Germany, from Varnemude (I think was the name of the port) to Berlin was very unsatisfying. It cost us way to many $$$ for what we actually received: They took us down to Berlin on a chartered train, which was incredibly hot inside and looked like my grandpa could have already sat in it - so dark and old! After an almost endless ride we finally reached Berlin, where we were put on nice coaches. We already thought it would become a nice day after all when we met our guide ... She spoke a terrible English and was very hard to understand. After some sightseeing we were brought to a lunch place, which could have been quite nice, but ... the food was cold and the personal not well-trained... I will stop here and not tell you about the rest of the shore excursions we took with them.


However, last year we were back on the Constellation and everything was just fantastic! We met some wonderful people who had contacted another local tour agency in Varnemude. At first I was quite suspicious about taking another tour to Berlin, but this one was just great! We paid about half the price of the tours offered by the ship and had a private tour for 14 people with a perfect guide in Berlin!


I have recently talked to Chuck, the guy we met on the ship and who organized everything in advance, and asked him about the tour operator who provided us with this superior tour. He remembered their name as VIP Hansetour or something like that. You can find them easily in the www. I have just tried the name and found out their site: http://www.vipcentive.de.


I am in Copenhagen right now and will do the Constellation next year again.


Hope to have been helpful ....



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