Baltic Sea Cruise on the NCL Norwegian Getaway Review
If you are planning to book a cruise in the Baltic sea, we will tell you about our experience with NCL. Our Baltic Sea cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line was carried out at the end of September 2019, for a total of 10 days aboard the Getaway with Copenhagen as the port of departure and arrival. In this guide we will tell you how a cruise in the Baltic with Norwegian Cruise works, what you can do on board and when you land, the available packages, the food and lots of other information that will allow you to choose consciously.
To be fair: we have been guests of NCL but all the opinions expressed in this article are the result of our experience and, as you will have the opportunity to read, they are not all necessarily positive only because we have worked with the company.
Baltic Sea Cruise with Norwegian: itinerary
During our Baltic cruise with Norwegian we touched the following ports / cities:
- San Pietroburgo
- Helsinki (Check our Helsinki Travel Guides)
Baltic Sea Cruise with Norwegian: everything you need to know
There are different types of cruise in Northern Europe and the one we participated in was the Baltic Sea Cruise, which is considered among the most classic and the most beautiful. The ship we traveled on was the Norwegian Getaway, launched in 2014 and among the “youngest” in terms of entertainment and services on board. Keep in mind that NCL is an American company and its offer is aimed precisely at this target: this means that everything from entertainment to food, through on-board services is designed for Americans.
Different types of cabins are available on the NCL Getaway, at different prices of course. They range from The Haven (the most luxurious rooms, housed in a hidden area of the ship, large and with 24-hour butler service) to the Studios (for solo travellers) via Balcony, Oceanview and Inside. Our room was a balcony on deck 10, with a small terrace with sea view and enough space to spend 10 days on the ship without problems.
Check in and check out
Once all the documents have been received, it is a good idea to follow the directions to check in: in our case, having arrived at the airport in Copenhagen we were transferred directly to the port where, after filling in some documents, we were able to check in at a relatively short time.
The night before the disembarkation you will receive the bill which will contain all the expenses incurred (and already present on your card): if you have entered your credit card you will not have to do anything while if you have decided to pay with cash you will have to go down to reception before going down to pay the balance.
Check out is organised in groups that can disembark from 7am to about 11am on arrival: you can decide to book the transfer to the airport or city in Copenhagen directly with Norwegian so you don’t have to worry about anything and in that case, the company releases coupons which allow landings to be organised. You can also disembark independently, always following the instructions on the morning of the landing.
Please note that on the morning of disembarkation it is mandatory to leave the cabins no later than 9 am, regardless of the time of the transfer.
Organisation on board
At the entrance you will receive a card that you will need almost for everything once on board: to get in and out of the cabin, to get in and out of the ship, to go to see the shows at the theatre, to pay for entertainment or excursions. You can check for any purchases directly by downloading the Norwegian app or from the tactile screens present anywhere on the ship or from the television in the room: if you have purchased credit before leaving, the same will be deducted in the case of purchases / bookings on the ship while if you have not purchased credit the costs will be charged to your card which will be associated with your credit card.
Different types of cards are available, depending on the package chosen: for example, in our case the package was the Premium Beverage Package which includes all alcoholic beverages (up to $15 per single glass) and non-alcoholic beverages, everywhere, including restaurants that are paid separately. The card is nominal so it is always good to have it behind.
Negative side: the water in the room must be purchased separately and costs a lot. You can choose between the Norwegian filtered water that is sold in packages of 6 or 12 per person or the Panna / San Pellegrino water that is sold to the bottle. In our package the water was included but the biggest complaint we heard was precisely this lack: in the face of unlimited alcohol the water in the room is charged, and at an excessively high price, although it is a commodity of first necessity. One imagines that after having paid a high price for the cruise, at least one bottle of water a day per cabin is included.
Internet is NEVER included but it is possible to buy the Unlimited Premium Wifi package which allows to have access to Wifi for the entire duration of the cruise: keep in mind that the package can be purchased for a single room, so if you are two people having to use it you will have to alternate because the connection works on one device at a time.
Food on board the Norwegian Getaway
The Norwegian Getaway is famous for its restaurants on board: some are included, others are paid separately. The restaurants included are six (seven if you reside in Haven, the area reserved for superior customers) and range from classic buffets to Asian food to Irish pub. The food level of the restaurants included is quite high and the buffet too, although it is designed to meet the needs of 4000 people, is more than acceptable and, above all, the quality of the products is very good.
There are a total of 11 restaurants not included: from French to Italian, Japanese, the raw bar, the Brazilian and so on, for a really interesting assortment. The quality in all the “special dining” that we have tried is absolutely high: the sushi and the Brazilian really surprised us positively. We also tried La Cucina, the Italian restaurant that apart from some wholly American strangeness (for example the carbonara with cream) offers a truly Italian cuisine.
To access the special restaurants it is advisable to book but it is not mandatory: the final cost will appear on the card so that it can be checked at any time.
The Freestyle formula is very interesting, the only one of its kind in the cruise sector: you can eat where you want and how you want, without having to necessarily follow the rules but based on your own times and tastes. The same concept applies to all services, offered in a freestyle way to avoid restrictions.
Entertainment on board
The strong point of Norwegian Getaway is the entertainment that we have found at the highest level: the proposal is varied and seriously there is no risk of getting bored on board, even during the two days of continuous navigation. The Syd Norman’s Pour House was the bar that we attended the most: a bar entirely dedicated to rock music where every night a band, whether resident or guest, performs live.
Sugarcane is the other bar that we had the chance to attend more, because of the light entertainment, with live music played on the piano.
Many on-board shows, all of an excellent level: during our cruise we had the opportunity to attend the two shows of Broadway Burn the Floor and Million Dollar Quartet, to watch the show of an illusionist, to see the traditional Russian show and to be part of some cabaret shows.
Scattered throughout the ship are several bars that serve drinks from the afternoon until late evening: from the Skyy® Vodka Ice Bar to the Sunset Bar and there is even a Starbucks on board, for those who can’t give up their daily dose of cappuccino.
Excursions with NCL
Every time the ship arrives in port, it is possible to go down to take part in the organised excursions or to visit the cities on your own.
We personally chose the excursions only when we arrived in St. Petersburg to avoid problems with permits while we did everything by ourselves in all other cities. There are excursions of all types and for all types of travellers, to which are assigned numbers that correspond to the tour in which they are participating: the tours always include a visit to at least one souvenir shop.
The prices, of course, are extremely high and uncompetitive: for the transport to Stockholm from Nynashamn, the ship’s port of call, the amount claimed was 49 euros per person while going by train we did pay 8 euro per person. The only destination where excursions are not too expensive compared to those organised for cruise passengers is St. Petersburg.
Clearly the excursions are designed for those who really don’t want to think of anything when on vacation, if not at the key to enter, go out and eat.
Activities on board the ship
During the days of sailing or returning from excursions, it is possible to take part in multiple activities on board the ship (as well as eating and drinking!). The gym is quite equipped and open from early morning to late evening: there are different types of equipment but also rooms where you can participate in special lessons (with supplement).
Adjacent to the gym there are SPA and beauty salon: you can book the treatments you prefer or buy a pass that will allow you free access to the SPA Thermal Suite and the Salt Room SPA where you will find a sauna, a Turkish bath, a salt bath and so on. Outside, in addition to the swimming pools with slides, there is a sports complex that includes basketball, soccer and volleyball fields, a climbing wall, a path through the trees and The Plank, bungee jumping over the water (open only if time permits).
Baltic Sea Cruise Costs
The costs of the Baltic Sea cruise depend on several factors, namely:
When you book;
The type of cabin you choose;
The extra packages that are added to the basic one.
This is not a cheap cruise but clearly you can save if you book with a lot advance. In fact, Norwegian also offers the possibility to leave a security deposit to book the cruise and take advantage of a discount when booking.
Once on board, the expenses to be foreseen are related to the budget you have available and how much you want to spend in addition to the packages already purchased: among other things, you can shop, play at the casino, participate in auctions, take advantage of the Spa and wellness center and eat in restaurants that are not included and all these costs have to be added to the total cost. The excursions, as mentioned above, are paid separately and are probably the highest expense to be faced, especially those in Russia.
So once you have paid the basic rate and the transport to reach Copenhagen, all the other costs are personal: paying attention and choosing the additional packages well before departure, you might even end up spending nothing on board.
It should be noted that for every additional activity carried out on board, a 20% tip is added which is mandatory and at the end of the holiday 15$ per passenger, per single day, are added to the final bill as a sum to be allocated to the personnel of board.
Interesting note: during the cruise special offers are served to participate in other cruises. For example, you can leave a deposit of a variable amount to book within 4 years or book an entire cruise and receive a crazy amount to spend on board (spend 1000 receive 2000, for example). In addition, after the first cruise, you are automatically entered into the Norwegian club, for which you are entitled to discounts and special treatments on subsequent cruises.
Baltic Sea Cruise on the NCL Norwegian Getaway: is it worth?
As we had the opportunity to write on Instagram, the cruise is not our style of travel but during the 10 days of navigation we understand better that there is a huge slice of the market that likes this way of traveling and that is why cruises continue to attract more and more passengers during the year.
Surely if you have only a few days off, or if you have only a certain period available, you want to switch off, want to visit more cities and you don’t want to think about anything, the cruise is a great way to to travel. The average age of people on our boat was medium-high but we also found several boys. In high season many families with children attend this cruise, but in September with the start of schools the situation is decidedly different.
The Freestyle formula is truly unique: no special dinner clothes, no constrictions of any kind, no program to follow to the letter. This means that you can opt for unbridled social life or simply for a relaxed vacation, on your own: no one, unlike a holiday village or a different cruise, will pick you up to let you participate in group dances while you are sitting to observe the sunset in religious silence!
Baltic Sea Cruise with Norwegian Cruise: when to go
Northern European cruises with Norwegian are available only and exclusively from May to September for obvious reasons: the climate. The busiest periods to participate in a cruise in the Baltic Sea are from June to the end of August, while September is the calmest month, so even if the ship is filled there is no sense of chaos that can be felt in the other months because the type of vacationers it’s different: less (almost zero) families with children, many couples.
Moreover, since the climate is not favorable, outdoor activities are reduced but at the same time the number of tourists meeting when landing is less.
What to take on a NCL cruise and how to dress
The Baltic Sea cruise with Norwegian Cruise DOES NOT require any specific attire: on board you will find people in tracksuits and people in evening dress, slippers and high heels.
There is no obligation to dress in a certain way to go to dinner, to participate in entertainment, to go and see the shows. As for the personal effects to take with you, always consider that you will make stops in cities so that everything you miss will be within your reach, always and in any case; for this reason we advise you to prepare the beauty case as you would for any other type of holiday.
Do not forget costume and slippers and, as you will arrive in cold countries, prepare a fairly warm clothing, including scarf and hat.
Cruise, seasickness and health problems
On the Norwegian Cruise Getaway there is always a doctor, available for emergencies of any kind. Apart from the classic ailments that can happen anywhere, it is possible in some specific moments of navigation to have some problems with the sea: the ship is giant but when you cross the open sea of the North, for example sailing from Stockholm to Copenhagen, the waves will they feel a lot and in some cases the rocking is quite persistent.
We advise you to take remedies against nausea and the classic remedies for headaches, stomach aches and bone / muscle ache: nothing more and nothing less, we are sure you won’t need it!
In general, however, a Baltic Sea cruise does not present greater risks than any other type of holiday!
Book a Baltic Sea Cruise with Norwegian
Based on all of the above, if we have convinced you and you want to book a Baltic Sea cruise with Norwegian you can do it in different ways: by contacting a travel agency or through Norwegian’s official website.
We advise you to do it independently so as to really check what you are buying, to add the packages you think are essential for your holiday and not to pay agency fees.
Once you have booked the Baltic Sea cruise, you will receive all the information via email and customer service is available to you both before and after the cruise.
[The trip has been sponsored by Norwegian Cruise Line. However all thoughts and opinions are our own]