Archive for October 2013

9 Day Eastern Caribbean NCL Gem   Leave a comment

If you are available to leave Monday, October 28th out of New York City, an inside cabin can be yours for $957 total for 2 people ($40 more if you’re a first time cruiser) plus a $25 OBC.

If you can sail November 6th, the price is just a little more at $1,057 total.

Great prices for a beautiful ship if you can sail last minute!

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Posted October 22, 2013 by cubechick in Deal of the Day!

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Killing a Little Time in Lovely Copenhagen   Leave a comment

Upon our return to Copenhagen, we would have a few hours before our flight.

NCL does offer a tour of the city with drop-off at the airport, but for flights leaving 3:00pm or later. Our flight was at 2:00pm. Our friends had flights that were even later, so we thought we’d attempt to arrange a tour that would accommodate all of us (including dropping one person back at the ship). The original prices we were quoted were extremely high. The first quote was for €1,600 and the second for €1,425. CRAZY. Needless to say that idea fizzled out!

So I started looking for a tour for just the two of us and found a tour through Tours By Locals for a 3-4 hour tour of Copenhagen with a drop off at the airport for $390. That price wasn’t too bad considering the other quotes we were getting! In the end, six of us went on that tour, which lasted about 3 ½ hours, then the others for continued off on a separate tour for them that included a coastal town and a stop for lunch (additional cost). Final price for all of it was $740. Much better than 1600€ and saved us from sitting at the airport for 5 hours!

The way Tours By Locals works is you ask for a quote via their website and the tour guide that handles the tour you’re interested in will contact you (if, like us, you’re booking a private tour). Once you’ve reached an agreement, you put your deposit down with Tours By Locals. The tour guide confirms your booking, at which time you receive the full name of the guide and their contact information.

In our instance, Ivan was our guide, and he was terrific. He was very patient as I acted as the go-between between him and the rest of my party (arranging their tour after we were taken to the airport) and was at the pier at 8:30 on the dot as promised.

The tour was very good. He first took us to the Little Mermaid…as it’s a must and going there right away meant we had her to ourselves for a few minutes anyway!

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We drove all over the place with frequent stops for photos, including a stop at Amalienborg Palace and Nyhavn.

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Ivan explained history in full detail as we went and answered all questions.

DH and I were dropped off at the airport just before noon and our friends continued on (and they seemed very happy with the rest of their tour).

I absolutely recommend a tour with Ivan if you find yourself with a little time to kill in Copenhagen, but not enough time to roam about on your own. My short visit to this lovely city definitely made me want to come back for a few days to explore further…perhaps when we do the Baltic’s Capital cruise that sails round trip from there?

Helsingborg, Sweden   Leave a comment

I had a hard time picking out a tour for our lone stop in Sweden. The most popular tour actually takes you on a ferry to Denmark and a chance to see the castle where Shakespeare placed his iconic play, Hamlet. We decided that we wanted to see some of Sweden while we were there and chose the Coastal Scenic tour. At just four hours the time frame was up our alley and would afford us a chance to see a small bit of Sweden’s coast.

Our tour guide was named Erica and she looked a bit like Helen Mirren (if Helen Mirren was 20 years younger). Getting to the tour took a full hour. Probably due to the fact that this was the only time the Star called in Helsingborg and therefore the tender operation was a mess (unfortunately, next year, the Star doesn’t call on either Helsingborg or Oslo when doing this cruise).

Anyway we finally got on a bus and got stuck in a traffic jam. Once un-entangled, we made our way up the coast as promised.

Our first stop was a church in Brunnby. I almost say “naturally” as it seems tours are always compelled to take you to at least one church! The church was pretty, but I was taken by the lovely cemetery.

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Quickly after that we were taken to a place for tea and cookies. Apparently this place is well-known in the region. It wasn’t a stop I expected and at 50 minutes too long for us…then again, DH and I don’t go much for sweets and the rest of the tour group seemed thrilled with the stop. It was a very pretty place, so we contented ourselves waking around.

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We then drove through Hoganas and another pretty coastal town before driving to the Kullen Lighthouse. It’s not impressive visually (although the view is amazing) but with a 1000-watt bulb it is the most powerful lighthouse in Scandinavia with a 28-mile range. You also get a glimpse of the original lighthouse that was on this site.

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View from Kullen Lighthouse

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Back in Helsingborg I ask Erica where I can find a souvenir and she directs me to the Dunkers Kulturhus. It sits opposite the town square and is easy to walk to from the pier.
Town Square Helsingborg, Sweden
Despite being a museum, the prices aren’t bad and I successfully get my magnet.

After leaving the Kulturhus, I realize my ship card is missing. Drat! I re-trace my steps and find nothing. Oh well, this is inconvenient but not the end of the world. I approach ship security with my photo ID in hand and explain my predicament. He looks at my license and says “You don’t have your card because it’s in my pocket.” A good Samaritan had turned it in, saving me a hassle.

Now it was time to get back to the ship and finish packing…maybe a stop at the Red Lion on the ship for a pint first. 😉

Wonderful Visit in Oslo   Leave a comment

When I got serious about researching this trip, I had a difficult time deciding if one of our Norway stops should include an excursion to see fjords. After all, we didn’t want to travel this far and miss out on fjords. All of the excursions to see fjords were 8 hours in length ( which we hate ) and the most appealing tour that was offered was in Bergen, which was a town that I really wanted to see. However my research showed that we would see plenty of fjords on our Faroe Islands tour. Also, the arrival into Oslo would have us sail the entire length of the Oslo Fjord …which looked pretty cool ( on paper at least ).

I waited for our passage up the fjord with great anticipation, and I have to say my dreams were fulfilled. Sailing into Oslo has been the highlight of the cruise. It ranks right up there with the Panama Canal, Glacier Bay in Alaska, and sailing past the NaPali Coast off of Kuaui.   We were blessed with blue skies so our views just couldn’t have been better.

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Not nearly as much boat traffic as the Panama Canal, but we did completely disrupt a Regatta.  

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Once in Oslo the sun hid just in time for the HOHO tour. Of course we sat up top and the bus wasn’t enclosed. Figures right? We did most of the loop before alighting at the City Hall to walk the 2 blocks to the Hard Rock Cafe. Yes, we knew we were in for $20 beers, but there was something alluring about a fridge magnet from Hard Rock Oslo.  

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Back on the ship we basked in the view from our balcony before getting ready for dinner.   Tomorrow Sweden. And our last port. 😦

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