CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews

Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Dream Scandinavian Capitals and St. Petersburg July 1, 2001

My wife and I wanted to visit Europe and found the Scandinavian Capitals cruise to be the one cruise where you could visit at least six European capital cities without unpacking and repacking your suitcases at each stop. We selected Norwegian Cruise Line because (1) we had previously sailed on the same the ship the Norwegian Dreamward before it was stretched (lengthen by 100 plus feet) and renamed as the Norwegian Dream three years ago, and (2) Grand Circle Travel (GCT) was providing the entire cruise and land package including extra days in London and Paris. The 10-hour non-stop flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to London was pleasant aboard a United Airlines Boeing 777 with TV screens in the back of each seat, three separate meals, and free drinks. We left LAX at 4:30 PM Tuesday and arrived at London at 7:30 AM the next day. After a city tour of London from the airport, our room was ready at the London Tower Thistle Hotel and our bags were waiting for us in our room. The hotel location was very nice on the east end of London, on the Thames River, next to the London Tower. After lunch, we rode the standard red two-decked tour bus for a city tour that allowed us unlimited getting on and off for the day and an optional free Thames River boat ride from downtown London to our hotel.

The second day, GCT provided another city tour each of the three city tours showed us different sites and in the afternoon, we visited the London Tower, which was located across the street from our hotel on our own a half day wasn't enough time. Be sure to use the hotel personnel whenever purchasing tickets to see any events they have the lowest prices and the best times, seats, etc. On the third day on the way to the ship, we had another approximately a half-day sightseeing trip. Our cabin was on the same floor as before the Atlantic Deck, cabin 6034 good sized with a large picture window, queen-size bed, two bed end tables, a chair, a couch, a small coffee-sized table, an ottoman (foot rest), a telephone, and a television set. The shipboard telephone service was poor due to the delay and echo using their satellite service and the TV service was OK with one movie channel, a CNN channel, another news channel, etc. The closets were adequate as was the bathroom with shower. The cabin steward was excellent as he quickly learned that we are early to bed and early raisers. We selected a table of six and the early meal seating. The meals were acceptable but nothing to write home about. Our waiter was slow and often we were nearly the last ones to finish our meals. I believe that the service was slow because our waiter was gay and the other waiters were picking on him behind the scenes, i.e., when placing and picking up our orders, etc. We didn't go to any of the evening shipboard shows as we were too tried from our often 12-hour days touring the capital cities of the Baltic Sea region plus the frequent time zone changes. The newest feature aboard the ship was the Internet Cafe where you can access the Internet to send and relieve your e-mail, surf the net, etc. This allows us to send the photographs that we had taken earlier that day to our family and friends back home in the States. We took six land tours at Berlin, St, Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Oslo. After leaving Dover, the ship sailed through a very long German canal with a very scenic countryside and this canal saved a day's traveling time by not sailing around Denmark to reach Germany's coast. The shipboard personnel told us to always exchange our dollars into the visiting country's currency before we went to ashore. Don't bother doing this as every country we visited readily accepted the Yankee dollar. Plus the ship charges a high service fee ($3.50) every time you change money. After visiting Scandinavian Capitals, we landed at Dover again, and took another half-day ride, stopping to visit another English Castle before boarding the Chunnel train (under the English Channel) to Paris. Our hotel in Paris was the Hotel Concorde La Fayette located downtown and looking out from our 10th floor room window, we could easily see the Eiffel Tower and the Arc of Triumph. The land tours were to the Notre-Dame Cathedral, Chateau de Vincennes, and the home of the famous French artist Monet. Our trip to the Charles de Gaulle airport was on time, but United Airlines was not - we had a three-hour wait. The flight was smooth from Paris flying over London, Iceland, the southern tip of Greenland, down through Canada, and entering the States over Montana. It was a wonderful once-in-a-lifetime trip and we are ready to go again.

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