Author: Ralph Koerber
Date of Trip: September 2012
Back-to-Back Cruises are a Gift to Yourself and Other Guests
My September 2012 Back-to-Back Memorable NCL Cruises
By Ralph Koerber
Monday at 3 PM September 10 was the time when I decided I would enjoy two Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) Cruises back-to-back on the NCL Sun from Copenhagen and leave on Friday for a month.
My NCL contact since 1998 is responsive Bonnie at 877-436-9722 and a call to her confirmed a stateroom reservation on the Norwegian Sun for two 2-week cruises. Bonnie is most professional and responsive and so I recommend that you call her. With Bonnie’s word of a confirmed reservation, Delta confirmed a flight to Copenhagen via Amsterdam on Friday September 14. Reservations with Norwegian and Delta were confirmed. The Copenhagen Bel Air Hotel reservation was confirmed and paid through Booking.com and a return flight from Fort Lauderdale finished the travel details and then packing and being on the flight was all remaining to be done. You can do the same.
Bonnie is inside Norwegian and is equipped to handle your air tickets when there is lead-time to the date of departure or to assist you when on short notice. Though Bonnie would have handled my air, on Monday I chose to deal directly with Delta on Monday because my date of departure was to be Friday of this week.
The cruise ship is a floating hotel and so unpacking once is a treat. Stateroom selection offerings include inside, porthole or ocean view, balcony or suites and each is more than ample for your family, group or party aboard ship. Stateroom Stewards are professionally trained and their protocol is transparent as they are sensitive and respectful while they tend to your every request. Each deserves your recognition in the form of an acknowledging tip at the end of the cruise because each is NCL and serves you as a preferred guest in accord with the NCL Mission Statement.
The first two-week cruise from Copenhagen visited Ports of Call: Bergen and Aalesund in Norway, Lerwick in Shetland Islands, Torshavn in Faroe Islands, Reykjavik in Iceland, Greenock and Glasgow in Scotland, Dublin in Ireland and returned to Copenhagen in Denmark where the guest complement changed for the next cruise began a 14-day to Miami via Lisbon and Madeira, Portugal.
What fun I had on the ship! Now there is a solo cruisers get-together for the first several days at 7 PM. I met great people and had a fun circle of friends with whom we swam, dined, danced and had clean honest fun all cruise.
That happened the next 14 days also though the average age of the guests rose by 18 years on the Trans Atlantic crossing. Great fun and I am most happy I went even though I was alone paying double fare. Because it was NCL Cruise Number 14 for me, NCL upgraded me to a Balcony on the Trans Atlantic voyage and I hosted friends for before-dinner get-togethers in my balcony stateroom for I wanted to be sharing it with them. We enjoyed the sunsets on the balcony while sharing memories of past times. Witnessing the inner beauty in new friends come to the surface is a blessing I give to myself when I share myself.
The crew removed the nets over the pools around 7 AM and so swimming in the warm water around 7:30 AM was a treat. The alternative for early-morning exercise, if the pool waters were sloshing too much and were therefore unsafe and not uncovered, would be to go to the Fitness Center at 7 AM and join the Morning Stretch group and invigorate ourselves that way before breakfast. The Spa offers services and classes and Spa facilities include a steam room and a sauna and shower area used by many guests on the ship just like the hot tubs out on deck between the pools. The pools waters are circulated fresh ocean water when at Sea and when in Port are chlorinated.
NCL offers Freestyle Cruising meaning that you may do and eat wherever and however you wish. Meals are offered in the Main Dining Rooms, Buffets, On Deck, Sports Bar and other venues. Additionally, Specialty Restaurants offer fantastic dining experiences at reasonable surcharge cost. Normally, we would target to have dinner in the Main Dining Room at 5:45 PM with the expectation that we would attend the 7 PM Theatre Presentations. Many nights we did not make the 7 PM Show and deferred to the 9 PM Show because the interpersonal togetherness of those at table was such that we chose to linger at the dining room table and share.
Beside the nightly Theatre offerings, the various nightclubs and bars offered piano, singing, karaoke and other entertainment and dancing throughout the ship so we were moving between these as the atmosphere and our likes and choices changed.
We shared candle light dinners and founded memories we will hold forever even if our paths do not cross again. Every day and every night offered special memories for the taking. The new towel animals visiting and staying overnight in the stateroom were a creative and fun sight.
A Chocolate Lovers’ Buffet featured ice carvings displayed with any type and shape chocolate desired.
Daily afternoon lunch buffets on the pool deck include sessions on carving fruit and vegetables into faces, characters and more while a DJ plays music for dancing and swimmers fill the pools and hot tubs and others sun bathe on the lounges. The ship’s staff accommodates your every desire and does so with such smooth completion that the effort is transparent and you only realize the outcome.
The Field Tours Program offering shore excursions in each port of call at reasonable cost and efficiency handles all elements of your transportation while assuring you that the ship will not leave Port without you. Local town bands come to the harbor and play their welcome and thank-you departure music for the shipboard community. Some cities send aboard a dancing or singing troupe to perform in the ship’s Theatre on stage. A Scottish Bagpiper greeted us when we docked. A fireboat display was presented in Norway.
The choice is yours as to what you choose to do on Shore Adventures.
We walked and toured peaceful walking streets, castles, churches, cathedrals, museums, concert halls, cities, harbors, Glasgow and the quietness of Loch Lomond, stood in ancient structures and giant fireplaces, admired construction standing the test of time, walked over time-worn steps to enter places of history, looked upward at beam ceilings and heavy candle chandeliers, crawled through dungeon and kitchen spaces in castles, the spectacular and preserved structure of Dublin Castle, visited Dublin on Arthur’s Day as related to his funding of Guinness, rode from Lisbon on exciting unworn wild dirt lumber company paths or roads through jungle and over mountains to Cabo Da Roca – the most-western point of Continental Europe – to the historic seaside town of Sintra, shared lunch in an ancient grove of mountainous trees, rode two-ways on one-way narrow streets suddenly finding a vehicle heading toward the truck of Mountain Expeditions with fun drivers and while standing up through the open roof of the vehicle, found giant sand castles and constructions on the beach in Lisbon while all the time imagining the history contained in the walls and walkways we visited and the peoples of times past living there and sharing daily life with one another. We bridged ourselves to a sense of understanding of the customs and culture and logistics of where we were visiting.
In Iceland nine of us elected to go to the stable and ride the special Icelandic Horses and did so. Hercules was my horse. We walked, trotted and galloped over the volcanic landscape for an hour before returning to Reykjavik where we located bikes to rent to ride through the hilly city before returning to the NCL Sun. One of the nine in the group was a girl and she got in with a different tour group at the stable and did not ride with us and did not return to the ship with us. So I arranged with the stable to be sure she was returned to the ship by the stable staff and she was.
In the Shetland Islands, we toured to see the dear and special Shetland Ponies and found the stables were near the ship and we were taken the long way around to make the tour. So do your homework before the cruise so you know distances in advance.
In Scotland we chartered a Taxi for a day and were escorted to selected sites and cities for a visit. A word of caution is that some persons or new friends are takers and when you join in such a joint venture of rental, be sure that all are able and will pay their share to the taxi driver so you do not get stuck fronting the cost for a new friend, who may choose to not pay you after the fact. This happened to me to the tune of around $140 because I trusted her to reimburse me. Remember the value of anything done and paid for someone else diminishes as the time passes and the willingness to pay another disappears after the good deed is done. So a word to the wise should be sufficient.
In Lisbon and Madeira we chose 4-Wheel Drive Jeep and Land Rover Excursions to take us off the beaten track and into the wilderness for adventures few experience. These took us on remote roads to regions where bumpy is an understatement and bouncing is like on a trampoline for the most fun and with energized persons.
The Cruise Director and staff offer fun choices of activities to draw together the fun persons aboard ship on a daily basis. Regardless of your preferences as to activities, – swimming, sports, contests, game shows, cards, reading, people watching and more-, there is one keyed to your enjoying your Freestyle Cruising on Norwegian Cruise Line.
My hundreds of pictures are silent reminders of the treasured moments of sharing the cruise experiences with strangers, who have become friends. Remember that a stranger is a friend not yet met. The photos are but a small fraction of what my eyes have seen and stored forever in my treasure chest memory of experiences.
The benefits of cruising with one favored line is that you build a relationship and it is acknowledged when you return to the chosen cruise line just as my relationship with NCL is acknowledged by Latitudes Parties and special recognitions not offered to some fresh cruisers including specialty dinners with wine and a premium 3-4 hour tour of the behind-the-scenes inner workings of the ship.
Your first or next cruise will be a gift to yourself and to other cruising guests.
Cruising is good for my health and will be for your health.