The Baltic Sea cruise lasted 9 days – I shall now attempt a concise summary after disembarking, back in Copenhagen. Around the second day, as I navigated my way along the 8th floor (there were 16 altogether) which floor is given over almost entirely to a casino, the opening stanza of Samuel Taylor Coleridge famous poem:
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
resonated through my mind. Once cocooned (perhaps imprisoned is a better term) on the high seas, the 1000 staff were well oiled machines extracting money from the 4000 passengers. This they do in a way that mimics, nay exceeds, the orthodontist who advertises "pain free dentistry ".
Granted there was the facility to eat and sleep inclusive of your tour package and we had, as a group booking of more than 40, the bonus package of "unlimited free alcohol" – actually I think up to $100 US each. I am sure that if the Norwegian Cruise Line could fathom a way to charge guests for each episode of cabin sex, on both accounts (alcohol and sex) the Norwegian Cruise Line would class me as one of their worst returns on investment, sex wise, but a diamond chip asset when it came to grog!
Our "stateroom with balcony" was modestly liveable. Our delightful steward Larry, from Indonesia, assumed that Vivienne was my wife. Politely denying this only confused him more, understandably so, but only exacerbated things for Ms Vivienne, as Larry assumed we were brother and sister. I took this as a compliment whilst Vivienne was of course distressed , as I am old enough to be her father. Having clarified the possible assumption of our incestuous relationship, by asking Larry to move the beds apart, we settled in to test the "unlimited alcohol" bonus. I am pleased to report that the offered was extended to Tonic Water.
To prevent boredom at sea the ship was indeed a massive "pleasure dome"- once forced into bankruptcy at the casino there was an incredible constant programme of entertainment including a full size theatre/ auditorium.
There was an atrium which featured (if that is the correct term) all sorts of performing bands, vocalists, quiz nights etc etc
A duty free area became a hive of activity and singing cash registers, each time the ship set sail and entered international waters.
Bankrupt, inebriated and deafened by last nights' ABBA karaoke show , one could stagger to the gym.
There was a Boutique Spa and Health Studio where for a few hundred dollars a futuristic machine would provide one with a total body analysis of one's health. Book in on day 1 for the total package ( a mere few thousand dollars) of dermabrasion, acupuncture, Botox, cellulite treatments and on day 9, you disembark looking so different that even your pet chihuahua is confused…. then of course there is the totally free body analysis available in the privacy of your stateroom: the full length mirror inside the wardrobe door.
One of the most interesting events I attended was in the huge theatre at the aft of the ship (blunt end) – a Q & A with the captain and chief engineer and there were lots of quite fascinating and intriguing facts: 11,000 meals during the entire trip, Waste food, of which there was in my opinion, an immoral mountain, was blended in a gigantic vat of an industrial type Bamix then discharged into the sea as fish food.
Which of course leads to the inevitable corollary of what happens to the other "waste"? Well you may ask as indeed it was by a precocious American "junior mariner" as the MC described the youngster. The ship has its own fully operational sewerage treatment works and the end result is so pure as to be potable! It is however discharged in the sea and any residual solids are off loaded at port! Now you know.
The ship has I recall several propellers, the two main aft monsters that drive it are 5.4m in diameter.
However the prize for the most inane question/comment was by a woman who essentially complained about, wait for it, the WIND!
I should preface this explaining that the Norwegian Getaway is the largest most modern of the fleet, commissioned in 2015 , it was purpose built to cruise the Caribbean. It has an amazing aquatic deck with pools and 4 gravity defying water slides that leave your heart and stomach in your mouth. Two of them begin with a free fall ie vertically for several metres. Anyway, because the demand for the Baltic Sea Cruise has exceeded all of the wildest expectations of the NCL , the ship left Miami and has been given over to spending the European summer based out of Copenhagen.
So our American woman, whinging about the wind, I assume had either booked for what she misread was a 9 day trip out of Barbados or that she had no idea that the Baltic Sea is a but several degrees of latitude below the Arctic Circle. Sigh!
It's party time !
Would I do it again? Not sure! I had a wonderful time, with 40 fantastic friends and it was quite unique! I am truely glad I accepted the invitation. I still prefer travelling by bike, granted not an ideal way to navigate the sea