The end of the Baltic cruise

posted in: Travel | 0
Under the bridge connecting Denmark and Sweden. Note the wind turbines.

Nynashamn/Stockholm was the Norwegian Sun’s last port of call before we headed back to Copenhagen. After such a lovely sunny start, the weather had come over all horrid and the swimming pool and sun deck were deserted.

I suppose this is a good place to talk about the ship.

We were sold a package in Australia which included the sea component, meals in the main restaurant and the buffet, onboard entertainment, and all tips and gratuities. Land-based tours, booze, meals in the specialty restaurants – and internet access – were extra. The charges for internet packages bordered on extortion so we did without, and the only ship-based tour we took was to the Vasa museum.

The crew was mainly from places like the Philippines and India, nice people often sending the money home to families. We did tip our favourite staff. I’ll bet they’re not paid much.

We’re not much into shows and the like, so we gave those a miss and we mainly ate in the main dining room, where the food was good. We tried the buffet once, but fighting your way to the food in competition with a couple of hundred other people is never my idea of fun. The tables were crowded too close together, too.

The ‘tips and gratuities’ thing only lasted as long as the first drink. A ten percent surcharge was added to everything and there was nothing the wait staff could do about it. Most of the passengers were Americans, to whom the tipping business is second nature. But it isn’t for Australians. Besides, the terms of our holiday stated tipping was included in our package. We weren’t the only (Aussie) couple to complain. We approached management and it was agreed that we would be refunded for tips paid when we got back to Copenhagen.

One thing that I found interesting was art sales. I gather the idea is that because the paintings are sold in international waters the sales don’t attract taxes. I read a great book which included just such a scenario after we got home. It’s well worth a read. Estelle Ryan: The Gauguin Connection. It’s the first of a series and it’s free.

All up, the cruise was fine if you like that sort of thing. I discovered I don’t. I’ll never go on a ship that size again. Too many people for me.

When we arrived in Copenhagen the crew had to manage getting us and our luggage off and set up the ship for the next load. Pete and I collected our confiscated Johnnie Walker black label and our refunded tips then joined the other two thousand three hundred and ninety-eight folks out in the drizzle to get a taxi to our accommodation in the city. I think we waited there, shuffling our bags along as the queue moved, for something like three hours. No, not happy Jan. Surely the cruise’s admin could have organised something better, if only a bus to the city centre.

We’d booked for two nights in a hotel close to the city centre so we’d at least have a day to look at Copenhagen before we left for New York early in the morning. I suppose we could have gone on an organised city tour but like most old European cities the historic parts are relatively small and easily walked. Besides, we had to go and buy a new suitcase. Mine, which had been around for a while, had suffered on the cruise and was in serious danger of falling apart en route to America. So we spent a lot of time in Copenhagen’s main shopping street, visiting every purveyor of suitcases. Denmark isn’t cheap. Even Macdonald’s is more expensive. We paid a LOT for that nice red suitcase.

The city’s main square – a popular meeting place. The shopping strip is behind the fountain.
A corkscrew tower and I assume a copper roof
They do boat cruises here, too
The bridge to the palace?

We had a good look around town, though we didn’t go to find Hans Christian Andersen’s little mermaid. We walked past Copenhagen’s famous amusement park, the Tivoli. We admired the royal palace and wondered if Our Mary would invite us in for tea with Fred. And we went down to the old wharfs which used to be bars and chandlers and warehouses and are now bars and restaurants and tourist shops. My main memories are of brightly-painted houses and severe Victorian edifices and statues.

The line of colourful shopfronts along the wharf
It was as cold as it looks down there
One of the many bars along the waterfront
We needed that Irish coffee
Inside. It’s probably been like that for ages
A local steamer

When we left, some cleaner would score a slightly battered suitcase and half a bottle of Johnnie Walker black label. We were off to New York City.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.