AIDAaura Cruise Review by slix1: The Baltics are the Best
The Baltics are the Best
We love cruising and the NCL Freestyle method. The Baltics are a super destination with many options. The Sun is in good condition and the balcony room is very familiar to us and would hold much more clothing than we brought.
I think NCL is great value for the money. I am not sure why people complain except to sound important. We do not eat in the buffet every meal and don't get burned out on food choices. The buffet and inside cabins are a way for some to have a great vacation at a lower cost. The people who complain about food should realize that the extra cost restaurants are a way to scale pricing without forcing everyone to pay a higher base cost. We always get a balcony and really like being able to see by just stepping outside.
The entertainment was good enough to pass an hour. Magician, comedian, singer, and the ship's group alternated so that there wasn't the same thing every night. There was music in the smaller clubs and this varied in quality more. More
We actually did not see our cabin steward every day but he kept the room clean, straight, and stocked at all times. We had a towel animal every night and the bed turned down while we were out eating at night and I don't know how he managed to realize when we were gone. We also talked to the casino host and gave an extra tip at the very end to him and the cabin steward. Less
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Cabin review: BA 8235
Cabin 8235. Mid ship balcony is perfect for getting to either end of the ship quickly. I have slight motion problem and this location let me take much less medicine. We had storage to spare. Each of us had a 25" suitcase and the drawers at the far end were not used at all. The suitcases fit under the bed. The bathroom is compact but worked fine. We washed a few undies and used the tiny clothes line in the shower. The bed was comfy.
Port and Shore Excursions
Do not miss Copenhagen. There are a number of castles, churches and other sights. A canal tour was interesting even on a cooler day. We stayed a day before and day after at a hotel in Nyhavn and walked every where. It would be possible to use public transportation from the cruise terminal but we saved our walking energy for the area around the hotel while waiting for the room to be ready. Due to a cooler night and the need to get up early for the flight home,we did not go to Tivoli.
This is a nice city and maybe a time to take it easier after St. Petersburg. We took the bus into the square and wandered a bit in the market before taking the ferry to Soumenlinna. You could buy a day pass on the buss but the main ferry was not included this year. We enjoyed a leisurely stroll along the main path with only a few side stops. It was windy but not too cold and the fortress was a nice contrast to the previous days. There is more to see but relaxing was more important.
There are many options at this port. The actual tourist area along the canal would occupy some. We chose a shorter train trip than Berlin. We gave ourselves a bit of time for breakfast and then took the train to Wismar. The connection is in Rostock but we chose to go back and have a relaxing beverage and snack on board instead of getting too tired. People were boarding right up to the departure time when returning from Berlin. We were again glad not to do something that long on the first day. There are a number of other towns that would be an easy train ride.
Very attractive room that is an exact replacement for the stolen amber. Pictures were not allowed which doesn't seem to have any basis for hurting the amber.
Truly amazing. I thought it was better than Versailles.
Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
As good as the pictures. Gorgeous onion domes and amazing tile work inside. Look closely at all of the craft it took to make these scenes out of tiny tiles.
Super. Venice of the North is a good title for this city.
Too much to see. Done't even blink or a major item will be missed.
Neva River Cruise
The river cruise gives another side of the city. So many attractive buildings, churches, spires, domes, boats, iron work bridges to see.
Peter & Paul Fortress
St. Isaac's Cathedral
The history of the building is an important part of what everyone knows about old Russia.
This was my favorite port. There is much to see that is close to the cruise port and transportation is easy. We saw the Vasa and the close by Historika museum for Viking artifacts. We then returned to the palace and saw the end of the changing of the guard. We saw the armory museum and St. George and the Dragon in the close church Storkyran. I would have loved to see more of the other museums at the castle and spend more time wandering the Gamla Stan. The departure time should be extended to 5pm. Two more hours would have helped. The entrance and sail away should not be missed. There are 2 hours of islands and we were lucky enough to have a warm afternoon.
The old city is close to modern tall buildings but a world apart. We followed most of a walking tour posted by Jay Brentjes and did not feel rushed or tired. Walking by the old walls give an idea of medieval times. We had a beer at one place and then juice and a pastry on the way back. The view from the overlook is amazing--be sure to find it. You can see the old, the new, and cruise ship in the distance.