The ship itself was fine with good cabins, food and entertainment.
The passengers were mostly Brits and on formal nights nearly all the men were dressed in Dinner Jackets The weather was generally dry except at St. Petersburg where we had one day of rain. It was cold though with temps from 8'to 18' C.
Bruges. The ship docked at Zeebrugen. There was no transportation in the dock area and when we exited the dock area there were several people milling around and no taxis or local transportation visible. We took the ship tour, Bruges On Your Own which was the best choice. We were given maps of the town by the guide as well as a short history lecture and local tips on the 25 minute drive. And had about 3 Â½ hrs to wander around which was plenty. A good tip is to head to the furthest canal boat pick up point as soon as you can since this will prevent you wasting a good hour or so in the queue for a boat. We got there about Â½ an hour after leaving the guide and got More
on the first boat. After the canal trip which lasted about 35 mins we explored the rest of the town. Quite quaint and interesting and you certainly do not need a ship tour. We purchased the obligatory chocolates and sampled the local beer and admired the architecture.
Warnemunde. We declined the ships tour to Berlin which entailed a 3 hour coach drive each way through boring countryside. Warnemunde is a pretty little town with a few shops and restaurants and would take about an hour to see. It is about a 10 min walk from the ship. We caught the ferry to Rostock which was half way to Warnemunde from the ship just after the car ferry on the right hand side. This was the best choice since it only took 45 mins to get to Rostock and was only 14 euro return. Despite choppy conditions the ride was smooth. We left at 11am and caught the last ferry back at 3.15pm. This left us plenty of time to explore Rostock, have a small lunch and a drink and get on the internet downstairs at the casino in the centre of the town.
Helsinki. We caught the ship's shuttle into town from the dock. Celebrity did not advertise this service until the evening before. You can buy the tickets at the shore excursion desk on the morning or on the dock. The cost was $12 return pp. We were dropped right in the centre of Helsinki at The big Stockman's department store. We walked down Pohjoisesplande to the dock area. This esplanade has many shops and restaurants either side with a garden in the middle. At the bottom on the left hand side is the Helsinki Tourist Info Centre in which are 7-8 computers where you can get on the internet for free. Next to the harbour there are lots of market stalls selling tourist goods and food. . Helsinki is a modern city with several upmarket shopping areas. Prices looked more expensive than many places.
St. Petersburg. We took a 2 day ship's tour here since without a proper visa this was the only way to get into the city. The customs checked everything slowly with typical Russian paranoia and without a smile or greeting. They should be more concerned with fostering good relations with the tourists. I shall remember St P for the horrendous traffic, the crowds in the palaces, the obscene wealth and beauty of the tsar's palaces and lots of blocks of flats. I would recommend a days tour doing the Peterhof Palace and the Winter Palace and Hermitage. For the second day I would choose a tour which gave some insight into every day Russian life. I thought the two day tour involved too many palaces and museum time and too much time on the coaches. I would not go back as St. P has little charm outside of its Palaces and Churches.
Tallinn. Tallinn was a breath of fresh air after St P with no customs to deal with and pleasant welcoming people. We took the ships shuttle which was a rip off at 7 euro pp. This took us about 1Km from the ship and dropped us at the bottom of the old town and at the top of the main street of the new town. About 300m down the street into the new town on the right is the bus station underneath a shopping centre. In the bus station is an internet cafe. At the port where the ship docks are lots of taxis. I heard a taxi driver say you could rent his taxi for 1 hour at 40 euro to show you the town which would have been a good deal. We walked up through the old town after looking thru the market where the shuttle bus dropped us. The currency is euros and there were lots of cafes and gift shops and it was a very scenic area. We really enjoyed Tallinn.
Stockholm. We caught a hop on hop off boat ( = to 10 euros but pay by credit card) which went to most of the important areas in Stockholm. There are also HOHO buses. The Palace, the old town, the new town and the main shopping areas, two islands and the Vasa Museum and Tivoli funfare were all accessible from the HOHO boat. Shop and eat with a credit card but some places will accept euros. This was a very pleasant place to visit and easy to walk around and see everything. Certainly one to do on your own. We enjoyed a nice lunch and drink in TGI Fridays and enjoyed Stockholm as a whole. The ship goes thru a narrow seaway for about 2-3 hours coming to and leaving Stockholm. The scenery during this time is beautiful.
Copenhagen. This was the last stop on the voyage. We docked about 2-3 miles from the city centre. At the end of the dock were the little mermaid and the park about a half a mile walk with some shops on the way. Right next to the gangway were HOHO buses which took you on a tour of the city and stopped at all the important sites. The cost was 155 Kr. Pp which is about 23 euro. You pay by credit card. At restaurants and Tivoli Gardens you can pay by credit card so there is no need to have Krone. Most places accept euro as well. Copenhagen is a fairly modern city with some substantial older buildings. The Nyhavn canal area and the streets there are very scenic. The Tivoli gardens were somewhat disappointing with only small areas given up to actual gardens and fountains and the bulk of the area taken up by restaurants and theme rides. We ate lunch in a converted brewery to the left of the main Tivoli entrance. The food, beer and service were excellent. Most people speak English to some extent and the tourist is well catered for. Unless you want to do the Danish Countryside the HOHO bus with it's English commentary is the way to go.
Overall. The two places to use the ships tours were St Petersburg and the ships Explore Bruges on your Own Tour. You must have a tour in St. P. Or you cannot get off the ship. We enjoyed exploring all the other places on our own and at our own pace. The ship's information sheet never mentions HOHO buses or much about the transport facilities at the pier. Most of the ships tours did not seem value for money and were far more expensive than doing it yourself. Less