4 of us enjoyed a 13 night cruise to the Baltic on P & O ship Arcadia. We had 2 balcony cabins on 'A' deck but if went again would look for 'C' deck as we would not be overshadowed by the projection of the Belvedere buffet restaurant and lido above. However the rooms were spacious with good storage, a 2 seater settee and a fridge (useful for chilling water and wine.
We tended to eat all meals in the Meridian restaurant as the scramble in the buffet restaurant on deck 9 meant you always had problems finding a table especially for breakfast.
Overall food was excellent, shows brilliant and some excellent talks and recitals. I would however seriously criticise the sound quality of films shown in the Globe. We only went once to see the 'War Horse' but left after 20 minutes as the sound quality was appalling.
Wine at meals was very reasonable being equivalent to an average price in a home restaurant but generally of better quality. Drinks in lounges also were very reasonable, certainly not inflated. 2 coffees at around Â£4.6 and 2 whiskies at around Â£5.50. No complaints when you hear of other cruise lines charging double.
We stopped at 7 ports of call and only booked trips at St Petersburg due to the visa restrictions. Otherwise we did our own thing having done some research before hand and looked at the P & O description for each port. The also had 'lectures' on each stop well before hand. At all ports (apart from St Petersburg) P & O had courtesy buses laid on and HoHo buses were close by if you wanted to pay for a guided tour.
Oslo, we berthed in sunshine against the castle which was ideal. We walked all round it, paid (by credit card) to do the audio tour and then walked into the city. All very easy. Only spoilt by heavy rain late in the afternoon.
Copenhagen was again sunny and we used the P & O courtesy bus to get into the city. We then did our own exploring. Again all very easy. We endeavoured to get back to the pick up point approx. hours before the last bus to avoid the last rush which proved sensible (the same at each stop).
Stockholm, again in bright sunshine, used the courtesy bus that dropped us opposite the main island. Walked in via the right hand bridge, explored and got to the palace square by 12 noon for the changing of the guard. After, our wives wanted to explore the palace (paid for by credit card) while we men walked off (about a 20 -- 25 min walk) to the Vasa museum (you can se it from the island) and looked over this amazing warship (entrance again by credit card).
Tallin was cloudy, again taken by bus but after exploring the old town it was an easy walk back to the ship.
St Petersburg was explored via 4 Â½ day trips (we tried to be on board for between 1 -- 1.5 hours to use the facilities and have lunch. The first day we had a coach tour of the sites followed by the Hermitage in the afternoon (guided with radio linked headphones) Day 2 was a trip to Catherine palace followed by a walking tour (again radio linked headphones). The mistake we made was that the coach trip and walking tour were almost identical. Forget the coach trip and say do a river cruise and visit something else. All was paid for as part of the trips although to see the inside of the Church of the Spilt Blood they said you needed cash but the ticket office should would accept credit cards. (We were misinformed about this but changed 25 Euros for cash at the market opposite -- I just asked a stall holder if she would change some Euros rather than buy something for the change -- but try the credit card first).
Helsinki again was sunny. We took the bus in and walked to all the main sights, walking back to the ship (I would not recommend this if walking is difficult as it is quite a stretch).
Bruges was more of a challenge. The bus took us to the station where we caught the train. Buy return tickets (you make a big saving over buying singles) using Euros. From the station it was a level walk into the city which was easy to explore. We bought a carriage ride (39 Euros -- whether 2 or 4 persons) from the main square and the girl driver was very good explaining points of interest. We then retraced the route taken seeing even more. Also chocolate bought away from the main square and streets is cheaper and just as good.
Finally, would we go again? Yes