It's our 14th cruise with 4 lines; all things considered this was one of the best. As always though, some things were great & some on the opposite.
We bought a transfer in order not to deal with cabbies in the unknown city. The price is comparable with the taxi. The execution was pretty bad: it was disorganized & we had to wait 1.5 hours for the bus. It sucks by itself & even more so after 8-9 hours flight. Once the bus has finally arrived, it was good & the registration was reasonably fast.
2. The stateroom.
It's an older ship so it was a little smaller then some other ships. It had a funny old style TV with maybe 15" screen - not everyone could watch it from the bed. On the positive note, the beds were amazingly comfortable with excellent matrasses, comforters, linens & pillows. Apparently a result of 2011 refurbishing.
3. The ship.
Good enough. Redecorated nicely although without too much taste, but maybe intentionally to create some kind of loose & lazy atmosphere. Some doors to the outside areas are automatic, which is very convenient.
4. The services.
Rather good with a few exceptions. Friendly & happy stuff, apparently went through good customer relations training. I am trying not to stereotype but in my experience people from Phillipines are naturally very friendly, although there is no doubt that you could find a friendly person from any ethnic group.
One of the criteria of good service is ability to handle problems & requests. We had a few: our safe lockbox was locked when we came into the stateroom; at some point we ran out of bodywash soup; once our toilet flushing stopped working. All problems were taken care off reasonably fast.
But they did created some major problem for us: they forgot (twice!) to give us a wake-up call & in one instance this created a major problem - our tour guide company had to make special arrangement to accommodate us. I complained but apparently this service is not high on their list - that's bad b/c this cruise is about trips to the cities.
The entertainment is rather good. Cruise director Jamie is absolutely awesome - probably the best out of all cruises we've ever taken. Looking at her work I came to a conclusion that a female makes a better cruise director - I've seen male cruise directors from England which not only had difficult accents but used one & the same joke every day: "wasn't this day amazing? Let's try it again -wasn't it amazing?". Her people were very good as well, especially Anastsia - a Russian girl from New Zealand. A real pleasure - and some of the games were quite new to me - iagain it's mine 14th cruise - kudos to the team! Some guest entertainments were very good: magician Clifton, Judy Colba. Cruise Production team was very much average or below - although a tech team was good.
The waiting staff is mostly very good, some people are slower then others.
5. Shore excursion we've taken we're with SPB. I will talk about the in a separate review - they provide an outstanding service in every port.
The breakfasts were good: smoked salmon of great quality, 3-4 types of cold cuts, a couple choices of cheeses, fries & usual selection of cereals, yogurts, some fruits etc. Omlet stations were equipped with only one hot plate but I think they had 3 stations and it was good enough.
Lunches were okay with barbecue place on the deck, which was a good option.
The dinners were terrible - little choice & badly cooked, also lots of recurring dishes.
It's easy to provide good breakfast if you have enough stuff - just cut them & keep replenishing the trays. But to make good dinners you need to know how to cook & their chefs were apparently bad. Not even a single dish we enjoyed - most of the stuff was over-salted, over-cooked & plainly not tasty. 1 on the scale from 1 to 10.
6. Itinerary was great - each city , with arguable exception of Tallin, is very interesting. I would recommend not to take city trips from the cruise as they are overpriced. Additionally, don't hope for good souvenirs - as always in the tourist attraction places, they are mostly tasteless & expensive. I recommend buying the souvenirs from the cruise stores.
7. Disembarkation was handled beautifully.
All in all, this was a good cruise.