My husband and I took this cruise to Scandinavia this past August 12 - 24. It was our first cruise, and generally, we enjoyed it very much. The accommodations were excellent, as well as the service. The entertainment was generally very good, and we especially appreciated the pre-disembarkation prep talks given by Linda; she was excellent! We personally could have done w/out the "Staffs' Got Talent" show, which I understand is a fixture on cruises; they didn't! Tops in the entertainment for us was the indomitable Perry Grant. Don't pay attention to those naysayers; they don't know what they're talking about. This guy's humor is a mite sophisticated, so if you don't get it...all I can say is, after my husband and I discovered his show in Michael's Club, we made sure to return for almost ALL of his shows. He is very talented and absolutely hysterical. When we disembarked in Amsterdam, and I spent 3 days listening to people speaking Dutch, I must have looked like a nut, because I kept cracking up remembering Perry's rendition of "speaking Dutch" (the Dutch passengers aboard were hysterical, too!).
The only thing I was surprised about and disappointed with was the uneven quality of the food. I know the staff is preparing food for thousands of people, but I still expected the buffet to have better-tasting food. I mean, how difficult is it to make good-tasting bread? Or decent tuna fish salad? The food in the dining room and Tuscan Grille specialty restaurant was generally very good, but here again, I was disappointed with the desserts. They were generally just "OK," and sometimes not good at all. Really awful we're the chocolate chip cookies (the REAL ones), also not something you need Michelin stars to be able to execute well. And I was particularly disappointed w/some of the food prepared on Russian Night. While the coulibiac and Russian-style potato salad were pretty good, the hot borscht and beef stroganoff were inedible. I actually offered my easy and delicious hot borscht recipe to the head chef; he said he wanted it and his asst chef said they'd come to the dining room that night (the last) to look for me and get it, but they didn't. I felt bad that all those people had had such a wonderful time in St. Petersburg, but then weren't able to experience the simple but delicious pleasure of these Russian classics.
The other thing I'd probably wish for is more shopping time (at least 2 hours) built into the tours. I also very much enjoyed Karen Dodd's nature presentations, but would have preferred the trivia sessions to be more general (geography, history, maybe about the ports of call), and they would have been more enjoyable if small prizes were given out after each session. And come on, it was SO ANNOYING that they kept trying to sell us stuff and that we didn't have free wi-FI, but from what I understand, this is typical of a cruise at this price range.
I liked this port of call because it really looks like a medieval town (I'm a history buff; this may not be everyone's cup off tea), and the shopping is fabulous! A tour really isn't necessary; it's small enough for a self-guided tour. Ate lunch at Olde Hanse, where the servers wear medieval garb, and the place is only lit w/candles! The food was very good, too. Buy sweaters, natively-made linen wraps, etc. The prices are fair. And we were able to return to the ship when we were finished (well, if the truth be told, I wasn't finished, but would I ever have been?!) by shuttle bus.
Tour guide was fabulous, saw the important sites, palaces, etc., and had oodles of time for shopping! The idea of see stuff, then hang out in the city center for a few hours and return on a shuttle bus is a terrific way to combine sightseeing and shopping; I would have liked ALL the tours to be this way. Tried traditional Danish smorgasbord; expensive but delicious! Talk about wonderful bread! Danish people exceptionally nice (pretty much everyone in every port of call was nice).