Embarkation went very smoothly. We had booked a guarantee and did not know our cabin number but they had the list right there. There were three lines - 1 for suite passengers, 1 for regular passengers and 1 for internet passengers (those that filled their immigration forms out online). The internet line was the shortest and, as we had filled them out online, we there through the line very quickly. I would say it took us a total of 15 minutes before we were through the line and on the ship. We were ushered right up to the Lido to wait for our room to be ready. The Lido was the highlight of the cruise, at least for us we really liked all the selections and the coffee, juice and tea available 24 hours a day and as we were only 2 decks below and in an aft cabin it was very easy to just slip out for a cup of coffee or glass of tea.
We booked a guarantee cabin in category VD and we were upgraded to an aft verandah cabin WOW is all I can say, the balconies for these cabins are really large (about the same size as the cabin itself). We felt there was plenty of storage space available in the closets as there were shelves you could pull down in all of them. The bathroom was very nice with a medicine cabinet with 3 shelves and a storage shelf under the sink. There was a tub/shower combo and the only problem I had was that with the shower curtain closed it was very dark in the shower, I think that the shower curtain should be clear or at least a lighter color than the dark blue it was. The beds were very comfortable and we liked that there was no bedspread but that the blanket was sandwiched between two sheets so you did not have an issue with blankets that do not get washed very often.
We had the 8:30 seating for dinner and that worked out fine for us. We thought the service was wonderful and the food was quite good, although the portions were small, you could order extra if you felt you needed it but with appetizer, soup/salad, entree and desert it was plenty to fill most people up. Our wait-staff was very attentive and once we let them know that were were slow eaters they adjusted very nicely without making us feel rushed.
We never felt like we were rushed to make it to the late show at 10:30pm and always made it in plenty of time. The shows were mostly very good and we enjoyed the illusionist the most he was quite entertaining. The pools were very nice and you could always find a deck chair whether inside or at the aft pool and there were always dry towels that were very generous in size and absorbancy. The drink staff at the pool was attentive but not intrusive, I never felt pressured to buy a drink at any time.
The pools were heated to 84 degrees and the spas to 98 degrees and were very comfortable to swim in. The aft pool was supposed to be for adults only and even though it was never enforced you did not feel overwhelmed by kids.
We used room service every morning for coffee and danish to get our day started. They came usually around the time requested but never more than 15 minutes early or late. We never had breakfast on the ship as we had our starters and then took off to explore wherever we were.
We never had to wait very long to get off the ship and that seemed to go very smoothly every time. We only used the tenders one time and did no wait more that 15 minutes to get on a boat, except when we were getting back on the ship then it was about a 25 minute wait. We only took one ship offered shore excursion in St Petersburg and that was the Evening Folklore show, which was wonderful by the way, and that went quite well did not take long to get on the buses, however the tour guide we had did not speak very good english and the sound system did not work very well so we had a hard time to understand what she was saying, other than that we loved the show.
We had a couple of incidents however that really did not get resolved to our satisfaction. One was on the tender back from Visby, Sweden. The tender crew had left the front window open and did not bother to close it before we left the dock. we hit the wake of another tender and got swamped by the waves. The lady next to us got it full in her face and was drenched from head to foot and so was her husband. My husband and I were right next to them and got soaked also. What really bothered us was the the crew members were laughing and never even offered help or an apology to any of us. When we returned to the ship the crew seemed even more uncaring with never an apology offered then either. They did clean our clothes for free but again no one said that they were sorry and that kind of erks me.
The other incident had nothing to do with the cruise-line but we felt that they should have let the other passengers know to be careful. My husband had his pocket picked in Tallinn, fortunately I saw it in time to panic them and they threw his wallet in a nearby dumpster and we did not loose anything but he was a little battered as they shoved him into the wall. I know that they are not responsible for this kind of behavior but we felt that there should be some warning about pick-pockets in the daily paper.
All in all we did have a wonderful time despite these 2 problems and we did not let them spoil our fun, which we did have plenty of.