My husband and I were attracted to this cruise for two reasons; firstly it left from Leith and secondly it was going to St Petersburg. We thought we would give cruising a try and if we liked it we would perhaps do a cruise to Iceland, Orkney etc.
It may be a case of pay peanuts and get monkeys but this cruise fell short of our expectations. In particular, probably due to ignorance on our part in not having done our homework beforehand, we felt particularly ripped off in relation to the excursions we had pre-booked (apart from St Petersburg when it suited us for someone else to do the visa paperwork). In nearly all cases we could have got off the ship and boarded a shuttle bus to take us into the centre of town at no cost. This would have allowed us to board a sightseeing bus (sometimes parked at the cruise berth!) This would have given us a far better insight and more time to explore the city we were visiting.
The biggest disappointment was a Norovirus outbreak day five into the cruise. This meant that facilities such as the gym, swimming pool, hot tubs, library etc were out of bounds. These are exactly the activities that I was relying on to alleviate the boredom on the days we were at sea. I am not a big fan of quizzes, throwing bean bags into a bucket, Countdown, singing classes etc. For the first few days I had happily gone to the gym and participated in various classes, Yoga, Stretch and Tone, Belly Blaster etc.
This outbreak meant that staff were constantly cleaning the ship wearing masks, plastic aprons and gloves - not a particularly reassuring sight! I appreciate the need for this to happen but would also have appreciated more of an update especially in the first few days of the outbreak as to when restrictions would be lifted. This in fact never happened and the day before we were due to disembark it was announced that two more Norovirus cases had been confirmed. The most alarming part of this was that as we were disembarking at 6pm on Wednesday 12 June, other travellers were happily embarking that same day for a cruise to the Norwegian Fjords! Suppose one plus point is that we didn't catch the virus!
All in all not a good first time cruising experience.