This was the first cruise that I have been on, in fact neither me nor my wife have ever been on holiday outside of the UK. We are both pensioners and had no idea what to expect.
We booked a 12 night cruise in the Baltic with Royal Caribbean on The Brilliance of the Seas from 8 June, sailing from Harwich in the UK.
Embarkation was fast and problem free and we were on board and having a coffee in a matter of minutes. The only delay is that we had to wait for the stateroom to be got ready. The room was larger than I had expected with a small but adequate balcony. Everything was clean and tidy with plenty of storage space for the huge amount of luggage that we brought. ( I blame the wife for taking to much notice of the advice to pack clothing for all weathers.)
There were several options for dining on board. Included in the price were meals in the Minstrel dining room (waiter service) and in the Windjammer Cafe (self service). The cafe served basic foods but there was plenty of choice and it was well cooked. The Minstrel was a more limited menu with a distinctly continental flavour. I personally prefer a plain diet and sometimes found nothing on the menu that I wanted, however that which I did eat were well presented and well cooked. I did not try the speciality restaurants and cannot comment on them.
The staff on board were welcoming, friendly and seemed to enjoy there work. I never saw any of them looking upset or annoyed in all the time I was on board. service from them was always prompt and they were all very helpful, particularly to the two of us who were a bit unsure of things in the first couple of days.
I have some mobility problems and therefore used excursions that didn't involve a lot of walking. In the main this did not turn out to be much of a problem. However Saint Petersburg was a disappointment as all the excursions to the places of interest, the palaces and museums, did involve too much walking for me and this city was the highlight of the cruise. In general those that I did go on were interesting and reasonable value for money.
The general level of entertainment I thought was good. We went to the theatre most evenings and enjoyed what was on offer. There were other places on board where a variety of entertainers performed and those that I saw performed well. The cost of drinks was not as bad as I feared and at eight dollars for cocktails it wasn't too bad. I had fancied trying my hand at poker in the casino but when I got there I found that the games labelled as poker were a little odd. When I read the rules pamphlet the game was more like a complicated version of blackjack with no betting against other players.
All in all I enjoyed the cruise. If I had been on a previous cruise I would have enjoyed it more as it took a few days to really get into the swing of the cruise. As value for money I would say that it was good value. We were lucky with the weather, blue skies most days and only one afternoon of heavy rain. Would I go again? The answer is definitely yes.
Port 7 was Gothenburg (not listed).
City tour rating 5.
Tour booked through agent with cruise company.
Excellent city tour with very knowledgeable guide who sang to us. An interesting afternoon with time to look at the shops.