Firstly we’d like to say we really enjoyed the cruise and would book with Royal Caribbean again. We’d also do a similar cruise itinerary in the future but perhaps try to find one including Sweden.
We travelled on the Adventure of the Seas from Southampton. We used the Inter Cruises coach transfer and found this very efficient and comfortable. We also found the check in very easy at Southampton with very little queuing. We were on board by 13:30 and lunching in the Windjammer restaurant.
This was our first time with Royal Caribbean and we were very impressed by the ship – the biggest we had been on - and it looked very well maintained inside and out. It was spotlessly clean and was kept so throughout the cruise.
We were a party of 6 and had booked 3 outside cabins on deck 2 (2290 being one of them). Once we found our way to the cabins (decks 2 and 3 can not be navigated from end-to-end as there is a conference centre & ice rink in the middle, so we had to go up to deck 4, travel down the ship and then back down to deck 2) we found them compact but they had everything we needed. We also thought they were brightly decorated and the big window lets in a lot of natural light. The shower was a stand in one and a good size. There was also a kettle in the cabin and tea bags (you needed to ring room service for coffee and ice). There was a fridge but we found the drinks in there expensive ($2.50 for a can of lemonade). There was a large wardrobe and a seating area and enough drawer space for our needs. Our luggage arrived by 5pm. We found that area of the ship to be very quiet throughout the holiday and there was very little noise from the engines in that location.
We had booked My Time dining and ate all but one night in the Mozart restaurant. Overall the service was very good and apart from one night where we had a different table with poorer service (which we spoke with the Head Waiter about and we were not seated there again) we found the waiters to be very friendly and efficient. We enjoyed the meals in the Mozart – always a good selection and very tasty. We also tried Portofinos and enjoyed the seafood and steaks in there very much – although we found the portion sizes too big for us! We booked a 12 bottle wine package for $385 and found this worked out better value for us over the cruise than if we had purchased separate bottles.
We also ate some breakfasts and lunches in the main dining room with waiter service. The selection of fruits was much better in there for breakfast and it had an a la carte menu (the Crab Cakes Eggs Benedict on one day was a food highlight for me!) and there was a very big salad bar at lunchtime. Otherwise we ate in the Windjammer and found the selection and quality of food very good. It was always busy in there but only on one occasion did we have real difficulty finding seats (the first morning in St Petersburg).
We also used the café on Desk 5 to get tea/coffee throughout the day – this was a very busy area, particularly in cold weather! Frozen yogurt was available in the afternoons on Deck 11 and there was a barbecue on that deck on the night we were in St Petersburg.
There was a good selection of shops on Deck 5 and we thought some of the duty free drink prices were good value but there was a limited selection of perfumes for sale.
Internet was available but we thought it was very pricy ($35 per hour) so we only purchased one hour and tried to find wi-fi spots off the ship (Tallin was probably the best for this).
We saw some of the shows and thought the Ice Show was excellent and well worth getting tickets for (available on the first morning of the cruise). We also went to some of the production shows and some tribute acts – the Beatles tribute being the best.
We really enjoyed the quizzes – there were around 5 per day normally and they were usually well attended. We also played crazy golf and table tennis although the latter had equipment that needed upgrading!
We had trips planned in all ports – walking tours in Oslo, Tallin, Helsinki and Copenhagen. We could probably have done all these on our own very easily but we like to find out about places by talking to a guide so this suited us. We also booked the 2 day tour of St Petersburg ($305 per person) which was pricey but well worth it. We had a really good guide and saw all the main sites. Be aware that Peterhof does have mosquitoes so be sure to spray/cover up (we didn’t know until it was too late!). The port which was most disappointing was Zeebrugge where we were late in and sat on a coach for an hour in the port car park only to be told we were too late for our canal boats – a wasted morning (however we got a full refund)!!
Weather wise – we had 5 fabulous days in the most Northern ports and witnessed a sunset at 23:25 in St Petersburg which was amazing. We had rain/winds for the Copenhagen, the North Sea and Zeebrugge.