This was my first cruise on a bigger ship. I did do a Greek Island Cruise on a much smaller ship and enjoyed that too.
We stayed at The Radisson Blu Royal Viking Hotel and this was fine for our two night pre cruise. We got a taxi to the port and began embarkation which was fast with no hassle. The only thing I had to explain was that we each had one bottle of wine for a celebration with us. The young boy checking our hand luggage seemed unaware we were allowed one bottle each. This soon got sorted out once he checked. All was fine and we filled in our forms and had our passports checked etc. We were given our seapass cards and our wonderful Baltic cruise began with the usual Photos etc.
We had a small hand luggage with us for swim wear and change of clothes which is important as we got our cabins immediately and went for a swim and then had lunch. The Windjammer was open for lunch and I really had no problem with it. Now keep in mind I have not done any Cruises before but the food was fine. Plenty variety, nice salads, Fruit, Hot meals ie Curry, Ribs, Fish, Chicken. I found all the food nice. There was a selection of good bread, nice sweet desserts and a hot and cold drinks counter. My only tiny gripe is that I like hot tea. I did feel the Water for making the tea was not boiling just hot. However they had a great choice of herbal teas also. Everything you could want. But we tried coffee also. No big queues as there was a few buffet counters and it moved fast. Seemed very clean and they also have hand Sanitizers before you enter the Dining areas. Food was served well past 3pm most days when we came back from visiting ports. We always got a lovely late lunch. The views were amazing from the Windjammer.
We pre paid our gratuities so we had anytime dining. We got a wonderful window seat in the Restaurant. We were allowed to book this table each night. We were a group of four and we went for the wine package of 10 bottles for the week. Three in the group drank wine so between three of us we paid €108 each in total over the 7 nights inc 15% service charge. It turned out to be very good wine. I was surprised at the quality (after reading other reviews) We opted for the Kendal Jackson Red. Boy was it nice. I checked here in Ireland and its €24.99 a bottle at the off Licence. So I think we did well. We enjoyed starter, Main Course and Dessert followed by Tea Coffee. The starters were small but there is a lovely huge Bread basket also. If you want another starter they will bring that too. The Fillet steak I got was small but really good. The pork another night was good. I must say the night the stuffed chicken was on we all tried it and we were blown away. It was really tasty. I do like good restaurants and let me tell you this was good. The staff were so nice. They made our cruise and they deserve a good tip. We made sure we did an extra tip as well as the pre paid one.
The shows were ok. I'm not a great one for shows but I enjoyed the ones I went to. Perhaps a little amateurish in comparison to say the West end London but they were included and we enjoyed what it was.
We never booked the ships excursions, we got off in Tallinn and just walked the 10 mins in to the lovely old town. Its Euro here and the people are lovely. The town is just out of this world. We got a private two day tour of St. Petersburg and a trip to the Ballet (Swan Lake) I had never been to The Ballet but I truly adored every minute of it. The set was amazing, such wonderful vibrant colours. The costumes were so true to the time I felt I was in the woods looking on. We booked Red October but having spoke to others who took a cheaper option with Alla and SPB tours they all do the same thing. They are all excellent Tour Operators. Never a hitch once. Easy to arrange. So keep to the one that is within your budget. You get to see so much with them.
Next was Helsinki, we docked at port and we say the Red hop on hop off bus. I had read bad reviews about this but decided to give it a try as they agreed €20 pp as were were four. It turned out to be a good choice. Now commentary is a bit hit and miss but it was just about ok. We got off at the Rock Church, then back on for the Sibelius Park. This was lovely as they played classical music while we took photographs. We then walked down to the water edge and chilled out in this lovely park before catching the bus again. Then a visit to Stockmanns department store. We walked from here to the Market area which is about 3 mins walk. The market was lovely. I purchased the most amazing handmade Christmas decorations which I hope to have as a lovely memory of Helsinki. We sampled the lovely food on offer and the Well earned Coffee. Its affordable enough to eat here. The coffee was a little on the expensive side about €2.70 for a tiny cup or €3.00 but hey it was nice. We then walked the 2 mins to Senate Square and visited the most amazing Cathedral. Its free and they also have toilets. The hop on hop off bus stops in front of the Cathedral and takes you back to the ship. Don't make the mistake of taking a bus that may be going all around again as point 1 and 13 are clearly marked on the guide sheet that they give you for the ho ho bus. Lovely Helsinki. Even after the delights of St Petersburg. We were back on the ship at 3pm for lunch. Riga was last and we did not dock in the town but an industrial port. They laid on free shuttle buses because of this. They did first think of charging $20 pp but I think people kicked up and they agreed it would be free. We walked all around Riga and found it to be nice. They take Euro in the odd place but bring credit cards. They do change to Euro soon. Its a lovely old town. The people are not quiet as friendly as Tallinn but you will enjoy the café culture. We got Fantastic weather all through our 7 day cruise. So hot. Finally we enjoyed a great day at sea dipping in the pool. This is cold out door and there is another indoors but it is deep. There are two Jacuzzi s and they were lovely. Beer on the ship was around $7 inc 15% but was a large glass. Gin Tonic was around $6 but was a good measure. Schooners bar is great. Piano music each evening and full length windows. Check it out. We loved our day at sea and that evening everyone was out on deck for the White Nights experience. I will never forget it. The ship seemed to glide gently along the water. Such a Surreal experience. I did a bit of shopping on board for a Guess bag reduced to $40 felt it was ok value. Bottom Line I would Recommend this Cruise to anyone but keep in mind your own Cruise style, If you have enjoyed more luxurious Cruised this may not be for you. But all in all I LOVED every minute. Cant wait to Cruise Again.