We had a great 12 day Baltic cruise and really enjoyed the whole experience on the Brilliance.. Very much agree with all the comments recently made by StingMum July13 so will not repeat again, apart from highlighting that RC allows SMOKING in many parts of the ship. And the so called library is just a single small glass cupboard with a few old books and the internet is slow and very expensive. That apart this ship had so such to commend it. We will travel with RC again
We cruise ( and this was our 4th) mainly for enjoyment and experience of a floating hotel, the attentive personal service, the on- board facilities, the food, and the daily and evening entertainment. And for this RC cruise we have to give it 5 stars. The ports of call/shore excursions are ,for us, an added bonus. Apart from Russia we did our own thing by mostly using the Red or Green local open-top Hop-on/hop-off bus. TIP: Save your first HoHo ticket to get big discounts at subsequent ports.....and cheaper than the RC own port transfer buses.(free with P&O).
Copenhagen: Tip: The iconic Bronze looking mermaid, is actually only 10 minutes nice walk from the ship.
Stockholm (our favourite City on this cruise) : Tip: worth getting up a little earlier to see the amazing islands/scenery during last slow 60mins entrance into the port . Tip : take the HoHo Boat rather than the HoHo bus which is much quicker and more interesting scenery. .
Helsinki: HoHo bus right next to ship. Tip: visit the free and very unusual Rock Church.
St Petersburg : This was the only port we needed to show our passports. The word 'opulent' is heard countless times by the guides, and not without reason. Tip : you will see many of the outdoor sights by going on the evening ballet tour .Ours was Swan Lake, and the eye-opening size of the cod-pieces was remarkable, even more so when the men ballerinas subsequently entered the stage. Added bonus is the return coach trip to the ship is late at night showing this amazing city illuminated. Our guide spoke just like 'Inspector Clouseau', amusing, but useless. Tip: book onto the Peterhof excursion as this gives you a 45min coach free sightseeing , and then a 2hr 45mins guided tour with individual earpieces to help get the best out of the amazing gardens and 100 impressive fountains and gold statues etc. The return to the City is via a 30min fast Hydrofoil boat so you see the sights from the riverside. The Russian immigration staff are as miserable as sin which actually, oddly , made it funny and enjoyable. My theory, their miserable demeanour is caused by their 'back-to-front' alphabet, they are all oppressive dyslectics.
Tallin: Again the HoHo bus right next to ship side. Tip: Best value and variety for buying gifts and we found the shops next to the ship as good as any in town. The Old Town is worth a visit and is just a 15min walk.
Gotenburg: Its too far to walk from the ship so needed to take RC transfer bus .It collided and ripped off the front of the red 'Thomas the Tank' type pretend train as we arrived at the City centre. This was much to the amusement of the numerous pretty blond and happy ticket sellers who told us the same driver 'took out' a lamp post the day before. Great vibrancy ,cafes, very clean, smiling locals, and excellent shops and attractive parks.
Harwich: Tip -Dont pack anything of value or of sentimental value. One of our 3 suitcases went missing.