Had sailed on Riviera, Marina's sister ship, last September in the Mediterranean. This cruise, which began in Copenhagen and visited Warnemunde, Germany (Berlin); Gdansk, Poland; Tallinn,Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; and Stockholm, Sweden, appealed to us for its fascinating itinerary, and we knew from our previous experience that the ship would be superb.
Although this is not within anyone's control, the weather was unbelievably beautiful every day - clear and sunny, calm seas. A total joy.
About us and our expectations: we are not party cruisers, in fact, would hate a ship with that emphasis. We love reading, music, quiet reflection and conversation on the balcony, exercise walks around the deck, rejuvenating spa treatments, full-out touring during the day and a good meal and restful evening to prepare for the next day. We enjoy meeting friendly like-minded people who are mature and cultured. We didn't care about the casino or the lounge (though we did love listening to the charming and talented Romantica String Quartet from Belarus most evenings in the Grand Bar).
In short, Marina's low-key ambiance, marvelous food, hospitable staff, refined (by this I do not mean stuffy, snooty or pretentious-- rather, gracious) fellow passengers, and beautiful appointments suited us just fine.
Some reviewers have said that the shore excursions, hotels and airport transfers arranged through Oceania are overpriced -- we used them all and were pleased with the convenience and felt that we got good value. In St. Petersburg we did arrange an evening out with a local company, balletandopera.com, and attended a wonderful performance at the Mariinsky theater -- but the driver who took us there and brought us back was downright scary, raising thoughts of the fate of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed. There is a measure of quality control and accountability when you use the ship's vendors that reassures new cruisers like my husband and me. You know, for instance, that you won't miss the ship if your tour runs late. However, it must be said that in Helsinki the shuttle bus arrangements made by the ship were disastrous, resulting in confusion about the pickup point and a queue that required an hour's wait at least - a huge waste of time given the short time we had in that port.
Wonderful service, lovely stateroom, beautiful veranda. One quibble - I know that maintenance has to be done during the voyage to keep the ship in the top shape that it is, but when our balcony had to be varnished and painted on Day 9 it was a pain - looking at something on shore I stepped in the fresh blue paint at the edge of the balcony and tracked a little onto the teak. I was sorry about this but on the other hand felt that I should not have had to worry about freely using the balcony we had paid so much for.
Our criticisms, thus, are very minor. Overall, good value and a memorable experience.
I actually spent some time writing detailed port reviews below but a technical glitch eliminated them all - so, suffice it to say that all were memorable in a good way. St. Petersburg was mixed but fascinating - the dark Russian soul and legacy of Soviet oppression still evident - we'd rate it a 4 but paradoxically it was a highlight of the trip, esp. an independent outing to the Kirov Ballet at the fabled Mariinsky Theater.