DH and I have done a number of cruises and were on the Elegant Explorer once before. this was the longest cruise we have done so far and we picked the right ship to do it on. Our cruise started in Port Everglades with a stop in Bermuda and a total of 9 days at sea. Once we had crossed the pond, we had three lovely ports in France (St. Malo, Le Havre & Cherbourg), a stop in Belgium & then Tilbury. Those that were only on the TA portion got off here. From there the fabulous itinerary continued on to Copenhagen (overnight), Warnemunde, Tallin, St. Petersburg (overnight), Stockholm, Helsinki, Hamburg (2 overnights) and finally returned to Tilbury.
We did many tours on this itinerary and all of them were done privately. We like smaller tours and find that there is a better quality and flexibility because of the size. For St. Malo - taxi tour to Mont St. Michel, for Cherbourg - Normandy Beaches with Eva Ruttger and for our key Baltic ports - Alla tours. Another roll call member arranged a taxi transfer in Belgium from Zeebrugges to Brugges. All of the private tours were very good and we had a fantastic time.
The entire itinerary was wonderful and the cruise down the Kiel Canal was breath taking.
There were good lecturers on board, narrations on the Kiel Canal and other areas and the Crow's Nest was packed with people viewing and listening.
The Prinsendam had the Canaletto installed at their dry dock and enclosed the back portion of the Lido. I wasn't sure what I would think about this and totally loved it when we were on board. This portion of the Lido is very nice and while we are not usually Canaletto fans we went back several times. It was great.
The Pinnacle Grill shone as usual on this ship. I still maintain it is the best PG in the fleet.
MDR dining was good and enjoyable. The cellar master was out and about all the time assisting the wine stewards, topping up wine glasses and chatting.
Our assistant dining room manager was wonderful. He was out and about - whether it would be clearing plates, or taking orders or chatting. You could tell he had a huge interest in good service.
Entertainment on this ship is always on a smaller scale, since she is smaller - sometime individuals. They were all very talented and the entertainment was enjoyed by all from what I could tell.
The adagio duo (violin and piano) were extremely talented and everyone gathered to hear them. We had a table in the forward dining room and I enjoyed we could hear a bit of their music while we were eating.
The band in the Ocean Bar was unbelievable and the Crow's Nest was packed with the piano man. In fact, it was difficult to determine which entertainment venue to go to. The calibre was very good.
I much prefer this to the HAL Cats.
Embarkation was quite smooth. Our rooms were ready and our suitcases were there before 1 pm. We were all unpacked and in cruise mode before the life boat drill.
Disembarkation was smooth as well. The lineups for customs in Tilbury was relatively quick and we were ready for our private transfer to the airport much sooner than I had originally anticipated.
Although there is no official Club HAL (for children) on this ship, they do have counsellors for when children are on board and there were two charming youngsters on the entire cruise. I could tell they were having a good time with the counsellors and was quite impressed that the staff were taking care of only two children.
The casino staff was warm and friendly and the bar tender in the Java spot was great.
All of the bar staff were so accommodating and gave great service throughout the entire cruise.
Everyone was accommodating - in room dining for 6 (course by course) well done and follow up along with the offer for more. A wine tasting for the roll call had lovely munchies provided along with wine glasses and again, the offer for more things if we wished. We declined, but there was no question it was a genuine, warm offer.
I was afraid that after my first wonderful experience on this ship that we would be disappointed this time. Not to be. In fact we have booked another cruise on the Elegant Explorer.
She's not a young lady, but she has so many lovely touches, wonderful staff and to me, things are kicked up a notch compared to the other ships.
Wonderful cruise - thank you to the staff of the Elegant Explorer