We were on the July 8 sailing of the Eurodam with my in-laws (70’s) and 2 sons (18, 24). Our youngest had chosen the Baltic over doing the Mediterranean hoping for good weather. We were blessed with fantastic weather (no day hotter than 84) and about 30 minutes of rain during the entire two weeks. We also travel on a budget. We opted to use 3 inside cabins and received the $50 beverage card for each member of the group. (That was a great way to manage the spending of our children . . . they kept themselves within that amount for the week.)
Our family met at the Copenhagen Airport and used the free shuttle to Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers which we used for our first night stay. (It was expensive but the transportation made it our choice.) Our family room was actually two adjoining rooms. We walked to the metro, after some effort (had to cash bills down to coins) got 10 klippekart and went downtown for the evening. We got down just before 5 PM, kept ourselves walking, had some pizza (about 50 dollars for four of us) and headed back for the night.
NOTE on credit cards – Denmark was the only country we struggled with using credit cards (which caused some early panic). Even though we don’t have a PIN for our Visa, it often asked for a PIN. We had $200 in Danish Kroner and that was gone by the time we paid for the cab ride to the port. In every other country, if we said we needed to sign with the card, there was a button to push that overrode the need for a PIN. We did successfully use our Discover which had a PIN. None of our cards are CHIP cards; they are all magnetic stripe cards.
The six of us shared a cab to the port which was easy (except for trying to pay). We got on the ship within 30 minutes. We were pleased with our inside cabins which had plenty of storage space.
SPA: My oldest convinced me to do the spa tour for the potential of winning free spa services . . . and HE won. As a family we splurged getting a couple’s pass to the thermal suite. I traded my son for his Salon Pick 3 and he also got a thermal suite pass. The first few days the thermal suite was busy when we would use it but the usage dropped as the cruise continued. I learned to use the changing room to shower (little bigger than our inside cabin shower). All of us LOVED the heated ceramic chaise lounges. I used the Salon Pick 3 on our Helsinki day, in the evening and was pleased with the pampering. I had never tried this so it was definitely a treat.
DINING: We were pleased with the food and service for the most part. After initial frustration trying to get a reservation on Day 2 for the main dining room, I finally figured out the situation. I wish HAL would simply print the guidelines that they use . . . only 40% of the tables can be reserved in the Open Seating area. They don’t give out reservations for larger groups from 7-7:30ish (something like that). We found that if we simply headed for the Dining room between 6 and 6:15, the six of us were immediately seated. We were moved around the dining room, which didn’t bother us in the least. We also used the dining room for breakfast about half the time (the Lido was extremely crowded for breakfast since it was a sold out cruise) and did one lunch there. We ate in the Tamarind twice (Night One and the Kiel night). Obviously we enjoyed it (we’re a sushi family) and even my father-in-law (non-sushi) found things he really liked. On a whim, we got reservations at the Pinnacle Grill on our last night and had a wonderful meal. It truly surpassed my expectations because so many gave it lukewarm reviews. We all chose two appetizers so needless to say we were extremely full at the end of the meal. The crème brulee is a delight . . . three flavors make up the dessert.
ENTERTAINMENT: I attended 3 of the singer/dancer programs which were typical of cruise entertainment. They were ok. We found the magician was fun to watch. We LOVED the comedienne, Jonathan Clark . . . that was the only night we wished the in-laws had joined us because he was that enjoyable. We also were enjoying the BB King group so we went to their mainstage performance and listened to them each night they performed. Our youngest is a bass player, so he appreciated this group.
PORTS: These were excellent. We only did a paid tour in St. Petersburg and used TJ Tours -- “All St. Petersburg Highlights”. (In-laws opted for the Standard tour). This was EXCELLENT. We were fortunate to end up in a small group, the four of us and another couple with their toddler. Our guide, Olga kept us moving since she could easily keep us together. We were able to see each day’s list of sites and return to the ship about an hour early. (You may think we didn’t get our money’s worth, but you are exhausted. We didn’t feel that we missed anything). The best example of this was Olga kept us ahead of the “wave” in the Hermitage – we often entered rooms on our own because the crowd was behind us.
In Tallin, we walked the Old Town using the Rick Steves’ guide. An ATM for euros was outside the Old City walls over by Freedom Square. We used a 24 hr. transportation card in Helsinki. It was easy to use and we enjoyed the ferry to Suoumenlinna Fortress and rode the tram in a big figure 8 (thanks Rick Steves) to see the city. In both Stockholm and Copenhagen we used the Hop On Hop Off buses/boat combos. The pick up/drop off point is right next to the ship which makes it very convenient. Plus, there is free wi-fi on the Hop On Hop Off buses, which was a plus for our family. Overall it works well. Be aware that the system can “shut down” around noon during the Changing of the Guard in Stockholm, which leads to very full buses for a period of time. We visited the VASA museum on day one about 12:30 PM and experienced almost no line. On Day two we went to the armory museum and loved it. It was different than what we had seen in St. Petersburg. Since we had visited Berlin before, we took the train from Warnemunde to Rostock. The surprise was we were given a “group ticket” so it was less than $25 for the four of us for the day. We had a quiet day in Rostock, visiting three churches and having lunch at the brewery. We used Plan B in Kiel (had planned to go to Lubeck) and took the ferry to Laboe. Easy to do, visited the U-boat and came back . . . a very quiet day. Back in Copenhagen the Hop On /Hop Off pass was valid for 48 hrs. because we got the version with the boat. We did the loop, saw the Little Mermaid, visited the Carlsberg brewery, and spent time at the National Museum. (Great and free!)
DISEMBARKATION: We were in the last groups getting off. It is very organized to get a taxi . . . one line for small groups and one for large groups. We shared a taxi, dropped off in-laws at Crowne Plaza and went onto our hotel, Copenhagen Go Hotel. The front desk worked to get us into a room asap (we arrived about 10:30, check-in is 2 PM, we had room by 11:15). Easy to get the train to downtown and they are one stop from the airport. We had an early flight so opted to use a taxi at 6 AM . . .it was $20. There was no air, which we knew but the internet worked extremely well. The Copenhagen Go is very clean but is definitely no frills. On the other hand, it cost us about $100 less than the Crowne Plaza.
SUMMARY: It was a wonderful cruise. It worked well for the entire family. Definitely a great family experience.