Background Information: There were 8 of us who worked together to plan this cruise to the Baltics leaving from Stockholm on June 2, 2007 and getting into Tillbury, England on June 16th. We have been good friends for years and are all about the same age - mid sixties. We researched all the places we wanted to see and planned our excursions accordingly. We had all been on Oceania previously.
Travel to Port of Embarkation: We flew from Florida, Indiana, and New Hampshire into Stockholm the day before we sailed. US Airways has a direct flight from Philadelphia.
Hotel Info : We stayed in Stockholm at the Radisson SAS Strand, Nybrokajen 9. It was reasonably priced and right in the middle of town. From there we walked everywhere and even took a canal trip which started across the street from the hotel. We had dinner at Ulla Winbladh Restaurant, Djurden. We took a cab to get there. The food was delicious and the scenery spectacular.
Stateroom: We were aboard Oceania's Regatta in a PHI level room which was large and had butler service. It was on deck 8. There were two twin beds and a hide-a-bed couch. There was plenty of room for storage of clothes, etc. Our room was one floor below the Tapas Restaurant where we ate breakfast and lunch and two floors below the Polo Grill and Toscano Restaurants. Very convenient.
Ship Info: The Regatta held 640 passengers and almost as many in crew. It was small enough to get into all the ports - no tenders were necessary. The ship was clean and had plenty of common areas for all.
Dining: If you would like a change at dinner time from the main diningroom (which is wonderful), there are the Polo Grill and the Toscano Restaurants. You need to make reservations there and it is best to do it as soon as you board the ship. The food everywhere is delicious, plentiful, and well presented.
Activities: These were limited since most of the passengers went on the excursions. The two days at sea, however there were many things offered. The selection ranged from Bingo, Bridge, Trivial Pursuit, and other games to lectures, wine tasting, and cooking demonstrations. There was a huge art auction also.
Children's Clubs: There were no activities planned for the children. On our cruise there were three middle school age boys who were in the pool all day long.
Service: Excellent. You said "jump" and they said "how high"
Entertainment: I must confess, we never made it to one of the evenings of entertainment. According to the program there was quite a variety. We were always up at the crack of dawn, had dinner about 7:30 PM and it was on to bed. That happens when you get older.
Shore Excursions: The excursions offered by Oceania are usually more expensive than if you did things on your own, but they are well organized, first class, and very interesting. We read all about them on the Internet and prepaid many of the excursions. We ended up changing a few once we got on board and learned more about them. We took two private tours which turned out to be wonderful, but I worried until I saw the vehicle outside and the driver held up my name. I had heard stories about "No shows". We took a private tour to Berlin because it was a 3 hour drive each way from the port (Warnemunde) to the city and we knew it would be a long day. It was definitely worth the drive to get to see how Berlin has recovered from the War. Original Berlin Walks organized the tour for us. They picked the 8 of us up in a 14 passenger bus and provided a guide once we got to the city. We saw almost all of the highlights of the city and went from location to location in the small bus. We got out for photo ops and short explorations. Our guide (Edo) was young, very enthusiastic, well informed and knew the city well. We had lunch in one of the museum cafes but never toured any of the museums (not enough time). We'll save those for our return someday. The second independent tour we had was when we arrived in Tillbury. We weren't scheduled to fly out until the following day so David Stubbs from London Country Tours met the 8 of us in 2 minivans. He got all of our luggage in (a miracle) and he showed us the highlights of the city from the car. You will notice there are no police around anymore. Watch out for all the cameras. He then took us to the country. We had all been to London before. We had lunch in Epson, the site of the Epson Derby horse race. Delicious. Then 6 of us were left at the Gatwick Airport Hilton and the other two went on to Heathrow. The Hilton has a direct path to the South Terminal. You never have to go outside. Remember you must be there 3 hours ahead and may only have one carry-on - your purse counts.
Disembarkation: This was as smooth as silk. Guests were taken off in shifts based on the time you chose to leave the ship. The luggage was organized accordingly. Remember to leave out clothes to wear the day you leave. Don't laugh. It's easy to forget when you pack your bag and have it picked up the night before.
Summary: This was a fabulous cruise for all 8 of us. We had no complaints other than the laundry room was too small. Everyone seemed to want to do their laundry about mid cruise. Actually I had more fun in there talking to everyone so the wait didn't bother me at all. I made some new friends. Our weather was perfect. Sunny and warm everyday. Smooth sailing. Only a sprinkle of rain in London - but that's London. The most unusual thing is watching sunset about 11:00 PM and sunrise about 3:00 AM. It seemed to always be light. You are welcome to ask me any questions. Babs