We purchased our tours through Carnival and will never do that again. The tours were crowded, disorganized and offered little value for the money that Carnival charges for them. Our St. Petersburg and Berlin tours were a mess. Our St. Petersburg tour guide became unglued by the size of our group, and apparently didn't want to do a tour of the Hermitage - after waiting for 20 minutes on the entrance queue, she decided a rest room stop was a good idea in spite of the huge lines in front of the rest rooms. We lost a half hour waiting for everyone. So after nearly an hour, we hadn't seen anything in the museum. She decided not to bring us to the impressionist portion of the tour because the museum was crowded. After 20 minutes in the museum, we did one more rest stop and headed back to the ship. We got a tour of the area surrounding the rest rooms for $79.00 a person. A total rip off.
Our Berlin tour was another fiasco. The information desk told us they'd start calling everyone for the "Berlin Top 10 Tour" at around 7:00 AM. What time did they actually call us - 6:30 AM! We literally flew out of our state room only to stand on line for 45 minutes. And as with most of the Carnival tours, we walked around the Holocaust Memorial and the Reichstag but couldn't go in and actually visit these historical places because we had spend 90 minutes walking around the shopping district. Sorry Carnival, I CAN GO SHOPPING ANYWHERE. They're so intent on making sure people shop, they must have some kind of deal. We didn't need to travel 7,000 miles to Berlin to shop. On our return to the ship, the lines getting back on were crazy and no one was directing passengers on where to go. After nearly a 14 hour day, people are tired and hungry. You would think Carnival would understand that. For this privilege we paid $159 a person.
I think their Cruise Director needs to be replaced; his descriptions of the tours had no basis in reality. We cruised with him in 2006 and our opinion of him then was poor. I didn't know he was going to be the director with this cruise also. Had I known, I would have booked my tours elsewhere.
As for the ship, the decor of the public areas is just awful. The state rooms are lovely and the cabin staff is terrific. The dining room staff was great but they could use some education with assistance in wine selections. The food was good but selection was limited. The Lido Restaurant was no better than cafeteria food and the service was slow, at best.