Dover to Stockholm via St Petersburg and the Baltic: Regatta Cruise Review by ebobh
Overall Member Rating
Dover to Stockholm via St Petersburg and the Baltic
Destination: Baltic Sea
After a 90-minute drive (during which we caught up on our sleep), we were at the ship. It was already 4:30 pm, so we went directly aboard rather than walking through town. The check-in process went very smoothly (they now have a questionnaire asking if you have a cough, cold, etc., which probably does little good given that someone who has paid a boatload of cash to get there probably wouldn't confess in any case...). We were in our room in ten minutes, and our luggage arrived shortly thereafter.
We booked a PH suite for the first time & our butler (Iljco) was great throughout. We wanted to make the trip special, and the PH was certainly worth the added cost due More to the port-intense itinerary. We were able to order from the specialty restaurant menu when desired, and did so several times after returning from a long day's excursion. Nothing like a great dinner on our balcony without the hassle of leaving the room...
On several nights, we ate at Tapas on the Terrace. We really enjoy a served buffet, and the variety of foods available. They had fresh pasta, fresh seafood dishes, etc., and their buffet (IMHO) exceeds that found on other luxury lines in every category. We usually ate breakfast in our room; we eat lightly, so it was toast and juice, then off for the day. We also ate at Waves for late lunch a few times. They have a serviceable salad bar, ice cream and shakes and will cook to order a hamburger, chicken burger or fish. Once again, better casual option than offered in other luxury lines IMHO.
Entertainment was as expected; we only attended shows on three nights due to busy days. Good, not great, but enjoyable nonetheless. We did the trivia game most evenings just for fun (one area of suggested improvement is to make the points earned a little more valuable- in fact, they should give a hat and keychain to everyone for advertising value if nothing else).
We did most shore excursions on our own (except for Gdansk, where we did a ship's tour to Stutthof and the Old City- good tour, fair price). We had a bad experience during our Amazon cruise previously with canceled ship tours, and didn't want to chance it this time. Even when traveling independently, the travel desk and local folks they brought aboard were pleasant, informative and willing to help.
We used Red October for our tour in St Petersburg, and they did a fantastic job at a very fair price. One note of caution for independent travelers is the use of hop on-hop off buses and boats in the respective cities they visit. In the high season, it is not uncommon for those buses or boats to be absolutely full by the middle of the day, thus meaning you lose a lot of time waiting unless you plan ahead. Advice would be to book some sight ahead of time (especially the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, where you can avoid a wait of at least an hour by buying on line); use taxis to get around, and to form ad hoc groups on the ship or at the dock to save a little money. In Bruges, unless you are in great shape, don't try to walk to the train station to get to town. It is a 35-40 minutes walk on a difficult road. A taxi for eight to the center of Bruges is about $10 each, each way- a good value.
Disembarkation was smooth; received the tags and time the evening prior, and all went as planned. We had the advantage of flying back from Stockholm perhaps the most civilized and organized airport I've visited. Loooong flight back home, but we're already planning our next cruise. We booked the Roman Revelations 14-day in Oct 2010 while aboard to take advantage of the discounts, and are confident next year's cruise will be on par with this one. Less
Cabin review: PH
PH cabin; great bathroom, lots of storage space. The air conditioning had issues, and was often too cold. The thermostat did not really seem to work very well- the same setting would create widely divergent results. Quiet, good balcony and good balcony seating. We appreciate that general announcements are not piped into the room. Pretty good TV selections, although they should put in ESPN for us American sports junkies