We flew into Amsterdam and took the train from Schiphol Airport to Rotterdam Central Station. Be aware that your American credit cards may be rejected when buying train tickets (as ours were), so carry enough euros. The cost for the 50-minute train ride was about 11 euros. From the Rotterdam Central Station we paid 2,40 euros for a short tram ride (Tram 20 or 25) to Wilhelminaplein, which is a block from the cruise ship. Check-in at the Rotterdam went smoothly and quickly. The first lunch at the Lido buffet was disappointing. The food was mediocre. HAL takes the lifeboat drill very seriously, so don't try to skip it. Dinner that night (and every night) in the dining room was very good. Allow about an hour and a half to eat in the dining room.
Our first full day was a day at sea. This gave us time to recover from our flight and explore the ship. The Rotterdam is a beautiful ship with very good facilities. I was impressed by the library, and many people used it. The shops rotated their inventory to reflect the current port. There was a "Russian bazaar" onboard as we left St. Petersburg. Our room, which was a standard outside cabin, was spacious enough as cruise cabins go, and it had more storage space than we could fill. The lighting was good. The bed was very comfortable, but I was disappointed to find stains on the sheets. The satellite TV was not working until the very end of our trip, which was a great frustration for my husband as he tried to keep up with sports. The shower had a good adjustable showerhead and plenty of hot water, though the temperature varied somewhat on busy mornings. The twice-a-day cleaning service of the room was excellent. We used the self-service laundry room: $2 for wash and $1 for dry. You can get quarters at the Front Office. The temperature settings on the dryers were not reliable.
Overall the food was very good. Breakfasts at the Lido were very good. Lunch was good but not great at the Lido. I got tired of eating the same fruit over and over. Once we had dinner at the Lido, and it was just as good as in the dining room. The best meals were at formal nights in the dining room. The staff seemed to make an extra effort on those three nights (the first two at-sea days and the next-to-last night of the cruise). We went to a few of the afternoon teas; the Dutch High Tea is not be missed, but the Indonesian Tea is also special. Service at all meals and teas was very good. We became quite friendly with the servers in the dining room.
The entertainment--both music and comedy--was geared toward people older than we are, so after a couple nights we stopped attending. My parents enjoyed the entertainment much more than we did. We went to a big-screen movie one night, but people kept coming and going and caused a lot of distraction.
The great advantage of this particular cruise on the Baltic Sea is that you can go to a country a day without packing and unpacking each day. For me, the purpose of a cruise is to get you in comfort to the places you want to see. By that standard, this was an excellent cruise.
I have reviewed the ports individually (there were seven of them), but I have a few general observations to make about the ports: *We never needed to take a taxi from the port. Either we walked, or HAL provided a shuttle for a few dollars. *At the ports on this cruise, you can get by with just US dollars and euros and credit cards. There were a few places that would not take dollars, but those places took euros. We used dollars even with the street vendors in St. Petersburg. *In some ports we saved money by going ashore fairly early in the morning and then returning to the ship for a late lunch at the buffet. The earlier you go ashore, the less crowded the sights are. *We used at-sea days to rest and to learn about upcoming ports. Port talks are shown continuously on the TV in your stateroom.
Disembarkation went smoothly. We were off the ship by 8:30am. When we disembarked in Copenhagen, we walked from the Freeport Cruise Terminal to the Adina Apartment Hotel to stay for three nights. (We probably should have taken a taxi for that distance.) Our one-bedroom apartment was spacious, modern, and clean, and it had a full kitchen with dishes and pots. We shopped at the adjacent grocery store and saved money by making our own breakfast and dinner. From the Adina, the number 26 bus goes to the major tourist attractions of Copenhagen. There is also the Osterport train station fairly nearby, which we used to get to the airport at the end of our trip.