Our worries about travelling to Harwich Port were unfounded - we took a train from Durham to Kings Cross, taxi to Liverpool Street Stn., costing £15 & an efficient direct train to the Port - simplicity itself.
Check-in was without delay and extremely efficient then into the Windjammer for a magnificent buffet which seemed to set the scene for the whole cruise. Immediately obvious was the hypersensitivity to cleanliness - sanitizers were everywhere.
We are Diamond Plus members with R.C.I. and are very aware of their ongoing efforts at competitiveness and their attitude towards rewarding their repeat guests.
Our luggage was very quickly delivered to the Cabin - hence we had time to unpack before the mandatory drill. The Suite was very spacious and absolutely immaculate and kept that way for the whole cruise by our Stateroom Attendant Helen Macapayag - a big thank you Helen.
Our first day was spent at sea - the weather was sunny and warm which was a bonus. Although the ship was sailing at full capacity, there were always beds available. Our only disappointment with the Pool area was that there was no live Group - this was a first with R.C.I.
First port of call was Copenhagen - we took a canal cruise which was well worth the cost of 20 euros. This was convenient to join and highly recommended.
Next day cruising - weather still good so spent the day on deck. Then onto Stockholm - a magnificent city, very clean and friendly - the shuttle dropped us conveniently close to the Palace in time to see the Changing of the Guard. We then boarded a hop on hop off Tour Bus - again highly recommended.
Next day Helsinki - lots to see here, particularly The Church in the Rock - a modern place of worship and not to be missed.
Then onto the highlight of the cruise; St. Petersburg with all its wonders for an overnight stay. We would recommend the tour to the Yusopov Palace & River and Canal Cruise. The Hermitage tour must not be missed. Friends reported on a hugely successful excursion to Moscow although very expensive. Another highly recommended tour was the Russian Dining Experience which cost £199 but absolutely fantastic.
The Aurora Ship is a wonderful experience not to be missed but beware of pickpockets. The temperature in St. Petersburg was extreme - some 36 degrees with high humidity which we were informed was exceptional for the area.
Then on to Tallin - a picture postcard stop. We climbed the cobbled streets to the Castle and the Church but this was quite strenuous in the heat - not for the fainthearted.
Cruising next day and then on to Gottenburg in Sweden. A typical industrial port so it is imperative to use the shuttle - too far to walk to town. Good shopping but no romance or history for us.
Another day cruising and then back to Harwich Port. Disembarkation was smooth and efficient. Just walked from the ship, collected our luggage and then 50 yds to the waiting train to take us to Liverpool Street Stn. A memorable Cruise when we dined on quality food, wide variety of choices and high standards. The staff all over the ship were very friendly and courteous - nothing was too much trouble. We had access to the Concierge Lounge and were welcomed by Maritza and her assistant Carlos where we experienced an exceptional standard of service. All in all we would rate this cruise 5 star.