If you are looking for specialty restaurants you will not find it on this ship. You are stuck with the dining room and the Windjammer which we found out serve the same thing each night so not much variety. The food on this ship was not up to standard as we have experienced on other cruises. It was good for the firt few days, then it went downhill from there. Also, service was slow. If you take this cruise, make sure you inform your waiter how quickly or how slow you would like to be served. Keep in mind they are trying to accommodate the eating styles of several different cultures. Being from the US, we like to have our food served to us rather quickly so that we can enjoy other things going on (esp if you have the 8:45 pm seating which we did). On the first night, we did not finish dinner until 11:00 pm. When we said something to our waiter about the slow service he made the comment... "oh, you like to eat fast." I guess eating within 2 hours and 15 mins is fast? Anyway, he tried to improve this but we were still having dessert around 10:30 pm each night. If you don't like the rush of the 6pm seating then I would suggest signing up for the My Time Dining, I wish we had. You may get a different server each night and you have to prepay your gratuities up front, but it beats having to rush to the early seating or finishing around 11:00 pm each night.
The service our our room attendent was also not what we had expected. On other cruises, we always had our room attendant around the hallway in the morning and at the end of the day to get us anything we needed when we got back from shore. We did not experience that level of service on this boat. We hardly saw our attendant and it was the first time I had to use the "make up room" card in the door to make sure he would show up. Again, not sure if this is a European thing where they do not want to see the room attendant, but it would have helped to have a little more contact with him without having to chase him down.
The RC staff on this ship did not do a very good job of crowd control. Our boat arrived very late on the last day due to weather and a lot of us were rushing to be able to catch our flights in time. They had no procedure of how to get passengers off in time to catch flights. They basically did not care that we were going to miss our flights. Unless you asked specific questions on what to do, they did not provide the information.
The joke among our group on this trip is that we called it "the training boat" of RC. We were shocked to find out that only the best employees of RC get assigned to this ship. I found that hard to believe when we received far superior service from a different RC ship and Carnival.
We are not big on booking the tours from the cruise ship, so I would recommend brining a city map of each port along with information on the nearest train/bus stations to get you where you want to go. The taxi drivers that are at the cruise ship shuttle stops will charge you more than if you just walk a couple of blocks away and hail a cab. (ex. Poland, cab to Gdansk was $40 euro for 4 people when we ended up taking the train over for $3USD per person). Also, it is good to have at least $75-$100 USD worth of each country's currency to get you started (cabs/food/gifts). There are many exchange shops once you get to the tourist areas.
This cruise was just okay. We took the Baltic Sea cruise as the second week of our trip to Europe so that we could see as many places as possible within the time that we had. It was nice to see the ports on the cruise, but it would have to be a great deal in order for me to consider another RC cruise. It would definitely have to be on one of their newer ships.
Our tour did not initially have a stop for lunch, but our tour guide was kind enough to stop at a local restaurant to try their local baked pies. It was the best food so far on our Baltic trip!
My advice - if the weather is bad and rainy, do not go on shore. It is not worth being miserable in the que line for the tender if it gets shut down due to high waves. If the waves are high, chances are you will be next to the person that gets motion sickness.