Baltic & Northern Europe
This was our 3rd Royal Caribbean cruise, we booked with them again as our prior experience had been so enjoyable. We arrived into Copenhagen 3 days early in order to rest and see the city. As we are reasonably fit and in our early 60s we opted for the city bus (#5A) from the airport (23DK each) to our room in a private residence near the airport (booked via visitcopenhagen.com as a B&B). The bus stop was a short walk from the bag claim, exit thru the revolving door, walk about 100 ft. The bus driver was very helpful, spoke good english and said he would tell us where our stop was. No problem with our baggage onto the bus. Once off the bus 1.5 blocks to the residence with private entry and private bath; 600DK/night. We were warned about the cost of what we as travelers would need for daily expense and they were right. By U.S. standards this is a very expensive city for transportation, admissions, eating and room cost. We bought food at the nearby market and ate in the room and More
tried to economize on food costs. The transit system is all linked,ticket wise so it is easy and convenient to get around town. Everyone seems to speak english so getting help was easy. One caution - do not assume a credit card will be accepted, most of the vendors needed a pin to accept visa or master card so ask first and always have local currency available. A typical meal might be $18 to $20 each without liquor. We paid 90DK for 2 hot dogs and 2 drinks, that was typical of what you can expect. 1 DK is approximately 18 cents The biggest negative with this particular cruise was 4 port stops in 4 straight days. A day of no port might have been good to rest and regroup. We had the early dining and not all seats were taken; we heard that the Europeans preferred the later, 830pm seating. Evening dining in the aquarius was usually outstanding for selection, quality and service. Our evening shows were normally at 900pm, lasting about 1 hour and included, 2 stage production shows with the RC dancers and singers, 1 magician, 1 juggler, 1 Motown group from England, who did a good job, plus local talent brought on twice, mentioned below. We were warned the ship had not undergone refurbishment but felt it was in great shape overall with only a few places where any wear could be seen. About 1/2 of the cruisers were Danish and announcements were made in Danish and English. Other cruisers were agreeable and friendly and it was just another great Royal Caribbean experience. We have already booked our next cruise while on board to take advantage of the reduced deposit and on board credit. Of course there was the Crown & Anchor society get together with wine and appetizers. Royal Caribbean does so many things well we continue to recommend them to our friends, and their experiences mirror ours. Less
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Cabin review: Vision of the Seas Interior Stateroom Deck 2 8033
We had a banging clunking noise in our cabin, sounded like a hammer on metal, was periodic. We mentioned it to customer service and were told we were under the pool and nothing could be done. To compensate they sent an apology and a bottle of wine with glasses and bottle opener to our room - we thought that outstanding. There were times when this noise did wake us up though. Cabin size was what we always experience. Cabin location, center of ship was ideal and perfect. Other than the occasional banging noise the rooms was quiet and well placed.
Port and Shore Excursions
On our sailing date, Saturday the 4th, we headed for the Frihaven pier via bus #26. Careful as there are 2 bus #26s, one gets closer than the other to the pier. The close bus dropped us at the DFDS terminal and resulted in a 20-30 minute walk with our bags in tow. It is an easy walk, flat surface over sidewalks, many other cruisers were on our bus as well. The closest bus to our pier, also #26 only runs Mon-Friday!!, as we found out. The entry into the pier is on Sundkrogsgade St, signage says Frihaven. At the pier Royal Caribbean was again amazing, from entering the tent to being on board with sea pass about 30 minutes total, they do such a good job of getting cruisers on and getting them off their ships. Food was available at the windjammer immediately and bags were at our cabin door by 315pm. NOTE: From the airport to this pier the cab fare is about $50 USD.
The boat docked at 720am, again at Frihaven port. Normally we do express departure, this time we departed as ordered to do so. As it turned out we were the first called group off the ship and exited at 800am. We walked out of the pier area to a nearby coin laundromat (25-30 min walk with our bags). Laundry address was at Nordre Frihavnsgade 71, got there about 830am. This was a treat, as all signage and instructions were in Danish (should we expect anything else?). We did figure it out and just before starting, a nice lady came in, arriving on a bike, again perfect english, and helped us to make sure we did everything right. We did 3 loads and the final cost was 186 DK (about $31) but was well worth it to have clean clothes as we were heading to Dublin for an 8 day motorcoach tour the next day. Was enjoyable to talk with the locals in the laundromat. Upon finishing laudry we took the nearby S train to Norreport station, connected with the metro to Kastrup and walked about 2 blocks to our hotel, the Quality Inn Airport Dan (680 DK). The hotel offered a free shuttle service to the airport the next morning departing 600am arriving 610am. By 655am we were at our gate for our SAS flight to Dublin. One other note: pay phones are very difficult to use when you can find one. Phone cards were recommended but they are quickly sold and do not seem to work well; ours cost 100 DK and we found it hard to use. Best choice is to use the card at your hotel room phone if possible, but check if there is a charge or access fee. This was a good hotel choice for our needs.
Our 3rd port stop on Wednesday, 9/8 - $12 round trip each into the city via RC. Very nearby was a bus stop - 2.5 Euros each, bus #26 into the city center. Nice man also waiting at the stop told us where to get off and translated for the bus driver as to our needs. Once in town went to the esplanade area and the visitor center. From there to the city hall where a nice lady at reception (again perfect English) answered questions and allowed us to use their free internet access, NOTE: On RC it is 65 cents/minute or $55.00 per hour. We walked the city, got a snack to eat and enjoyed it, taking bus #26 back to the pier for 2.5 Euro each. By now 3 ports in 3 straight days was getting tough. At this port as in St. Petersburg, RC brought local folk singers onto the ship to perform in their auditorium, they exited the ship, then we sailed. A nice touch we thought.
This was our 2nd port stop, the next day on Tuesday 9/7. A visa is required to get off the ship so we booked the walking tour, 3.5 hrs, via RC ($32 each). This was the only tour we purchased on the 7 day cruise as we usually prefer to get off and tour on our own. Independent Russian tours can be purchased but were more expensive and more lengthy. We boarded a tour bus for the 20 min ride into town with Mary the local tour guide. They dropped us in town and we proceeded to follow her (about 40 of us)using these receivers with ear buds which did not really work that well. Her narrative was interesting, the city was interesting to see but in some ways very stark and cold. People we saw seldom smiled and of all our ports the least amount of English was spoken here. We stopped once at a bazaar type market, then stopped again at a large shop, then back to the ship. Other than the 2 stops were we kept together as a group and I felt I should not stray far from the group. Once back at the ship's boarding area senior members of the crew met us and welcomed on back on board - a nice touch. That evening prior to departing RC brought on local Russian dancers to perform a show for us in their auditorium, they left the ship, then we departed the port at about 1030pm. Nice to have local talent come on board to entertain. Many large apartment type buildings on the ride into the city, very cold looking.
Our 4th stop, Thursday Sept 9th. We docked at Slussen pier (close to town), information kiosk at the pier. Bought 2 24 hr bus passes for 100 SK each (1 KR = 14 cents) and proceeded to walk to the bus stop. Again RC shuttle was $12 each round trip. At the road, stop light there, we turned right, toward the city, not knowing the bus stop required a left turn. As a result we walked & walked and there were no bus stops for 1-2 miles. Finally when we got to a stop we asked a lady how far to the palace, she said 3-5 mins, why take the bus. When you are told 3-5 minutes to walk beware - it may be 1-2 miles !! We walked again and once into town really enjoyed Stockholm. NOTE: not many bathrooms available, lots of porta potties but they are very clean with hand sanitizer. Bathrooms were 10 SK or 1 Euro to use, the few we saw. We did ride the city bus several times in town and we took bus #53 from Slussen back to the pier area and from the stop to the dock was about a 1 mile walk.
Tallinn was our 1st port stop on day 3 of the cruise (Monday, 9/6). Round trip shuttle via RC was $8 each. We walked into town with many others, got $10 worth of their currency. Is a great city, very very old, lots of history, lots of cobblestones so watch your step. Again most speak English, credit card friendly, no PIN needed here. Prices seemed lower than Copenhagen, overall a good stop.