We sailed on Celebrity Eclipse to the Baltics. We had sailed on Eclipse before but wondered if it would be as good as we remembered, no problems, it was even better. The check in was a dream [not the nightmare that we suffered with Queen Elizabeth from Southampton]. We were on board within 30 minutes of check in, visited the library to get our books and then up to Oceanview for our buffet lunch. The weather was overcast with sunny periods, we were very glad to have checked in when a heavy storm broke over Southampton for some 15 minutes. At times like this the taxi option looks a far better idea than the free parking offer. Our cabin was available just before 1300hrs and our cases were delivered by 1500 hrs. We had an offer at the booking stage to upgrade to Aquaclass for a nominal amount, this we took to see what the experiance would be like. The main benefit to us was the flexible dining and the option of having breakfast in Blu Restaurant. In addition there were other benefits such as daily canapes, free bottled water, cold flavoured teas, better robes with slippers and larger towels. Also you had access to the persian Garden room. The Blu Restaurant was a lovely setting with mainly tables for two adjacent to each other so you could talk to your neighbours if you wanted to together with some larger tables for six and eight. The food here is mainly "healthy option" and did not come with a lot of vegetables. We found after a couple of days that you can ask for extra vegetables and also a jacket potatoe, however, this is not on the menu and we only found out by seeing another couple with this option. We found some of the food was dry as sauces have been reduced or removed in the name of healthy eating and the "creme brulee" was not a creme brulee as there was no sugar topping.
Our cabin  was very nice and spacious and the joy of a proper shower screen and not one of those plastic curtains [Cunard, please take note]. There was the usual range of toiletries topped up as required. Our steward together with his assistant was excellent and nothing was too much effort. The one thing that we noticed with the ships crew was how well they get on with each other, they all have a great working relationship which passes throughout the ship.
The entertainment was excellent, the shows in the theatre were very well produced and the various acts that were booked throughout the cruise were very good. The comedian was very funny and clean, a model on the Dave Allen observationist type of humour. There were talks "Beyond the Podium" which were very informative and interesting. The musicians that were deployed about the ship were also very good and changing places constantly without becoming intrusive or boring.
Our first stop was Zeebrugge and we took the option of the organised trip to Bruges with a guide. This was good with ample free time to do your own thing. It was our first visit to Bruges and found it fascinating and well laid out.
Our second stop was at Warnemunde, here some folks took the long day trip to Berlin, we stayed locally and explored the pretty town and sea front.
Our third stop was at Helsinki, here we walked into the city and explored ourselves. The market at the harbour is a must, there people were selling from some boats and plenty of stalls offering fresh fruit, flowers and even a Polish artist selling his watercolours.
Our next stop was St Petersburg, here we had booked two half day tours. You need to go to London for a visa if you wish to do your own thing. The problem wth this is the lack of English language amongst the locals. Our guides were very good and we visited the Peterhof Palace and gardens together with the Yussupov Palace followed by a canal boat trip.
Our next stop was Tallinn, this is very beautiful and is the best preserved medieval city in Europe,very compact and easy to explore.
Our next port was Stockholm, here you really need the transfer as it is about an hour to walk into the city centre. A very clean city, the changing of the guard at the Palace well worth the visit. The entrance to Staokholm by ship is amazing, plenty of picture possibilties, well worth getting up early for!
Our last was visit was to Copenhagen, again very pretty, easy to walk in.
We managed with Euro currency or credit cards everywhere. If you want to buy small things such as icecream from street vendors then you will need some local currency.
The weather was very kind to us, even managing 35 in Copenhagen. We would like to repeat this trip in a couple of years as there is so much to see.