I booked this cruise originally with SHIPS MONTHLY MAGAZINE as a group cruise. But due to not enough numbers we did it on own at their reduced price but without organiser or bridge visits or free excursions.
GETTING TO PORT
Cruise left from NEWCASTLE so went from LONDON KINGS CROSS to NEWCASTLE, i went down a day early to meet someone(but they never turned up) i stayed in MORPETH.
The following day i got train MORPETH to NEWCASTLE. the PORT was quite a way from NEWCASTLE. The PORTLINK bus run by FRED OLSEN was 15 each way!! not going to pay that!(sure it used to be FREE!) I asked about a taxi but they said 18! so i got the METRO to NORTH SHIELDS for 1!! and a bus to near the port.
I got there at 1330 and met mike who i was sharing the cabin with, he got there at 1100. He had number 10 ticket while mine was 246. Then i checked in which took 10mins got my ticket and waited to be called. Mike went about 40mins before me. Was not asked for a card to use onboard(a bit strange i thought!)
I showed my card and was told where my cabin was on ATLANTIC DECK.
As i managed to get an upgrade from inside cabin to outside it was a much larger cabin. 1 single bed and another (a sort of sofa bed made up to another bed.) 1 chair, small tv, 2 portholes and a good sized bathroom with shower.The picture i saw of inside cabin looked really close together. I 1st went on this ship as the "GOLDEN PRINCESS" in 1996 from HAWAII to TAHITI and had cabin 338m an inside i shared but it was quite large, it was now called 4140 and managed to look inside it at the end of the cruise.
There were 3 restaurants, we were given 4 SEASONS restaurant the largest one. this is the only one really apart from the buffet one. MENU'S were quite good choice and wine list quite good i ordered a carafe of ROSE some days at 5.95 not bad. The waiters all did a really good job. very efficient and never had to wait long for courses to arrive. we had 6 on our table including ours. Both of the others were from DURHAM and were really nice and on so well with them.For breakfast there was a buffet or you could order from the menu, i liked this idea as i could get my favourite "SWISS MUESLI" there. Lunch was the same MENU or a buffet.
Went to all of the shows and they were very good. The dancers were so good as were the comedians.not greatly happy about the size of the showlounge as it was not that large. we usually went down about 5mins before the start and ended up on the side(not a bad view but need to get there early for a good front row seat)
PORTS OF CALL
1st was OSLO in norway we only booked excursions in ST PETERSBURG(RUSSIA) as we were docked right in town and just had a walk out to the OPERA HOUSE which looked a bit like SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE i thought.
2nd port was supposed to be HALMSTAD in SWEDEN it would have been a 1st call by BOUDICCA but due to rough seas and the channel was very narrow, The captain decided to miss it out. we never got another port and just seem to go slow to the next port arriving at the same time as in the itinarary.
3rd port was TURKU in FINLAND i had never been here so was interested what it was like. we were docked way from the town so we had a FREE! shuttle bus to take us into town.(unlike HALMSTAD where we were going to be charged 5!! for the shuttle bus!) I read a ship "KRISTINA REGINA" was here as a HOTEL/MUSEUM as the "BORE" so i was determined to go and see her. It sure was a long walk but we made it and went aboard to take a few pictures. Only when we boarded the shuttle bus back we realised that where the "BORE" was moored was very close the the ship.
4TH PORT was HELSINKI in FINLAND a place i have been before, again we were docked a way from town and were charged 5 for the shuttle bus(but never asked to show our tickets!) We walked around the harbour, sadly it was raining so not great walking weather. after walking around the harbour and taking a few pictures got the shuttle bus to the ship.
5TH PORT was ST PETERSBURG(RUSSIA) This was the highlight of the cruise despite being here 8years ago on the "SUN BAY 1" so long ago could not even remember what i saw, i remember booking the "SWAN LAKE BALLET" and it being cancelled as not enough people were interested and doing the FOLKLORIC show including the COSSACK DANCING. This time we booked an independant tour rather than the much more expensive ships tours. I found out about this from others on the roll call on CRUISE CRITIC and my FRIEND who had just done the same tour. It was $300 each for 2 days including admission and lunches which was a great price! i was a bit worried as we had no visa and FRED OLSEN made a point in telling us if we had no visa we would not get into RUSSIA. But as my friend just walked through customs i was hoping for the best. We met 2 of the others on our tour and another 2 outside the customs so there was 6 of us altogether. It was a mini bus which was good, we saw everything, ALLA TOURS are such a good company we had a great time.
6TH PORT was COPENHAGEN in DENMARK.
We were docked in LANGALINE a good place a ittle way from town, but i had been here before. We walked around in NYHAVN and came back to ship for LUNCH. Later i went off again to the supermarket to get some BEERS. I wanted to see if they took them of me(they did not, even though i told them it was beer! despite them always saying they take ALCOHOL off you and keep it till the last day of the cruise I HAVE NEVER HAD ANY TAKEN! in 53 cruises!!!
These were added to your account at 2 for WAITER and the same for CABIN STEWARD. personally i like this idea it saves trying to get cash to put in envelopes.
ALL IN ALL
I really enjoyed this cruise we really had the best time and met a lot of really nice people.