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22 Baltic Sea Holiday Cruise Reviews

My husband & I just got home from our Viking Christmas Rhine Cruise. We're experienced travelers in our 60s who used to do most of our European travel by train, limit our itinerary to 3 cities at most & stay at least 2 nights ... Read More
My husband & I just got home from our Viking Christmas Rhine Cruise. We're experienced travelers in our 60s who used to do most of our European travel by train, limit our itinerary to 3 cities at most & stay at least 2 nights in each city to minimize packing & unpacking. However now that we're older my husband wants to take more cruises because the tour companies handle luggage & airport transfers for us. This was our 1st Viking cruise. (A yr & a half ago we took a Tauck French Art cruise. The price for our Viking cruise was much less than the Tauck cruise.) Overall our Viking cruise was enjoyable & went smoothly, but there were a few things that could have been improved. We took a 3 day Brugges, Belgium extention, which began when we landed in Brussels. Unfortunately no one was at the airport when we arrived to take us to Brugges. We waited 45 mins. & the driver eventually showed up, said he was in a traffic jam due to rain & apologized. When we arrived at our hotel, the Duke's Palace (a real Medieval palace in the center of Brugges) at 11 am. they said our room wouldn't be ready until 3 pm. They had a rigid policy & refused to let us go on a waiting list if a room became available. We were exhausted from our flight, but we knew of a nearby reastaurant, Lizzies that serves excellent waffles, so we had lunch. Then we returned to the hotel lobby around 12 noon & met up with 3 other couples from our tour. We got acquainted & then commiserated about having to wait so long for our rooms. Eventually all 4 couples fell asleep in the hotel lobby on the sofas & armchairs. In all other respects the hotel was very nice including their bar & restaurant. Finally at around 2:45 pm 4 rms became available all at once. The hotel clerk tried to give us a room opposite an elevator, but the desk manager eventually found us a new room. It was nice with copies of old Flemish portraits & had a hi-tech bathroom with a huge shower. So we fell asleep, caught up with our jet lag then had dinner nearby later. The 2nd day an excellent guide took us on a walking tour of Brugges & the following was a free day. The last day we were loaded on a bus with an amusing guide who told us all about Belguim & Holland. We arrived in Amsterdam at the Bragi around 5 pm, so we didn't get to do any Amsterdam sightseeing, but we were tired, so it didn't matter. The weather was unseasonably warm, in the 40s & down around the 30s for the rest of the cruise, except when we were in the Black Forest on Christmas Day when there was a pretty snowfall. The passengers were a mixture of people on their 1st European trip & travel veterans. The majority were in their 60s, but there were a few college-aged, some as old as their 80s & a few disabled people traveling with family members. (Viking does a excellent job of accomodating for the elderly & disabled.) I would guess that most passengers were middle & upper-middle class with a good number of teachers, college professors, ex-military & civil servants. Since the theme of the cruise was Christmas Markets we visted cities with markets & took walking tours of Cologne, Heidelburg, Strasbourg & an optional tour to Colmar. Along the way we saw castles on the Rhine. Viking offered optional tour groups for slower walkers & photograhers. There were other tours & attractions as well, but jet lag & short, dark days made me feel lazy & require an afternoon nap, so I took a pass on some of the scheduled afternoon events. At night there was a fantastic pianist, Emil who could play just about any request. On Christmas Eve there was a sing-a-long of Christmas music & some people got up & danced. All our meals were provided on the boat, which was convenient, helped save money & the time required to figure out where to eat while ashore. At breakfast they served a buffet with all sorts of sausage, cheese, fruit, potatos, breads, veggies etc. plus omlettes & French Toast. At lunch there was a choice of soup, cooked dishes & a fantastic salad bar. There was also a casual dining restaurant in the bar with soup, sandwiches & a less extensive salad bar. At lunch & dinner there was always nice dessert choices. There was a free coffee bar with cocoa, espresso & afternoon cookies. Dinner was a multi-course, more formal event. Many fellow passengers raved about the refreshments at the Christmas Markets, such as Gluwein but I was more focused on chocolate & marzipan. Most passengers we spoke with agreed that the food was somewhat bland, became repetitive by the end of the cruise & was often not hot enough. The wine was good, but they kept serving the same red & white with each dinner. Some variety would have been nice. I think the Christmas tour is more of what I would describe as a "beginners" tour--more low-stress for people who are timid about mixing in with real Europeans, but it was great for people who like to sit on the boat & watch the scenery. Life on the boat is like living in a North American bubble & I felt cut off from real Europeans, except for the Viking staff. I love art & had to break away from the tour & go on my own at one point, so perhaps this wasn't the best cruise for me. I think I'd do better on a specialist art tour, but If you just want some jolly Christmas fun & a chance to make some new friends it was great. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
just returned from the New Year cruise on Q Victoria and had a fantastic time. We were in Amsterdam on New Years Eve and the ship remained on UK time throughout the voyage so that we could enjoy the Magnificent fireworks in Amsterdam at ... Read More
just returned from the New Year cruise on Q Victoria and had a fantastic time. We were in Amsterdam on New Years Eve and the ship remained on UK time throughout the voyage so that we could enjoy the Magnificent fireworks in Amsterdam at midnight Dutch time before coming inside to celebrate all over again on UK time ... A great idea! We were on 2nd sitting in Britannia and the food was excellent the whole time - possibly the best we have experienced since the QE2 days. Entertainment, however wasn't quite as good -the 4Tunes were superb and did a great job on NYE, but an ageing David Copperfield (not the illusionist unfortunately ... The other one) was pretty poor and the Cunard singers and dancers were just average. Sally Sagoe is pitiful and her morning show is torture to watch ... Not a patch on some of the other Entertainment Directors we have seen on Cunard. Having said that, we still had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Just returned from fjord cruise , this was our first cruise and as such was really ok, we chose the all inclusive option and seemed to work fine although there were no premium brand spirited the brands they used were unknown to us. We had ... Read More
Just returned from fjord cruise , this was our first cruise and as such was really ok, we chose the all inclusive option and seemed to work fine although there were no premium brand spirited the brands they used were unknown to us. We had an outside cabin with balcony which was large enough and kept clean and tidy by our steward, on down side only English tv was news channel, mainly Italian and German channels. The food was ok small portions in evening but 5 courses and generally enough choice, for an Italian ship pasta dishwasher poor though. Breakfast and lunch was a bit of a free for all with greedy Germans taking up most of tables but selection of food was good. Late night food was only cheese and tomatoe pizza with salad.. Ship is well fitted out and has plenty to do on board, don't bother to pre book excursions as these are not very good and you can get better deals once you get of ship. Crew on board are helpful and in general good fun, ship is kept spotless, we would use again for sure. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
I was nervous about this 50 year old ship but we chose it for two reasons. The itinerary to the fjords and its ability to get into ports like Flam and the fact that it was small with only 800 passengers. Unfortunately it was 800 passengers ... Read More
I was nervous about this 50 year old ship but we chose it for two reasons. The itinerary to the fjords and its ability to get into ports like Flam and the fact that it was small with only 800 passengers. Unfortunately it was 800 passengers crammed in giving far less square foot per person than the bigger ships offer. Arrival at the port - this was chaos with a long queue to get to the terminal only to drop off our luggage and turn around to drive back over a mile to the actual Tilbury port and docks to park our car. Why they didn't direct people who had paid for parking to go straight there I don't know. The queue was over a mile long and we were 90 minutes late checking in, which was very smooth and painless like others have described. Our cabin was 638 on Deck 9 and although quite a high category it was still very small indeed. Clean and bathroom was sufficient but it just felt a bit cramped. Only one power point (unless you unplug TV). Facilities on board were minimal with a small duty free shop, gym, table tennis table, 3 hot tubs, games room, reading room etc. There was a internet room were charges were 60p per minute so very expensive. WIFI available on deck 8 but still expensive. The problem was during our 2 sea days there is just not enough space to accommodate everyone, we ended up back in our cabin watching dvd's one day as all the available seats in the various lounges and clubs were all taken. Food - Marcos restaurant was very school canteen like and we tried it for breakfast and lunch on one day and gave it up for the Waldorf restaurant on other mornings. What was quite nice was the wraps, paninis and burgers they cook fresh at the poolside bar. I took my own teabags but as they do not offer fresh milk for tea on board everything tasted a bit chemical or stale. the drinks service in all of the bars is good and all reasonably priced. They do a good range of cocktails and I worked my way through the non alcoholic ones during the day too. The Waldorf restaurant was good and our waitress, Katareyna was very nice. The wine waiter was very surly and didn't really want to be there and was only interested in serving wine and not any alternative bar or non alcoholic drinks. A good selection each day, small starter, soup and a salad followed by a main a dessert, cheese and coffee. Not too keen on any of the pasta dishes they were all very stodgy and bland. Breakfast in the Waldorf had a good selection and eggs and omelettes were cooked to order. The entertainment was good with 5 very professional singers who put on a spectacular show each night in the show lounge followed by late night cabaret. They all worked very hard indeed. Each show was repeated at 1015 for diners that were on the late sitting so there was no reason to miss anything by being on either dinner sitting. The entertainment cruise director was also very professional. Our ports of call were Eidfjord, Flam and Bergen and we signed up for the excursions in Eidfjord and Flam. If we were to go again I think we would do our own thing. In Eidfjord there was a small land train that took you round all the sights and up high enough to look back down at the port. I think I would have preferred this to sitting on a coach driving round the countryside. In flam there were two ships in port and plenty of tickets available to go up the flam railway to Myrdal for those who wanted to opt out of the excursion. Our trip on the railway had two disappointments, the first was that we had to get off at the stop before Myrdal where we just took a few photos and looked round a souvenir shop at one of the hotels up the mountain. The second was that the carriage was oversubscribed on the way down and we had to stand up for nearly an hour which didn't give us a very good view or the opportunity to take photos. We did complain about this and was refunded £27 each. Anyway subscribing to this excursion, I recommend you take the morning one as the afternoon one gets back too late for the first dinner sitting and so many people were forced to miss a sit down meal with waiter service that evening. Bergen - very easy to navigate under your own steam, there is a small land train as well as the funicular railway. It was raining quite hard when we arrived so everyone on the funicular excursion didn't get to see anything as it took them up to the top of a mountain surrounded by cloud. We waited until the sun came out just after lunch and had a great view. All in all the reason we went was for some beautiful scenery which we got in abundance. The Marco Polo looked very romantic and majestic anchored in the fjords where as the larger white multi deck cruise ships looked somewhat out of place. Would I go on the Marco Polo again? I don't think so as the ship felt too crowded, the average age was a lot older than expected (70-80+). Whilst our cabin steward and our waitress were very friendly we found a lot of staff very surly, particularly when you asked for specific things away from the norm (please only fill my coffee cup up half way caused a breakfast waiter to become rather rude and slam things about). Disembarkation - whilst this was very smooth and well organised the few hours leading up to it were very stressful. Every passenger was asked to vacate their cabin at 7am and because there is not enough room to seat everyone at the same time the queues for breakfast were long and we had to wait for over an hour. Meanwhile everyone was sitting where they could, on the stairs, on sunbeds etc with their hand luggage waiting to disembark. Disembarkation was staggered depending on cabin category (coloured luggage labels) and started at 0810am with the last passengers off around 10.30am. With this in mind I think it may have been more sensible to stagger breakfast.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Following Major surgery and long recovery for my wife we were looking forward to a relaxing break with our family and embarked on a twelve night Baltics cruise We were in stateroom 7111 a lovely comfortable room with balcony We had two ... Read More
Following Major surgery and long recovery for my wife we were looking forward to a relaxing break with our family and embarked on a twelve night Baltics cruise We were in stateroom 7111 a lovely comfortable room with balcony We had two stewards main one was I Ketut and they were both brilliant nothing too much trouble and also friendly with our family The ship had some lovely features and most importantly, ample and comfortable seating areas The theatre was welcoming and comfortable with some first class evening entertainment shows on a London West End comparison The lifeboat drill at Dover was a bit of a shambles crew members were unsure when and where the drill was to start The instructions given during drill were unclear and captains address over pa system at end of drill was distorted and with insufficient volume Restaurant staff namely table hostess and waitress were very rude necessitating a complaint to dining room manager (something we have never needed to do on any other cruise) The table hostess told us we would need to choose and order meals for following day every evening. My wife was unable to eat some food one evening and the waitress was arguing with her we moved table to another part of dining room and were served by a lovely waiter called Joel. The Buffet restaurant tables were cleared but tables seldom wiped sausages were uncooked and chicken was overcooked.Whilst the stateroom, restaurant and theatre were nice and warm, other parts of the ship were very cold with air conditioning running The ships hotel director was approached and complained to by numerous passengers but the temperature did not improve whilst the ship was in St Petersburg for two days people not on excursions were not allowed off ship There was no entertainment and it was really cold and most people spent day in staterooms On day we did river excursion it was raining (not Carnival fault) but river cruise boats had not been organised very well and we had to get on and off boats trip to shops was too short. our favourite ports were copenhagen Warnemunde (Rostock) tallin and amsterdam (we had done baltics cruise before and been to several other ports also) Kids club was quite well organised and children seemed happy Guest services very helpful although didnt know what to do on final invoices Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
Yes, we loved it! Mostly down to the fabulous Entertainment team on board the Thomson spirit, I advise you all to book now. They never put a foot wrong, doing two main shows every evening, plays during the afternoon, larking around the ... Read More
Yes, we loved it! Mostly down to the fabulous Entertainment team on board the Thomson spirit, I advise you all to book now. They never put a foot wrong, doing two main shows every evening, plays during the afternoon, larking around the pool AND doing a cabaret late into the night, I really could not fault them. The whole experience was made enjoyable not just by them but also the friendly staff, the great food AND the best cruise director we have ever had on ANY of the cruise lines that we have been on. I would also like to say that the Destination service team were brilliant, organising the trips, especially St Petersburg where about a thousand people went on a range of different excursions. Other destinations included: Warnemunde, Helsinki, Tallinn,Stockholm and Kalundborg ( for Copenhagen ) We should also have gone to the Kiel Canal and Riga but owing to a strike by traffic unions we were diverted to Aalborg in Denmark. (Although You can't blame Thomsons for that!) There were quite a few unhappy people on the ship because it meant an extra day at sea but Aalborg made up for it. The other reviews mentioned the tired looking ship and sure it did have some threadbare carpets and the sound system in the cinema has seen better days but I did hear a rumour that the ship is going for a re-fit at the end of the year (don't quote me on that) But don't let that put you off, a Thomson cruise is simply the best   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
My wife and I, plus two friends have had a wonderful cruise on the Thomson Spirit. We sailed out of Newcastle on the Fjords & Glaciers cruise. This was the first time we have we have sailed with Thomson and hopefully it will not be ... Read More
My wife and I, plus two friends have had a wonderful cruise on the Thomson Spirit. We sailed out of Newcastle on the Fjords & Glaciers cruise. This was the first time we have we have sailed with Thomson and hopefully it will not be the last. OK, the ship is starting to show it's age but the whole crew keep it spotless and what ever the time of day they always greet you with a smile. We had an outside cabin (356) on deck 4. The cabin was spacious with 2 bunks, and plenty of wardrobe and drawer space. It was kept very clean by Nika and Jonathan who looked after us and did a nice turn down service at night. The food and dining was excellent ( I actually put on 6 lbs!!) and were served by our two waiters, Ludi & Jose who made us most welcome with their patter and always with a smile. The entertainment team lead by Richard put on a first class show every night. The dancing and singing would not go amiss on any of the West End theatres. The guest entertainer was Bernie Flint from Opportunity Knocks fame. Well, he had the audience in stitches with his stories and jokes! He proved to be a very versatile entertainer. In summing up the Thomson Spirit gave us a worthwhile experience of cruising on a small friendly ship' Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
When it comes down to value for money my wife and I have always rated P & O very highly - first class standards of comfort, cleanliness, fine dining, entertainment, all round customer care - and these elements were all present and ... Read More
When it comes down to value for money my wife and I have always rated P & O very highly - first class standards of comfort, cleanliness, fine dining, entertainment, all round customer care - and these elements were all present and fully met our expectations on our latest cruise to the Norwegian fjords - 28th June, 2013 - 7 nights. The check in and boarding procedure in Southampton was very well organised and it took us no more than 20 minutes from handing over the car to the meet and greet parking company (worth every penny it cost) to boarding the ship. Just in time for a light lunch in the buffet as we waited for the cabins to become available at 2pm. Greeted at the cabin by our steward, and found a welcoming bottle of champagne - a good way to start our holiday! The first night's sleep was interrupted as a medical emergency aboard required passenger to be evacuated by helicopter to a hospital ashore. A special announcement was made by the Captain at around 3.30am, apologising for disturbing everyone, and advising all passengers that this would be taking place - for safety reasons everyone was asked to stay in their cabins and NOT to go out on the balconies before or during the arrival of the helicopter and subsequent evacuation of the passenger. Unfortunately the Captain had to make two further broadcasts to request those passengers who had ignored his instructions to get off their balconies and to go back inside their cabins! It always amazes us how many people one comes across on cruises who do not have a good word to say for almost any aspect of the ship, its facilities, staff, food quality and choice, entertainment, excursions, etc and, unfortunately, it seems more of these feel driven to share these views, during and after the event, than do people who have thoroughly enjoyed their cruise. It might perhaps be more understandable if these were first time cruisers who had no idea that ships do move in rough weather, that there would be a lot of other passengers also wishing to share, use and enjoy the facilities and who simply find the experience is not for them and not something they would repeat. Strangely however, most of these unhappy people are regular cruisers, as they are only too prepared to tell anyone and everyone who will listen or who happen to be within earshot - if things are so bad we sometimes wonder why they keep coming back for more? We are happy cruisers and decided to post this, our first, review to redress the balance a bit perhaps. We have heard moans that the staff are hostile and rude - not so, every crew member we encountered was friendly, anxious to please and more than happy to go out of their way to assist in any way possible. Perhaps this has something to do with how one treats them - saying please when you ask for something, and thank you when receiving service - a simple smile, saying good morning or just Hi, how are you today? .. and treating those who are serving you with respect works for us. In a recent review of the Azura, we read prior to embarkation that Cabin D214 (the one we were booked in) was noisy with banging and creaking and that sleep was impossible - really? We did not notice anything other than the occasional slight creaking that one gets on any ship, in fact it was a very quiet cabin and sleeping was not a problem. The Ports of Call: Bergen - free shuttle from ship to town centre, famous old wooden houses, delightful port area. Fish market a "must", and the funicular ride to the top of the mountain overlooking the city is well worth taking; two other cruise ships in town that day though did make the queues for this rather long. Andalsnes - The Scenic Train trip to Bjorli from Andalsnes is spectacular and we can recommend this. Olden - Mainly trips going to see the Glacier - there were a number of excursions where one could actually walk on the glacier or, for those wishing just to see the beautiful countryside sights the open-top bus available from the quayside is to be recommended. Not much else to see or do in Olden so an excursion of some sort is a good idea. Stavanger - Nice town centre with charming old wooden buildings - an easy walk from the Quay so no need for shuttles, etc. Overall the cruise was great, fantastic scenery in the fjords, calm seas and reasonable weather. Consistently good, the food was the best we have experienced on any P & O ship, and service in the Peninsular Restaurant was very good. The Glass House offers great value wines by the glass or bottle as well as excellent food at a low cover charge. Entertainment was well up to standard with a hard-working, talented ship's theatre company and a couple of comedy shows by Roy Walker which were great fun. Guest speaker David Shute, a former BBC producer, very interesting. With the usual broad spectrum of other entertainments and the added bonus of Lions rugby and Wimbledon Tennis on the TV's in Brodies and on the outdoor screen on Deck 15, there was plenty to keep us occupied. As usual, the bar prices were sensible and without service charges - wish the other cruise lines like Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, etc would follow this example. Disembarkation was well organised in groups and ran right on plan for timing - it was all really easy and we were in our car and leaving the port within 15 minutes of our designated disembarkation time. In summary, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, "You can please some of the people some of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.” Despite having a huge range of different requirements to meet for age groups, mobility, dietary requirements, entertainment preferences and expectations we think Azura and P & O very successfully manage to please most of the people, most of the time. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
So disappointed on this trip, we were visiting 7 countries I had never been to before knowing the scenery and the cities would be fantastic I was excited then it all fell to bits. the ports of call we were supposed to make never happened ... Read More
So disappointed on this trip, we were visiting 7 countries I had never been to before knowing the scenery and the cities would be fantastic I was excited then it all fell to bits. the ports of call we were supposed to make never happened instead of sailing into the heart of the cities we were docked in the industrial port areas and 6 times out of 7 we had to pay for transfer buses or thomsons laid on a shuttle service to take us to the city centres only to find all the other cruise lines had berthed in the perfect location. Many complained of this and we were told that because we were a smaller ship we had to give way to the larger ships, the crew told us thomsons wouldn't pay the docking fees. This aside the trip was great although the Baltic is well named as it is Baltic so take a jacket lol. The Spirit is a bit dated and a bit small but as clean as can possibly be. the staff are brilliant in all areas. I had a cabin on deck 4 it was not as described when I booked it, I was told it was spacious it was in fact tiny, we only slept in it but in even a slight sea swell made this impossible as the ship rocked so much and you had to hold on to stop you falling out the smallest of single beds also you had to endeavour the constant droning and vibration of the ships engines 24/7.Lets go through the excursions :- 1. Oslo - well worth the visit and organised trips worth the money and the only city the ship docked in 2. Gothenburg - nice place but you could make your own way around 3. Stockholm - Stunning place we paid for a trip to Vasa museum but you can pay as you go 4.St Petersburg - Organised trip a must lots to see 5. Helsinki - beautiful make you own way very small but a must see 6. Tallinn - Fantastic place make your own way here 7. Warnemunde - This was supposed to be for Berlin we berthed 15km away 6 hour bus trip to Berlin and back 12 hour day no thanks. Ship laid on shuttle bus to warnemunde Great little town beautiful beaches and harbour 8. Kalundborg - For Copenhagen 1 1/2 hour bus trip but nice place but as with Sweden and Norway Denmark is very very expensive We had 4 days at sea on this cruise and unfortunately the Spirit is not big enough to keep you entertained for it all Ok enough of the downside the good bits were the food was excellent, staff cant do enough for you and the nightly entertainment was 2nd to none. Hope this helps you overall it was a good holiday but I wont be back on the Spirit or its sister ship the Celebration as they are too small. I'll give you a tip there is only 3 places to eat, the lido which is buffet style, the sirocco restaurant which you pay for and the compass rose restaurant which is great, the tip is slip your waiter a tip and he will keep you the same table every night and let you in the back door of the dining room and thus avoid huge queues well worth it :-) but all 3 are excellent Raffles bar and High spirits bar have great staff too. Hope you all have a great trip Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
I will start by giving an honest review about this cruise as it was our first with P&O. Embarkation We arrived at 2.00 pm for embarkation at the Ocean Terminal and we were greeted by the staff and porters. The car keys were ... Read More
I will start by giving an honest review about this cruise as it was our first with P&O. Embarkation We arrived at 2.00 pm for embarkation at the Ocean Terminal and we were greeted by the staff and porters. The car keys were handed over as it was to be parked in Valet Parking, and the suitcases were taken swiftly by the porters. The cases arrived at our room around 5.00 pm. After going through check-in, security we had boarded Oceana by 2.40 pm (very good timing). On boarding Oceana we were informed that our cabin was ready, so we proceeded to the cabin to drop off some items we were carrying. Cabin & Cabin steward when we arrived at our cabin C739 deck 9, we met our cabin steward "Roy", our first impression of our cabin steward was not friendly, and we know its a very long day on "turnaround day" so we gave him the benefit of this and thought that may of been the reason for him not being friendly & welcoming. His general attitude during the remaining few days did not really change. We had the feeling that he did not want to be there,but never asked him this as we did not want to pry.... We have been on lots of cruises before P & O and this was the first cruise where our cabin steward was not very nice.. This was first time we have taken an inside cabin, purely because this cruise had been sold out when we came across this cruise, and we were told that we would have to go on a waiting list for a possibility of getting a room. When it came up we accepted the inside cabin and booked, and thought at least we were on the ship and paid around £679 each which was not cheap for a 4 night cruise but it was over the new year festivities, and thought it would be great! First impressions of the room was small, dark and not very welcoming. Looked like the room was due an update and I believe it had a small mini refit in December just gone, (apparently not on these rooms). Bathroom was not very clean, and my husband found hair from previous guests and dirty shelves and towels that had pink stains on them!! Staff P & O staff are not as friendly as other ships we have cruised with before, and the general impression was "the staff were not happy"! We spoke to lots of other guests and they all agreed that they had noticed this. Dining venues We had requested the traditional 2nd sitting, but was informed that it had been fully booked since last March 2012, and we were offered anytime dining; As we have never done this before, we thought OK lets try it and compare the difference "we might of preferred it". However on the day of embarkation we were told that we had been allocated the 1st sitting, (which was just to early for us). This then meant like many others we had to stand for over 90 minutes to change the dining, and missed the sail away party! We ate in the Lingurian Restaurant, "anytime dining" which was nice, but you are not given your own waiter so even though a waiter comes and takes your order, you are not sure who is your waiter as you are served by many others also. so on a personal level we have decided that we prefer the traditional sitting! We booked a night in their speciality restaurant "Marco Pierre" which had a cover charge of around £6.75 per person. The restaurant was situated in the main atrium deck 8. Our impression of this was like a small Bistro, the food was good, but again found another of the waiter staff rude. My husband had asked one of the waiters for a moment of his time to explain to him that we wanted to watch a show at 10.30 pm and did not want to miss it as we only had around 20 minutes till the show started and could we skip the puddings and just have the coffee. He replied to my husband I'll be with you in a few minutes. We waited another 5 minutes whilst watching him stand with other staff members talking and discussing who was going to serve us, not very professional in my opinion! We decided to leave the restaurant and made a complaint to the head waiter about the staff member. The head waiter was very apologetic and removed the cost of the dining from our bill! Entertainment The entertainment was very good on P&O and this is one of the positives that other cruise liners could take from P&O. We watched various shows and there was always something to do in the evenings. They had very good show times so you did not miss them. One show in particular we watched was "Mecury rising" Steve Larkin! His tribute Act was to Freddy Mercury and I can say he was a very good singer and played the piano as well. It would be so nice to see more acts like this on other Cruise ships!!! In General In our opinion this was our first cruise with P&O and there was a multitude of things that niggled us, a few you can over look but when their is a lot, they seem to pile up. (just to note I have not noted them all, too many to list) Our first port of call was Zeebrugge and we had booked to go into Brussels for the day and we had a lovely day, on arriving back at the ship we had been on around an hour when the Captain announced that we would not be travelling to Amsterdam due to reports that there was adverse weather conditions in the Netherlands and he had exhausted all avenues on where to take the ship, but he was left with no alternative but to drop the anchors just outside the port of Zeebrugge, and that all our safety was paramount ( which I do agree), however like I and lots and lots of other passengers said it did not seem right and thought it sounded quite suss!. Anyhow the ship ended up spending the night anchored outside Zeebrugge until the morning, and I must say the ship never moved all night (swaying motion). In the morning around 11.20 am the captain made another announcement that the weather was still not great, but we would try and head to Amsterdam and would take around 6 hrs to get there and he would come back to us all with his next decision. Whilst we set sail to Amsterdam the sea was not that bad, some slight swells and rain but that's all (we have experienced worse in the Caribbean sea). However around 6.20 pm the captain came back with another announcement that we were 30 miles from Amsterdam and we would not be going to dock at Amsterdam as the weather was not good conditions for the pilot to board the ship, and that we would be turning around and heading back to Southampton! On the way back again there was no movement in the ship and again passengers were all questioning the Captain decision!!! Just to point out no-one saw the Captain at all on this cruise, I guess he knew that guests were not happy! More to the point as we were disembarking we walked passed a VIP person and we heard them over talking about the captains decision and they said he should of went to Amsterdam. On a positive note, we did enjoy our New Years Eve dinner and party-ed hard till 5.00 am I believe that other passengers were still partying at 7.00 am..... the ship was very quite on New Years Day. As I said this was my first cruise with P&O, and I do not think I will rebook another cruise as other cruise company's seem to be miles ahead on lots of things. If you are looking for a cruise with good customer satisfaction who generally care about their customers, have great Gala dinners free champers and canapes and lots of other things to inspire you, then there are other cruises than just P&O. If this had been my first cruise experience then I truly believe I would not of bothered booking again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Our third ocean cruise was on the Norwegian Sun to the Balkans, visiting Copenhagen, Denmark; Berlin (Warnemuende) Germany; Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden; return to Copenhagen. We have ... Read More
Our third ocean cruise was on the Norwegian Sun to the Balkans, visiting Copenhagen, Denmark; Berlin (Warnemuende) Germany; Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden; return to Copenhagen. We have wanted to visit the Balkans for some time and this trip was well worth it. The Ship: There are plenty of reviews on the Norwegian Sun ... It is one of the older ships in the fleet and some reviews said it was "small". I actually prefer these to the really big ones not sure why just do. It is a "cookie cutter" ship like most of the mid range vessels around today. No serious complaints as always you get what you paid for and the Norwegian Sun is fine. The only complaint was the food. I noted several other reviews that were similar to mine. It wasn't any one big thing just cumulative small things. Some of the most noted included: cold food, poor service in the late night bar and food area, and a less than impressive selection and frankly taste. In regards to taste it must be remembered like most cruise lines much of the food is "shipped in" in the case of Norwegian a good deal of the meat, fish, and dry goods are sent from Miami. The meat and fish is frozen so tasteless. We ate in the dining room two evenings ... and on the first night we had lobster tails ... we sat with three other couples everyone agreed that there was no taste. This was one of a number of incidents of little flavour in the food. They did well in the buffet area to disguise this problem with pretty good curries, perhaps a few too many curries. Desserts were simply not very good ... to many custard/gelatine based ones ... One small annoyance that was consistence was cold gravy. Now it sounds like a small thing but considering the roast beef was often cold, hot gravy would have been nice. This I brought up with the restaurant manager suggesting that a heated pot might work better than an open porcelain bowl ... he was going to look into it. Now just to make it clear this was not a one off but consistent and on one evening I watched and saw them bring a new bowl of gravy to the carving stand so went over with high hopes ... it was ice cold and had just come from the kitchen. The carver nodded and said he knew ... seemed a bit embarrassed. A last nag and one I reported two years before to NCL comments. There is no green tea, my partner is a green tea drinker and is a bit of an expert. They do use "Lipton Brand" that does produce a acceptable product. They do have a "green tea" but it is actually an herbal blend. Yes all small things but generally the organization, management and menu could stand some improvement. As someone who has assisted in managing commercial kitchens there, problems are fixable but there is work to do. These are not big problems but seem consistent and annoying. The Ports Great! I would recommend all the stops. In most cases you do not have to take their overpriced tours. The exceptions are Berlin and St. Petersburg. Berlin can be done on your own but it is a hassle with a long train ride - 2 hours each way. St. Petersburg is just too confusing. Remember there are other tour companies and a number of the people we travelled with used the local talent instead of the tours offered by the ship and liked them. You will stay in St. Petersburg two days. The choice on the second day was limited. Local companies had a much better itinerary and you could buy one for both days. Our dinner companions on two nights and who we got to know a little arranged with a local company to take a tour. They arranged all this with 14 other passengers and had a great time. Next time I would do this rather than the cruise tours. I did separate reviews for Catherine's Palace and the Hermitage so will not repeat them here. Berlin?, interesting but would not repeat it too long and just was not of interest ... the curried sausage and country potatoes was a culinary oddity but if you like junk food quite good. Closer was a world heritage site and several people rented bicycles and just toured the countryside and the site. They all gave it a thumbs up. Your choice. The Stockholm visit was very interesting but only half a day. I believe this has now been extended by several hours. Tours are note necessary. Our favourite stop was definitely Tallinn. Take a walk, visit the museums and eat in a local restaurant. So all in all a good cruise and worth the money. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
We began our holiday at Southampton City cruise terminal. The car parking was slightly different from what we are used to. In the past we have sailed from the Mayflower terminal where they seem to have got it together better in as much ... Read More
We began our holiday at Southampton City cruise terminal. The car parking was slightly different from what we are used to. In the past we have sailed from the Mayflower terminal where they seem to have got it together better in as much as dropping off the car seemed much smoother. This time we had to drop off the luggage and then drive back to the entrance and leave our car. However, both being able bodied the short walk from the car to the Terminal with hand luggage was no problem. Just an observation. Unfortunately there were long queues for checking in and boarding. Much of this seemed to be due to the Xray machine and it wasn't until we were well into the queue that the port authority decided to open another one. Once through we then waited to go onto the ship. The whole process took an hour and three quarters so that we missed lunch arriving in our cabin number 8020 at around 2.30pm. We were pleasantly surprised with our cabin which had a bath and all the amenities. It had a restricted view but this didn't upset us unduly. After unpacking we went to the Neptune Lounge where sandwiches, tea, coffee and cakes were being served. Again there was queueing. We have been on the Balmoral before in 2008 but couldn't recall there being as much queuing,this seemed to be for most things this time. We are easy going and it wasn't the end of the world but some people complained. We had remembered that the food was quite good both in the main restaurant and in the buffet and again were not disappointed this time. We were looked after everyday by our waiter Alvin who was very attentive and good humoured. Nothing was too much trouble when we deviated from the menu, bringing us extra food such as icecream and cheese. The food was of excellent quality, there was even champagne available with breakfast if that was what you required. It was a bit early for us! At dinner in the main restaurant we had a table for 6. We felt very lucky as we had really pleasant company and had a good laugh. The ports Hamburg, Bremerhaven and Antwerp were fine although we were disappointed not to go into Amsterdam due to technical problems. Perhaps we could have been allowed to spend the afternoon in Bremerhaven instead of waiting on the ship in port for 5 hours. However it didn't really spoil our holiday as we found plenty to do. We didn't go on the arranged tours, preferring to find our own way round the ports shopping, sightseeing etc. It is true that the Christmas Markets were not open, but to be honest we have done them before and seem to be full of tinsel and sickly sweets (not our thing). Again we were not disappointed and had not gone on this cruise for them anyway. On reflection we met some nice people, it was relaxing enjoying good food all washed down with a nice glass of wine and beer. Disembarkation was fine although again queueing was the norm, but we were soon on our way home smoothly and efficiently. So to sum up we found the whole experience a pleasure and good value for money. We would recommend the Balmoral if a smaller ship is for you. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
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 ... Read More
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. EMBARKATION 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!) BOARDING I showed my card and was told where my cabin was on ATLANTIC DECK. CABIN 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. RESTAURANTS 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. ENTERTAINMENT 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!!! TIPS 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. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Wonderful experience overall. Staff were lovely, approachable and present, but discrete. Embarkation / disembarkation was seamless. The cabin was small, the bathroom and shower area very small. Elevators easy to obtain and ... Read More
Wonderful experience overall. Staff were lovely, approachable and present, but discrete. Embarkation / disembarkation was seamless. The cabin was small, the bathroom and shower area very small. Elevators easy to obtain and moving around the ship is easy. You hardly feel there are 650 passengers on board and it is easy to mingle and meet people. We chose to dress up everynight, but dressy casual is sufficient. Loved the open dining policy - it really meant not having to look at a watch! The open wine served (although is limited to a glass) is rarely enforced, very nice wines. Food is amazing and often a hard choice on what to select! Or do as I did and eat 2 desserts every night - the velvety cappuccino is wonderful! We throughly enjoyed the Prime C restaurant. The open pool bar has great hamburgers and tacos and the coffee at the Italian cafe is divine, as well as the afternoon nibbles! The lovely THICK mattress poolside coupled with the warm pool made it hard to leave the pool everyday! HIGHLY recommend this cruise line. A nice size ship, without feeling lost. Facilites and food excellent. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
I was looking forward to the cruise because of the cites to be visited. And after reading some reviews of previous critics I was wary of certain points i.e. the food. Dinner in the main restaurant was good not 5* and I had an ... Read More
I was looking forward to the cruise because of the cites to be visited. And after reading some reviews of previous critics I was wary of certain points i.e. the food. Dinner in the main restaurant was good not 5* and I had an enjoyable meal, The buffet I found badly laid out, and a lot of unnecessary queuing. But again lots of food and plenty choice. The entertainment of boards was good and I attended the craft classes of Mavis Bee and these were very well attended in fact towards the end so many people were turning up there was not room for them. The staff were very helpful and always around. Staff were present of each coach for the tours and again their knowledge was good. Liken the fact that it was adult only cruise Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We joined the cruise at Amsterdam, having made our own way there and spending a couple of days sight seeing before we embarked. Embarkation was slow and a bit haphazard, but we eventually boarded around 2.30, having arrived at 1.30. Lunch ... Read More
We joined the cruise at Amsterdam, having made our own way there and spending a couple of days sight seeing before we embarked. Embarkation was slow and a bit haphazard, but we eventually boarded around 2.30, having arrived at 1.30. Lunch was provided on arrival and our cabin was ready immediately, our bags arrived quickly too. All good news to start with. The first impression of the ship is that is gaudy and glizzy - one might say full of bling. The colours used throughout are really bright, with loads of lights, which almost hurt the eyes to look at. Cabins, however, were light, bright and much less colourful! The standard of accommodation in the cabin was very good, it was always kept beautifully clean and everything worked, as you might expect on an almost new ship. We picked this holiday for the itinery - Tallin, St. Petersberg, Stockholm, Helsinki, Copenhagen and back to Amsterdam so the programme was quite hectic with lots of time in port. We only did excursions in St. Petersberg and did our own thing in the other ports which worked out well. Most times the ship was 'parked up' quite a way outside the town and Costa put on shuttle buses for passengers, which worked well but were quite expensive. There were times when staff at the tour desk were rather misleading of their description of how long it might take to walk into town, which meant that one bought a shuttle bus ticket when it was not necessary. The standard of the excursions we did was very good but because of the lateness of one arriving back to the ship we were unable to take another trip which we had booked, which was very annoying. Days at sea were full of opportunities to do something but most of it was not to our taste. There were approximately 300 English speaking passengers out of 2200 (ship not full), the majority of the rest were Italian. This resulted in multi-language announcements which could get intrusive. For example, the 'card room' is actually an open space on the side of the biggest lounge area. Whenever cards were being played (e.g. Bridge), there would be a fashion show, quiz or someting else noisy going on right nearby which was irritating. Because of the open plan nature of the lounges as well, smokers were placed quite close to non smokers, so there was often a smell of cigarette smoke wherever you sat. The evening meals were extremely good, although some of our table-mates were critical of the level of choice. Each dinner was at least five courses and some of them were 'themed'. We were on second sitting, which was not until 9 p.m. This meant that often we did not finish eating until 11, after which one could go to the disco or a show if one wanted. The self-service cafeteria was always a bit of a scrum and we ended up trying to avoid it for breakfast, going to the restaurant instead. Lunch was available at both locations too. My biggest grip with Costa is that they try to get more money out of you whenever they can. From the minute you board the ship, they take photographs of you at every opportunity, for which they charge 9.99 euros each. Of course, you don't have to buy them, but it does become irritating. We also had a bottle of water in our cabin with a note saying that if we opened it, the price would be charged to our bill - about 1.30 euros, I think. This is petty when, had we paid full price, the cabin would have been 4000 euros between the two of us. There is also a fee-paying restaurant that one can use as an alternative (20 euros)and cappucino and espresso coffees are also charged as extras. One lovely event is the 'elegant tea' which happened twice within our cruise, beautiful variety of teas, exquisite sandwiches and cakes with strawberries dipped in chocolate. Everyday afternoon tea was supplied in the self-service restaurant, but the elegant one was far superior. Disembarkation was well organised and our luggage easy to find when we got off. I wouldn't go with Costa again because I didn't really enjoy the daytime activities and wouldn't want to pay full price but I suspect that it would suit some people very well. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
We had not realised until we arrived at the ship that the operator, Shearings Holidays, did not own the ship and had only chartered it for two cruises. This was not, therefore, a Voyages of Discovery cruise. On the positive side, ... Read More
We had not realised until we arrived at the ship that the operator, Shearings Holidays, did not own the ship and had only chartered it for two cruises. This was not, therefore, a Voyages of Discovery cruise. On the positive side, for us, we had a small ship of 750 capacity, with an excellent RESIDENT crew. We cannot speak highly enough of the waiters, cabin boys and bar staff, all Filipino. Nothing was too much trouble for them and everything was done with a smile on their face. The food itself was varied, of excellent quality and tastefully presented. All facilities were provided on a very clean and well looked after ship. If i was rating the cruise on these factors alone they would get maximum marks. What spoiled the whole experience for us, however, was Shearings part in it. They got us to the terminal in good time and check-in went well. What transpired over the period of the cruise saw a downhill slide and is the subject of a lengthy complaint direct to the Company's CEO. Shearings staff introduced themselves as Head Office staff and throughout the cruise exhibited very little cruise knowledge. The trips were poorly organised and subject of many complaints, some resulting in refunds. In the main the staff had not even experienced the places we visited and when things went wrong couldn't deal with the problems. On the ship the staff were scruffy in appearance, unprofessional in dealing with clients and seemed, in the main to be there to enjoy themselves. The entertainment was amateurish, so thank goodness for the cinema. Passengers experienced varied problems, some of which we saw, others we heard about. In our case i was verbally abused during a discussion with a member of Shearings staff and my wife was shouted at and then had this person "in her face" with a finger pointed directly into her face. So please take two things away from these comments. Firstly, the ship and its permanent staff were a delight and and in its Voyages of Discovery trips I am certain first class (see other reviews) . Secondly, do not go on a Shearings cruise,it's so unbelievably unprofessional. Community Manager's Note: 'This review was written when the ship sailed for Voyages of Discovery. As of February 2013, it is now sailing under the Cruises & Maritime banner" Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
We are a Belgian couple who travelled with another Belgian couple from Copenhagen to Sint-Petersburg on the Costa Atlantica. We had a very nice holiday. Our inside cabin (without view) was comfortable and large with many space to ... Read More
We are a Belgian couple who travelled with another Belgian couple from Copenhagen to Sint-Petersburg on the Costa Atlantica. We had a very nice holiday. Our inside cabin (without view) was comfortable and large with many space to stock luggage and belongings. The weather was not so good, and we missed form time to time a balcon to sit on. Costa Atlantica has many many rooms with a balcony. Next time we surely would choose therefor; it is worth the higher price. The ship offers Italian kitchen, which we really like. The quality of the food is very good, with 2 seatings in the evening and very friendly personnel. At night (until 1 p.m.!!) they keep on serving pizza's on deck 9 and a dessert buffet on deeck 3. Very nice! We enjoyed our holiday and got good value for money. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Having never sailed with P&O before we were not too sure what to expect of a British cruise line. Friends who had cruised the Baltic previously with P&O on an adult only ship, which has since left the fleet, were not at all ... Read More
Having never sailed with P&O before we were not too sure what to expect of a British cruise line. Friends who had cruised the Baltic previously with P&O on an adult only ship, which has since left the fleet, were not at all complimentary & were seriously put off cruising. Firstly embarkation at Southampton seemed to go very slowly, it took over an hour to check-in. At one point, no passengers whatsoever were being checked in for about 20 minutes. There were no announcements of any problem so understandably passengers were getting a little impatient. Once checked in however, everything went more smoothly. Our cabin was ready & luggage didn't take too long to appear outside the door. Out balcony stateroom was adequate if not particularly spacious. We liked the fact that a kettle & tea & coffee etc., were provided & there was a fridge which luckily was not full of the cruise lines costly drinks. Just 2 free bottles of water & an ice bucket. So plenty of room to chill the white wine, which P&O (unlike other cruise lines) are happy for passengers to bring on board for consumption in stateroom. We still bought wine with dinner and sampled many of the daily special drinks & cocktails, but taking some of our wine saved us a few pennies. Wines & other drinks on board were very sensibly priced & unlike the U.S. cruise ships no obligatory 15% service charge, which the Brits find very irritating. We took the orientation tour, but still found the ship's layout confusing, as did many passengers we spoke to. The entertainment was excellent but the venues are too small for the size of ship & it was often impossible to get into the shows, in both the theatre & the lounges. Manhattan especially was so badly designed & the chairs took up so much room that once a few people were seated it was impossible to negotiate your way to an empty chair even if there was one. So ensure you get a seat early if you particularly want to see a show, the queue for the 8.45 theatre show started forming at least 30 mins before start - So be warned. Having said that, we opted for Anytime dining and that worked very well - only had to wait once. We also tried all the fee paying dining options & for the most part they were excellent. We ate in the Glass House & tried a wine flight - excellent. Also went to an invitation only wine tasting -v.good. However, having decided to eat there again on the final night of the cruise, we walked out when we were seated, then totally ignored & very irritated to see people being served, who came in after us - unacceptable for that standard of eatery. Seventeen was brilliant, both service & food. The buffet restaurant, was always busy & seemed very cramped, although the food was good. The staff were a little over eager clearing tables, so don't leave your plate or drink to go & get something else unless you leave someone at the table on guard, otherwise it will be cleared away. We didn't sample the spa, apart from a couple of talks that took place in there. Spas at sea are mostly overpriced we find. We took the St.Petersburg tours & our guides were brilliant. Be warned though, If you are doing a full-day & then an evening tour, there is no fast track queue to get back on the ship before the evening tour & some people had barely 10 minutes to get back out to the next tour. P&O should get better organised. One last thing - I have never before had to queue for the Ladies toilets on any ship but on Azura invariably you queue, as there are often only 2 or 3 in each area. I would cruise with P&O again, but would try a different ship next time. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
We flew into London then bus to Southampton and stayed at the Dolphin Hotel for 2 nights. Embarkation went smooth, the room was well appointed. 1st problem came with the people smoking on their balcony. I called management and they dealt ... Read More
We flew into London then bus to Southampton and stayed at the Dolphin Hotel for 2 nights. Embarkation went smooth, the room was well appointed. 1st problem came with the people smoking on their balcony. I called management and they dealt with it right away. I am very allergic to Smoke Ship Info: Daily schedules were delivered the night before and were well done. Dining: Breakfast - buffet was good. Served Breakfast in Dining room - food arrived cool. Didn't return to served breakfast. Lunch - good. Tried several areas for lunch. Dinner: meals were good (not excellent) except for 2 that had to be sent back. We were not the only ones who had returned their meals. We eat at 2 of the specialty restaurants at 35.00 each and both were excellent. Activities: We sat in the lounges, shopped on board, swam, exercise room, walked the decks. All were enjoyable. Staff Service: Room service - excellent, Dining service was excellent, Specialty Wine tasting room service - excellent, Bar servers - very good, Breakfast and lunch servers- very good. Service Desk - one lady was very abrupt.(more on that under Entertainment) Entertainment: So so but missed the demographics of those on board. We got to meet many others on board who were also disappointed of the type and quality. I must say this was the lowest rated entertainment compared to all other cruises we have taken. Next - we went to the upper deck to hear the musicians and looked forward to Dancing only to experience a large portion of this room was for smokers. We had to leave and never went back. The Main Atrium - there was always live music and when part of the Big Band played the tiled floorarea was filled with couples dancing. We did as well and really enjoyed it. That was one day then the rest of the time there was a Jazz group, however the music they played - nice to listen to but not the beat to dance to. Couples just stood around hoping for a number they could dance to. After the 3rd day of this I went to Customer Service - located in plain sight of the Atrium floor area, and mentioned to the young lady could she get a message to the entertainment manager regarding a change to the music. She was abrupt and told me that the Jazz group was requested??? Well my request fell on deaf ears because this same group continued day after day with no one able to enjoy a dance. I have been on so many other ships where dancing in the atrium is enjoyed by so many. Shore excursions: Brugees- great time there. Had the best Belgium ever at a restaurant in the town square. Berlin: 3 hr bus ride each way. The bag lunch was not only unhealthy but whatever that 1/2 sandwich was - was uneatable. Ever the Apple was bruised. Guide was good except we spent more than an hour driving in circles in the city then rushed to look at some sights - too rushed. Sharon and I broke away to go through the Jewish memorial - one other couple from our bus joined us. Best part of OUR tour. ON bus ride back to ship - given another bag snack - the other 1/2 uneatable sandwich. If ever again I will get the ship to make us a bagged lunch. Helsinki: Great time there St. Petersburg - 2 days - go go go but overall - rushed through palaces, etc, it still was worth seeing. The arranged lunch was OK. Tallinn: Great city to tour - forget the other tours. We went to the Farm - OK then to visit a home (this was a set up by the home owner) waste of time. Stockholm - we loved seeing the City. Problem was our tour guide had an appointment for another tour a 4pm and rushed us through the Ship museum. She actually got off the bus early and the bus driver took over. He knew more history and points of interest than the guide. Copenhagen: After that tour in Stockholm I decided we would do our own walking tour. We got to see so much more than others on board that took Cruise Tours. We took river boat tour - few on board and had plenty of one on one with the guide. We would go back. We went off the tourist beat to where locals shopped and eat and had a great lunch at a sidewalk cafe. Disembarkation: This went smooth. We took a bus to a Heathrow Hotel, spent a night then flew home. This Cruise cost us approx 1000.00US each more than we could have paid for a similar cruise on another cruise line. Unfortunately we have had better consistent meals, service and entertainment on many others. Since this cruise we and 9 other siblings took a 7 day Alaska Cruise in mid September on Carnival. It was better in so many ways- surprise! Best Regards Dwayne Jacobson Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Due to poor weather conditions many of us were late catching the ship. We missed the first dinner, but were very lucky compared with some who met the ship in Vienna (half way through the cruise). The ship was very well laid out. The ... Read More
Due to poor weather conditions many of us were late catching the ship. We missed the first dinner, but were very lucky compared with some who met the ship in Vienna (half way through the cruise). The ship was very well laid out. The cabins were what we were expecting. They had shampoo and a bar of soap, as well as liquid soap in the shower. But, you don't spend much time in your cabin as there is always plenty to do. The crew was excellent. We very rarely saw Anastas, our Cabin Steward. We would go to breakfast and the cabin was cleaned when we got back. The Executive Chef is to be complimented, as the food was great. Varona and her elves were fantastic. Very organized. On Christmas Eve, Varona led several of us to the Neue Cathedral in Linz for Midnight Mass, what a special time. And for us that had lost our luggage the ladies at the front desk washed out clothes and got them back to us before we woke up in the morning. Thank you! The ports were good. Bratislava had a lovely little cafe that served hot chocolate in huge mugs which you needed a spoon to eat like soup! Loved the Christmas Markets at Schonbrunn Palace, Salzburg and Bratislava. Durnstein, a small town of 350 people was fascinating. We visited the blue church it is an amazing baroque church in a small community. The wine and apricot brandy and liqour are not to be missed. The weather was snowy. We walked while it was snowing many times. But, in all very easy to walk with boots. Made a beautiful Christmas. In all, Viking did an excellent job of taking care of us. From the moment we embarked to the disembarkment. Thank you Viking for a lovely holiday. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
We were very apprehensive as we flew from Buffalo to Washington DC then to Frankfurt Germany and finally to Basel, Switzerland to board The River Symphony from Grand Circle Travel. However, all our tension eased as they promptly delivered ... Read More
We were very apprehensive as we flew from Buffalo to Washington DC then to Frankfurt Germany and finally to Basel, Switzerland to board The River Symphony from Grand Circle Travel. However, all our tension eased as they promptly delivered our luggage to the room that would be our home for the next week. We loved floating north on the Rhine viewing the countryside and towns from our room or on the deck (although chilly. Our directors were top-notch, the food was first class (every meal and what choices, our cabin was spotless....My husband was especially impressed that we had the choice of joining the tours offered or just staying on board or walking to town on his own if his arthritis was bothering him. All in all, we can not say enough about this wonderful trip and all the ports--Kayersburg, Riquewihr, Baden-Baden, Strasbourg, Speyer, Heidelberg, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Brussels, Brugge....all with their wonderful Christmas markets. I know I forgot some but we have many very fond memories of this trip! (We purchased the post-extension to the trip and traveled by bus from Ansterdam to Brussels and train to Brugge) We are now looking at the Danube! Hopefully soon. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008

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