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56 Baltic Sea Senior Cruise Reviews

There is not enough staff The bar service was very slow, Trying to get a beverage at the bar forget about it. The Windjammer, food good never enough clean tables chairs MUGS or staff like Woolworths Cafe 30yrs ago The overall ... Read More
There is not enough staff The bar service was very slow, Trying to get a beverage at the bar forget about it. The Windjammer, food good never enough clean tables chairs MUGS or staff like Woolworths Cafe 30yrs ago The overall crew did the best they could. I asked some of them if they where going ashore they told me that they would like to but they where either working or where to tired 1. Crew and servers were all superb. The problem is that they where ran off their feet 2. 4th floor restaurant was excellent; Milnas and Danielle excellent, food very good and we had a very good time in the restaurant, on 8.30 sitting 3. Cabin was kept immaculate and our steward was very helpful with anything we asked him. Was one the best part of the cruise; He was always happy and always greeted us with a smile, clean and fresh every day. 4 When Royal Caribbean supply a coach to exit port they charge 30$ us. when all other ports supplied coaches free of charge The staff works their tail off and they deserve medal, the staff tries really hard but they can only work with what they are given, and they aren’t given much. The internet, The excursions, And the price-------- what a laugh!!!!!!!!!!!!! This, but far, has got to be ONE OF MY MOST DISAPPOINTING CRUISES THAT I HAVE BEEN ON! I’m willing to admit maybe my expectations of a cruise were too high The overall experience was not up to the standards we expected did not full fill the expectations we had. I will not waste any more time writing anymore becauseI would not recommend the Royal Caribbean to anyone, and I will not use this company ever again Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We were very disappointed with our 21 day cruise on the Konigsdam. The main reason was the awful chaos and atmosphere in the Lido Market buffet eating area which made meal times unbearable. The design of the buffet area is very clinical ... Read More
We were very disappointed with our 21 day cruise on the Konigsdam. The main reason was the awful chaos and atmosphere in the Lido Market buffet eating area which made meal times unbearable. The design of the buffet area is very clinical - big tables all in a row with no alcoves like on other ships (eg Oosterdam) and no privacy away from the crowds. Others also commented, with one lady referring to the "rat race" to get a meal there. It was just like a very downmarket cheap cafeteria. We also can't understand why the ship has no self-service laundromats...or even a place where we can iron our clothes ourselves. No laundries/ironing facilities for 2600 passengers is unfathomable. Our suite was very nice...but it became a haven for us to escape from the hordes of people...which the ship isn't designed to handle well. We like Holland and had previously sailed on the Oosterdam which we really enjoyed, and would recommend - not the Konigsdam though. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
I chose this cruise as it was our 49th wedding anniversary and it left Southampton on our anniversary and it was a good price for a weeks cruise to Belgium.Amsterdam, Germany and France. The ship is very good and pristine .The staff are ... Read More
I chose this cruise as it was our 49th wedding anniversary and it left Southampton on our anniversary and it was a good price for a weeks cruise to Belgium.Amsterdam, Germany and France. The ship is very good and pristine .The staff are brilliant(with exception of reception)and our cabin very spacious and well looked after by our steward. The food was poor and never hot even hot soup was cold very disappointing but the biggest problem was we never got anywhere. First stop was Zeebrugger and we arrived 3 hours late and to get off the ship it took another 2 hours in a queue.Horrendous so by time we got to Brugge it was 5pm and our evening keel was at 6pm so missed that and had to eat in the buffet(not good)we also had to queue to get back on the ship were left hanging on a gang plank for about ten minutes then made to go through a scanner removing our coats outside in the freezing cold Just bad management and only one scanner again. Next stop Amsterdam well we were meant to arrive at 9 am but at 3 pm we pulled into Rotterdam and the queues to get busses we we just stayed on the ship as did many others. two days at sea to Hambugh but it was sunday and everything was closed so total waste of a destination. another day at sea and then it was Le Havre but we were told due to a strike by the French we were going back to Zeebrugger MSC did put on a bus to Blankenburg as the buses and trams were also on strike in Zeebrugger Final straw was I went to reception to ask if I could leave with our cases on return to Southampton like other passengers had done on the trip as it picked up and dropped off at all the stops I was told NO and that I was a security risk The only thing I purchased on the whole trip were chocolates on the first Brugges visit I was incensed MSC did refund everyone 50 euros who joined in Suthampton but a week was enough for me We had done two previous MSC cruises but this will be our last. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
This was our third cruise with Thomsons. We first sailed on this ship 8 years ago around the Canary Islands - a pleasant time enjoyed by all. Earlier this year we enjoyed a week onboard the Spirit around the Eastern Med area, again quite ... Read More
This was our third cruise with Thomsons. We first sailed on this ship 8 years ago around the Canary Islands - a pleasant time enjoyed by all. Earlier this year we enjoyed a week onboard the Spirit around the Eastern Med area, again quite a pleasant voyage including the Thomson flight from the UK. However this recent cruise around the Baltic states was really plagued with onboard problems. My wife and I along with a few hundred other passengers left the ship with unpleasant medical issues relating to poor hygiene and poor fresh air circulation problems. The quality of the food from a nutritional value was well below par, and when we asked for some fresh vegetables they turned up still bloody frozen in the middle!!. Our waiter had a terrible cold and was still working in the main restaurant. I followed one crew member out of the toilets who didn`t wash his hands and went straight to work in the bar area handling drinks glasses serving passengers. There was virtually no fresh air delivery in the cabins - just recirculated warm air carrying germs. We reported this issue three times but to no avail. Along with many others we talked to on departure morning - we couldn`t wait to get off. We are still ill to this day as I write this. Thomsons/TUI you really need to get this sorted or face legal challenges. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
The ship is very nice. The pools are OK. The team - excellent. No real shows at night. the food is very very bad. the lowest of the lowest quality of ingredients - for instance: the was only rice Pilaf and they try to convince ... Read More
The ship is very nice. The pools are OK. The team - excellent. No real shows at night. the food is very very bad. the lowest of the lowest quality of ingredients - for instance: the was only rice Pilaf and they try to convince us that the RIZZOTO is good. the Chops are only with fat, almost no meat. Also this is a Baltic cruise - they do not serve SALMON !!! the staff is ordered to cheat. I asked for Non paper Salami, the guy looked at the refrigerator below him and said: there is no more left. After I argued loudly, a manager came and told him to put in on the buffet. The guy, that few seconds before, pretended to look for it and said: no more left, simply pulled it out and gave it to me, without even blushing. I assume that this THE policy. and it happened again another day. They Charge a lot for the WIFI - but you hardly get a connection. They urge NOT to leave tip to the staff that you meet, and they collect AUTOMATICALLY 10 Euro per day per person for this purpose - BUT - do not tell you that this is optional and you can ask not to deduct, and from randomly asking staff people if they get TIPS from Management - all of them said NO. which means that the money went to others. I have many more examples. my recommendation - skip MSC. try others - they are much better (from Experience) Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
The itinerary was exactly what I was looking for in an 8 day cruise. Check-in was very efficient, drop your bag outside and agent verifies bag tag, number given for check-in group, waited only a few minutes until group was called, maybe ... Read More
The itinerary was exactly what I was looking for in an 8 day cruise. Check-in was very efficient, drop your bag outside and agent verifies bag tag, number given for check-in group, waited only a few minutes until group was called, maybe 10 agents verifying documents, passed through security and on the ship, cabin keys on your bed in cabin. Very easy and efficient. You have to remember this line caters to Europeans and Americans are in the minority. I went in knowing this and wanted to be immersed in the culture. Ship was very "Italian" in decor, much like the Carnival Miracle or Dream (Costa is owned by Carnival Corp). Public areas were clean. They seemed to have problems with the water and hot showers took a while and there were restrooms outside the dining area that never seemed to work. Cabin was in need of updating and the carpeting needed replacement (or cleaning). Surprisingly I expected a lot of smoking but I didn't really encounter that thank goodness. Food was not to my liking. Free coffee was only offered at breakfast and you had to pay at other times. My husband was able to get a cup of coffee one night at dinner but was not able to get any milk or cream as they said there wasn't any??? Americans were provided a bottle of water at dinner. Menu caters to Europeans. Entertainment was not to my liking but that was okay because we were tired at night. All in all, we got what we wanted.....the itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
This was our 5th cruise, 3rd with Viking. This was the best boat we've been on, but Viking continues to be plagued with problems. Embarkation was very smooth, as was disembarkation when we finished. Dining: It was extremely ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise, 3rd with Viking. This was the best boat we've been on, but Viking continues to be plagued with problems. Embarkation was very smooth, as was disembarkation when we finished. Dining: It was extremely difficult to make restaurant reservations ahead of the cruise, with a limit of 1 reservation per restaurant. That didn't get any better when we boarded...one of the staff members took all our requests, said he'd leave us a message confirming them, and then did absolutely nothing about it. The main dining restaurant (The Restaurant) doesn't open for breakfast until 8am, much too late for early morning shore excursions. And you can't just go in and find a table — get in the line and let them seat you! I have no idea why on earth they need to know your cabin number for a meal...it's all included! It just slows the whole process down, and I would not recommend going there at all for breakfast. They aren't even open for lunch. Dinners there were decent. The one day we ordered room service, they showed up with stuff we didn't order, and were missing stuff we did order. Not good. Shore Excursions: In this area, Viking gets an EPIC FAIL. Viking's cruises are plagued with old, infirm, and obese people who simply cannot walk comfortably around a town or city. So every single excursion you take will have several people who are limping along telling the guide to slow down, etc. It drove us nuts. Even on the St. Petersburg Hermitage Museum excursion, which was rated by Viking as "Demanding", we had 8-10 people in our group who could barely climb stairs. This aspect ruined most of the shore excursions for us. Local Guides: they weren't as good as we've had in the past. 2 of them gave us incorrect info about the location of shuttle buses back to the ship, leading to some anxious moments. Tipping: As usual, you need to constantly be looking to ensure you've got 5 Euros or 10 Krone or whatever, to tip the bus drivers and guides. Viking advertises itself as "all inclusive" but it isn't. Those tips and the daily "tip" that they automatically add to your stateroom bill add up. Viking needs to adopt the Scenic Cruises model — get on board and put your wallet in your safe...no tipping needed, it's truly all inclusive. That includes the beer you have after returning from an excursion at 3pm — on Viking, it'll cost you $8 but on Scenic it's all included. One of our shore excursions (Flam Railway) returned too late so we missed our afternoon excursion, despite Viking's schedule showing them as do-able. And on that excursion, our guide neglected to tell us that we'd be getting lunch. So I bought a couple sandwiches and sweet rolls on the train — for about $40 CDN — only to subsequently discover that they were giving us lunch at the end of the train ride. Staff: All the staff, with the exception of the ship's security officer, were friendly and helpful. We got very rude and aggressive treatment from the ship's security officer when we tried to join a shorter line re-boarding the boat after Berlin. I explained that we were just trying to help speed things up, but we were ordered to get back into our original line (now at the very end of the line). So about 40-50 people had to wait an additional 10 minutes to clear security when the other shorter line cleared, but Mr. Gestapo refused to let anyone go to that line. After a very long day, that finished us...we'll find another cruise line in future. Staterooms: Wonderful. This was the best boat we've been on. The rooms were very quiet compared to any other ship we've been on — you couldn't even hear your neighbouring rooms flush a toilet, or their TV. Comfortable king-sized bed, and plenty of room in the shower. Other: the ship had lots of nice lounges and areas to go have a coffee, read a book, play cards, have a drink, etc. The spa didn't meet my wife's simple needs — a gel fill for her nails. They don't do gel nails, which is ridiculous, as nearly every nail salon in Canada or the USA does. So they proposed to remove her gel nails in one session ($$$) and then put nail polish on her natural nails (um...NO) in another session ($$$). Another EPIC FAIL. Entertainment: we don't go on cruises to see the entertainment. But feedback from our travelling companions led us to believe that the entertainment on Viking Star was very middle class. Port Talks & Info Sessions: a few of these were very educational and entertaining. But the Port Talks (about next day's port) were held at 6:45 PM, right in the middle of the dinner hour! Another questionable judgement by Viking. All in all, I doubt seriously we'll be back on a Viking cruise. These same problems come up again and again with them, and it's time to move on. Our experience with Scenic Cruises was that they have the same boats, service, etc as Viking, but you don't have to bother with all the tipping as it's pre-paid...well worth the extra few bucks. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
Daily, each passenger is charged 10€ for "tips". On the first day, I asked what the tips went for, and I was informed that they were given to those people who provided services: busboys, waiters and waitresses, bartenders, ... Read More
Daily, each passenger is charged 10€ for "tips". On the first day, I asked what the tips went for, and I was informed that they were given to those people who provided services: busboys, waiters and waitresses, bartenders, food servers, cabin cleaners. GOOD! These professions are often underpaid and many people do not tip for those services. The day before my cruise ended, I asked one of the service people what they were going to do with their tips at the end of the cruise. (I don't want to get anyone in trouble, so I am making the job of the person generic.) There were slightly over 3500 customers and slightly under 1000 service workers. 11 days x 3500 people x 10 € = 385000 € ! So, I talked with one of the officers of food and beverage and asked where the money went. He smiled indulgently and explained that Americans view "tips" differently than Europeans. The money, he explained, went to the people in charge of the service workers! He further justified NOT giving it to any of the service people by saying that when they signed a contract, they KNEW it was for salary only. I told him that if I had known that my tip money did NOT go to the folks who provided DIRECT service, I would have carried euros around with me to tip those folks who served me! I talked to German, Italian and French cruise mates....and asked them what they thought the "tip" money was for and they explained to me that it was for those people who provide service: busboys, waiters and waitresses, bartenders, food servers, cabin cleaners! SO, they had the same thought as I. Fortunately, there was time to give the person who cleaned my cabin a tip. BUT, all those others didn't get tips and the person who cleaned my cabin told me that it is rare! (OF COURSE IT IS! PEOPLE THINK THEY ARE GIVING EVERY DAY!) The daily excursions were pricey and there were FEW (only 2 out of 11) that had head sets for each member of the tour group. There were often 3-5 cruise ships in the port which meant that there were hundreds, possibly thousands going ashore to see THE sights that made the town famous/important etc. Each tour group was 30-40 people and unless you were directly in front of the person (obviously impossible) you couldn't hear what was being said. The tour companies were hired/subcontracted by COSTA and when this issue was raised with the excursion folks on board, they explained that there was nothing they could do. When I spoke with the tour guides, they explained that the cost of head sets was too much for them....Additionally, the tour guides seemed to routinely get paid less than what I paid for the tour itself! (Another place to tip if you enjoyed the tour.) Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
We chose this cruise due the fact we wished to see Baltic cities we had never visited before. The issues that I wish to address are far too many to enumerate so I will attempt to limit my review to those concerns which prompted us to ... Read More
We chose this cruise due the fact we wished to see Baltic cities we had never visited before. The issues that I wish to address are far too many to enumerate so I will attempt to limit my review to those concerns which prompted us to provide a negative review. CABIN. Our cabin, although comfortable and as described, exhibited several sanitary and material deficiencies. The toilet (near the base and aft corner) had a standing accumulation of "waste water” (color and scent of urine). Our attendant was quick to resolve the issue by sanitizing and absorbing the standing fluids. Although I attempted to reassure my wife that this was an oversight due to short turn-around times in port, the waste water once again began to accumulate around the base of the toilet. I contacted Customer Service (in person) and was told that the problem would be resolved shortly. We were visited by "technicians" to evaluate the problem, however, after assessing the leaks (staring at it for two minutes) indicated that "if it happens again, let us know!" The problem was never resolved throughout the cruise and required continuous attention by our cabin attendant (who was of tremendous help yet unable to correct material deficiencies). We requested (and were denied) another cabin or like accommodations. The ship's captain sent us a bottle of champagne with chocolates regretting this inconvenience (which we later gave to our attendant) but there were no further attempts to mitigate the problem. (I have attached a photo of the "waste" water in our bathroom). Material Conditions (excessive wear) and cleanliness were significant issues. The cabinetry, drawers, dressers, tables, and sofa exhibited extensive areas of distress due to wear and age (photo provided). Some of the drawers (per photo) were so soiled and dirty that chose to leave part of our clothing in our suitcases rather than store it in the drawers. DINING. The quality and service fell short of our expectations. We considered the entrees to be mediocre and were very limited in variety. It's the small things, e.g., three salt shakers before one that is not clogged due to moisture. A few grains of rice would have resolved this issue. Waiters and staff were unable to communicate adequately in English, German or Spanish. It was a challenging scenario in attempting to fulfill our wishes for meals. ENTERTAINMENT. We consider the entertainment to be sub-par compared to other cruises in which we have taken passage. SERVICE was "par excellence"! Our cabin attendants (in particular) were totally responsive and most considerate in meeting our needs. We were well at ease in rewarding them directly for their sterling service. If there was a specific problem area with service on-board it was that we chose a cruise with 3,800 passengers and no matter how many the staff, they were overwhelmed by the demands placed on them. (Lesson learned: our next cruise will be limited to a carrier with passenger of Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
There was no tea or coffee available after breakfast for the remainder of the day accept on sea days when tea and coffee was available late afternoon. We had to purchase tea or coffee outside those times. When purchasing anything there ... Read More
There was no tea or coffee available after breakfast for the remainder of the day accept on sea days when tea and coffee was available late afternoon. We had to purchase tea or coffee outside those times. When purchasing anything there was a 15% surcharge on top of the cost of the item. There was a 20 euro per person per day gratuity surcharge. No butter for bread freely available without asking for it. No free ice cream or pizza. We had to pay for those. Most cruise ships do not charge for this. There was a charge of 10 euros (nearly $20 au) for a lobster meal. The tail meat was about 2 inches long and was not nice. Most cruise lines do not charge for a lobster night. Staff were unfriendly and unhelpful to us.....especially at the service desk. Few television movies in English. One channel out of 65 was allocated to English speaking guests and they were only repeats of Happy Days and The Librarian. They showed an occasional English language movie. The rest were in German or Italian. Meals at the buffet were repeated often. They were always just lukewarm. We considered the few daily activities during sea days boring and not designed to engage English speaking passengers. Embarkation for excursions was very disorganised and resulted in long bottle neck wait times. There was a charge for the use of the sauna rooms. Most cruise ships do not charge for this. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
A nice itinerary, a very friendly and helpful crew, nice cabin but will never cruise on this ship again why. Entertainment good shows but the times are not as on all other ships i have been on show times 7pm and 9pm, nothing on after ... Read More
A nice itinerary, a very friendly and helpful crew, nice cabin but will never cruise on this ship again why. Entertainment good shows but the times are not as on all other ships i have been on show times 7pm and 9pm, nothing on after second sitting for dinner, except tp sit in a bar and drink, the amount of people who returned to their cabins after the second sitting should tell the senior staff something, as they do not seem to listen to their cusomers. Food quality and choice was lacking and having sailed on the marco polo same cruise line which was why i selected to try the Magellan, was very disappointing. The only time on a cruise that i even skipped a full english. On the bright side the itinerary which included st Petersburg, was excellent and would encourage others to do, but not on the Magellan. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Once and Once Only My wife and I have over the years taken many cruises with many different lines, but had never been with Fred Olsen before and won’t be going again. We had heard mixed reviews about Fred, with some friends liking it ... Read More
Once and Once Only My wife and I have over the years taken many cruises with many different lines, but had never been with Fred Olsen before and won’t be going again. We had heard mixed reviews about Fred, with some friends liking it and others hating it. So we decided to try a short cruise to see for ourselves before booking anything longer. The conclusion was once and once only, there was something about this ship we did not like. Overall the crew did not come across as a happy one, they looked very tired, it was a lot of what I could call British Airways smiles. I know crews do not like short cruises as it means turn around days are close together. Embarkation and Disembarkation The check in went smoothly and by the time we got on board our luggage was already outside our cabin, disembarkation also went well, but these are about the only positives about this cruise. Shore Excursions We did not take any shore excursions, there were only two offered on the first day in port and none on the second day, thought this was rather poor. Our Cabin 7008 this is classed as a balcony suite, I would only class it as a mini suite, we had been informed that on average Fred's cabins were on the small side and we can confirm that appears to be correct. There was a settee and armchair, these were smaller than normal size and very low, it might be that these were purchased this size to make the cabin look bigger? The bathroom was very small, the only bathroom on a ship or boat that I can remember which was smaller than this one was thirty plus years ago on a Russian river cruiser. When having a shower the water temperature goes up and down, presumably because other passengers on the same water circuit are using theirs? The cabin was supplied with tea and coffee making facilities, unfortunately the kettle was fitted with an English type three pin plug but all the sockets were of the continental type. So we asked our stewardess how to plug the kettle in, and were informed that we had to go to reception and ask for an adaptor as she was not allowed to do that. So we went to reception and asked for an adaptor, the receptionist immediately gave a note to another member of staff and informed us that an adaptor would be delivered to our cabin straight away. About a hour and half later we returned to our cabin and guess what, no adaptor, so we telephoned reception and a few minutes later an adaptor actually arrived. The only plus points about this cabin is that it is located in a quiet position towards one end of a corridor and the balcony is a useful shape, fairly deep back to front. The Stewardess wanted to come early and do the turndown service before we went to diner each night as we were on the late sitting at 8.30, we said no as we both like to have a shower and change our clothes before diner. On all other ships, we have always left the makeup room card on the door when going to dinner and any turndown service happened whist we were out. Dining The main dining room was very noisy, didn't appear to be enough waiters, they have to almost run between tables to try and keep up, Fred Olsen expects too much of the staff, it makes the restaurant look and sound like a fast food place. One night I ordered a baked potato with my main course, but instead received a single boiled potato, obviously someone thought I should go on a diet. On the First night waiter came to take my order, but I hadn't had a menu yet, other tables had been laid out with menus, also when the main courses arrived my wife was still short of a fork. Thought the overall food choice was rather poor, on the gala night menu there was not the usual lobster or beef Wellington, but there was shepherd’s pie. Also I believe Fred should be awarded a prize for the worst beard rolls at sea. Wine Service Information in the cabin suggested it was best to preorder wine for dinner as things could get a little busy, so in the afternoon we did this by filling out one of the little order forms just outside the dining room and placed it in the box provided. This was a complete waste of time, when we went to diner we thought the wine would be brought to our table, not so, other tables who had not preordered were managing to get drinks or wine. When I finally managed to attract a waiters attention he knew nothing about preordered wine, but he did manage to retake our order and only half a hour after we had sat down it arrived. It appears that there are no actual wine waiters; it's the waiters who serve the wine. One of the onboard TV presentations re the 'suite dreams' package the presenter stated that you would receive a bottle of champagne in your cabin; this is not quite the case as it is actually sparkling wine. Onboard information stated we would receive a customer questionnaire at the end of the cruise but we never did, after we returned home we did receive an online questionnaire but this was only about what we thought about Rouen and if we had taken a shore excursion, nothing else. No questions regarding what we thought of the cruise. Certainly my wife and I will not be booking any future cruises with Fred; there are many far far better lines available. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Good points first -Price , Magellan the ship itself , food and drinks plus and the Baltic cities we visited. Bad points - the entertainment shows and music were very old and dated . Too many very old and or infirm people on this ... Read More
Good points first -Price , Magellan the ship itself , food and drinks plus and the Baltic cities we visited. Bad points - the entertainment shows and music were very old and dated . Too many very old and or infirm people on this cruise so gave the atomosphere one of a derby and Joan club at sea ! Cities such as Stockholm only had a 4 hour visit time which is much too short Entertainment was very much aimed at 70/80 year olds with the newest music I heard all cruise was by Abba and the band played what I would ( bad ) lift music The entertainment staff had to come up with their own ideas for shows etc , a case in point was one of them ( slightly) looking like Buddy Holly (but sounding nothing like him ) so you got a Buddy Holly tribute act....but a terrible one ! If you value the entertainment on board your cruise alongside the destinations you have been warned !!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
“Worse things happen at sea.” They did. BE WARNED. . . . . We selected the Fred Olsen cruise to The Baltic 1) because it coincided with our 30th Wedding anniversary and 2) We would be in St Petersburg for 2 days the highlight of our ... Read More
“Worse things happen at sea.” They did. BE WARNED. . . . . We selected the Fred Olsen cruise to The Baltic 1) because it coincided with our 30th Wedding anniversary and 2) We would be in St Petersburg for 2 days the highlight of our trip. As a bonus there will be a gym, a library, self service coffee/tea bar. What more could you want? Here is what we experienced: THE SHIP - BALMORAL All painted in her new livery. I wonder what a jolly day they had at the board meeting where they made that decision. “Our highly paid team of advisers said we must update our image and repaint the fleet. Ok what shall we have? A bright blue ? A wizzy red? No let’s paint them dark battleship grey. . . “ Balmoral is a 30+ year old ship. No better nor worse than a 3 star hotel that gets well used. The cabin – deck 5 -we had was perfectly adequate. The public lounges were comfortable and plenty of seating. Piped music was everywhere. Your only escape for peace and quiet was your cabin because the public address system was not working there. The passengers were almost all elderly many with infirmities. You had to admire their pluck making the journey. All the passengers were very friendly. The ship was remarkably stable – even in a force 7 sea you were hardly aware of any big motions of the ship. THE CREW – were brilliant. Attentive, thoughtful and skilled at their job. The Guest Services team did their best but you felt the Cold Dead Hand of Head Office on all their decisions. THE TOURS TEAM - were hopeless – in fact the whole experience of booking tours on line direct with Fed Olen was a shambles from the beginning. We had to produce our own spreadsheet to make sense of times and dates of the tours. To cap it all the order confirmation of our bookings came back a complete jumble not in date order, port order, only a haphazard mess. The Tours were expensive. The tour guides however, not FOCL staff, were very good. BE WARNED: the stop overs in port were very short. For example two days in Stockholm yes but not 48 hours. We arrived around 2pm one day and left 2.30pm the next. THE CRUISE This started of with a bit of excitement, two hours out from Newcastle we had to turn round and go back into port – a passenger had had a heart attack. Among other diversions was a small fire in a cabin down from us. Our toilet flooded and pumped raw sewage all over the bath room floor. There were at least three if not four public announcements ‘Stretcher crew to the medical centre’. Sounded serious each time. All over the ship were sanitizing stations which squirted disinfectant onto your hands and twice daily reminders from the captain over the public address about hand washing and sanitization. BE WARNED – if you took advantage of the offer of a complimentary wedding anniversary or package DO NOT RELY on the Self Proclaimed Wonderful Customer Service provided by FOCL to do anything. We booked our 30th Wedding anniversary complimentary package on line in Oct 2015 soon after the time of booking our cruise– as requested we sent a copy of our marriage certificate by post as soon as it was requested. We failed to check that the Self Proclaimed Wonderful Customer Service had received it. They didn’t bother to check with us on its non arrival so again the Cold Dead Hand of Head Office did nothing. They probably thought we’d been ‘trying it on’ because we hadn’t sent the certificate.We paid over four and a half thousand pounds for this cruise didn't we deserve a phone call to check? So, on our anniversary on board, nothing happened. On querying why not were told they had no record of it. The Guest Services Manager hid in their office and would not talk to me to sort out the problem. By now the ‘shine’ on the celebration had been knocked off. After more complaints they did reluctantly honour their offer. If the Cold Dead Hand of Head Office are reading this I’m more than happy to provide evidence of our wedding 30 years ago. NORO VIRUS (projectile vomiting and diarrhoea) We weren’t 2 days out before the first cases broke out, and kept presenting throughout the cruise. The result was that the Gym was closed, the library was closed the laundrette was closed, Jacuzzis were closed. Poor crew members had to sit outside the public toilet doors (propped open) monitoring hand washing and sanitizing. Or the toilets were closed for deep cleaning at odd times so you had to rush from one end of the ship to the other to find a working toilet if you were caught short. BE WARNED - If you caught the virus you were confined to your cabin for 48 hours after the last incident. We were both confined to the cabin for over 60 hours although only one of us was affected. The result – we missed seeing Tallin and worst of all we missed St Petersburg, the main reason for the trip. We were ‘released’ with half a day to spare. We asked the Tour desk if they could find any tours we could get on. They said they’d come back to us – guess what ? They didn’t. I’m convinced they made no effort to help after our major disappointment of missing 2 important trips ashore at St Petersburg.. The cost of the ‘missed’ tours was refunded – big deal. We got a letter from FOCL offering us a ‘discount’ of around £395 off another cruise. Not good enough FOCL. If you Google Fred Olsen + Noro virus you’ll see that Balmoral has had repeated attacks of Gastro-intestinal problems. You will also see that a class action has been taken out by other sufferers and FOCL recently lost a high court appeal against not having to pay compensation. You will find the name of the solicitors bringing the action in one of the Google results. I have been in touch the solicitors and they told me a number of others from this cruise have been in touch with them – we may, and I say may, have a cause for action. BE WARNED : While Balmoral has a poor record of Gastro-intestinal problems I am reliably warned ALL Cruise ships suffer to a more or less degree of infestation and none of them seem to be able to get rid of the problem. SUMMARY On line booking was not a happy experience. Suggest you book via a travel agency The cruise offered a good selection of ports (if you got to see them), exceptional service from Crew, food good, accommodation OK. On board entertainment was very professional. The rest of the trip for us was an expensive disappointment in the extreme. We have no intention of taking up an offer to spend more thousands of pounds to get what we had been promised by this cruise and to be put at risk of being ‘poisoned’ again. I urge anyone contemplating a cruise – Google Cruise ships + Norovirus or gastrointestinal problems and you will see what a major problem it is. Think twice. . . . Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We selected the Fred Olsen cruise to The Baltic 1) because it coincided with our 30th wedding anniversary and 2) We would be in St Petersburg for 2 days - the highlight of our trip. As a bonus there will be a gym, a library, and self ... Read More
We selected the Fred Olsen cruise to The Baltic 1) because it coincided with our 30th wedding anniversary and 2) We would be in St Petersburg for 2 days - the highlight of our trip. As a bonus there will be a gym, a library, and self service coffee/tea bar etc. What more could you want? Here is what we experienced: The Ship: Balmoral- Balmoral is a 30+ year old ship. No better nor worse than a 3 star hotel that gets well used. The cabin we had on deck 5 was perfectly adequate. The public lounges were comfortable and plenty of seating. Piped music was everywhere. Your only escape for peace and quiet was your cabin because the public address system there only worked occasionally. The passengers were almost all elderly with many infirmities. You had to admire their pluck making the journey. All the passengers we encountered were very friendly. The ship was remarkably stable – even in a force seven sea you were hardly aware of any swaying movements of the ship. The Crew – were brilliant. At all times they were attentive, thoughtful and skilled at their job. The Guest Services team did their best but you felt the Cold Dead Hand of Head Office on all their decisions. The Tours Team - were hopeless – in fact the whole experience of booking tours online direct with Fred Olsen was a shambles from the beginning. We had to produce our own spreadsheet to make sense of times and dates of the tours. To cap it all the order confirmation of our bookings came back a complete jumble, not in date order or port order, only a haphazard mess. The Tours were expensive. The tour guides however, (not FOCL staff) were very good. Be Warned: the stopovers in port were very short. For example, ‘two days’ in Stockholm, yes, but not the full 48 hours. We arrived around 2pm one day and left 2.30pm the next. The Cruise This started of with a bit of excitement, two hours out from Newcastle we had to turn round and go back into port because a passenger had a suspected heart attack. Among other diversions was a small fire in a cabin down from us. Our toilet flooded and pumped raw sewage all over the bath room floor once and two blockages later. Other cabins had similar problems. There were at least three if not four public announcements ‘Stretcher crew to the medical centre’ which sounded serious each time. All over the ship were sanitizing stations which squirted disinfectant onto your hands and twice daily reminders from the captain over the public address about hand washing and sanitization. Cabins Deck 5– we had a picture window. The cabin was adequate – lots of storage space. We had our cases taken away which freed up floor space. The constant air conditioning was very dehydrating. Our cabin steward was very obliging but for some unexplained reason the cabin wasn’t hoovered any of the time we occupied it. Beds were comfortable. The bathroom was small but adequate with a bath/shower. Be Warned – if you took advantage of the offer of a complimentary wedding anniversary or other package do not rely on the Self Proclaimed Wonderful Customer Service provided by FOCL to do anything. We booked our 30th wedding anniversary complimentary package online in Oct 2015 soon after the time of booking our cruise– as requested we sent a copy of our marriage certificate by post as soon as it was requested. We failed to check that the Self Proclaimed Wonderful Customer Service had received it. They didn’t bother to check back with us on its non arrival so again the Cold Dead Hand of Head Office did nothing. They probably thought we’d been ‘trying it on’ because we hadn’t sent the certificate. I would have hoped that a customer spending nearly £5,500 (Cruise + Trips) with them was worth a phone call. So, on our anniversary on board, nothing happened. On querying why not we were told they had no record of it. The Guest Services Manager hid in their office and would not talk to us to sort out the problem. By now the ‘shine’ on the celebration had been knocked off. After more wrestling with Customer Services they did reluctantly honour their offer. If the Cold Dead Hand of Head Office is reading this I’m more than happy to provide the evidence, again, of our wedding 30 years ago. Norovirus (projectile vomiting and diarrhoea) We weren’t 2 days out before the first cases broke out, and kept presenting throughout the cruise. The result was that the gym was closed, the library was closed, the laundrette was closed, the Jacuzzis were closed. Poor crew members had to sit outside the public toilet doors (propped open) monitoring hand washing and sanitizing. Or the toilets were closed for deep cleaning at odd times so you had to rush from one end of the ship to the other to find a working toilet if you were caught short. Be Warned - If you caught the virus you were confined to your cabin for 48 hours after the last incident. We were both confined to the cabin for over 60 hours although only one of us was affected. The result – we missed seeing Tallin and worst of all we missed St Petersburg, the main reason for the trip. We were ‘released’ with half a day to spare. We asked the Tours desk if they could find any St Petersburg tours we could get on. They said they’d come back to us – guess what? They didn’t. I’m convinced they made no effort to help after our major disappointment of missing two much anticipated trips ashore at St Petersburg. FOCL didn’t charge us for the medical ‘attention’ we received (but left us to provide our own medication). Is this an admission that it is not entirely the passengers to blame as FOCL try to make out? The cost of the ‘missed’ tours was refunded – big deal. We got a letter from FOCL offering us a ‘discount’ of around £395 but only off another cruise. Not good enough FOCL, not good enough at all. If you Google Fred Olsen + Norovirus you’ll see that Balmoral has had repeated attacks of Gastro-intestinal problems. You will also see that a class action has been taken out by other sufferers and FOCL has just lost a high court appeal against not having to pay compensation. You will find the name of the solicitors bringing the case in one of the Google results. I have been in touch the solicitors and they told me a number of others from this Baltic Cruise have been in touch with them – we may, and I say may, have a cause for action. I urge you to do the research and join in with other sufferers from this cruise. Be warned: While Balmoral has a poor record of Gastro-intestinal problems, I am reliably informed that ALL Cruise ships suffer on-board infection to a greater or lesser degree and none of them seem to be able to get rid of the problem. Summary : Online booking direct with FOCL was not a happy experience. Suggest you book via a travel agency. They had all our details, email and postal, but seem to find it necessary to keep us up to date. We had to phone them several times to find out about tours, tickets, cabin facilities, port parking, etc. The cruise offered a good selection of ports (if you got to see them), exceptional service from the Crew, food was good, accommodation OK. On board entertainment was a good professional standard. The rest of the trip for us was an expensive disappointment in the extreme. We have no intention of taking up an offer to spend over £ 5,500 again (less the paltry discount) to get what we had been promised by this cruise and to be put at risk of being ‘poisoned’ again. I urge anyone contemplating a cruise to check out on Google - Cruise ships + Norovirus or gastrointestinal problems and you will see what a major problem it is. Think twice. . . . Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We chose because of ports of cal.,.worst cruise ever and we have been on many. This ship squeezes a dime out of every nickle. Food was below hospital quality...small amounts and the buffet was every man and woman for themselves, even the ... Read More
We chose because of ports of cal.,.worst cruise ever and we have been on many. This ship squeezes a dime out of every nickle. Food was below hospital quality...small amounts and the buffet was every man and woman for themselves, even the waiters will knock you out of the way, MSC needs to retrain their staff, 80 % are just ok, the other 20% have a very bad attitude. We have been on over 12 cruises...this line does not even get close to our worst, Carnival. Money is their only mission. My travel agent tried to talk me out of taking this line...I now know why. Find another ship. We needed to fight to get decaf coffee every morning. They must keep it in a safe.Abandoned the dinner seating after 2 nights and preferred the buffet as the quality and quantity of the food was a bit better. On a great side note, the ship's hospital and staff were great. Please find another line or be prepared. There is a lack of information on how to get to the ship and from the train station in Kiel. I only stumbled upon in train station. Many passengers tried to walk or tried to get a cab. It was quite far to the ship. MSC had a shuttle but never informed us. For 5 euros a bag you were in. Poor communication at best on more than one occasion. The cabin was sufficient, typical cruise, small but functional. The customer service people really tried, but were restricted by the powers that be. Embarkation and debarkation went very smooth. It is nice that you can take your own bags off this ship. My main concern with the Musica was the food and lack of service by the staff. Never before have we been treated like steerage. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
The choice was a back to back between Iceland and Russia July 4 through 28, 2016. Copenhagen to Copenhagen. Requested Convertible Twins. Got one king bed. Ask for two separate beds. Stewart gave me a face and said he would do it. Shower ... Read More
The choice was a back to back between Iceland and Russia July 4 through 28, 2016. Copenhagen to Copenhagen. Requested Convertible Twins. Got one king bed. Ask for two separate beds. Stewart gave me a face and said he would do it. Shower head LEAKED. Shower curtain hem covered with MOLD, curtain not connected on two top hooks. i leaned back on the curtain over bed; DUST AND FIBERS FELL OFF AND IRRITATED MY EYES. I was looking for something I dropped and found MANS SOCK UNDER THE BED.TWICE THE CABIN STEWART'S' ENTERED THE ROOM WHILE I WAS LAYING IN BED. THE 2ND TIME WITH THEIR CLEANING EQUIPMENT AND VACUUM CLEANER. THE DID NOT OFFER TO RETURN AT A DIFFERENT TIME. I HAD TO CLIMB OVER THEIR EQUIPMENT TO GET OUT O THE CABIN. July 5 or 6 there was NO A/C. Room was HOT AND STUFFY. I slept with the door open, blocked with a chair and curtain drawn all night.. Bathroom floor was squeaky with dent under the tile. I asked only for ice every day (nothing else)- No ice. I had to call 3 each week for ice. \Empty fruit basked never returned with fruit. I asked the head housekeeper "DON'T YOUR TRAIN YOUR STAFF?" No answer. i ASKED for a cabin upgrade and got a pot of flowers. I asked for a different cabin Stewart. and that I got. The rest of the staff was indifferent and inexperienced. When food service stopped in the buffet and dining room, Only a few items were on the "dine in room" menu and the selection was very poor. Three of the serving staff ('chef"s) in the buffet were rude. MANY of the service people were not trained properly and or poorly trained in food service. The Piano and Violin & The Microsoft classes were excellent. The rest of the entertainment was mediocre. Of the several cruise companies, I've traveled Holland America is the ABSOLUTE WORST!!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Chose this cruise as the Ports of Call were all just where we wanted to go. As we live in Debyshire Hull was so easy to reach. Once on board not so sure on our choice, cabin sloped down hill making quite a high step in to shower etc. ... Read More
Chose this cruise as the Ports of Call were all just where we wanted to go. As we live in Debyshire Hull was so easy to reach. Once on board not so sure on our choice, cabin sloped down hill making quite a high step in to shower etc. Food was a great disappointment being of poor quality and level of service left much to be desired. As one of the few not ill in the bad weather on crossing north sea, I witnessed in the glorified cafe called a 'bistro' dirty pots cleared, but tables not cleaned or when they were the same cloth was used without being rinsed and no anti-bac spray used. This was the theme throughout, when meals required a sauce like mustard or mint these were served in their jars with residue running down the side!!! Waiters at meals did not realise it was bad manners to clear the table before everyone had finished eating even crossing people eating to changing cutlery. Entertainment staff tried very hard, but needed more support, even one of them told me that Oliver Twist would not ask for more! Ports of call were all good, did many trips ourselves, others were ok Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Funny and not funny: Embarkation was supposed to be Leith but changed to Rosyth on the 11th Hour (excuses ranged from technical problems to tide problems !) but we were informed this was the norm for this ship---and here we go--- a ... Read More
Funny and not funny: Embarkation was supposed to be Leith but changed to Rosyth on the 11th Hour (excuses ranged from technical problems to tide problems !) but we were informed this was the norm for this ship---and here we go--- a great start!! On Board: I've never seen so many people with Walking sticks, Zimmer's, Wheelchairs, and general health problems I thought I was on a Lourdes Pilgrimage, people should know their own limitations when going on any type of Holiday and yes it does cause inconvenience to other fellow passengers, simple things like going up stairs & gangways, on and off buses, lifting food on to a plate, opening a door was a major task to many people on board. Muster Drill/ Lifeboat drill: A lot of people will not make it in a real life situation, this drill was done as we left the port and we congregated at various 'muster points' on board but not taken to any lifeboats 'stay in your cabins and someone will come and get you if you cant make it on your own' was the ships Tannoy Announcement at the drill------Aye right !! At least one more drill might have been welcomed on the 12 day trip. Activities/Entertainment on Board Daytime activities ranged from 1000 bit Jigsaw puzzles, Crochet, Reading, Bingo, Quiz games and Highland dancing. There was some 40 Min to 60 Minute shows on each evening done by the amateur show staff who tried their best. Shore excursions: The itinerary was the reason I was on board and were all good albeit a bit costly however, no one seemed to be sure how close to Port we would be at different locations and shuttle buses had to be used to get to most towns if you had not booked on an excursion. Food & Drink: Average but with plenty of choice and there was always something you could eat on any day or night , I'm sure it was a paradise from breakfast to dinner for many. Drink was about same price as your local and AI was on offer at £17 per person per day ( this is per cabin, so a couple pays £34 per day! ) Service: Good all round service from the hard working behind the scenes staff and cabin staff who as usual do extended hours to make your life as easy as possible. I always give alternate days off to the cabin boy or girl just as a breather for them, its no big deal and I do not have a servant at home anyways !! I guess most other passengers do !! Gratuities: Lol , (I love this subject) the first week everyone is talking about how the lowly paid ships workers are due everything they can get including Gratuities & Tips etc. then the second week and after they receive a preview of their Ships Statement bill-----its all change ---lol excuse after excuse on why they wont pay the gratuities and a Que is then formed at the Reception at the second last cruise day to have the Gratuities removed from their account !! ( its £5 per person per day on a 12 day cruise and grannie Murphy ain't paying that --nor is jock fae Edinburgh ken !!) Cabin: The cabin (inside) was large enough and the toilet and shower room was adequate, there was soap, and shower gel, the shower had some hot and cold issues but not too bad. No kettle or iron in cabins and the electric socket is a flat 2 pin affair, take some coat hangers with you ( 6 or so ) as you will need them. The TV is an old antiquated thing and shows some Movies and old tv shows and has the news ,and on this ship you will use it !! Dressing up: 3 dress codes are used ,Formal: Tux or suits and ties for men and evening gowns or similar for women. Informal: its expected that men will wear a jacket and slacks optional for a tie , women will wear slacks or skirt and top or blouse-------(most folks did not bother too much ) Casual: slacks for men, good jeans are ok and collared shirt (no T shirts or football colours) women can wear slacks and top ,no shorts for anyone in night dinning rooms Summary: One lift was out of use on the whole trip then the second broke down for a day that meant no lifts for that day for anyone, the ship is 50 years old and I think its had its time at sea. It's held together with temporary repairs ( sticking plaster jobs!!). I wont be on board again that's for sure. Hygiene could be better in restaurants Marcos Bistro for example uses a bucket to collect slops at the coffee/tea/water stations as there is no sink available at these points. Mugs and cups are collected from the kitchen after being washed and transported on a filthy plastic tray (used to collect left over food dishes) and placed at the coffee stations for general use, remember to clean the rim of the mug with a hand tissue ! At the end of the day it's all about the money Folks Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We paid a premium price for this cruise to see what a more luxurious ship was like. We expected much more than we actually got. Ship only 2 years old, so quite modern and trendier than other cruise lines. Cabin same size as normal ship, ... Read More
We paid a premium price for this cruise to see what a more luxurious ship was like. We expected much more than we actually got. Ship only 2 years old, so quite modern and trendier than other cruise lines. Cabin same size as normal ship, although the toilet was separate which was good. The lounge areas were uninspiring. Afternoons entertainment violinist and a jazz singer, piano player. They were quite good for afternoon entertainment. Night there was sometimes a dance show, but nothing in the main lounge area. No music, no dancing, zero atmosphere. If you wanted to sit in there it was quite boring. Ponant have to lift their game if they want to come into the Australian market. Food just average, we expected better for the price we paid. Staff very good, no complaints there. Restaurant staff very helpful. Front desk staff not greatly friendly. Ship always clean and neat. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
This was the first time we have travelled with P & O and,regrettably, it will be the last. We booked this cruise because it had the itinerary at the time of year that we wanted, not because of the ship. Reading the reviews (after ... Read More
This was the first time we have travelled with P & O and,regrettably, it will be the last. We booked this cruise because it had the itinerary at the time of year that we wanted, not because of the ship. Reading the reviews (after booking!), I was unsure of the experience and, sad to say, it met my worse expectations. Carnival have different brands and the P&O experience is at the bottom. I fully agree with previous comments regarding the bland, boring quality of the food in the Belvedere - the "international" area of the buffet is a daily serving of curry with the rest of the choices being just uninspiring. Who decided to locate the bar in the cold pool area so that the wine waiters had to wear outside jackets whilst serving at table? P&O know their customers well and the whole boat couldn't be more British in terms of food and entertainment. There is a token gesture towards "enrichment" on 'at sea days' or you can play Bingo, have a pub quiz or karaoke. If you are really desperate how about attending the special lectures designed to sell you their services and products? The average age of passengers was well over 60 but you could still play cricket and tennis on the cold deck in the middle of the Baltic! Cruising is a business and Carnival seem to have thought about every way of getting money out of you. By the way you have to ask for a statement (none is provided) otherwise you receive an invoice on the morning of departure. If there's a problem, with time constraints, there may be no time to argue. I'm not suggesting that this practice is, in any way, intentional but if, nobody has much time to query any mistakes, the system could well work in the Company's favour. The ship is getting tired. The public areas have had a facelift but the staterooms are showing their age. Ours had wedges in the gaps between the balcony doors and the frame. When the ship rolls certain areas creak. No doubt if you are a first time cruiser or have simple tastes, the experience is wonderful. If you have cruised on other lines you know better. It really is a case of "you get what you pay for" and I must agree with the majority of poor reviews. Oh and the cough is still there but it seems to take about 10 days to become noticeable and the toilet mentioned in other reviews is still a problem. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
I travelled on Minerva first December then returned 12/05/2015. The quality of food was poor even since Christmas when chef replaced and obviously budget reduced. The speakers had not liased and there was overlapping of information, ... Read More
I travelled on Minerva first December then returned 12/05/2015. The quality of food was poor even since Christmas when chef replaced and obviously budget reduced. The speakers had not liased and there was overlapping of information, although all very good. The late evening entertainment was very poor and guaranteed to empty Orpheous. The opera and other entertainment was good. In my opinion Minerva are failing to look at their core cliental. Their previous clients have been replaced by baby boomers. Sixties night consisted of 3 dusty Springfield covers and jazz. However when crew jammed it was obvious there is plenty of talent already on board and Orpheous was packed. Come on Minerva move on and survive. On both cruises there was a large group of singles. On another note the shore stops were very poor. I know the problems in Ukraine forced changes. But 2 nights in Georgia, a beautiful country and two at Bulgaria would, it was generally agreed by all have been preferable option. The service was an attempt at fine dining not back up by the faire Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We are first time cruisers so didn't have a bench mark to compare, however after speaking to other guests we realised that our experience on the Magellan was not typical of most cruises.Firstly I must say that the cabin stewards & ... Read More
We are first time cruisers so didn't have a bench mark to compare, however after speaking to other guests we realised that our experience on the Magellan was not typical of most cruises.Firstly I must say that the cabin stewards & other staff were very helpful & friendly but were battling against the shortcomings of the ship. Our first night aboard we waited an hour before anyone offered us even a glass of water & there was little improvement throughout, the food was never hot & on one occasion there was water pouring through a light fitting as we were dining. Our cabin was large enough but hot water for the shower was unreliable as was flushing the toilet. The gym had no water available & all the instructions were available in 3 languages but not English!! The cruise director was very good but some of the other entertainment was less than professional Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
Let's start with the port of Hull. The Port of Hull is a cargo port located at the confluence of the River Hull and the Humber Estuary in the city of "Kingston upon Hull" in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. The only ... Read More
Let's start with the port of Hull. The Port of Hull is a cargo port located at the confluence of the River Hull and the Humber Estuary in the city of "Kingston upon Hull" in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. The only way we could get there by plane was taking a flight to Amsterdam and from there to Humberside Airport. (There are no flights from London to Humberside). Humberside is about 2 hours from Hull. Obviously Cruise and Maritime Voyages caters to working class British who are afraid of flying thus their motto: "Cruise without flying." Well... we were specially instructed by Cruise and Maritime Voyages not to used the ferry terminal in Hull. So the van driver that picked us up at Humberside Airport could not believe that we were not to wait at the ferry terminal for embarkation. When we arrived to a wood hut belonging to the Associated British Ports in Alexandra Dock, Hull, North Humberside HU9, we understood why the driver was so puzzled. The only thing we found there were bare wood walls, a couple of run down tables and plastic chairs and some employees of the port that at least showed us where the kitchen was so we can make our own tea. Everything was quite dirty. The only heater was in a corner of the room, but people kept leaving the door open when coming and going from the room so it was quite cold. We arrived around 9 AM and we had to wait until 2:00 PM to be transported to the ferry terminal where we waited for a bus to take us to the ship. Did I mentioned that it was not even a vending machine in this wood hut? As soon as we arrived to the ship we left our carry on on the cabin and went to the buffet at the Lido. Our first impression of the buffet was not good at all and it continued for the remaining of the trip. Tea, more tea, and coffee were free but any drink was at least twice as much as in any other cruise. It was quite difficult to find some decent wine. The food at the restaurant was a bit better but again catering to British taste. Have you ever heard of the famous British cuisine? No? There is a reason for that. At least they offered fish and chips, boiled fish, grilled fish, lamb, boiled vegetables and other "delicacies" as such. The ship (sister of the well known Love Boat) had a major refit between 2001 and 2003 and since, nobody has cleaned the windows! It was no way to take any decent picture in the whole trip from the inside of the ship and the weather was quite cold outside. Yes we did have a safety drills one before the cruise in the Baltic and one before the cruise in the Scottish Isles! The entertainment was good enough to see it a couple of times. Same kind of routines and songs in all shows. Films were all for adults with lots of violence and crimes and full of hate and vulgarity. We left in the middle of most of them. No, you could not get any good show on TV because the signal obviously didn't reach. So they repeated the same horrible vulgar violent movies. Some of the lectures were interesting but also geared to crime investigation. The best guest lecturer was a lady that had a great sense of humor. The cabin was small. We could not hide the bags under the beds because they did not fit. S we have to just stand them in the middle of the cabin and we had to move them every time we wanted to either open the closet or the bathroom door. Our steward, from India, was a very nice and efficient worker. The ports we visited were great and we had some really good excursions and some others not so good at all. Some of the guides were really boring. In St Petersburg we were cut at least half and hour short of the visit to the Hermitage because the guide was apparently in a hurry. In Oslo we fall asleep during the tour to the Olympic skii jump. However the tours in Copenhagen, Helsinki, Tallinn, Stockholm, Kirkwall, Torshavn, Portree and Tobermory were quite good. We specially enjoyed the opportunity to go from Hull to York to see the Minster. Although the time we had was minimal. Disembarkation was uneventful. We were instructed to wait in assigned areas but it was a bit of confusion with the transfer we paid in advance, We had to wait about 30 minutes to get a taxi in Avonmouth. The best service on the ship was the Medical Center, which we have to visit several times because when waiting to be transported to the ship at the wood hut in Hull my travel companion got a terrible bronchitis. She was quite blessed to have a good travel insurance. In summary let the British continue to enjoy this cruise! Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
We have taken a lot of cruises. One was on a sailing yacht, and the others were larger ships. MSC is not a good choice for Americans. You will feel less welcome and the food is nnot to our taste. This ship was like a cattle car, very ... Read More
We have taken a lot of cruises. One was on a sailing yacht, and the others were larger ships. MSC is not a good choice for Americans. You will feel less welcome and the food is nnot to our taste. This ship was like a cattle car, very overcrowded. It was difficult disembarking for excursions because of the crowd which was largely European. In general, we often felt that we were being shoved a lot more than on other ships (not because of being American, but because that is evidently how they interact on elevators and other tight spaces.) Because of my ethnicity, I was typically mistaken for being either Norwegian or German. The cabin was not much different than the others that we have experienced. When we attempted to sleep in at the port where our excursion was cancelled, we were bombarded with constant loud announcements of various excusions needing to gather. The common areas of the ship were disappointing. There was nowhere to enjoy dancing, unlike our favorites of the larger ships-Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Fitness areas were restricted to people who got some kind of medical clearance. We did not bother to try to get that, not wanting to fill out lots of personal information without even being able to see the fitness room. The pool was outdoors, and the weather was quite chilly. No one used it. We only found one place to take a cutesy photo of the interior-the lounge which had a leopard or ocelot theme. Otherwise it was quite a plain ship. The casino was too smoky to enjoy. Many smokers were sitting on the seats by machines, smoking and not gambling. About half of the computers actually worked. We only had dinner twice in the formal dining room because the offerings were so limited. As it is, we were not assigned a table even though we had given our preferences months earlier. We had to see the wait staff to be assigned a table. It was only for 2 people, and it was off in a far end. Our formal dining photos were not purchased because the photographers could only take individual photos of us at the table. We are not much into seafood, especially sushi or octopus. Steak was only on the menu once. We paid a lot to end up in the cafeteria, eating their limited fare of cold burgers or cold pizza. And sometimes we did not eat because the cafeteria had very limited hours. And no midnight buffets on this ship! Water was an extra charge at meal time! Coffee was not available at lunch. The towels in the cabin were folded in the shape of an animal only one time. There were no chocolates on the pillows, and no welcome aboard drink. (There was no pampering.)The main performances were hard to find on the daily newsletter, causing us to miss 2 performances because they were not listed under "entertainment." They were stuck somewhere in the advertisement area. We saw contortionists, opera, and a Michael Jackson impersonator. (The Europeans were quite thrilled with him and their incessant loud clapping throughout the performance was hard on the ears.)Embarkation was too easy because it was insufficient. We were not given our excursion tickets which had been prepaid. The shops were not what I expected. There was no Loreal shop despite what I had read. And the gift shops were featuring Russian goods from a cruise prior to ours. The ship was using well-stabilized but on the 2 days where it got a bit rough, there were barf bags everywhere (as if they were decorative.) Any photo of the interior on those evenings would have been hilarious. This cruise line charges a set amount for tips, and they will NOT alter it upon request. This was a huge gyp since we hardly ate in the dining room; never ordered an alcoholic beverage; & the customer relations staff were most unhelpful. (The cabin steward was ok.) Kiel, Germany- Why would a cruise stop there on a Sunday? Everything was closed of course. We walked around but it was pretty boring. MSC had some excursions which would take cruisers to other nearby locations, BUT they cancelled ours because there were not enough English speaking cruisers!! AND they didn't care that I can also speak German & French. I was given no alternative options for my choice. Also, no refund yet. Geiranger, Norway- We had fun because we had arranged to meet friends there. We did not take an organized excursion. It has nice shops and a lovely setting. We toured the area by private car. Stavanger, Norway - We took a motor coach tour of the area & went to some shops. The dessert turned out to be pancakes which was disappointing since it mimicked my breakfast. Nice scenery. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011

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