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56 Baltic Sea Senior Cruise Reviews

Where to start! We booked a Sky Suite (S1) on the Eclipse after a personal recommendation and we wanted to go to the Baltic. It's worth saying that we like to spend time in our stateroom, don't like crowded restaurants, and ... Read More
Where to start! We booked a Sky Suite (S1) on the Eclipse after a personal recommendation and we wanted to go to the Baltic. It's worth saying that we like to spend time in our stateroom, don't like crowded restaurants, and have little interest in entertainments etc (we're not that boring really, just aren't keen on dancing etc). We like a nice bar for pre & post dinner drinks but are happy to spend our sea days on the balcony if the weather is good. We paid $LOTS for the cruise - I think we can do what we want for that money, which is why we always book suites. Anyway: Embarkation: generally good at Southampton, however the focus on booking additional cost dining at the 'specialty' restaurants was a little OTT. Our cases took a long time to arrive, the last one some 4 hours after embarkation and after we had sailed. Disembarkation was well organised & timely. Stateroom: Excellent, well appointed, superb fittings and spotlessly clean, with a large balcony at the rear portside corner of the ship with lots of space. Stateroom service: We had a 'butler' service which was OK, not a patch on the Cunard butler service, but reasonable. Stateroom cleaning etc was very good and the staff friendly etc. By the end of the cruise the 'butler' had got complacent and things we had asked him to do each day (e.g. making sure we had enough ice) were missed and we had to insist they were done. Not good. Ship: Excellent, modern, some superb rooms and public areas. Very smooth sailing. Food & restaurants: For the money - dreadful. We took one look at the main restaurant (with Select Dining) and decided not to bother (Tables too close, very noisy etc). We could eat off the same menu in our stateroom so did that most of the time. The food was either overcooked (meat etc) or undercooked (vegetables) and was without exception cold. We kept asking for hot plates etc to no avail. This also applied to the Oceanview self service restaurant where there are no trays, cold plates and little service from the waiting staff. Particularly disgusting was the pasta which was always cold. Speciality restaurants: The Tuscan Grille was poor. The sea bass I ordered was overcooked (I can do it better, honestly!). The Murano provided some excellent food, but the staff were pretentious, and overbearing. For example, one waiter came and read the menu out to us, and another came and explained what an amuse bouche is. As for the wine... more later. Ports of call: As described really. We prefer to be independent, not least as more than a couple of hours sitting on a bus (or aeroplane) causes back problems. The charge for shuttle buses of $15 each is just a rip-off. Highlight was the sail out of Stockholm. When booked the itinerary showed transit through the Kiel canal - didn't happen. Premium alcohol package: This is anything but Premium. There are so many rules and regulations (i.e. can only buy one drink at a time with a 10 minute delay) and only wine by the glass which means if I order a bottle of wine for the stateroom it's not covered, neither is anything other than 2 choices of red wine by the glass in the specialty restaurants. I asked our butler for a glass of wine in our stateroom and he said 'you'll have to fetch it yourself, or I'll charge!' The bar and restaurant staff sneer at you with the package as they have no opportunity to ask for another tip. Eventually after much discussion with Guest Relations the Head Bartender had our package cancelled for 9 of the 14 days and we paid as we went. The whole thing is a disgrace. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
We traveled for the 11 day cruise boarding at Le Havre, France around the North Sea. Happily, we had fair weather and enjoyed Scotland, an old favorite Amsterdam, and Hamburg in the sun. Crossing from Norway to Scotland was a terrible day ... Read More
We traveled for the 11 day cruise boarding at Le Havre, France around the North Sea. Happily, we had fair weather and enjoyed Scotland, an old favorite Amsterdam, and Hamburg in the sun. Crossing from Norway to Scotland was a terrible day at sea, and half the (full) ship was a bit sea sick. Costa is just a cut above MSC in quality, however, it is a big trench above the other Italian line in price; and frankly, although MSC is the pits, so is Costa. Catering to a majority of Italians, you'll find smokers abound, unattended children in places they shouldn't be - like the casino, and using the corridors as playground space. It's the same old poor quality bar drinks -- MIA TIAs made with 40% lemon juice; coffee from mid-west America, runny eggs and greasy potatoes in the morning buffet, to same old same old lunch, to dinner by candle lite but perhaps only to hide the poor quality cuts of meat, questionable fish, and rot gut wine. However, deserts were acceptable - but not the corny cheese plate with stale walnuts. So why do I say "dishonest". Nowhere, except in the fine print of the final boarding pass, is the 6€ per day per person tip mentioned that it is not negotiable. Perhaps in advertisements it is mentioned, but never that it cannot be argued with in the case you don't agree that the service warrants it- like all other cruise line packages. So there, if you understand a finer point, you see that the tips should be added to the cruise price - making it a less competitively package. Thus, it's false advertising. Perhaps here, I'd like to point out that Vacations To Go lists that the charges are negotiable, perhaps out of ignorance. All that aside, the cruise was pleasant, inside cabin small but well appointed and serviced. Regarding the ship in general, it is decorated to the hilt, however, it has few interesting public spaces, with deck 5 serving as a main public space with a host of lounges of differing venues. But, just as with the food, attitude, excursions, etc. these offer little value as they are overcrowded, or sometimes just dead due to lack of interest or talent. The spectacles in the theater were saved from embarrassment by a quartet of fairly talented Chinese acrobats. Without these, take a star off Costa. Actually - I give it a 2 star rating, and have had better food, entertainment, and service on 3 star ships, like the Louis Magesty. Regarding the casino, just forget it as the pay offs on the slot machines were non-existent; you could easy drop 50€ per 1/2 hour play on almost straight loses. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Ten months ago (Sept 2010) I bounded down Queen Victoria's gangway in Civitavecchia following a 10 day Med and Black Sea cruise declaring her a fantastic ship and my best cruise in 7 years' experience. So it was with great ... Read More
Ten months ago (Sept 2010) I bounded down Queen Victoria's gangway in Civitavecchia following a 10 day Med and Black Sea cruise declaring her a fantastic ship and my best cruise in 7 years' experience. So it was with great anticipation and optimism that my partner and I boarded Queen Elizabeth on 26 July for the Norwegian Fjords and Waterfalls cruise. After all, if QV had ticked all my boxes, QE must be at least as good! Oh dear! How wrong can one be? We got off to a great start: using the pre-booked car-parking facilities at Southampton we were met by very helpful, friendly staff. We whizzed through the check-in procedures and had no difficulty in finding our cabin. Because we booked the cruise quite late, we had had to take a "guarantee cabin" arrangement whereby the actual cabin number is not allocated until close to the sailing date and were pleased to be located close to the lifts and stairway, port side, forward. The room itself was, as expected, spacious, soberly decorated and comfortable. Luggage was delivered very quickly and our stewardess soon came to introduce herself. I suppose things started to go down hill on the first night in the Britannia Restaurant. We don't usually go to the restaurant on the first night of a cruise - preferring to save the restaurant experience for the first formal night - but on this occasion we decided to do things differently. It was first sitting and quite a few tables were unoccupied so there was really no excuse for the slow service and long gaps between courses. We were on a table for 6 and for the first 30 mins we were alone. Then another couple arrived, they studied the menu, then promptly got up and left. And I could understand why: the menu was unexciting, unimaginative and uninspiring. But then this was the first night - it was sure to be better tomorrow night. Wasn't it? A day at sea followed, with the Captain's Reception that evening. The lay-out of QE is identical to that of QV and at no time did we need to consult the ship's deck plan to find our way around. But as the day wore on I began to feel depressed by the dEcor - drab colours in the Lido buffet, the Garden Lounge resembled a care home and the crew members apparently not a happy bunch. Crunch time came at the Captain's party on the second evening. Our cruise had been intended as a birthday celebration for my partner, albeit the actual birthday isn't for another couple of months. Consequently we were quite happy to pay for Veuve Clicquot champagne at $87 a bottle (including Cunard's 15% service charge) during the trip and had indeed done so on the previous evening. However, at the Captain's party the "champagne" offered by white-gloved waiters is in fact a cheap French sparkling wine. This might sound snobbish but, since Cunard widely promotes Veuve Clicquot on all their ships, I think the least they could do is serve it up on Captain's evenings. We had no complaints about the itinerary: Stavanger, Alesund, Geiranger and Bergen. Each of these was an interesting and scenic stop. Our one shore excursion was in Geiranger: well organised with a very knowledgeable and entertaining guide. We gave 10 out of 10 for room service - never a long wait, courteous service with a smile. We would have marked our stewardess "excellent" on the feedback form too if only she had managed an occasional smile. As the week wore on we encountered other passengers with similar gripes about the lack of atmosphere onboard, the dull food, the poor standard of food service. I came across dirty cutlery on more than one occasion and cracked cups in the Lido Buffet. My other moans include the mega $$$ charge for internet access - even if you take your own wireless device onboard you still have to pay (per minute) a ridiculous amount for a connection. Photographs taken by the ship's photographers were of an appalling standard for $24.95 each. At the Southampton Sail-Away a photographer approached us for a picture and then seemed never to have held a camera before. It took him sometime to get the focus right and by then the moment had passed. This was not our first cruise by any means and, as previously mentioned, not our first with Cunard. There is something seriously wrong here on QE. Cunard is a world famous brand name in the cruising industry yet there seems to be little to back it up in practice. I have been on far less expensive cruises with far more exciting food, a more amiable crew and a generally happier atmosphere. There was a frequently shown film on TV during the cruise charting the construction, the fitting out and launch of QE. There was a boast that it was the fastest time in which a liner of this size had been completed - perhaps that's part of the problem. It seems to me that Cunard were so eager to build on the popularity of QV that they figured another, identical ship would double their success and profits without having to put in too much effort. A bit like 2 for the price of 1. After my very positive reaction to QV in 2010 and QM2 in 2008, QE came as a huge disappointment. I was pleased to get back to home-cooking and am unlikely to choose Cunard again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Reading some of the comments on this cruise already posted, I have to wonder if we are all talking about the same one. But as the other reviewers have covered comprehensively most aspects of the cruise, I will deal only with the points of ... Read More
Reading some of the comments on this cruise already posted, I have to wonder if we are all talking about the same one. But as the other reviewers have covered comprehensively most aspects of the cruise, I will deal only with the points of dissatisfaction as we found them. PORTS OF CALL. We have visited Copenhagen and Oslo several times before, but were looking forward in particular to spending 2 days in Oslo. One thing we didn't anticipate was the major drawback in this cruise. We have never come across this in any cruise line before: virtually every port we called in, the ship berthed in freight yards, not passenger terminals. So taxis were denied access, and hop on, hop off buses, similarly. Unless you had booked the eye-watering prices of excursions, or even coach transfers into town, you had major problems. In Copenhagen we had a 40 minute walk through an industrial estate just to get to the Little Mermaid statue. In Oslo, where we have always berthed below the Fortress on previous (and cheaper) cruises, we were the wrong side of a road building project and had to walk through a flooded area as well. You could forget walking into town for a drink at night-totally impractical. This was explained away as the ship being too large for the site. Not true as a much larger ship, PO Azura, was berthed below the fortress the following day. Bergen was the only port where HAL laid on a free transfer. However, cheaper cruises were again berthed at the end of the town dock. Again too much trouble to pop back into town in the afternoon when the sun came out. South Queensferry for Edinburgh was the worst of all. Instead of berthing in Leith, which the locals said was normal, we actually dropped anchor in the Firth of Forth, in the shadow of the bridge, and were tendered ashore in freezing winds. For Newcastle on Tyne, the local Tyneside council, bless them, laid on some coaches to the train station, but it was still a long and expensive train journey into the city. I'm sure HAL minimised their costs this way, but we were made to feel like second class citizens. Other good and bad points are as follows: CABIN. We were on deck 8. The cabin was fine, with a bath, but it was impractical to use it as the water never got above lukewarm. There was a large flatscreen TV, with a limited number of channels, and no concession to non-Americans in programmes apart from the lacklustre BBC World service. A nice touch was that one could get free DVDs from reception from a very wide-ranging list. CABIN SERVICE. We had an affable steward, but I would have been more impressed if he had remembered a request for another blanket rather than concentrate on chocolates and towel sculptures. I opted to pay all the $22 a day gratuities, although some said they had abated theirs. I felt the minor staff were so nice and deserving that I couldn't in all conscience reduce mine. But the aforesaid steward's affability and friendliness totally disappeared on the last morning when he realised he wasn't getting a tip on top. I don't think a cruise company should put passengers in this position. The staff, mainly Indonesian and Philippinos, were generally effective and delightful, but too few in number, particularly in the bars. In the Explorers Lounge, the excellent Wellah, battled singlehandedly for far too long some nights. DRINKS PRICES. We drink lager and G and T's. There was no draught lager, and bottles proved more than twice as expensive per pint as, say, P and O. There were happy hours, but not between 6 and 7PM when most people seemed to want them. The deal, a second drink for $1, was limited to you both having to have the same drink, and there were limits on the quality of some wines, for example. ENTERTAINMENT. Generally the poorest we've come across. The dance/singing troupe was small in number, and probably to save costs, four of the string players in the orchestra doubled as the Adagio String quartet in the Explorers Lounge, but only when they weren't required on the Main Stage. There were other single acts, whose merits seemed to be in inverse proportion to the cruise director's hype when introducing them. DINING. We opted for freedom dining, which seemed to work just fine. Food was generally good, though some nights we found little to our fancy on the menu. We were disappointed in the Asian restaurant food, though the service was beyond reproach. The Italian we found better, particularly the Seafood Linguini and the Tiramisu. The self-service restaurant had a wide range of food, but an outbreak of gastric problems almost from the outset meant one had to almost permanently be served by staff. I heard one being told to limit portions. One thing that, as Brits, drove us mad, was walking around a city and then returning to the ship at 2PM, only to find lunch operations closing down .Thus our staple lunch diet became salads or toasted sandwiches. PASSENGERS. These seemed to be Americans in the main, followed by Australians, Asians, and British. All in all, they were the nicest and most engaging range of people we've come across on a cruise. DRESS CODE. We had three formal nights. Then a small minority of men would look like stuffed penguins, another batch would be in a lounge suit and tie, and the majority looked as if they'd just wandered in from a baseball game. What is the earthly point of a dress code if it is not enforced? FINALLY. One day we relaxed by the indoor pool on a warm day, reading. To our astonishment, workers started maintenance work on some overhead pipes, banging, drilling etc, which with the roof almost completely closed made an ear-splitting cacophony which went on for what seemed hours. Nobody batted an eyelid. Perhaps they've cruised with HAL before. We certainly won't be. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Although first impressions are good I was very disapointed overall in my experience as a first time cruiser on the Balmoral. My cabin, a superior single on the Lido deck, may be described as 'tired'. Surfaces worn, a drawer ... Read More
Although first impressions are good I was very disapointed overall in my experience as a first time cruiser on the Balmoral. My cabin, a superior single on the Lido deck, may be described as 'tired'. Surfaces worn, a drawer chipped and the bathroom poorly patched up (when I entered the cabin there was a rust hole at the bottom of the metal bath panel which was dealt with at some time during the voyage). I was particularly concerned about the position of the television and its tangle of wiring in relation to the only possible place to use the electric kettle.I may also say that the position of the bedside light in relation to the way the bed was laid out (pillows at the far end of the bed adjacent to the outside door) meant that the bed was fine during the day for lounging or watching television but in order to read in bed I had to set the bedding out the other way round at night.The door to the balcony wouldn't remain completely closed since, even though locked, the catch would slip and there was considerable wind noise, which was rather disturbing.I had expected excellent food in the Spey restarant, this surely is one of the high spots of any cruise. I have to say that in some cases it was hardly better than superior school dinners! Neither pork nor the chicken tasted of anything. I did have some acceptable meals there but the quality was very uneven. The Palms Cafe was better, at least one could see in advance what was on offer and choose accordingly. In addition the service at times was rushed. On the penultimate night plates were being removed from our table and the next course brought while some of us were still eating. The waiters also clearly forgot to ask for our orders for pudding. The restaurant was also very noisy. I have good hearing but at times it was difficult to have a conversation because of the noise from other tables. My elderly father who is rather deaf (I was travelling with my parents) found it impossible.I also have to say that the whole dressing up in DJs for men on four evenings was completely unnecessary and pretentious. I just looked in on the entertainment since nothing appealed. The ports' lecturer was terrible. I could have done better with a quick look at Wikipedia and other internet sites. He was really just advertising the excursions. The guest lecturer, a retired MEP was a bit better. Excursions were generally ok but highly priced and most satisfactory were the trips out I made on my own in Tallin and elsewhere. It was a waste of money to do both the coach panorama trip around St Petersburg and the Waterways tour but the trip to the Palaces of the Romanovs with the opportunity to see the suburbs and countryside around St Petersburg was good and the restoration work after the destruction by the Germans, extremely impressive.I was surprised by just how elderly and infirm many passengers were and at 65 I was one of the younger ones. It is clear that this ship or this cruise line appeals to the Daily Mail reader. That was the daily internet produced newspaper paper available and the paper that headed the list in the survey of passengers. I left the comedian's performance when he started telling jokes about immigrant benefit scroungers.This trip was my first experience of cruising. There were many things that I enjoyed about the experience but most of those are not related to the ship or its facilities. In all this cruise cost me getting on for £4,500 including the fuel surcharge. I don't regard that as good value for money and I will certainly not be recommending Fred Olsen cruise lines to friends.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We departed May 22nd from Amsterdam on the Celebrity Constellation with 8 in our group.Our cruise was the Baltic states including St. Petersburg, RU. When we first entered our cabin we noticed the Walmart cheap plastic stained chairs on ... Read More
We departed May 22nd from Amsterdam on the Celebrity Constellation with 8 in our group.Our cruise was the Baltic states including St. Petersburg, RU. When we first entered our cabin we noticed the Walmart cheap plastic stained chairs on the balcony. The balcony itself was filthy and included dried paint drippings all around. The railing was in bad need of a refinish job. The varnish on the railing was peeling off. Rust was everywhere. The mattress was sagging and in need of replacement. In the dining room, our party sadly found that the kitchen did not know how to cook beef. It was overcooked and tough! Our first stop was Rostock, Germany. Celebrity told us we were at Wernemunde, Germany. We weren't! We were in Rostock. No problems for Stockholm or Helsinki. We arrived early at St. Petersburg, RU. We were excited about this stop as we hired Tailored Tours of St, Petersburg for our 2 days of touring. Our guide and General Director of this company did not disappoint us. His name is Timofey. He was patient and answered every question we had. Web address http://www.tour-petersburg.com/ Because of his knowledge of the history of St. Petersburg and of all the paintings we saw, these two days became the highlight of our cruise and so much better than a ship purchased excursion. We talked of it for days after leaving. No problems for Tallin. At Copenhagen, Celebrity said there would be maps outside. There were no maps to be had anywhere. When we returned in the afternoon there were hundreds of maps. On disembarkation, Celebrity told early departure guests to be in the Celebrity theatre on deck 4. The only people there were the passengers. The theatre was closed and locked. After searching around, we found the disembarkation point on deck 3 by Guest Relations. This ship is a tired old ship and needs to be retired. Doubt if we'll ever book Celebrity again! Ron Kudla777 Read Less
Sail Date May 2011

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