31 Copenhagen Luxury Cruise Reviews

While we still like Oceania there were a number of areas that fell short of our expectations on this past cruise. Food – Over all we found the food on this trip was not as good as our prior two trips on Marina and Riviera. The ... Read More
While we still like Oceania there were a number of areas that fell short of our expectations on this past cruise. Food – Over all we found the food on this trip was not as good as our prior two trips on Marina and Riviera. The Bouillabaisse in Jacques was not good at all.. No mussels, no clams, no fennel (I don’t think) and no broth. It was pasty, more like a sauce that I would expect in a cioppino. They later brought a sole that was very good, and my wife ate some as well as she didn’t care much for her Lobster (sort of an au gratin in the tail shell) definitely prepared, frozen and reheated. Also the “steamed“ lobster in one of the other restaurants was poor. Also appeared reheated. I should have thought (they don’t have fresh lobster on board) so don’t order. However, I should not have to think though how they provision food. I am kind of a do it right or don't do it type guy. Caesar salad at Jacques – Really very disappointing. They should skip the table side preparation and have someone in kitchen that knows how to make Caesar. What a waste of arm waving. The oil and vinegar cart is a wasted effort as well. Why go through all the trouble of selecting oils and vinegars only to use it on a poor excuse for bread. I couldn’t find decent bread so basically didn’t use it. We were spoiled by three days in Copenhagen before the cruise where breads were unbelievable. Why can’t Oceania provide one or two good breads. Oh and skip the logo on the bun. Sole in Pollo grill was very good as it was in Jacques – that is as good as the Sea Bass in Red Ginger in my opinion. If you like fish get the Sole. Second time I had mine whole (not deboned) which was even better. The buffet is almost always great. The prime rib I had there one night was the best in my memory. Thought the German dinner fell short as did others. Sauerkraut tasted like warmed up canned sauerkraut (why bother) and the German potato salad was very weak. The sausages were OK and the pork hock was dry (best to cook with the kraut). Many of the pork dishes were dry and I couldn’t eat them. I cook a lot of pork and it need not be dry. The should skip the German dinner or improve it. Coffee in buffet was not good. Very disappointing. We drink a lot of coffee and appreciate good coffee. This was not good. Weak but bitter. Don’t recall having problem with the coffee in the past. Did they go to lower cost bean? I thought the evening selections in buffet were better on our past two trips and we ate there every night except for our specialty nights which is typical. The main dining room is nothing special unless you simply want someone to bring food to you. Housekeeping – housekeeping was hit and miss. The veranda door was unlocked a couple times after they organized the deck furniture. One time they left no floor mat in bathroom. Only one bar of soap to be used for sink, shower and tub (really?). I had to keep asking for coke which is very unlike all other cruise experiences. Normally they figure it out. There were dirty coffee cups and half full dirty glasses (like maybe we wanted to drink something from yesterday?) Music – We like to dance and there were a number of other couples who also like ballroom dancing. The music of the showband was too long for dancing (maybe 6 to 8 minutes) and much of their music was not danceable (very slow or very fast tempo). Although we were there every night for 2 hours or more, we danced much less than past Oceania cruises. The other band didn’t even seem to know what ballroom was but at least their pieces were a little shorter and if you asked them to play something, they would but not always in appropriate tempo. Past cruises the bands seem to catch on to what we like within a couple days and played great music the rest of the cruise. This time it was challenging. Waite Staff – It seemed there was a different staff in the lounge every night and we were there from 5:00 to 7:30 pretty much every night. In the past within days staff knew us and knew what we wanted and took care of us. Cunard cruise a couple months ago they also knew who we were and the same servers were there and came to our table as we walked in. Very noticeable difference. On Marina this time it seemed very disorganized. There was also a lot of pitching of special wine and vodka and caviar sessions from the servers. Don’t recall that in the past. Felt we were being pressured to “sign up” for this or that. Lectures by Phil Smart – The ones we were able to attend were fantastic. So informative about things that are not in the main-stream news. Good job. We would book almost any cruise just to listen to him. Summary – The itinerary was great and fellow passengers were great but the ship experience has us thinking of giving other lines a try which we weren’t sure we would do. We really do like the size of the Marina and Riviera but right now we feel as though we are not getting what we are paying for. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
This was our 4th Viking Ocean cruise and it pains me to only give the Orion a 4 star review. The Orion is definitely NOT an example of the Viking Ocean quality we have experienced on past cruises. Many new cruisers we talked to said ... Read More
This was our 4th Viking Ocean cruise and it pains me to only give the Orion a 4 star review. The Orion is definitely NOT an example of the Viking Ocean quality we have experienced on past cruises. Many new cruisers we talked to said they would not sail Viking again. Viking did a terrible job with communication. Our cruise documents stated we were sailing out of Yokohama, we sailed out of Tokyo Bay which created problems for those who booked hotels in Yokohama. Apparently due to the cruise being advertised as 23 days (it was 22 days) many had flights out of Vancouver the day after we arrived, plus Viking didn't have a berth for the ship so they offloaded our baggage in the middle of the night and then anchored in Vancouver Harbor. We had to tender for disembarkation. It was not as bad as it could have been but the next cruise pax were not allowed to board until 5:30 pm. that evening. FOOD: Manfredi's: food was sub par at best with entrees being so overcooked they were mostly inedible. The service was absolutely terrible. We ate there three times and cancelled our 4th reservation. Chef's Table: We had 4 meals there and most were excellent (didn't like the California one). The service was superior. For a 22 day cruise there were only 6 different menus so the choices were minimal. World Cafe: Eggs benedict under warming lights, no longer cooked to order. Omelette station nice, but the wait, long. The selection for both breakfast and lunch was tedious with most entrees tasting the same. All curries tasted alike. Sandwiched were no longer made to order. Main complaint however was the service with most waiters really not knowing what to do. At most breakfasts and lunches we were not offered beverages until our meal was almost finished. Restaurant: Most meals very good with a good selection to choose from. We would have liked to see some local offerings like Alaska Salmon, since we were in Alaska but none was offered. The service here was very spotty, some nights excellent, some nights not. In general most supervisors in the different restaurants seemed untrained and lazy, not really seeing the problems. Entertainment: Very good Port Talks: OK Enrichment: Very Good Cabin Stewards: Excellent Embarkation: Very good Disembarkation: Tenders Excursions: Nothing exceptional, except for expensive optional tours, mostly which were good. Planetarium: Interesting but a bit over hyped. Explorer's Lounger: Excellent servers We have signed up for another Viking Ocean Cruise so haven't given up on Viking. We just feel the crew in general needed more direction and training. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
First time sailing Silver Seas. (Silver Spirit) It lived up to its billing. Almost everything was right, and when it wasn't it was appropriately addressed. Entertainment and Activities abord the ship were more (high quality talent) ... Read More
First time sailing Silver Seas. (Silver Spirit) It lived up to its billing. Almost everything was right, and when it wasn't it was appropriately addressed. Entertainment and Activities abord the ship were more (high quality talent) than anticipated. The cabins were spacious. Larger than expected. Attentive butler service and cleaning were almost "too much" but we got used to it. Felt there was way too much emphasis on premium alcohol (cruise wide) and a few fellow passengers got more "into the spirit(s)" than they might have if they were paying a la carte, but I suppose that is what you get when you are all inclusive. The "special" restaurants had such limited availability we were unable to book tables.A disappointment. Didn't realize how quickly you had to reserve (we waited two weeks after reservations opened) Food was excellent considering its such a large production The internet (and I upgraded to premium) was extremely cumbersome and slow. This was a surprising problem. I have had better service on airplanes! The Baltic itineraries/excursions (Copenhagen, Visby and Tallinn were uninspired). It seemed more like a "lead up" to St Petersburg. Guides were processional and logistics were smooth. Large complaint was on return flights. Took advantage of the Business Class upgrade. I should have been more insistint about direct flights home (Iceland Air stops in Reykjavik and doesn't have lie flat seats in business class.) Would have happily paid more and ended the cruise with more comfort. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
This was our first time sailing Princess and we were excited to try their Club Class Mini-Suites. We have tried similar products on other cruiser lines so it was up to scrutiny to see how it faired I’m comparison. Embarkation was very ... Read More
This was our first time sailing Princess and we were excited to try their Club Class Mini-Suites. We have tried similar products on other cruiser lines so it was up to scrutiny to see how it faired I’m comparison. Embarkation was very smooth (the smoothest we have experienced) and there was no delay in getting to our cabin. The cabin was large and with plenty of storage options. The ship is beautifully decorated. There are several dinning options and plenty of bars. I feel that the public areas on this ship are better than others O have experienced. Dinning was an issue for us. The Club Class dining was sold differently on the website than what was experienced. Although we enjoyed never waiting for a table, we were disappointed how the Club Class restaurant is still part of the main dinning room and we found the food quality was lacking as was the choice of wine by the glass. Entertainment on board was also an issue for us. We found ourselves not attending much as the acts were all very average. The ports on this cruise were fantastic. Cruising is definitely the best way to see this part of the world. Sailing out of Stockholm was a huge highlight. Disembarkation was also very smooth and well received. Would We sail with Princess again? Definitely, however it will never be our first choice just due to the lack of wow moments in food, wine and entertainment, however now that we know what to expect I’m sure we will be less disappointed next time. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We had sailed previously on Rivera and loved the size and choice of restaurants so it was and easy decision to do a Baltic cruise on the sister ship Marina. We were not disappointed. We met some amazing people along the way and thanks ... Read More
We had sailed previously on Rivera and loved the size and choice of restaurants so it was and easy decision to do a Baltic cruise on the sister ship Marina. We were not disappointed. We met some amazing people along the way and thanks to John and Paula were able to spend a lovely evening viewing their amazing Owners suite. Wow very impressive. Oceania staff are very attentive at all times. The restaurants were good although we did not think the steaks in Polo or the Terrace were perfected. Entertainment could do with a little improvement although we often didn't make it to the shows due to the wonderful company on many a mixed table which is fun. The itinerary was the reason we chose this particular cruise and we were not disappointed especially with St Petersburg. The ship shore excursions were expensive and not as good as the private tour we did Alla tours which was exceptional. Thanks John for your advice. On the whole we had a wonderful cruise yet again with Oceania. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
WE chose the Baltic cruise because we liked the itinerary and wanted to try Oceania Cruiseline. We like the smaller ships and this fit the need. The ship itself is well maintained and the common areas are nice. I am a blackjack player so ... Read More
WE chose the Baltic cruise because we liked the itinerary and wanted to try Oceania Cruiseline. We like the smaller ships and this fit the need. The ship itself is well maintained and the common areas are nice. I am a blackjack player so I did enjoy the casino on this ship. Our cabin was nice we were on the concierge Veranda which gave us 4 nights in the speciality restaurants, there was a bottle of champagne waiting in our room and we could access our room earlier than others. The food was exceptional in the Speciality restaurants however we were disappointed in the Dining Room menus and the buffets. They had some featured nights of different cultures, one being Indian Food which is definitely not one of my favorites. The service was very slow in the main dining rooms, you could easily spend 2 hours just getting through dinner. We have sailed on Azamara and Seabourn and this ship definitely did not measure up to them. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
Oceania is well-known as the upper premium class cruise line with excellent gourmet food. indeed, the appearance of the buffet restaurant could compete with fine dining serviced restaurants on other vessels. The food was really extremely ... Read More
Oceania is well-known as the upper premium class cruise line with excellent gourmet food. indeed, the appearance of the buffet restaurant could compete with fine dining serviced restaurants on other vessels. The food was really extremely "dangerous" with a high extra-weight-potential. You could tell just by looking at the ingedients: lemon sole, finest filet, mussels, prawns. The passenger mix was too mono-national for me. The majority US citizens, a few Aussies, very few europeans. Since I'm in my fifties I felt way too young for this kind of ship, I estimate the average age of passengers at 73+. The service was excellent, the cabin steward knew our complicated family name in a second and always addressed us by our name when we met her on the corridor. When you put down the cutlery in the buffet or serviced restaurant it took only seconds and the dish was taken away, just amazing! I liked the type of a smaller vessel a lot. Everything seemed to be so familiar, then I found out: have been sailing on Ocean Princess, one of the other Renaissance Class ships before! The interior was very classic, just like an old fashioned country style from England. We had booked a few shore excurisons for Saint Petersburg, Russia, to avoid buying this very expensive visa. All three tours were very interesting and the local tour guides were excellent, explained everything with great enthousiasm. Overall, a high class product with fantastic cuisine, very much recommended for the elderly passenger who prefers a quieter surrounding. Since Nautica carries only 680 passengers or so and 400 crew members it has also a superduper pax-crew-ratio. Finally: the smaller the vessel the more unique are the itineraries, Nautica and her sister ships go to places bigger ships have no access to. If you expect a quiet and relaxing classic cruise with excellent food, don't expect too much of entertainment and "WOW-features", then go for it! Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
We chose Oceania based on the ports for this cruise. We wanted to see the Baltics, and we were well rewarded! The stops included Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia; plus Helsinki, Finland; and St. Petersburg, Russia. Oceania is a classy ... Read More
We chose Oceania based on the ports for this cruise. We wanted to see the Baltics, and we were well rewarded! The stops included Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia; plus Helsinki, Finland; and St. Petersburg, Russia. Oceania is a classy experience, where the passengers are treated very well by the crew and the chefs especially. The best parts of the ship were the special restaurants, like Jacque's (Jacque Pepin), the interior decor (spectacular), well-designed staterooms, and the smooth organization of getting folks on and off in port. To compare to our experience earlier this year with Viking Ocean Cruises, I have to say that Viking had better food, much better pastry (you can see where my priorities are), better coffee (also important), and a better arrangement for getting a glass of wine. Oceania, overall, seemed rather costly. You get what you pay for, but some of the costs were a little much (like $28/day for internet; $10,000 for two people; just two examples). I did learn, at the end, that some of our fellow passengers lined up tours separately, with companies ashore. That seemed to work out: better treatment, tailored to their interests; more comfortable; and more for the money. I'll try that next time. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
This was our second cruise on the Seven Seas Explorer. The service was improved from last year when the ship was new. Food in Compass Rose and specialty restaurants was good but lunches in La Veranda were rather poor. It seems any time ... Read More
This was our second cruise on the Seven Seas Explorer. The service was improved from last year when the ship was new. Food in Compass Rose and specialty restaurants was good but lunches in La Veranda were rather poor. It seems any time they do buffet it is not up to standard. This also applied to one dinner in La Veranda. The Ship itself is quite beautiful and well laid out. Artwork is a matter of taste and the art on this ship is cutting edge and not for everyone. Shore excursions were hit or miss depending on the guide. More than half of them did not speak good english. They did offer a good choice of shore trips, I just wish they would get better guides. The entertainment was also a step up from last year. We particularly enjoyed the comedian/magician and the dancers. All in all a good cruise, Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
We chose this cruise because we like the dates and itinerary. Overall, the cruise was very good, but there were some things that could be better. We found the wine prices very high, especially considering what the wines cost and the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we like the dates and itinerary. Overall, the cruise was very good, but there were some things that could be better. We found the wine prices very high, especially considering what the wines cost and the fact that taxes are probably not paid on them. Plus 18% for gratuity. If you like wine, see if you can bring some and pay corkage, or do like us, and just forget about it and consider it part of the cost of the cruise. We also found the on board entertainment weak. The ships band was not very exciting, and nobody could sing. They could benefit from a younger band, who did some more current music. Also, the excursions were expensive- luckily we booked the St. Petersburg tours with Denrus, whose prices were about one third of those offered by Oceania. Food was mostly good, with a few exceptions. Cabin was fine- we were on the concierge level. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We were recommended by cruise ship by our travel agency and sold by the good food served onboard. We were indeed delighted that we sailed with them. It was the first international cruise and best decision made to be onboard Oceania. ... Read More
We were recommended by cruise ship by our travel agency and sold by the good food served onboard. We were indeed delighted that we sailed with them. It was the first international cruise and best decision made to be onboard Oceania. On the day of embarkation, the queue was rather long but managed to clear quite speedily. In addition, there were seats around in case of guests who could be tired standing in line. As we were considered early, we were asked to go for our lunch before checking into our cabin, the food served was good and this was a good start to our cruise. An announcement was made once the cabins were ready for checking in. When we opened the door to our cabin, we were pleasantly surprised with the size of the inside cabin, Many inside cabins tend to be tiny, but I must commend that this is not so, in fact, it was considered spacious and very comfortable. the cabin was also done up rather luxuriously with 1000 thread count bedsheets to sleep on nightly. Kudos also to The housekeeping team who are ever so efficient in cleaning the cabins and remembering the requests of each and single room. There are 4 speciality restaurants to enjoy. We managed to try all 4 as we were advised to book online. As it was only my friend and I, we had to share table with other guests on 3 nights. The experiences at all the speciality and main dining areas were better than great! The food was really declious, and generous. And the service by the staff was excellent too. Being a gourmet foodie, I jmust commend that the cruise is really generous on the expensive ingredients (lobsters for almost every dinner and excellent prime cut beef) served. Hygiene level is high which is what I like. You can find sanitaiser almost everywhere throughout the ship. And there are reminders to clean your hands. Thumbs up! My gripe would be on the shore excursions. There are hits and misses. Some of the guides were excellent while some of the drivers were very good. The organsiaton prior to disembarking the cruise is a tad messy. The positive aspect of the shore excursions would be that most of the coaches are not fully filled up and they come up toilets which can be used ( this is Escorial he important for long drives). Plus the coaches are all very clean and comfortable. Believe that the drivers take pride at their work:) I would definitely sail with them again. I have already been telling people of how good the ship is and garnered a fair bit of interest. I certainly hope to sail on it again soon . Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We chose this cruise originally because of the destinations and class of ship. It's expensive, but that keeps the rif raf off the ship, and thats fine w/ me. We originally booked our veranda suite, but when we got closer to the ... Read More
We chose this cruise originally because of the destinations and class of ship. It's expensive, but that keeps the rif raf off the ship, and thats fine w/ me. We originally booked our veranda suite, but when we got closer to the travel date, we upgraded to a penthouse suite on the 11th floor, and so glad that we did. We flew into Copenhagen 2 days early to enjoy the city. 2 days was enough as theres not that much to do. We did Tivoli Gardens in the evening, and they had a nice firework show, and walked along Nyhaven . Many people took a canal tour, but we just walked along it and it was great. Embarkation was easy, although we did have a bit of a line, which we didn't think we would have since we were boarding at noon with the other suites. Our room was a terrific!! Elegant, comfortable, big and a great balcony. The first port was Germany. We didn't book the trip into Berlin as it was a 3 hour bus ride, there and back. Those that did, enjoyed it, but I didn't want to deal w/ sitting in a bus all day. We walked around the port town. It was OK. Your basic cruise tourist port town. But that was OK, as I had very little expectations. The following day at sea was beautiful. The weather was great and surprisingly there were plenty of folks relaxing in the sunshine by the pool. We enjoyed the private deck area outside the Canyon Ranch Spa for suite guests. It was quiet, relaxing and private. The next day we were in Estonia. It was a charming little town, easy to walk to and plenty to see. The cobblestone streets would be difficult for those with mobility issues. The town was quaint and the people we met there were sweet and wonderful. Had lots of interesting conversations with the locals. The next 2 days were spent in St. Petersburg Russia. It was incredible. We booked the tours through the ship. We did the canal tour and cathedral of spilt blood one day and that was great. It was a beautiful sunny day, with a cool breeze on the water. Our tour guide Larissa was terrific!! The next day we did another tour and got to have some free time in the city. My husband and I ended up at the Grand Palace Hotel lobby bar with some other folks from our ship, drinking vodka. It was actually great!! We found the city to feel safe and beautiful. They do take you to a lot of souvenir shops, but quite frankly, I wanted to buy some, so I was OK with it. I really wanted to bring home a matryoshka doll, but ended up buying it in the ships shop. The prices were the same, and I felt like the ones on the ship were more legit then the mass produced copies in the shops. We had friends that went to the Ballet in the evening and enjoyed it. We stayed on the ship and it was a quiet evening, because many folks were out in the city on tours, but we enjoyed the quiet. The next day was Helsinki Finland. Helsinki felt like a city. We walked around, and sat in a coffee shop, but it wasn't very exciting or interesting, but again, that was OK. There are some interesting market places near the water and in the city, some historic sites. The hop on and off bus was a good idea. It was a weird day because you knew you wanted to get back to the ship to pack up, so it felt short. The next day we disembarked in Stockholm. Heres were the nightmare was!! Do yourself a favor and book a private car to pick you up from the port. There must have been 500 people in line for a taxi and there were seriously 2 taxis at a time. It was ugly!! People and taxis were fighting with each other. We managed to call Uber, but we were lucky as shortly thereafter there were no uber cars available. We stayed a few extra days in Stockholm at the Sheraton. We didn't book it through the ship as we had points and used them for those nights. It is a really nice hotel and we had a beautiful room with a balcony and view over the water and city! Stockholm is a great city, so if you can stay a few extra days, it's well worth it!! Once again, we felt safe, the people were friendly, and there is a lot to see and do. A few other notes about the cruise itself. We were very excited about the private restaurants, but what a dissapointment! We only went to the Tuscano restaurant, and the meal was so bad that we decided to cancel all our other restaurants and just eat either in the cafe terrace, the burger place outside the terrace, or main dining room. The food in those venues was really good! I usually hate the cafes as I see so many people filling their plates to the rim, that it grosses me out. But because they serve you, (which can be a little annoying), nobody appears to make a pig out of themselves. We spoke to others who agreed with us on the private restaurants and were dissapointed as well. I think the cruise tries to make a big deal out of the Jacque Pippen name, but really, it's not all that!! Everyone was complaining about the poor internet service. First of all, it was pretty well stated in many of the reviews that it wasn't great. If you get it for free, then great, but expect it to only work 70% of the time. Seemed not to work at all while in Russia. But get over it people!! Did you really come on vacation be on your phone and ipad all day?? The crew of the ship were terrific! All very kind and friendly. What was nice was the size of the ship. There are 1200 passengers which is a lot, yet you'd see the same people over and over and it was a nice opportunity to meet people from all over and make some friends. There was a large alumni group from FSU, so many folks were probably in their 50's and 60's. So it was a nice mix. I'd definitely sail on Oceania again. I just wouldn't get too excited about the restaurants the next time and be more excited about the room and the ports. Food is food. Besides, who wants to go home 10lbs heavier!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
we chose this cruise for an anniversary celebration and because we neither of us had been to the Baltic Area. St Petersburg was a real draw. Overall the ship was a great experience and the Baltic 10 day cruise Copenhagen to Stockholm was ... Read More
we chose this cruise for an anniversary celebration and because we neither of us had been to the Baltic Area. St Petersburg was a real draw. Overall the ship was a great experience and the Baltic 10 day cruise Copenhagen to Stockholm was the trip of a lifetime. We recommend spending 3 days in St. Petersburg if you can. But as with everything, there are pros and cons. In general, we, being younger, got tired of being shuffled off and on a bus for 10 days. We booked our St. Petersburg thru a separate operator which was a great decision. (Reviewed on Trip Advisor - SPB Tours) Pros: • Smaller ship is more intimate and easier to navigate, meeting new people and friends was very easy. • larger rooms, 100% balcony rooms and walk-in closet shower & tub in the bath were great Regent perks. Always had hot water. • Food was outstanding – as long as you didn’t want anything between 5 & 7pm and then nothing was available. Unlimited alcohol included (except for the premium wine list). We could request a large table of 8 – go to a lounge on ship and they would ring the lounge when the table was ready. • Never a line for breakfast or lunch. • The absolute best thing we did was the “Grand Imperial Evening of the Tsars” which was by far the best night on the ship. It includes a private (Regent only) tour and concert at Catherine’s Palace and dinner at a local restaurant. The evening was spectacular and worth every penny of the supplemental cost. Highly recommend. Catherine’s is extremely crowded during the day and going back to really take you time and see it with the armed guards and the harpsichord playing is an unforgettable experience. • I would skip the Ballet in St. Petersburg next time, it's just a tourist trap. • Our housekeeper Sally was awesome. She was like a Ninja – as soon as we left the room was tidied up even if we came back 15 min later. • Beverages were always available and top shelf everywhere. • getting on and off the ship was a piece of cake • the Canyon Ranch Spa offered excellent service. • A large assortment of included excursions were included – if you booked them months in advance. • We never ordered room service but heard from others that it was painfully slow. • Breakfast to the room was prompt and hot. • the shows in the evening were nice, but not necessarily our favorite thing to do. • The hot tubs were two different temps (on purpose) as some nationalities like it hotter than Americans. So try both. Cons: • The ship is older and it is showing its age. The vibration in the rooms higher than 660 on most floors was almost unbearable. It’s a good thing we were never in our rooms. PS the ship is going in for servicing in October 2016 so hopefully it will be fixed. • They need more people at Destination Services, the line was always long. • Our room was a meat locker and it took 3 days of complaining to all levels of management before it was finally corrected. • The included shore excursions were hit or miss. We had some great ones and some horrible ones. They are dependent upon local tour operators and the guide can make or break the tour. We were also waitlisted on a tour that we had been confirmed on. We were never told we were waitlisted just never got the tickets for it. The ship had the entire 10 days to try and rectify to no avail. We ended up very happy just strolling around Tallinn with our shipboard friends. • The nightlife would end abruptly at 11 or 11;30. Some nights the dance floor was packed with people having a great time and the band would just stop and say goodnight. Some flexibility here would be very nice and on evenings when it is empty the band should be allowed to leave. • Often had to wait for a table for dinner, HOWEVER, if we went to a bar to wait they would call us to tell us the table was ready which was excellent. • We never saw our steward for 10 days. • We had one very bad tour in Helsinki that we paid extra for. We saw destination services person while on land and complained to her and then again when we got back to the ship. Although the day was disappointing, Regent did refund the cost of the excursion the following day, after conducting a review with the operator. Note to self if you need to complain about a specific tour be sure to get the name or pic of their badge – this helped the review process tremendously. • We were waitlisted for an excursion that had been previously confirmed – and they never told us we were wait listed. We found out by talking to others and then seeing that we were not given tickets for it when we boarded. We never got on the excursion in Tallinn but ended up have a fantastic day - Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Just back from our first but not last Oceania cruise.We did a 12 day Baltic cruise in verandah stateroom aft on deck 6. Great location. Quiet. Handy for the Terrace Cafe. Used the stairs all the time. Room is small. Balcony furniture is ... Read More
Just back from our first but not last Oceania cruise.We did a 12 day Baltic cruise in verandah stateroom aft on deck 6. Great location. Quiet. Handy for the Terrace Cafe. Used the stairs all the time. Room is small. Balcony furniture is old and uncomfortable. Great bed and bedding. Room small, awkward getting in to closet if someone wants to get in our out of the closet. Stateroom was kept clean. Nice Bulgari toiletries but small bathroom. Very good food. Hot plates for hot food. Meat and fish and seafood perfectly cooked for our liking. Went to Polo and Toscana once each....service is slow. Did not go more than once as the Grand Dining Room was very good.Waves Grill good for lunch....wish it was open for dinner. Best burger. Good wines by the glass selection. Great itinerary...some free shuttles from the ship in to town.Did not do any ship excursions. Crew hard working and friendly. Did not click with the cruise director David somebody...he seemed arrogant. Evening entertainment so so but it is a small ship. Did not buy anything in the shops....no large or XL sizes. Poor perfume selection. Captain Maxsym was friendly and warm....enjoyed his daily updates. Will return to Oceania but will try an O class ship next time. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
As virgin ocean cruisers, but experienced river cruisers, we were not sure what to expect. We chose this particular cruise mainly because of the reputation of Oceania, the cruise had only one sea day, a relatively small number of ... Read More
As virgin ocean cruisers, but experienced river cruisers, we were not sure what to expect. We chose this particular cruise mainly because of the reputation of Oceania, the cruise had only one sea day, a relatively small number of passengers (684), many destinations that we had not visited and a competitive price. Getting on and off the ship was easy at all times of the cruise which was one of concerns about ocean cruising, although our luggage took a long time to appear even though we were one of the first to board. The ship itself was also pleasantly fitted out and with many activities to participate in, although the only ones that we took advantage of were the daily trivia (good fun), lectures (excellent) and the evening shows (average). We preferred the informality of the buffet meals in the Terrace Cafe to the formality of the speciality restaurants (Toscana & Polo Grill) and the Grand Dining Room. The food and service in all locations was good with the best choice at the Terrace Cafe. We took three of the four free excursions in St Petersburg due to the visa restrictions and took the other one in Visby. The remaining eight locations were all 'do-able' on our own, using complimentary coaches, local tourist reps on board, internet research, local transport and a willingness to walk a bit. The exception was Berlin where we had stayed on the way to joining the ship in Copenhagen. We also took a few extra days in Copenhagen before the cruise and Southampton at the end of the cruise. We would recommend both these locations. The size of the Nautica meant it could get close in to most cities so we were never left struggling in a remote commercial port. The highlights of the cruise were the approach and departure from Stockholm plus the (short) time St Petersburg. Transiting the Kiel Canal was also interesting for us as it had a bit of a river cruise feel about it. The negatives were : 1) the alcohol pricing policy with wine starting at US$47 per bottle off the wine list or US$27 corkage per bottle for BYO. 2) the price of optional excursions which were several times the price which we could purchase them on the internet. 3) the claim of free unlimited Internet access which is actually limited to one login per cabin at any time, limited by the number of users at any time, limited by quality of signal and limited by where you were on the ship. We think that Oceania should reconsider this pricing policy (the heart of their 'O-Life' sales pitch) as it distorts the true cost of a cruise if clients pay the price of the add-ons. Overall we enjoyed our first ocean cruise as it met most of our expectations. Would we take another Ocean cruise? - Yes provided it went to places we want to go with minimal sea days. Would we go with Oceania again? - Yes provided that the prices were competitive. Is River better than Ocean cruising? - We prefer the intimacy of the smaller boats but if you have certain places on your bucket list (eg Alaska, Norwegian Fjords) then Ocean cruising is the only way to go. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We chose this cruise for the destinations and the fact that the ship remained in St. Petersburg 3 days. We also had not been to any of the destinations before so enjoyed the ease of tours each day. We were pleased with embarkation and ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the destinations and the fact that the ship remained in St. Petersburg 3 days. We also had not been to any of the destinations before so enjoyed the ease of tours each day. We were pleased with embarkation and disembarkation with one exception. We purchased transport to ship and back to airport. When we were leaving for home, we walked out of the terminal area to realize we had no clear understanding of what bus to board. It turned out to be very simple as the buses were numbered to match the numbers called to leave the ship. We felt our suite 651 was in a wonderful location on the ship mid ship near everything we needed, library, spa, laundry. Laundry on board is a great thing to have on a two week cruise. They made laundry easy by providing soap and everything. Our cabin was large compared to other cruises but we expected that based on the online information and cost. Entertainment was good for a smaller ship. Cabin and room service were very good. Ports were spectacular and the tours were good but not great. Tours are for the most part are included in the cost up front, there were some tours that were at added cost. Tours were like other tours we have taken when traveling on other cruise lines. Bus, guide with headset most of the time. Tour of Catherine's Place was more controlled and more enjoyable than some others were. Tour of Peterhoff is a must do. Hermitage was very crowded and not well controlled. So this is the last season for the Voyager and she is going to dry dock to be updated. Will look to she what they do to update this ship. The two negatives for us were dining - we felt service was poor and food quality needs improvement. We did like dining on our schedule not a preset time. "upscale" Steak place was also not impressive. We canceled the French place based on the menu. Ship needs updates and is schedule to have work. If you drink very much alcohol, this cruise is more cost effective as it is included the price. It was very nice not to worry about using your cabin card every time you wanted a beverage. Highly recommend upgrading to business air class if it is not included. We felt good money spent and actually were in first not business. Don't forget to take advantage of the airline lounges if you fly first or business. Overall based on cost, we were a bit underwhelmed with the quality of entire experience. We will consider another Regent cruise if we are going to similar places we have not been before, maybe the orient is next!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Captain Geirg Arne Thue Nilsen Cruise Director Handre Potgieter Guest entertainers Neal Austin (magician-comedian), Stevie Jo (comedian) and Paul Emmanuel (singer) Executive Chef Andreas Lang This was my third SB cruise (I had ... Read More
Captain Geirg Arne Thue Nilsen Cruise Director Handre Potgieter Guest entertainers Neal Austin (magician-comedian), Stevie Jo (comedian) and Paul Emmanuel (singer) Executive Chef Andreas Lang This was my third SB cruise (I had two prior, BTB, on the Odyssey in September 2015) and DH’s first. We have only done about a dozen cruises, mostly on luxury lines, so the review below compares this cruise with our prior composite and limited experiences. Overall we were both pleased with our experiences on the Quest in this cool, mostly gray, green, and white hauntingly beautiful part of the world. However, there is some room for improvement in food and service on the Quest (especially food). We rate it a 4.3 overall on a scale of 1 to 5, (and thus round down to 4 on the overall scale). EMBARKATION: very smooth and easy, no waiting, friendly welcoming personnel in Copenhagen, to whom we surrendered our larger bags. Arrived shortly after 12 PM and then went to a a welcoming buffet at the Colonnade indoor/outdoor dining venue. Sat outside with a view of the harbor in comfortable chairs, ordered our drinks, and by the time we came back from the buffet with our first plates, the drinks were there. At 2PM overhead notice informed us that suites were ready. All our luggage was in the suite and the mini-bar was accurately stocked with what we had pre-ordered. I had also pre-ordered a foam topper for the mattress (confirmed 3 times in advance), anticipating the bed would be too hard, like it was on the Odyssey. It was not there initially, but was put on that evening. It was only a 1-inch thick irregular foam piece, so it was good that the mattress was not as hard as it was on the Odyssey or it would not have been enough cushion, and more negotiations would have been required. Our stewardess “Danielle" was welcoming and efficient without being falsely friendly. She took notes regarding our basic requests for the journey and consistently honored them. GENERAL ATMOSPHERE : Relaxing overall. The ship was well-maintained and very clean, nothing was broken, though a lot of the furniture, just like on the Odyssey, although stylish, is uncomfortable for me (stiff main entertainment lounge/Grand Salon chairs, and mostly stiff observation lounge and MDR chairs). Overall, with some exceptions, there was an unhurried atmosphere. There were no to few lines the entire cruise, other than occasional short lines at the buffets or for tenders. Sometimes the Colonnade and MDR had slower than ideal table service at peak hours, and table availability at peak hours was sometimes scarce, with matching service problems, but generally we were not negatively conditioned to anticipate space stress in the overall spacious public venues. Passengers were generally pleasant and well-mannered, with a few notable and crude exceptions (e.g., there were some pushy, inconsiderate and domineering people, e.g., with intrusive selfie sticks, and/or who either repeatedly inserted themselves into the front disability seats on the excursions buses though they were very clearly not disabled, or who otherwise made a point of asserting their alpha-importance and “control" as much as possible, in loud voices) . The nationality breakdown on the distributed guest list reported 243 Americans, 55 from UK, 55 from Australia, 13 from Belgium, 8 from Canada, and other nationalities were in single digits. Average age seemed to be in the early 60’s, give or take a few years depending on plastic surgery status, almost no children. Pax were mostly well-off do-everything-together couples, or couples traveling with other couples, and a couple families. Most pax were reasonably mobile, though given our ages, it was not surprising that many casually complained about assorted health issue trials and tribulations and discomforts, while others appeared to cope with their apparent health demons in silence. It was hard to spot a solo traveler (which is not surprising as SB pricing is not solo-friendly), but there appeared to be a few. DRESS CODE: Pax usually followed the designated dress codes (usually “elegant casual”, though there were a couple “formal” nights with jacket required on which most pax wore suits and ties rather than tuxedos). There were some rare pax who occasionally showed up in ugly baggy blue jeans, workout fleece sweatshirts, thick down vests, thongs, T-shirts with writing, or a backwards baseball hat at the “elegant casual” dinners. FOOD AND BEVERAGE: Food opinions are subjective, of course, but overall we found the food on this cruise good though not outstanding, and definitely good enough to do a SB cruise again, though the food and included wines were not as good as on my Odyssey BTB last September. I would not sail again on this ship primarily for the food experience. The food quality and variety also did not come close to the food on Hapag Lloyd’s Europa 2 a few months ago (see my separate review on that, Cape Town to Cape Town). Every night dinner personnel tried to push an included sauvignon blanc or equivalent as the white of the day, not our favorites, but we knew enough to decline and were able to find both white and red included acceptable wines that were usually drinkable though not particularly interesting. There was also a decently priced special order wine list, though sometimes there were significant delays and confusion in securing our non-included choices. I did not see many pax ordering for-pay wines at dinners. Included champagne was Nicholas Feuillatte brut reserve. We ate at The Grill restaurant the first night where they served the new highly touted Thomas Keller (TK) menu, included in the fare. It was fine, but nothing spectacular. First came celery sticks with radishes and cucumber pieces and green goddess dressing, all fresh but not unique celestial, we can get these at home. Our baby asparagus appetizer with hollandaise sauce was next, delicate and subtle, fine. Our rack of lamb for two, with creamy mashed potatoes, was large and very fatty and was ok for us, but a couple Brits we met did not care for it and referred to it distastefully as “mutton”. Loud and annoying music pulsated overhead, apparently to create a 50’s and 60’s cool diner vibe and atmosphere (we asked to turn it down, and they did, a little). I had no desire to return. I regretted that the delightful and unique old R2 small-plates-with-pairings restaurant has been discontinued. The food in the MDR was usually prettily plated, but not spectacular in taste, and there were very limited choices with variable quality. All the fish dishes except for the excellent tender salmon options tasted mostly the same to me from day to day, bland, watery and salty (though I like salt). A few nights the MDR had a TK menu insert option for appetizer, main and dessert. The caviar special on the TK menu was not to my liking at all, bland, and the TK appetizer with firm spinach gnocchi and a soft-boiled egg on top with a cheese sauce and a strip of bacon did not do much for me either, nor did the TK watery chocolate dessert. However, the Siberian caviar served on sail-away one evening was terrific, though tightly rationed as people obediently lined up to get their little bites. Sometimes there were odd ingredient combinations, e.g., lemon and thyme mousse for dessert, that just did not work for us. I had a very good cauliflower potage a couple times, and generally the cream soups offered were all good, though usually served lukewarm. There were also TK offerings on a few nights in the Colonnade, by reservation only, with only one entree offering per night, e.g., fried chicken or clam bake. People we met during the cruise who had done the “family style” TK in the Colonnade one night complained that the amount of salad offered for six people was woefully small, and required great efforts by pax and waiter to expand portions. Our own experience in the Colonnade at the “Ad Hoc” TK event was ok though underwhelming: a giant “gem lettuce salad" with slow baked beets, radish, fried capers, and chopped egg was presented in one bowl family style to six people, but with only a couple tablespoons of the green goddess dressing in two separate containers (requests to replentish the dressing in adequate amounts were not totally successful). Main course was tender “hickory smoked BBQ ribs” with braised greens, baked beans, corn pone, and whipped honey butter; then came “cabot clothbound cheddar” with maldon flat bread and blue apron ale mustard; and dessert was “potted cheesecake” with poached blueberries and vanilla chantilly. All this basic "comfort food" was good though I’m not sure it was worth all the fuss. Servers wore jeans, and poured generic white or red wine into stemless glasses. With some difficulty, we ordered off the wine list to get something that could stand up to the ribs. Hip music blared over our heads, and the friendly though a little confused personnel were unable or unwilling to do anything about the sunlight that started glaring in from the window and baking us. We like trying a little bit of many things, so our favorite venue was the Colonnade, on non-TK nights, and for lunch. There was a different theme in the Colonnade each day, e.g., French, German, Japanese, Tuscan Market, pasta, etc. , mostly decent, except for “Baltic” day where waiters greeted us with the mantra “Welcome to Russia” and wore fake fur Russian-style hats, some with a Soviet red star, one hat was hot pink, another zebra-colored. The hats were as silly as the imitation and failed “Russian" food offerings (which did not include caviar), including the lukewarm borscht and non-Kiev "chicken Kiev". Japanese night offerings in the Colonnade were the most disappointing (though we are picky as we live in a neighborhood resplendent with terrific Japanese cuisine). Miso soup tasted like plain beef broth, the tempura on the lobster “tempura” appetizer resembled the coating used on KFC extra-crispy chicken placed on rubbery lobster, beef teriyaki was just a slab of beef with soy sauce, and the grilled shrimp in red sauce were like those in a reheated mail-order frozen dinner. Breakfast buffet was o.k. for filling the stomachs of people with usual American tastes, nothing special was offered on the basic uninteresting breads, cheeses (2), or meats (3), and 1 fish (smoked salmon) that were offered, but there was Greek yoghurt and there were made-to-order options for table service basic omelettes, pancakes and waffles. The eggs benedict were forgettable (they were much better on the Odyssey). I also had lunch in the MDR once (open for an hour each day every day this cruise) which was very relaxing, with mostly attentive service once they noticed me (seafood chowder, juicy Swedish meatballs, strawberry Napoleon), compared with the always hectic and at times somewhat understaffed prime-time Colonnade. We tried the TK “Napa Burger” at the Patio Grill, which was very juicy, with quality meat, properly cooked, good fries to go with it, great service. I am not sure why the room service burgers are not also “Napa Burger” quality. Room service offerings were basic and arrived on time and as expected (caesar salad, grilled NY cut sirloin, club sandwich, hamburgers, creamy tomato soup, etc). Breakfast and SB Square pastries and breads in general on board were so-so (other than on the few days when French baguettes were baked for dinner ) as was the very light ice cream, which was nothing like the daily to-die-for Italian ice cream specials with whipped cream options on the Europa 2. Snacks and coffees at Seabourn Square varied in quality, e.g., not uncommonly the espresso drinks were given to me lukewarm, though always with a friendly smile, and I definitely appreciated having these between-meal options available. I was happy to see that the calm Observation Bar also starts offering self-serve coffee (variable quality), tea bags, OJ and little pre-made breakfast pastries at 6:15, for those of us who do not wish to communicate with humans until we have been caffeinated. Observation bar snacks we tried before dinner twice were meager and uninteresting, e.g., little chunks of cheese in oil, pieces of ham, nuts, so we did not go back for them. Tea choices at tea-time were limited to about a dozen (compared with >30 mostly loose-leaf on the Europa 2), regular coffee was generally drinkable though often weak. Sweets at tea-time were generally on the dry side, sandwiches were plain, scones with clotted cream and jam were ok. I had several very good Irish coffees prepared for me in various venues. SERVICE The best way to describe SB service is that it is generally efficient and unobtrusive, and I did not often find myself getting annoyed with service deficiencies (exceptions noted). The stewardesses and eating venues personnel seemed generally well-trained, well-organized and attentive without being intrusive, and did not appear exhausted, except at peak hours when they sometimes struggled to keep up with wine refills and plate clearings, and typically did not check if we liked our entrees or had issues with the food until it was time for dessert, i.e., when too late, as they just did not have time. We had no difficulty communicating in English with the mostly hard-working and responsive primarily European and South American front-line personnel in the various venues (many from eastern Europe). The “do not disturb” sign on the cabin door was always respected (unlike some experiences we had on Silver Sea). My experiences in the bars when I went to imbibe by myself a few times were unfortunately not optimal, e.g., I watched one bartender (apparently beloved by others, so YMMV) rush together my Cosmo drink so quickly that it was not at all cold when served and was underdosed on the eye-balled alcohol. When he served DH and me in the Colonnade, he acted equally rushed and careless with our wines. In the Observation Lounge I was kept waiting for my drink for over 15 minutes one afternoon before dinner, and when I finally asked about it the confused waiter briefly left, came back and then smiled, stating “it is ready now”, when it was clear they had not even started on it, instead of saying they had just forgotten and apologizing. On another day, during afternoon tea, it was also a bit of a battle for my good-natured but persistent dining companion from the UK to receive his desired scones. It also appeared that it would have been useful to be a “regular” known to, and on first name basis with, the bartenders and some service personnel, but this is the case on all luxury lines which deal with frequent cruisers, as opposed to newbies. Fresh fruit was initially brought to our room daily, though we did not ask for it, and for a while it continued to come in large quantities even when we told personnel we did not need anymore bananas or apples. A couple we met, however, reported they were struggling to get fruit. Laundry and dry cleaning services are available on board ($50 per stuffed laundry bag, 2 day service, 50% uncharge for same-day service on items), nothing was permanently lost or transformed into a child’s size. There is also a launderette for self-serve we did not use, and a clothes-line is available over the tub for drying your own items. I asked to always have six bath towels and four wash rags in the bathroom, without need to change them daily, and they were always reliably there, no fuss. SB Square personnel appeared competent and helpful and professional, no complaints, but we also did not have any major issues to resolve. SPA, EXERCISE AREA, AND POOLS: as is all the rage on ships, loud and pulsating music was playing not just in the exercise area, but also in the manicure/pedicure/hair care area, which was not very relaxing. One lady working there was clearly very unhappy with her position and looking forward to leaving, but still did a very good job on the service I asked for. DH enjoyed his massages, but not the hard-sell on products (e.g., $179 for 10 packages of bath salts). DH also repeatedly enjoyed the relatively private hot tub in the bow on deck 6 (which was actually HOT, unlike on the Europa 2, where it was deliberately kept just luke-warm below body temperature), which appeared to be oddly popular with doctor cruisers on board (one night he met a radiologist in the tub, the next an ophthalmologist, the third an oncologist, the fourth a cardiologist, and I know there was a dermatologist on board too though she did not make it to the tub to meet DH). There were also four other hot tubs (two in the very public area near the main pool, and two more near the smaller pool on Deck 5 aft outside the Club lounge). The pool was nicely heated but not used much, presumably because this cruise the weather was cool. Music at the pool area was subdued and unintrusive. I toured the “serene” area of the spa area but did not find the rock hard loungers at all serene for my sore muscles, so I did not use it. DH used the fitness center, it was fine, usually uncrowded, with an ocean view. ENTERTAINMENT: Generally overall not to my taste this cruise. There was no classical music featured on any night. There was a British comedian-magician named Neal Austin who fancied himself to be comedically outrageous, but whom I did not find amusing, nor did I find the British comedian Stevie Jo generally amusing (though I admit I chuckled a few times). Most other nights offered assorted forgettable pop and crooner music by SB singers who attempted to sing Elton John, Billy Joel and Stevie Wonder songs but somehow could not convey the correct emotions with their voices and styles. Their best performance was “Crossroads”, a blend of country and rock/pop. There were, however, plenty of “lounge lizard” musical offerings in the lounges, per usual on luxury cruise lines that cater to older people. Silver Sea, Regent, and Crystal had better main stage entertainment for our tastes, in our limited experience, and the Europa 2 absolutely did. In-room TV satellite service was unavailable much of the cruise as we were in the fjords with limited reception, which helped enforce the escapist nature of cruising. There were dozens of free in-room movies, however, with something for everyone, unless one desired something adult or X rated which we did not. The one TV in our basic suite was unfortunately very small, and in the middle of the room, presumably so you could see it from both the bed and the rock-hard sofa, but the view was always just from the side. There were also other activities, e.g., trivia, and a cooking demo, which we did not attend. A bridge tour was offered for free, but DH got there 2 minutes after departure time so he missed it. There were a couple “shopping with the chef” days posted in the Herald, but we did not attend. A galley tour was offered for free, we missed it. There were a couple uninspired lectures, e.g., about Norway scenery and birds and about the excursion basics, also available on the room TVs, but I am not sure that paying the guest lecturers for free cruises (with their partners) can be justified for what little they did here. One evening at 6PM there was a “meet your neighbors in the hall” event (we stayed in our suite, I was taking an enjoyable bubble bath using the ship’s very nice Molton Brown products ) and on the rainy day morning sail-in at Bergen, there was a “come in your bathrobe to the bow of deck 6 for mimosas and coffee" (I came for the coffee, in a warm down coat, only 1 person was there in a robe). In Eidfjord some cute Norwegian folk dancers also came on board wearing their $4000 folk dress costumes to dance and play fiddle and accordion for about 45 minutes and talk about Norwegian music history, this was interesting, followed by gravlax and caviar in the Bar. We had brought plenty of kindle/ipad books and had no problem finding things to do in between ports. INTERNET ship wifi was usually slow, sometimes non-existent, as is the case on all cruise lines I have been on, neither worse nor better, but generally was good enough to at least sometimes check messages, on-line newspapers, and work issues back home, and was faster during times when people were either asleep or in port on excursions and less people were trying to get on the ship’s wifi. We opted for the unlimited plan for $399 for the 12 days of the cruise to avoid the stress of sensing the clock ticking and price rising while on-line with a slow connection, but only one person in the suite could be on at a time. PORTS AND EXCURSIONS Weather was variable on this cruise and involved a lot of rain. Anyone coming to Scandinavia should anticipate at least some rain, if not a lot of it, and the excursions will thus not all look like on postcards you see. But even with rainy weather, excursions were enjoyable. We spent 4 nights pre-cruise in sunny Copenhagen at the Marriott Copenhagen (one of two SB’s choice hotels) and easily could have spent more to see this lovely city. The Marriott (executive floor) is not perfect but was adequate, comfortable. Highly recommended off the beaten path things to do beyond the usual obvious city tour sites you cannot miss with Hop-On and Hop-off buses, or a basic private tour which we did, are the Hirschsprung Museum (private collection of striking, mostly dark, brooding 18th century Danish art with an excellent self-audioguide); the Louisiana Museum of art outside Copenhagen (modern, beautiful oceanside venue with sculpture gardens and with an excellent view smorgasbord area); and Fredericksburg castle (many old portraits and tapestries). On the funky Christianshaven island part of Copenhagen, we had a special meal at the "56-degrees" restaurant (fixed menu with wine pairings, beautiful outdoor dining venue and service, it was an easy cab ride from the Marriott). We also toured the Carlsberg Brewery which has a giant beer bottle collection, and a collection of historic buildings. We did a lot of SB-organized excursions, despite high cost, to save organizational stresses and time figuring out what to do in places we have never been. I received 10% off the excursions as a SB “silver.” Excursions with SB were primarily on generally comfortable and clean buses with reclining seats and WC, usually limited to about 26 people per bus (only one half-day excursion had 36 pax in the bus). We noted the usual reluctance of European bus drivers to run AC or open doors and windows to allow air to circulate while waiting to depart. Guide quality varied, and surprisingly many were not Norwegian-born (we had Spanish, Italian, and American ex-pats on various tours). ALBORG, Denmark — we did the SB excursion "Back to the Vikings", on which we saw a Viking grave site and museum (Lindholm), learned about the various slaves Vikings had, and sampled little Viking snacks including ham, pork rinds, excellent herring sampler (I could have made a meal of it), and local honey on bread. 4/5 stars for the tour. FLAM — this was a tender port for us (Tenders on the Quest are loud and have uncomfortable seating, compared with the Odyssey). We did the early morning Flam Railway — comfortable train chairs, WC on board; we stopped at a waterfall (Kjosfossen) half-way up and while in a big crowd of people, watched a young lady “troll” (who looked like a bored teen with a summer job) sing and dance. Then we headed higher up and had sugary cake and coffee at the historic inn at the top (Vatnahalsen Mountain Hotel), with a little extra time to walk around. In crowded Flam itself back at the bottom one could buy various street vendor sausages (elk, whale, goat, etc.). or dine in one of the tourist restaurants. 4/5 stars for the excursion. ALESUND, Norway — "The Islands of Giske and Godoy" excursion. We saw many bridges and tunnels that are engineering marvels. Best part was the Giske church and cemetery from 1150, which the dark, overcast day highlighted well. We had a sugary pancake and cream cake with coffee at the under-renovation lighthouse near Alnes, (no forks) and unfortunately also endured the company of some aggressive fellow-cruisers who demanded to buy “one of each” of the available cakes (which required purchase of the entire cakes) because they did not like what was served for the SB group. However, after insisting on buying the entire cakes, they then haggled with the hapless waitress about $1.50 extra on the final price tag,loudly insisting they should get more than “crumbs” for their high cost. 3/5 stars for the tour overall, (4/5 for the scenery and sites, 2/5 for the excursion guide who spoke so slooowly that she put people to sleep, 1/5 for the fellow cruisers for embarrassing behavior). There are clearly both advantages and disadvantages to being thrust together with strangers on cruise excursions. MOLDE, Norway — "The Atlantic Ocean Road and Haholmen Island” excursion. Excellent 5/5 half-day tour of local islands and archipelago, made better by great weather to accompany our “Viking ship” open air trip to Goat Island (Geitoya), which had a replica of the famous Saga Siglar environmental-message ship. We saw a movie about the ship’s construction and eco-sailings, (and its demise at sea), then had a 2 cubic-inch piece of very sweet cake and coffee (again, oddly no forks), returned around 1:30PM to the Quest, which was late for lunch so one has to plan ahead if one gets hungry easily, as the Colonnade closes for lunch at 2 and personnel there always make a point of clearing away the buffets right on time. GEIRANGER, Norway — "The Best of Geirangerfjord", 8.5 hours. This was a long bus trip over twisty mountain roads, with classic hairpin turns, to assorted scenic vistas, some quite high up above the timber zone (bring a warm jacket and hat). +WC on the bus. Lunch around 12:30 was at a very nice upscale tourist hotel where everyone en-masse was served lukewarm but flavorful cream of white asparagus soup, cod in a cream sauce, and low-fat vanilla ice cream with generic chocolate sauce, then stroll time, over the course of 1 hour and 20 minutes. The day culminated in a scenic 3-language one-hour ferry ride back to Geirangen, with many waterfalls and scenes of old abandoned cliffside farms where one could sit on the open deck or indoors in comfortable chairs. 4/5 tour. MOLDE, Norway — DH did the SB sponsored “Hike to Briksdal Glacier” (rated 3 little men in strenuousness on a scale of 1 to 3) which he enjoyed, 5/5 quality, while I vegged out in town and for 20 Euros rode for 1 hour and 10 minutes around the lake on the tame “Olden Sightseeing” Disneyland-like little train car that waited outside the quay soliciting customers (the people recruiting for the ride will inevitably tell you it is leaving in “a couple minutes”, even though it may not leave for a half hour, depending on how full it is). BERGEN, Norway — we did not do any excursions on this mostly rainy Sunday, just walked this charming town on our own past the colorful fresh fish market (which had a variety of fresh crabs, fish, paella, fish and chips, as well as more whale and goat smoked sausage) and past the old fire-prone downtown buildings, then up to the university district where we had a pleasant light lunch of grilled tender fresh Norwegian salmon with cucumber and young potatoes with yoghurt sauce at a comfortable outdoor but covered centrally located casual restaurant called Loge Haven, where we listened to a street band play international tunes, and people-watched. We also spent a lot of time in the Konde 3 museum which has a good-sized provocative Monch collection, with a very interesting short guided tour (in English at 12 PM and 2PM). Did not have time to make it to the unusual leprosy museum we’d read about, or the museum about the Norwegian resistance v. Germans in WW2, or any of the other many museums you can immerse yourself in here. SB offered a hiking trip (in the rain) as well as an excursion up the funicular, which you could also do on your own, though there were not many views available with the cloudy weather. Eidfjord, Norway — “Scenic Fossil and Voringsfoss Waterall” excursion, 3 hours. 3/5 overall. This involved a short ride to a major local dam, then to a hotel where we had coffee and more uninspiring Norwegian sugary cake at the old family hotel that is right above a magnificent and powerful very inspiring waterfall, then back to the ship. Construction is going on right now, so that in the future one will be able to walk over the waterfall on a glass floor. Stavanger, Norway — “Old and new Stavanger” excursion took us around the town in a bus and to an interesting open air exhibit of pre-Viking Iron Age life, then on to the fascinating Petroleum Museum where you could easily spend several hours on the exhibits and simulated oil drilling platforms, great for kids and techies. We then had a short guided walk through old Stavanger where one can also easily walk around oneself and tour cute shops and restaurants not far from the ship. 4/5 tour. IN SUMMARY, we enjoyed the cruise, the itinerary, and generally very good SB service, but were just a bit disappointed in the uninspired food offerings. But we realize no cruise is perfect, and were impressed enough that we will be keeping our SB Quest cruise booking in the spring of 2017, hoping food quality improves. We have posted some pictures of the cruise and the ports in this wonderful area. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
A big hunk of my ancestry is from Sweden, and ever since a Swedish cousin came to visit 20 years ago and invited us to a Swedish homecoming, I've wanted to find out more about Scandinavia and the general region that includes the ... Read More
A big hunk of my ancestry is from Sweden, and ever since a Swedish cousin came to visit 20 years ago and invited us to a Swedish homecoming, I've wanted to find out more about Scandinavia and the general region that includes the Baltic states and a part of Russia--St. Petersburg. We set sail from Copenhagen in perfect weather, and other than one rainy evening when leaving St. Petersburg, we enjoyed almost ideal weather--perhaps a tad warm for the Baltic. On top of that we had what the locals call "White Nights," early dawns and light until about 11pm. One folk dance we went to in St. Petersburg got out at 10:30, and as we bussed back to the ship, people were out walking in a late afternoon light--couples, families, individuals. From our balcony onboard, we had spectacular views almost 20 hours per day. Our suite booking allowed us to board early, and it was the easiest imaginable. Once on board we had to wait until our suite was ready, but we were able to enjoy all of the public areas and explore the ship in the meantime. After lunch, we went to our stateroom, and our butler came by and introduced himself and asked if we needed anything, which we did--some distilled water for the cpap and a converter to plug it in. Since we had both a butler and stateroom attendant, things got a little confused but it was all taken care of. The Marina has four gourmet restaurants, a main dining room, a Terrace cafeteria and a Waves burger joint. We tried them all, and they were all good. Of the four specialty restaurants, we liked the Polo Lounge, Toscana (Italian), and Red Ginger (Asian fusion) the most. The other guests' favorite was Jaques (French), and while quite good, we made an unfortunate choice of the prime rib there, which was tough. The Main Dining room was always good. We either breakfasted in our cabin or the Terrace cafeteria, but it was very easy to have our butler bring in breakfast while we tried to focus on the new port. The booking included three excursions, and because of the costly Russian visa requirements, we took all three in St. Petersburg (guided tour groups required no visa), and they were all excellent. Otherwise, we explored on our own. Many passengers booked tours/excursions to Berlin (from our port in Warnemunde, Germany) but they had to spend more time on the train trip to and from Berlin than we cared to and so instead took the train to nearby Rostock, Germany. Both the beach resort of Warnemunde and Rostock are delightful, and we found that Americans were considered fairly rare guests in Rostock--keep in mind that Rostock was in East Germany until the fall of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany. (In a little German restaurant in a courtyard, the server brought out her boss out to display us as either oddities or rarities.) Both Riga, Latvia and Tallinn, Estonia were wonderful surprises. Both are a combination of bustling cities with nearby old towns. We walked around both and found lots of locally made woolens and amber jewelry as well as art and historic museums. We could easily spend a week in either and find new interests and history. In Riga, art nouveau architecture was everywhere. For a lot of the passengers, including us, St. Petersburg was the rich and exciting place to be. It did not disappoint. Near where we docked, the Russians were building a new stadium and freeway to the site of the 2018 World Cup. The city itself was colorful, bustling and a combination of royal splendor and Soviet practicality. We took the canal tour, which was an ideal way to see this city of islands. One of the excursions was to the subway--the deepest in the world. We took a down escalator that took 7 minutes to descend to the lower level and then took another escalator even deeper to get on a very fast train to the next stop. We saw no trash bins nor a scrap of litter in the beautifully appointed stations. The walls were decorated with ceramic mosaics, sculptures and paintings depicting Russian history. The Russian folk dances were great, and different native groups from Cossack to Roma costumes and dances were featured in the dances. After the canal trip we made a short stop at a souvenir shop and were greeted by a young woman in native costume offering us all a shot of vodka and chaser. (Take note Walmart--Russian greeters can teach you a thing or two.) Some of the passengers decided to take the train to Moscow from St. Petersburg, but it ate up more time in the transit than we cared, and St. Petersburg is spectacular. After St. Petersburg, we weren't expecting much from Helsinki, but it too was a wonderful surprise. We walked up to the Rock Church and on the way saw the fabulous art deco railroad station. At the city hall, another impressive building in a city with many, a Gay Pride celebration was in full swing. In finding our way back to the dock, my wife and I just followed the rainbow banners to the city hall. In the dock area where a shuttle bus dropped us off was every manner of Finnish art, fur hats, amber, sweaters, and native Sami crafts in an open-air market. It was incredible. The major complaint about Oceana was its advertising "free Wi-fi" and delivering an anemic wi-fi that only worked on one device at a time. There is no technological reason for that, and having the capacity and ability to freely use wi-fi is an important part of modern life. The 1995 era technology delivered along with the public computers with only Internet Explorer was an added insult. Most of the guests seemed to have iPhones and iPads, and we had both with an additional MacBook Pro. Even when wi-fi was available it was weak and unreliable. As soon as we hit a port, most of the towns had far superior free wi-fi. One of these days, a cruise line is going to offer unlimited free wi-fi, and that will change the gouging practices of Oceana and other cruise lines that prey on their customers' reliance on the new technology. One other gripe of Oceana (as well as every other cruise line) is the constant marketing that goes on. Oceana isn't as bad as others with photography "opportunities" at every turn and crummy artwork for sale, but they have their share. After an informative talk on amber, various amber jewelry trinkets went on sale on the ship. They were literarily twice the price as the amber seen on shore the next day and no where near the quality or variety. Later, the same thing happened with Russian souvenirs. The only other hitch was the debarkation process. We ended up in an endless taxi queue in Stockholm (we stayed there extra days) and mob scene on board that looked like the evacuation of Saigon more than an orderly debarkation process. Overall, though we were all treated quite well in a very nice environment with a wonderfully attentive crew. The entertainment was 50-50--half was great and half was the lounge show at the "Last Nickel Casino" in Vegas. The cruise line had indicated that they boarded local talent from the cities we visited--that's a good idea to actually carry out. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
We chose to sail on the Quest to Norway having had a fantastic cruise on the Quest in the fall of 2015 through Maine and the Canadian Maritimes. That cruise was awesome, and we loved the ship, the crew, the guests and the dining. The ... Read More
We chose to sail on the Quest to Norway having had a fantastic cruise on the Quest in the fall of 2015 through Maine and the Canadian Maritimes. That cruise was awesome, and we loved the ship, the crew, the guests and the dining. The Quest is a beautiful ship, and easy to call it home for our trip. The cabin, however, was not thoroughly cleaned when we embarked. Our stewardess on this trip spoke poor English, and was difficult to communicate with. This was one of the reasons we are not giving this cruise 5 stars. But we were very cozy after settling in. The weather was still cold as this cruise went above the Arctic Circle to the North Cape, so we had brought along extra blankets and needed them. Still, we were able to use the balcony many days, and enjoyed the fantastic scenery and the Midnight Sun. We were not happy with the changes in the dining aboard the Quest with the new Thomas Keller menus. We did not mind the change from Restaurant 2 to the TK Grill, but did not like the changes in the Restaurant and the Colonnade. In the Colonnade there were four Thomas Keller nights serving meals such as ribs and fried chicken. We vastly preferred the regular Colonnade menus and felt cheated out of the local seafood that we expected on a cruise through Scandinavia. If you like French Haute Cuisine and foie gras you may like the other TK menus, but we did not. We found the dining options more restricted and stressful. There was also not the seamless service in the dining areas that we had had before. We will be watching to see how Seabourn handles the TK menus, especially in the Colonnade, before we book another Seabourn cruise. Still, we had many wonderful evenings in the Restaurant and the Colonnade, and many good options for breakfast including coffee and pastries in the Seabourn Square. The itinerary and shore excursions were fantastic. Our Captain was very experienced and hailed from Denmark. One of the reasons we like Seabourn is their Scandinavian captains. We really loved seeing Arctic Norway, and had three wonderful days in Copenhagen!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This is our second cruise on Regent 7 Seas last year we took the Navigator on a 12 Day Alaska cruise with Oregon, Victoria and San Francisco at the end. We have been cruising since 1995 on various lines about once per year. After our ... Read More
This is our second cruise on Regent 7 Seas last year we took the Navigator on a 12 Day Alaska cruise with Oregon, Victoria and San Francisco at the end. We have been cruising since 1995 on various lines about once per year. After our excellent experience on the Navigator we decided to try a European itinerary on the Baltic. There were various special offers with this cruise with a 3 class upgrade and Business class air included. We had a D class Concierge suite which was the same level as last years cruise. Overall I would grade this a 4.5 on a scale of 1-5. The service, food and accommodations were all up to standard. Overall our experience was excellent but as with all cruises there were always a few small hitches and glitches that I would rate as momentarily annoying but not decreasing the overall cruise experience when taken in total. I will list a few of the short comings that we experienced. 1. The Pre-Hotel was not included since we received an upgrade was not part of our package. We felt we needed at least a day of jet lag down time we opted to pay $800 for the transfers and hotel package. The hotel The Scandic Copenhagen hotel which was supposed to be at least 4 star was at best 3 star. The rooms were downright bleak with two twin beds minimalist furniture, no closets and a tiny bathroom with no counter space. This hotel on Expedia was listed at $170 per night if we had booked separately. The restaurant while good had a limited menu and was quite expensive for what was offered. 2. The rooms on-board were not ready for almost 3 hours after we boarded and there was no one to show us to the suites. We were expected to find our own way and drag our carry ones around the ship. The luggage although they had possession of it since 11 pm the night before did not arrive till just before 7 in the evening. 3. The wait staff in the Compass Rose main restaurant varied as to their abilities. Being ignored particularly at lunch and breakfast was, at times, a bit tiresome. Also some of the waiters (especially the Eastern Europeans) must have smoked like chimneys in their uniforms as they smelled like an old ashtray when they came within 10 feet of you. 4. Most of the tours were very good and the guides were friendly but our Hermitage guide in St. Petersburg last job must have been in the Gulags. She was curt and took a school children’s field trip approach to the tour. We raced through the very crowded museum barely able to keep up with her. At the end of the tour the most important thing to her was our replacing the wireless headphone devices back in the holder wrapped up in the original plastic bag we were told very firmly we must not discard. We were so exhausted we cancelled the evening tour 5. The casino slots were mostly broken and the casino itself was tiny. The Positives 1. The restaurants were all excellent. The Compass Rose food was as good as the specialty restaurants. 2. The suites were well maintained, large with plenty of storage. The Stewards were wonderful and unobtrusive. 3. The high teas and pastries were superb 5 out of 5. 4. The ships operation by the navigation team was flawless. 5. Just about everything was truly included no nickel and dime charges for anything. 6. The entertainment was overall very good for a ship of the Voyagers limited size. 7. I had reason to use the medical service staff to have some stitches removed from an accident that occurred before the cruise. It was done without fuss and the charge seemed to be in line with what I would have paid at home. The overall experience was very positive and we would choose to sail Regent without question again. It would be hard for us to go back to any of the larger mass marketed ships again because we would be always comparing it to Regent. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Chose this cruise simply because of the itinerary. The idea of 18% added on to all purchases is anathema to us but we decided we would not purchase anything that involved this charge. Embarkation was quick with baggage being taken ... Read More
Chose this cruise simply because of the itinerary. The idea of 18% added on to all purchases is anathema to us but we decided we would not purchase anything that involved this charge. Embarkation was quick with baggage being taken from you as you entered into the jetty marque. Usual pettiness regarding security, I believe this is now a self perpetuating industry as you come across it everywhere. Ship décor has a dark Victorian theme which we think appeals to the American market, (country club), but we found it rather foreboding. (British). Having said that, it was all very clean and Horizons was a pleasant place to be for views, comfort and high tea. There is some good artwork in corridors, stairways and public areas. Food was very good in all restaurants if you could get into them. Waiters very good but maître-d's could be a bit touchy and abrupt especially if requiring a table for two. Special restaurants Toscana and Polo are difficult to get into as higher grade cabins have three sittings allocated to them and I do believe there is some greasing of palms goes on to get a place, again, tables for two are discouraged. Toscana we found to be pretentious and pompous with the food quality and service not as good as the rest of the ship. Polo was excellent all round, beef fillet was to die for and service impeccable. Entertainment we didn't take part in, we are not bingo, trivia or casino fans. Theatre shows were good except for the American acts, but I suppose we would say that. There is definitely a culture and taste divide between those either side of the "pond" where entertainment is concerned. In some instances the American passengers could be loud, demanding and annoying. The cruise director, Mr Carr, was one of these, I got to dread the sound "bing bong bing bong" on the PA system. He could be very repetitive and patronising, loud and loved the sound of his own voice which grated on my ears. After leaving the Kiel Canal we encountered some fairly lumpy waters, nothing much to worry about, however, at 0200 in the morning we were struck by a rogue wave on the port quarter which stove in some dining room windows and flooded the dining room as well as throwing everything on the set tables onto the deck. The crew cleared lower deck and cleared up during the rest of the night, commendable but no need for Mr Carr to keep going on about it. The crew would not have had a choice to turn out or not, nevertheless, they worked hard to clear the areas involved. Excursions were extortionately priced and we did not go on any of them. From what we overheard they were not very good value for money either. We arranged our St Petersburg tours on the internet, very easy, and other ports of call we used tourist offices or hop on hop off. Dis-embarkation in Southampton was well organised and went well. The local cab drivers are rogues, wanting a £10 minimum fare plus the metre for a 11/2 mile journey to station. Looking for long distance to Gatwick and Heathrow. Having said that, a darn sight cheaper than if booking on board. We would be hard pressed to go with Oceania again only because it didn't suit our tastes. We are sure it will suit a lot of cruisers out there. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Now back from our "Passage through Western Europe" cruise, all our friends and neighbors are asking, “How was your trip?” Our answer: “It was wonderful!” “Amazing.” “A real ADVENTURE!” The Viking Star was ... Read More
Now back from our "Passage through Western Europe" cruise, all our friends and neighbors are asking, “How was your trip?” Our answer: “It was wonderful!” “Amazing.” “A real ADVENTURE!” The Viking Star was launched back on April 11 and we’ve been following every Cruise Critic posting, diligently, since then. The ship is GORGEOUS! How could it not be? Every public space on board was designed as if you’re visiting someone’s (albeit a rich someone) living room with warm wool throws and throw pillows everywhere. Even the seating on the deck 8’s Sun Deck is wonderfully inviting, with very large outdoor sofas! This was our first Viking experience. We’re used to the much larger ships; so having this vessel accommodate 930 passengers was new to us, as well. Almost intimate, I thought. We’re not used to the “all inclusive” style of cruising and THAT I could get use to…but only if one can afford it. I never dreamed that I would enjoy having all the wine (or any beverage) I want at lunch or dinner, and not pay extra. As with any cruise ship, you expect good food. And the Star did not disappoint. Wait a minute; I remember an occasion when I was asked (as all the wait staff do at the beginning of every dinner in the restaurants), if anyone had a food allergy. I took my roll, banged it on the table top and said, “Yes, to hard rolls that are not eatable!” Instead of bringing out a basket of soft rolls, our waitress insisted on getting me the same hard rolls heated because they are “wonderfully soft heated.” When ordering my dinner, I decided to have the Tiger Prawns as a side dish to my ravioli instead as a “starter” dish. When my dinner was served, I had to work hard to get our waitress’s attention on the heated rolls and prawns! The ravioli was DELICIOUS; all 4 of them! The Tiger Prawns were dry and served with Thousand Island dressing! The Chief’s Table is one of two specialty restaurants. It only has 3 menus, with wine paring throughout dinner, rotated every five days. We chose the Asian; and it was delightful—every mouthful! When I was given a red wine for my entrée, I informed my waiter that red wine gave me headaches, he quickly produced a wonderful white wine. Reservations are required for the specialty restaurants and that’s quite understandable. There was a member of the restaurant staff on duty, most of the day, every day, near Guest Relations, to help you achieve your reservations. However, you need to know that the software being used for this activity isn’t sophisticated enough to keep you from double booking (i.e. The Chef’s Table the same night as Manfredi’s). Speaking of Manfredi’s… it’s also a delight, with food well worth going back more than once! Mamsen’s! One incredible experience! Simple, yet elegant, true Norwegian dining on a very small scale. Just right for hitting the hunger pangs in, oh, the most delightful way! The World Café: a real delightful surprise. It wasn’t a cafeteria style, but a “food station” set up. We really appreciated being able to pick or choose, or better yet, SAMPLE many, many, different foods; both hot and cold. Don’t even get me started on the desserts! No waiting in lines. The only waiting was for certain hot dishes and individual omelets being produced right in front of you, and the gelato bar. It never seemed over crowed, even on sea-days. (Note: our cruise only had 627 passengers. I wonder if a full 930-pass would make a difference.) Once we hit warmer weather, it was a true delight to eat outside. The wait staff throughout the ship is personable, and professional; diligent about cleaning off your used plates, as you progress through your dining. In the beginning of our cruise, they were usually as good with carafes of water (still or sparkling) as well as other beverages you may desire. At some point, I noticed, the service got lax. I’ll share some notes from my personal cruise journal: "I had to go to the bar to get some cold water. Seems I'm always going to the wait staff to get my drinks. Am I ignored because I'm not paying for my drinks? The bar service seems to work that way. At lunch I didn't want to wait any longer, once again, for a Café staffer and took my empty wine glass right up to a staff's face and asked real loud if I could have some white wine. “Yes, Ma'am! I'll bring it right to you, where are you sitting?” That's how I have to get things done!" And another notation: "At lunch one day I had the bright idea to ask if I could have an ice tea. “Of course, Ma'am, I’ll bring it to you”.... and I waited and waited and waited... no tea and half way through my lunch, I began to flag down other wait staff to see inquire about my tea. The answer was: “Their brewing it for you, Ma'am.” Really? Did they pick the leaves off the plant in the atrium, too? On the way out of the World Cafe I spotted canned Peach Tea with the rest of the soft drinks! Oh, for God’s sake!" Having breakfast in our cabin on days we had an early tour was a challenge. The earliest one can order room service breakfast is 7AM. And the room service always came too early, like at 6:20! If you’re needing some well-deserved sleep—be forewarned. Every cabin has a set of “Voicevox” hearing enhancers for tours. What a great feature! I always have problems hearing our tour guides on all our excursions. Viking has gone the extra step to ensure everyone hears the guide and misses nothing being said! It sits in its own charging station on your desk, ready for you to take on your next Viking tour. Another nice cruise attribute were the washers and dryers on decks 3 to 6; with the washers automatically dispensing soap. However, one never knew how much soap was automatically dispensed, so one needed to select the extra rinse feature if washing a small load. All the machines are in good working order and have many nice wash/dry cycles, just like the ones you would find in any new home. On this topic, I’m sad to say that you need to be diligent to keep a watch on your laundry. I thought I could do a load and just check on its progress by going back to the cabin and then back to the self-service laundry. Unfortunately, some lady was in a hurry and confused about what and where she left her clothes and grabbed mine! Guest Relations was just as shocked as I was when I went to make a claim report. “No one has ever done that before!” Lucky me, to be the first victim. Three hours later, there was my laundry, dumped in a pile on the ironing board. I have no idea if my clean delicates remained clean in the mishandling by someone else. Oh, well. That’s a lesson to me; don’t let it be one for you! The Star, as my hubby pointed out, is sophisticated in some ways, and not in others. • Point one: All the wait staff take food orders using a hand-held device (like a Smartphone), which is digitally sent directly to the kitchen so food comes out faster. • Point two: The Internet can be slow when trying to upload any great photos of your trip to social media. • Point three: TV—news channels are not great and there is still no way to see your ship-board accounting. • Point four: Every drawer has soft, self-closing mechanisms, but all the doors to those cabinets bang close. • Point five: The Wintergarden is most enjoyable for quiet, comfortable “me-time” … however, the outer sections, where one can watch the ocean as your daydream, are extremely cold. No woolly throws there, for some reason. There are large sliding glass walls that could be open, and equalize the AC, but Viking hasn’t figured that out yet. • Point six: There are some automatic sliding doors on deck 2 and deck 7 to the outside and public areas, yet the doors in the Wintergarden are not easy to open and have no simple, directional “pull/push” signage. We saw more people strain to get in and out of that area that was unnecessary! The Viking Company very much is attuned to its customer’s feedback. We received surveys after each tour day. On the last day of our cruise, we received a four page questionnaire. They realize their biggest weakness has been communication from company to passenger and back again, and they are trying very hard to change things. I just received an email from a cruising buddy asking about our Viking experience: “Oh, every new endeavor needs to work the kinks out. If things were running more smoothly, do you think it would be worth the extra cost? We loved our river boat cruise with them.” I’ll bet that’s a question anyone reading this review is asking. I hate the idea of misleading anyone into spending their hard earned income/retirement on Viking’s Star just on my opinion. It was a great cruise. Viking is working hard to “swim” with the big “guys” and is very much a contender for your cruising dollars with the Viking Star. Like all cruises, you need to go with the good attitude, learn to ignore the petty stuff and enjoy every minute of every day. PS: Our cruise followed Viking’s July 26th Baltic voyage, which developed major mechanical problems and had to cancel that sailing after completing only 4 of the 11 ports. It must have been both a financial and PR nightmare for the Viking Company (i.e. 930 passengers on problem cruise, plus the 930 of the following cruise). We never saw a harder, more determined company of employees anywhere, trying to work out all the problems and the many, many major/minor details! Kudos, Viking, for a job well done! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
The 4 couples that made up our travel group are well traveled and have cruised previously, most notably, on Regent and Crystal. None of us had been on Seabourn before and we wanted another luxury experience for this Baltic Cruise so we ... Read More
The 4 couples that made up our travel group are well traveled and have cruised previously, most notably, on Regent and Crystal. None of us had been on Seabourn before and we wanted another luxury experience for this Baltic Cruise so we selected the Seabourn Quest. On balance, we truly enjoyed our experience, but I don't think any of us would say we "loved it" the way so many previous cruise critic reviewers said we would. The ship itself is well laid out but the decor of both the main dining room and the observation bar were a disappointment. The dining room felt overly crowded and was very noisy (the hard wood floors didn't help). The observation bar was minimalist modern, but the furniture was down right uncomfortable so I grew tired of it rather quickly. All of us expected a much more elegantly appointed ship. Our suites, however, were wonderful. Two couples opted for Penthouse suites while the other two were in veranda suites. We loved the layout, the furnishings, the comfort of the beds and the bathrooms were superb. The poolside area was great and so was its bar and restaurant. I personally very much enjoyed the library/coffee area. What is missing from the Quest, however, is the nooks and crannies we have been able to find on other ships that allow you to slip away for more privacy. We had been told to expect excellent service and while service continued to improve each day, we had a number of mishaps which were disturbing. Room service was 45 minutes late on one occasion and never arrived on another. One couple held a cocktail party in their penthouse suite for the 8 of us and they ordered wine, champagne and assorted appetizers the previous day. When it did not arrive as scheduled, they called and were told that it had been delivered but no one was there to receive it. Really? After the phone call it did arrive within about 10 minutes. In another mishap, one of our travel mates was in tears because the suite staff mistakingly threw out a large zip lock bag containing a knitting project she had been working on for over a year. When we were returning from an excursion, she noticed several men unloading trash from the ship. On a whim, she asked if any of them had seen it. We were actually incredulous that one of the guys did remember seeing it and had set it aside. So there was a happy ending thanks to the efforts of this one person. We had also been told that the wait staff would call you by name after the first day or so and would remember your drink preferences. Not so. We ate dinner in the main restaurant at the same table with the same wait staff 4 nights, and we always went to the observation bar afterwards. No one ever knew who we were or called us by name or remembered our preferences for anything. All in all, a disappointment from our expectations. The food on Seabourn is a cut above the other cruise lines we had been on and it was a great treat for me to have caviar and champagne every afternoon. However, there were mishaps in the main dining room as well. On the formal night, 6 of us ordered the lobster and 4 of us sent it back because, while nicely presented, it was mushy and tasteless. On the last night, 3 of us ordered quail and while no one sent it back, it was dry and tasteless. Some of us had taken the galley tour and we realized just how difficult it is to put out consistently great food so we were somewhat forgiving about these mishaps. But, Seabourn, you really should do better. We thought Restaurant 2 was outstanding and the service was impeccable. On the Sail Away, my husband and I arrived late and all the caviar was gone; however, when one of the servers say my disappointment, he asked where we would be sitting and I pointed it out. Within minutes we had a lovely tray of caviar with all the trimmings. How nice was that. Wine choices were also quite good. On other cruise lines we've had to pay extra for premium wines. That was not necessary on Seabourn; the daily selections were excellent. A note about shore excursions. If you are sailing to St. Petersburg, as we did, then hire an independent, licensed Russian guide and driver. This was far less expensive for our group then if we had arranged for excursions off the ship. The experience was magical and our guide was so knowledgeable. We had 3 very full days of sightseeing plus 2 night activities including the opera. While we were exhausted by the end of it, we saw just about everything there is to see in this amazing city. All in all, the cruise was very good. Perhaps our expectations were too high, but Seabourn presents itself as being #1 in the small ship luxury cruise line category and frankly, I'm not sure its worth the additional expense. While we will continue to sail in the luxury cruise category, I would probably only chose Seabourn again based on the itinerary being offered but in making that decision I would also consider value for money. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Make no mistake; Oceania is a five star operation. This was my second cruise with Oceania. I was so impressed with my first cruise last year that I booked a second cruise, “Baltic Marvels” this year. About Oceania Oceania is a first ... Read More
Make no mistake; Oceania is a five star operation. This was my second cruise with Oceania. I was so impressed with my first cruise last year that I booked a second cruise, “Baltic Marvels” this year. About Oceania Oceania is a first class operation. They have 4 specialty restaurants in addition to the buffet and their main dining room. Meals are included with the cruise cost so no need to worry about extra food charges appearing on your statement at the end of the cruise. Alcohol is a different matter. If you order room service there may be a charge depending on your stateroom level. Passengers are kept up to date on the day’s events including informational sheets regarding the various ports of call. The staff members are very helpful and frequently inquire as to your needs. Obviously Oceania has a well-trained crew with emphasis on customer service. We had originally booked a Veranda Cabin. However about one month prior to our sail date I was offered a discounted upgrade to a penthouse suite with butler service. Service was over the top. The bed was very comfortable. For this year’s cruise I was on Oceania’s “Marina”. This ship carries 1250 passengers and has a staff of 800. This is a midsize ship so getting around is not too overwhelming. I have given them only 4 stars based on a few factors starting with the end of the voyage. Debarkation You must be out of your room by 8am. While I understand the need to turn the room around for the next occupant, being thrown out at 8am is not exactly a relaxing end to what is supposed to be a carefree vacation. The buffet is usually crowded with people trying to get in a last meal before debarkation. This makes for a hectic and stressful day. Your packed bags must be ready for pickup outside your room by 10pm the night before you leave. (I held onto my carry on bag for the last day toiletries and clothing change. I recommend the same for others.) During debarkation you are assigned a debarkation group. Groups are let off the boat based on their outbound flight time, the earlier your flight the sooner you are let off. On my cruise this month I had to wait until just about all the other groups were let off. We had to wait in the theatre at the front of the boat with not much to do. Obviously the cruise company has a very carefully coordinated debarkation procedure, which is apparently well refined. Nonetheless they could do more for debarking passengers other than force them to wait in isolation. Tours Oceania has a number of tours for each port of call. These tours are described in the Cruise Vacation Guide (cruise guide) provided by Oceania about a month and a half before your sail date. The tours are generally more expensive than tours by private tour companies. I did not go on Oceania’s tours last year but did go on one of their tours this year. The cost was high ($365.00 per person) but it was a unique event not offered by other tour companies. Oceania offers an “Unlimited Passport Collection Package” for a fee. In the case of this year’s cruise it was $595.00. This package provided a 40% discount off the regular price of Oceania’s tours. Personally I prefer to explore on my own with nothing more than a map and an idea what I want to see. If you require special accommodations Oceania’s tours might be best for you. Again, they are more expensive than private tour operators. Visas One of the reasons I booked this cruise is that it included 2 days in St. Petersburg, Russia. This was definitely the highpoint of the cruise. You need a visa to enter Russia unless you are booked on a tour, either with Oceania or an approved private tour operator. This was “mentioned” on the bottom of page 4 of my Cruise Vacation Guide, which ran about 50 pages. Given the time and cost of obtaining a Russian visa, I elected to go the tour route and avoid the hassle of getting a Russian visa. Oceania stated in the cruise guide that passengers should contact their travel agent or Oceania to obtain a visa. I contacted Oceania about a visa but they referred me back to a travel agent. Note: If you are traveling visa free with a group tour in Russia you are not allowed to wander on your own. I believe Oceania could have been more proactive in this regard. Since my first cruise with Oceania in April 2013 I have received, on average, 3-4 brochures per month. Some of these brochures are extensive running up to 140 pages and resembling a coffee table book. It seems to me that if Oceania goes to the expense of bombarding me with brochures they can send a letter or email emphasizing or reminding of the need for a visa. (After my first cruise where everything was taken care of I found myself having been lulled into a false sense of security. After all if a cruise company shows up in port with a 750-foot long ocean liner it would seem that the details would have been taken care of. ) Case in point We met a couple on our evening tour Oceania offered in St. Petersburg. Unfortunately they had not obtained visas or pre booked tours. As a result the only time they could get off the boat was for the evening tour as all the other Oceania tours were booked up and it was too late to go with a private tour operator. They had booked with a travel agent who I suspect assumed Oceania would take care of the visa details. As a result they were forced to spend the entire 2 day on board and not allowed into the city until the evening tour. Transfers When I booked the cruise I was told transfers were included. Upon receipt of my cruise guide I noticed the debarkation transfer from the port in Stockholm to the airport was included. However the transfer from the airport in Copenhagen to the ship was NOT. I spent several hours researching transportation from the airport. Ultimately I took the train to the city center in Copenhagen and took Copenhagen’s S-Tog (train) to a stop near the ship. From there it was a 15-minute walk to the cruise terminal. By doing so I spent about $22.00 for 2 people rather than a $100.00+ cab fare. Gratuities On my first cruise, which was booked through a tour company, gratuities were included. This year gratuities were NOT included in the cost of the cruise. On the last day, about 30 minutes before debarking I was presented with my final bill which included $308.00 for gratuities. Needless to say I was not pleased and there was not enough time to pull out the cruise guide for review. Upon review of my 50 page “Cruise Vacation Guide” I could find nothing about gratuities. This charge should have been included on the “Cruise Vacation Summary” page where the pertinent details are listed and would be easy to find. Upon digging through the numerous documents emailed from Oceania I found a one-line sentence on a statement indicating a gratuity of $105.00 per guest would be billed. Despite this I was billed $154.00 per guest. Lesson learned - no matter how “inclusive” a cruise (or vacation) is you need to sweat the details and plan ahead. Be prepared for and plan for financial ambushes. As described at the beginning Oceania is a higher-end cruise company. The passengers are for the most part well into their 60s with many being in what appear to be their 70’s and 80’s. There was a smattering of people my age and some younger people with small children. Note: Oceania cruise lines are not geared for children. This is for “older mature” cruisers. If you are a “fast mover” be prepared for “traffic delays”. Given my experience I do not plan to cruise Europe again in the near future but rather stay at a hotel in a city where I don’t have to worry about getting back to the boat before it leaves port. And not have to worry about getting thrown out of my room at 8am. However if you like cruising in an upscale sophisticated environment, Oceania is for you. Happy travels.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
This is our second Regent Cruise. We are seasoned and active cruisers in our 50's who usually book upper end cabins which is why we decided to try the "all-inclusive" that Regent offers. We have cruised with Holland America, ... Read More
This is our second Regent Cruise. We are seasoned and active cruisers in our 50's who usually book upper end cabins which is why we decided to try the "all-inclusive" that Regent offers. We have cruised with Holland America, Princess and so on but decided to try a luxury line. Our first luxury cruise was with the Navigator with a penthouse which we loved! The service was exemplary; the excursions were fun; and our butler was fantastic. So we were expecting the same wonderful experience, but this did not happen. There is still some wonderful things with Regent which is why we are booked for the Med in September. If this does not meet our previous expectations, it may also be our last Regent cruise. I am rather sad to say this, as Barry our Regent rep has become a bit like family and he goes out of his way to get us the things we want. THE CABIN We decided on this cruise as it was a good deal and went with the Concierge Level which was just fine by us. I cannot say enough about the great cabins on Regent; they are a good size and lack for nothing- toiletries galore, spotlessly clean, and comfy sheets and bed (although it is not a true king with two singles put together). Our stewards were all but invisible and our cabin was always magically cleaned so cudos to both of them! We loved the newer balcony furniture as we enjoy our balcony for a cold and quiet drink or game of cribbage. THE EXCURSIONS We liked our excursions- our top ones were the Soviet Nuclear Weapons site which I highly recommend as it is followed by a traditional Lithuanian lunch complete with beer and Tallinn where we did a bike ride and walking tour. I would echo another cruiser's complaint here- when we returned from our Tallinn tour, lunch was over and after a bike ride and walking tour in over 30C weather we were starved and coffee and cookies were just not enough. We did not complain and of course, we could have ordered room service but this is something small that could be easily fixed by Regent. Although crowded, The Hermitage is not to be missed in St. Petersburg. DINING This was our area of disappointment. But first, let me say that the specialty restaurants were outstanding. The main dining room was the cause of our angst. Service was spotty and really depended upon who you had as servers. Some were great, others were lack luster and just not up to any standard that I know of. The last night, all of us at the table felt that we were inconveniencing our server; perhaps, he already had his tips.The wines were okay- we found a Canadian red we liked and stuck to it as our red selection. The food was not as good this time and some dishes were very bland and tasteless, while others were great. The best meals were in the specialty restaurants. And while I know some would disagree, the Italian restaurant was not great and we went only once. I like true Italian cooking and there was too much sauce, not the right spices, and the pasta was overcooked. The inconsistency here is the same as the service; sometimes good and sometimes not so good. A COUPLE ISSUES On two days on the ship, the toilet system stopped working. One time it was several hours. This was not the fault of the ship, but some passenger who can't read the sign about toilet paper only! Our other nit-picking issue was a cruiser who decided that using his hands to scoop up potato chips is an okay thing to do- honestly with tongs right there! He asked if we minded and we said yes! This did not phase him in the least. After that, I became very wary of the buffet. Again, not the ship's fault but I thought others should be aware of this. OVERALL We enjoyed this cruise. We had hot and sunny weather. The waiters at the pool were all good. The ship is spotless. We enjoyed the one comedian very much one night. We danced to a band with a limited selection of songs- but we danced! And we met some wonderful people. I really have nothing terrible to say; I can't complain too much as we are both easy-going but the dining room was disappointing. The MC was an accomplished singer and ventriloquist and we enjoyed him as well. We were just disappointed with the lack of consistent 6 star service when you are paying a 6 star price.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014

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