57 Harwich Family Cruise Reviews

Cabin , spacious, newly refurbed and very pleasant except for when at sea . Very loud intermittent banging, rattling noise. I have cruised several times and accept that when at sea there is always a certain degree of noise from engines, ... Read More
Cabin , spacious, newly refurbed and very pleasant except for when at sea . Very loud intermittent banging, rattling noise. I have cruised several times and accept that when at sea there is always a certain degree of noise from engines, machinery, air con but this was exceptional and unacceptable. Some service especially in the dining rooms was spa radio and at times chaotic. In the Observatory on Sunday Lunchtime, there were three waiters, one setting out tables for Afternoon tea yet some people waited for service and then walked out after being ignored. You have to ask for tea and coffee instead of waiters approaching tables . A value for money cruise but it shows on the quality of food . Avoid cabin 3106 very noisy Would I use FreD Olsen again ? Only if no one else was offering the same itinerary and I would upgrade cabins , but that would negate the advantage of being value for money. A more expensive cabin still means you would still have the Medicare food and sporadic service Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
Firstly we chose “Viking” based on our previous river cruising experiences. We always book our travel and transfers with Viking. As soon as we see the Viking agents responsible for getting us to our ship, we immediately relax and get ... Read More
Firstly we chose “Viking” based on our previous river cruising experiences. We always book our travel and transfers with Viking. As soon as we see the Viking agents responsible for getting us to our ship, we immediately relax and get into vacation mode. We chose this cruise hoping to see the natural beauty of the Norwegian fjords and Viking came through with flying colors. As advertized, our ship sailed to locations only accessible to smaller ocean liners. During the cruise, we enjoyed several conversations with our ship’s captain. He was very approachable and appeared to enjoy the cruise just as much as his passengers did. The entire service staff took care of all our requests and needs. The in port excursions were fun and very educational. During our time on board, we utilized the excellent fitness facilities, enjoyed many satisfying meals at all of the restaurants and poolside grill. We have now enjoyed both ocean and river cruising with Viking and look forward to booking future trips. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
"Sorry that area is closed" is a refrain we heard on a daily basis in one or more areas. 1. Royal Crown Lounge is for Diamond only. 2. Colony Club is closed for private event. 3. Open dining area behind Windjammer is ... Read More
"Sorry that area is closed" is a refrain we heard on a daily basis in one or more areas. 1. Royal Crown Lounge is for Diamond only. 2. Colony Club is closed for private event. 3. Open dining area behind Windjammer is closed for private event (and was not open even when there were no private events). Availability of seating to eat meals at certain times was a problem. 4. Hot tub is closed for maintenance in Solarium. (Only one on ship) I feel we should know before booking that we will not have access to all public areas of the ship. At times we spent 30 minutes looking for a place where 6 people could sit and socialize. Lack of public spaces is the reason we have avoided the 6,000 passenger mega Oasis class ships. Beverage selections were restricted as we often heard "We are out of that wine selection" and we missed the "drink of the day" (staff didn't know what we were talking about) like we enjoyed on the Serenade four weeks earlier. We found prices to also be more expensive on the Brilliance as compared to the Serenade. It took 3 days for our group of six to get seated with another group of 3 couples (all nice people) but question why this was such a problem in the first place. We had cross-referenced our cruise reservation numbers well in advance and were told it had been handled. On a positive note; the staff overall was excellent with many of them being exceptional. Our wait staff did a good job in spite of the fact they had too many people to serve (2 tables of 12). We enjoyed Rita's Cantina (Vinko was great behind the bar) but often overwhelmed by the volume of demand at times. Our room steward was very good and attended us well. The entertainment was top notch and the cruise director (HelloClo) was one of the best we have ever had. For these reasons, the average overall score came out to a 3 out of 5 instead of a lower score. Kitchen was fair but certainly not exceptional. Experience in Chops Grille also could have been better based on past experiences on other RCCL ships (Steaks ordered medium were served well done for 3 of 6 people in our group). The waiter said they could cook us new steaks, but we had already waited and didn't want to wait to eat after the others were already finished. We received great service at the Rbar in the Centrum. Craig (asst. Waiter forward of Windjammer on deck 11) was friendly and attentive as we spent a lot of time in this area. Bar service in the Solarium was poor with the exception of Park Cafe (again staff was excellent) . Unfortunately; the Solarium bar seemed to be never open all the times we passed through the area. Early morning coffee outside the Windjammer was often empty and no coffee mugs. I learned to inspect empty coffee mugs before using as at least on 3 occasions when I found them to be dirty. I guess I need to read the ship reviews before booking in the future. I doubt I will be returning to the Brilliance anytime soon. Overall, I think the ship is a bit tired and needs a restoration. I expected more based on my past experience with RCCL. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
This was our first cruise with RCL, following previous experience with Cunard and NCL. We were a family of 3 (2 adults, 1 child of 11) also travelling with extended family. This was our first cruise where we sailed from the UK, we ... Read More
This was our first cruise with RCL, following previous experience with Cunard and NCL. We were a family of 3 (2 adults, 1 child of 11) also travelling with extended family. This was our first cruise where we sailed from the UK, we liked parking and the lack of hassle involved with flights, but while getting to Harwich was ok for us, it's not a great port. However, embarkation (and disembarkation at the end) was very efficient. From leaving the ship at 0745 we had cases and were driving off by 0805. The ship is a great size, very similar to the Norwegian ships we have been familiar with. We liked the cabin, great use of space and a decent bathroom (better than the NCL layout in our opinion). Cabin service was good, but the staff seemed very overworked. RCL were even more obsessed than usual with cleanliness on our cruise, and our corridor was closed at one point for 3 hours while they sanitised it after an 'incident'. We liked the interior spaces, the itinerary (12 night Scandinavia and Baltic was brilliant), and the general feeling of the ship. Our son liked the kids club and met loads of friends, which was a major bonus. We ate at Chops Grille, which was really good, but felt the other specialty restaurants were less appealing, so missed those out. We were less keen on the restaurant service in the main dining room, and felt there was a lack of choice in the main restaurant and the windjammer, especially if you are a veggie. Over several nights the same stuff kept cropping up, while the food quality was almost always good, the choice seemed narrower than the similar options on Cunard or NCL. Theatre shows were average, with a few high points. In particular the ventriloquist, juggler and final night magician were good, the rest was poor. Cruise director and staff were in federal good with one exception, which was dealt with professionally by Steve (the cruise director). Overall, we loved the destinations (especially St Petersburg and Stockholm); that made the holiday. The ship was 'fine', and we will probably use RCL again, but only if there is a a really good itinerary on offer. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Our twelth cruise, our second with Holland America on the Ryndam. We sailed on Ryndam in 2014 and loved it so much we booked again for 2015, almost identical itinerary (only one port difference). Would certianly recommend Ryndam (such ... Read More
Our twelth cruise, our second with Holland America on the Ryndam. We sailed on Ryndam in 2014 and loved it so much we booked again for 2015, almost identical itinerary (only one port difference). Would certianly recommend Ryndam (such a shame it's being sold in October to P&O Australia) and would recommend Holland America. We travelled as a family of 6 occupying 2 cabins. 3 adults and 3 children. We travelled from North East of England to Harwich (6 hour drive) Embarkation and disembarkation were fast and smooth. We were on board the ship by 12.15, just in time for lunch ! Disembarkation was smooth and you could stay in your cabin until it was your time slot. My favourite public room was the library - so spacious. Lots of comfortable seats, fanastic views from the full length windows. Entertainment was okay. Shore excursions were a rip-off. It didn't detract from the cruise though as I'd researched all the ports prior to sailing and we did our own thing in every port. On all previous cruises we have dined on first sitting (5.45 pm on Ryndam). For the first time we chose open seating. We loved it. Loved the flexibility. We generally ate around 7.15 pm and there was never a queue for the restaurant. Will be choosing open seating on all future cruises. Shame Holland America is not sailing from UK in the near future. Flights x 6 people + 1 cruise or sail from UK and have 2 cruises. I always choose the latter. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We aren't people who spend time in a hotel room, so basic rooms that are adequate are fine. Adequate being the operative word. The room consists of a large bed with two overhead beds. Yes the bunk beds are above the adults head so you ... Read More
We aren't people who spend time in a hotel room, so basic rooms that are adequate are fine. Adequate being the operative word. The room consists of a large bed with two overhead beds. Yes the bunk beds are above the adults head so you are unable to sit up. The above bed is not able to sleep an adult and our 10 year old child is unable to sit in bed without banging his head. If you want to watch telly this is impossible as the settee sits 2 and then there is a single chair. You can't watch from the beds as the ladder is in the way. In the main dining room, the food that is actually presented to you is well presented and tasty. However we have experienced waits of 30 minutes even when booked. The other restaurants are all pay except the Windjammer, this is help yourself. This particularly reminds us of a school canteen, although some of the food is nice. There is a nice sandwich/panini place. Be careful when ordering the all inclusive drinks package. The wine and beer package is just what it says and no spirits are allowed. Freshly squeezed orange juice, latte, etc are all an extra charge. The inside pool is over 16 only accept between 16:00 & 18:00. The service is very hit and miss, with a few going out their way & others seem grumpy. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Crew was outstanding in servicing our family during meal times. They made this cruise less disappointing to us. The itinerary is perfect, great selection of cities with good range of excursions and tour options. Royal Tots was ok. Our room ... Read More
Crew was outstanding in servicing our family during meal times. They made this cruise less disappointing to us. The itinerary is perfect, great selection of cities with good range of excursions and tour options. Royal Tots was ok. Our room was not properly cleaned, esp. the balcony (there were slippers, pills from previous guests underneath the bed and plates from breakfast were left in the balcony for days). The windows throughout the ship were dirty, floors in common areas were disgusting by dinner time. The worst entertainment program and cruise director we ever experienced (dull bingo and questions activities, a couple playing songs on playback at centrum, four presentations of MJ's thriller with guests and the list goes on). There is a feeling that the crew is overworked and that a bad working environment is affecting the quality of service. We heard rumours that crew's salary were paid by our gratuities. We were appalled to receive an envelope for extra gratuities the last day, given we paid 18% mandatory gratuity in advance and over each service we bought on the cruise. We gladly tip services that are excellent but we dislike the effect of "being invited" to do so in such a forceful manner. We did a wonderful caribbean cruise with RC but this trip made us reconsider our next travel arrangements. I hope you read my review bf booking this. Plus, if you can, leave from Stockholm. Nothing to do in harwich and it adds 3 days to the cruise that are a killer... Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Our ninth cruise on HAL, our first on Ryndam, we were a couple from Holland, both in our early fifties. Although she will leave the fleet later this year, she is still being taken care of, with a great and enthusiastic crew. Earlier ... Read More
Our ninth cruise on HAL, our first on Ryndam, we were a couple from Holland, both in our early fifties. Although she will leave the fleet later this year, she is still being taken care of, with a great and enthusiastic crew. Earlier reports mentioned the missing tender, this is still the same, I think it is not because of the tender, but due to a defective launching equipment (do not know the proper English term). Since there are plenty of lifeboats, not an issue, although a bit of a nuisance during tendering, which was slightly longer than normal in some cases, but handled very wel, circumstances considering (relocation of anchoring position due to changing winds in Heamaey). Travelled to Harwich by ferry, arriving just before Ryndam did, a small hop-over. Noro precautions were vigorous, also during the embarkation process, but this did not delay to process in a way it was inconvenient. Excellent entertainment, especially by the talented singers and dancers of the Ryndam. The service was friendly and good, no complaints there. During the first 2 days we had some plumbing issues, but they were dealt with efficiently and accompanied by apologies for the inconvenience. We were upgraded from our partial ocean view, to an unobstructed view, slightly before embarkation, a nice cabin on deck 5, no complaints there. Dining, staff and food in the MDR (early, fixed seating) was excellent, wide varied choice. Excellent line up of beautiful ports, where we did a mix of HAL and private excursions. Lerwick, a tender port, was a bit of grey and rainy, but in all a nice little town. Torshavn, here we did a nice HAL excursion to the Vestmanna Seacliffs, weather was reasonable friendly, beautiful surroundings and lots of birds. Eskifjordur was a bit of a rainy port unfortunately, but still managed to have a reasonable excursion to see the history of WWII in Iceland. Heimaey island gave us beautiful weather on a very nice island. Here we did a great tour to the Westmann islands, home to large colonies of Puffins, which we spotted a couple of. Reykjavik, Isafjordur and Akureyri we did private tours, to the highlighted waterfalls, geysirs and nature baths, travelling through beautiful rough volcanic scenery that Iceland is famous for. A great country, with proud and well informed guides throughout. After Iceland, we made our way to Norway, where Alesund, Bergen and Eidfjord were our last ports. Some mixed weather, Bergen is not for a reason one of the wettest places there is, but our final port was a sunny and warm Eidfjord. In all a great cruise, fantastic crew and sorry to see the Ryndam go to P&O Australia, they will get a beautiful ship.! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
My family, including two sons aged 19 and 13 had a wonderful time visiting Norway, The Faroe Islands and Iceland. The scenery was amazing. We stopped off at Bergen first walking around the port visiting the fish market . We walked up to ... Read More
My family, including two sons aged 19 and 13 had a wonderful time visiting Norway, The Faroe Islands and Iceland. The scenery was amazing. We stopped off at Bergen first walking around the port visiting the fish market . We walked up to the Floyen Restaurant through residential area, parks and woodlands. Stopping to enjoy the views below of the Fjord and the port. It was quite a strenuous walk and not advisable to anyone who is not used to climbing up hills. At the top we enjoyed the stunning views and caught the Funicular back down to the town. Our second stop was Alesund a delightful port. We discovered the old wooden town houses and tasted the local bakes from the bakery. Finishing with a ride on an open top bus around the area. Our third, and favourite, was Gerainger, most spectacular scenery of all. We rambled along the trail of a waterfull, again quite a strenuous walk but very well worth the effort. Very quaint buildings, with grass covered roofs. We hired a Renault electric "Twizy" car with Satnav for a very enjoyable drive around the local roads visiting a farmhouse and beautiful scenic church overlooking the Fjord. We finished our trip with an exhilarating Rib ride on the Fjord for a closer look at the waterfalls. The food and entertainment on Board the Brilliance was excellent. When on board we hardly saw our boys as they had made friends and spent most evenings enjoying the activities and entertainment with the relevant groups. The Faroe Islands were very interesting, we visited the church and was lucky to be involved in a discussion with a local regarding the lifestyle and the whales within the area, which they do not hunt. Iceland, another fascinating country. We arranged an independent tour of the Island visiting the coast, hot springs and bubbling mud pools. Anyone visiting Iceland must go to the Blue Lagoon. Very helpful and friendly staff. So relaxing in beautiful warm waters sipping a prosecco. I was not overly impressed with the RC Brilliance of the Seas. In fact, I was extremely annoyed at having an extra 20% added on to all my bills for drinks as a gratuity with a further space on the bill for an optional gratuity. I queried this charge (as its not displayed on any of the drinks or fridge menus) when I was charged an extra 20% for a bottle of water in the mini bar in our room. Bearing in mind I had already paid over £350 up front for gratuities. When I questioned this I was advised that this additional 20% fee was for bar and waiting staff!! The gratuity I had already paid was for housekeeping staff! It is my opinion that this is not a gratuity but a service charge and should be shown as so. A gratuity is a gift!! I questioned why it was not advised anywhere on the menus etc and was informed it was printed on their website. In my opinion this is unethical, I questioned the fact that we were sailing in European waters and not American and they may have that system in America for paying staff but it was not acceptable in Europe. After a lengthy discussion I was eventually offered a refund which amounted to USD 108.00 in the extra gratuities that I had been charged. Again, In my personal opinion, I don't think this tipping system should be enforced it should be optional and paid for good service and not to supplement staff wages! Hence some of the attitude of some of the staff!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
This was our 8th cruise (6 with RCI, 2 with Celebrity) and 2nd time on the Brilliance. The embarkation at Harwich was easy and quick and our luggage was waiting for us outside our cabins straight after lunch. We had a fair idea what to ... Read More
This was our 8th cruise (6 with RCI, 2 with Celebrity) and 2nd time on the Brilliance. The embarkation at Harwich was easy and quick and our luggage was waiting for us outside our cabins straight after lunch. We had a fair idea what to expect service and food wise and we weren't disappointed Except the only negative being with the breakfast in the Windjammer. We were on my time dining and had no problem getting a table with our favourite waiters Dino and Miroslav as long as we went down around 7.15. We ate lunch mostly in the main dining room and the quality and choice was fine. Thankfully we had the inclusive drinks package as the drinks are unbelievably expensive but unfortunately it didn't include premium coffee!! The ports of call were great. Particularly loved Copenhagen and Stockholm. We didn't do any ships tours but used SPB in Copenhagen and St Petersburg (both excellent) and the rest, except Skagen, we used the Hop on Hop off buses ( you get a discount if you keep your tickets and use the same bus on the next stop). The onboard entertainment isn't really to my taste but did like a group called Zoot. In Skagen we hired bikes straight in front of the ship for $10 each and because it is such a small place it is an ideal and easy way to get around. Also I forgot to mention that most of the stops accepted Euros or dollars so we hadn't needed all the different currencies we had taken. All in all we had a great, but very tiring holiday but do think that maybe it's time to try another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
After several years bringing up young children, working busy jobs, generally getting older, more tired and fatter, this was a much anticipated 1st real holiday for us and the children. We got our first taste of cruising on Serenade of ... Read More
After several years bringing up young children, working busy jobs, generally getting older, more tired and fatter, this was a much anticipated 1st real holiday for us and the children. We got our first taste of cruising on Serenade of the Seas in Alaska in 2005 and loved the experience of seeing some pretty inhospitable but interesting places from the comfort of a floating hotel. The Baltic Cruise seemed like a fantastic option for us- leaving from Harwich, visiting countries that possess intrigue and rich history without a searing hot sun to exhaust us and render our fair complexions charred. We also felt, correctly as it turned out, that this sort of destination might 'self-select' the other travellers better than a sun and booze seeking crowd usually attracted to the Mediterranean at this time of year. It was great being on board with so many nationalities- the Hispanics brought some much needed colour, the Americans the usual positivity and energy, a spattering of Germans, Dutch and French to balance and our fellow Brits to generally complain about everything and feel hard done by. Check in was seamless and whilst hectic and busy, from pulling into the car park to sinking our first beer it took less than 1 hour. Had this been Heathrow, I'd have probably only have got to the stage of re-packing my hand luggage and retrieving my children from lost property within a similar timeframe, assuming, of course, that the M25 had got me there at all. The ship, to the uninitiated is well laid out, easy to get around and provides ample space for the number of people on board. The bars are great- spacious, comfortable, good range of drinks available and regular entertainment. The cabins are cleverly designed and smart. There are signs of wear, as other people have commented. I'd be very interested to see how their houses fare with 2000 guests traipsing through every 2 weeks as overall our stateroom felt appropriate for the price paid and any bumps and scrapes were minimum at best. I was particularly impressed by how quiet the rooms are. I didn't even realise we had a next door neighbour until the last night. The service was, at all times amazing. I spent a few minutes watching the waiting staff during dinner one evening- they do not stop working and smiling whilst they do it. I can barely cope with 2 hours at my work without wanting to cause bodily harm to someone with a biro so how they achieve such standards of positivity is worthy of close scientific study. On at least 2 or three occasions I heard other guest whinging about waiting for a table, or food not quite being right. Feeding 2000 demanding people in a confined, constantly moving, hot, uncomfortable space every night for months on end is a task of epic proportions and the RCI staff are real pros. It was really apparent to me that you get out of a cruise what you put into it, the families who took the time to engage with their waiters / cabin staff / bar staff, work with them and learn a bit about them get so much more out of the experience. We found Rama and Simon to be excellent, consistently. Rana brought us the wrong food twice. He also brought us extra food because he knew we liked certain dishes, made the kids special deserts, ensured we got tables we liked and helped us get the best out of the menus. Was the food perfect? No, but compared to an all you can eat cattle trough at a '4 star' hotel in Palma Nova, it was excellent each and every night. The entertainment was generally very impressive. OK, Donimo the mime / slapstick / clown act wouldn't be on my top 5 list, but the Argentinian Tango night was surprisingly good, String Fever excellent, Siobhan Phillips hilarious and Pete Matthews had the entire room in stitches. The acts were diverse, polished and a welcome end to a day's touring or sitting around drinking beer and taking in the views. Certainly a positive experience for all of the family on this cruise. The kids clubs seemed to be well run and fun- both of our children (4 and 6) can be shy yet came bounding out with stories of fun games they'd played or proudly showing off things they had made. Other activities were good time-wasters. The crazy golf provided plenty of fun, the basketball court was both a social hub and good source of exercise, climbing wall challenging and well run and plenty of music, quizzes, competitions and classes throughout the ship all the time. People seemed to be complaining about on-board 'hidden extra's. There is a simple solution to this. Don't: Eat in the speciality dining restaurants Drink lots of cocktails Go to the Spa Buy art / amber / inches of gold Use RCI to book excursions Have your picture taken We found this pretty easy. We had a picture taken on the formal night and the £40 we spent on the pictures was worth it compared to hiring a professional photographer at home. The excursions were really enjoyable but you need plenty of stamina to do 5 consecutive days. St. Petersburg is a big, beautiful, crazy and overwhelming place and will take it out of even the most hardy of guests. Copenhagen was fabulous, Tallinn quaint, interesting and attractive, Helsinki a surprising and interesting stop and Stockholm warrants a further trip. It would be beneficial if geography allows to amend the itinerary to give a sea day between Helsinki and Stockholm. It is a fantastic, beautiful city and we struggled to take it all in with grumpy, tired children. Still, the tours with SPB were well worth the money- George in Helsinki particularly deserves a mention for his wit, engaging story telling and ability to bring Finland to life for us. Skagen was OK- too small to comfortably cope with a cruise ship in port on a wet day but the shopping is good and the food was excellent. In summary, I would recommend this cruise to anyone who demands a bit more from the actual destinations of their holidays. This is not a good trip for sun worshippers or purveyors of reality TV and gossip magazines. St. Petersburg, in particular requires a bit more historical and cultural awareness than your average Spanish Coastal town- it helps to read up on Russian History (1700 to 1960). Think carefully before taking younger children or sulky teens. Ours loved the shorter more active excursions but struggled with the size of the Hermitage / walking in Stockholm. You can't expect good weather in the Baltics also, so expect a congested solarium and Spanish families filling the hot whirlpools (I'd recommend getting in with them. They can be hilarious). Get up a bit early for breakfast to get a decent seat and try to get dinner in between 6pm and 7.45pm or after 9.30pm to avoid a bit of sitting around. On the whole, this is an informal, fun cruise company who seen to get the basics right for the most part. It's not a 5 star, high-end experience and they do want to empty your wallets, but if you go into it with the right attitude you will love it. We will certainly be booking again with RCI and will seriously consider a return to the Baltics. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
I have a number of issues I want to share with everyone, I have left it late as I complained directly to Holland America as soon as I got back, to this date no one has answered me regarding my concerns. The service actually got worse as ... Read More
I have a number of issues I want to share with everyone, I have left it late as I complained directly to Holland America as soon as I got back, to this date no one has answered me regarding my concerns. The service actually got worse as the week went on, but started off ok. I shall start with the food. I found the food to be poor at best in the main dining room. One evening we had the choice of the Roast beef. Out of 8, 6 had the beef, 6 left the beef. Not once did anyone ask us what was wrong & why we did not eat the food. Who ever choose what went with the beef I question, why would you supply a grilled tomato with roast beef & gravy? If you don't like the food in the main restaurant, forget trying to get anything from the self service, that closes early & you have to wait 10.30pm before it reopens & offers poor pizza, and other rather tasteless items. The entertainment, well it was shocking at best! The main band could not play basic tunes that most wedding bands (yes I play in one) perform week after week. The singer could not sing in tune, the band were playing the wrong chords! They were probably the worst ships band I have ever seen. I even took recordings to play to real professional musicians, they found it highly amusing that these were no better than a UK pub band. In fact, I have seen & heard better. The main shows in the theatre were drab, although we had an excellent magician one night. The ships cast again struggled to sing the correct chords to the song, not good when the backing track, yes backing track, played the correct chords. Now my hearing at 46 is not how it used to be, but far better than theirs clearly. Don't expect any entertainment to be put on if you are not able to get ashore, they provided none when we had a howler of a day with the weather, but they will try to keep selling you things instead. We had an outbreak of novo virus on board, my wife is an insulin dependant diabetic, we had heard rumours that there was an outbreak, but it was finally announced 24hrs later. That didn't stop guests who had it still going out on deck. The staff did not stop them! Back to my wife.....the virus can affect her sugar levels, which is dangerous to her, so she went and asked at reception about the virus. She wanted to know if the outbreak gets worse, could she be informed, if nothing else than for us to stay in our cabin so she would not catch it. They advised her that she would be told along with everyone else, which she responded that could be too late. The following day we had over 24hrs sail back home, so to get ill in the middle of the North Sea is not ideal. The final insult was from a member of staff who mentioned on many occasions that she wished she were somewhere else as Norway is cold. Well sorry, I didn't go for the weather, I went for the spectacular scenery. If I heard her say 'if you seen one Fjord, you seen them all' again, I would go nuts. Sorry if you have to work where I want to go & see, sorry if they don't have the beaches of the Caribbean.....I don't care, I don't like wasting my life sitting on a beach. Im paying to come here, you are being paid, tough! One last thing, never book excursions onboard, they are a rip off....as I felt was being on that ship! Holland America, you should hold your head in shame, just because you have sold this ship, does not mean that I do not deserve the holiday I am paying you for. I feel cheated & know after sailing with other cruise's, that they don't offer value for money. I will not pay to sail with these ever again, especially as they couldn't even be bothered to respond to me....SHOCKING! Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
INTRODUCTION We are a couple in our 40's and this was our tenth cruise. We have cruised on Celebrity, Disney, NCL and Carnival before and this was our second time with RCCL. Our previous cruise a couple of years ago was great and ... Read More
INTRODUCTION We are a couple in our 40's and this was our tenth cruise. We have cruised on Celebrity, Disney, NCL and Carnival before and this was our second time with RCCL. Our previous cruise a couple of years ago was great and we were very satisfied. This is the reason we choose RCCL again this year. Unfortunately this time we could see that RCCL has cut some corners to save money and it shows. But we still had a good experience so I would still recommend RCCL but read this review to know what to expect. We choose this cruise mostly based on the itinerary that was offered. This cruise was a 12 night cruise with 4 days at sea. The cruise left and return to Harwich (UK) and ports included Copenhagen (Denmark), Tallin (Estonia), St.Petersburg (Russia), Helsinki (Finland), Stockholm (Sweden) and Skagen (Denmark). Initially this cruise was sold with Visby (Sweden) as the last port, but it was later replaced by Skagen which is too bad because Skagen is not an interesting destination at all. THE GOOD: This is a nice ship that is well designed so you are able to find your way around in no time. It is spacious and it never feels crowded in the public areas. The "Centrum" area is an open space in the middle of the ship that goes from deck 4 to deck 11 and it is great because when there is a show or a performance on deck 4 you can gather around this place on almost every deck and enjoy the music and the view. The stateroom is nice and very functional so it feels bigger than similar staterooms on other ships. In fact, this stateroom is bigger than many other "family-room" we book with other cruise company. They made really good use of the space. Everything was very clean and the service was meeting our expectations. The evening shows were good and we enjoyed them. There was a good mix of singing, dancing, comedy, tribute, etc… The only exception that I could think of was the magician which was really lame. The ports of call were the main reason we choose that cruise and they were all great to the exception of Skagen. We never expected any delay to get off the ship in the morning. In fact, sometime we were even able to get off the ship earlier than the time printed on the daily journal. We never had to tender either which is good. The ports were all very interesting but my advice would be to book your excursions off-ship because they are a lot cheaper for the same experience. The pool area was a nice place to relax. We never had any problem to find a chair on this ship. The staff seemed to apply the "no hog chair" policy and most of the passenger did not reserve a chair if they were not there. There is good soft ice cream in the Windjammer restaurant, and you can always find some good refreshment in the "Park Café". They frequently have "Strawberry" and "Mango" no-sugar added water which is very refreshing, one of the best options when you are thirsty. In the morning there is an omelette bar which offers the best choice. About the main dining room (Reflections), we were a group of 15 so we had two big tables. The service was very good at one of the table, but average at the other table. At the good table, after the first night the waiter would bring us our usual drinks as soon as we sat. He was very attentive and always had a great smile to offer. However at the other table the service was slow and we never saw a smile on our waiter's face. And the assistant waiter was borderline rude. I also noticed that they are not too strict on casual nights and you won't have any problem getting in wearing something nice and clean, even if it is not long pants. The sports area is great. You have a nice climbing wall, a very well maintained miniature golf and a "basketball/volleyball" court that are fun to use. There is also a running track if you are in the mood. Registration, embarquation and disembarquation went smoothly and rapidly. THE BAD: The food was really disappointing. The food in the Windjammer buffet at lunch and dinner did not offer much variety and the taste was just average. It was not bad, but it was not very good either. Most of the time there is a "burger/hot dog/pizza" counter but the patties are bring all at the same time in a big plate and they could stay there for a while so they are never really hot, just lukewarm most of the time. About dinner in the main dining room things were not much better. Most of the time the steak was overcook (even when ordered rare) and it was not tender at all. We got a good steak about 2 nights out of 12. The bread was really good and the presentation of the main course was good, but it definitely lacked flavour. A lot of people were talking about the quality of the food and were surprised that it was not better than that. The deserts were ordinary at the exception of the "chocolate sensation" cake that was the best choice most of the nights. Breakfast was a little better in the main dining room if you know the secret!!! The first time I went I was about to leave after reading the menu because everything on it was the same things we could get at the Windjammer. But before leaving I spoke with the head server and told him I was very deceived because there were no "eggs Benedictine" and no smoked salmon on the menu. He then told me that those items were still available, but they just don't put those on the menu and they do not mentioned those either unless you ask for those specifically! Those are the best items you can get for breakfast and RCCL do not advertise them, this is one of place where RCCL decided to cut so now you know! On our previous cruise the Park Café was a nice option. They had smoked salmon and bagels available for breakfast, and in the afternoon they had individual bags of chips. But all that is gone now. They have burrito and egg muffin in the morning but no more smoked salmon and bagels. We could not get any chips either at the beginning of the cruise. However, the chips just appeared around day 6 and they were available up to day 9 then they disappeared. RCCL cut their expenses but I hope they do not expect that we won't notice. Another irritating thing is the short hours you can get ice cream. Ice cream is not so expensive, so if I want an ice cream cone at 10h00AM or after 9h00PM, why can't I get some? I do not understand why they do not put the soft ice cream machine in an area accessible around the clock like they do on other cruise line. If you are looking for a snack after 11h00PM, good luck. You can always use room service but there is an extra charge at night. As for the Cinema, there was limited choice and most movies were at least two years old. About the evening shows, there is not much choice if you are not interested by the main show in the theater. It would be great if they could book a couple of comedian to provide stand-up shows in one of the many location available at night. THE WORST: When we got to the main restaurant the first night we were surprised they assigned us 2 tables of 10 since we specifically asked for 2 tables of 8 when we booked (we were a group of 15). But even worst, they completed the 2 tables by assigning 2 other passengers to each tables. We all speak French except the 2 other passengers at each tables. It was very awkward for us and for them too so we asked if our group could be move to 2 tables of 8. The women in charge spoke French so she told us that she would see what she could do, and then she just turned around and told the other passenger (in English) that she was sorry for the fact they were assigned at a table of a French speaking group but that was because we (the group) never told the cruise line that we were a group and we never requested anything special for our group. I don't know if she thought that we could not understand her, but I made sure to let her know that we did specifically requested 2 tables of 8 when we booked the cruise, and again a couple of weeks before the cruise when we wrote to the cruise line to specifically confirm this. The problem was not us not mentioning or requesting anything, the problem was with the RCCL system (or lack of) that did not followed up our request to the cruise ship responsibles. They finally were able to reassign everyone to more appropriate tables, but the attitude of the woman in charge was rude and not very professional. We bought the "unlimited soda" package and if you plan to do that, be aware that the choice is very very limited. You can have coke, diet-coke, sprite and that's about it, and all of those are fountain soda. There was a couple of bar that had sprite-zero in cans, but most of the time we tried to order it we were answered that they did not have anymore sprite-zero. The fountain soda was on and off, it was flat about 3 times out of 10. The soda package is definitely not worth it. You will be better to drink the orange/apple juice or the no-sugar added strawberry/mango water in Park Café and buy your soft drink individually when you really crave it. At least you would be able to ask for the good stuff (cans). The last thing that is really annoying is the smokers on board. Why do they accommodate so much the smoking crowd? There is a complete side of the outside decks that is reserved for smokers and this is a real annoyance. The number of smoker on that cruise was lower than I noticed on other cruise (I guess this had something to do with the "age factor" of the passenger) but even then, it does not take many smoker to stink up a place. Just walking on the smoking side of the deck to go from one place to another was bothering enough to avoid it at all price. Conclusion: If you choose this cruise for the ports of call you will be very satisfy. You just have to know that you won't be served the best of food, but you won't be starving either! I would definitely consider booking another RCCL cruise if they offer an interesting itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
This was cruise number 10, all with Royal. Check in in Harwich was very easy, parking so close to the terminal and the curtesy bus was waiting for us. When we got to the terminal there was no demand for a tip either. If going by train, ... Read More
This was cruise number 10, all with Royal. Check in in Harwich was very easy, parking so close to the terminal and the curtesy bus was waiting for us. When we got to the terminal there was no demand for a tip either. If going by train, the train station is next to the hanger wher you check in, no taxi's needed like Southampton. Although this was the smallest ship, sorry cruise liner, we had been on, it was perfect. First nights dinner we met our table guests, a lovey bunch who always returned, the wait staff were entertaining and remained professional. Food choice was very good, only issue was choosing what not to eat and decline two starters or two main courses. There was a mix up on a birthday cake ordered, but this got rectified with the charged being refunded and a complimentary galley tour thrown in. Concierge and Diamond Lounge were well placed for the scenic views, both people managing these lounges were just briliant, using our names from day one. Taking of using our names, we unfortunately independently lost our sea pass cards. When we went to customer relations, the lady used our names? Out of some 2500 guests, that made us feel special. The suite was maintained to a high standard, bed was comfortable and the large balcony gave us great views. The attendant was jolly and gave us tips on the ports too. We did no ships excursions as they were all more, much more, expensive than doing it privately, example being The RCCL cost for a hop On Hop Off bus $29 at our first port, Copenhagen, yet the Getting the ticket direct from the company outside the ship cost €14. We did a segway tour, 2 hours of fun with head sets to listen to the tour guide. In Tallinn we just walked about, pretty city. In St Petersburg we used ALLA Tours for a 2 day excursion, this was only $300, yet a simliar deal from RCCL would have been £300, we saved over £100 and we got lunch too. The ALLA guide was incredible, her use of English was outstanding and the knowledge of everything she told us was in scripted, all from her head, worth returning as although we saw loads, we could have spent a day in just one Palace. Helsinki, we did not pay the $12 to RCCL, the town was close enough to walk into. Just di walking around. RCCL tried to charge $39 for a Hop On Hop Off bus in Stockholm, privately it was less than half price. Again just walking around and shopping. Last port, Skagen. Easy walk into town, there was a music festival on which added to the amusement. We walked to the north of the town to wade in the sea like everyone else, did shopping before our return. I captained the winning team in The Quest, exciting and with a fantastic group of people. The flyers for the spa treatments were misleading. Pamper yourself for only $149, then in small print it states that 18% is added for my convenience. My convenience? We did not go to any shows, they were at 7pm for our 8:30pm dining, so we could not enjoy the lounges and relax our way through the evening. In all a wonderful holiday, so much to see and do, a well packed in itinerary, shame it is not going from Harwich next year. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
I wanted to write a review to help others as I found this forum and website VERY informative when researching my first cruise. So to begin with, thank you! Hopefully I can give further information to new cruisers. :) We chose the ... Read More
I wanted to write a review to help others as I found this forum and website VERY informative when researching my first cruise. So to begin with, thank you! Hopefully I can give further information to new cruisers. :) We chose the Brilliance not for the ship, but for the ports of call and the timing was just right with the school holidays in Australia. As newbies, we didn't know what to expect and were guided somewhat by my travel agent. We travelled as a young family, myself 43, DH, 45 and two children, 13 and 9 years of age. It had always been a dream of mine to visit St Petersburg and see some of Scandinavia so we thought the easiest way to do this would be by cruising. To start, we flew into London and stayed there for two nights as we had jetlag to contend with. We caught a train from London Liverpool St station, to Harwich International with the quick, scrambling change at Manningtree. After our cruise, we had booked another fortnight in Europe so we had some rather big piece of luggage with us. Mistake number one! Anyway, we got to Harwich easily and the train to Harwich waited for us all at Manningtree (we thought we might miss the connection, so no problems there). Check in at Harwich was very easy and straightforward, and we looked a bit lost and confused and there was someone to greet us and point us in the right direction. Check in was reasonably quick, even with the queues, so that was great. We boarded the ship and we were advised to go and book in a time for our dinner (we had pre-paid gratuities so were automatically "My Time Dining".) So we went to the dining room where we were greeted by a slightly assertive man (the maître d'?) and were told that we would have to book in at 7.30 as they were VERY busy. I was a tad confused as I thought the point of "My Time dining" was that I could choose?? It didn't seem the case, but as we were total newbies we just meekly said "OK" and made our way to the Windjammer buffet, which was already heaving with people but we managed to find four seats at the back. We then went for a wander around the ship to see what was where, and then looked for our "stateroom". (cabin, but whatever!) We were surprised upon opening the door that it looked quite nice, and didn't look quite as small as I had thought. It had a little sofa and coffee table, so we felt comfortable in there...to begin with! We were on deck 3, so it was a midship oceanview. As new cruisers, I was worried about seasickness so was advised that this area was the best in case we hit rough waters. Anyway, the room seemed nice and our cabin attendant popped her head in and introduced herself to me and asked if we were new to cruising. I answered yes, and she explained some minor detail about the "do not disturb" cards that you can slot into the door. She then noticed there were four of us, so then came back later and set up the bunk beds which came down from the roof. So the bedding was arranged as one queen bed, then two Pullman bunks above the queen, on either side of the cabin with the ladders situated at the base of the queen. Getting a bit snug, by that point.....our luggage hadn't arrived yet so we went out to continue exploring our "home" for the next 12 nights. We departed right on schedule at 5pm and were thrilled to be sent off by the sound of bagpipes on the shore! However the "sail away party" was a total fizzer and no-one was interested and very few people showed up. It was cold (for summer) and grey and started getting breezy, so that may have had something to do with it. Or maybe it was that most people were not really there to party, but to visit St Petersburg...I'll never know. We discovered "adventure Ocean" for our 9 year old and filled in some details for her, and tried to check out the teen area, but it didn't seem that there was anyone there! So by that time, we headed off to dinner. We didn't wait long and were seated quickly. We hadn't purchased nay drinks packages so we just ordered wine and drinks off the menu but were presented with iced water as well. My 9 yo was handed a children's menu, so we ordered from that for her. The food was fine but I cannot remember what I ate, so it was unmemorable. The service from Rahul was very friendly and he seemed to take to my 13 yo, offering him extra bread and desserts with a smile. I left early with the 9yo, as we were still so jetlagged we just had to get to bed. Getting back to our cabin, it seemed to have shrunk, with our 4 large suitcases having arrived, and with a few backpacks, cameras, videos etc...... We were really only on the cruise to travel around, so we were not interested in getting dressed up for dinner, or shows, or souvenir photos or art auctions and shopping. As we were travelling from far away, we did not bother with any formal wear at all. Our first full day was at sea, and we enjoyed kicking back and doing more exploring of the ship. We went to a talk about the ports on the first day, which was quite informative and recommended if you're cruising for the ports of call. But after that, there wasn't much else to do as it was very cold and windy, no-one was in the pools or on the decks, so it seemed a bit cramped in any indoors areas. The 9yo was in Adventure Ocean all day (it's open all day in port, but closes for an hour or so between each session on sea days). The 13 yo felt intimidated by the teen club, as there were a lot of teens that seemed to know each other and it didn't look like there was someone there to facilitate, so he never attended. All seas days for us were the same. Dropping off the 9yo at Adventure Ocean, and the rest of us just wandered aimlessly, looking for something to do. I enjoyed the trio in the atrium playing classical music, but seating was very limited. We always looked at the boards to see what was happening and where, but there was very little that interested us or that didn't cost extra $$$. So, sea days were tedious on one hand, but a welcome break from very intensive port days, too! By the second day we realised we actually preferred to eat in the Windjammer, as I enjoyed the views and the selection was quite good. I also prefer to not have to sit and wait as I get restless easily! The food was as good as buffet food can be...it sits there stewing in its own juices, so you can't expect too much but it was OK. Initially I was very worried about hygiene at buffets, but there were hand sanitisers and a person at the door making sure you sanitised your hands. It didn't help once you were in the queue and eating with your hands from the plate, but hey, it's a start. The food was replenished often, and we didn't have problems finding seating as long as we went early or late. (we were still jetlagged, so were early birds!) The second evening was a formal night, and we wandered around looking at everyone dressed in their finest and having a bit of a giggle at how seriously some people were taking it. We wandered around in our jeans and hoodies, but we were still offered a glass of bubbly by a circulating waiter, who must have taken pity on us silly newbies! We were very excited to arrive in Copenhagen, and thanks to the talk the previous day, learnt that it was a reasonably easy walk into the city so we skipped the hop on hop off and shuttle buses. (also, we were on a bit of a budget) Armed with a map from the ship, we made our way past the Little Mermaid, walked to Amelienborg, past Nyhavn and into the city centre. The walk back, however, got a bit tiring after walking all day, but we made it back OK. (just!) Another sea day after Copenhagen, bored but at least it was a bit warmer and not as windy, so we could spread out a bit in the open areas. DH and 13 yo attended the Captain's talk, which they found interesting and informative. Tallinn was another easy walk into the old city, which was lovely and the sun started shining and got a little warmer. Then, the jewel, St Petersburg. Most people had come to go to St Petersburg. You need to have a booked tour and a tour ticket with your passport to go through immigration. We were warned on the ship that the immigration officers could be stern, and they certainly were not wrong! It was a bit of a debacle getting off the ship, because most tours stated to meet off the ship at 7, and we weer still on the ship at 7am. Some people got upset and started arguing and pushing and shoving, which was not necessary. They were upset to see that those that had booked shore excursions from Royal Caribbean got priority getting off over the rest of us, so there was a fair bit of yelling which was ugly. A word of advice, SPB tours was great and very reasonably priced. It was easy to find them once we got through immigration and we had a fabulous two day tour. And yes, they wait for you even though it states to meet at 7am. They know we won't get through before 7.30.... There was a Russian folklore group in the theatre that night, but we were way too tired from our jam packed day to take advantage! One disappointment. The second day in St Petersburg, we still had to go through immigration but it was a lot quicker, and the officer actually gave my daughter a small wink and smile, which was a HUGE difference to the previous day! So, on to Helsinki the next day. This was the only port where we had booked a shore excursion through the cruise ship. It was very expensive, but I didn't want to regret it so I pressed ahead and booked. To make a comparison, it cost $250 for 4 hours in Helsinki with Royal shore excursions, and $250 for 2 full days with SPB tours in St Petersburg with all entry fees included. Go and do the maths! Anyway, we went to a national park for a bit of an easy walk through the forest, and at the end of it we could feed the reindeer and were given a cinnamon bun and coffee in a typical Lappish hut. It was fun and nice to see a bit of nature after several days of cities, culture, palaces and art, but it was very expensive for what you get, so not sure if it was worth it. The bus took us back into the city and we were given shuttle bus tickets as we took one of the ship's excursions. The Kauppatori market was lovely and had some great lunch options and fresh berries. Next stop, Stockholm. By this point we were very tired not having had any breaks, so we hoped to get a shuttle bus into Stockholm as the ship docked a bit too far from the city centre. But alas, we were told there were no shuttle buses! We had to get on a Hop On Hop off and we had to buy tickets in advance. So we rested up, put on our best walking shoes and walked in to the city. Again, it was fine walking into the city, but walking around all day and back was a chore. It was the most we had walked in any port so far, so I recommend trying to get a bus or taxi or Hop on Hop off if possible. Cruising out of Stockholm in the sunset was breathtakingly beautiful and it will stay with me forever... Finally, a sea day that I was actually grateful for as my feet were very sore and were begging for mercy! Another Captain's talk and some lazing around. Last port, sob, and we were back in Denmark. We were informed that there was a music festival in town, which sounded good, but when we got there you needed to buy day tickets, so it wasn't for us. Skagen is a beautiful small town and it seemed a holiday area for Danes. We enjoyed just walking around, poking into shops here and there and generally soaking up the atmosphere with the buskers all around and a lot of people there for the festival. Then another final day at sea, and this is when things got a bit uncomfortable. Even though we had pre-paid gratuities, we were being encouraged to give even more in cash. As Australians, we are not used to tipping, so found this odd and it made us feel uncomfortable. We were also being asked about disembarkation and we had no idea, we just thought we'd walk off ourselves with our luggage, which was an option. But then we were told, after choosing this option, that we had to leave by 6am! But then someone else told us we could leave when we liked, as long as it was by 9am. So it was a bit of a confusing day for us. We felt pressured to tip extra, so we gave some extra $$ to our room attendant, who really didn't go out of her way, just did the usual cleaning. I noted that some signs stated to contact my room attendant if I needed anything, but I had no idea how to! Was she supposed to have left me her contact details? I never really needed anything, so it wasn't an issue, but I felt that she diddled us by not leaving her details. She also did not leave us newsletters on the kids programs a few times, so I guess she could have been better, but I felt sorry that she had to attend to our cabin used by 4 people, and dodging wet washing hanging from the ladder rungs and everywhere I could hang things! So she did an OK job, I guess. We did attend a few shows, they were OK but nothing spectacular. I also attended an enrichment talk. The first one literally put me to sleep (the rocking of the ship??) , but the second one was better. In all, we really enjoyed our first cruise, the Baltic was often as smooth as glass, we were very fortunate to have had good weather throughout the entire cruise. No seasickness! We had dinner in the MDR only about 4 times. My 13 yo thought it a treat and he felt quite posh as we rarely go to restaurants at home, but I preferred the Windjammer. My 9yo loved Adventure Ocean so much, that she refused to get off the ship in Stockholm and Skagen, so a very big THANK YOU to the youth staff who were fabulous! The ship was reasonably clean, I didn't have too much trouble with the cleanliness except for one spot in the Windjammer that looked like it had ice cream smeared on the glass and it never did get cleaned up.... The pool decks and chair were always washed down every morning and our room seemed clean. The service in the MDR was at times very slow, which is why I preferred the Windjammer, The menu in the MDR was the same as what was served in the Windjammer, we noticed, so no fear of missing out! Prices of drinks were very expensive, the cheapest glass of wine was $9 US, with gratuities on top of it. We didn't drink much! We bought the kids a soft drink/soda package. It was not advertised on the ship, so be careful, you don't have to buy the $20 package for the kids. They got a souvenir cup and a very limited choice of Coke, lemonade or soda water. Not really worth it but there was a minor tantrum on the second day and I acquiesced. We also got the 12 bottles of Evian delivered to our room, which they also charged gratuities for, which surprised me! But in all, we had such a great time, and it whet our appetites for another cruise, so it must have been OK! :) Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Harwich made an excellent departure port being not too far to drive from home. 25 minutes car park to cabin equals speedy embarkation, something RCI seem to excel at. This was our first time on a Radiance Class ship and we were impressed ... Read More
Harwich made an excellent departure port being not too far to drive from home. 25 minutes car park to cabin equals speedy embarkation, something RCI seem to excel at. This was our first time on a Radiance Class ship and we were impressed having a few weeks earlier been on Anthem of the Seas. The cabin an inside on deck 8 was spacious and kept clean by an excellent steward. We had selected My Time Dining and it worked well. Service was attentive and the food acceptable. The new style menu's give the impression that it is a 3 course meal but in fact if selected correctly it was a 4 course. Surprised they ran out of Rose wine half way through the cruise though. The entertainment compared favourably with other cruise lines and a couple of the shows were excellent. Never had a problem getting a seat unless arriving just as the show started. It was a surprise to find that smoking was allowed in the casino bearing in mind the alleged effects from passive smoking. Giovanni's and Chops Grill were a delight. For the extra charged it was worth it. The ports of call were excellent with lots to see in all of them. The sail out from Stockholm was in my opinion only second to Venice. The sun was shining as we twisted and turned through the islands and made for a memorable experience. Skagen was a complete surprise and an area that I would like to return to for a longer stay. St Petersburg was the jewel in the crown. So much to see and such beauty as it would be difficult to find anything near it anywhere else in the world. The staff at guest relations like the others on the ship were excellent. All in all a good cruise experience representing excellent value for money. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was our third cruise on the radiance class. We have previously sailed on the radiance and the jewel of the seas. I had read here on cc that the brilliance had recently undergone a refurbishing. What i found was storeroom tables that ... Read More
This was our third cruise on the radiance class. We have previously sailed on the radiance and the jewel of the seas. I had read here on cc that the brilliance had recently undergone a refurbishing. What i found was storeroom tables that looked like they had been brought over from other ships, outdated lavatory, missing guardrail in the solarium. So much for refurbish.. The staff at guest services were condescending to many of the asian and latino passengers. The dining room staff were outstanding as were the staff in the shops. (Luv you Pilar, Krista and Maria!!!) The destinations were awesome. The moscow excursion was worth every ruble. Overall, except for the above mentioned problems, it was a great experience. Rccl, you really need to upgrade your customer service team. Perhaps you should take lessons from the liberty, radiance as well as celebrity silhouette. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Our cruising experience is fairly limited and this was our first time with R.C. Our last cruise was with P and O and so we naturally drew comparisons between the two. We had an inside cabin, which we thought was quite spacious and no ... Read More
Our cruising experience is fairly limited and this was our first time with R.C. Our last cruise was with P and O and so we naturally drew comparisons between the two. We had an inside cabin, which we thought was quite spacious and no problem for the 12 nights. We chose the 'my time' dining option which was not particularly successful, in that we were asked to make a reservation, and then when we did still had to wait for a table. So it was neither reserved dining nor 'my time'. The food in the main restaurant was ok, but not as good as the P and O cruise. The windjammer food was ok, but we thought the options were a little limited. The 'premium' Chops grill was a waste of money for us as we thought the food no better than the main dining room. Overall the service in all the restaurants was very good. Great, helpful staff. The price of the drinks was a rip off! Can't see any justification for such high prices, other than making a large profit! We arranged our own excursions which turned out cheaper than the ship trips and we thought were equally good if not better than the reports we heard from other passengers. We thought the entertainment wasn't as polished as other cruises we've been on and a little more amateurish. So overall we prefered to the P and O experience , but still enjoyed the cruise and would use RC again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
I'd like to start with the positive. The hotel staff on board are really amazing: kind, discreet, and friendly. Also, the most excellent Captain Mark made some hard but much appreciated safety decisions regarding missing ports and ... Read More
I'd like to start with the positive. The hotel staff on board are really amazing: kind, discreet, and friendly. Also, the most excellent Captain Mark made some hard but much appreciated safety decisions regarding missing ports and changing port times when we encountered a bad storm. There was not a minute I didn't feel that I was in the hands of a capable, alert crew. The childcare staff (well, two out of three) were friendly, energetic, and flexible. One clearly wanted to go home, and, she rarely smiled. Now the negatives: First, I NEVER would have booked this cruise had I known that the ship has already been sold to P and O. There is obviously no investment whatsoever being put into the upkeep of the boat beyond getting her creaking afloat to the buyer in October. There was rust in many toilets and other areas. You just had to look into every corner. The toilet mysteriously overflowed during the night on three different occasions, none connected in anyway with our usage, nor with flushing. In general, to say the ship shows her age is an understatement. Purposeful segway to the guests now. . .we were told once onboard that the median age on that particular cruise was 68. At many times the public rooms resembled retirement homes. My husband joked that the lines for food at the breakfast buffet were like scenes from The Walking Dead! On three occasions, guests were literally screaming down the cabin hallways at each other, presumably due to hearing issues rather than rudeness! HAL is not for any below 70s demographic. I know we cruised out of school vacation times, but what about other couples and singles without children? They are conspicuously absent. We would have prefered a more mixed social group. Perhaps the key to that is also to choose a 7 day, rather than a longer cruise, one that working adults can more easily make time for. Some lessons learned! The food: The menus were a delight to read. But somehow, the dishes that appeared never quite lived up to the billing. Cunard this is not. However, the dining room staff were wonderfully hospitable. We stayed in the main dining room rather than using the specialty restaurants. First seating for dinner is a bad idea on HAL. It seems that any evening fun happens while the first diners eat. By 9:30 PM , most people had gone to bed. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
After cruising with Royal Caribbean, Cunard & P & O (never had any problems) some "acquaintances" persuaded us to give Fred Olsen a try. So we thought, a quick 7 day "Easter Getaway", across the North Sea & ... Read More
After cruising with Royal Caribbean, Cunard & P & O (never had any problems) some "acquaintances" persuaded us to give Fred Olsen a try. So we thought, a quick 7 day "Easter Getaway", across the North Sea & up a couple of rivers, what could go wrong ! A letter arrived just before departure stating; "Some F/O Braemar passengers have been affected by mild Gastric Flu, therefore there will be a delay in departing". I phoned their office and was told "some people had taken on-board viral gastric flu from grandchildren, but no one had been positive tested for noro-virus". Fred O Ipswich told us that no Car Park booking paperwork was required as APNR was in place at Harwich, I queried this, as we needed it when sailing from Harwich before and were told we were incorrect. We arrived at the car park - no ANPR was ever in place, this caused additional delay as well as embarkation due to fumigation. Finally on board, access to our cabin was prohibited as we had to carry our hand luggage & wear the lifejackets for the Evacuation Drill. Breakfast & lunch were taken from the cordoned off open buffet containers by serving, non fluent waiters. Food requested and quantities misunderstood. At all meals salt & pepper packets, butter, sugar etc. had to be repeatedly requested. The waiters were overwhelmed and often did not return with the requested items before the food, tea/coffee was cold. All this took a considerable time, with no additional time allowed for consumption. We were regularly rushed to leave the restaurants, closing at, say 9.30 a.m. didn't mean last orders - they wanted you out the door by then. No fresh milk whatsoever available through out the cruise. Inclusive draught mixers were always flat; bottles & tins were available at additional cost. Despite the heighted hygiene measures with all the disinfectant spray (causing rough & swollen hands) menus were handed from passenger to passenger, and with each drink order a signature was required - using the same, possibly infected pen (we used our own). Identical food (under another description) was served from buffet lunch to dinner. All guests were forced to sit very close together yet dozens of tables were empty (with less guests each time as the "Gastric Flu" clearly spread). When asked by us where their "partner" was, we were regularly told "they're got a cold or flu", one guest (with a straight face) said her husband got sunstroke (in cold, 5 degree Hamburg the previous day!). Maybe the Ships Doctor had told them not to admit to any possible Gastro Problems. Often when noticed a new red sticker over an open door, we could see the poor patient laying in bed, no bunk beds in there - the reason for a red sticker often used to denote additional beds.. There were large red bins marked "Gastro" parked in the corridors, the cabin On the only sunny afternoon, we could not sit in certain deck areas because of "cleansing protection, for our passengers wellbeing". The Captain updated the situation every day, blaming the passengers, but they were fine for the first couple of days. His final comment was always "Look after each other". We purchased hand wipes, for use each time we touched door handles etc. I saw no Male public toilets with urinals, consequently queues of men formed to use the single WC, toilet rolls rolled around the floor. After two days the Captain requested everybody to return to their cabin if they needed the toilet. When berthing the ship's bow thrustors shuddered & rattled so much that decorations fell over. The Captain often chose this time to make his announcements, and his comments were drowned out and any useful information lost. Two days in Amsterdam consisted of arriving very late afternoon (dinner at 6.15pm) and leaving next day at 3pm. After arriving at the Church in Hamburg on Easter Monday, access was not possible as it was restricted to the regular Worshippers. The entry to Hamburg miniature railway world was delayed because F/O did not purchase the entry tickets in advance or advise the tour operator the numbers. The cruise was so stressful & rushed, upon returning home we are paranoid and still won't touch anything & are constantly washing our hands. I went to put my hand on the bannister and quickly recoiled, before I realised I was home. In contrast, my only reasonable experience were the evening meals served in the Grampian Restaurant. All in all a complete waste of money and a wasted week of our lives. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
After a superb experience cruising the Mediterranean last year aboard the Celebrity Silhouette, we took our daughters on a cruise around the British Isles this summer on the Celebrity Infinity, hoping for a similar experience. Sadly, our ... Read More
After a superb experience cruising the Mediterranean last year aboard the Celebrity Silhouette, we took our daughters on a cruise around the British Isles this summer on the Celebrity Infinity, hoping for a similar experience. Sadly, our experience aboard the Infinity did not meet our expectations. The cruise embarked from the port of Harwich, approximately a 2-hour drive from London. We opted for the Celebrity transportation from Heathrow Airport to Harwich and we were immediately disappointed. The company providing the transportation did not make themselves easily visible, although we did locate them. We were told that our bus would be here in 60-90 minutes and we were encouraged to explore Heathrow for coffee and breakfast and told to return in an hour. Ten minutes later, after our grown daughters had gone for shopping and coffee, we were told to get on the bus. This necessitated a mad dash around the airport on my part trying to reassemble our family, made all the more unpleasant by the rudeness of the transportation company which had just precipitated the problem with their misinformation. Perhaps the most unpleasant aspect of the cruise was the inaccurate itinerary advertised by Celebrity. All of the online material, the printed itinerary, and the dining itinerary indicated that on Day 8 (Monday August 11, 2014) and Day 9 (Tuesday August 12, 2014), the ship would be ported at Greenock, Scotland near Glasgow and about 2 hours from Edinburgh. This was very misleading. The ship arrived in port at Greenock at 7 am on 8/11/14 and departed 19 hours later at 2 am on 8/12/14. Thus, Day 9 was a day spent at sea, not in the port of Greenock. Thus, we had one day to see both Glasgow and Edinburgh, not two. I checked with multiple other passengers who had also interpreted the published schedule to mean that we had 2 days in port near Glasgow, not one. No one on the ship could explain why the itinerary did not mention that 8/12/14 was a Sea Day. We had signed up to see The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo on the evening of 8/11/14, not realizing that taking this excursion through Celebrity precluded us from touring the city of Edinburgh, which was one of the principle goals of the trip. For some reason, Celebrity constructed the excursion to Edinburgh for the Military Tattoo in such a manner that one could not tour the city in the morning and afternoon and see the show in the evening, which I suspect most passengers would have preferred. The other ports of call on the trip were fine, the highlight being a non-Celebrity tour of Cork, Cobh, Kinsale and the Blarney Castle in Ireland by eCoach tours. The food on the Infinity was good, the crew was pleasant if somewhat unenthusiastic, and the entertainment was superb. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
The dining experience was fair. The servers in the dining rooms were great. They were very helpful about the next days ports and any other information we wanted to discuss. I would say the food wasnt the best - I expected better. There ... Read More
The dining experience was fair. The servers in the dining rooms were great. They were very helpful about the next days ports and any other information we wanted to discuss. I would say the food wasnt the best - I expected better. There certainly was a lot of food but the quality wasnt very good. We ate at both of specialty restuarants; Gioviani's and Chops. Both of them were good, we liked Gioviani's better. If traveling on Royal Caribbean just watch out for how much they nickle and dime you. Everywhere you turn there is a small fee for something. Even booking something on the ship cost extra. They also add gratuity for all the drinks without you noticing and then put a line for you to add extra gratuity. My biggest complaint with Royal Caribbean is the lack of communication within the team and the bad customer service. About 5 days before the cruise left one of the rooms (we had 5 total in our party) was cancelled - and with it all the excursions and dinners. Royal Caribbean couldn't figure out what happened and told us to book the excursions on board. When we got on board the team had no idea about the situation and honestly didn't really seem to care. They told us how the Miami office doesn't really communicate with them. I have to say the communication between the main office and the ship, and even on the ship itself was horrendous. Nobody ever knew what was going on or why something mysteriously happened. On our last day for excursions the night before our excursion got cancelled. Which it turns out it wasn't cancelled for all 8 of us, but just for the 2 people who's room had gotten cancelled prior to the cruise. However the people on board didn't know that until we figured it out and told them. Also before the cruise I had booked the specialty restaurants and the person helping me told me they would give me a credit of $160 on board for my troubles (spent 4 hours on the phone with them). However when I got on board they had no idea what I was talking about and refused to give me the credit. I believe Royal Caribbean can do a lot better with the customer service aspect and communication. I cannot begin to explain how frustrated I was standing in line for Guest Services or Excursions almost every day - wasting my vacation time. And the worst part was that we booked the cruise a year in advance and the excursions and dinners 5 months in advance to avoid this. I am very unhappy with Royal Caribbeans customer service and can say that I will not be cruising with them again until I am confident things will be better. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Background: This is our 7th Cruise. We have tried RC, Carnival & Celebrity. I would hesitate to recommend this particular one for the reasons below. Pros: 1. Schedule: The Schedule while packed is v good. The 2 days in St. Petersburg ... Read More
Background: This is our 7th Cruise. We have tried RC, Carnival & Celebrity. I would hesitate to recommend this particular one for the reasons below. Pros: 1. Schedule: The Schedule while packed is v good. The 2 days in St. Petersburg is great. The other stops were long enough to get a feel for each city. 2. Ship: Newly refurbished (2012), the ship is elegant, spacious and the crew great except for 1 bad apple- see below in cons. 3. Food: the food was adequate in quality, the Indian food however was terrible! 4. Embarkation and Dis-embarkation: It was a breeze and very well planned. Cons: 1. The bad apple: one of the activities manager accused my 7 year old of cheating at the scavenger hunt!! reported it by never heard back. 2. The Indian food was just terrible. All the other RC cruises have had decent Indian food, but this one was quite terrible. 3. cost: the Scandinavian countries are by themselves quite expensive but the cost of the cruise itself was the highest I have ever paid./day. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Well! I am home, back on the sofa with a cuppa tea wondering if we had really just been away for 12 nights! I knew Harwich before hand and knew the ease of the train station to the port but really didn't expect to get from the train ... Read More
Well! I am home, back on the sofa with a cuppa tea wondering if we had really just been away for 12 nights! I knew Harwich before hand and knew the ease of the train station to the port but really didn't expect to get from the train to the windjammer in 24 minutes. Porters assisted without being asked and there were no queues at all but to be fair we were one of the first on board. Staterooms were ready on time and prepared to the configuration specified for me and my two daughters. We had a one hour late departure due to 'unforeseen circumstances' and an announcement was made promptly to this effect so no hanging around on the deck wondering what was going on. The first day was at sea and this allowed a good chance to explore the ship. In the whole a very clean and well presented vessel. I have no complaints about the condition of the ship and believe me I can be very critical about missing or damaged fittings. However there was one window near the Park Café that was plated over due to being shattered but intact. This rather annoyed me as spoilt external photos of the ship. But in fairness this is something that will be sorted when next in dock for overhaul as it isn't as simple as a light bulb! Toilets were spotless and frequently cleaned and handles/taps sterilised. Entertainment was good. The shows and singers in the theatre were very good in particular Robert. Not sure about the BMX bike display, not really in keeping with the other shows on offer. Bands were all good and liked the Centrum although it did become a little crowded on occasions but still prefer this against the 'Promenade Deck' arrangement on the other bigger ships. Photographers were superb and helpful, shopping was the usual stuff but I do wonder why they have so many watches for sail! I did not use the casino. Stateroom attendance was helpful and pleasant, the room was always cleaned and stocked well. No concerns there (only had an outside cabin as not used balconies on previous cruise - in fact now considering just having an inside room as spent very little time in the room other than sleep and showering!) Food - Not as good as expected! This seems to be a theme I have seen on other reviews. Still acceptable but nothing special, certainly not as good as 'Independence' last year. Also found that for a short period there was no coffee station available despite being 24 hour facility. Windjammer was the normal style but at twice I had to wait for cutlery to be stocked up, waiting with a plate of food and nothing to eat it with. At breakfast the baked beans were 'baked' and the black pudding cut to thin so it went crispy/hard. However on the plus side all the staff were polite and helpful. Mentioned elsewhere was the slow clearing of tables and this was very evident on the rear veranda of the Windjammer where often dishes remained for long periods after people left. Service in the Main Dining Room was good and as expected, however the food was not to the high standard I had hoped for. I already knew this but what is dished up in the dining room was what was also on offer in the self service. I am not upset, just a little disappointed..... still put a fair few pounds on tho! Ports of call - I like to explore at my pace and do my own thing and therefore I took the relevant currency with me for each country except Russia (and one other - later!) and did not undertake any Shore Excursions with RC. Copenhagen - We left the ship as soon as we were cleared and walked alone the embankment getting photos of the Little Mermaid on the way with no one else around. After a leisurely walk we arrived at Nordhavn and went on a canal trip, we went with the company at the end of the canal rather than the one slightly further back as the staff were in a uniform and the boats looked nicer (all in the presentation!). I recommend this trip. We then walked across Castle Island and back to see the changing of the guard which was nice to see but as per other comments elsewhere was not a patch on the standard of discipline shown at the Changing of the Guard in London. We then had an ice cream at Nordhavn and walked back to the ship for 3pm. Tallinn - Left the ship promptly and walked direct to the Old Town and enjoyed the peace and quite of the place before the place became alive. The market square had a good selection of touristy type gifts at reasonable prices. We left the Old Town when it became busier and headed to near the train station where were saw a 'local market'. We didn't feel comfortable taking a closer look so headed back to the Old Town and up the spire of the church which gave us superb views and well worth the climb up if you are able to. (280 steps if I recall correctly), Back to the ship for 15:00 when the heavens opened. Pier has wifi and for the 90 mins before we set sail I sat using the wifi from the dry Solarium presuming the wifi transmitter was on the post outside the window as it was full connection! St Petersburg - we did a 2 day grand tour with Alla Tours. As mentioned I prefer to do my own thing but this time it was a necessity due to the visa arrangements. The tour was superb and discounting my desire to wonder off it did deliver what was offered and the guide was superb, we had a group of 12 and I don't think there was ever a question that she couldn't answer. Billed in Roubles and converted to Sterling worked out at £520 for the 3 of us which I think is reasonable, however being British I am not a fan of paying for a service and then paying again for it! But the guide and driver delivered the tour perfectly. One comment, the tour includes visits to souvenir shops which I believe are part of the tours parent operator and although the stuff on sale is available in any currency the same can be said for the shops within the terminal but cheaper. I wont judge on the quality as know knowledge on this. Passport control was as expected, military and without expression! There is no wifi at the terminal! Helsinki - off the ship early and walked into the centre, obtained a tram day pass which also covered the ferry to the island which I forget the name of but worth a trip. A nice City, clean and easy to get around. Back on the ship and a chance to use the wifi from the terminal whilst siting on Deck 12 Starboard side! We then had an announcement from the captain regarding the planned call in Stockholm and due to the forecast of high winds the pilot would be unable to get out to the ship to guide the captain in to port. Therefore an alternative plan was being considered and would be announced within 2 hours. We left Helsinki on time and took a steady sail out to sea. The announcement came and Stockholm was ruled out, therefore Visby also became a 'no go' due to the expected conditions. The alternative plan was given and I was over the moon, a day at sea then Gothenburg followed by Oslo. Superb! Many people on board commented on the fact they needed the day at sea after 4 busy days. Some were sad at missing Stockholm but I didn't here any out right complaints. The port at Gothenburg is a long way from town and as we had not pre-planned our trip I wasn't aware of exactly what was available transport wise at the pier. Most of the crew had no idea and the general feel was that there was nothing other than the Volvo factory and museum. I took a gamble and got off the ship promptly and within 2 minutes a family followed us and we joined forces and shared a taxi/people carrier to town for 60e each way. We were dropped right in the centre and agreed a pick up time with the same driver which worked perfectly. RC were offering a shuttle bus for $18 each but in allocated time slots. With the taxi we were in the centre before the first time slot shuttle had left the ship. I then found a bus that stopped 300m from the ship (head straight down the road from the pier and the stop is on the left) the bus number 32 runs every 30 mins Mon-Fri. Sat and Sun is by request! (check the Gothenburg bus website). Gothenburg is a beautiful city, spotless and stunning architecture. Well worth the visit. Oslo - The ship docked in the harbour outside the castle. The ships crew said a 30 min brisk walk to the town but I think a 15 minute wander is more appropriate! Obviously I didn't have any Norwegian Krone. Therefore I brought a travel pass on my card and popped back to the ship for a lunch time snack! I found Oslo to be a bit grubby to be honest, graffiti and litter quite obvious. However the harbour area was nice and obviously recently re-developed. Overall......... Loved it and can't wait for our next trip with RC in 8 weeks!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
We were a party of Seven 5 adults and two children. This was our first trip on this ship, but our 3rd with Royal Caribbean. All the RC Ships are well designed and standards of hygiene amazing. Majority of the staff bend over backwards to ... Read More
We were a party of Seven 5 adults and two children. This was our first trip on this ship, but our 3rd with Royal Caribbean. All the RC Ships are well designed and standards of hygiene amazing. Majority of the staff bend over backwards to accommodate you, if something is not to your liking they are more than happy to bring you another or action your requirements. Our room 7504 was always kept clean and tidy and bearing in mind their were five in this room it was not a problem to the member of staff. Would recommend if you are a large family to take a few more coat hangers as never enough for your dresses. must say it was the worst mattress I have ever slept on, back just recovering. INDEPENDENCE mattress were fantastic and if the same on Brilliance need renewing. Formal evening was not as popular as on the Independence which in a way was quite nice as once you have been eating non stop for a few days those tight long dresses do not look the same. Trouser suits and smart short dresses looked just as nice. The majority of the dining staff were lovely especially our two waiters Richard and Alfredo who could not do enough for you. The man who brought us drinks to our table each night ( came from St Lucia) was always happy and smiling and watched when you drink was empty and automatically gave you another. My only issue while dining is if you are a party of 7 request as soon as you get on the ship that you request to only be on a table of 7. I did ask on the first night and unfortunately for us we had to spend the next two weeks with 3 other rude annoying people. Found that if you shout loud enough you then get to be on your own, I did not shout loud enough. As we all know holiday cost enough and not too good to spend with people who don't want to join it. Having 2 14yr olds they were not allowed to go in the inside adult pool until 16, so this was very frustrating as the weather was not that good. There policy is if it is raining then at 4pm they can go in!!!! Surely all that kids want is a warm pool and time to spend in it. Children's pool was very salty and very cold. For some reason on a warm day a member of the pool staff let the kids in and all kids were behaving themselves, so this seemed unfair as they were making the rules up as they went along. Entertainment around the pool area for kids was non-existence apart from line dancing EVERY day and majority of people on this cruise were 70+ who just wanted to relax. Great big cinema screen over looking pool and one film was playing over the 12 days. On the screen was promoting RC. We did not go to the theatre to watch any of the acts unlike Independence as they were based on a lot of instruments being played and listening to them with children for 2 hours, is 2 hours I will never get back. Unlike Independence Bobby Davro came on board who was fantastic. So if you have children not the best cruise to do to keep everyone entertained. In the SCOONER lounge was a fantastic singer called MANDA VINCENT - not Amanda. She is an Irish singer and song anything you wanted putting her own little twist on it. Manda came on at 9.30 most nights, so best get in the lounge a little earlier in order to get a seat. We booked our trips while still in the UK and found like the drinks package once on the ship they had put the prices up. We purchased the drinks package when we went on the Independence and found that as much as it may sound like a lot of money for alcohol, when you are paying $9 for a glass a wine and the same for a cocktail, the package is well worth it over the course of 12 days. All the places we went to were lovely and due to bad weather went to Gothenburg and Oslo which everyone was happy with. As said, ships amazing, but this one not for us on comfort and entertainment for the children . As we know if kids not happy then nor are the parents.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014

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