Jewel of the Seas Baltic States & Russia: Jewel of the Seas Cruise Review by catloverinhightown

Jewel of the Seas 5
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Jewel of the Seas Baltic States & Russia

Sail Date: July 2012
Destination: Baltic Sea
Embarkation: Harwich
We travelled with our adult children and their partners, all in their twenties an all of whom have cruised at least once. We had sailed on the larger RCI ships previously and had also done this cruise with NCL 3 years ago. We arrived at Harwich at 10.30 just as the car park opened. We had pre-booked our parking but many people had not and this slowed the process down. As Platinum members we had priority check-in but due to computer problems this was a slow process and we would have been quicker in the non-priority queues. However, we were on board by noon and in our cabin just after 1pm and the luggage arrived not long afterwards.
We had an inside stateroom on deck 4, near the Centrum but there was no problem with noise. The cabin was handy for Guest Relations and the dining rooms. It was a good size with plenty of storage space and the usual comfy bed. The TV was old-fashioned and a bit temperamental. We had chosen My Time dining but booked each night on the grounds that it More would be difficult to get a table for 6. The dining team, faced with three vegetarians and a meat-eater who prefers plain food, were brilliant. We also ate in Windjammer, and the SeaView Cafe at various times and never really had a problem finding tables in Windjammer: we especially liked the open part at the back,and enjoyed our evening meal in the open air on the sail out from Stockholm. We did notice that there weren't as many hand-sanitizers round the ship and it was possible to get into Windjammer without using them depending on how you approached the restaurant, so that was a bit of a concern for us.

The solarium was always busy although the pool was quite often under-used so we were able to swim pretty much when we wanted to. The pools are (usually) warm but are salt-water. We could also almost always find somewhere to sit and watch the world go by or play cards. The entertainment was mostly very good although the films were out-dated.
We liked the open feel to the ship and the fact that you can see the sea from most places on the ship.
on the down-side, drink prices are extortionate so serious drinkers would get a serious bar bill.
The captain and entertainment staff were very good at giving out information as to sights we were seeing and when to look out for them, eg the Great Belt Bridge and the sail to and from Stockholm.
Disembarkation at Harwich was very well organised and went smoothly, much better than Southampton. Less

Published 08/07/12

Cabin review: K4549 Interior Stateroom

We had an inside on deck 4 (4549). It was reasonably sized, close to the Guest Relations Desk, Centrum and Dining rooms. There was no noise from the Centrum or guests coming back late. There was good storage. The TV was old-fashioned and temperamental but that wasn't really a problem.

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Port and Shore Excursions

We walked into the city but there was a HoHo bus where the ship docked.We spent out time wandering about without doing anything specific. There is a sandcastle exhibition which we thought about visiting but decided we didn't want to pay DKr.40. We walked down to Nyhavn which is pretty but the cafes are expensive. We found an outdoor bar near the main shopping area - soft drinks were fairly reasonable but beer was £7 per pint. We noticed street vendors selling bottled water for DKr 10 and a couple of stalls selling fruit for DKr5: large Danish pastries to take out were DKr.18. We also found a temporary church cafe and an art exhibition. Last time we were in Copenhagen we did a canal tour which was worth doing. We decided to get a taxi back to the ship - a bike taxi would have cost DKr200 per taxi (2 passengers) but we got 2 ordinary taxis for DKr120 per cab which we thought were worth the money as we had walked a long way. It would be possible to use Euros/Credit cards depending on what you were doing.

It's a 2 or 3 mile walk from the dock to the centre so we got the shuttle bus (run by the port so 10 Euros return - the ship shuttles at other ports were $15 return) although there were HoHo buses. We wandered round the market square - there were stalls and open air cafes which sold food at reasonable prices but they weren't veggie-friendly. We did have a huge ice-cream from the kiosk at the edge of the square(one scoop at just under 3 euros is plenty) which was exceptionally nice. We split up to eat - we found a cafe chain doing meal deals from 9 Euro but the food wasn't particularly good. My daughter found a pizzeria near the Senate Building where a pizza, fries and a drink cost 15 Euros. At the shuttle bus drop off, the tourist information people were handing out maps and info. They recommended the tram ride on 3T and 3B which goes in a loop and passes most of the tourist sites in the city. The round trip lasts an hour so you can buy an hour-long ticket but we wanted to get on and off so we bought a 7 euro all day ticket. As the tram is part of the public transport system, it was busy and difficult to see the sites. The tram stops are named so it's a user-friendly system. We got off the tram to see the olympic stadium and the football stadium but both were closed and I noticed a sign for a sports museum but that was closed as well. My son visited the Cathedral and said it was worth visiting. Last time we were there we took a 2 hour boat trip but didn't think it was worth the time and effort: one of the shorter trips might be better.
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Private Tour

We booked a 2 day private tour which was a bit alternative as we didn't want to spend our time in queues. We told the operator the sort of things we were interested in and then had the flexibility to tweak the itinerary as we went along. We went on the Metro, visited the main Post office, supermarkets,the Eliseyev Emporium a farmers' market and a street market. We went to the Kazan Cathedral and were fortunate enough to be there whilst there was a service. We also visited the Church of our Saviour on the Spilled Blood, the Yusopov Palace, the Museum of Political History and the Space Museum at Peter and Paul Fortress. We were shown residential areas where there were traces of Soviet influence. We had a private power boat tour but unfortunately it rained so we couldn't see the sights properly. We ate in Russian cafes, including the one at Peter and Paul Fortress which isn't usually frequented by tourists. We learned about Russian and Soviet history and what it was like to grow up in Soviet Russia. This was a brilliant way to see St Petersburg. We took Roubles but most places accepted Euros, Dollars and Credit cards

We loved Stockholm. We took the shuttle because we'd been told there was no HoHo bus but there were some at the dock and next time, we would use one of these. We tried to go to the National Museum but it didn't open until 11 am so we went to Gamla Stan and had a very expensive round of soft drinks in the main square (the cafe at the Nobel Science museum would have been cheaper). We then went to the Ice Bar, which was quite a long walk but we didn't fancy dealing with the metro system. It was an interesting experience and worth doing once but probably not repeating. I had a Wolf's Paw which is vodka and loganberry and is a local drink, but it had a bitter taste. We ate at McDonalds because it was close by and reasonably priced - not much more than the UK. We then went back to Gamla Stan and visited the Nobel Science museum - SKr80 each. We were there about an hour - it was interesting and the info was in English as well as Swedish. Last time we were there, we went to the Varsa museum which is well worth a visit and again, information is in English.

Again, we walked in (about 20 minutes) although there was a shuttle bus (7 Euros return) or the sightseeing buses. We had a drink at a cafe on Town Hall Square - again more expensive than other cafes on the side streets. We took the little sight-seeing road train (5 euros) but there was no commentary and it was an uncomfortable ride because of the cobbled streets. We had lunch at the Theatre cafe at the Upper Town - Estonian food at reasonable prices. I went into the Town Hall museum (4 euros). This was interesting and worth the money but there were lots of steps including a scary looking spiral staircase to the attic so I didn't go into all of the rooms. The younger ones went up the Town Hall tower (3 Euros) and said the steps were difficult but the view was good. Our final port was Gothenburg on the Sunday so public transport wasn't an option but i don't know how easy it would be anyway as the ship docks on an industrial estate. We took the shuttle but it wasn't worth it from our point of view. The shops and most cafes were closed. There is an art gallery at the top of the road where the shuttle bus drops you and it was advertising a Warhol Exhibition but we didn't find out whether or not it was open. We walked to the Old Town which was busy - shops and cafes were open. However, my son wanted to be back to visit the Volvo museum which is right opposite where the ship docks. It cost SKr60 and he spent over 2 hours there and said it was worth the money. We found a small marina at the end of the dock. There's parkland and a pathway to the lighthouse and beyond. if we went again, we would probably explore this a bit further. There's a small tourist information/shop where the ship docks and the prices seemed to be quite reasonable.
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