A great experience!
The cruise line had placed signals through out the city, no risk of getting lost! We found the parking lot and paid about 55 dollars for parking in a gated and supervised parking lot. A great deal for parking in Stockholm! We loaded our luggage on a bus and was shipped of to the terminal. The baggage tagging procedure was really bad, we got a few tags, but no pen and was left to figure out ourselves how to procedure. Getting in to the crowded terminal we got in line in the VIP line. When greeted they told us that we have to have copies made of our passport for our visit in Russia. That have never been mentioned before, in that case I would have prepared for that. The lady pointed at a line long as a marathon run and asked us to make our copies. I found a lady working the line and asked if there was a VIP line for us there to, and the girl, bless her made our copies right away. Back off to the check in and finally, we got our cabin keys and could walk on board.
Our first dining experience was lunch as soon as we arrived onboard, we had to wait for our cabin, and hey, why not grab a bite in the mean time? Windjammer was good, my brother eat a lot of the meals there. For me, not being a buffet person, it was totally ok, but not my favorite. Most times it was pretty crowded and it was hard sometimes to get a table.
The main restaurant was great, we was lucky enough to get a table for four, thank you! Our waiter, assistant waiter and head waiter was excellent, we loved our three boys, working so hard for making our dining the great experience it truly was! Always a wide choice of food, plenty of bred rolls and butter. Our waiter also advised my mum who wanted to buy a glass of wine the first night to buy a whole bottle and promised her to save it for the following nights of dining, just to save us some money! That was so thoughtful and sweet!
We played pool in the Safari Lounge (please make the whole ship a non smoking area), watched the shows in the Coral Theatre (mum loved the backbeat Beatles!) and played golf. No time for a swim but we had pizza and hot dogs in the solarium two night before bed. (Staff in the solarium cafe, try to smile for a change!)
The VIP Lounge: Lovely Nedere, you are such a star! You made us feel so welcome! We love you! Hope to see you soon! Great drinks before dinner, coffee during the days and a stunning view. A total bliss!
The Portofino: A beautiful restaurant, make your reservations as soon as you possibly can when you arrive onboard. This place gets full pretty quick! We had a great dining experience at the Portofino. My dad had "the best steak of my life so far" in this place, and he is pretty fussy! Lovely staff, our head waiter tried to pour wine out of an unopened bottle and tried very hard not to giggle his head of when he found our his mistake! He was great about it though, and we really liked him! We will come back!
We do hope that Jewel will be back in this region soon, in summer 09 we will hopefully travel with Vision of the Seas. Something to look forward to!
If you want more information, please do not hesitate to ask me! And please excuse my poor language skills, hopefully you will get the message (as well as a lot of spelling mistakes).
Our cabin was excellent! Missed hooks and hangers and maybe a shoe rack for our hall though. Lovely balcony but people abouve us could look right down at us! Nice bathrooms but cheap soap! Comfy beds and lovely towel animals delivered to our beds every night! It would have been nice with a bottle champagne as a welcome, the friut platter we got was a bit manky looking to be honest. We never figured out how to use the entertainement set though! Great closet space!
Arriving to Tallinn was nice. The pier was pretty central, don´t spend your money on the bus ride, it´s just a 10 minute stroll to the city center from the harbor area. To be frank, a lot of us scandinavian people often come to Tallinn to buy cheap booze and if you would like to do the same, Tallinn is a great place to fill up the ol´cabinet! The liquor Vana Tallinn is a nice souvenir. You can also buy old military clothes from Russia (not so sure if they all are authentic)
If you are a tad more sophisticated than us, I would suggest a stroll in Tallinn's Old Town, a pint of lager in one of the taverns and some shopping, I would suggest a nice warm sweater. If you like SPA treatments and think the onboard prices are a bit to much, there is a lot of day SPA:s in Tallinn with very reasonable prices.
I woke up at 5 am this morning, my dream to visit Russia was soon to be true! I sat on the balcony, wrapped in my robe and watched the sun rise and our lovely ship enter the russian harbour. A few sea gulls watched me from a distance as we found our pier and lay still. A beautiful experience!
To be able to go to Russia, a lot of countries residents need to get a visa. For us Swedes, we had to pay 130 dollars each just to be able to enter Russia. BUT, if you go on a tour that the cruise line have arranged, you will be included in a group visa and don´t have to pay the visitors visa fee. Great!
OUR CHOICE OF TOUR
We decided to take a 2.5 hour bus tour in St. Peterburg. Our guide was fenomenal, giving us a spledid tour of the beautiful town of St Petersburg. Our tour was guided in english and that was really goood indeed. She showed us St. Peters Basilisk, The church of Spilled Blood, Volga, St, Petersburg Ballet Institute, the Herimitage and a lot more.
As my dad already have been in Russia before, we did not buy a lot of souvenirs. If you like to buy things, bring some rubel, that will give you the best prices. The market outside church of the spilled blood was a bit expensive, but also sold stuff with quality. The stalls outside St. Peters was more of a typical souvenir stand character.
What we wanted to bring home was the famous pink russian champagne and maybe some beluga caviar. Our lovely guide spent her coffee break helping us find a small wine shop were we bought a few bottles of the champagne. We did´nt find any beluga caviar though.
When we arrived back to the harbour and went through the passport check we was greeted by a russian brass band who played at the pier. We left them our last russian change and climbed onbord again. What a great day, can´t wait to go back!
When we go back, we will absolutly take a full day tour of St. Petersburg, we loved it!
Stockholm is a beautiful city!Be an early bird and watch the ship enter the famous archipelago! Why not have breakfast at your balcony?
There is a lot of things to do in Stockholm:
Visit Vasa museum, and watch the old wooden war ship with its cannons that was collected from the bottom of the sea 30 year ago after a few hundred years.
For the family: Visit Skansen a zoological park, and Gröna Lund, a small amusement park.
Take a stroll in Old Town "Gamla Stan".
Go to the Ice bar and have a Absolute vodka shot in a glass made of pure ice.
Shop at NK and Biblioteksgatan for designer brands and Hötorget for bargains.
In Sweden you can have a set meal for lunch for about 10-15 dollars which includes the meal of the dag = dagens rätt, a drink, salad, bread and butter and often also coffee. This deal is often available on most restaurants between 11.30-14.00. Why not try swedish meatballs?