I have long wanted to visit St Petersburg and revisit some of the old Baltic ports I visited 10-20 years ago on business and see more of them at leisure. This cruise was perfect, with 2 overnights in St Petersburg so that you can get to as many of the wonderful sites there as possible and stops in the Baltic republics, Finland, old East Germany and Denmark as well as an overnight in Stockholm.
This was our first cruise and a true delight. People saying standards have slipped don't gel with my experience, things were so well organised in general, with complicated logistics of many different tours on the same day well handled with the minimum of delay.
The suite (Penthouse A) was perfect, so stabile and quiet, so comfortable and lacking little except maybe more power points that someone from the UK could use (our adapter are large so when 2 are close together you can only use 1 of them) but unplugging the iPod unit (bit old fashioned now, I use bluetooth speakers when travelling and as modern iPod 6 doesn't fit it anyway) managed OK.
The service was excellent, from the butler who was great through any staff we met who were friendly, polite and very helpful. The crew must be well managed at officer level for such consistent good customer relations.
The food was great in all restaurants, though I liked the choices in Compass Rose best, Prime 7 is OK but just a standard London type steak house really, what I possibly missed was a good eastern choice. The curry lunch was good, the beef vindaloo actually spicy, surprising given the normal blandness of so much USA food. Let's have a good Thai/Chinese or Indian restaurant on the new ship. Service was good in all restaurants, the standard wine good enough mostly so that better wines really a waste of money, though the Sav Blanc and CabSav in Prime 7 were virtually tasteless, but then Sav Blanc most is poor.
The tours which I had really looked forward to after looking through and booking then well in advance were mostly great, as luckily was the weather. I could happily have missed out Helsinki (especially when the shuttle bus driver took an hour off when we were trying to get back to the ship for our lunch, but Scandinavian customer service is often poor and you expect them to put their own breaks ahead of yours I guess even if you are only there for a few hours).
ST Petersburg was the highlight of the cruise. Russian customs have got much more user friendly in recent years , especially since they did away with the landing card, and queuing was minimal (you should have tried going to Moscow before Domodedevo opened , back in the 1980s it was hell). The Regent only tour to Catherine's Palace in the evening was a triumph with the music, dancing and the meal + lack of crowns, and the timing at Peterhof was perfect too. The enrichment lectures were great and there always seemed a lot going on even if you just wanted to sit on the balcony and drink champagne, which always seemed to be there on ice!!
Our only bad incident on the trip was an awful rep in the Hermitage who had no feeling for the people she guided, walked off quickly without a backward glance all tour and at the end lost us completely for 15 mins which could have been very serious. She had made no effort that we could see to find us, maybe hadn't missed us as she never counted, and I have no faith they would have done much to look for us, glad we found the bus eventually on our own.
I put this on the feedback form and the Destinations people kindly called me to check and said they would look into it. So they really do read the feedback forms.
A great 1st cruise and we will be back again, though the onboard discounts were nowhere near attractive enough to make us jump in again without checking the market as we have no fixed opinion yet where to go next.
Our one bugbear all trip was the Internet. It is hopeless, so 20th century speed wise and hard to access and to quit. They really need to spend some money on getting a fast wifi available in port (Tallinn and Helsinki have great ones) as well as improving the speed and ease of use on ship. It just doesn't wash anymore saying its difficult. Its just technology and can be sorted. It needs to be, more and more people live on line and will not put up with slow on line service when they start cruising.
Small niggles though, a great experience and a wonderful ship and crew.
Good space, excellent bed, good shower given the boat constraints, good set of toiletries
a Regent exclusive evening event, marvellously staged and organised, great guide and fun meal after with Russian musicView All 226 Catherine Palace Reviews
poor guide in a wonderful museum. gold room worth the extra, but missed not seeing the Impressionist paintingsView All 377 Hermitage Museum Reviews
lovely river cruise under low bridges and narrow turns while the sun shone and the city came to lifeView All 152 Neva River Cruise Reviews
marvellous tour, we got there early , so less crowded that later, and after the tour of the rooms watched the fountains come on. good guideView All 231 Peterhof Palace Reviews
Swan lake + champanski, great eveningView All 99 Russian Ballet Show Reviews
bit long albeit interesting, river boat (on same tour) was great and guides excellentView All 65 Yusupov Palace Reviews
great guide and lovely old town, and so close to the shipView All 23 City Tour Reviews
too easy to walk around the city yourself
less of the bus tour and ruins more of the old town pleaseView All 90 City Tour Reviews
nice tour but a bit slow and very very hot, more free time in the old town pleaseView All 24 Schwerin Castle Reviews
we got up and left but had 2 nice days on our own, nice city to see
harbour cruise OK, Island a mistake, old market square and independent walking around much better
cannot find Klaipeda on the port list to commnt on ???View All undefined undefined Reviews
part of the exclusive Regent tour, well wort the extraView All 114 Amber Room Reviews