We're active independent mature travelers who went on our sixth cruise, our second with Holland America. Combining the highlands and Baltics meant 9 countries in 24 days! June 25, 2015-July 19, 2015: Holland America Eurodam to Denmark, Norway, Scotland, England, Germany, Russia, Finland, Estonia, Sweden Here is our summary, in appreciation for the help we always get here. Key tips/highlights: 1. Days last forever in many countries so be prepared for sunlight as early as 4:30 a.m. and as late as 11:30 p.m.! 2. You’ll need about 7 currencies although many tourist places took Euros and US dollars. Be frugal as when you change your money back (which is easy), you’ll lose quite a bit in the exchange. 3. Copenhagen cab from airport to ship at far dock will be around $55-$60 US and takes more than 30 minutes. 4. City cards: we bought the Cope and Stockholm cards but I think if you don’t go into many museums, and if you like to walk a lot, it may not be worth the money though it offers convenience. 5. Excursions: a. We took many more ship excursions than we usually do and did not feel we got anywhere near the extra cost. • On the ship, everyone meets about the same time in the main stage theater (they could do much better at staggering) and everyone lunges for the exit to the left when excursion is called. So sit near there if you want to have first dibs at the “best” seats on the tour bus or vans. b. We should have arranged a car for several ports ourselves, including Portree in Isle of Skye—no taxies at pier—and Kiel, Germany. c. Unless you REALLY REALLY want to see Berlin in a blur, the travel from Rostock dock is not worth it, in time or cost. d. St. Petersburg will surely relax its oversight for tourists so you can actually “wander around” rather than be guided. • If you can, get into the Hermitage before opening hours: it’s grueling enough without the millions of tourists pressing against each other. • Loved: Catherine’s Palace and Peterhof gardens—would have liked to see inside Peterhof; Church of Spilled Blood inside and out. Yusupov Palace where Rasputin was assassinated is intriguing 6. Views as you’re sailing: a lot of it looks like Puget Sound or Prince William sound but it’s still beautiful, especially in and out of Stockholm. 7. The ship: --Built in 2007, so it felt aged and worn. Huge, with 2100 passengers and 1000 crew. --We had a Neptune suite, which we had enjoyed on our South America cruise, especially the daily laundry. This time, we felt it was not of the same caliber, from service to quality although some of the staff was delightful. --Overall, dining was good though Lido was mediocre. Tamarind was terrific--free for lunch and $20 surcharge for dinner. Pinnacle and its special meals was more worthwhile for the atmosphere and service than the food. The Rembrandt dining room is vast, crowded and mostly unappealing. --The entertainment seemed stronger than the previous cruise. --The spa was nice though not lavish: towels and robes were worn. --Internet was awfully slow, frustrating as you're paying every minute. --Communication overall could be much clearer. Ian the travel specialist was talking all the time but who is listening all the time? The printed materials did not have as much usefulness as desired including how to get to town, or what important landmarks we're passing by. Day-by-day: (Flew from Newark to Copenhagen via Brussels--don't ask--and took a cab): June 26, Friday, day 1: Oslo. Dock is basically downtown. Highlights include Nobel Peace Museum (pretty static), fun waterfront, cool Opera House and fortress, Viking museum (I did not go). There’s more to Oslo than first meets the eye! June 27, Saturday, day 2: Kristiansand, Norway: Dock in small town with minor charm. We did not do an excursion and could have skipped this. June 28, Sunday, day 3: Stavenger, Norway: Dock in downtown—beautiful little town. Famed for the cruise to Lysefjord and pulpit rock, which we arranged through the ship--most of it was just rock and gray during our day with only a peak at the peak. Could have driven ourselves to the rock. Pretty cool Norwegian Petroleum Museum. June 29, Monday, day 4: Lerwick, Shetland Islands, UK: Tender to shore. We had arranged a car and drove to the southern tip to Sumburgh Head, where we sighted three puffins, several Shetland ponies, numerous sheep and other creatures and crossed a runway. Headed north to Brae (which was nothing though the rental guy said it was worth heading to). Pretty barren so good to test driving on the wrong side of the road on the wrong side of the car. June 30, Tuesday, day 5: At sea. Behind-the-scenes kitchen tour (fact sheet says 1000 croissants a day; 23,000 eggs a week; 11,830 pounds of meat a week). Cool to see helicopter performing rescue drills on the back. July 1, Wednesday, day 6: Greenock, Scotland. Short day: 7 a.m. to 3:30. Easy 20 minute walk through the small town to the train station for a 40 minute ride into Glasgow. Though the info said the first train is at 8:30, there was one at 7:30 and the ticket clerk sent us scrambling to catch it and pay for tickets on board. Good town for a “hop-on-off bus” which takes one hour 50 minutes for the full route. (If we had seen Edinburgh first, this would have been very disappointing.) July 2, Thursday, day 7: Portree, isle of Skye. Tender to shore, taking about 20 minutes. Should have arranged for a car as no taxis about or cars available and the drive to sites would have been easy. We got in line for the 10:45 tourist 60X bus that makes a couple of stops including at the Dunvegan castle, home of the chiefs of Clan Macleod for 800 years. By the time we board, the bus seating is nearly all gone, and there are another 50 people behind us! Everyone kept asking, when’s the next bus, only to be told this was the only one for the day. Would return to explore more. July 3, Friday, day 8: Invergordon, Scotland: Our second ship excursion, to see lakes and castles and loch ness. Comfy bus, good guide. Of note: snow up in the mountains; pretty Loch Ness; 14th century Urquhart castle military ruins; brief viewing at Culloden Battlefield, site of the last battle on Scottish soil; Cawdor Castle, which had beautiful gardens and sculptures. OK lunch at local restaurant. July 4, Saturday, day 9: South Queensbury, Scotland—gateway to Edinburgh. We are supposed to start tendering at 10 but the waves, winds and rain are too violent and we were delayed half an hour or so. At the shore is the Hawes Inn, where Robert Louis Stevenson wrote Kidnapped; the rest of the town is tiny. We easily get a taxi to Edinburgh for $22 pounds and takes about 25 min (the big bus shuttle is $10 each and you have to wait for it to get filled; the train to town takes a 20 minute uphill walk to get to). The cab drops us right by the castle (vs. the shuttle, which would have been much lower down). What a great town! Views from every vantage point. We did another hop-on-off bus for key sites. MM climbs the cool Sir Walter Scott monument which has several tiers of viewing and only room for like 8 people at the top. July 5, Sunday, day 10: Newcastle upon Tyne, England: Ship tour to Alnwick castle (pronounced Annwick), the second largest inhabited castle in Great Britain after Windsor, inhabited for 700 years for the Percy family, now Dukes of Northumberland. Site and furnishings are gorgeous, and often used for filming including as Hogwarts and for the Christmas episode of Downton Abbey! (You can do this by car yourself). Castle has kids’ areas, including archery and games but ESPECIALLY quidditch broom riding lessons (more fun to watch than participate). The gardens are about a 10 minute walk away and lovely. Ship offers a shuttle to an outlet mall and to the train station at Tynemouth, which is charming! On the north sea with an ancient monastery and huge flea market on Sundays. July 6: Monday, day 11: sea day July 7, Tuesday, day 12: Copenhagen. End of one leg and start of another! Beware: the hop-on-off buses are all a little different and not all are reliable. We were among the first to be enticed on board with claims they would leave in a few minutes. It was an hour before we left. Then we had to switch buses. Then we were at risk of missing the ship upon our return! Great town that we got to know well—we held off using our Cope cards till our next stop, which was a full day. But since it was sunny, we paid to go up the Our Saviour Church with its winding exterior staircase to the peak for great views, as well as the canal tour—the coolest part is the minimal leeway between the bridges and the boat. July 8, Wednesday, day 13: Kiel, Germany. We did a ship excursion to the lakes and villages of Schleswig-Holstein but easily could have rented a car and have seen more. The tour guide read from her notes throughout and most of the sites were mediocre except for Eutin’s market (cherries!), Bosau’s houses and many flowers throughout. Took an early morning walk through downtown Kiel: not much there. July 9, Thursday, day 14: at sea. July 10, Friday, day 15: Tallinn, Estonia. Spectacular city! About 20 minute walk (half mile) into town--wonderful old wall, numerous churches, colorful buildings, lots of artisans in medieval garb, tons of trinkets (wools, Vikings, sheep, linen, felt). MM goes up the dome church tower, the St. Olav tower (which was the highest in the world in 1500—does not open until 10), and the old wall for aerial views. July 11, Saturday, day 16: St. Petersburg. Dock is unattractive with industrial and block high rises around, some 30 minutes from town by bus. Weather was miserable. Not a good start for the primary reason we booked this cruise! We wake before 6 a.m. for a 7 a.m. meeting for the ship excursion. But we aren’t called until 8:15 or so. Customs lines were extensive since so many tours went at once. They give you a visa/pass and a stamp. We had paid extra for the small group tour (no more than 20, in a van) over two days, and didn’t realize 1. that included the metro as the first stop (really a way to “kill time” before the allotted tour visits) 2. They mix up the itineraries but don’t tell you. Today we saw the Yusupov Palace where Rasputin was assassinated in 1916. Then we had a pathetic box lunch on the bus because it’s so cold and windy. Bopped over to the Spilled Blood Church for a quick peek due to my complaining (“It’s not on my tour,” the guide said.). Then the Hermitage museum: an impressive but grueling gallop that includes 2.5 miles in 353 rooms over four buildings amid a million other tourists. Some people went to the ballet that night! July 12, Sunday, day 17: St. Petersburg. Day 2 of our tour was superb (except for lunch again): Customs went much more quickly—they didn’t issue new visa/passes. Catherine’s Palace, especially since we were first in, was breathtaking with its Versailles modeled mirror room and recreated Amber Room with Deft decorated stoves in each room. Then Peterhof, the Czars’ summer palace on the shores of the Gulf of Finland with 300-acres of 64 fountains designed by Peter. (Would have liked to go inside.) Next: hydrofoil transfer of about 30 minutes back to the city center (even though our tour tickets had said that wasn’t happening). Inside St. Isaacs, the third highest cupola after St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London, says our guide. Then inside the church of the Spilled Blood, built on the spot where Czar Alexander I was assassinated. Exterior modeled after St. Basil’s and inside is all mosaics. Both days they made time for short shopping excursions in “real” artisan shops. July 13, Monday, day 18: Helsinki, Finland. Sunrise at 4:25 and sunset at 11:34! Old Town is about 40 minutes’ unappealing walk or a city shuttle for $10E each. We grab a cab for $15E to the market center, which is darling. Took the ferry to Suomenlinna, the maritime fortress. Strolled up to the Olympic stadium, over to the rock church then a taxi back. The more we walked the more we liked Helsinki. July 14, Tuesday, day 19: Stockholm, Sweden. Great city! Make time to watch the sail in and sail out for views. Dock is amid unattractive grain elevators and shipping yards. City shuttles again for $10E each or take the city bus. Tourist kiosk is too small to handle the mobs but we were among the first to arrive—you can get your Stockholm cards redeemed or purchased there, which allows you to ride all transit. (We had purchased online at home: two days in the minimum.) Then take the No. 1 or 76 buses into town. Royal Palace is nice but do not wait for the changing of the guards: takes almost an hour and is very boring. On to Sodermalm, and up many steps to the skyview gondola restaurant that has a great view. Ferry to Djurgarden (beware: they pack you in like NY subways): spectacular Vasa museum (ship sank in 1628 on maiden voyage and is perfectly preserved); fun Abba museum (you can be the fifth member and see your video later!); Skansen, the back-in-time park with Tuesday night singalongs for 10,000. Took the 7 tram back across to Kungstradgarden then a taxi back as it started raining hard. ($200 K). July 15, Wednesday, day 20: Stockholm, Sweden. We get going at 8:30 and decide on a taxi to the city hall (negotiated to 250 from 300 K) with the goal of the 9:30 ferry to Drottningholm, the summer palace, which was not worth the time. (Ticket booth opens at 9) It’s nearly an hour there and ferries back every hour. The vast grounds were surprisingly barren: MM trotted to the far corner to see the famed Chinese pavilion (doesn’t open until 11), which was nice. The oldest theater still in use is there, but only guided tours every half hour starting at 11. Return around 1 p.m. and MM dashes to the city hall tower—but that only allows 30 people at a time! Next to the ice bar, which is tricky to find: it’s actually inside the Nordic C Hotel, on the ground floor, by the central station. It also limits the number inside to 60 and you need a reservation. However. If you wait for a new group to go in, and wait for people to come out (they usually last 10 minutes), you can sneak in. Which is what MM did, for a whirlwind glimpse and pix but no time for a drink from an ice glass! ($205K including a drink). Take the No. 1 bus back easily. July 16, Thursday, day 21: at sea. July 17, Friday, day 22: Rostock, Germany. Ugh. Ship excursion at $400 each was not worth it. 7 a.m. onto the train, which is right next to the boat (a bonus). Around 7:15, we pause…for nearly 45 minutes to switch from diesel to electric. It’s cool in the early morning so we’re cool, too. Restart at 8 and arrive around 10:30 (30 minutes early we’re told). We do photo stops to wall, Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg gate, Allied Museum; restaurant lunch is OK brats and pork and sauerkraut. We stop at 3:20 for shopping on the Kurf. Instead, Kirks saunter blocks away to the famed Kaiser-Wilhelm church with the big hole in its middle—the tour guide never told others they could do that! Ride back is stifling even with the windows open (no air conditioning) but it’s shorter than expected! European trains generally don’t offer much of a view: They move too fast and there is too much vegetation growing on the right-of-ways. July 18, Saturday, day 23: Copenhagen. Disembark isn’t until 11 for some reason. We leave on the public bus cruise shuttle and have a grand time to Rosenborg Palace (the only one MM has been in where they allow you to photograph the jewels/crowns), climbing the round tower for great views, bopping into Hans Christian Anderson display (awful), and into Tivoli, the oldest amusement park. We didn’t hear that the bus shuttles stopped at 3:30! Paired with another couple for taxi back. July 19, Sunday, day 24: Copenhagen. Last day! Had arranged for a cab at 9 but seeing loads of cabs outside and being anxious, we disembark at 8 and easily find bags and cab to airport.

Whirlwind 24-day cruise in summary

Eurodam Cruise Review by chirk

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: June 2015
  • Destination: Baltic Sea
  • Cabin Type: Neptune Suite with Verandah
We're active independent mature travelers who went on our sixth cruise, our second with Holland America. Combining the highlands and Baltics meant 9 countries in 24 days!

June 25, 2015-July 19, 2015: Holland America Eurodam to Denmark, Norway, Scotland, England, Germany, Russia, Finland, Estonia, Sweden

Here is our summary, in appreciation for the help we always get here.

Key tips/highlights:

1. Days last forever in many countries so be prepared for sunlight as early as 4:30 a.m. and as late as 11:30 p.m.!

2. You’ll need about 7 currencies although many tourist places took Euros and US dollars. Be frugal as when you change your money back (which is easy), you’ll lose quite a bit in the exchange.

3. Copenhagen cab from airport to ship at far dock will be around $55-$60 US and takes more than 30 minutes.

4. City cards: we bought the Cope and Stockholm cards but I think if you don’t go into many museums, and if you like to walk a lot, it may not be worth the money though it offers convenience.

5. Excursions:

a. We took many more ship excursions than we usually do and did not feel we got anywhere near the extra cost.

• On the ship, everyone meets about the same time in the main stage theater (they could do much better at staggering) and everyone lunges for the exit to the left when excursion is called. So sit near there if you want to have first dibs at the “best” seats on the tour bus or vans.

b. We should have arranged a car for several ports ourselves, including Portree in Isle of Skye—no taxies at pier—and Kiel, Germany.

c. Unless you REALLY REALLY want to see Berlin in a blur, the travel from Rostock dock is not worth it, in time or cost.

d. St. Petersburg will surely relax its oversight for tourists so you can actually “wander around” rather than be guided.

• If you can, get into the Hermitage before opening hours: it’s grueling enough without the millions of tourists pressing against each other.

• Loved: Catherine’s Palace and Peterhof gardens—would have liked to see inside Peterhof; Church of Spilled Blood inside and out. Yusupov Palace where Rasputin was assassinated is intriguing

6. Views as you’re sailing: a lot of it looks like Puget Sound or Prince William sound but it’s still beautiful, especially in and out of Stockholm.

7. The ship:

--Built in 2007, so it felt aged and worn. Huge, with 2100 passengers and 1000 crew.

--We had a Neptune suite, which we had enjoyed on our South America cruise, especially the daily laundry. This time, we felt it was not of the same caliber, from service to quality although some of the staff was delightful.

--Overall, dining was good though Lido was mediocre. Tamarind was terrific--free for lunch and $20 surcharge for dinner. Pinnacle and its special meals was more worthwhile for the atmosphere and service than the food. The Rembrandt dining room is vast, crowded and mostly unappealing.

--The entertainment seemed stronger than the previous cruise.

--The spa was nice though not lavish: towels and robes were worn.

--Internet was awfully slow, frustrating as you're paying every minute.

--Communication overall could be much clearer. Ian the travel specialist was talking all the time but who is listening all the time? The printed materials did not have as much usefulness as desired including how to get to town, or what important landmarks we're passing by.

Day-by-day: (Flew from Newark to Copenhagen via Brussels--don't ask--and took a cab):

June 26, Friday, day 1: Oslo. Dock is basically downtown. Highlights include Nobel Peace Museum (pretty static), fun waterfront, cool Opera House and fortress, Viking museum (I did not go). There’s more to Oslo than first meets the eye!

June 27, Saturday, day 2: Kristiansand, Norway: Dock in small town with minor charm. We did not do an excursion and could have skipped this.

June 28, Sunday, day 3: Stavenger, Norway: Dock in downtown—beautiful little town. Famed for the cruise to Lysefjord and pulpit rock, which we arranged through the ship--most of it was just rock and gray during our day with only a peak at the peak. Could have driven ourselves to the rock. Pretty cool Norwegian Petroleum Museum.

June 29, Monday, day 4: Lerwick, Shetland Islands, UK: Tender to shore. We had arranged a car and drove to the southern tip to Sumburgh Head, where we sighted three puffins, several Shetland ponies, numerous sheep and other creatures and crossed a runway. Headed north to Brae (which was nothing though the rental guy said it was worth heading to). Pretty barren so good to test driving on the wrong side of the road on the wrong side of the car.

June 30, Tuesday, day 5: At sea. Behind-the-scenes kitchen tour (fact sheet says 1000 croissants a day; 23,000 eggs a week; 11,830 pounds of meat a week). Cool to see helicopter performing rescue drills on the back.

July 1, Wednesday, day 6: Greenock, Scotland. Short day: 7 a.m. to 3:30. Easy 20 minute walk through the small town to the train station for a 40 minute ride into Glasgow. Though the info said the first train is at 8:30, there was one at 7:30 and the ticket clerk sent us scrambling to catch it and pay for tickets on board. Good town for a “hop-on-off bus” which takes one hour 50 minutes for the full route. (If we had seen Edinburgh first, this would have been very disappointing.)

July 2, Thursday, day 7: Portree, isle of Skye. Tender to shore, taking about 20 minutes. Should have arranged for a car as no taxis about or cars available and the drive to sites would have been easy. We got in line for the 10:45 tourist 60X bus that makes a couple of stops including at the Dunvegan castle, home of the chiefs of Clan Macleod for 800 years. By the time we board, the bus seating is nearly all gone, and there are another 50 people behind us! Everyone kept asking, when’s the next bus, only to be told this was the only one for the day. Would return to explore more.

July 3, Friday, day 8: Invergordon, Scotland: Our second ship excursion, to see lakes and castles and loch ness. Comfy bus, good guide. Of note: snow up in the mountains; pretty Loch Ness; 14th century Urquhart castle military ruins; brief viewing at Culloden Battlefield, site of the last battle on Scottish soil; Cawdor Castle, which had beautiful gardens and sculptures. OK lunch at local restaurant.

July 4, Saturday, day 9: South Queensbury, Scotland—gateway to Edinburgh. We are supposed to start tendering at 10 but the waves, winds and rain are too violent and we were delayed half an hour or so. At the shore is the Hawes Inn, where Robert Louis Stevenson wrote Kidnapped; the rest of the town is tiny. We easily get a taxi to Edinburgh for $22 pounds and takes about 25 min (the big bus shuttle is $10 each and you have to wait for it to get filled; the train to town takes a 20 minute uphill walk to get to). The cab drops us right by the castle (vs. the shuttle, which would have been much lower down). What a great town! Views from every vantage point. We did another hop-on-off bus for key sites. MM climbs the cool Sir Walter Scott monument which has several tiers of viewing and only room for like 8 people at the top.

July 5, Sunday, day 10: Newcastle upon Tyne, England: Ship tour to Alnwick castle (pronounced Annwick), the second largest inhabited castle in Great Britain after Windsor, inhabited for 700 years for the Percy family, now Dukes of Northumberland. Site and furnishings are gorgeous, and often used for filming including as Hogwarts and for the Christmas episode of Downton Abbey! (You can do this by car yourself). Castle has kids’ areas, including archery and games but ESPECIALLY quidditch broom riding lessons (more fun to watch than participate). The gardens are about a 10 minute walk away and lovely. Ship offers a shuttle to an outlet mall and to the train station at Tynemouth, which is charming! On the north sea with an ancient monastery and huge flea market on Sundays.

July 6: Monday, day 11: sea day

July 7, Tuesday, day 12: Copenhagen. End of one leg and start of another! Beware: the hop-on-off buses are all a little different and not all are reliable. We were among the first to be enticed on board with claims they would leave in a few minutes. It was an hour before we left. Then we had to switch buses. Then we were at risk of missing the ship upon our return! Great town that we got to know well—we held off using our Cope cards till our next stop, which was a full day. But since it was sunny, we paid to go up the Our Saviour Church with its winding exterior staircase to the peak for great views, as well as the canal tour—the coolest part is the minimal leeway between the bridges and the boat.

July 8, Wednesday, day 13: Kiel, Germany. We did a ship excursion to the lakes and villages of Schleswig-Holstein but easily could have rented a car and have seen more. The tour guide read from her notes throughout and most of the sites were mediocre except for Eutin’s market (cherries!), Bosau’s houses and many flowers throughout. Took an early morning walk through downtown Kiel: not much there.

July 9, Thursday, day 14: at sea.

July 10, Friday, day 15: Tallinn, Estonia. Spectacular city! About 20 minute walk (half mile) into town--wonderful old wall, numerous churches, colorful buildings, lots of artisans in medieval garb, tons of trinkets (wools, Vikings, sheep, linen, felt). MM goes up the dome church tower, the St. Olav tower (which was the highest in the world in 1500—does not open until 10), and the old wall for aerial views.

July 11, Saturday, day 16: St. Petersburg. Dock is unattractive with industrial and block high rises around, some 30 minutes from town by bus. Weather was miserable. Not a good start for the primary reason we booked this cruise! We wake before 6 a.m. for a 7 a.m. meeting for the ship excursion. But we aren’t called until 8:15 or so. Customs lines were extensive since so many tours went at once. They give you a visa/pass and a stamp. We had paid extra for the small group tour (no more than 20, in a van) over two days, and didn’t realize 1. that included the metro as the first stop (really a way to “kill time” before the allotted tour visits) 2. They mix up the itineraries but don’t tell you. Today we saw the Yusupov Palace where Rasputin was assassinated in 1916. Then we had a pathetic box lunch on the bus because it’s so cold and windy. Bopped over to the Spilled Blood Church for a quick peek due to my complaining (“It’s not on my tour,” the guide said.). Then the Hermitage museum: an impressive but grueling gallop that includes 2.5 miles in 353 rooms over four buildings amid a million other tourists. Some people went to the ballet that night!

July 12, Sunday, day 17: St. Petersburg. Day 2 of our tour was superb (except for lunch again): Customs went much more quickly—they didn’t issue new visa/passes. Catherine’s Palace, especially since we were first in, was breathtaking with its Versailles modeled mirror room and recreated Amber Room with Deft decorated stoves in each room. Then Peterhof, the Czars’ summer palace on the shores of the Gulf of Finland with 300-acres of 64 fountains designed by Peter. (Would have liked to go inside.) Next: hydrofoil transfer of about 30 minutes back to the city center (even though our tour tickets had said that wasn’t happening). Inside St. Isaacs, the third highest cupola after St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London, says our guide. Then inside the church of the Spilled Blood, built on the spot where Czar Alexander I was assassinated. Exterior modeled after St. Basil’s and inside is all mosaics. Both days they made time for short shopping excursions in “real” artisan shops.

July 13, Monday, day 18: Helsinki, Finland. Sunrise at 4:25 and sunset at 11:34! Old Town is about 40 minutes’ unappealing walk or a city shuttle for $10E each. We grab a cab for $15E to the market center, which is darling. Took the ferry to Suomenlinna, the maritime fortress. Strolled up to the Olympic stadium, over to the rock church then a taxi back. The more we walked the more we liked Helsinki.

July 14, Tuesday, day 19: Stockholm, Sweden. Great city! Make time to watch the sail in and sail out for views. Dock is amid unattractive grain elevators and shipping yards. City shuttles again for $10E each or take the city bus. Tourist kiosk is too small to handle the mobs but we were among the first to arrive—you can get your Stockholm cards redeemed or purchased there, which allows you to ride all transit. (We had purchased online at home: two days in the minimum.) Then take the No. 1 or 76 buses into town. Royal Palace is nice but do not wait for the changing of the guards: takes almost an hour and is very boring. On to Sodermalm, and up many steps to the skyview gondola restaurant that has a great view. Ferry to Djurgarden (beware: they pack you in like NY subways): spectacular Vasa museum (ship sank in 1628 on maiden voyage and is perfectly preserved); fun Abba museum (you can be the fifth member and see your video later!); Skansen, the back-in-time park with Tuesday night singalongs for 10,000. Took the 7 tram back across to Kungstradgarden then a taxi back as it started raining hard. ($200 K).

July 15, Wednesday, day 20: Stockholm, Sweden. We get going at 8:30 and decide on a taxi to the city hall (negotiated to 250 from 300 K) with the goal of the 9:30 ferry to Drottningholm, the summer palace, which was not worth the time. (Ticket booth opens at 9) It’s nearly an hour there and ferries back every hour. The vast grounds were surprisingly barren: MM trotted to the far corner to see the famed Chinese pavilion (doesn’t open until 11), which was nice. The oldest theater still in use is there, but only guided tours every half hour starting at 11. Return around 1 p.m. and MM dashes to the city hall tower—but that only allows 30 people at a time! Next to the ice bar, which is tricky to find: it’s actually inside the Nordic C Hotel, on the ground floor, by the central station. It also limits the number inside to 60 and you need a reservation. However. If you wait for a new group to go in, and wait for people to come out (they usually last 10 minutes), you can sneak in. Which is what MM did, for a whirlwind glimpse and pix but no time for a drink from an ice glass! ($205K including a drink). Take the No. 1 bus back easily.

July 16, Thursday, day 21: at sea.

July 17, Friday, day 22: Rostock, Germany. Ugh. Ship excursion at $400 each was not worth it. 7 a.m. onto the train, which is right next to the boat (a bonus). Around 7:15, we pause…for nearly 45 minutes to switch from diesel to electric. It’s cool in the early morning so we’re cool, too. Restart at 8 and arrive around 10:30 (30 minutes early we’re told). We do photo stops to wall, Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg gate, Allied Museum; restaurant lunch is OK brats and pork and sauerkraut. We stop at 3:20 for shopping on the Kurf. Instead, Kirks saunter blocks away to the famed Kaiser-Wilhelm church with the big hole in its middle—the tour guide never told others they could do that! Ride back is stifling even with the windows open (no air conditioning) but it’s shorter than expected! European trains generally don’t offer much of a view: They move too fast and there is too much vegetation growing on the right-of-ways.

July 18, Saturday, day 23: Copenhagen. Disembark isn’t until 11 for some reason. We leave on the public bus cruise shuttle and have a grand time to Rosenborg Palace (the only one MM has been in where they allow you to photograph the jewels/crowns), climbing the round tower for great views, bopping into Hans Christian Anderson display (awful), and into Tivoli, the oldest amusement park. We didn’t hear that the bus shuttles stopped at 3:30! Paired with another couple for taxi back.

July 19, Sunday, day 24: Copenhagen. Last day! Had arranged for a cab at 9 but seeing loads of cabs outside and being anxious, we disembark at 8 and easily find bags and cab to airport.
chirk’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Holland America Eurodam price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email

Cabin Review

Neptune Suite with Verandah
Cabin SA 7037
Good size and space; comfy bed; great views. Also: tired and worn and scratched.
Rotterdam Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Copenhagen
    We were in town twice:
    First time: Beware: the hop-on-off buses are all a little different and not all are reliable. We were among the first to be enticed on board with claims they would leave in a few minutes. It was an hour before we left. Then we had to switch buses. Then we were at risk of missing the ship upon our return! Great town that we got to know well—we held off using our Cope cards till our next stop, which was a full day. But since it was sunny, we paid to go up the Our Saviour Church with its winding exterior staircase to the peak for great views, as well as the canal tour—the coolest part is the minimal leeway between the bridges and the boat

    Second time in town:
    Disembark isn’t until 11 for some reason. We leave on the public bus cruise shuttle and have a grand time to Rosenborg Palace (the only one MM has been in where they allow you to photograph the jewels/crowns), climbing the round tower for great views, bopping into Hans Christian Anderson display (awful), and into Tivoli, the oldest amusement park. We didn’t hear that the bus shuttles stopped at 3:30! Paired with another couple for taxi back.
    View All 1,094 Copenhagen Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Copenhagen Cruise Port Review
  • Greenock (Glasgow)
    Easy 20 minute walk through the small town to the train station for a 40 minute ride into Glasgow. Though the info said the first train is at 8:30, there was one at 7:30 and the ticket clerk sent us scrambling to catch it and pay for tickets on board. Good town for a “hop-on-off bus” which takes one hour 50 minutes for the full route. (If we had seen Edinburgh first, this would have been very disappointing.)
    View All 222 Greenock (Glasgow) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Greenock (Glasgow) Cruise Port Review
  • Helsinki
    Sunrise at 4:25 and sunset at 11:34! Old Town is about 40 minutes’ unappealing walk or a city shuttle for $10E each. We grab a cab for $15E to the market center, which is darling. Took the ferry to Suomenlinna, the maritime fortress. Strolled up to the Olympic stadium, over to the rock church then a taxi back. The more we walked the more we liked Helsinki.
    View All 840 Helsinki Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Helsinki Cruise Port Review
  • Loch Ness, Water Monsters & Highland Castl
    Our second ship excursion, to see lakes and castles and loch ness. Comfy bus, good guide. Of note: snow up in the mountains; pretty Loch Ness; 14th century Urquhart castle military ruins; brief viewing at Culloden Battlefield, site of the last battle on Scottish soil; Cawdor Castle, which had beautiful gardens and sculptures. OK lunch at local restaurant.
    View All 12,810 Loch Ness, Water Monsters & Highland Castl Reviews
  • Kristiansand
    Dock in small town with minor charm. We did not do an excursion and could have skipped this.
    View All 66 Kristiansand Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Kristiansand Cruise Port Review
  • Alnwick Castle
    Ship tour to Alnwick castle (pronounced Annwick), the second largest inhabited castle in Great Britain after Windsor, inhabited for 700 years for the Percy family, now Dukes of Northumberland. Site and furnishings are gorgeous, and often used for filming including as Hogwarts and for the Christmas episode of Downton Abbey! (You can do this by car yourself). Castle has kids’ areas, including archery and games but ESPECIALLY quidditch broom riding lessons (more fun to watch than participate). The gardens are about a 10 minute walk away and lovely. Ship offers a shuttle to an outlet mall and to the train station at Tynemouth, which is charming! On the north sea with an ancient monastery and huge flea market on Sundays.
    View All 3 Alnwick Castle Reviews
  • Oslo
    Dock is basically downtown. Highlights include Nobel Peace Museum (pretty static), fun waterfront, cool Opera House and fortress, Viking museum (I did not go). There’s more to Oslo than first meets the eye!
    View All 371 Oslo Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Oslo Cruise Port Review
  • Berlin
    Ugh. Ship excursion at $400 each was not worth it. 7 a.m. onto the train, which is right next to the boat (a bonus). Around 7:15, we pause…for nearly 45 minutes to switch from diesel to electric. It’s cool in the early morning so we’re cool, too. Restart at 8 and arrive around 10:30 (30 minutes early we’re told). We do photo stops to wall, Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg gate, Allied Museum; restaurant lunch is OK brats and pork and sauerkraut. We stop at 3:20 for shopping on the Kurf. Instead, Kirks saunter blocks away to the famed Kaiser-Wilhelm church with the big hole in its middle—the tour guide never told others they could do that! Ride back is stifling even with the windows open (no air conditioning) but it’s shorter than expected! European trains generally don’t offer much of a view: They move too fast and there is too much vegetation growing on the right-of-ways.
    View All 77 Berlin Reviews
  • Pulpit Rock
    Dock in downtown—beautiful little town. Famed for the cruise to Lysefjord and pulpit rock, which we arranged through the ship--most of it was just rock and gray during our day with only a peak at the peak. Could have driven ourselves to the rock. Pretty cool Norwegian Petroleum Museum in town, too.
    View All 60 Pulpit Rock Reviews
  • Stockholm
    Great city! Make time to watch the sail in and sail out for views. Dock is amid unattractive grain elevators and shipping yards. City shuttles again for $10E each or take the city bus. Tourist kiosk is too small to handle the mobs but we were among the first to arrive—you can get your Stockholm cards redeemed or purchased there, which allows you to ride all transit. (We had purchased online at home: two days in the minimum.) Then take the No. 1 or 76 buses into town. Royal Palace is nice but do not wait for the changing of the guards: takes almost an hour and is very boring.
    On to Sodermalm, and up many steps to the skyview gondola restaurant that has a great view. Ferry to Djurgarden (beware: they pack you in like NY subways): spectacular Vasa museum; fun Abba museum (you can be the fifth member and see your video later!); Skansen.

    Day 2: 9:30 ferry to Drottningholm, the summer palace, which was not worth the time though hour-long ride was nice. The vast grounds were surprisingly barren:
    Next to the ice bar, inside the Nordic C Hotel: only 60 people at once so you need a reservation. ($205K including a drink).
    View All 824 Stockholm Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Stockholm Cruise Port Review
  • Tallinn
    Spectacular walkable city! About 20 minute walk (half mile) into town--wonderful old wall, numerous churches, colorful buildings, lots of artisans in medieval garb, tons of trinkets (wools, Vikings, sheep, linen, felt). MM goes up the dome church tower, the St. Olav tower (which was the highest in the world in 1500—does not open until 10), and the old wall for aerial views.
    View All 1,006 Tallinn Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Tallinn Cruise Port Review