There are lots of reviews about this wonderful ship, so I thought I would concentrate on the key issues of staff and entertainment as in my experience these are the 2 key areas that really make or break a cruise.
I want to start with the Cruise Director Sue Denning, and it would be easy to mention the person who has most contact with passengers, but having been on many cruises, on a number of cruise lines, Sue was like nothing we have ever encountered. Sue has that rare gift of making everyone she speaks to feel valued in a most sincere way. Too often in the past, CD's have worn shiny suites, lacked real personality and have had no awareness of the needs of the type of passengers on a particular sailing. This was not the case with Sue and her team. Leading from the front and setting high standards of engagement and behaviours, Sue reached out and touched most passengers, in a very sincere and humble way. I hope Celebrity & RC know what an asset they have. She made our vacation special. Never, have I been met on the quayside by a CD, welcoming passengers on their return to the ship after a tiring day in port.
This passion extends to her team, in particular her right-hand man, Activity Manager Maarten Bruels whose charisma, personality and charm made him an extraordinary asset, maintaining incredible enthusiasm during his hosting of numerous well organised activities on board. Additionally, he was very aware of todays technological society and made guests aware of Celebrity's profile on social media sites and encouraged their use to carry on the interaction with Celebrity once the cruise was finished. Even when off duty he was always friendly and made you feel valued, whether this be around the ship or in port when he was always quick to say hello in a way that never felt rushed or disingenuous and I can honestly say he is a CD in the making and an incredible asset to Celebrity.
I would also like to mention our Wine Sommelier - Marajan. What a special guy. I have never praised nor left a gratuity for a wine waiter before, but Marajan was different. He was extremely professional, courteous and respectful to me and my family. When I was slightly unwell during the cruise, he was the only crew member who asked after my wellbeing the next day. He was most attentive to my teenage children and he was a key factor in them enjoying the dining experience. A rare talent, surely ready for promotion. Regrettably, the same could not be said for the senior lady sommelier who appeared dour and miserable the whole cruise, and seemed to fall well short of the high standards of behaviour displayed by the rest of the crew. For example she could be seen remonstrating with her team during dinner which is something I don't want to see on vacation.
The other disappointing team for me is the Shore Excursion Team. Hours of operation were not extensive enough, and on the 2 occasions I had need to consult them, I found them unfriendly and belittling, and providing grossly misleading information. For example, a simple enquiry into the distance of the ship from the centre of Stockholm produced a "25 minute stroll" reply when in fact it took us nearly 75 minutes to walk on a long and unsignposted journey. I really think a shuttle should have been provided, rather than relying on the HOHO bus!
Food, cabin and everything else outstanding.
We are family of 4 including 2 teenage girls with a lot of luggage. Draw space poor, but only way to survive was to keep clothes in cases and slide from beneath the bed. The Pullman birth was much better than a sofa bed which on previous cruises makes walking around cabin difficult in evenings. Balcony on hub meant no shadow from overhang. Found this starboard cabin was more often on best side for getting sun or with a view into port when docked.
Free port shuttle then cheap tram to nearby seaside town. Great Belgium chocolate shops
Short walk to station and frequent trains to Rostock. Around ship back in port lots to see. Very enjoyable
Easy to walk from ship, very interesting old town
Very well organised tour, good value and packedView All 114 Amber Room Reviews
Very well organised tour, good value and packedView All 226 Catherine Palace Reviews
Very well organised tour, good value and packedView All 210 Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood Reviews
Very well organised tour, good value and packedView All 378 City Tour Reviews
Guides encouraged to go certain route. Don't be afraid to ask to see your own special interest rooms like malachite roomView All 377 Hermitage Museum Reviews
Very well organised tour, good value and packedView All 114 Peter & Paul Fortress Reviews
Woud have liked to see insideView All 231 Peterhof Palace Reviews
Superb guide Marie, great driver, some flexibility in the 2 daysView All 204 Private Tour Reviews
SpectacularView All 113 St. Isaac's Cathedral Reviews
Would have left this out. Too much of tour in small corridorsView All 65 Yusupov Palace Reviews
Had to use Ship shuttle as too far out, nice city
Ship far too far out 4km and no shuttle!! Took 75 mins to walk in. Great city once there! ABBA museum very good and try and make 12:15 changing of the guard
Easy to walk to this charming city