Greetings, fellow cruise lovers,
I write a review like this one once in a blue moon, but this time, in view of the "terrible press" this ship has been having here, I felt that I had to. I understand that other cruisers have not much appreciated this ship lately (to put it mildly). My companion and I had a rather different experience.
We boarded the ship in St. Petersburg which turned out to be a smart move as very few people have done so that day (most passengers boarded in Stockholm). To be more precise, when we came we were the only ones checking-in and the whole process, which included a passport control, took less than five minutes. We were warmly received by several crew members, and in no time found our premium balcony cabin.
It was spotless-clean, and very well maintained, its equipment working perfectly. All and all, a very typical cabin for the category, no different from the various balcony cabins we've booked on all our previous cruises, taken with Celebrity, RCI and (once) with MSC. The only difference was that its balcony seemed to be a bit bigger than usual.
The room's attendant was quick to service us when we needed something (which only happened twice). He kept the cabin clean and tidy throughout the cruise.
Generally speaking, the service on the ship was very good without being pushy. Waiters and bartenders alike worked quickly and efficiently. Breakfast (continental being the only room service option) was delivered on time to our cabin every morning. The wines we ordered were always available (not always the case) and were delivered ahead of the food as they should be (again, not always the case). Every crew member we've talked with spoke English fluently.
The ship was kept clean and orderly, and featured very nicely designed public rooms, that didn't feel crowded at any time. Finding your way was easy. Getting off the ship in ports and on board again was also quick. So was disembarking (we walked out with our luggage).
I cannot rate the enrichment activities, entertainment, and fitness facilities since we didn't partake in, or have used, these. I did want to have a massage but gave it up after I had a look at the Samsara Spa price list...
The ship's weak link was the dining room's and casual diner's food, which left a lot to be desired. It was not bad, but definitely mediocre. However we did enjoy very much our meal in the specialty Club restaurant. Its service was excellent as well and overall, for 28 EUR per person, it presented good value for quality.
As far as our experience went, the same could be said about the ship in general, as the cruise's rate was very reasonable. The other cruisers seemed very content as well. Our fellow cruisers, mostly Italians, Spaniards and Russians, smiled, laughed, relaxed and had a good time – not signs of a bad, malfunctioning, ship.