A big hunk of my ancestry is from Sweden, and ever since a Swedish cousin came to visit 20 years ago and invited us to a Swedish homecoming, I've wanted to find out more about Scandinavia and the general region that includes the Baltic states and a part of Russia--St. Petersburg. We set sail from Copenhagen in perfect weather, and other than one rainy evening when leaving St. Petersburg, we enjoyed almost ideal weather--perhaps a tad warm for the Baltic. On top of that we had what the locals call "White Nights," early dawns and light until about 11pm. One folk dance we went to in St. Petersburg got out at 10:30, and as we bussed back to the ship, people were out walking in a late afternoon light--couples, families, individuals. From our balcony onboard, we had spectacular views almost 20 hours per day. Our suite booking allowed us to board early, and it was the easiest imaginable. Once on board we had to wait until our suite was ready, but we were able to enjoy all of the public areas and explore the ship in the meantime. After lunch, we went to our stateroom, and our butler came by and introduced himself and asked if we needed anything, which we did--some distilled water for the cpap and a converter to plug it in. Since we had both a butler and stateroom attendant, things got a little confused but it was all taken care of. The Marina has four gourmet restaurants, a main dining room, a Terrace cafeteria and a Waves burger joint. We tried them all, and they were all good. Of the four specialty restaurants, we liked the Polo Lounge, Toscana (Italian), and Red Ginger (Asian fusion) the most. The other guests' favorite was Jaques (French), and while quite good, we made an unfortunate choice of the prime rib there, which was tough. The Main Dining room was always good. We either breakfasted in our cabin or the Terrace cafeteria, but it was very easy to have our butler bring in breakfast while we tried to focus on the new port. The booking included three excursions, and because of the costly Russian visa requirements, we took all three in St. Petersburg (guided tour groups required no visa), and they were all excellent. Otherwise, we explored on our own. Many passengers booked tours/excursions to Berlin (from our port in Warnemunde, Germany) but they had to spend more time on the train trip to and from Berlin than we cared to and so instead took the train to nearby Rostock, Germany. Both the beach resort of Warnemunde and Rostock are delightful, and we found that Americans were considered fairly rare guests in Rostock--keep in mind that Rostock was in East Germany until the fall of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany. (In a little German restaurant in a courtyard, the server brought out her boss out to display us as either oddities or rarities.) Both Riga, Latvia and Tallinn, Estonia were wonderful surprises. Both are a combination of bustling cities with nearby old towns. We walked around both and found lots of locally made woolens and amber jewelry as well as art and historic museums. We could easily spend a week in either and find new interests and history. In Riga, art nouveau architecture was everywhere. For a lot of the passengers, including us, St. Petersburg was the rich and exciting place to be. It did not disappoint. Near where we docked, the Russians were building a new stadium and freeway to the site of the 2018 World Cup. The city itself was colorful, bustling and a combination of royal splendor and Soviet practicality. We took the canal tour, which was an ideal way to see this city of islands. One of the excursions was to the subway--the deepest in the world. We took a down escalator that took 7 minutes to descend to the lower level and then took another escalator even deeper to get on a very fast train to the next stop. We saw no trash bins nor a scrap of litter in the beautifully appointed stations. The walls were decorated with ceramic mosaics, sculptures and paintings depicting Russian history. The Russian folk dances were great, and different native groups from Cossack to Roma costumes and dances were featured in the dances. After the canal trip we made a short stop at a souvenir shop and were greeted by a young woman in native costume offering us all a shot of vodka and chaser. (Take note Walmart--Russian greeters can teach you a thing or two.) Some of the passengers decided to take the train to Moscow from St. Petersburg, but it ate up more time in the transit than we cared, and St. Petersburg is spectacular. After St. Petersburg, we weren't expecting much from Helsinki, but it too was a wonderful surprise. We walked up to the Rock Church and on the way saw the fabulous art deco railroad station. At the city hall, another impressive building in a city with many, a Gay Pride celebration was in full swing. In finding our way back to the dock, my wife and I just followed the rainbow banners to the city hall. In the dock area where a shuttle bus dropped us off was every manner of Finnish art, fur hats, amber, sweaters, and native Sami crafts in an open-air market. It was incredible. The major complaint about Oceana was its advertising "free Wi-fi" and delivering an anemic wi-fi that only worked on one device at a time. There is no technological reason for that, and having the capacity and ability to freely use wi-fi is an important part of modern life. The 1995 era technology delivered along with the public computers with only Internet Explorer was an added insult. Most of the guests seemed to have iPhones and iPads, and we had both with an additional MacBook Pro. Even when wi-fi was available it was weak and unreliable. As soon as we hit a port, most of the towns had far superior free wi-fi. One of these days, a cruise line is going to offer unlimited free wi-fi, and that will change the gouging practices of Oceana and other cruise lines that prey on their customers' reliance on the new technology. One other gripe of Oceana (as well as every other cruise line) is the constant marketing that goes on. Oceana isn't as bad as others with photography "opportunities" at every turn and crummy artwork for sale, but they have their share. After an informative talk on amber, various amber jewelry trinkets went on sale on the ship. They were literarily twice the price as the amber seen on shore the next day and no where near the quality or variety. Later, the same thing happened with Russian souvenirs. The only other hitch was the debarkation process. We ended up in an endless taxi queue in Stockholm (we stayed there extra days) and mob scene on board that looked like the evacuation of Saigon more than an orderly debarkation process. Overall, though we were all treated quite well in a very nice environment with a wonderfully attentive crew. The entertainment was 50-50--half was great and half was the lounge show at the "Last Nickel Casino" in Vegas. The cruise line had indicated that they boarded local talent from the cities we visited--that's a good idea to actually carry out.

Viking Tales: The Ideal Summer Cruise

Marina Cruise Review by williebegoode

15 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: June 2016
  • Destination: Baltic Sea
  • Cabin Type: Penthouse Suite
A big hunk of my ancestry is from Sweden, and ever since a Swedish cousin came to visit 20 years ago and invited us to a Swedish homecoming, I've wanted to find out more about Scandinavia and the general region that includes the Baltic states and a part of Russia--St. Petersburg.

We set sail from Copenhagen in perfect weather, and other than one rainy evening when leaving St. Petersburg, we enjoyed almost ideal weather--perhaps a tad warm for the Baltic. On top of that we had what the locals call "White Nights," early dawns and light until about 11pm. One folk dance we went to in St. Petersburg got out at 10:30, and as we bussed back to the ship, people were out walking in a late afternoon light--couples, families, individuals. From our balcony onboard, we had spectacular views almost 20 hours per day.

Our suite booking allowed us to board early, and it was the easiest imaginable. Once on board we had to wait until our suite was ready, but we were able to enjoy all of the public areas and explore the ship in the meantime. After lunch, we went to our stateroom, and our butler came by and introduced himself and asked if we needed anything, which we did--some distilled water for the cpap and a converter to plug it in. Since we had both a butler and stateroom attendant, things got a little confused but it was all taken care of.

The Marina has four gourmet restaurants, a main dining room, a Terrace cafeteria and a Waves burger joint. We tried them all, and they were all good. Of the four specialty restaurants, we liked the Polo Lounge, Toscana (Italian), and Red Ginger (Asian fusion) the most. The other guests' favorite was Jaques (French), and while quite good, we made an unfortunate choice of the prime rib there, which was tough. The Main Dining room was always good. We either breakfasted in our cabin or the Terrace cafeteria, but it was very easy to have our butler bring in breakfast while we tried to focus on the new port.

The booking included three excursions, and because of the costly Russian visa requirements, we took all three in St. Petersburg (guided tour groups required no visa), and they were all excellent. Otherwise, we explored on our own. Many passengers booked tours/excursions to Berlin (from our port in Warnemunde, Germany) but they had to spend more time on the train trip to and from Berlin than we cared to and so instead took the train to nearby Rostock, Germany. Both the beach resort of Warnemunde and Rostock are delightful, and we found that Americans were considered fairly rare guests in Rostock--keep in mind that Rostock was in East Germany until the fall of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany. (In a little German restaurant in a courtyard, the server brought out her boss out to display us as either oddities or rarities.)

Both Riga, Latvia and Tallinn, Estonia were wonderful surprises. Both are a combination of bustling cities with nearby old towns. We walked around both and found lots of locally made woolens and amber jewelry as well as art and historic museums. We could easily spend a week in either and find new interests and history. In Riga, art nouveau architecture was everywhere.

For a lot of the passengers, including us, St. Petersburg was the rich and exciting place to be. It did not disappoint. Near where we docked, the Russians were building a new stadium and freeway to the site of the 2018 World Cup. The city itself was colorful, bustling and a combination of royal splendor and Soviet practicality. We took the canal tour, which was an ideal way to see this city of islands. One of the excursions was to the subway--the deepest in the world. We took a down escalator that took 7 minutes to descend to the lower level and then took another escalator even deeper to get on a very fast train to the next stop. We saw no trash bins nor a scrap of litter in the beautifully appointed stations. The walls were decorated with ceramic mosaics, sculptures and paintings depicting Russian history. The Russian folk dances were great, and different native groups from Cossack to Roma costumes and dances were featured in the dances. After the canal trip we made a short stop at a souvenir shop and were greeted by a young woman in native costume offering us all a shot of vodka and chaser. (Take note Walmart--Russian greeters can teach you a thing or two.) Some of the passengers decided to take the train to Moscow from St. Petersburg, but it ate up more time in the transit than we cared, and St. Petersburg is spectacular.

After St. Petersburg, we weren't expecting much from Helsinki, but it too was a wonderful surprise. We walked up to the Rock Church and on the way saw the fabulous art deco railroad station. At the city hall, another impressive building in a city with many, a Gay Pride celebration was in full swing. In finding our way back to the dock, my wife and I just followed the rainbow banners to the city hall. In the dock area where a shuttle bus dropped us off was every manner of Finnish art, fur hats, amber, sweaters, and native Sami crafts in an open-air market. It was incredible.

The major complaint about Oceana was its advertising "free Wi-fi" and delivering an anemic wi-fi that only worked on one device at a time. There is no technological reason for that, and having the capacity and ability to freely use wi-fi is an important part of modern life. The 1995 era technology delivered along with the public computers with only Internet Explorer was an added insult. Most of the guests seemed to have iPhones and iPads, and we had both with an additional MacBook Pro. Even when wi-fi was available it was weak and unreliable. As soon as we hit a port, most of the towns had far superior free wi-fi. One of these days, a cruise line is going to offer unlimited free wi-fi, and that will change the gouging practices of Oceana and other cruise lines that prey on their customers' reliance on the new technology.

One other gripe of Oceana (as well as every other cruise line) is the constant marketing that goes on. Oceana isn't as bad as others with photography "opportunities" at every turn and crummy artwork for sale, but they have their share. After an informative talk on amber, various amber jewelry trinkets went on sale on the ship. They were literarily twice the price as the amber seen on shore the next day and no where near the quality or variety. Later, the same thing happened with Russian souvenirs.

The only other hitch was the debarkation process. We ended up in an endless taxi queue in Stockholm (we stayed there extra days) and mob scene on board that looked like the evacuation of Saigon more than an orderly debarkation process.

Overall, though we were all treated quite well in a very nice environment with a wonderfully attentive crew. The entertainment was 50-50--half was great and half was the lounge show at the "Last Nickel Casino" in Vegas. The cruise line had indicated that they boarded local talent from the cities we visited--that's a good idea to actually carry out.
williebegoode’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 Oceania Marina price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email

Cabin Review

Penthouse Suite
Cabin PH3 9145
Our suite was double the size of the Veranda rooms, and so it was very roomy. On our deck, (#9) were only two Penthouse Suites next to a giant Owner's Suite located fully aft. When the ship pulled out of the dock, we could feel the reverse props and the ship shook like an earthquake most pronounced in the aft section; but it was usually momentarily and would not prevent us from booking an aft cabin in the future. More importantly, we were sandwiched between stateroom decks and so it was very quiet. (We had intentionally planned on that.) Ironically, we could not use the Concierge Lounge on our deck but had to go up two decks for the Executive Lounge.
Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews