We choose Oceania on the recommendation of some friends who had taken their cruise in Alaska. In looking at the itinerary I saw that on Nautica's August 28, 2016 itinerary, there were some ports we had not been to so that is why I choose Oceania.
Everything (food, cabin, staff, ports, etc.) about it was excellent!!! The ratio of passengers to staff makes for very personal service.
We liked the idea of going to breakfast, lunch, or dinner when we wanted instead of having to have reservations or a particular time....of course during operating hours. However, there were 2 speciality restaurants where you had to make reservations. One was the Polo Grill and the other Toscana. These were a little less casual (& many men didn't wear jackets) & more refined (for lack of another word), because there was "wait staff" so there wasn't passengers walking to & fro, getting up & down, etc. This was nice once in a while, although we found we also liked eating "casual" after walking around a port or touring.
Most of the passengers were 65+ I would guess. Many of those we spoke to had been on a number of other cruises in their 70-80 years. All very interesting people.
I was surprised that more men didn't wear jeans, although one wasn't out of place if he did. Guess "older" men prefer khakis when traveling.
Although small, which is to be expected on a cruise ship, the closets, draws, shelves, etc. were very functional. The bathroom was quite small, but smaller than expected. Once again, we knew it would be small, but.... Slippers & robes were provided. Love the informational write ups we got on each port & the weather - very informative.
The tour we took gave us an overview of Helsinki as well as the outlying area. It was worth taking because some sights were not within walking distance of the port.View All 193 City Tour Reviews
Loved Tallinn. Easy 15 minute walk from the port. Beautiful old town. Quite a change from the modern construction work going on surrounding the "old town." Some hills, but as long as one doesn't have a major walking issue, getting to the top is not a problem. There are stalls to purchase "souvenirs" (hats, mittens, hand towels, sweaters, magnets, & the usual things) right before getting on the ship.
This is the cathedral that is often seen that has the beautiful, colorful, onion shaped cupolas. On their outsides they consist of enamel, mosaics, & gold. It was almost razed because of neglect, but fortunately it wasn't. It was built on the site where Tsar Alexander was killed.View All 210 Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood Reviews
The entrance into the port of St. Petersburg was amazing. The commercialism went on & on. There were so many ship containers, cranes, ships (none in operation when we entered the river), ice breakers, etc. It went on & on. As you might expect, the passport control people never cracked a smile or said anything (actually that is the same in Boston, now that I think about it). We had to go through passport control before getting on the tour bus, stay right with the tour, & when we got off the bus we were ushered right through passport control & onto the ship. No taking a walk around the area, etc. It is a very beautiful city, clean, with interesting sights. Although we were warned about pick pockets regarding on all shore visits, none was repeated as many times as when visiting St. Petersburg....even by the local tour guides.View All 378 City Tour Reviews
This museum housed mainly in the "winter Palace" is unbelievable. The artifacts, paintings, memorabilia, sculptures, etc. has to make for one of the most extensive collections in the world.The Grand Staircase is very "grand" to say the least. Our guide said it would take 7 years (yes, years) to go through the whole collection of everything contained there giving each article more than just a walk by. There is lots in the "basement or wherever things not on display are kept.View All 377 Hermitage Museum Reviews
Beautiful fortress. It was built for protection by Peter the Great in case of an attack by the Swedes. Many of the Russian tsars are buried here.View All 114 Peter & Paul Fortress Reviews
This is one of the largest cathedrals in Europe. Beautiful. There are a number of works of art inside, mosaic icons, 2 lapis columns, and 10 malachite ones. To add to the expense, the architect had marble from Italy, France, Finland, as well as Russia installed.View All 113 St. Isaac's Cathedral Reviews
We had been to Stockholm before, so we just walked around Gamla Stan then met relatives at the Grand Hotel for coffee & pastry which were excellent.
Stockholm is a beautiful city.
The approach to the city & then leaving is an experience not to be missed. There are soooo many islands.
This was an interesting stop. We learned a lot about the Vikings & the Hanseatic League. The wall around Visby is still pretty much in tact after all these years. There is a very interesting Viking Museum located here. It takes about 15 mins. (easy walk) to get to the town from where Oceania Nautica docked. We were there on a Sunday, so the stores were closed.
Beautiful city. Lots & lots & lots of bikes. It's an easy city to walk around in. Loved the trip on some of the canals. About a15-20 easy walk from the ship to the city. Took a HOHO bus which was interesting & went to a diamond factory.
Love Brugge & all the chocolate shops that there are. It has a lot of history & around every corner there seems to be another lovely or historical spot. Great canal boat rides. Although I loved Brugge, I didn't like the fact that Oceania did not have transportation to the city, unless you had booked a tour. We ended up taking a bus to the center of Zeebrugge (the port we docked in) which was about a 20 min. or so ride, then we had to catch a train (I think also about 20 mins.) to Brugge. I think the train runs once an hr., so if you just missed one then..... Same with the return. I would have paid extra to take a bus provided by Oceania. We had been to Brugge before so we didn't need to take a tour. Plus it's small enough so you can read about various sights to see.