In three words - Book this cruise Ok in more words, We drove to Dover, 2 adults and a 16 year old and dropped the bags and family at the terminal and parked the car, an entire 40 steps away. Check in took 10 minutes. We arrived at the terminal at 11.40am and was on the ship at 12.10. perfect embarkation. We were greeted with Champagne, teen club reps for our son and the opportunity to but the soda cards. First of course of many opportunities to spend money onboard. We had a BA balcony cabin, midships 10th deck and it was an ideal location, although even on the 12th night we still walked the wrong way out of the elevator into the wrong corridor. The cabin was a little cramped for 3 with the sofa bed pulled out, especially wardrobe space and with the bed out we couldn't get onto the balcony. It would have been ideal for two people. However we managed just fine and with the sofa bed away during the day we had more room to move around. Although we were too busy to spend time in the cabin as there is so much to do when on board. The ship was very clean and the cabin was well looked after, although not once in 12 nights did we ever meet the Steward - we had this miracle worker coming in and making beds and replacing towels without a chance to say hello. The towel animals left every other night were fantastic and we were sad when the Monkey was finally removed from the ceiling, so much so we wanted to ring reception and ask them to bring it back. Dining - there are 2 freestyle sit down restaurants and the food was good compared with other ships we had been on, with 5 courses available and good service however the queues to develop after 7.30pm. The garden cafe buffet had lots of action stations with freshly prepared food and a great mixture of choice for all diets. The Great Outdoors, at the back has lovely wicker chairs and tables and a small buffet all of its own. In addition there are many cover charge restaurants, Le Bistro, Mama's Italian, Chin Chin Chinese, Cagney Steak House, Tepanyaki to name a few. Some have half price cover charge before 6.30 and it was well worth it. We ate at Mama's 3 times, Cagneys twice and Le Bistro three times and the food was fantastic, especially Le Bistro and I didn't fancy anything on the menu and loved everything I had. Price of drinks could be lower, they were expensive compared to bar prices but did match 4 star hotel prices with $5.95 for a pint of beer and some cocktails upto $12 a go. We recommend the marguerita madness when for an hour they are served at $4.95 and also go for a helmet of beer, pay for 5 and get 6. It certainly didn't stop us enjoying ourselves. Children's clubs - there are clubs for all ages. Our son went to the Teen Club consistently and at one point we wondered whether he had actually come with us on this holiday, however he was in bed every night and came on shore and ate most meals with us but he had a fantastic time. They have their own murder mystery, pre show dinners, late night dodgeball, disco's, scavenger hunts etc. Entertainment - we had 3 good production shows and fully recommend them all - Cirque Bijou is fantastic, don't miss it. We weren't amused by the comedian but there was so much more to do on board. We did a Meet and Greet with Cruise Critic and all the Officers came along (which we didn't expect) and invited us to the bridge for a free tour and we got to know many of the Officers and they are very visible on the ship, visiting every restaurant and saying hello to passengers each evening. And the Captain - well we have never seen so much of a Captain - he comes and talks to passengers every day and is very approachable and spent over an hour explaining everything on the Bridge to us. We had the need to ask Julian, the Hotel Manager to help with a suit that had not made it back from the cleaners in time for dinner and not only did we get it cleaned for free, we were sent an apology bottle of Chardonnay. Mike the Food and Beverage Director is open to feedback, as is Victor the Maitre D' and they rectify and amend anything. Although there wasn't anything to really make any complaint about. Friends - where to start, having been in touch with some on the roll call we ate every evening with a great family from New Orleans and did a private trip with 6 from Canada and America. We have made excellent new friends and will be cruising with them again. Honestly we cannot put in words to describe how fantastic this was and a lot of this was the people and the company. We never read any of the books we took and our son didn't get his game boy out. On the other hand if you want to sit in a quiet place and read, there are lots of places to do this.
Getting off the ship - we had no problems in St Petersburg - from announcement to getting through immigration took 15 minutes and we were on an independent tour and not on the ship one. We waited on the stairs at 7.25am and by 8am our tour guide was flabbergasted we were there. Our tip is ensure all your private party meets together and gets off together and it worked a treat - we even got off before the ships tours. We used Anastasia, well organised, others used SPB which had a good review too and we saved 2/3 of the cost of the ships tours.
Currency - we took £100 in Rubbles, £50 in Swedish and £50 in Denmark and the rest was Euro's. We paid in Russia with Dollars to the tour company. Most places took Euros and in Estonia a currency exchange company got on board and sold Estonian and rubbles and exchanged back for the same rate with no charge - excellent service.
10090 - good location above and below other cabins and only 2 doors from the midships lifts. No noise at all. Only issue is with the sofa bed out you cannot get onto the balcony and the closet isn't made for 3. Would be great for 2 people.