My wife & I wanted to do a Baltic cruise. This cruise was of sufficient duration to cover 7 ports & countries. It was also at the right time of the year. Royal Caribbean offered the best option for a reasonable price.
The lineup was too long. Although checkin time slots were published beforehand, right in front of us was a passenger from deck 3 whose checkin time was at least an hour after us (deck 7) if not more. The checkin desk should insist on prioritizing checkins for those whose slots are current or prior. We lost an opportunity to browse around Amsterdam because of this.
At My Time Dining (a la carte) where we had most of our dinners, servings were of excellent quality. Windjammer had a prodigious array of dishes, many quite delectable. We visited it for most of our breakfasts & lunches. The food at Giovanni's restaurant (speciality dining) was nothing to write home about.
The cabin was clean. Supplies were sparse. Replacing the towels twice a day is an overkill. One replacement a day would have been fine with us considering its ecological impact. The bed & pillows were satisfactory (not the greatest).
A confusing city, especially for a tourist from North America, full of canals and not as many windmills as what Don Quixote is depicted to have encountered and jousted with. The transit officials were very unhelpful, one ticket clerk even going out of her way to be downright rude without any provocation on my part. They, however, excel in the art of misdirection in a city where English signs are sparse and confusion galore. The transit system should be revamped to handle tourists who come in for the first time with € notes, which is what banks in other countries issue instead of price gauging passengers by requiring the use of credit cards. However, the Airbnb we stayed in on our return trip was owned by a gem of a man. Not only was he greatly helpful, he has also laid out a very decent assortment of food for us to prepare our own breakfast with. Our one night's experience at that Airbnb and the efforts of a couple who went out of their way to help us validate our train tickets at the Amsterdam Centraal Station totally redeemed our faith in the ordinary Amsterdammer.
Warnemunde - A quaint seaside town where two lighthouses standing sentinel along the waterfront and a picturesque street of shops & restaurants along the canal whose colourful boats & ferries complete a breathtaking vista.
Rostock - A rustic city whose sights connote medieval sceneries and houses the oldest university in Europe - yes, it's older than Oxford University! I think it was inaugurated around the time that William the Conquerer was planning his campaign to invade England.
A beautiful, little city plucked right out of medieval times & supplanted in the modern era. It’s tiny enough to be traversed on foot in a single day of good weather. Finding a toilet, however, was like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Not a lot of attractions other than an obscure Olympic stadium currently under repairs, the Rock Church (you guessed it, it’s a church under a rock that charged an admission fee, which we decided had not enough bang for the buck), a totally inconspicuous parliament building, a couple of imposing churches, an ordinary-looking palace, and an average street bazaar by the pier, whose prices seem to be on par with those in exclusive malls in North America. Our one-day transit pass allowed us to also take a ride in a ferry to Suomenlina Island, about which we could say not much more than “we’ve been there, done that”.
Another city where all the attractions (not too many to write home about) are within walking distance, even if a strenuous one. They have a cathedral, which looks imposing enough. Then, there's this Vasa Museum that seems to display nothing more than the Vasa, a ship from the glorious days of the Swedish empire that sank on its first voyage when a wave struck it midship and gushed in through the gun turrets that had been opened for a ceremonial firing of the guns, causing the ship to tip over. You see, the king has ordered the builders against their better judgement to make an additional deck of guns to give it more firepower, causing it to be top-heavy. Now, it’s one thing paying Cdn$ 7.50 to watch the dynamic events in Titanic at the cinema, even if its storyline is fictional. It’s quite another paying the equivalence of Cdn$ 20 to watch the static symbol of an epic failure in naval warcraft. So, we decided to give it a miss. The palace looked ordinary compared to Buckingham Palace. The Nobel Museum was tucked away in a street corner that we didn’t even bother to visit. Although, we are great fans of ABBA, we didn’t think that there was a lot more to be gleaned by visiting their museum than what we already knew. The only redeeming feature of downtown Stockholm, imho, is its core, Gamla Stan, where the cobblestone-paved, narrow streets lined by quaint little shops are the stuff of fairytales. The scary part for us was when we nearly got lost returning to the ship although I had the Stockholm map loaded on my iPhone (thanks to our son) with our location been shown by a blue dot even in Airplane mode (thanks to Google).