We are a young-ish couple who mainly do independent travel so this was only our second cruise but we loved it. I travel a lot but have never been to many of the countries we docked in so this was exciting and all were really interesting. I also work a lot so wanted a little bit of rest and comfort. This was definitely a comfortable, elegant ship, but I would say the itinerary is a little hectic, wish there were more sea days in between. I didn't do too many activities on sea days just opted to rest. But Balloon drop night and champagne waterfall night were very nice. The nightly band in the main ship Atrium with a Filipina singer, I think their name was Evolution, was VERY, very good and they worked really hard - played for hours all night long. Ship of almost 4000 though never felt crowded - skews on older side, I would guess a third Americans or Canadians, a third Europeans/Latin/Russian, and a third Asian (primarily Chinese and Japanese). Running down some other ship notes and some pros and cons: I thought the rest of the entertainment were really fun - esp the Broadway quality shows. Good selection of new movies on the TV. Also able to watch port/enrichment lectures and some of the audience participation shows from your cabin TV. The low key Outrigger bar with made-to-order fresh juices (extra cost) was great as was their bar staff and the patrons there. Fitness center was spacious, but I always got lost trying to find the right way to get there. Liked laundry on every floor and free zumba morning class. I wish they gave you a complete list and full information on ALL the dining options and what any costs were, but I feel like I had to ask and do all the research myself. Anyway, we mainly ate in the dining rooms - sometimes at assigned table, sometimes at "any time dining" table, and I found the food fantastic. We always tried to ask for a table by the window. Tried one specialty restaurant - Sabatini's - which exceeded expectations. Filling, delicious courses. A first class dining experience! We also tried the casual Alfredo's (included) for a made-to-order, fresh pizza one time - so good. We sampled the buffet a few times and they often had large variety and also lots of international dishes. My partner had specialty coffee at the 24 hour International Cafe every day. Room service was SO lovely! Wish they would expand more of the menu options. Usually at least once on the cruise they will have a fish and chips pub lunch (included) -that was good to change it up a bit - and a Crab Shack (extra cost, but we didn't try it) and an afternoon tea service with sandwiches and scones, etc (didn't try but looked nice).
Cons: The new Ocean medallion technology was convenient (opening cabin door automatically, getting on/off ship) but the apps were a pain to log in and didn't work all the time. I also figure they are tracking our movements all the time with the medallion but what can you do. Would have done the spa but they stopped essentially offering day passes. Service in general was typical - some were really exceptional, some were just ok. Couldn't utilize much of the outdoor deck spaces/outdoor movies, etc because weather in Baltic really unpredictable and chilly. Would probably opt for June/July if I could do it over.
But for me, the highlight was really getting to visit the various cities and I truly enjoyed them all - there was rain in the forecast constantly but in the end, it didn't really come to fruition, Tallinn was the only one that had some rain. Copenhagen it threatened to rain the whole time but it didn't, although that meant we didn't do a bike tour around but did the HOHO bus which worked out perfectly. Most people boarded and left the ship in Copenhagen, but we embarked/disembarked in St. Petersburg (we have visas) so we didn't really have a "welcome" per se and no real lines, but it was interesting to see a new, totally different crowd on the ship. You could also embark in Germany or Oslo I think. I didn't really end up using the cruise excursions - we booked an independent excursion in Warnemunde. Again, all ports were great. I would advise bringing/reading Rick Steve's guide book on these ports - it has maps too, etc. And always write down the name of the port you are docked in if you end up taking an uber, taxi or public transportation back - there can be several diff ports in some of the cities. Another good read on a trip like this - with a mix of humor, culture, and history - is The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia by Michael Booth. Highlights in each port: Tallinn (12pm free walking tour Old Town, Nevsky cathedral, viewpoints in Old Town, try Old Hansa almonds and freshly squeezed pomegranate juice from the carts, Telleskivi aka Creative City - esp F Hoone restaurant). Warnemunde (Friends of Dave tour with their fun and friendly guide, brewery lunch, seeing the charming towns in Rostock/Wismar, beer near sand castle in Warnemunde, and the breathtaking beauty of Schwerin castle garden - I felt like I was in a fairy tale - totally unexpected surprise for me). Oslo (port time there was short so we didn't have time for the viking museums - but Vigeland Sculpture Park a must, Opera house both outside and inside, stroll down Karl Johan gate, pic in front of Nobel Museum and fish lunch by the harbor before walking right to the ship. And the sail away - don't miss it! View from Regal Princess sailing in or out of Oslo and the tiny "fjords" - spectacular!). Copenhagen (Christianhavn is nice place to walk around and different than the "main" island, the Freetown Christiania is a VERY interesting community and a bit of a walk but for me was worth it to see - others may opt for Tivoli Gardens instead. Nyhavn a must of course and then catch Little Mermaid on way back to ship. Didn't have time but the glimpses of the gardens and some of the palaces looked really lovely.) Nynashamn (Stockholm is an hour away so maybe an excursion is worth looking into but we took the train - ship provided a shuttle to the station which is 5 mins away for about $5. Get a map and the day card - can be used for the train, the tram, the ferries, etc. This was one of my favorite ports - Gamla Stan a must. Vasa museum. Some like the Abba museum - although we didn't go. Lunch at Gondolen was interesting. Enjoy a fika break. Walk around City Hall - where the Nobel Prize banquet is held every year). Helsinki (easily walkable city, Market Square - beware the seagulls!, Cathedrals, try moose and reindeer, Lappi restaurant opens at 4pm very unique place, Rock Church a must, Loyly sauna is fairly close to ship - don't have to sauna but can still enjoy the views, wine, terrace and relax). St. Petersburg of course is amazing but since we spent several days there, would be too long to talk about here, and can't speak to the excursions.
We originally opted for a "Guaranteed" Balcony room and later when I asked the travel agent if we thought our cabin would be located midship (less seasickness and noise) they actually "upgraded" us to a mini suite for less price!
Mini suite was very spacious, lots of storage, two TVs, good size bathroom for a ship, no real complaints. We had to call twice for them to fix the couch (a metal spring broke which made it sink when you sat on it) but that was it. Call to get the bathrobes. Walls are a bit thin so you can sometimes hear your neighbor snoring! I thought the balcony was a relatively good size, not huge but adequate. However it was located somewhat a bit close to the "SeaWalk" but I wasn't bothered by it and I don't think people could really see you. Again, since the Baltics was chilly and sometimes rainy, we didn't get to sit out on the balcony too long unfortunately.
We were a little different than most since we embarked here and spent several days here as we had visas so can't speak to the excursions. Saw a lot of buses at different sights so I guess expect crowds! Besides the usual suspects then, here are my off-the-beaten track recs: Golitsyn Loft on Fontaka river (than walk to Faberge museum from there). A few steps away from Church of Spilled Blood is inexpensive Museum of Soviet Arcade and Museum of Soviet Lifestyle- kids will like but adults will too for a little Soviet nostalgia look. Another tip, if you want to escape Hermitage crowds, your ticket also gets you in at the Gen Staff building (right across from main Winter Palace bldg) which is more modern but also very cool and you'll see rarely-seen Monets, Degas, Picassos, and Rodin sculptures with almost NO one else!! Other off beaten path: New Holland Island if weather is good, all of St. Pete love to go there. Foodwise, anything by ubiquitous Ginza project is kind of perfect though locals may scoff a bit at them. Marketplace is GREAT fast casual self service chain, can sample lots of dishes. Nighttime To Dos: cruise on canal, watch bridges rise at 1am, walk down super lively Rubenstein street, or a ballet.
Was really looking forward to Tallin but weather was a bit rainy so that was a bit if a damper. Ship docks within walking distance so no need for excursions if you are physically able. As many have said, there are lots of cobblestones so wear the right shoes. The Old Town from 10am on though felt mobbed with ALL cruisers/ tourists so also took away from the local "magic." Free walking tours at 12p (look up online) was VERY good- get local money so you can tip them!! Food is interesting there. Vegan spots too. Viewpoints in the Old Town good. Old Hansa touristy but definitely worth a visit/peek/taste. Nevsky church beautiful. Small guild museum was fine, we needed a place to get dry and it was somewhat informative. Off beaten path: uber it or walk (20 mins from Old Town past train station Balti Jaama- which also has cool markets inside) to Telleskivi also known as Creative City and Depoo. Industrial/hipster/artsy cafes, shops. Lunch at F-Hoone was good. Nice contrast to old town to see young Estonia which is actually a very "e-country"
We had less than half a day port visit time in Oslo but ship docks right near center. Although we didn't end up booking excursion, took cab to Vigeland sculpture park to save time (but tram would have been MUCH cheaper if I'd known, there's one right at entrance) which is a must. Again we took uber but Oslo streets are full of construction so that was a mistake. Maybe take HOHO bus or public transpo. It's a small city. Bike tour might also be nice, saw a vendor right outside ship. Opera house is amazing architecture -- gorgeous inside and out. Then we walked to Karl Johans Gate (touristy) but Grand hotel looked cool. Took pic at Nobel museum which leads you to harbor with good fish places for lunch. Some take boat excursions (didn't have time to go to viking museums island area) which could also be nice, but you'll also see nice, small "fjords" if you go on deck of Regal as you sail out-- amazing scenery, one of the best ports to watch either sailing in or sailing away from Oslo. Don't miss it!
This is an hour from Sweden but train station is 10min walk following a blue line from port. We took 5 min shuttle bus though, provided by cruise at small cost, then train to Stockholm City. So check train schedule online. Buy day card it's perfect-use on train, trams and ferries so easy to get around Stockholm ourselves. Get map at station or download before. Did Vasa museum, lunch at Gondolen, Gamla Stan (must), enjoyed a fika break, walked around City Hall. Only issue was train back to Nynashamn stopped running/was delayed- so almost stranded us!! But a group of us cruise goers found each other and somehow managed to get taxis back to port in time. Costly (not reimbursed by cruise) but it didn't ruin the trip, Stockholm was just SO pretty and we lucked out with nice weather.
Debated to do HOHO bus but so crowded, everyone on ship was trying to get on. Ship ended up offering a four stop, mini-hop on and off of their own for around $40 pp I think and we might have taken that, but decided to take a taxi when we saw one at port instead, straight to Rock Church (highly recommend). Then we walked from there to center squares of town. Nice way to see city and architecture esp if weather is good. Oodi building amazing. Download map if you can first. Try moose and reindeer or fried fish around the square. Cathedrals. Lappi restaurant is unique (opens at 4pm though). Great food in Helsinki in general though. Also for something a little different/local-- recommend LOYLY sauna/terrace restaurant for drink, relaxing, and the views or to try the famous Finnish sauna if you have the time. Loyly is VERY near the ship if it is docked at Henesarri (four ports in Helsinki so know which one you are at. Since Regal is so big, limits where it can dock and pretty easy for drivers to see or recognize). Loyly also has a "taxi button" behind the bar---so handy for us tourists when we need one!