We wanted to see the Hermitage again so decided on this cruise as a good way to do that. It also allowed us to see most of the northern European capitals. Overall it was a great cruise with no major complaints so do not read too much into the minor problems we encountered. First the good news. We thought the food was very good in the main dining room even if some of the choices were less than inspiring. Biggest complaints were the covering on the beef wellington was soggy and the pasta with the shrimp scampi needed flavoring.
One suitcase was delivered to our room with a wheel broken which they fixed in a day. (When we got back to the states it was missing completely and the airline replaced the whole thing).
The ship is spotlessly clean and there are hand sanitizers everywhere. The staff was flawlessly friendly, even the customer service people. There was a wide variety of entertainment at night and I especially enjoyed the Four Season Tribute group. One last positive note is that we were surprised that the ships tours were about the same price as those from other companies. We did do a private tour from another company to get a full day at the Hermitage and Marina Wilson did a very good job giving us what we wanted.
We had an oceanview cabin and really enjoyed the large window. We normally get a balcony but early June in northern Europe is just to cold to enjoy a balcony.
Now for the few bad items. We were disappointed that the head waiter interrupted our first meal to push the special dinner show for $80. I am pretty sure he gets a commission for anyone that signs up but the intrusion was not appreciated.
I had two small problems with the casino. They have special times where the 6:5 BJ table is a $3 minimum. I bet $3 and hit a Blackjack but they only paid me $3 instead of the almost correct $3.50 since they had $.50 chips on the table. When I pointed it out to the dealer he said the sign said that a $5 bet got paid $6. I pointed out that the sign said the table paid 6 to 5 and that I should get at least $3.50. It had no effect on the dealer. The other problem was the BJ tournament. The rules for the tournament clearly state that rebuys are $20 instead of the usual $25 fee. On the last day I wanted to do a rebuy and they said it was $25 and that the $20 rebuy was only good on the same day even though that is not what the rules state.
As far as the cruise itself I thought that there were too many days at sea. I also don't understand why they do not visit Oslo instead of Skagen, Denmark. There is very little to see in Skagen and Oslo is not that far away. Several of the tours were less than inspiring (admittedly they are private contractors working for the cruise line). One tour did not offer headphones and it was hard to hear what the guide was saying sometimes. Another one was a 2 1/2 hour tour with no scheduled bathroom stops. After 6 people complained he finally made a special stop.
Now for the ship itself. One of the biggest problems is what they call the Centrum. It is an open air area open to most of the 12 floors of the ship. They have chairs on each floor and frequent entertainment near the customer service desk. The problem is the noise is almost unbearable. There are also very few places where you can find a quiet space. The best two are the Starquest area on the 13th floor (when it is available) and the far rear of the ship on floor 6 (when they are not having special events in the area).
I was a little disappointed in the fact that quite a few of the windows are fogged up due to bad seals. It would not take a lot of effort to replace those. Also the seats in the cinema are very worn out and it is hard to sit on some of them for a 2 hour movie. And lastly, the hot water in the shower was too hot. There was no way to take a "cool" shower since your choice was hot or hotter. Again keep in mind that most of these complaints are very minor compared to the overall pleasure we had on this cruise.