This cruise was the third leg of a 4-leg trip including a land trip across Austria and Switzerland, a river cruise on Avalon from Switzerland to Amsterdam, this Baltic cruise, and then 4 extra days in Amsterdam. All 4 legs were great, although admittedly we were a bit weary by the time we checked into for the Baltic Cruise in Amsterdam (which was about two blocks and a very short cab ride from the river cruise in Amsterdam, VERY convenient transfer!). The process checking in (we already had our sail passes) was VERY convenient and quick and could not have been better. The transition from river to ocean cruise was so easy and the terminal was so easy for this cruise!
I booked this cruise to see bits of Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea area in a convenient way (just the highlights). Like all cruises, you only see so much in a port day (or two in the case of St Petersburg, Russia) but we felt like we saw and did many things even given the nature of cruises, and we were satisfied that we had a good sampling of Denmark, Estonia, St Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm and, including the extra 4 days we did separately, Amsterdam (all travelers should definitely spend extra time in Amsterdam before, after, or both if they take this cruise). All in all the itinerary was very good, and we actually enjoyed having the 4 sea days to relax, especially at the beginning and end of the cruise.
I've cruised before, and have sometimes booked excursions in advance, before sailing, but this time I actually research everything and booked ALL the excursions in advance. I was very glad I did, and we ended up paying much less that way (and we didn't spend any time in lines at the excursion desk). I will probably do that at all times in the future (they can always be cancelled onboard as long as the cancellation period is met). We were satisfied with all the excursions and felt that we maximized our time in each port. They do seem expensive, but for the entire trip, for two people, with all the excursions we wanted, we spent about an extra $1000. Since the cruise itself was quite cheap (I booked early on a different site and got a good deal) it all worked out well.
I really wanted a balcony but couldn't bring myself to pay that much for this cruise (I have in the past) and I didn't end up missing it at all. Our ocean view cabin was quite comfortable (we split the beds to allow more room, and they can always be pushed back together when needed or desired) and there was plenty of storage. The beds were comfortable but we did have to ask for firmer pillows (and that was taken care of right away). The AC was good and we were never hot (granted we were not in terribly hot weather) but the temp was always comfortable in our cabin. The ship is a bit old, and the outlet situation wasn't great, but we only had two I-phones to charge (and a Kindle) so we were fine. The TV station selection wasn't stellar, but it was fine for us as we didn't spend much time watching TV anyway. The porthole window was VERY large and definitely adequate to have a view at all times. I was surprised how satisfied I was with just having the ocean view, and the 4th deck was perfect because we could leave the curtains open but go up one flight of stairs to the promenade deck (I always book forward cabins a few doors down from the stairs/elevators and below the spa/gym, it's much quieter and less busy, and put us one flight from the theater for shows too). The only complaint I would have is for the bathroom. It is outdated and kind of like a hospital room. The shower is small (I showered in the spa almost every day) and there was a smell on many days (next time I will bring air freshener for this reason). Holland America has the best bathrooms in the cheap cabins, but overall, everything was fine for this cruise. Our cabin steward, Nick, was great!
We walked in our own all morning and had a great time (shopped, ate, enjoyed). Then we went to the further sites on a tour in the afternoon (sand church, which was underwhelming, and the peninsula point where the Baltic and North Sea meet, loved that part a lot, including the old WWII bunkers). The guide was not great (nice man but not dynamic). The part in the city itself (we had already been there) was not great.
This was a favorite port and one that is easily done on your own (especially if you like to bicycle). I would have rented a bicycle but my husband wasn't up for that.