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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. The biggest kudos to Royal Caribbean was the customer service. I have to say that EVERYONE was very helpful and friendly. We didn't ask for a lot, but when we did, everything we needed was taken care of quickly and well. The excellent customer service made up for a few things that were a little less than great. The food was good, overall, although I wouldn't say fabulous, and the choices were very helpful. We enjoy the late dining period (8:30) because we spend a lot of time at the gym and in the spa and don't like to rush for dinner. The show times forced us to see the show at 7 pm most of the time, but it still worked out. The food choices were better at the buffet a Windjammer but we don't like the crowds so we usually dined at the main dining or a specialty restaurant (we booked the 3-dinner package in advance). We personally choose room service for breakfast most days (the continental is free) but did enjoy the buffet for that on sea days. Our waters (Juwan and Anniket) were outstanding and we enjoyed our dinner partners we met and ate with on some nights. We thought the shows were terrific and offered talent and variety. We saw all but one of them and enjoyed them all. Keeping them less than an hour is perfect so we can see the show, eat dinner, and not have to rush or stay up too late. I love the gym and spent a lot of time on the treadmill (or walking the promenade decks) watching us sail. The main thing we spent money on (beyond the excursions) was the spa (3 massages each) and although the massages aren't "great" they were adequate. They are expensive but if you book in advance and/or book carefully to take care of "specials" for multiple massages the helps (and my medical insurance pays back $60 for each massage, so that helped too). We also buy the thermal suite all-cruise pass and we spent lots of time in the heated marble chairs, steam rooms and saunas. Very relaxing, if expensive. It also kept us away from the crowds. We were in a ocean view cabin just below the promenade deck (it was on deck 4) and it was perfect for us. Would love to have had a balcony but it wasn't worth the extra cost (especially in the Baltic Sea). The porthole window was quite large and I spent lots of time looking out (and didn't have to worry about closing curtains except in port). We found it to have adequate room and we were comfortable (we prefer the beds split to give more room). The bathroom was outdated and sometimes smelled bad, and this is clearly an older ship that is getting a bit worn, so that was a negative, but other than that all was fine. Our cabin steward (Nick) was great :) More on that in the cabin part. Overall we thought this cruise was a very good value for the money, but we do warn cruisers to research and plan carefully, and be judicious with your money while onboard. Unless you plan to drink or use the Internet all the time, avoid the all-cruise packages (they are very expensive). We drank some, but avoided most of the extra costs onboard (except the spa, which we admit we probably spent too much money on). If you're not careful you'll owe a fortune after 12 days on the ship. Just make sure you read and research, and think about what you really want and need. We would recommend this cruise to others, but book ahead for excursions and other extras if possible (but don't buy the expensive beverage and internet packages unless you really need them).

Great Time Sailing the Baltic Sea

Brilliance of the Seas Cruise Review by LoveTravelKirei

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: July 2019
  • Destination: Baltic Sea
  • Cabin Type: Ocean View
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.

The biggest kudos to Royal Caribbean was the customer service. I have to say that EVERYONE was very helpful and friendly. We didn't ask for a lot, but when we did, everything we needed was taken care of quickly and well. The excellent customer service made up for a few things that were a little less than great.

The food was good, overall, although I wouldn't say fabulous, and the choices were very helpful. We enjoy the late dining period (8:30) because we spend a lot of time at the gym and in the spa and don't like to rush for dinner. The show times forced us to see the show at 7 pm most of the time, but it still worked out. The food choices were better at the buffet a Windjammer but we don't like the crowds so we usually dined at the main dining or a specialty restaurant (we booked the 3-dinner package in advance). We personally choose room service for breakfast most days (the continental is free) but did enjoy the buffet for that on sea days. Our waters (Juwan and Anniket) were outstanding and we enjoyed our dinner partners we met and ate with on some nights.

We thought the shows were terrific and offered talent and variety. We saw all but one of them and enjoyed them all. Keeping them less than an hour is perfect so we can see the show, eat dinner, and not have to rush or stay up too late.

I love the gym and spent a lot of time on the treadmill (or walking the promenade decks) watching us sail. The main thing we spent money on (beyond the excursions) was the spa (3 massages each) and although the massages aren't "great" they were adequate. They are expensive but if you book in advance and/or book carefully to take care of "specials" for multiple massages the helps (and my medical insurance pays back $60 for each massage, so that helped too). We also buy the thermal suite all-cruise pass and we spent lots of time in the heated marble chairs, steam rooms and saunas. Very relaxing, if expensive. It also kept us away from the crowds.

We were in a ocean view cabin just below the promenade deck (it was on deck 4) and it was perfect for us. Would love to have had a balcony but it wasn't worth the extra cost (especially in the Baltic Sea). The porthole window was quite large and I spent lots of time looking out (and didn't have to worry about closing curtains except in port). We found it to have adequate room and we were comfortable (we prefer the beds split to give more room). The bathroom was outdated and sometimes smelled bad, and this is clearly an older ship that is getting a bit worn, so that was a negative, but other than that all was fine. Our cabin steward (Nick) was great :) More on that in the cabin part.

Overall we thought this cruise was a very good value for the money, but we do warn cruisers to research and plan carefully, and be judicious with your money while onboard. Unless you plan to drink or use the Internet all the time, avoid the all-cruise packages (they are very expensive). We drank some, but avoided most of the extra costs onboard (except the spa, which we admit we probably spent too much money on). If you're not careful you'll owe a fortune after 12 days on the ship. Just make sure you read and research, and think about what you really want and need.

We would recommend this cruise to others, but book ahead for excursions and other extras if possible (but don't buy the expensive beverage and internet packages unless you really need them).
LoveTravelKirei’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Ocean View
Cabin 2N 4516
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!
Deck 4 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Castles of North Zealand
    It was all good but the Fredericksborg Castle Museum was NOT to be missed.
    View All 23 Castles of North Zealand Reviews
  • Finnish Home Visit
    We were ready for more quiet so we opted for the country visit. It was very enjoyable. Low key but very nice family visit (loved the animals). We had time to visit some in the city after that, and some time on our own, but my husband wasn't feeling well so we went back to the ship. Would love to have seen more of Helsiniki itself. All in all it was a good day.
    View All 10 Finnish Home Visit Reviews
  • Skagen
    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.
    View All 69 Skagen Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Skagen Cruise Port Review
  • St. Petersburg
    By this point we were tired and it was late in the afternoon (it was a holiday and a Friday and traffic was terrible) but we saw everything promised and got back to the ship before the deadline (everyone else was running late too).
    View All 12,792 St. Petersburg Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's St. Petersburg Cruise Port Review
  • Hermitage Museum
    We took the Hermitage and Peterhoff tour the first day (exhausting and everything was VERY crowded but we enjoyed seeing all of it), and then the Peter/Paul Fortress and City Highlights in the am on Day 2, and the 3 churches in the afternoon on Day 2. It was all exhausting but we saw SO much and enjoyed all of it. Our local guide on the first day (Vadim) was EXCELLENT! All the guides were very knowledgeable and worked to make the logistics as easy as possible given the crowds.
    View All 334 Hermitage Museum Reviews
  • Stockholm
    3 drop off and pick up locations (City Hall, Old Town, and Djurgarden Island (Vasa Museum). Good variety of things seen in a port day so we were satisfied with what we did in the time given.
    View All 12,792 Stockholm Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Stockholm Cruise Port Review
  • Kadriorg Palace
    We saw the upper old town and the Kadriorg Palace. We enjoyed all of it.
    View All 8 Kadriorg Palace Reviews