We choose this cruise to see areas of Scandinavia it would be difficult to see renting a car and driving around, which we usually do. We had an aft-facing mini-suite on deck 14 that would have been good for two people but was rather cramped for three. There was a lot of storage space but not for the suitcases. With four suitcases. we ended up putting two on the balcony because there just wasn't enough room in the cabin for them. The balcony was nice and the bed was comfortable, but being in the aft section and high up, we could feel the ship move when we went into rougher waters, which was actually often at the beginning of the cruise. The steward assigned to our cabin was good and friendly, but toward the end of the cruise the service started to slack off. We ran out of tissue two days before the cruise ended and it was never refilled.
The food was very good, especially the three main dining rooms and for the most part the staff was very friendly. I was disappointed with the Tropicana Room. It was supposed to be a re-make of a 1940's Miami nightclub, but there was barely any music. There was this nice dance floor but it was filled with tables and the one time someone did have music, it lasted about 10 minutes and then they left never to come back while we were there. The Freestyle seating works to an extend. Yes, it is nice to be able to eat when you want and where you want and to sit at a table by yourselves but the wait to get into the dining rooms was some times too long, especially when the ship was at sea for the whole day and people had no where else to eat. Get there a half hour before the places open if you want to get a table without waiting!
Activities were a bit limited, especially with the weather the way it was, but that was to be expected at the time of year we went. Indoor activities were okay, but the cruise director was annoying and to be honest, some of the activities were rather childish and stupid. Guest services needed more staff. There are not nearly enough trash receptacles on the ship. In fact, we had a hard time finding any. It was nice that there were disinfection stations everywhere and staff stood around with small spray bottles of the stuff also, but there was nothing in the cabin.
As for the itinerary....There was no reason to spend two days in St. Petersburg. We had a two day and one night excursion from the ship and it all could have easily been done in one day. The first day we didn't leave the dock until 0900 and were back at the ship by 1230! Then what do you do? You can't go back into Russia because you don't have a visa or an active excursion. The second day we left the dock at 0830 and were back at 1330 and that was a complete waste. Went to Peterhof and all the fountains were closed, most of the statues were boxed up, and the Asian tourists from other groups were so rude and pushy that it made the entire excursion a waste of time. The two days could have easily been put into one day, as I said, and the Folk show at night, although very nice, wasn't necessary since the ship had one on board at the same time! Russia was just a waste, especially with the time needed to do immigration every single time you left or boarded the ship. It would have been far better to have spend two days in Stockholm, a beautiful city with lots to see and do. Instead, we had less than 4 hours there because the ship docks an hour's drive away from the city! The time in Helsinki was too short also, as was the time in Tallinn. We didn't need to spend until 2230 in Warnemunde. That was another waste. Yes, people want to see Berlin but Berlin is too far away and traffic is always a problem so that everyone else has to wait around while the Berlin buses get back. Take that extra time and put it into Tallinn or Helsinki.
The two free shows (musicals) we watched were great! Very well done and entertaining. Great casting! The hypnotist was a joke and a waste of time. The magician was ok.
For the price paid, I was disappointed. This was my first cruise ever and it might just be my last. Yes, there were several good things about the ship and I could see this ship in the Caribbean being a fun place to be, but up in the Baltic in October was not the best.
We had an aft-facing mini-suite on deck 14 that would have been good for two people but was rather cramped for three. There was a lot of storage space but not for the suitcases. With four suitcases. we ended up putting two on the balcony because there just wasn't enough room in the cabin for them. The balcony was nice and the bed was comfortable, but being in the aft section and high up, we could feel the ship move when we went into rougher waters, which was actually often at the beginning of the cruise. The steward assigned to our cabin was good and friendly, but toward the end of the cruise the service started to slack off. We ran out of tissue two days before the cruise ended and it was never refilled.
What a beautiful city. You can take the metro from the airport right to the old town section and then walk around the area for a few hours and see most of it. Wonderful buildings, great little cafes, and neat shops.
If you don't take the excursions you are stuck in Warnemunde itself, but that isn't all that bad. It is a quaint little city with a pretty church. The old old light-house is neat (you can climb to the top for 2 Euros) and the beach is always fun. Great fresh herring and smoked fish of all sorts, including eel.
This is a great Medieval walled town. It is not, however, just a five minute walk from the dock. It is more along the lines of 30 minutes but it is worth just walking there rather than taking a tour because then you can walk around the streets of the walled town on your own and not have to worry about the tour. We found a great restaurant and had marinated mushrooms and salted cucumbers as well as Estonia's version of Root Beer. Great little shops with neat knitted things. Despite the rain, it was fun.
It is under renovation, was closed, covered in scaffolding, and far too busy. I think it would have been a great church to see but you couldn't see any of it!View All 210 Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood Reviews
This was on the first day and it is an interesting place but the church we went into within the palace was far too crowded and we didn't have any time to walk around the fortress and appreciate it.View All 114 Peter & Paul Fortress Reviews
This was a complete waste of time. It could have all been done in one day since the ship stayed in port that night. The first day was mostly in a bus with a stop at two churches and then a souvenir store. Over by 1230! Second day was to the Peterhof, which had all the fountains closed and the statues boxed up. The tour of the palace was a disaster! It was supposed to be the off season yet it was packed with tourists, mostly Asian who were pushy and rude and in some instances down right nasty. We were rushed through the palace itself in 15 minutes, didn't get to stop and appreciate anything just so that the Asians could get in also. Waste of money!View All 231 Peterhof Palace Reviews
This was excellent. Very good performers, great singers, neat costumes, and very athletic dancers. Wonderful venue with good sound. Enjoyed this.View All 53 Russian Folk Dance Reviews
Could not go in, could only see it from a distance after having to cross a very busy street. Tour guide was much more interested that we go into the souvenir shop and buy something over-priced.View All 113 St. Isaac's Cathedral Reviews
We walked from the dock to the old-town section and it took about 45 minutes but it was a pleasant walk. The two churches we saw were very nice and we could go in them and look around. Not many people here. The main city itself isn't all that old but they have lots of parks and it is easy to walk around. We enjoyed our time here but it wasn't nearly enough time. Take a day away from St. Petersburg.
This is such a great place. The Swedes should be very proud of themselves for raising this glorious wooden ship from the depths and restoring it. Wished we could have spend much more time here.View All 128 Vasa Museum Reviews
Since Stockholm is over an hour away from the dock by car, we had to book an excursion else not see anything. There were one set of buses from the dock to the city center and then one set of buses back to the dock. If you missed either one because you were slow getting off the ship or listened to the cruise people and waited, then you were screwed. We waited for over an hour in line (completely wasted time because this was done so inefficiently) for the return buses and then almost missed them anyway because they didn't have enough. The only reason I gave this an average and not a terrible is that the Hop-on hop-off buses within the city were very nice. The audio was good, clear, and informative and we wished that we had two days here instead of Russia. We missed so many things because we ran out of time.View All undefined undefined Reviews