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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
Dining was the biggest disappointment. Garden Café Buffet was disorganized and poorly laid out, food was cold and tasteless. Dessert selection small and flavorless. Moderno breakfast buffet had a nice selection but ice cold. Taste, Savor ... Read More
Dining was the biggest disappointment. Garden Café Buffet was disorganized and poorly laid out, food was cold and tasteless. Dessert selection small and flavorless. Moderno breakfast buffet had a nice selection but ice cold. Taste, Savor and Tropicana all have the same menu and nothing to write home about. Service was slow with a few exceptions (Zimik our Tropicana waitress was most excellent). Food here too was subpar compared to other cruise ships. We let the Asst. Maître D Isaac Dobson know our feeling one evening and gave him our room number but no effort was made to follow up. We spoke with a few other passengers who agreed the complimentary offering weren't great but said the specialty restaurants were pretty good. O'Shenigans was okay with good service. Bar service and drinks were outstanding (Vinnie and Darwin at the Sunset Bar were most excellent). Casino smoke was a little annoying. Theater shows are not every night. However, the Million Dollar Quartet and Burn the Floor were both worthwhile. There is no movie theater. State room was average size, nice big bathroom but the balcony was tiny (Rm 8748). Some noise from the theater until 11pm. Embarkation was pretty slow but it is a big ship. Disembarkation was smooth, taxi wait not awful. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
I took my elderly mother on this cruise as she felt she didn’t want to fly-cruise any more. We had arranged assistance boarding at Southampton Mayflower Terminal. This worked brilliantly. Having bypassed the queues we were through ... Read More
I took my elderly mother on this cruise as she felt she didn’t want to fly-cruise any more. We had arranged assistance boarding at Southampton Mayflower Terminal. This worked brilliantly. Having bypassed the queues we were through security and on board within 15-20 minutes of being dropped off. We found our stateroom in very good order with a stocked minibar in line with Moms ‘Elite’ status. Our bags were delivered in a timely manner and once unpacked we explored our home for two weeks. The itinerary included a number of sea days which we found plenty of activities to fill our days. For a large ship with over 2500 guests there was never not a place to find some ‘space’. There was never a shortage of loungers on either decks outside or inside. We were assigned late dinner in the International Restaurant, the booking confirmation stated 7:15pm when in fact dinner was at 8:00pm, not an issue for us but was for our Canadian table mates. We took breakfast and lunch in the Horizon Buffet restaurant mainly due to my Mom’s fussy taste. There was for the most part a good choice, some lunchtimes their meat that we had been served for dinner the previous evening would appear in the form of some kind of salad. Only on the last day of the trip did I find that I could actually order a portion of chips which would be cooked to order instead of me having to walk through the indoor pool area, around the outdoor pool to the burger bar to fetch these and then carry them back to the buffet! The service in the International Restaurant was impeccable, the menu choices were varied and they were always able to make changes to suit Moms palate! We went to the theatre most evenings, the Sapphire orchestra was superb, accompanying the varied visiting performances, all but one we really enjoyed (fiddle playing is not our thing) the cruise cast were particularly good, two male and two female lead vocalists lead very well. We didn’t attend the other evening entertainment part from the ‘Land of the midnight sun deck party’ which started about 11:15pm and lead to a countdown to midnight. This was very well attended and great fun. It was hard to believe that it was midnight with the sun still shining brightly in the sky. With regard to the ports and shore excursions, due to my moms not being able to walk too far we could only book two excursions. Stavanger was great, docked right in the port we were able to stroll around and see some of this pretty town. Flåm was was very pretty, we had booked the ‘Easy Flåm’ excursion which was fine for us. Gerainger was very pretty, we were able to go ashore by tender and explore under our own steam. Trondheim was great, our second excursion was on a 1950s tram which took us up into the suburbs in the hills, very pretty. We were met by a coach which took us to a ski jump arena where some young jumpers had been arranged to show their skills. Honningsvag again docked right in port was fine, the town was within easy walking distance. The Christmas shop was full of mass produced junk, we went further around the harbour and came across an outlet store which had a cafe and a bathroom, here I did find a beautiful hand painted Christmas ornament. Tromso we arrived on a Sunday, there was a shuttle bus into town at a cost of $20 but nothing in the town was open. The only visiting place that was in walking distance was a botanical garden but we were advised that it was very uneven under foot and it was raining, we stayed aboard. As we departed the captain advised that we had been assigned an inadequately qualified pilot which would result in us having to add four hours to our journey time and as a result a late arrival in the Lofoten Islands, departure was delayed accordingly. The issue here was that, 1 it was pouring with rain, 2, The tender was docking in the middle of nowhere, a four kilometres walk to the nearest town or a taxi ride. Our table mates went ashore and quickly messaged that Mom would really struggle. Our next stop was Alesund, having been tipped off by our table mates we booked a land train. This was great, an hour and a half for approx $20 each. Mom then returned to the ship and I was able to walk to a number of areas I had seen to take photos. Bergen was a bit of a mix up. We had no excursions booked. There was a ‘shuttle bus ‘ provided, this took us from the shop to the other side of the container port where we were docked. This meant we were a minimum of 1 km from the old port where another 4ships were docked. We had planned on going on the funicular railway which the tourist information said was within a few minutes walk of the main shopping street. This was far too far for us to walk. I had to sit mom on a park bench whilst I went to take photos. Having watched the ships lecture of the city I feel that we missed out on so much because of where the ship was docked (second occasion). Again the final sea day was great, a rest, no problem finding space to relax. On docking in Southampton we again had assistance for disembarkation, this was superb again this time at the Queen Elizabeth Terminal. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
This has been a bucket list cruise for us for quite a while and it did not disappoint. While I love the Princess Small Ships, I was glad to see the Sapphire doing this since, being a larger ship, that made it a bit more economical to book. ... Read More
This has been a bucket list cruise for us for quite a while and it did not disappoint. While I love the Princess Small Ships, I was glad to see the Sapphire doing this since, being a larger ship, that made it a bit more economical to book. The scenery was fantastic - better than I envisioned. We had a mid forward balcony cabin on the Lido deck, a very convenient location since no stairs or elevator wait for the buffet, pool area or grill. Waking up in the morning seeing the mountains of a fjord off your balcony was fantastic. The size of this ship was nice. Very few lines for anything, yet enough people. We booked Princess excursions at each port. In retrospect, we might have been better off checking which ports had hop-on/hop off services and just used that for a general sightseeing tour. Having said that we were NOT disappointed with any of our shore excursions. The entertainment on board was very good. 4 production shows that were all top notch. The main dining room food was excellent. Yes, Princess is cutting back a bit on Lobster night (a single lobster tail) and I'm sure some people are put off by the *optional* $19 upgrades offered some evenings, but we just ignored them and enjoyed the standard menu. Wait staff was excellent - very attentive to our requests. We were able to have a table for 2 in Anytime Dining each night. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
HAL delivered again with a very nice cruise, great food, super service, friendly staff and gracious public spaces. Great room on Dolphin deck with hardly and rock and roll and a big room with window (1903).Not a fan of the tv/dvd ... Read More
HAL delivered again with a very nice cruise, great food, super service, friendly staff and gracious public spaces. Great room on Dolphin deck with hardly and rock and roll and a big room with window (1903).Not a fan of the tv/dvd combo...hopefully they will upgrade that. Elevators around the corner zip up to Lido and MDR. Food was excellent. Banana bread French toast was a fav in MDR for breakfast. Creme Brûlée, prime rib, French onion soup, any dessert all good. Pork roast was like Sunday dinner as a kid. Liked the trivia games and the happy hour in the Crows Nest. Lincoln centre stage was excellent. Gift shop was so-so... to many high end things and low end was gaudy. Embarkation and disembarkation was the smoothest I have experienced. The staff were the real stand outs. Always friendly , helpful, smiling and keeping things clean. They work so hard! Great ports mix of large and small. 24 hour sun was something to see! Did not do any shore excursions with HAL(to expensive)all were booked ahead of time online. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose this cruise primarily to see Mid Night Sun. And we were not disappointed! We were above the Arctic Circle for 5, 24 hr Sun days/Nights! 3 days were cloudy, one day partially sunny and one day was clear blue skies. The midnight sun ... Read More
We chose this cruise primarily to see Mid Night Sun. And we were not disappointed! We were above the Arctic Circle for 5, 24 hr Sun days/Nights! 3 days were cloudy, one day partially sunny and one day was clear blue skies. The midnight sun on June 22 was very surreal and Princess had a midnight party on the top deck. All the other ports of call were very scenic. The Norwegian Fjords are awesome ! We really did not take any excursions from the ports as there was much to see right there ! At Geiranger and Lofotin Islands, we took some excursions offered by local bus tours but not any offered by Princess as they were too costly. The worst part of the cruise was lack of quality food options for vegetarians. There was only one choice for main dish every night and most of the time, it was not well prepared. Vegetarians can eat many Italian dishes ( cheese ravioli, pasta primavera, quiche and Indian dishes ). I do not understand why they add meat to salads and soups! I am glad at least the deserts have no meat! The Sanctuary was hardly used by people for whom it was intended. Make that space available to all. There were only 2 formal nights as against 3 advertised. There should have been enrichment lectures on Astrology (Midnight sun) and Geology as we were in the arctic circle , going thru the fjords and oil rigs in the North Sea. We enjoyed the cruise very much because of the choice of the poarts, fantastic scenery and Mid Night Sun! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
The allure of the midnight sun attracted us to this cruise. We'd been on the Spirit before (Western Caribbean) and we found that the asian decor seemed a little out of place. Still the same decor - and perhaps may change next time it ... Read More
The allure of the midnight sun attracted us to this cruise. We'd been on the Spirit before (Western Caribbean) and we found that the asian decor seemed a little out of place. Still the same decor - and perhaps may change next time it is in for refit. Staff was great. Cruise directors staff came from all parts of the globe, and for some they struggled with the English language and made trivia sessions interesting with some of the pronunciations =) We had the beverage package included in our package and I can't believe how much the service charge has increased (now 20%) since we started traveling with NCL (SC included 4 years ago and tipped as you saw fit ...). Bar staff was good as were the serving staff throughout the ship. We did not engage in the specialty dining package but did go to the Bistro on a single night. We were not totally impressed with the food on this night. An appetizer came out cooler than what I had thought it should be and an entree came out not as expected. In both cases we were made to feel that we were the one's in the wrong ... that we did not ask the right questions of the wait staff in regards to our meals. I could let something like this go in one of the dining rooms, but when we are paying an additional fee for our meals ... well, we expect a bit more. That was the downside of the cruise - a single meal in a specialty restaurant. The meals in the Garden and Windows restaurant were good and was flavourful. There was a good assortment of menu options. The scenery in the Norwegian Fjords was impressive, and we were so fortunate that the weather cooperated. It was quite an experience being on deck after midnight with the sun above the horizon. The excursions through the ship were handled well in getting the passengers together and then off the ship. We did the Flam railway and the Geiringer bus tour. Both good tours but expensive - based on posted rates if one were to book on their own. We attended most trivia events that fit our schedule, and found that Champagne Charlies was woefully small for the evening event. The Galaxy Lounge was hopping most nights as the entertainment was good. They played music that most enjoyed and lots of people took advantage of the dance floor. The teen area, directly above the Galaxy Lounge did not appear to be used all that often and, especially on this itinerary, could have been utilized for viewing the scenery by other passengers. The fitness area was small and there was not a lot of selection of bikes / equipment / however, when I went early in the morning it was adequate. The area that one would use for stretching was closed until 7 am when the area opened up for group sessions. Entertainment was very good - with the ship's dance troupe doing a great job on their nights. The magician was fair; the singer very good, as were the aerialists. NCL fits our traveling needs. We will always consider them for future cruises. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
This was a 10-day Baltic cruise from Stockholm to Copenhagen. It was our 4th Oceania cruise and first on Marina. We are a couple in our mid-60's which put us in the median age range on this cruise. As many people younger than us as ... Read More
This was a 10-day Baltic cruise from Stockholm to Copenhagen. It was our 4th Oceania cruise and first on Marina. We are a couple in our mid-60's which put us in the median age range on this cruise. As many people younger than us as older. Embarkation was smooth and quick. After lunch in the Terrace Cafe, our cabin was ready at 1:00. Our steward quickly introduced himself. We had very good service from him and the cabin attendant throughout the cruise. The Marina is in very good condition and is a beautiful ship. Oceania lived up to its reputation with serving excellent food. They did not disappoint. We ate in each of the 4 specialty restaurants once, dinner in the GDR a couple of times, dinner in Terrace Cafe a couple of times. Waves for lunch was excellent. Our dinner in Red Ginger was our favorite meal on the cruise. The only little negative we experienced was service in Terrace Cafe at dinner. It can be difficult to find a wine steward. By the time you order and get your glass of wine, you're halfway through the meal. The entertainment on the ship was good and the shows were well attended. The production show of singers and dancers were talented. Some of the musical selections were a little questionable, in my opinion, as they leaned towards the older age group. But still quite good. The vocalist, Elias Hendricks, was one of the best entertainers I have seen on a cruise. The band that played in Horizons at 10:30 was very good. Their Beatlemania tribute night was attended by 200 people - the most I've seen in Horizons that late. They also did an Abba tribute that was popular as well. The cruise director, John, did a great job. He was at ease with his job and was enthusiastic without being over-the-top. We went on the ship's shore excursions and found them to be good. I know that some people prefer private tours but I really cannot complain about any of the excursions that we took on this cruise. We had exceptionally good tour guides in St. Petersburg. Very articulate, knowledgeable, professional and friendly. You have to negotiate through the crowds at The Hermitage no matter if you're on a ship's excursion or private tour. At the Faberge Museum, our group was only 16 people. Gdansk was another port where we had an excellent tour guide. One word about the wi-fi on the ship. Terrible. This is something that Oceania should improve on if they think that being competitive with other cruise line's wi-fi is important. I just wanted to check my email and use basic internet for 20 minutes a day and this was very challenging. Disembarkation in Copenhagen was smooth and on-time. One word of caution if you're trying to grab a taxi and that is to be prepared to wait in line for an hour or more. We pre-arranged a private car with our hotel and it was well worth the bit of extra cost. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
We did the Norwegian fjords and had a great time. Sun seemed to emerge every day at exactly the right moment. The ship is the oldest of the Norwegian fleet and will be refitted early next year. Still the public rooms were well appointed, ... Read More
We did the Norwegian fjords and had a great time. Sun seemed to emerge every day at exactly the right moment. The ship is the oldest of the Norwegian fleet and will be refitted early next year. Still the public rooms were well appointed, no issues. The balcony cabin seemed a bit small as did the balcony. Still no real problem until you get to the very dated bathroom. Ours had a soft spot in the floor that they covered with a bathmat. Food was good in the main dining hall and better in the specialty restaurants, although we learned to avoid fish entrees. One of the most popular excursions is the Flam railway. It was outrageously priced. Norwegian did refund 20%. I am not a fan of independent tour booking but in this case I would make an exception. Norwegian charged $169 for roundtrip with a stop for waffles. The trip is beautiful but skip the waffles and buy a roundtrip ticket at the rail station next to the pier. About $60. You'll board before the excursion and go all the way to the top. Skipping the waffle stop also avoids a half hour wait on the platform (in the rain) for the return train. trains run every hour, get an early one and no problem with all aboard time. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
Just a quick review of the Oceania Marina Scandinavian Ballads 10 day cruise: While we have been on over 30 cruises, this was our first on Oceania. All in all, it truly exceeded our expectations due to the extraordinary food and ... Read More
Just a quick review of the Oceania Marina Scandinavian Ballads 10 day cruise: While we have been on over 30 cruises, this was our first on Oceania. All in all, it truly exceeded our expectations due to the extraordinary food and overall service. The food is by far the best we have had on a cruise and due to that fact, we will definitely cruise Oceania again. The service and attentiveness was unequalled in all the cruises we have done. We typically sail in smaller ships but we noted that even though this ship held 1,200 passengers, we never felt crowded or rushed. A couple of specifics: We stayed in Stockholm for 2 1/2 days prior to the cruise and while we truly enjoyed the Vasa Museum and Old town, it was a bit underwhelming compared to other European cities. We stayed at the Sheraton and we booked it independently from the cruise. It is a good location but be prepared for a crazy scene the morning of departure. We casually got ready anticipating an 11:00ish departure from the hotel and head to the ship. The lobby was crazy and the check-in was 10 deep(those that just departed the ship), thus not allowing you to easily check out. Tip: Use the Express Checkout and drop off your envelope and get out of the lobby!! This cruise was very port intensive and the ports were very good. We only did 1 excursion and we did it in St. Petersburg and we did it independently from the ship. We had a great tour operator, Allla Tours, and our group was limited to 16 people which made it manageable. The ships tours were much more crowded. Without going into a full review of all ports on this writing, I would tell you that most were very enjoyable and some were outstanding. The outstanding ports were: St. Petersburg, Tallin Estonia, Gdansk, Poland, and Copenhagen. The rest were very good but they did not hit the outstanding category. I will try and expand upon the cruise in the near future. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
I chose this cruise for the itinerary...12 days in Norway, including the Arctic Circle sounded like the trip of a lifetime. My only apprehension was that the ship was older than dirt and rather small. But, I am glad to say that the trip ... Read More
I chose this cruise for the itinerary...12 days in Norway, including the Arctic Circle sounded like the trip of a lifetime. My only apprehension was that the ship was older than dirt and rather small. But, I am glad to say that the trip exceeded my expectations. Wonderful food and crew members...great entertainment. As if I was on any of the bigger or newer ships in the Norwegian fleet -- I didn't feel like we were being neglected because the ship was small and old. The ship was just that---a ship. Very basic amenities, but that was more than enough for me. I actually appreciated it only have to take 5 minutes to get from Point A to Point B. On bigger ships, walking around gets complex. But not on this ship. Easy, easy. Getting to my cabin and the buffet was super easy. Minor complaints: the Asian-themed decorations were weird considering that this boat doesn't go to Asia. But that was a minor nuisance. My inside cabin was spacious. So yeah, I had a great time! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
As someone who always believed inside cabins were sufficient I was dazzled by my first time in a suite (albeit the smallest suite possible). Still, a walk-in closet on a ship and a bathtub! We really enjoyed our cabin and our roomy ... Read More
As someone who always believed inside cabins were sufficient I was dazzled by my first time in a suite (albeit the smallest suite possible). Still, a walk-in closet on a ship and a bathtub! We really enjoyed our cabin and our roomy balcony, having breakfast on the balcony almost every day. It was also great fun on the balcony waving to all the boats that accompanied us out of Hamburg. The Princess Grill was superb every night except the first. The fish that night was average and we, two older women, were seated way off in a corner. Eating in the Princess Grill had been on my bucket list but I felt that I was still on the outside looking in. However, the (very entertaining) maitre d quickly moved us to the center of the part of the room that overlooked the promenade deck and we were much happier there. The food was very good, mostly well executed classics, and anyone looking for more trendy choices might be disappointed. We loved the Dover Sole and the Chateaubriand and the Cherries Jubilee (you get the picture). Mostly we loved the atmosphere of muted, leisurely meals in an attractive room with excellent service. Dinner became our evening activity and we often missed the planned entertainment as a result. What else did we do? We enjoyed the singers and dancers when we did make the shows and regretted missing the violinist. The planetarium was moderately interesting as were the speakers. We tried to visit all the bars but gave up and pretty much settled on the Carinthia where we could have a light meal with our wine. Zumba was fun but the pools were rather cold. The Golden Lion Pub offered good fish and chips. Afternoon tea in the Queen's Room was a disappointment -good food but a mad rush to get in and get a table. The library was lovely and the Promenade Deck was a comfortable place to sit or get some exercise walking. Service was excellent and we appreciated the young man who brought our room service breakfasts, our assistant waiter, and all the nameless crew members who smiled and made us feel welcome. We only took one shore excursion - to Bruges - which left us needing to do a lot of walking to get to the center of town but was well organized and on time. We explored on our own in Hamburg and Guernsey. Regarding the ship, she is showing her age (I had sailed on her in 2005) but just barely. She is still a magnificent "grande dame". Just don't expect glitz and glitter and instead settle into a leisurely, relaxed way of life. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
We had a relaxing time on Norwegian Spirit. Great itinerary. Good restaurants and service staff. Our cabin was comfortable and clean although dated and the toilet had a smell that wasn’t pleasant no matter how often it was cleaned. ... Read More
We had a relaxing time on Norwegian Spirit. Great itinerary. Good restaurants and service staff. Our cabin was comfortable and clean although dated and the toilet had a smell that wasn’t pleasant no matter how often it was cleaned. Buffet was fine but not happy wth pushy people who don’t know how to queue and while the food was usually ok it was all very salty. I preferred the dining rooms. I was surprised that there was no gluten free range. I found the shore excursions very expensive. We did our own for half what they charged. I was disappointed that they didn’t offer any free exercise classes. I did a few stretch classes but the instructor wasn’t very good. I appreciated the care that bar, dining and cabin staff displayed. They were always pleasant and their jobs can’t be easy. Don’t know that I would travel on this ship again. It is quiet old and dated. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We cruise with Cunard most years, but found to our shock that it was ten years since we had been on QM2, so we booked this cruise. Basically it was a cruise made up of bits of other voyages, so did not have quite the same feeling as a ... Read More
We cruise with Cunard most years, but found to our shock that it was ten years since we had been on QM2, so we booked this cruise. Basically it was a cruise made up of bits of other voyages, so did not have quite the same feeling as a cruise where almost everyone embarks and disembarks at the same time and place, and was a bit lacking in things like World Club parties. But we expected this and did not mind. Rather unexpected was the four formal nights. We had forgotten how truly magnificent the ship is, with vastly impressive public rooms and huge expanses of real teak decks. This of course means that distances between venues can be quite great, particularly as our cabin was near the front and our restaurant at the back. This means you walk off more of the food you consume. The ship always seemed restful and tranquil, never crowded, though I believe it was, to all intents and purposes, full Our Q6 cabin was very nice with an expansive balcony and a blissfully comfortable bed. The bathroom unfortunately, though spacious, is poorly arranged. There would be plenty of room for a separate shower, but it doesn't have one, a great shame. Food in the Queens Grill was good with a wide choice, though the coffee was sometimes warm rather than hot. We did not eat anywhere else, prefering to enjoy the restaurant comfort, quality, and excellent service. Indeed the service was a great highlight. Both the restaurant staff and our butler and assistant were thoughtful, courteous, efficient, and kind. We could not have been better looked after. Our sommelier had a great knowledge of wine and great ability to convey his enthusiasms. Embarkation and disembarkation at Southampton were both very smooth, aided by our priority status. We were on the ship at midday and off by 8.20. We called at Hamburg twice, and QM2 always gets a great welcome and sendoff. This time we celebrated fifteen years of the ships association with the port. It is a most attrative city to wonder round. We also visited Gent on a Cunard transfer, and that too is a city worth seeing. While in some ways this cruise was harder work than one on the smaller ships, it was very much an experience, and one I would recommend. Best of all would be an Atlantic crossing on her. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
I do not normally write a review on cruises. I do always rely on my other half to do this. I have read so many bad and negative reviews about Costa which I was not very keen to sail with them this time. I have traveled a lol, done so ... Read More
I do not normally write a review on cruises. I do always rely on my other half to do this. I have read so many bad and negative reviews about Costa which I was not very keen to sail with them this time. I have traveled a lol, done so many cruises with Royal, Azamara, Cunard, Princess and so on. You just imagine how well they are by name. So I was quite worried to embark on Costa Mediterranea due to my experience with the best ones on the sea. I cannot praise to anyone to give a go, to try it at least once. It was amazing. We sailed this month and we went to the Norwegian Fjords. The ship was glizzy, beautiful though. It's like a Las Vegas Hotel if we want to compare to something. It's not new but no old at all. It has got that sparkle which it makes everything good to be on. We were for 10 days and we enjoyed everyday. We are definitely going back again. Also we have found out that Costa had a free shuttle from Amsterdam (from a station to the port, which no so many cruise liners do that.... On the other hand I just would like to pointing out few things.... We do feel citizens of the world, Costa is a multicultural environment and of course we do not expect everyone to speak with the same accent or this perfect English. Sometimes demand is it perhaps we do want this or that in our own way? Why cruiser just accept what it is without making huge fuss? The only problem is some the passenger itself which they do not know what it does mean respect. To be honest criticize and write a bad review to a cruise company is easy but sometimes we should ourselves understand why sometimes things don't go how we want. Perhaps we expect too much, we treat badly those people who are really working hard on board for us. Just be nice, try to see yourself on the other side and just think how you would like to be treated, perhaps your perception will change a bit. I can't personally knock anything down. It's us we should respect each other when traveling. That's my personal opinion. If you don't like it then you can go with Silversea, Seabourne, Oceania where you pay a high standard rate and you get what you really want. Sorry to be harsh but we just need to stop winging and criticise everything. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
This was our first Baltic cruise. Princess cruise lines did an excellent job. Embarkation was a breeze. The Medallion service still has start up problems as many employees are not up to speed, but it has worthwhile features. They only ... Read More
This was our first Baltic cruise. Princess cruise lines did an excellent job. Embarkation was a breeze. The Medallion service still has start up problems as many employees are not up to speed, but it has worthwhile features. They only updated one account with the Beverage package and the waiter had to get the other one added. The Medallion really does not do too much more than the cruise card did and it allows them to track you. The ship is beautiful, but with the number of passengers the elevators were always packed. They can't add more elevators, but maybe they can make them run more frequently or more efficiently. We had a mini-suite on the Riviera deck. It was very quiet, very well laid out with sufficient storage. Our steward, Jeff, tirelessly maintained our cabin and did a superior job. We had Club Class dining which was very nice for the special attention, but did not get to meet as many other passengers. The food although tasty and well-prepared, was not exceptional. The entertainment was outstanding. The Russian Folk dance performers were great. The Regal Princess Singers and Dancers were talented. The Princess band has some of the best musicians we have seen. The entertainment in the Piazza and the Wheelhouse lounge always is amazing and relaxing at the end of the day. The band We Are Evolution can really get the ship rockin'. Getting to listen to and to meet Lou Gazzara and Peter Cutler was an unexpected pleasure. Princess shore excursions cost more than the local tours as every Cruise Critic member knows. We did not need 2 days in St. Petersburg. We only had a few hours in Oslo. Estonia and Stockholm were our favorite ports. Princess cancelled our Stockholm excursion at the last minute due to the Royal Palace closing and did not offer even a free shuttle into town. The Front Desk did not seem to care. They also did not provide our Disembarkation information on the last night. For that and other mishandled problems, Guest Services was our biggest disappointment on the trip. We will sail Princess again because overall they do everything well. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We are seasoned cruisers with DH finally reaching the “laundry” level on Princess. We have originally booked Alaska on Royal, but switched to Regal in Baltic fairly last minute. We do love the Royal Class ships – better buffet, ... Read More
We are seasoned cruisers with DH finally reaching the “laundry” level on Princess. We have originally booked Alaska on Royal, but switched to Regal in Baltic fairly last minute. We do love the Royal Class ships – better buffet, Alfredo’s, Princess Live, Enclave, etc. Below are my thoughts and observations from our 11 day Baltic adventure. Ship. We have sailed on Regal last year before Medallion was fully operational and were excited to try the full power of the gadget. Overall, my experience with it was very positive: shipmates function worked very well, I was able to order drinks to the room and my DS enjoyed all the games, especially Ocean Trek Adventure. What I absolutely disliked: 4 apps instead of one (why???) and to top it all off the most important and useful info was not even in the apps, but on ocean.com. Hopefully IT will figure out how to combine all these functions into one app. Also, last year internet on Regal was amazing. This year, it was sluggish. Regardless, we love the Royal class ships and Regal didn’t disappoint again. Room. For the first time we have tried the “deluxe balcony”. The room is slightly bigger than standard balcony and has a small couch. We were on emerald deck in one of the ”obstructed” balconies. Great room with very good room steward and no obstruction except for a deck below. It was a bit small for 3 people in terms of clothes storage, but would be perfect for 2 people longing for the “barrel” chair. Fellow Passengers. So far we sailed mostly Caribbean cruises with Panama Canal, Tahiti and New England thrown in, ie mostly Canadian, American and Australian passengers. On this cruise the mix was decidedly different: A LOT of Asian (Chinese and Japanese) tourists, which did not mingle with others and largely didn’t speak English. Ordinarily this wouldn’t bother me at all, but this was my first Princess cruise where I have witnessed a fight between passengers. Asian lady was hoarding a table full of $10 sale items and when another lady came over and tried a scarf on (thinking it was another display table), Asian lady yanked the scarf off of the other lady and struck her in the head with a fist. Both DS and I were in complete shock. Also, this was the first itinerary where passengers can board at any port of call. Personally, I found this to be distracting, especially when you cant even enjoy the Enclave because of spa tours in every port. Entertainment. We have sailed on Regal quite recently, so we have seen most of the production shows. I personally really like both Fiera and Born to Dance, so we have seen them again. Missing from usual line up was a stand up comedian, instead they had two different “variety” acts and some “American Idol” finalist we didn’t bother to see. We have sailed before with Alexander Yepremian, who is an AMAZING cruise director and he personally didn’t disappoint again. However, his stuff I found quite lacking. Staff was fairly large (4 assistant cruise directors) and suitably enthusiastic. But where Alexander is naturally funny, witty and welcoming, their interactions felt very forced and frankly “I don’t get the reference” jokes are only somewhat funny the first two times (and this is coming from non-native English speaker). One of our favorite game shows (Marriage) was absolutely ruined by an inexperienced and just plainly bad at hosting game shows host. I have to give another shout out to Alexander and Martin (entertainment director) for organizing Princess Rock Orchestra. It was quite an event! Showband and both resident bands played a set in the piazza with Rock hits. It was 4 people deep “standing room only” event that was absolutely AWESOME! I hope this event will get exported to other ships in the fleet. Ports. We did a mixture of DIY and Princess tours. In order of appearance: • Stockholm. Princess tour “Vikings to Vasa”. Would not recommend. Tour did not give enough time at the Viking museum, which is amazing. Our guide talked in one spot of the museum for 20 min out of whole 30 min allotted. Most of that speech could be summarized in the following “I have never seen series “Vikings”, but whatever you think you learned from that is wrong”. I haven’t seen the series either, but when museum itself uses scenes from the series as décor and promo items, they cant be that far off! In any case, Viking museum in Stockholm is very interactive with plenty of costumed staff to explain and show things (very welcoming, speak different languages) and is far superior to the Viking museum in Oslo (see below) in terms of what you can learn about Viking history. There is also a “ride” that is supposed to explain how Vikings became what they are, if you have time for it, do it, as it is quite humorous (probably not the intention though). My DS’s take on that was that the wife nagged her husband to go become a Viking. After not enough time in the Viking museum we walked over to Vasa museum. As usual with large groups, there will be some people whose time is vastly more important that the rest of us mere mortals, so naturally we ended up waiting for them while they were being located. I personally didn’t care for Vasa museum, but DH thought it was awesome, so to each its own. I just don’t understand why Swedes would feel so strongly about what is actually a complete failure (Vasa sank in Stockholm harbor mere minutes into its maiden voyage). Ship itself has very interesting art on it. I believe my disappointment with it is mostly due to our guide, who again blabbed on somewhat related topics for the most of the allotted time with mere 10 min to explore on our own. Sailing in and out of Stockholm was spectacular. However, I have heard that this was one and only time Regal will be going all the way in instead of Nynashamn. • Helsinki. We went to Suomenlinna fortress on our own. Very quick and easy ride there on public ferry. Explored the fortress and most of the museums (fair warning from 10 yo DS: Toy museum is not worth it and is complete rip off). Grounds are very pretty, you can go into the cavelike rooms inside fortress walls. Overall we had very good time and learned something new. I was not aware that Finland was Nazi ally in WWII. • St. Petersburg. Private tour of all the city highlights. We used City Break Tours to make us a very custom itinerary of all the “must-sees”. We had a private guide, Masha, who spoke excellent English, and driver Yuri. Masha was extremely knowledgeable guide, I have learned quite a few things from her! They took as to the following places per our agreed upon itinerary (I have been to SPB twice as a kid, so my observations are somewhat tainted by that fact): o Faberge Museum. DH loved it, both DS and I felt like it could have been easily skipped. Unless you really LOVE all things Faberge (DH), this could be easily forfeited for something else. o Hermitage. We did standard 2 hour tour with all the highlights (and crowds), plus visited “special interest” rooms for DS – mummies and weapons (unfortunately knights room was not open). Additionally, we visited “treasure rooms”, these are separate $$$ fee entry with separate guide assigned to your party. There are 3 gold rooms with gold artefacts dating back 600 AD and 2 diamond rooms with tsar trinkets. Kremlin’s “treasure gallery” (I forget what is really called) is way better. Again, DH LOVED it (he loves shiny things), both DS and I were bored and could have easily passed on them, especially given the $ amount it costs to enter. We ate lunch at Hermitage café, crowded, but food is very tasty and pastries/cakes were divine! Word of warning, all Russian sandwiches come with mayo and/or mustard already inside. Could be a problem (DS). o Last stop on day 1 (after picture stop in Palace Square) was Peterhoff fountain Park and the Grand Palace. All three famous palaces (Winter Palace/Hermitage, Peterhoff/Grand Palace and Pushkin/Catherine’s Palace) are very similar in architecture and décor (gold, gold and more gold) and frankly if it wasn’t for DH (again, he loves shiny things), I would have skipped Pushkin or Hermitage in favor of something else. Note, that you have to wear protective shoe covers in both summer residences, DS got a kick out of them at least. We did love the fountains in Peterhoff and that walk in the park was great after long day of looking at jewelry and gilded everything. o We did evening boat cruise which was also very good. Gives you different perspective on all the buildings when you view them from water. o Day 2 started with drive to Pushkin/Catherine’s Palace. Frankly to me this was the most underwhelming out of all of them. Yes, very pretty palace with gorgeous décor, but it was least authentic out of all of them, because it was completely levelled and looted during Siege of Leningrad. So whatever you see there is either a replica or has been completely redone. Amber room was also supremely underwhelming to me. Gardens were great – pretty and had a separate very small palace Catherine the Great built for herself to entertain her lovers. Very interesting story and spot made even more special for us because Masha (our guide) got married there and shared her amazing pictures. o Monument to Defenders of Leningrad. This was a “must-see” on my list for DS, so he can experience WWII from USSR people standpoint. Small exhibition, but very moving. o St. Isaac’s. I chose only one out of 3 cathedrals, because St. Isaac’s is my personal favorite. It didn’t disappoint any of us. Definitely must for anyone visiting SPB. o Last stop for us was Peter & Paul Fortress. DS and I explored the fortress, including the prison, while DH went to see the mint (shiny things). This was possible because I am native Russian speaker and DS speaks limited Russian. Our guide stayed with DH while we explored on our own. Other notes: our guide was very helpful in suggesting things DS would like and fitting them into itinerary; she was also really good at comparison shopping for souvenirs (saved us at least $150 on replica Faberge eggs alone!); we did not wait for more than 5 min in any line at any attraction and it was amazing to me how Masha pulled that one off; do not dismiss row of kiosks in port when shopping for souvenirs, they have some fairly unique items and we were able to bargain with them a bit. Long story short, get a private tour for your group in SPB, you would not regret it! I wish we could have fit in more things, as there was a number of museum I wanted to visit, but couldn’t fit into itinerary. I guess we will have to come back. Do not miss sailing out of SPB! You sail right past Kronshtadt (sp) fortress! Not to be missed! • Tallinn. We took a cab to the top of Toompea Hill and walked our way down through the old city. Tallinn was my favorite city in terms of architecture and overall “medievalness” of it, but my least favorite city in terms of locals and tourist facilities (bathrooms). We visited museum inside the fortress tower, very interesting with multiple exhibits (history of Danish flag, military history of Estonia (DS’s fave), tunnels (they link pretty much entire old city, very spooky with great exhibits) and art exhibit we didn’t visit). Just walking the town is amazing with every shop almost a small museum on its own. A lot of fellow cruisers bought wool items there, but I didn’t find them such a bargain (bought almost identical items for way less in US before). Also, best deal on amber we actually got on a cruiseship (with 10% elite discount), so go figure. No need for any kind of tour here. If not satisfied with just walking and reading info, there is free tour (for tips) that I heard was quite good. • Warnemunde. We did not go to Berlin, but went to the beach and strolled Warnemunde instead. Very lovely seaside resort town and welcome break from “intensive touring”. Best strawberries I have ever had in my life (bought from the small farm stand and consumed immediately) and amazing ice cream. I think my DS ate his own weight in ice cream from different vendors, flavors were so unique and very good! • Oslo. Due to shortness of the stop we did Princess tour here. We visited Viking museum and Kon-Tiki and Fram museums. Unlike Stockholm, our guide on this tour was very good, knowledgeable and actually made sense when talking about her country. Viking museum here houses Viking ships found in clay as well as artifacts found on said ships. Not interactive and not very in depth in terms of Viking history, as I said Stockholm museum is superior. I was obsessed with Tour Heirdahl (sp) story and everything South Pacific as a kid, so to me Kon-Tiki museum was very interesting, but it is not for everyone. Fram museum is built to house the ship that was used for both Arctic and Antarctic expeditions (Fram) and is very well layed out and tells amazing story. As I said, our guide was great in talking about her country in addition to museum visits. She made me want to come back there. I loved sailing out of Oslo almost as much (if not more) than sailing out of Stockholm. • Copenhagen. We went on debark tour and it was a very good experience. We drove around the city with multiple picture stops and very knowledgeable guide. Currencies: There has been a lot of discussion on these boards about whether or not to bring cash. We exchanged some Danish kroners, Euros and Rubles ahead of time. I should not have bothered with Kroners, but we did use Euros and Rubles, had to actually take out more Euro’s. Yes, you can get by with just credit card, but it might mean not going to the bathroom until you get back to the ship, missing out on souvenirs and local treats, or, as it was in our case, not having money to bribe parking attendant at SPB attraction to let you park closer without “permit”. My take on it is, if you are doing a DIY tour, take at least some cash with you and if you are on Princess tour, don’t bother. Also, if you are tipping your guide in SPB in dollars, please make sure they don’t have any markings on them and are at least $20 and above (hence might want to tip in rubles). Russian exchange places charge extra fees for small currency and markings on bills. Food: Very subjective. This cruise all my meals were good, while DH complained twice about his meal being cold. We did enjoy a possibility to order from Crown Grill one night when nothing looked appetizing on the menu. Also, we have finally tried the sushi spot and it was very good! Interesting take on seafood and fresh and delicious. Overall, this was great cruise and we were blessed with amazing weather (upper 60s, low seventies). It rained once for the entire 11 days (unheard of in the Baltic). Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
A wonderful cruise on the sensational fabulous Regal princess. I couldn't fault this cruise and I have been on a few cruises especially Princess. The staff are extremely professional and it ran like clockwork. It had a great vibe to ... Read More
A wonderful cruise on the sensational fabulous Regal princess. I couldn't fault this cruise and I have been on a few cruises especially Princess. The staff are extremely professional and it ran like clockwork. It had a great vibe to the ship. The food in mdr was of a high quality along with other food outlets. The entertainment was great with a wide variety of entrainment options. The ports were great especially St Petersburg was sensational and 2 full days were needed. Only a short time in Oslo Norway only criticism as needed more time as shore excursion was rushed. The cabins are spacious and comfortable and maintained we had s balcony and woke up one more with a view of a castles and churches not bad. As a Elite passenger we were able to use Club 6 for our wine time. My time on The Regal princess was brilliant one of my favourite cruises Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose this cruise on recommendation from our travel agent. We flew to lovely Lisbon a few days beforehand, the joined the ship,looking very tiny berthed near some very large cruise ships. The welcome was decidedly perfunctory, and we ... Read More
We chose this cruise on recommendation from our travel agent. We flew to lovely Lisbon a few days beforehand, the joined the ship,looking very tiny berthed near some very large cruise ships. The welcome was decidedly perfunctory, and we found our way to our deck 4 cabin. It was pleasantly large, but definitely needed a good spring clean. The bed seemed hard and sagging, not a good start we felt. We liked the white marble bathroom and noted approvingly that the toiletries were quality Occitan. We explored briefly then went for a buffet lunch in the stern Verandah. It was a very ordinary buffet choice and we were astounded at the cost of the drinks on offer. We learned that many passengers had bought a drinks package, but as the wines were fairly mediocre in our opinion, we decided not to take up the package offer. It was lovely to note the teak decks , a small outdoor pool and hot tub, and plenty of deck lounge seating. We looked through the daily program, but it lacked variety or imagination, so we decided that a comfortable spot with a good book might be a good way to relax. Much ceremony was made of the sail away flag raising to the music of Vangelis’ 1492, used on other cruise lines we recalled. There was a comfortable lounge with busy coffee bar and a tiny library, but little else of note. It was a port intensive cruise with only one sea day, but we had visited all the ports previously, so did not read the excursion offers. In each port the ship laid on a shuttle bus to the centre of town , a useful service for those who wished to be independent . We were happy to wander, sample the local cuisine and bars in each port. We were right in our estimation... the bed was horribly saggy and worn, leaving us both with aching backs! Entertainment was decidedly limited, with a singing duo , but little else, with the exception of a lecturer with a sole topic. Dining was open seating, with varied menus and good service from the friendly Asian servers. It was not gourmet dining, but perfectly adequate. It would not be a ship we’d choose on future occasions, but it was an interesting experience. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
Lisbon to Dublin seemed like an interesting itinerary so we booked a mid-ship stateroom. We had cruised on Star Pride's Inaugural sailing and prior to that when it was a Seabourn ship. The cabins are spacious albeit somewhat dated ... Read More
Lisbon to Dublin seemed like an interesting itinerary so we booked a mid-ship stateroom. We had cruised on Star Pride's Inaugural sailing and prior to that when it was a Seabourn ship. The cabins are spacious albeit somewhat dated now. The ship is compact. Two staircases so you gain a sense of where everything is quite quickly. The main restaurant is deck 3 and the Veranda (self service/buffet/back of ship area) which at 7pm morphs into 'Candles' grill style restaurant where a dinner reservation is required. Both restaurants served wonderful food and the menus were imaginative and varied. The service was attentive and friendly. Windstar's room service is in our experience always first rate, whether its an early breakfast or a late night snack. Our orders were delivered in a timely fashion by a cheery friendly waiter or waitress. The Compass Rose Bar was our go to destination after dinner where there was always a duo playing together with the crew taking part in Liar or a music quiz. What really works for us is the friendliness of all the crew: they make sure that they call you by your name which everyone appreciates. When we were moored in the Scilly Isles I didn't get off the ship as I'm a bit of a wuss when it comes to getting on and off tenders. The ship was almost empty so I sat on deck and over the course of a couple of hours three crew members came to chat, check I was okay and ask if they could get me anything. Windstar is a firm favourite for us and our eight day Star Pride trip was a really great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
ITINERARY is the reason to pick Holland America Line. However, we both came home sneezing and coughing because of the airco in the cabin that is placed right over the bed and cannot be shut off. This was also the case two years ago ... Read More
ITINERARY is the reason to pick Holland America Line. However, we both came home sneezing and coughing because of the airco in the cabin that is placed right over the bed and cannot be shut off. This was also the case two years ago when we also sailed with Zuiderdam but we figured this major problem would have been solved after the ship had been refurbished. But NO. We were certainly not the only people complaining about this problem and I would never book such a ship again. Service, food choice had also declined in two years. The menu was cut down, no more surf and turf, or baked Alaska. I do not mind paying for lobster ($20) but the quality was poor, lobster was small, hard and tasteless. Other dishes failed to impress as was the case earlier. Now the service has always been excellent, but also here they started dropping the ball, almost constantly. Three times our wine got lost and most dinner they were unable to serve us wine with first course, which is really a shame. Also on deck nine staff sometimes unfriendly, and hardly willing to serve. A great let down! We are going again with HAL in September on Koningsdam and on New Statendam service was better and the airco could be shut off, we always take veranda cabin to get in fresh air. Cabin staff was fine and we like the older look of Zuiderdam too but they really must get their act together and stop counting pennies. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
The Northern Isles cruise was a great 14 day tour of Nordic country and history in Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Shetland Island and Scotland. The cruise had 5 full days in Iceland, longer than most tours. My husband and I went early to tour ... Read More
The Northern Isles cruise was a great 14 day tour of Nordic country and history in Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Shetland Island and Scotland. The cruise had 5 full days in Iceland, longer than most tours. My husband and I went early to tour Copenhagen/Sweden. Copenhagen has so many wonderful things to see you could easily spend 5 days just in that site alone. We took a fjord cruise and shopped in Bergen. We went on the troop wall tour in Ålesund, highly recommend. We booked a private tour to reduce the price. Seydisfjordur was a lovely town with colorful buildings. We took a tour to the interior part of Iceland’s Eastland. Next came Akureyri with the huge Godafoss waterfall and the really interesting Laufas Museum of a Church and preserved sod house. In Isafjordur, we took a tour with a local to Flateyri with a waterfall and the most amazing views of lupine flowers all over the county side and hillsides. The guide has rested eider down for the over 10000 ducks on his land. Then there were 2 days in Reykjavík with an Super Golden Circle tour and a city tour with the historic open air museum the next day. Lerwick and the Shetland Island was amazing, taking a small bus tour with a local, seeing the southern part of the island with amazing views, the Croft House museum, Scalloway museum with 5000 year old ruins and Sumburgh Head with Lighthouse and Puffin lined cliffs. Last stop was Inverggordon/Inverness, Scotland with a tour of Loch Ness, Culloden Battlefield, Clava Cairns and Inverness shopping. Many’s memories, any pictures. A cold was going around the ship and we both picked it up, luckily near the end of the cruise. The on ship experience was very peaceful. They had great EXC tour specialist that gave information. The shows did vary, some were not as interesting. They did have three large music venues to attend, we found we enjoyed some of the music days better, especially the five piece Ensemble at the Lincoln center room. The in room dining with always great with fresh food and came quickly. The main dining room, the food was very good and non-gala nights. The Lido market had a variety of food that was just fine. We ate once at the Pinnacle Grill, you can eat lunch there for only $10. This was a really good restaurant. I recommend purchasing the unlimited laundry, you can bring less clothing. We purchased drink cards of $250 rather than a higher price drink package. At the end of the cruise the money left on the gift card was applied to your account. Embarking and disembarking went very easy. We took a morning tour with airport transfer to the airport on the last day. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
I joined this HAL-branded cruise for 2 reasons. Firstly, to sightsee and enjoy the Norwegian Fjords and its culture. I am happy to achieve what I wish for and rated it a 9 out of 10. Secondly, the HAL experience onboard Nieuw Statendam ... Read More
I joined this HAL-branded cruise for 2 reasons. Firstly, to sightsee and enjoy the Norwegian Fjords and its culture. I am happy to achieve what I wish for and rated it a 9 out of 10. Secondly, the HAL experience onboard Nieuw Statendam (prior, I cruised with Zuiderdam, Nieuw Amsterdam and Koningsdam). This is the worst programming/events I encountered. The quality of the World Stage performance was below par (apart from renowned pianist Zhang and One-Step light & dance performance). There were 2 nights without performance. I was disappointed that the ship didn't engaged any local Nowergian performer throughout the 14 nights. t) Sea day has 1 track event rather than 2, on most ship. As such, sea-day was boring and subdued. I would like more enrichment programs on sea day. Like painting appreciation, pottery making, knitting, play a simple norwegian musical instrument Lido Market food quality and quantity were excellent BUT lack variety. Serving the same food 14 days in a row. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
If your primary interest in cruising is to make short visits to a variety of sites without having to unpack or worry about checking in/out, arrange transport between cities, etc. , then the Nieuw Statendam is the ship for you. If you also ... Read More
If your primary interest in cruising is to make short visits to a variety of sites without having to unpack or worry about checking in/out, arrange transport between cities, etc. , then the Nieuw Statendam is the ship for you. If you also see cruising to foreign lands as an opportunity to learn through onboard lectures and enjoy yourself, then this is not the ship for you. We did a 14-day cruise to Norway that included five sea days. I anticipated having presentations by speakers who might discuss the local traditions, legends, politics, or other potential Nordic topics. Not so on this ship. The EXC guide presented memorized generic lectures with photos on each port and very few other topics. Most lectures were 30 - 40 minutes in length and usually covered two ports at a time. The EXC guide arrived and started promptly on time and as soon as she finished went into hiding in the crew spaces, i.e., no deviation from the script, no questions, etc. Other than the three music venues, HAL has done away with all entertainment other than a few guest artists (singers, comics, etc.). In the first seven days, we had a great opera singer who performed two evenings, one comedian who performed once, one adequate guitarist who performed once and one evening when the guitarist and comedian shared the stage. The first night, there was an EXC lecture and one night there was no entertainment, not even a movie in the mainstage. There were movies each evening poolside. We were fortunate to obtain a reasonably priced upgrade to a Neptune Suite which made the cruise much more comfortable. The room, although not as large as on older HAL ships was very well laid out with a great bathroom. There were at least six electrical outlets with North American 110 and USB jacks in each. The Neptune Lounge concierges, Paulo and Kirsten, provided great service when requested. Club Orange is HAL’s effort to catch up with the completion in providing a distinctive suite experience. It is a somewhat feeble attempt in that the menu is identical to the MDR with an additional item on some days. Our original excellent chef was moved to Sel de Mer near the end of the cruise and his loss was obvious to the tenor of the restaurant. Not only was he a wonderful and meticulous chef, he also took time to come out and talk with the clientele when time permitted. The new chef maintained a low profile. Service by the staff onboard was typical of HAL and other lines - excellent with a smiling and helpful team. Navigation officers must have been present since we travelled safely between ports, but were invisible, only to be seen when tendering. With the exception of the friendly and visible chief security officer, hotel officers remained behind the scenes unless they were hurriedly going from one place to another trying to avoid interaction with guests. Rust. I mention this since some reviewers believe it is an indication of ship condition. We noted rust in several places on our veranda and other locations, so those who don’t like rust should avoid this eight month old ship. To us, the ship was quite well maintained with many subtle front-facing and behind the scenes improvements from the Koningsdam on which we cruised eight months ago. We will likely return to HAL for a great itinerary, but can’t imagine any other reason. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
Our trip to Scandinavia included two nights in Stockholm and an 11 night cruise from Copenhagen up the coast of Norway past the Arctic Circle to the North Cape. We had previously done a cruise that included Bergen, Norway and wanted to ... Read More
Our trip to Scandinavia included two nights in Stockholm and an 11 night cruise from Copenhagen up the coast of Norway past the Arctic Circle to the North Cape. We had previously done a cruise that included Bergen, Norway and wanted to see more of that beautiful country. We flew into Stockholm after a lengthy trip from Orlando. Living in coastal Georgia, we normally fly out of Jacksonville, Florida, but the airfare from JAX was $600 per person higher for our trip than flying out of Orlando. That did involve driving 2.5 hours past Jacksonville and a night in a hotel prior to our flight to Europe. Sleep Inn & Suites - Orlando Airport We booked this hotel through park, sleep and fly. Some hotels offer parking for travelers that stay in a hotel prior to flying out for a vacation. There were not many choices and this was the best one available. The hotel itself looked clean enough and the rooms were spacious. The hotel was a bit old and worn, but acceptable. However, after checking in our room, we noticed that the air conditioner could only function on full blast. The room was about 60 degrees, so we turned off the AC. We never turned it on and didn’t have a problem. The breakfast was good, but checking in the hotel took way too long with only one front desk clerk. Our parking was on the side of the hotel past the paved area in an area of dirt and some trees. I parked in there and upon return from our trip, found that my car was blocked in by another vehicle. Since we returned at 2am, I had to drive over a curb. Fortunately, my vehicle was undamaged in the process. Still, the hotel did a very poor job in managing the parking. We will never stay in this hotel again. STOCKHOLM We had three flights to make it to Copenhagen, having to fly to Atlanta then Paris Charles de Gaulle and finally to Stockholm. We arrived about 12:30pm and made our way to the Flybussarna. There were nice busses every 10 minutes that took us into the city to the main rail station. Cost was a little more than $10 per person. From the rail station we took a taxi to our hotel. First Hotel Reisen We booked this hotel because of its great location and reasonable rates. The hotel was an older hotel, but clean and well maintained. The room was comfortable and a reasonable size. Air conditioning was not common for hotels in Stockholm, so we had an electric fan in the room that was effective. It was 30 degrees C when we first arrived, but the fan cooled our room just fine. The hotel had a nice restaurant, where we dined one evening and an excellent buffet breakfast. We would stay in the hotel again if we visited Stockholm again. After the long trip, we were tired and didn’t do any touring. We took a short nap and had dinner at the hotel, which gave us discount of about $10 since we were staying in the hotel. The meal was a Swedish seafood stew and excellent. The next day, we were very busy. We met a Free Walking Tour of the Old Town that was about two hours long. The tour guide was very good and we enjoyed the old city. We went back to visit the Royal Palace and Cathedral that was nearby. We passed the Nobel Museum, but decided to skip it. We found the ferry that took us close to the Vasa Museum. The Vasa was a huge 17th Century sailing ship launched with much pomp and ceremony that capsized and sunk after sailing about 200 meters. Vasa Museum The museum was amazing. The ship had been recovered from the harbor almost intact. The museum building was built around the huge ship. There were parts of the ship that had to replace rotten or damaged wood, but most of it was the original. There was an excellent film about the ship’s history and why it capsized. Other exhibits showed who worked on building the ship, including the role of women. Shipbuilders from Holland came to Stockholm for the King of Sweden. Several people died when the ship capsized. We learned that the design of the ship was flawed. It was top heavy and the hold was not large enough to support the needed ballast. We spent 2-3 hours in the museum. Upon returning to Gamla Stan, were our hotel was located, we walked around a little more and found a restaurant that proved to be just what we needed. Restaurant Kaffegillet i Gamla Stan AB We picked the Kaffegillet at random, after a full day of touring Stockholm. The restaurant was in the old city with seating inside and outside next to the street. We chose to dine inside. Everything we selected for our meal was great. The prices for the meal were reasonable, including the wine. We had reindeer for our appetizer and salmon for the main course. Everything was wonderful. The next day we had a five hour train ride to Copenhagen. I had book first class tickets for about $50 per person. The train was very nice. The first class car had only 3 seats across that were very spacious and comfortable. We enjoyed the green countryside of Southern Sweden on our way to Copenhagen. We arrived at the rail station at the Copenhagen Airport (closer to our hotel than the main rail station), took a taxi to the Crowne Plaza. Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers Hotel We stayed at the Crowne Plaza again for one night prior to our Norway cruise. The hotel was convenient to the airport and a nearby shopping mall. Rooms were spacious, modern and with all the amenities. Breakfast was not included with the room, but was excellent. The hotel's rates were very reasonable for Copenhagen. There was a concert at the new arena and the area was flooded with people going there. We had difficulty finding a place to eat at the nearby shopping mall due to the large crowds. We finally found a Mexican restaurant that we could eat. The food had only the faintest resemblance to Mexican food. In fact, the salsa tasted more like it was from India. The cooks appeared to be Indian. The next day we had a great breakfast at the Crowne Plaza and about noon we boarded a shuttle bus to the cruise port. The cruise terminal turned out to be the same one that we had used on our cruise from Copenhagen 5 1/2 years ago. SERENADE OF THE SEAS This cruise was our second on Royal Caribbean. We were elite on Celebrity and able to transfer our loyalty benefits to become Diamond on Royal Caribbean for our first cruise on Explorer of the Seas last year in a TransPacific cruise. Our Norway Arctic Circle cruise was cheap, since we had a huge credit from a cancelled cruise last year that was to go to New Zealand. Serenade of the Seas is one of the smaller ship in the large Royal fleet and we very much enjoyed our cruise. We are trending to Royal since Celebrity and NCL have significantly raised their cruse prices. New Checkin Procedure While still at home, I had gone through the check-in process and printed out a scalable sheet for Ginny and I. When we arrived at the port of embarkation in Copenhagen, we checked our luggage, then immediately a representative greeted us, scanned our sheets and passed us to board the ship. It all took a minute or two. She indicated that our key cards were in our cabin. We were amazed at how expedited the boarding process had become. When we arrived at our cabin, it was ready and our cards were in an envelope on the door. Dining We found dining in Serenade’s main dining room (MDR) was about on par with Celebrity’s MDR dining. The menu for Royal’s MDR has a bit fewer choices than on Celebrity, but everything we ordered was excellent. Service on Serenade was excellent. We dined about half of our meals in the MDR and for most had Julio as our head waiter. He was great and took good care of our needs. We did have the 3 meal dining package for specialty dining and enjoyed the Italian, Steak and Asian restaurants. All were excellent and the worst thing was that we tended to overeat more. We did dine at the buffet for breakfast and lunch, as well as twice for dinner. Breakfast and lunch were pretty good. The omelet station was great, but I missed the Celebrity Eggs Benedict station. For a few nights Serenade had an Eggs Benedict station, but when I ordered breakfast there twice, the eggs were cooked hard, pretty much eliminating the joy of having breakfast from there. The two dinners that we dined in the buffet, I was seriously disappointed in what I chose. The most disappointing items were the Moussaka and then the Lasagna. Both were nothing like the real thing. The Moussaka had no eggplant or meat. It was largely composed of potatoes. The Lasagna had no pasta and was mainly beef, with melted cheese on top. I tried other dishes in the evening and nothing was really that good. One night is settled for a burger that was about the best thing available. It was interesting, since at lunch, the buffet would usually have something that I liked. Entertainment The entertainment in Royal Caribbean is generally superior to Celebrity’s entertainment. We didn’t go to all the shows, but the shows that we attended were excellent. The production show singers were excellent. The top show that we saw was the fantastic violinist. She was originally from China, but I don’t remember her name. DIAMOND HAPPY HOUR Our happy hour was held in the Diamond Lounge, which was small on deck 13. It was always a bit crowded, but you could eventually find seats. Service was good and you could order three drinks outside that location, even when dining up until 8:30pm. It worked well for us, since I only paid for two drinks for the entire cruise (when I ordered drinks for us a bit after 8:30 in the MDR). Our cruise had six ports and they were filled with amazing scenery. Some ports were no more than small villages, others were medium sized or large cities. The farther north we progressed, the longer the days, until we had 2-3 nights when the sun did not set. We learned to sleep with a little light coming in around the sides of the curtains in our cabin. GEIRANGER Our first port was Geiranger and its fantastic fjord. We learned that a fjord is carved out of rock by glaciers that existed during the ice age. We saw a lot of fjords in Norway and the one in Geiranger was arguably the most impressive. We had a private tour booked with Norway Excursions. Our tour for Geiranger with Norwegian Excursions was cancelled while we were traveling. The company refunded our payment and put us on the Mt. Dalsnibba and Eagle Road tour at no charge. They were exceptional in all areas. Our guide, Anita was fantastic and the tour exceeded our expectations. Our bus found its way up the scenic slopes to Mt. Dilsnibba that was loaded with recent snow and awesomely beautiful. Also, returning to the port city, we took a shorter route up Eagle Road for more great scenery. This was one of the best tours that we took on our entire cruise to the North Cape. We also, enjoyed a great Norwegian Excursion tour in Alesund. Nearly all our tours involved riding in a small or large bus on mountain road that usually took us up for fantastic vistas. I think we were too busy enjoying the scenery to get sick riding up and down the mountains. Our departure from the small village port of Geiranger was memorable, since we passed through the wonderful fjord. A one point, when the ship arrived in front of an amazing waterfall, the ship stopped and did a complete 360. The maneuver was remarkable in the fjord channel. These modern ships can do a 360 and we have been on cruises that did this maneuver (one around Cape Horn and another in Glacier Bay, Alaska). The Captain must have known that no other ships were approaching us in the fjord, since passing us at that point would have been impossible. In any event, everyone was able to see the waterfall. TROMSO We were headed north and the next day passed the Arctic Circle. There was a ceremony for that called the Blue Nose. I watched a little of it on the pool deck, but it was cold and windy, so I didn’t stay for the entire ceremony. Some crew members had cold water poured down their necks and procured a blue nose. We saw some people around the ship with blue noses. I didn’t want one of those. All the passengers received a certificate from the Captain on having passed the Arctic Circle. The day after, we arrived in Tromso. This was the largest city in the north of Norway. Our tour was with Tromso Individuell. We booked this tour for Tromso over the internet and paid in full in advance. When we arrived at the quay after leaving our cruise ship, no one was there to greet us from the tour company. After looking at all the busses in the parking lot, we could not find our tour. I asked a young security guard at the gate if he would call the tour company for us. He did and eventually the tour guide came to pick us up. I was amazed at the poor management by the tour company. I had looked at each bus in the parking lot, I had seen a name for the "group" on the bus that was our bus, but the name meant nothing to us. Fortunately, we had a good, but not great tour. Tromso was probably the least scenic port on our cruise's itinerary. It was the largest city in the north of Norway. Still, the day was a good day and good tour, despite the difficulty with finding the tour. The tour took us to see three fjords as well as a scenic island near the entrance to the ocean. We had a nice lunch that included Norwegian food. It was a buffet and included many local specialties. There was a lot of smoked fish. I tried the smoked fish and it was ok, but not my favorite dish. HONNINGSVAG This was another fairly small town where our ship docked. In the middle of June the temperature was in the high 30s or low 40s with lots of wind. Ginny and I layered as much as possible to protect ourselves from the weather. We had booked a tour with Blue Puffin to the North Cape. This tour was great. Our tour was from the port of Honningsvag and our cruise ship. The tour guide was exceptional. She took us to see a scenic fishing village that included an up close and personal greeting from a King Crab (she fished two out of a large tank). She explained life in the far north of Norway and the fishing industry. Also, we met a member of the Sami people (also called Lapps) with his reindeer. We say many reindeer while on the tour. The tour took us over some very scenic places, but the main event was our visit to the North Cape facility, which was wonderful. It was a modern multistory facility that included a fantastic film showing the local area and its northern lights in the winter and endless days in the Summer. There were exhibits and a good place for a meal if desired. The facility was not far from the point were your could see the actual North Cape. It was very windy and cold, but I ventured out for about 15 minutes and took some great photos. ALESUND After another sea day, we arrived in Alesund, back in southern Norway. It was warmer there and we actually had a brief night, the sun going down around 11:15pm, rising about 3am. We had a tour with Norwegian Excursions. This was our second tour with them (first was in Geiranger). Again, the tour was wonderful. Our tour guide Iga was extremely knowledgeable and took us on a fantastic tour. This tour was probably the best that we took on our 11 night Serenade of the Seas cruise that visited 6 ports in Norway. The tour took us over much extraordinary scenery. The highlight of the tour was the Troll Road and Trollstigen plateau. Also, we saw the waterfall Stigfossen. This is a tour not to be missed. STAVANGER Stavanger was probably the largest city on our cruise. The port was central to Norway’s petroleum industry in the North Sea. We took a Fjord Cruise with Radne. The smaller boat was docked not far from our cruise ship. Many of our fellow cruisers from the Serenade of the Seas took this tour. It was chilly and we had not seats inside, so we brushed off the water on a bench on the port side of the boat and were able to sit for most of the three hour cruise. Many persons had no seats and sometimes partially blocked our views. However, we managed very well and were able to see very well, also taking lots of great photos. Our cruise took us past the famous Pulpit Rock that some hike for hours to reach. The Rock was featured in one of the Mission Impossible movies. About halfway to Pulpit Rock our views of the fjord was wonderful. We saw massive rock formations carved out by ancient glaciers. The boat even stopped to feed a goat that lived on the edge of one of the rock faces. Fortunately, it didn't rain and the day was great. We had one more sea day and then returned to Copenhagen port. Royal had a transfer to the airport that we had booked. TRIP HOME The trip was great but we were looking forward to returning home. Our Delta flight from Copenhagen was to New York’s JFK Airport. I had gone through JFK a few times during the 80s and have avoided it until this flight. We only had two flights to our destination in Orlando. Again, JFK was a royal pain. The lines were long getting through immigration, customs and security. We had a three hour layover in the airport that turned into a more than six hour layover. Our terminal included gates A, B and C. Gate C61 was the gate for our flight to Orlando. We waited at the gate for more than and hour. It took over two hours to get through all the lines. We noticed that the flight before ours to Denver did not depart the gate. We heard that the aircraft had mechanical problems. Our pilot was waiting for our aircraft to enter the gate, but with the Denver aircraft still there, that was not going to happen. Here is what I posted to Delta regarding our experience: We had an awful experience at JFK-NY. After a great transatlantic flight on Delta from Copenhagen to JFK, we had a flight from JFK to Orlando scheduled to depart around 7:30pm. The flight did not depart until about 11pm, arriving in Orlando about 1:30am the next day. We found the right gate C61 and arrived there after enduring all the dreadful but necessary immigration, custom and security process as well as the poorly run shuttle bus to Terminal C (not Deltas fault). Our problems began when the aircraft at terminal C61 that was flying to Denver did not fly. We were told it was due to mechanical problems. Our aircraft could not enter our gate, so we were finally told that we had to move to another gate (yes, we were herded back through the dreadful shuttle bus, which took a long time due to so many passengers waiting, all holding carry on luggage and standing for a long time). That gate was B23, I believe. The mess was not created by our Delta pilot. In fact, due to his heroics, we were informed as much as he could find out. He turned out to be our hero. His name was Eric Franke, # 521736. He was great, as were the rest of the Delta crew that worked diligently, late into the evening. Unfortunately, Gate B23 had no seating, no way to scan our boarding passes and our aircraft was still sitting somewhere full of its incoming passengers. Therefore, our pilot announced that we were moving to another gate. That gate was B18, which was back in the direction which we can come from the shuttle (at least we didnt have to take the shuttle bus over to the C terminal then. However, the entire area was jammed with waiting passengers for other flights and most of us had to stand up for what seemed like forever. Again, our pilot was our hero, keeping us informed. The local JFK staff seemed absent without leave. We had to wait until others departed to Portland and Richmond, then wait for our aircraft to empty of its passengers for us to board. Finally, we took the dreadful shuttle bus one more time to our aircraft and we departed about 11pm. The flight was great, but late and we cleared the airport with our baggage around 2am. Ginny and I made it home a little before 7am after driving from Orlando, with the help of the coffee that I had on the last flight. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose this cruise because of where it was going. Have not ocean cruised for over 10 years. The ship is lovely & new. We thought the staff was great. The emphasis was on music and we enjoyed the Lincoln Center stage concerts so very ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of where it was going. Have not ocean cruised for over 10 years. The ship is lovely & new. We thought the staff was great. The emphasis was on music and we enjoyed the Lincoln Center stage concerts so very much! The World Stage was a mixed bag for us. The acts varied from classical vocals, to comedy, to dance. For this stage I would have liked to see group scenes, comedians that work together. One guy is not to energetic. We did not attend all of those. BB King was terrific as well. Food.. we did not take advantage of the specialty restaurants. Another way tp pick our pockets. The Lido breakfasts were great! Lunches were fine too. The main dining room was very hit or miss. I was looking forward to fish but each of the 3 entrees I tried were not well prepared. My husband tried more and had some good results. The Norwegian salmon was the best. The servings of vegetables were very, very small. Sauces were tasteless and often smeared on plate for effect, not enough to enjoy. I had salmon with one asparagus spear! Often the potatoes were just 2 bites worth. Over all, choices were varied and so were the results. I had a couple pasta dishes that were terrific. The curry one night was superb. Excursions...so outrageously over priced that we didn’t even consider. Did a couple private ones that were great and much cheaper. The thermal spa was nice...we did spring for this, but felt like it was not worth the charge. Wine overpriced and why no local Norwegian craft beers not available? The port talks were fun, but honestly of little help. Neither were the port maps or info helpful at all. We came to see Norway and did...on our own. Hiked most of the time while off the boat. The fitness area was excellent and we took full advantage of this area. But really...$20 for spin class? The stretch classes looked too crowded so again, did our own thing. Over 50% of the passengers were Dutch, there were a lot of Chinese as well. Our assigned table mates were just awful so we went rogue and came in as our music scheduled allowed. Overall, the charges for drinks, excursions, WIFI, classes etc were too highpriced , but we enjoyed the music and the movies. The 5 sea days were lovely and relaxing. Each stop was interesting. We were blessed with many good days of weather. The laundry service was excellent and the embarkation as well as debarkation was well done. Read Less

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