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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
Check in at Newcastle went pretty smooth,Considering it's not a cruise terminal but a working port, Our cabin was 9148,was excellent,huge balcony,with hammock,sun lounger,2 chairs & a table,which was not quite ready when we got ... Read More
Check in at Newcastle went pretty smooth,Considering it's not a cruise terminal but a working port, Our cabin was 9148,was excellent,huge balcony,with hammock,sun lounger,2 chairs & a table,which was not quite ready when we got there,but our steward did let us hang my wife's dresses in 2 dress bags,& our coats up on the wall hangers,to save carrying them around for an hour or so,When we returned an hour later,the dresses had gone,the cabin steward denied ever letting us in,then couldn't understand what we were trying to explain that 6 dresses had gone from our cabin,On our way to reception I just happened to glance into the cabin stewards room (which was open & ajar) & there was all the dresses & coats,dumped on the floor,To say that we were unhappy is an understatement to say the least,We went for a cuppa to calm down before go to reception,After we did calm down,We decided to let the matter drop,We didn't want to see the poor steward getting into trouble,or worse.There are 2 bands on board Rhythm who are very good,Girl sounds like Stevie Nicks,The Beats also very good,guest acts were very good with the exception of the "Comedian" who was absolutely dire,Got to be the worst I've ever seen,I couldn't believe the amount of people who walked out of the theatre,Don't know how he makes a living from it,BUT he can certainly hold a note,What a singer.Theater cast were also excellent.Surf & Turf & Kora La are well worth that little bit extra for a different dining experience,Not worth the extra for premium drinks as all we wanted was the all inclusive menu,Which ends at 02:00 hrs,But they did announce it in the club,The silent disco is a MUST,Hilarious. Overall a good cruise & good itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
The entertainment on the ship was amazing! We went to see Burn the Floor, Cirque Dreams and Steam, the Magic Show and the Million Dollar Quartet. They were all fantastic and you could tell that the performers were very experienced. The ... Read More
The entertainment on the ship was amazing! We went to see Burn the Floor, Cirque Dreams and Steam, the Magic Show and the Million Dollar Quartet. They were all fantastic and you could tell that the performers were very experienced. The dining was okay. Garden Cafe had lots of options when it came to different cuisines. The teppanyaki restaurant and La Cuchina were nice but it was really annoying because kids have to eat from the kids' menu in the specialty restaurants. The service was so-so. It took a long time for the staff to get the drinks. The pools and hot tubs were very nice. I liked that the pools were not saltwater like many other cruises I have been on. The ports were amazing. The only problem that I had was that it was a bit chilly so you need to make sure to bring jackets. I have a special recommendation for a man named Kashif from Zimbabwe. He was a photographer on our cruise and he was very kind and he is one of the best staff members on our cruise. He definitely deserves a raise!!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
Overall a good cruise. Food good, entertainment good, itinerary excellent. Main complaints had to do with poor internet service. After paying for the premium package I expected excellent service, instead I got internet that did not ... Read More
Overall a good cruise. Food good, entertainment good, itinerary excellent. Main complaints had to do with poor internet service. After paying for the premium package I expected excellent service, instead I got internet that did not work for at least two of the nine days. Many complaints from guests but no refunds offered. Ship was quite nice. Recently refurbished. Ports were great. St. Petersburg was a great surprise. We booked independantly for all tours and used TJ travel in St. Petersburg. Highly recommend. Copenhagen was nice, recommend CPH food tours and Hey Captain boat tours. Visby was added to our itinerary and it was a real treat. We were lucky to dock at the actual Stockholm port instead of the more distant port where the Getaway usually docks. Beware of the cabs in Stockholm, some will try to rip you off. Confirm your price before travel. Tallinn was quite nice. Wonderful old town. Our 16 and 13 year old children complained that the waterslides, mini golf and other activities geared toward them had strange operating hours. Weather was great. Temps high enough to for folks to use the outdoor amenities avoiding the indoor crowding that others had complained about on earlier cruises. Jogging track was short and crowded with people oblivious to joggers. Casino was great. Any casino that has Pai Got Poker is a good casino in my book. Craps table was hopping and casino overall had a good vibe. Couple of other insider tips: 1. Leave plenty of time to get to the port. Lots of construction right now, traffic was at a standstill going into the port. Plan for 45 minutes to one hour from city center. 2. At CPH look out for the passport control. It can take you 40 minutes or more to get through this. If you are in the main part of the airport (where all the shopping and restaurants are) leave plenty of time to get to your gate. Recommend 1 hour before boarding. Overall good cruise. Kids prefer Royal Caribbean for next one though. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
We booked through Iglu cruises and it was a very good deal and a good price. We arrived in Southampton to find delays due to a fire alarm in the terminal and major road works. The ship sailed late. The boarding was a bit of a free for ... Read More
We booked through Iglu cruises and it was a very good deal and a good price. We arrived in Southampton to find delays due to a fire alarm in the terminal and major road works. The ship sailed late. The boarding was a bit of a free for all due to everyone arriving in the terminal at the same time, but we went through very quickly. Don't see the point of priority boarding as they took the same time. The ship looked clean and sparkly and the staff were friendly. We went straight to our cabin which was an obstructed view. This was the best view we've had on a cruise. The cabin was a good size with all the amenities you need, inc tea and coffee. We had no green tea but it was provided on request. We purchased a crate of water beforehand and this was a lot cheaper than buying it on the ship. The bathroom was perfect for us and the shower was excellent (height was great as i'm 6ft1in). The bed is soft and fluffy, the pillows are wonderful. The only this that i could see might annoy people is that there was only 2 electrical sockets and they are American so remember you converter's. This was fine for us. The only thing annoying was that the Films would lose signal on the TV and you would have to wait for it to reset. If you don't watch TV this is not a problem. The free for all was good in a morning and evening however it wasn't to our tastes on a evening.The Free for All scrum down also had sinks to wash your hands in before entering which was a excellent idea. The Anytime dining was rubbish as people are allowed to book tables so you always have to wait to be seated, (about 20 mins). Anytime means you go down anytime. Booking shouldn't be allowed. The food OK but not a massive selection in the Dining rooms. Veggie options were limited. We watch the movies under the stars, the art auction ( where we won a excellent prize) and a guest singer. Always got a seat and was always a good show. Downside is that its impossible to get a drink in the show hall so take one in with you. We had to miss Skagen because of the weather but we had an over night in Oslo. This cannot be helped and just the way with the Sea. Nobody's fault and we were kept informed. Got a bit choppy in the Batlic however it is the Sea and mother nature. The rubbish thing was that you had to pay for transfers into town at nearly every visit. Overall - the Staff were brilliant, the room was comfy and peaceful. The food was OK, The ship was clean with plenty of amenities and with things going on all the time. Bad things were the cost of the extras and the cost of the drinks was expensive (£6 a pint) you still get charged your tips (this can be removed on request) Transfert costs into town. Veggie option for meals was average.. We would defiantly go on there again at the right price. We really enjoyed our cruise and was a nice relaxing break. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
My wife, 10-year-old son and I chose this cruise because it gave us the opportunity to spend some time in London and then cruise into ports we had never been to before. We are a family of three from Saint Augustine, Fl. This was our 37th ... Read More
My wife, 10-year-old son and I chose this cruise because it gave us the opportunity to spend some time in London and then cruise into ports we had never been to before. We are a family of three from Saint Augustine, Fl. This was our 37th cruise and 8th cruise on Princess Cruises. We love all the main cruise lines and usually choose the deal and itinerary over the line. I do believe Princess has always been our favorite line and was solidified on this cruise. Southampton was pretty easy to sail out of. We took a train from Waterloo station to Southampton and then got a cab to the port. The total cost for that was under a hundred American dollars for the three of us. Once there we were on the ship within about 5 minutes. We had lunch at Alfredo's which is a wonderful and relaxing alternative to the Horizon Court and what we strongly believe to be the best pizza at sea. After lunch, we explored the ship, unpacked, did the muster drill, had a coupe drinks and went to dinner. We ate at the Steakhouse and sadly this was the worst meal of the cruise. My wife's NY strip was of poor quality and was flat out bad. My Ribeye was fine but there was nothing special about it. I should also mention that we have always felt like Princess offers the best dining room food but we have never had a dinner in the steakhouse that we we did not regret. RCI, NCL, HAL and even Carnival are all doing this much better in our opinion. On a positive note, that was the last time we were disappointed with diner. All meals were very good with excellent service. We were never rushed and we never waited either. All dinners were good and on the formal evening they bumped it up a couple of notches. They have cut back over the years as all lines have. For instance, where they used to offer a Filet Mignon as a meat option any night of the week, they now offer a hamburger. However, what they do, they do well. I had beef wellington, and beef tornadoes during the cruise and they were both cooked to a perfect medium rare. Salmon melted in my mouth and other seafood selections were good. Dinners were always served hot. We pretty much stayed away from the Horizon Court but it seemed pretty in line with any other buffet. We often grabbed a snack or sandwich at the International Café and it was fine and I guess what we expected. On the last evening we ate at Sabatini's, which unlike the steakhouse is worth every penny. I had the Veal chop, and my wife and son both ordered a steak and it was all quiet at the dinner table. It was a great way to end the cruise. Princess kept us busy on sea days with ping pong tournaments, free throw contests, scavenger hunts, and putting contests. We returned home with three Princess medals. There are no rock climbing walls or water slides but our ten-year-old son still had a blast. There were also plenty of variety shows that we all enjoyed. Aaron the cruise director and the entire team were talented and hilarious. They went out of their way to make our son feel special. If you guys are reading, Dave from Singapore sends his regards... The ship was scheduled to be back in Southampton at 7 am and our cards were scanned and we were looking for our car service before 7:05 am. We had a car service called Blackberry drive us back to Heathrow for 99 pounds. We hit no traffic and were at Heathrow in about and hour and fifteen minutes. Overall, this was a great cruise. It was very relaxing. Princess offers spectacular ships but with a more relaxed experience. We never felt crowded. After the chaos of flying over the Atlantic and experiencing the hustle and bustle of London, the Sapphire Princess was a much welcomed way to experience the remainder of a once in a lifetime vacation. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
This was my best experience with NCL but, as on previous cruises, the full time assault on your senses with the myriad methods of selling is offensive and pervasive. The cruise itself was wonderful with an excellent crew and wonderful ... Read More
This was my best experience with NCL but, as on previous cruises, the full time assault on your senses with the myriad methods of selling is offensive and pervasive. The cruise itself was wonderful with an excellent crew and wonderful food as long as you stay away from the assaultive passengers in the Garden Cafe. The ports were of great interest for me and I bought more excursions than I usually do but I would say that they were disorganized and clumsy. I heard many comments from fellow guests wondering if this was the first time they were organizing these events. The food was wonderful and Chef Bennet was personable and very helpful with my dietary requirements. If he had a restaurant I’d be there every day. Miroslav, Barnabe and Mylene stood out as excellent ships ambassadors. Maybe the ship is just too big. I’ll try a smaller one next time. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary around Iceland. The scenery is as we have hoped. We were on Star Legend previously and loved the food and lack of lines. Star Breeze delivered on the same strengths. We spent a lot of time on deck ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary around Iceland. The scenery is as we have hoped. We were on Star Legend previously and loved the food and lack of lines. Star Breeze delivered on the same strengths. We spent a lot of time on deck 8 in the Yacht club because of the cold and windy weather, and limited activities. The officers did provide interesting information during our visit to the bridge. We made our own plans for our onshore activities. The local tour guides we found ahead of time were wonderful. The local TI staff are also helpful in directing us to walk paths and hiking trails. In traveling counterclockwise, cabins with even numbers will have the better shore views. We were disappointed in not seeing any puffins. Apparently there has been drastic decline in puffin population. The sea was a little rough the first night but ok after that. Cabin service was outstanding. I wished there is at least one stationary bike with back support in tge Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
It's nice to be in Scandinavia in the summer as the weather is the best of the year. Temps were around 57-72 in most ports. Our itinerary was The Baltic Sea: Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallin, Berlin, Oslo and ... Read More
It's nice to be in Scandinavia in the summer as the weather is the best of the year. Temps were around 57-72 in most ports. Our itinerary was The Baltic Sea: Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallin, Berlin, Oslo and Copenhagen. Embarkation and disembarkation were a breeze with the new medallion pre check in. An excellent service. Literally it took seconds to check in and our luggage arrived within 1 hour to our room. It essentially gave us 1 extra day on the cruise compared to other liners. We boarded at 11:00 am and had all day to explore the ship before setting sail. A great time saver and money saver. The cabin was sufficient and comfortable, with a wonderful balcony as we were on the back of the ship. Our steward was friendly, but not overly so. The dining was lovely every night as we had a seat by the window and had the wine package. The food was good to very good. I can't think of a dish that stood out - all dishes were edible and tasty, but not over the top. The room service in the morning was on time, but all of the pastry was stale - Our major complaint. Our waiters went overboard to help us get what we needed. The entertainment was average for a cruise ship with the exception of one lovely operatic night and a funny comedian. Skip the juggler. The Vegas singer was just that... I was disappointed in the amount of dancing space there. Just one night club for dancing. Last year, on the Oasis of the Sea, we had an entire back end of the ship for dancing, with nightly fun dancing events - a much better laid out ship. The ports were nice. We especially enjoyed St. Petersburg for 2 days exploring all the castles of the Romanov empire and learning about the Siege of Leningrad. Berlin was doable as a 2.5 hr trip there and back and a 6 hour tour. Excellent tour guides on the personal tours in St. Pete and Berlin were worth the money. Learned about the major events of Berlin of old, the Berlin Wall, etc, and newer hipper Berlin now. Oslo was rushed. I wish that It could have been longer. We literally only had 15 minutes in one of the museums (Munsch). See "the scream" and zoom through the rest of the works. That was because it took 30 minutes to get through the ridiculous security they had there. The Vigeland Garden was amazing. Stockholm had some interesting tours especially about the Nobel Prize events. In Helsinki, we took a 1 hour tour on a little cruiser in the bay - very informative and fun. We also saw the Sibelius Monument. Not much to see in Helsinki and Tallin. Tallin was very disappointing as there were far too many ships there at once and not enough room to see the village. The best port by far was Copenhagen. We stayed there for 2 extra days after the cruise and had a ball at the jazz fest, living in an Airbnb. Gorgeous town to tour, with great cuisine. Very expensive though. The Danes are so accommodating and nice. Lots of Hygge. Summary: I would say this cruise is great for the following things: St. Petersburg, Copenhagen, and Berlin ports Getting an overview of Scandinavia. Having fun with the midnight sun! We photographed a Sunset at 12:05 one night! Nice ship overall, but just average services. Nothing stood out as outstanding. Relaxing and quiet - June is not full of children as the European schools are still in session. It was poor for these things: STALE pastry (inexcusable in Denmark, known from their pastries!) Tallin and Oslo: poor stops for short time and rushed tours. Onboard activities were not very interesting to us. I usually like a dance class, and they had one, but it was repeated and very short. I was very disappointed that the nicest adult area of the ship required an $80 a day charge. Ridiculous to have to pay to sit in a certain area of the ship. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
Mostly went on this cruise for the wonderful ports we stopped in. Embarkation and leaving the ship were quick and easy. The ship was fine. The average age of the ship was very old (older than i thought and I expected the crowd to be ... Read More
Mostly went on this cruise for the wonderful ports we stopped in. Embarkation and leaving the ship were quick and easy. The ship was fine. The average age of the ship was very old (older than i thought and I expected the crowd to be old). This was fine for us as we are not the type to stay out late partying - but almost nobody showed up to parties or events. The shows were also tailored for the older crowd. The ship was our biggest so we expected entertainment to be awesome - the lead male and female singers were great but there was only one comedian the entire trip and we were unimpressed with the entertainment overall. There is not a ton to do on the ship - basketball and ping pong are outside and the wind makes them almost impossible. If you are not doing trivia, at a bar, or playing bingo, there is alot of time for hot tubs. The adults only section of pool and hot tubs were the biggest I've seen and we loved them - but they did not have access to watch the movie if you are excited about that. There were also a variety of lectures prior to the port stops. Dining was fine - very comparable to other cruise ships and companies. The service, however, was EXCELLENT. The best dining room service we have had in about 6/7 cruises. We did not try any specialty dining for the first time. Ports were great - some very small towns such as Oslo had little to do but were enjoyable. Russia did not disappoint - be sure to book excursions before hand in order to get off the ship. HOWEVER, the cruises sometimes imply or otherwise make it seem as if you can only get off the ship if you have an excursion booked through them directly. This is NOT the case. While the Royal Caribbean cruises had more time (about an hour before and a bit after) in Russia, we completed our full two day tour. I recommend SPB for small groups - the cruise had large buses with up to 45 people. Many places such as the Hermitage and Peterhof are packed and it is very disorganized in the museums so having a small group with SPB of only about 15 made things MUCH easier. Highly recommend the Ice Bar in Helskini - there are several (such as Stockholm) but Helsinki is far superior with a large indoor facility. Love the trip - once in a lifetime. PS there are not a ton of kids on this trip - we loved it. however, if we had kids there was not alot for them to do and not enough kids to get anything done Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
Very enjoyable but the weather spoilt it a little, but being in the Baltics it can be expected, the ship itself it perfect except for when the weather is bad there are a minimum of bars due to the outside bars not being open. The lounge in ... Read More
Very enjoyable but the weather spoilt it a little, but being in the Baltics it can be expected, the ship itself it perfect except for when the weather is bad there are a minimum of bars due to the outside bars not being open. The lounge in the evening gets very ful, if you miss the theatre you will get a seat, the indigo exactly the same packed especially after the shows are finished as for the Mediterranean during days at sea, worse than tying to get a sunbed in a note,, simply packed with oldies sound asleep taking up space, my opinion if you want to sleep all day you have a cabin, let someone else enjoy the comfort and have a drink.the food overall was excellent nothing to complain about in that department, tries attitude 5e a couple of times and felt satisfied but I prefer the buffet, in the buffet I had to have a word with the top guy regards condiments always empty, its simple enough for someone as part of kitchen/restaurant duties to go around every other day and check each condiment, simple organisation. The staff through out the ship are excellent they work such long hours but are always laughing and joking Ben and Marabell in the lounge, perfect all the lads and lasses in Indigo excellent to many to mention, days at sea entertainment, pathetic the entertainment staff are getting paid on those days for nothing, the only ones that seem to be doing anything are the quiz masters in the Sqiud n Anchor. Resident singers, not bad but not perfect seen better on other Marella ships. Overall experience, my wife and I , sister in law and brother loved it now thinking of booking August in Norway cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
Booked this well in advance and decided to upgrade to a balcony premium room as also taking teenager with us. Given the reviews of Magica and Costa (read them after booking...) I was concerned that we may regret choosing this - but the ... Read More
Booked this well in advance and decided to upgrade to a balcony premium room as also taking teenager with us. Given the reviews of Magica and Costa (read them after booking...) I was concerned that we may regret choosing this - but the itinery was fab and we have been on a couple of cruises before in eastern med with Royal Caribbean - so checked re package and location of cabin carefully - got a single bed sofa sorted rather than bunk bed - and chose Deck 9 as close to bars/buffet/pool etc. We had a fantastic week - and this is why I am writing the review (given the majority of very negative ones!) - as we really rated the following: - the dining room/food ! we were seated at an English speaking table and we had a laugh from the off. Hello Steve and Trish and John and Bev if you are reading this! - the staff - we found everyone helpful and friendly - far more than previous cruises - we enjoyed the gala night - it wasnt formal or stuffy and the whole set up is very relaxed and casual - if you want formal dont book this ship!! Norbert was excellent - the premium room - spacious and spotless all week - decent shower and loads of storage space. Decent bed including the single one - the sofa bed wasnt a hassle and just stayed down along wall all week which was ideal. - embarking/disembarking - all very straight forward - no waiting getting on or off and the same throughout at various stop offs. We got a public bus from central station when arrived at Stockholm - after gettting Arlanda Express from airport - takes 30 mins and cheap! - the itinery - we chose this primarily as we wanted to get as much time in St P and Stockholm as possible - we booked our own shore excursions in St P and did our own thing in other cities. We had a brilliant time in St P as we wanted to do more specific history and politics tours so used Ulko Tours to go to the Political History museum (fantastic - you could spend 5-6 hours there - ask for english speaking tour guide before you go) and also smaller KGB museum. Also did general city tour 1 day with Advertura - very good. These were costly - so it does add a lot to the overall cost of the holiday which we didnt realise when booking cruise. We booked our own flights to and from Stockholm separately so this gave us an extra day in Stockholm - otherwise we would have had to leave the ship by 4.30am on the last day. So this worked out for us and accomm in Stockholm was reasonable - stayed at Park Inn - a couple of stops on metro which was excellent. So overall we were impressed with Costa and would use them again. Yes - the majority of the passengers are Italian/Spanish (no surprise there then) and yes it was loud and noisy in all the public bars/spaces. The entertainment was as to be expected (!) and yes Costa makes the staff try to sell all sorts so there is too much selling at the info sessions - but we found the overall service and the dining experiences great. Just one thing Costa - please add water to the drinks package - its madness not being able to get a glass of water but as many spirits/wine/beer as you wish. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose this cruise mainly for its itinerary and the dates it went on as we had a very limited time window to go away in. We have been with Marella before, a few years ago, and really enjoyed our last cruise around the Adriatic on a ... Read More
We chose this cruise mainly for its itinerary and the dates it went on as we had a very limited time window to go away in. We have been with Marella before, a few years ago, and really enjoyed our last cruise around the Adriatic on a smaller ship . We are a fit and healthy couple in our late 40s and early 50s and travelled as a solo couple, no children or friends with us..although we made plenty of friends on board. I am very surprised on reading the reviews on here how negative some people are about the Explorer and its staff. We embarked at Newcastle and didn't have to wait too long before boarding, and I would say we were probably there at peak time. There were seats to sit on and drinks to be had , we merely had to wait for our number to be called. The same goes for disembarkation, which went very smoothly and was very well organised especially when you consider the amount of people Marella has to disembark from the ship. We were told a time slot and that was in fact the time we disembarked, with time to have a farewell breakfast in the restaurant beforehand. The ship was bigger than the last one we went on and at first we weren't sure about it. The layout is a little confusing but once we were used to it we found our way about pretty well. I would say we were amongst the younger people on the ship although we are not young, the passengers were predominately older than us, in our late 40s. Our cabin was very quiet but we never bother with a balcony , just a window, and we were on deck 4 in the middle. We didn't pay extra for a specific cabin and I think were lucky as some passengers we spoke to did suffer with noise in their cabin. We did feel a very slight bit of vibration when the engines were put to full power, but the Captain also mentioned they were having trouble with a clutch on one of the engines. In my opinion engine noise on a ship is perhaps to be expected, it' isn't a hotel on dry land, it's a moving ship powered by engines on the ocean! Our cabin was very stable in the high seas, and the North Sea did get a bit turbulent on our voyage! Space wise, we thought our cabin was big enough and it had a lovely big window We had drop down bunk beds too so I think it may have been family cabin. Plenty of wardrobe space and hangers...always a big plus in my book! Hairdryer worked well, there was a kettle and cups and teabags/coffee/milk were replenished at least once a day. Toilet rolls were also kept topped up by our steward so we had at least one in reserve and usually more! Seating....I am amazed that people have mentioned a lack of seating. Both us, and other passengers who have been on other Marella ships, thought there was plenty of seating to be had, and in addition a plethora of sun beds...which pleased me as I hate having to worry about getting a seat/sunbed. We could always find seats somewhere...might not have been your first choice but again, as I say, we were there for the itinerary and voyage, not for a good seat in the lounge, We had a nice cabin to sit in too, with a television. Other people who had been on different Marella ships told us some of them DO suffer from a lack of seating, particularly those with a very large central atrium, which might look impressive but takes away from seating areas. We didn't use the pool but it's a reasonable size for the ship. The leaving party could get a bit loud, so loud it was distorted at times, but again, you could get away from it on other decks with sunbeds and it only lasted half an hour. We did watch one outdoor film in the pool area one sea day and as it was a bit nippy on deck a couple of members of staff came round with fleece blankets. Now that's personal customer care! Other areas such as the Squid and Anchor , Bar 53, the Lounge, Indigo were all nice areas to sit in. If you couldn't get a seat in one you could get one in another. Cleanliness of the ship.....the staff were always cleaning on the stairs which have glass sides. In fact they seemed to clean all the time, although our cabin steward could have vacuumed our cabin perhaps a little better....but he did keep us topped up on tea bags, milk and loo rolls as I mentioned so that is more important to us! Public toilets in the ship were always clean as was our personal one. Food...the food was excellent, top notch. We didn't bother paying for the additional restaurants such as the Sushi or Surf and Turf but friends did and raved about them. For us the food in the dining room where we ate every evening was excellent. Service was pretty good too. Someone commented there were more tables for 2 than on other ships, although you could choose to share bigger tables. The dining is flexi in the main restaurant as it you turn up and sometimes wait a few minutes to be seats, but in the Italian, Vista and the Tapas you have to book but it was easy to do so and provided you did it in advance there was plenty of choice. You could turn up at the |Italian and book but might have to wait half an hour or so in the bar with a buzzer, which went off t=hen the table was free. We ate in the Tapas bar, the Italian, the main restaurant and the buffet Market place, although didn't eat in the latter in the evening. Portions were just right, everything was hot and water and wine were kept topped up as needed. If the water was a bit slow to be refilled at busy times (this happened only once) you only need ask a waiter and it gets topped up very quickly. When you consider the amount of people they are serving they do a simply amazing job. Again, it is a ship, and if the food in the Market Place is a bit samey, it's still good and a lot of it is baked on ship. They don't re stock with food and ingredients during the trip, it is all taken on board at Newcastle. Staff...the majority of the staff were lovely, happy, polite and willing to go the extra mile. There was the odd one or two which weren't, I can only agree with other reviewers on that, compared to the other Marella ship we went on where all the staff we encountered were bouncy, happy and friendly. However, it is a new ship to the fleet and a lot of the staff were very new so perhaps not a very tight team yet and have yet to settle. We found the odd...and I do mean odd in a large team, waiter perhaps a bit terse, and there were a couple staff on the security team as you go in who were a little terse and rude, one woman in particular. I realise they are on security but the security staff on our other ship were always smiling and customer friendly A please and thank you and a smile is just natural courtesy, although to be honest it could be a culture difference too. So...onto a couple more negative points about the ship which hopefully will get sorted our and certainly wouldn't put us off travelling on it. Air con...far too strong especially in the cabins. Was actually making people ill , and I suffered dreadfully from a dry throat, a bad chest , a stuffy head and dry hair and skin. Many people complained of this and there didn't seem to be a way to turn it down as the controls didn't seem to make a lot of difference. The shows were disappointing compared to the shows we had seen 3 or 4 years ago on a Marella cruise. Then they were West End quality, now more like school show, although some of them were better than others. Again, new staff, new troupe and I was told a different (cheaper?!) company supplying them so not as polished and together as they could be. Also in some shows we felt it was done on the cheap, lack of costumes and stage back drops and equipment. The best shows for us were the Rock one, the Soul one (which I didn't think I'd like..although Id have to say I didn't think all the songs were soul but who cares) the songs from the Musicals and Cogs. I didn't really understand Cogs...it was a very loose story, but the costumes and general stage dressing was fabulous and the songs pretty good. Although Marella, please sort out your sound and mikes....they are on too loud and are distorted...the balance is wrong! Cost of the excursions is ,as usual, a little high but on a par with other cruise companies. We tend to research before we go and do our own if possible. Explorer...you need to increase the cycle tours as they were very popular and difficult to get on to. We managed to do one as someone cancelled and we were on the reserve list, it was fabulous, good knowledgeable guides, easy pace for us and for those who didn't cycle there was the option of the amazing e-bikes (with a motor to help pedalling) We didn't use Marella for any excursions except the bikes and went with TJ Travel for St Petersburg, a 2 day tour. Talking to others we definitely did the right thing as there was no queuing for us, local guides, a better itinerary and a smaller group equipped with the hearing boxes and ear pieces. We notice Marella don't give you much advice about where to catch buses etc now when you land somewhere; they used to the day before on the cruise news. Probably because they would rather you did an excursion. however, as we had researched before going it didn't really affect us. Finally, be aware that although Yoga etc is advertised, it is available but you have to pay for it. The gym however is free and pretty good for a ship. It's certainly an experience on a treadmill in a rolling sea with 50 mile an hour winds! Finally, although yes there was origami and water painting to be done it was self led, not tutored, So all in all we liked Explorer, it is a reasonably priced cruise ship if you want to cruise and see places you may not have done otherwise and we certainly wouldn't hesitate to use it again, particularly if Marella tweak the areas I've mentioned! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
I did not know whether to title this review “The Last Cruise” or “The $22,000 Colds.” As much as we like Crystal, in 2018 I had booked a cruise on Pro-Iceland for a 7-day cruise of just Iceland. But in April I was in hospital ... Read More
I did not know whether to title this review “The Last Cruise” or “The $22,000 Colds.” As much as we like Crystal, in 2018 I had booked a cruise on Pro-Iceland for a 7-day cruise of just Iceland. But in April I was in hospital with heart problems and we cancelled the cruise and got all of our money refunded from our travel agent David Butterfield of All Cruise Travel in California. By late summer of 2018 I was feeling much better and we booked the Iceland-northern Norway cruise on the Crystal Serenity for 2019. Unfortunately by February I had more heart problems and was back in the hospital for 45 days and three operations. But, damn it; we were not canceling the 2019 vacation. It turned out I should have stayed at home, The cruise was Reykjavik to Copenhagen over 17 days. We had two prior cruises on the Crystal Symphony that were great. Getting There: We love Icelandair! It is the only airline we can afford to fly first class on (they call it Saga Class), but getting a flight from St. Louis to a city served by Icelandair can be a problem. You have to get your baggage after your domestic connecting flight and recheck it. We went through Chicago this year, which was a bit of a mistake. The International Terminal is nowhere close to any another terminal, requiring a bus ride across the airport complex. We were delayed two hours for a 45-minute flight because they had to replace a seat (apparently there was a human discharge.) Once in Chicago things were a little smoother, with one exception. I left an “Andy Carpenter” mystery novel by David Rosenfeld that I was in the middle of on a luggage cart stand. The flight to Reykjavik was great and in fact one of the flight attendants was on our Iceland Air flight in 2006. She did not appear to have changed a bit in 13 years. There was a free large bus from the airport to the dock. This is where I frist discovered I would be having problems. The long walk to the bus showed my heart was still having issues. I had to stop about every 100 feet to catch my breath caused by my heart beating too fast. I had left instructions that if I die on this vacation to give my body to a medical school in Reykjavik or Oslo and save the shipping costs back to the U.S. THE SHIP AND THE CRUISE: The unusual: There was a long line to get onto the ship. It was outside and there was a cold wind blowing with drizzle. This was unusual for us as past Crystal Cruise there were no lines. The Usual: Since Crystal is “an all inclusive” line I have referred to it as the “Cruise Line for Alcoholics.” Passengers were met at check-in by staffers holding trays of glasses of Champagne. Once on board check-in was very fast and efficient. The Stateroom: We got what we paid for even if it was about $7,500 a person for 17 days. The stateroom was small. The only chair in the room was a desk chair. The sofa was narrow and low to the ground with a vinyl covering. You had a tendency to slide off of it. Unlike the beds on the Symphony which had firm mattresses, the bed had a soft uncomfortable mattress and the cruise was for 17-days. If you are in colder climates dry hair is a must and there were two hairdryers, one in the bathroom and the other by the desk. Since our last Crystal cruise they added large screen TVs. There was no disk player in the TVs to play DVDs or music on CDs. However the new large screen TVs came with a selection of downloads that included 84 movies, TV shows and several hundred music selections. The bathroom was nice with a couple exceptions. There was not a walk-in shower but a high wall bath tub/shower combination. The tub was short. Since most people on Crystal are going to be older, this creates two problems. It is difficult for people with knee and hip problems stepping over the high wall of the bathtub. It also seems that the tub was so small it would be difficult to get in and out of it unless you are 5-foot-1 or smaller. A walk-in shower would still need a higher lip, since the drain is slow during peak hours of use, but it would better than the tub. The other areas of concern was that they could use another “grab bar” in the shower and one next to the toilet seat, which like all other seats on the ship is low. THE FOOD: As usual the Crystal food was better than I have had on any other cruise line. There was one exception. One night in the main dining room T-Bone steak was on the menu. My steak was so tough that you could not cut it with steak knife. This was not an isolated bad piece of meat. Diners at other table had the same problem. If you could cut off a piece you ran the risk of choking on it. WHAT? They did have Beef Stroganoff on the menu. I didn’t look closely to the menu since everyone knows Beef Stroganoff is served on noodles. Everyone knows that except the chef and cooks on the Serenity where it is served on rice. The Main Dining Room: It is named the Waterside. As usual there were no lines or long waits to be seated. Service was very efficient but not rushed. My wife had a favorite waiter and we sat in his section on most nights. This was good as I did not have to feel guilty about not leaving a dozen waiters a tip, I could simply leave one large tip at the end of the cruise on our ship’s account for one waiter. Beyond the call: All the desserts were good depending what you like. My wife asked a question if they ever had Strawberry/Rhubarb pie. They don’t, however a maitre told her to come back the next night as he would have one especially baked for her. They did and she said it was very good (I’m not eating rhubarb on a bet.). The same thing happened at the Palm Court bar on the 12th level. I was easy as I always wanted a Coke or a Dr. Pepper. But my wife enjoys mixed drinks. One night she ordered a “Bee’s Knees” cocktail. The staff was unfamiliar with the drink. But the bartender looked it up on the internet and the next afternoon she was served a Bee’s Knees. The specialty restaurants: These were all good, plus they had a few items on the menu that were not part of the specialty dishes for spouses who hated the normal specialty items. At the Silk, a Chinese restaurant I was disappointed they did not have my favorite “Lo Mein” on the menu, but I was well aware that “Lo Mein” is not really Chinese, but something sold at American Chinese restaurants. Bistro: We would often skip the traditional breakfast and go to the Bistro on Deck 6 for fresh fruit and muffins. At night we would often skip dessert in a dining room and go to the Bistro where they had a number of desserts for you to pick from including chocolate covered strawberries and chocolate truffles (I started with 3-truffles a night and by the end of the cruise was downing six.) plus desserts in cups such as Crème Boule. ENTERTAINMENT: Dan Davies in the Piano Bar, The American Saloon, isn’t American but is an Australian. He also was the best entertainment on the ship. He was funny and showed signs of being a very good jazz pianist. He won’t be selling any CDs of his vocals, but still he was worth several trips to his venue. The majority of the passengers got sick with colds and sore throats Dan was not an exception, but his piano work was so good on the nights he could not sing it was still very entertaining. The passengers’ requests were a problem. People should realize the piano bar guys hate playing the Piano Man and My Way. It didn’t stop the passengers from requesting them and Dan reluctantly playing them. There were two comics on this cruise, both British entertainers. One was very good and the other was barely “OK.” On July 4, a British female singer with a number of performances in shows in London’s West End was the featured entertainer. On the program it stated there would be patriotic 4th of July songs for the Americans. I thought it was odd that a Brit would be singing songs reference a war that King George III lost. My worries disappeared when the only song she sang was “When the Saints go Marching In” which has nothing to do with American Independence and is most associated with New Orleans which belonged to the French until 1804, The Crystal Quartet was a group of musicians from the Philippines. They performed music from the American Songbook and pop tunes through the 1980s. They usually played in the Palm Court on the 12th floor. This is also where the ships male dancers, the Ambassadors, who danced with single women or wives whose husbands could not dance, were found on most nights. You could detect a slight accent of the female singer, with one exception. When she would sing songs made famous in the 1950s by the “Singing Rage Patty Page” she sounded just like her. TORTURING OLD PEOPLE: Just like in the cabins, in the bars and lounges all the chairs were extremely low to the floor. In the Palm Court there were four high back chairs that were actually off the floor and they were always occupied. Older people getting up from all the other furniture sounded like a Rice Krispies commercial, “Snap, Crackle and Pop” coming from people’s knees. THE CON: One lecture on the ship was “The History of the Swiss Watch.” The lecture was not by a nice person from Switzerland but by a Brazilian, who happened the run the ship’s “Watch Shop.” He handed out raffle tickets to people attending, but the winner was not announced at the end of his talk in the movie theater. You had to follow him to the Watch Store where he would draw the winning ticket for a small gift certificate. I did not follow him to the store. I felt I was being scammed and walked in the opposite direction. THE DIRT COVE: On thing that really amazed me was that for a ship that was in dry dock for an allegedly complete interior overhaul, was how filthy the white chairs in the Crystal Cove. These were covered in dirt and it is hard to believe that staff was not aware of their condition. This is one of the higher priced cruise ships in the world. You would expect the furniture to be clean. HIGH MARKS: Chief Concierge Marco Juen from Germany went out in the rain and got us a taxi to standby when we simply asked if there were any cabs available while the ship was docked in Tromso, Norway. Juen told us to have a seat. We thought he was going to make a call. Instead he went off the ship and retuned in 10-minutes, wet and telling us there was a cab waiting for us. MOST POPULAR GUY: That would be the guy manning the Scoops Ice Cream bar from noon to 6pm on the 12th level next to the Trident Grill. This guy was serving up Ben and Jerry’s and soft serve for six hours straight, often getting unusual requests to mix the flavors in half or quarter scoops. Regardless how busy he was and how stupid the request was, he always had a smile on his face. FREE: This was the first time on a cruise ship where the computer/internet service was completely free. The ship had a computer room with at least 12 computers available for passengers. Several other computers had leading newspapers’ online editions at no charge. SYMPHONY VS SERENITY: While we found almost everything on the Serenity to be very nice, we preferred the Symphony. Everyone we spoke to who had been on both ships said the same thing. TOURS: My wife and I often differ on places to see. I like to see where people live and styles of houses. She likes to go to where the tour busses are going to famous locations. To handle this dilemma we try to find a taxi that will give us an hourly rate. On this cruise we found that the taxi was often cheaper than the ship’s tour bus trips. The only problem was in some smaller towns there were no taxis to hire. The last full day of the trip was in Copenhagen. The ship offered a free shuttle bus into downtown Copenhagen. It was about a 30-minute ride one-way. It was a rainy day and they rain increased when we got downtown. We just stayed on the shuttle bus and went back to the ship. We got a free 1-hour tour of Copenhagen, a city we had been to before and spent lots of time on a sunny day seeing the tourist sites. WEATHER: Iceland was relatively warm with temps around 54f. In the Norway towns north of the Arctic Circle there were July days where the temperature was near freezing with a combination of drizzle and snow. THE COUGH AND SNEEZE: By the end of this cruise at least half the passengers were coughing and sneezing. Both my wife and I went to the Ships Medical Center. We knew better than to rack up a big bill by seeing the doctor. Instead nurses gave us cold medicines that were very reasonably priced. My wife was in bed for three days on the ship and a week after our return. I was carrying a wash cloth to cough into while on the ship. Counting the cost of the cruise, airfare and other transportation, plus the dog sitter back home our total cost was around $22,000 and perhaps in years to come the biggest memory with be the cough and cold. DEPARTURE: My wife had signed up for the shuttle bus from the dock to the airport. On our last full day on the ship we learned that a taxi to the airport was the same price as the bus or cheaper. Marco Juen at the Concierge Desk had no problem cancelling the bus. We were then able to reserve a taxi with someone from Copenhagen’s Tourist Bureau who was on the ship. It turned out the taxi fare was cheaper than the bus. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose this cruise because it was offered by Viking, was a smaller ship, stayed overnight in the beginning and ending ports and visited ports in Scandinavia while excluding Russia. We did not wish to fuel the Russian economy. We had ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was offered by Viking, was a smaller ship, stayed overnight in the beginning and ending ports and visited ports in Scandinavia while excluding Russia. We did not wish to fuel the Russian economy. We had been on one Viking River Cruise so were inclined toward Viking for our first ocean cruise. Our cruise was only 11 nights but apparently the cruise continued to other ports such as Stockholm and St. Petersberg. Three weeks would have been too long for us. I had researched the ports and believed guidebooks and Viking when they described how close the dock was to town. In some cases such as Bergen, Aalborg and Stavanger it really was easy to walk into town. In others we needed a shuttle which Viking sometimes provided or taxis. In 3 ports we were beat out of the prime dock location by another ship but only once did we need to use tenders. We were really on our own in Oslo, Viking should have had shuttles there. The included excursions in Eidfjord, Stavanger and Oslo were enjoyable as well as the optional tour we took of Copenhagen. We are experienced travelers and prefered to tour on our own when possible. Guides in Oslo and Copenhagen were excellent. Sailing the fjords and visiting Bergen & Oslo were the most enjoyable locations. The main reasons we chose a cruise for this region of Europe was ease of accessing the fjords, various ports and finding food someone with Celiac disease could safely eat. We had one lunch in Oslo in a restaurant I had researched from home and that offered gluten-free options. The restaurants on the Viking Sky seemed quite good, especially the food in Manfredi's however the Restaurant or main dining room was a beautiful and reliable choice for dinner. I appreciated that the only additional costs we encountered were laundry, a spa service and an additional tip for our room steward. We may take another cruise in future but I really enjoyed our Viking River Cruise more than the ocean cruise. If they had tables for 2 on the river that would be perfect. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
Someone suggested we go on this cruise. It was wonderful but the highlight was the massage therapist. Surina Taljaard. She was so good I had 4 massages. Whatever Norwegian pays her it is not enough We enjoyed the specialty dining and ... Read More
Someone suggested we go on this cruise. It was wonderful but the highlight was the massage therapist. Surina Taljaard. She was so good I had 4 massages. Whatever Norwegian pays her it is not enough We enjoyed the specialty dining and Tropicana and Savor. Buffet not so much. We went on excursions in every port and they were awesome. I really enjoyed Berlin and will go back when I can spend more time. The tour guide was from Pennsylvania and help dual citizenship. We went everywhere we could in 1 day. St Petersburg was spectacular. After 2 days of 12,000 steps a day I was ready for a break. If we go back, we will take 3 or 4 days. I had no idea that Sweden and Denmark were so beautiful. The cabin we had was aft facing and it really made for a great trip. We would sit out in the mornings and evenings and were able to see both sides of the ship. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
The ship was chosen for the itinerary which was great. There were lots of activities on board and the shows at night were excellent: Million dollar quartet and Burn the floor. We didn't go to any shows with a charge as we think ... Read More
The ship was chosen for the itinerary which was great. There were lots of activities on board and the shows at night were excellent: Million dollar quartet and Burn the floor. We didn't go to any shows with a charge as we think that's tacky and unnecessary. The food was just ok and we didn't like the buffet for breakfast or lunch. The quality of food in the 3 dining rooms was better but not great. The best restaurant was Le Bistro which had a charge. The ports were great and we found a WONDERFUL tour company that we used for 2 days in St. Petersburg and one day to Berlin. The company, Alla tours was professional, on time and very knowledgeable about the area. The tour guides were wonderful and their price was very fair and much less than the cruise line. I would definitely use this tour company again. To sum up, the ship had good points and not so good points but we would sail with Norwegian again based on the itinerary. We would definitely use ALLA tours again and have recommended them to friends. 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
1 Helpful Vote
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
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
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
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
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
So, we just got back from our cruise with a preschooler and an infant, and thought I'd pass along some pros/cons/tips for the Brilliance of the Seas, 12 Night British Isles Cruise. I wish I knew then what I knew now, so hopefully ... Read More
So, we just got back from our cruise with a preschooler and an infant, and thought I'd pass along some pros/cons/tips for the Brilliance of the Seas, 12 Night British Isles Cruise. I wish I knew then what I knew now, so hopefully this helps anyone interested. Booking I chose to book with AAA and there really wasn’t anything good about that experience. I would definitely go straight to Royal Caribbean based upon my experience. In short, I ended up having to do A LOT personally to correct my travel agent’s mistakes, in addition to paying more for my trip, along with poorer service than just going direct to RC. Here are some of my lessons learned: • Don’t buy travel insurance UNTIL you check with your credit card company you are planning on using for the cruise. Even after bringing up my card’s benefits to my travel agent, she still talked me into buying the insurance through RC. When I called my credit card to double check and found out that my coverage was all that and better, it was too late to cancel. • Get your flight through RC if possible. Even if you are going in a day early, if you are in a foreign land, this will give you the peace of mind that both your luggage and you get to the ship on time, or be covered if not. • Definitely double check with the airline directly after booking the flight through whomever you use. We called to confirm and found out they had all of us in separate rows, even thought that violated the airline policy due to the ages of some of our travelers. I have to say, United Air stepped up and helped us correct what our travel agent messed up. • Understand the trade-offs between booking a “Guaranteed” room as opposed to one through the current sale. This was not explained well to us and we went with the Guaranteed Room. This meant we paid less in the front end. However, we were put on a bottom floor and missed out on the bonus cruise dollars, that would have made up for that savings we saw from the guaranteed booking. If you are planning on spending some money on the boat, its better to shop the sales. • Get the balcony of you can afford it. The lock is up high, out of reach of children, and if safety is still a concern, have the room attendant remove the outside furniture. The added storage space for strollers and such alone is worth it! Aside from the fact you will wish you had it when you’re on board. • Oh, and if you are traveling with small children, be sure to tell the folks before your international flights. You will get to board early no matter your assigned group. Excursions • There’s a lot of interesting stops along this cruise, and I feel the ship excursions are the way to go (as opposed to looking to alternates offered from different sources), especially when traveling with children and after a decent amount of online research. • Children 3 and under are free for excursions. There definitely were some excursions where both the adults and children were better off with the kids at the Royal Tots and Adventure Ocean, but the fact you didn’t pay extra was cool when we chose to bring them along. So be sure to book them along with yourself, even if you are unsure, at the time of your excursion booking. • Book your excursions in advance. They often come at a discount and sometimes the popular ones do fill up by the date of that particular stop. I’d even go so far as to say even if you’re on the fence about one, still book it in advance. Of course, do your research, but the fact of the matter is, you will likely want to do it when that date comes along and better to have paid less and be assured a space. You can always cancel up to 48 hours prior to the excursion. • The downside of the excursions RC offers is that are still done by a 3rd party. So, if you have a problem, RC will not provide a refund. They will inform you they will pass it along to the excursion company, but that’s the extent of their “help”. They are NOT your advocate. We had an issue on one and still haven’t heard anything, 3 weeks after the cruise. With that said, I think more often than not, you will have a good experience. Just recognize RC assumes little to no responsibility when you have problems on an excursion. Child Care / Children’s Programs • I can’t say enough good things about my experience with Royal Tots and Adventure Club. My preschooler loved it and we felt very secure with their care for our infant. • I was a little scared about the hours and the available spaces getting filled prior to our cruise, since you couldn’t do any pre-booking for those services. However, there turned out to be no need for concern. They have this down and it is really easy to use. Go to the open house on your first day on board and get it set up. There will be space for your child on this particular cruise. • Order diapers, wipes and baby food ahead of time to be delivered to your room. Call RC directly to do this. This service is buried in their website and is glitchy from my experience if you try to do it online. The reps on the phone are, by and large, super helpful and will get it done for you. And if you get someone from RC on the phone who seems reluctant or unknowing about this service, politely end that conversation and call back later. You will get someone who can and will help you. But the fact of the matter is it will save you a ton of luggage space and their costs aren’t much different than a target in the States. Dining • I thought the dining room was top notch and the buffet was hit or miss. My Time Dining was the way to go. But go ahead and book times in advance if you have a handle on your schedule, even with the MTD. There’s a lot to be said for having the same attendants through-out. And if your waiters seem a little off that first night, don’t give up on them. They’re in the dining room for a reason and will get to know your family and take good care of you. • Definitely book a specialty dining package in advance. If you’re on a cruise for this long, you are going to want some variety. And even with the sales you will see once on board, it will never be as cheap as it is before the cruise. I didn’t get to go to the Giovanni’s or Chefs table, but Chops Grille was awesome, and they were great with the kids. We also went to Izumi, but I did not like the food or the service. Here they tell you to bring your kids, but from all appearances they really don’t want you to. Once we were seated we rarely saw our waiter and he was curt and unhelpful when we did see him. And he was the waiter featured on the videos about the restaurant on the boat! And when it came down to it, the sushi was just not good. So the service definitely wasn’t something I would say I would put up with for the food. • If you have interest in the Mystery Theatre Dinner, book it in advance. It will not be available when you’re onboard. Plan for an adult dinner that night if you decide to sign up. Get the kids an earlier meal and then take them to the childcare for a couple of hours. We didn’t do this but wish we had. The Spa • I’ve been to the spa several times on different cruises and talked to a few different travelers about their experiences on RC, and the consensus is it’s just OK. Here again, buy in advance to get the savings if you want it, but temper your expectations. Massages aren’t great, and they will try to sell you the lotions when you are done. • In fact, there’s a lot of hard selling and up selling going on at the spa. For instance, if you want a steam in addition to your massage (like you would get at a typical on land spa), you will pay extra. • In our case they really pushed this “great consultation” from a trainer who will develop a diet and fitness plan for you for around $50 for a couple. In short, it was an hour high-pressure sales pitch with a guy trying to sell us seaweed pills, who would not discuss diet and exercise, and who wouldn’t take no for an answer. We had to just get up and walk away. My advice is don’t expect to find anything better (or even close to as good) for your health on the boat, than you would find through true health professionals back on land in the US. • Prices are likely more expensive when compared to spas you have been to in the past, so just recognize that higher price is not indicative of the quality of service. You pay a premium bc your trapped on a ship with no other offers. That doesn’t mean you won’t find the masseuse you’ve been waiting for all your life. I just wouldn’t get your hopes up. Stores • Although this is a British Isles cruise, don’t expect to see anything from the British Isles in the cruise shops. We were surprised to see only Baltic and Russian souvenirs in shops, even on the special sales days. It was explained to us that this is because the ship spends most of its time in the Baltic and only goes to the British Isles once a year. • Don’t believe the cashier that you can send your EU tax reimbursement form from home. You cannot. Global Blue informed me of this when I inquired once back in the States. You need to go through 2 lines at the Amsterdam airport to receive a refund and be prepared for a circus. So, if you want that money, plan to get that done before you get on your plane. • Be careful about the digital photo package. We bought it and still don’t have our pictures. I’ve called and emailed Royal Caribbean numerous times, and they tell me it is a third party who does that, and they have no control. And the third party is virtually impossible to get ahold of, and pretty nasty when you do. They do not have an email or direct line you can contact an actual person. I’ll update this part once it is resolves, but it is a problem with Royal Caribbean and their complete decentralization of everything. I have found accountability is scarce with RC when something goes wrong. Id say buy the actual pics if you really want to, but definitely stay away from the digital packages. Royal Caribbean in General • I think there’s two types of crew members on Royal Caribbean ships. Those who bend over backwards for you, and those who will do anything to avoid helping you. No in between. I never heard more people telling me that’s not their job and that they don’t know who can give me the answer. Even on postage to send a postcard! So, remember, if someone doesn’t help you, come back later and a different person will. This may be personality driven as different people connect with different people. So, you may have a good experience with someone I had a bad experience with. I think the main thing to keep in mind, don’t get upset when this happens bc it will happen, just try someone else later. It will work out:) Read Less
8 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
7 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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