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Sail Date: August 2019
I was highly disappointed with this cruise. We had a wonderful river cruise with Viking; this was no where near the quality. The food was so-so. I had trouble finding options for gluten free, especially at lunch. Service was great, ... Read More
I was highly disappointed with this cruise. We had a wonderful river cruise with Viking; this was no where near the quality. The food was so-so. I had trouble finding options for gluten free, especially at lunch. Service was great, though. The included excursions were a joke. Most of them were just bus rides. Sometimes, we were just left to explore on our own. I expected much higher quality tours. I was also very upset that by the time we were allowed to schedule tours, most morning included tours were full. The extra excursions that we took were very good, although not always as described. The cabin was good. The entertainment was mediocre with a few exceptions. The elvis show was great. Activities in the morning were almost non-existent--that after not being able to schedule included tours in the morning. I am not a night person. The new ship was wonderful, so clean. Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly. If I travel with Viking on an ocean cruise again, I probably will not schedule any included tours. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2019
We choose Oceania because it was supposed to be an above average cruise line. Last year we had taken a Celebrity cruise and were disappointed, so decided to spend more money for higher quality. We were traveling with my sister and her ... Read More
We choose Oceania because it was supposed to be an above average cruise line. Last year we had taken a Celebrity cruise and were disappointed, so decided to spend more money for higher quality. We were traveling with my sister and her husband. We were allowed to sign up for the "Speciality" restaurants 2 weeks before departure. The only times available were after 8:30, so the only restaurant we could try was the Italian Restaurant. It was excellent. We arrived at the ship in Stockholm and boarded at about 12:30 pm. However we could not access our room until 3:00. When we finally were able to go into our cabins, our key cards would not work and we could not open the doors. It took another 20 minutes to get that worked out. We had rooms with balconies, the bathrooms were nice and included a tub and separate shower. However the furniture was chipped, the carpet was stained and the sofa looked tired and a little dirty. Also, we found there was not enough drawer space and our larger suite case would not fit under the bed. The whole ship needs to be updated. The food in the main dining room was not good. One night they offered "short ribs" slow cooked. The mystery meat arrived sliced, no bone, and was not edible. They served lobster, and it was also tough and over-cooked. We went to one show, and did not bother to attend any others. The only positive I can say is the crew were very nice and helpful. And we loved the ports, we did the Baltic Cruise. I am not sure about the other Oceania ships, but we would not recommend the Marina at this time. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2019
I was party leader for a group of 10 friends and family. I joined this cruise with low expectations, based on the previous reviews. What I actually experienced was way beyond my expectations. We did the Baltic Cruise and visited Stockholm, ... Read More
I was party leader for a group of 10 friends and family. I joined this cruise with low expectations, based on the previous reviews. What I actually experienced was way beyond my expectations. We did the Baltic Cruise and visited Stockholm, Helsinki, St Petersburg and Tallinn. This is an expensive route normally and this was a budget price in the scheme of things. Based on what we paid and what we received there are no complaints. The food was of a good standard at the buffet and the formal dinner and in fact some of the formal dinner food was amazing. I had one of the best beef steaks I have ever had on one evening! The waiters could have been a bit more jovial but they were not rude and their service was fine and we always had a good experience every night. The room was bigger than expected with a good size comfy bed and plenty of hanging space for clothes. We did not see our cabin steward at any time on the cruise but the service was fine and the room was always well looked after. We did have a problem with a shower tray that would not empty properly so one ended up stood in water and also with water overflowing onto the main bathroom floor. I reported this and they came and fixed it while we were out. They then called the room later that day to make sure that we were happy with the fix and by that time we had not used the shower. When we used the shower we found that it was not working correctly still and so we called them and once again they came out to fix it. Once again they called us later that day to check it was ok and this time the fix had worked. I have been on many cruises and I have never had a follow up call to make sure that we were happy with the fix. This is a first for me, so well done to them for actually taking the time twice to make sure we were happy with the repair/fix. Credit where credits due. We did three excursions through Costa and two of these were very good. However we did do the Best of Stockholm and Vasa Museum tour on the final day which is a 3.5 hour tour at €70 per person their ref 2501. This is rushed tour and is not enough time. It ended up that we only had 40 minutes in the Vasa Museum, which is the highlight. They introduced this as one of the World's best Museums and a wonderful experience and then gave us only 40 minutes inside. This is ridiculous as in my opinion you need at least 1.5 hours inside, minimum. I would suggest that you go privately and take your time as this is an amazing museum that deserves more of your time. This was a blemish on what was otherwise a great trip. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2019
It's difficult to capture the Ovation experience easily. But, in a word - sublime. There was no request that was too big or too small for them. We cruised as a party of four in Veranda Suite rooms. Our rooms were located aft ... Read More
It's difficult to capture the Ovation experience easily. But, in a word - sublime. There was no request that was too big or too small for them. We cruised as a party of four in Veranda Suite rooms. Our rooms were located aft near to the staircase, which is a lovely location. Highly recommended. Embarkation - this was effortless and enjoyable. We were met at the airport and had an easy ride to the boat. Here, we were welcomed with cocktails and a seamless embarkation process. Stateroom - Extremely spacious for its category. The veranda is a good size and the walk-in closet is welcome. The double basin in the bathroom was welcome too. Toiletries are of a very high standard. Restaurants - Without exception, meals were amazing. In particular, the service at the Restaurant deserves special mention, the formal night is something special and the Air and Ocean restaurant on deck is also excellent. We normally took in breakfast in the Colonnade, but splurging one or two mornings for breakfast in The Restaurant is also a good idea. Bars - Generally very good, although service at the outside bars during sail-aways gets a little slow. The Retreat - A lovely little hidden area on the boat is The Retreat. Worth spending the money if you're looking for a R&R day. Spa & Fitness - Excellent treatments, but the facilities are perhaps a little small. That said, the fitness area never felt crowded. Excursions - We only did excursions in St Petersburg but these were arranged well and the experience was excellent. Entertainment - All shows in the Grand Salon were very good. The live music on deck during sail-away parties was a little short-lived at 30 minutes. The casino is a little small and felt crowded at times. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2019
What i understand is that this cruise was the first complete Baltic sea cruise in two years and that Oslo was included. The area is new to me and I was very interested in seeing the cities. I travel alone and was a little disappointed ... Read More
What i understand is that this cruise was the first complete Baltic sea cruise in two years and that Oslo was included. The area is new to me and I was very interested in seeing the cities. I travel alone and was a little disappointed that NCL didn't have single cabins. The cruise was rather expensive, but I thought it might be worth it because of the excursions. I used the NCL internet site to determine my excursions When I got aboard, I was disappointed to find that the list of excursion was much larger with a lot more detail. The ship (which is common) had an older passenger clientel and the excursions were geared toward us. The German excursion was the most exhausting because of the six hour traveling to spend six hours to visit such a city. The food was average for ships. The buffet could have had a taster menu. The restaurants were nothing to write home about. The Italian restaurant was a rather disappointing place. No ambiance. The ship services were very good especially 'Guest Services' (Carol Macapagal) and my two favorite employees, the bartenders at Charlies (Boyana and Christine). Thank you. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2019
The Norwegian Spirit was our first Norwegian cruise. My husband and I usually cruise with Princess or Celebrity. When I saw this wonderful itinerary for the Baltic with so many ports, we decided to book it. When we arrived on the ... Read More
The Norwegian Spirit was our first Norwegian cruise. My husband and I usually cruise with Princess or Celebrity. When I saw this wonderful itinerary for the Baltic with so many ports, we decided to book it. When we arrived on the ship we were taken aback how dated it was. The decor, colors and public restrooms were all very very dated. The spa was decorated with Egyptian style decor. Having sailed on some of the newer ships, this is the worst ship we have ever been on. In speaking with the staff and other passengers, it is supposed to go into dry dock in January 2020. CABIN: We had a balcony room on the 10th floor and the main problem was the toilet not flushing, The bathroom was extremely dated and very tight. Having sliding doors on the shower and toilet area gives you less space. Our main problem with this room was the toilet not flushing. I had to call guest services no less than 6 times. The plumbing was a major issue. On a cruise that was a total of 16 days, the first 12 days we had to guess whether the toilet would flush or not! Finally they sent a plumber over to change a part. Then the toilet would not stop flushing for 3 or 4 times until it finally stopped. Very frustrating. The "balcony" was small and the floor was dirty. Staterooms are small on ships and other than the bathroom toilet fiasco, the room was average. BTW: trying to get a wake up call was impossible. They said it was not working. Trying to call someone about the toilet was also very frustrating because no one answers the phone. TELEVISION: Absolutely terrible. Norwegian Cruise advertisements constant on numerous stations. Cruise Directors usually have a show that updates everyone on upcoming and past activities. This cruise had the worst tv show by far. Plus the stations were limited or would scramble. Sometimes they had BBC, always had MSNBC and a few movies that were rotated in French, English and Spanish. On past cruises they have movies in the theater and on tv. Lots of choices for entertainment on board....not this cruise. I had to get on my phone at shore to see what was going on in the world. ENTERTAINMENT: We were not impressed with the entertainment on this cruise EXCEPT the Illusionist was excellent. The show Elements was really good though.It incorporated dancers and the Illusionist and acrobats who had previously performed. All the other entertainment was not up to par with other cruises we have been on. The singer at Henry's Pub was excellent. The live band in Galaxy and the Jazz band were all very good. The Theater shows at night were just ok other than the Illusionist. FOOD: The buffet was less than average based on other cruises. Very limited variety. The rice was always very dry. Meats over cooked and dry. Other cruises we would see a variety of cheeses and crackers, specialty items; designated area for pizza and burgers. The pizza looked like it was dry and just came out of a microwave. Breakfast was the same every single day. Poor variety and quality. We ate at all of the Specialty Restaurants and they were decent. Definitely Cagney's Steakhouse and Le Bistro were better choices than the dining rooms or the buffet. The Teppanyaki place was average. The prices for specialty dining are higher than on other cruises we have been on. If you are a foodie, you will be greatly disappointed. BARS: The bartender staff on this cruise was very attentive and it was always easy to order drinks. ACTIVITIES: This cruise had only one sea day and we were at a port nearly every day. Thus most people were too tired to get really involved in cruise activities. We went to the karaoke hour early on the cruise and there were 2 people. Bingo had to be cancelled several times because there were not enough people playing. The variety of "activities" was limited due to the port itinerary. SPA: I had a manicure/pedicure and was quoted $110. Once I got the bill I was told they made a mistake and it was actually $118. PLUS THEY CHARGE AN 18% AUTOMATIC GRATUITY on services. So I had to pay $138 for a mani/pedi. They also want to sell you products. The spa was really unattractive as well. I was not impressed with the prices, the service or the ambience of the spa. EXCURSIONS I wish they gave us more info in advance. Like you can pay for a shuttle to town at some ports. We bought excursions for every port. Some of the tour guides were excellent...some absolutely horrible. In Copenhagen we had a Guide whose native language was Spanish. No one could understand her. She really did not tell us anything about the area. That was a total waste of money. On several of the excursions we never were given time to shop or be on our own. Other cruisers told us they were frustrated with their excursions as well. LAUNDRY: There are no laundry facilities for the passengers on this ship. It is very expensive to have them do your laundry and it is charged by a per item fee. OVERALL: The Norwegian Spirit is an older ship in need of updating. Other cruisers told us they have been on many Norwegian cruises and the ships were great. Everyone basically agreed that we were not on this cruise for the ship. We were on it for the 15 day experience with one sea day to interesting ports. Overall experience for us was slightly below average. I would not cruise on the Norwegian Spirit again. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2019
First, our impression of the ship. The ship is not the newest or largest so usually it did not have priority to tie up a the closest piers and we almost always had to take a shuttle.The entire ship is decorated in a Chinese style. Even ... Read More
First, our impression of the ship. The ship is not the newest or largest so usually it did not have priority to tie up a the closest piers and we almost always had to take a shuttle.The entire ship is decorated in a Chinese style. Even Cagney's steakhouse looks more like a Chinese restaurant than the Sushi Bar. La Trattoria is a section of the Raffles Buffet that is closed off in the evening and not very cozy. It appears as though Norwegian tried to adopt the ship to their style and include their restaurants. The Bier Garten consists of some picnic tables by the pool. The Blue Lagoon and Shanghai Bar are only some wide spaces on a main fore and aft passage. The Pub is nice, but small and crowded. Le Bistro is pleasant and Raffles works well. Rooms were up to par and very clean. The staff was very professional, helpful and friendly The fitness room was well equipped, clean, and quite empty. Dining at le Bistro, Cagney's Steakhouse and Teppanyaki was outstanding. The food was always delicious, properly prepared and served. I can't say enough good things about them. The Main Dining Rooms, not so much. They were very spotty. A good meal was a pleasant surprise. Examples were waiting over half an hour for an cold appetizer, fish being served lukewarm or dried out, a salad with cheese that had no cheese in it, a picatta dish with mystery white sauce on it with no capers or lemon seasoning, bananas foster with raw bananas. You get the idea. Although we were in port every day, the ship was out of things that were on the menu (fresh eggs, sorbet, baked potatoes) and not always for only one day. Salt and pepper shakers were missing from sections of Raffles Court. Small things, but that what you pay for and not up to Norwegian standards. Would I take this cruise again? Yes. Our reason for making this cruise was for the ports of call and they were terrific, but as expected, not long enough. Hope this helps you. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2019
We did the 15 day Baltic cruise from Stockholm to Southampton. The itinerary was great and the shore excursions excellent. We choose not to take the long bus/train rides into Berlin, Paris or Brussels but instead enjoyed exploring the ... Read More
We did the 15 day Baltic cruise from Stockholm to Southampton. The itinerary was great and the shore excursions excellent. We choose not to take the long bus/train rides into Berlin, Paris or Brussels but instead enjoyed exploring the smaller cities near the ports. The Norwegian Spirit is in need of refurbishing but we didn't spend much time on it. The food was mediocre but adequate. Unfortunately the dining availability did not match the excursions and sail away times. We came back late from excursions twice to find only a very small cafe open to get any food at all. Another issue was that the ship docked in many industrial port areas away from the nearest cities. There were cruise ships docked much closer to the ports but it seemed that we always were docked much farther away requiring shuttles and such. It also seemed that some of the entertainment was repeated or at least the blurbs about the shows were identical. We enjoyed one group and were looking forward to seeing them again but it was the same show. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2019
"15-day cruise with one day at sea and 14 days at ports in 14 different countries bordering the Baltic Sea" was the reason we selected this cruise during mid August through early September of 2019. NCL chooses to not pay the port ... Read More
"15-day cruise with one day at sea and 14 days at ports in 14 different countries bordering the Baltic Sea" was the reason we selected this cruise during mid August through early September of 2019. NCL chooses to not pay the port fees for a convenient berth or mooring. Instead, at each of these 14 ports, the Norwegian Spirit pays the least amount of fee and in turn the Norwegian Spirit moors at a distant berth at each port. Under these circumstances, passengers who do not pay an exhoribant fee for a NCL shore excursion are stuck at the port berth. Like other passengers, we had to hire a local taxi or pay for a shuttle bus in order to get to a train station to then be transported to a nearby destination. At several ports, to get to the advertised destination we had to be very resourceful in figuring out combinations of transportation to take us to the advertised destination for that day. We used combinations of local shuttle bus, taxis, trains, trams and walking. The featured entertaining each evening in the theatre varied considering in quality. Four of the evening shows were excellent (e.g,, the four "Elements" was the best!). Unfortunately, most of the shows were of very poor quality. NCL found cheap "entertainers" for most shows and so we just skipped most evenings in the theatre. The inside cabin was extremely small and uncomfortable (think "prison cell"). Read Less
Sail Date: August 2019
When I saw the itinerary for this cruise I had to book immediately: Stockholm, St. Petersburg (2 nights), Tallinn, Klaipeda, Gdynia, Riga, Oslo, Copenhagen, Brussels, Le Havre, Amsterdam, Helsinki, Southampton. The itinerary did not ... Read More
When I saw the itinerary for this cruise I had to book immediately: Stockholm, St. Petersburg (2 nights), Tallinn, Klaipeda, Gdynia, Riga, Oslo, Copenhagen, Brussels, Le Havre, Amsterdam, Helsinki, Southampton. The itinerary did not disappoint although a couple of NCL's excursions did, particularly the one in Tallinn. I had been on the Spirit before so I knew that the ship is older and some things need updating (It's going into dry dock for a major refurbishment in Feb. 2020.) However, I like this ship because it's small and easy to get around. I especially like the observation deck on 12. My balcony cabin was very nice and comfortable. This was my first cruise as a solo traveller and I must say I was initially apprehensive about what the experience would be like. There was no need to worry though. NCL hosts regular solo get- togethers and dinners. The other solo cruisers were delightful and I'm grateful to NCL for providing the opportunity to meet them. NCL's solos representative did a terrific job in making everyone feel welcome. (The complementary champagne and wine was very much appreciated also.) Now to discuss some of the things that could have been improved. First of all, the main dining room, Windows, has very slow service and the food quality uneven. Some of the entertainment (a female singer, a juggler, magician and acrobats) was not to my liking but that is mostly personal preference, of course. In the 15 days, I went to only 4 or 5 shows because many of the acts just didn't appeal to me. The negatives were not so great as to seriously impact my overall enjoyment of this cruise. I definitely plan on cruising with NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2019
The itinerary was the main reason we choose this cruise. Never have been on a NCL ship before but have cruised many times Dining options were good, food was tasty and portions sizes were appropriate. Did not try the speciality ... Read More
The itinerary was the main reason we choose this cruise. Never have been on a NCL ship before but have cruised many times Dining options were good, food was tasty and portions sizes were appropriate. Did not try the speciality options. The room service was very good, our room was always clean and neat. The entertainment was pretty good, magicians and acrobats were very good. This is the first time I have had such poor communication from the cruise director. This was a two week cruise and she never once had any discussions about the ports, no written information, no video to watch on the in-room TV. ZERO information. We never knew if the city would be close by so we could walk or if we would need to take a bus or taxi. Most of the ports we docked a significant distance from the city, a 20-30 minute drive. Twice we had to pay to take a shuttle to the city - I have never had to do that on any previous cruise. Many of the passengers we spoke to on our cruise we surprised by the lack of communication. The only time I saw her was when the entertainment finished in the theater, she came out and thanked the performers. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2019
Research will tell you that Spirit was built in 1996 and updated in 2017. Don't be fooled...this is an old ship. Public spaces are very dated and balcony staterooms are painfully small. There were random odors around the ship, ... Read More
Research will tell you that Spirit was built in 1996 and updated in 2017. Don't be fooled...this is an old ship. Public spaces are very dated and balcony staterooms are painfully small. There were random odors around the ship, including (as reported by fellow cruisers) in some of the cabins. Our cabin had bedbugs. There are almost no places to enjoy a cocktail with a view of a window other than in one large lounge...and this same spot got quite old after a couple of days. Seating in the buffet is woefully undersized to support the pre-excursion breakfast rush. Food may have been the closest thing to a highlight. While the buffet was unimaginative and very average, the main dining room meals were perfectly passable and specialty dining options were quite good. A reasonably creditable wine list was tempered by a cranky beverage package. On board entertainment - again with some exceptions - could best be described as average, and in some cases was pretty weak. As a minor complaint, it helps if Trivia contests are hosted by people with a better command of the English language... There were more problems with NCL. The crew on Spirit - while there were many great exceptions - was, on average, uninformed, unfriendly and uncooperative. On board communications were less than clear, which mirrored a problem with confusion and inaccuracies on NCL's website. So my net....a 15 day cruise on Spirit was not necessarily a "bad" experience, it just was not nearly so "good" and exprience as we are familiar with on the two other lines that we know well. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2019
Chose this cruise for the 13 country itinerary in 15 days, knowing it would not be the relaxing cruise that we usually take. Very smooth embarking and debarkation. We liked the sized of the ship. We never felt there were 2000 people on ... Read More
Chose this cruise for the 13 country itinerary in 15 days, knowing it would not be the relaxing cruise that we usually take. Very smooth embarking and debarkation. We liked the sized of the ship. We never felt there were 2000 people on board with the exception of a couple times at Raffles buffet. We were really expecting the worst of the SPirit as it is due to go for drydock in January. That being said, the ship far exceeded our low expectations. We kept commenting that it was so much nicer than we ever imaged. The ship appeared to be kept clean and rooms were decent. Certainly the staterooms will be nice after updates as bathrooms are outdated but clean is most important to us. The stateroom was decent for size just as photos show. It is always nice to have a small sofa to sit onwhich these rooms have. We have had smaller and larger but room was very adequate. Closet held ample clothing. Our room steward did a great job. His cart was normally parked next to our door which wasn't a problem. We had surprise animals every night! The dining room was extremely inconsistent from both time and quality standards. One day everything would come out quickly and hot and the next day food would be very cold and come in waves for the table.. The staff were always pleasant and tried to please but there must have been a problem somewhere in between. Raffles was a choice sometimes but at busy times tables in the buffet area would be hard to find but we would sit outside. The traffic flow seemed pretty non existent . La Bistro was the favorite of all 10 of us and was the Best food we had on board. Tempanyaki was 2nd. Very tender beef and nice dinner. Cagneys was big disappointment both in service and food. We had table of 6 and table of 4. No steak and lobster as on menu and shrimp was offered instead. No one LOVED their dinner that evening. Blue Lagoon was a quick and easy place to have a burger, salad etc after shore excursions or when you just want a quick easy meal. Quick service - same manager as La Bistro. He does a great job! We enjoyed the entertainment - both onboard group and guest entertainment. The violinist was entertaining as were most of them. Loved Henry's pub and the staff and also spent time in the outdoor beer garden. All the bars had a different specialty menu which was fun. Casino was way to smoky to ever visit. No nonsmoking day. I can't comment on entertainment other than evening shows as this was such a port intensive cruise we didn't take time to participate. One of the true disappointments were shore excursions. Most people we saw felt the same way but I am not seeing the negative reviews yet. It was a mess all leaving from the theater most days. The mad rush when 360 people are called for an excursion. We had a group of 10 and overall, the biggest disappointment was lack of sound enhancement for most tours. Most tours had 36 to 45 people and without sound enhancement the tour guide was pretty useless. Helsinki, Amsterdam, Gdansk and st Peterburg were the only cities we understand had the earbuds or amplifier. We had some tour guides in the other cities that could not be in control of such a large tour group in busy historical cities as well as not being able to project their voice. The tours were awfull! We put up with tours in some cities because of transportation and or boat tour which were excellent but the rest of the tour terrible. I had minimal need for shopping with the exception of an ornament. in some cities, there was no time alloted to even buy an ornament. The worst of all was 3 1/2 hour Rostock for $109. Most things in the city was closed. We rode the bus to the historic center hearing of some history and how everyone drinks too much beer and the guide Kai pretty much just walked, talking to one of the guests and would give a few facts every once in a while. The restaurants were opening but nothing else. We had over an hour free that day with nowhere to go. I would suggest finding alternatives to NCL such as small groups that guarantee getting back to ship. A small group would be of great value. I will be very selective of NCL tours in the future after this experience. Just hard to have 40 plus people trying to hear follow 1 guide. I would look forward to another cruise on the spirit especially after she goes through drydock Read Less
Sail Date: August 2019
In my opinion this cruise has one port missing. It arrives in Stockholm on a Friday, boarding is on a Saturday, then it leaves for Helsinki, following is 2 days St. Petersburg, then a short time in Tallin. The day after is again in ... Read More
In my opinion this cruise has one port missing. It arrives in Stockholm on a Friday, boarding is on a Saturday, then it leaves for Helsinki, following is 2 days St. Petersburg, then a short time in Tallin. The day after is again in Stockholm, and the following day you have to disembark. I can't understand why they don't add Latvia for example instead of docking for 2 days in Stockholm. Otherwise it would have been nice to have 3 days in Russia, but Stockholm is the least city that one has to see. Something about the ship, decor is very old, brown and orange everywhere, breakfast very poor, bacon and sausages are not even good for dogs...thanks God they offered meat in the grill section which I enjoyed very much for breakfast. In the evening we ate at the sit-in restaurant, food taste average, food decoration very nice. Entertainment during sit-in dinner ZERO neither some background recorded music except for the Italian night and the gala dinner where there was live entertainment which we enjoyed very much. At the pool area NO MUSIC except when there are organised activities which happen only when the ship is at sea...I find this so stupid as it is costless to put a nice music on through a CD...The pool slide on Costa Magica was delusive..it is opened only for 1 hr if you're lucky. So, we booked this ship for the slide and when we boarded we could'nt even use it, we had to wait until the last day to go on it 3 times as they did'nt advise its opening times and we encountered it open by chance....why? we presume so that they won't have to repaint it since the blue colour comes off on your swimsuit or because they don't want to waste human resources to guard the slide. As for the bar service, we bought Piu Gusto for all the cabin which was a family of 4. One of us went to get 2 drinks from the pool bar and the barman humiliated him by asking him for another card....why when our package included unlimited drinks? why ruin guests holiday experience with this approach?? as for children activities the Peppa Pig activities were great and the children had so much fun in the Squok Club...so well done to them. I was going to forget about this...this is unbelievable but true...guys forget that you will be getting an ice cream or a nice milkshake on the ship...if you want one you have to pay for it...this is our 5th cruise and we never encountered anything similar!! As for the Photos...when they will learn that if they reduce the price they will sell more? it's unbelievable how many photos they throw away after every cruise when if they sell them at least half the price many people will be encouraged to buy them...very greedy and stupid behavior in my opinion. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
Ponant cruise lines chartered the Le Dumont D'Urville to Thomas P Gohagan & Co. who then marketed the Baltic Sea cruise primarily through college/university alumni offices, Smithsonian Journeys, National Trust for Historic ... Read More
Ponant cruise lines chartered the Le Dumont D'Urville to Thomas P Gohagan & Co. who then marketed the Baltic Sea cruise primarily through college/university alumni offices, Smithsonian Journeys, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Philadelphia Council on World Affairs, etc. So the cruise passengers were members of the various alumni groups and marketing organizations and each of the organizations had a representative who gave lectures during the cruise. Ponant also markets similar cruises directly to the public without the alumni connections and lectures. The Le Dumont D'Urville is a new ship in 2019 so the cabins and all the facilities of the ship were new and designed to a high standard. My understanding is that Ponant has ordered several ships with a standard design that are being delivered in 2019 and 2020. Although the ship has only 92 cabins it is still a sizable ship at 400+ feet long and was stable throughout our cruise. The kitchen is an excellent French kitchen with an outstanding pastry chef. The cabin was well designed with a sliding door to the balcony/veranda. The theater, dining room, grill, observatory lounge were all very comfortable. Although the ship carries an excellent pianist, singer, and dancers, entertainment was limited. Shore excursions were included for all passengers (no need to sign up in advance) with very good local guides and comfortable buses and covered the highlights of the cities visited. There was a pre-cruise extension in Stockholm and a post-cruise extension in Norway covering Oslo, the Oslo-Bergen train, Flam with a fjord cruise, and Bergen. This small ship experience was focused on shore excursions, lectures, excellent meals, and a comfortable outside cabin. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
We chose this cruise because of the 3 days in St Petersburg, adding a few days before in Copenhagen, and after with Stockholm, Norway in a nutshell, and Bergen. A long trip. Ports Stockholm Was so Hot! We enjoyed our Steves walking ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the 3 days in St Petersburg, adding a few days before in Copenhagen, and after with Stockholm, Norway in a nutshell, and Bergen. A long trip. Ports Stockholm Was so Hot! We enjoyed our Steves walking tours and meeting with a friend from home for lunch before he went home the next day. Lots to see and do, ran out of time. Helsinki- cold. Steves walking tour. Helsinkin library was a must see we may have missed if not told about it St. Petersburg- cold rainy. crowds, crowds, do a tour to get past them all. so much glitz. Peterhoff was a nice break. Tallin- warmer. very quaint town. Iron man competition was happening but navigable. Riga- Not much there, tried to do church but not easy to get around. Not as cute as we had hoped. Visby- a favorite spot for us. You have never seen a medieval festival till you have been here. The only ones not in authentic wear and gear was tourists from the ship. So amazingly authentic and not the hype of festivals we americans are used to. We were very disappointed the ship left so early so we couldn’t see the evening games. cute town easily walkable. Warnemunde- took tour to schwerin. Ok, but could have spent time seeing the incoming tall ships for the next day festival. Fredericia- rainy. we took the train to Jelling for a change, then walked around Fredericia till time ran out. 
Copenhagen- rainy. we were worried hot to get off the ship and what to do with luggage but it worked out to take it to our hotel early and store it there. Again lots to see and not enough time. Steves walking tour. Embarkation- lightening fast. Never had it so good and easy. Props for organization. Disembarkation- very fast and easy although there was much confusion among many passengers about when we had to actually get off the ship, and how. Transportation to and from ports each city was different. The Compass was to give information but one of our first ports was wrong in the compass. We had researched it and knew we needed a bus or taxi but compass said walking distance. Good thing we had already made our plans. City bus (bought the 2 day pass) for Copenhagen was a lifesaver. A few tours picked us up. Mostly we just walked to towns although we did spend for taxi a few times with luggage. Someone mentioned and there is lots of confusion over getting off in Russia. We had a private 3 day tour booked with Alla. We did not have visas. We did have have lines showing passports going thru checkpoints at the dock like everyone else. We got off like everyone else. We read you had to have a ‘sponsored’ tour to leave the dock BUT I saw plenty of people coming and going and taxi’s outside. Not sure if legal to do so. Our second day a few of us wandered out the door but were missing one. The guard there (not on the last day) wouldn’t let us back in to get the one who we could see inside and didn’t know we had left him…he eventually did. We waited outside for our tour leader. Dining: Main dining room Reservations for each night depending on the schedule. twice placed at a new location than our ‘regular’ spot. Waiters were very good. They remembered our evening requests like no ice, herb tea, and most importantly 2 plates of grilled veggies for the 6 of us (once we started asking for it). (veggies seem to be non existent on cruise ships). Background music got a bit too loud for conversations a few nights but they turned it down when we mentioned it. Food was hit and miss. We were told the first night that the bottom half of the menu stayed the same the entire cruise, that meant that only a few items in each category changed each night with many repeats. Unfortunately my favorite 2 desserts I had the first night were never again to be seen. Many nights a good portion of the dishes were variations of seafood. Fine if you like seafood, and I do, but not so many options ruling out other choices. Other nights most of the offerings had some type of alcohol which I don’t want so was limited. Some dishes were really good, a few were not. Among my group of 6 the hit was the apple ‘pie’, cheese plate, and sugar free variations. We were disappointed that there was no ‘local’ options or fresh seasonal fruits other than easy to store stuff. We did breakfast on the sea day with menu or buffet option (or as it turned out both). Our food took forever to come and was only mediocre. Buffet was better options. Better than the mobs upstairs but not the variety. Buffet Why is there so much indian and japanese food? No mexican or other options. I like indian but this was all too spicy (as some main dining dishes were when I asked for mild). Lots of variety of breads, eggs, healthy stuff. Short on fruit options other than the easy to store stuff like melon, apple, oranges…I am not a buffet type diner as I find food not as good and I eat too much but we used it for all breakfasts but one due to the schedule, and lunch on the sea day. Nothing great. I really wanted a chef salad as opposed to the basic, caesar, etc. and none were available so I resorted to creating my own and asking for a sliced hard boiled egg. It was the best meal I had there. We found it easy to find spots to sit with our group (we kept crossing paths) off to the sides, behind drink station, and in the wing which gets opened and is very nice, just away from the food. After hours dining Limited options. Period. Mediocre. I recommend grabbing a cheese plate at dinner and taking it to your room for an evening snack. The ship For 6 of us not into the bar and noise scene, we never really found an ideal place in 2 weeks to play games. The best we did was the safari club which was very underused and only the stage area for the most part. It had a great rearward view and was quiet unless a game was happening which was rare. The chairs are ok and table would be if it didn’t have an annoying mounted lamp in the middle we had to work around. The game room we had planned on using didn’t have any space. Safari was comfortable and our ‘meeting’ spot. People seemed to go there to read and have quiet. The dining areas were closed off during down time, so not usable Shipboard Pool- too cold and busy and was actually covered up each evening even though it was supposed to be open. Props for having life guards who looked official even if it wasn’t necesary. Pool table- it 2 weeks to get it Shuffleboard- we gave it a try on our sea day. missing ball, bent pusher. and the puck things were defective. After an hour we succeeded in only getting about 5 pieces on the game board. All others stopped half way or flew 3x farther than intended. We have played before without issue. so it wasn’t us. We couldn’t even get any points. Movie theater- same movie all day and not great ones. Ok, too bad there isn’t a popcorn or refreshment stand nearby. Activities We tried a few ship activities on our sea day and evenings. Have had much better on other ships. Dancing lessons in the atrium could have been fun if we wren’t stepping on each other and getting smacked by inconsiderate flying arms in the cha cha. Why not use the Safari lounge with so much more room and empty??? Who cares if passers by can see? The game ideas were good but completely dare I say ‘unfair’? Ok, I am being picky but if you go you have a hope of winning. The young people leading the games were so ‘whatever-ish’ that it was really a waste of time. The game where you try to find the unique answer…those of us at the beginning crossed off the answers others said Those at the end were talking and didn’t cross the answers we said a long time earlier. Trivia game, same thing. Scavanger hunt was for items in the ship but started early before we got there and we couldn’t find anyone to tell us what to do just ‘here’s your paper, go’. Then it ‘ended’ when someone said they had all the stuff but it wasn’t on their person. I would like to see a ship do a ‘digital’ scavenger hunt where you have to bring back photos of items pertaining to the ship itself, not things you may not have in your cabin or a big group may have. After the first evening show would have been a good time to have some games but there wasn’t. Entertainment What we saw was excellent for the most part. We went to the introductory night and was not impressed by the ships entertainers so didn’t go back to their night. We heard it was OK, but not great. The other entertainers were a range of good to excellent, and we were glad we went to them. We could hear bits and pieces of special musicians around the ship but again, they are always overlapped with other things we were doing, like the 5:30 -6 dinner and show afterwards. Guitarist was great as we passed by. I wish they were staggered more or someplace other than the atrium. If our cabin wasn’t just past the atrium on 4 we would have missed many happenings as we came and went. Medical- yes we did have to make a stop for something (never had before). Hubby got bit by something someplace unknown, and it turned really nasty looking. After trying what we could we headed downstairs where the nice Dr. took a look and told us we were doing what needed to be done. At least we had it documented. We were also pleasantly surprised we weren’t charged the full bill, one we could handle without contacting our insurance company. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
We booked this Baltic Sea cruise because of the itinerary, especially because it spent 3 days in St. Petersburg and included a stop in Riga, Latvia (other cruise lines did not stop here). Having been on many cruises, on other cruise ... Read More
We booked this Baltic Sea cruise because of the itinerary, especially because it spent 3 days in St. Petersburg and included a stop in Riga, Latvia (other cruise lines did not stop here). Having been on many cruises, on other cruise lines, here's my impression about RCCL Serenade of the Seas: Check-in and embarkation is a breeze providing you have done all of the registration online and printed your Sea Pass prior to boarding. RCCL wants you to use their mobile app for many things, like setting up your profile and account, booking activities and restaurants, etc. The problem is the app doesn't work well and can be frustrating to use. Within the first hour of boarding, we were approached no less than 6 times about purchasing either one of the dining packages or the beverage package. We did end up purchasing the 5-dinner package, which allowed us to dine in the 3 specialty restaurants. During the cruise we were also told we could use one of our dinners for the Champagne Brunch and Galley Tour on the one sea day, which we did (it was very nice). Booking the specialty restaurants in advance is more expensive than waiting until you get on board, so wait. These restaurants were never full for the times we ate there so booking onboard should not be a problem. The specialty restaurants are Chop Grille, specializing in steaks. We ate here twice and had good steaks both times. If you don't have the dining package, the supplemental fee for this restaurant is $39.99 plus 18% gratuity. With the dining package we also got 40% discount on a bottle of wine. The second specialty restaurant is Izumi, the Japanese restaurant where everything is charged a la carte. We had not been told beforehand that we each had a $35 limit to choose from with our dining package. We may not have eaten here if we'd known that. The food was good, not remarkable, sushi, sashimi, typical Japanese offerings. The third specialty restaurant is Italian, Giovanni's. We had our best meal on the ship in this restaurant. The Osso Bucco was fantastic. The only downside is that there are no sommeliers on the ship and our waiter knew less about wine than I did. We ended up with an OK wine but it could have been better. Also, the restaurant insists on piping in music but right outside the always open doors is the piano bar of the Schooner lounge. So we kept getting a disparate musical background of lounge piano and Italian-themed music. We finally asked the maitre'd to lower the volume of the restaurant music so we could enjoy the piano music, which he did. Food in the main dining room is OK, not great. Our wait staff, however, was excellent. We did the My Time dining but probably should have booked our dinners in advance as our preferred time slot was fully booked most days. As for ship excursions, we only used RCCL for the 3-day tour in St. Petersburg, which was excellent. We had been warned by friends that those people on a ship excursion get to disembark first, and independent travelers or those on other tours disembarked afterwards. You must obtain a Russian visa if you are not on a ship's excursion and want to get off the ship. Our friends had gone the independent route and waited a long time in the passport line to exit. We had also booked the shuttle bus in the Warnemunde port stop to take us to/from Berlin (a 3-1/2 hour bus ride EACH WAY). We got a call the day before that the shuttle bus was cancelled because not enough people signed up for it, so we ended up not going into Berlin. At most of the ports of call (Helsinki, Riga, Tallin, Visby, Fredericia) you can walk into town from the cruise terminal. In Stockholm it would have been a very long walk, but there is a public bus that gets you from the cruise terminal area into town and back. For Copenhagen, you need transportation into the city. There is a public bus that goes from the cruise terminal into town but it only stops at the cruise port twice an hour. Depending on your interests, you may not need to book any ship's excursions in Riga, Tallin, Visby or Fredericia. All of these are smaller towns, easily walking distance from the ship, and easy to explore on your own, or look up free walking tours online before you go. The free tours operate on donations (tips) and are well worth it. Serenade of the Seas insists on doing almost everything in The Centrum, the atrium area at the center of the ship. On the main deck it has a small dance floor and most of the music for dancing was held here. The problem is that there are not enough chairs for everyone. The atrium is open all the way up to the 9th or 10th floor and there are seats on other levels that allow you to listen to music (but not dance). If you are sitting on the same level as the Casino, you will get cigarette smoke smell, since smoking is allowed in the Casino. Interestingly enough, there is a large dance floor with lots of seating in the aft of the ship called The Safari Club, but it was never used for music/dancing. No idea why. Overall, we're glad we went on this cruise because of the ports of call. Would I go on another RCCL cruise? Probably not. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
First let me say that my wife and I are not active cruisers, having taken fewer than 8 in our 50 years together. We prefer to plan our own trips and see things on our own. We chose the Baltic cruise on RCI because of the 3 days in St. ... Read More
First let me say that my wife and I are not active cruisers, having taken fewer than 8 in our 50 years together. We prefer to plan our own trips and see things on our own. We chose the Baltic cruise on RCI because of the 3 days in St. Petersburg and we didn't want to try Russia on our own. It was a mistake we will not make again. If we ever cruise again, it will not be with RCI. Embarkation was smooth and painless thanks to the pre-cruise checkin process offered on the RCI website. The food and service on Serenade of the Seas were good. The food in the Windjammer was plentiful but if you dine there every breakfast, lunch and some dinners, it becomes somewhat repetitive and is often quite crowded. All the staff that we came into contact with were very friendly and helpful. The entertainment was acceptable but not exceptional. The ABBA show was very nice, but some of the entertainers in the Centrum were boring. The cabin facilities were nice but somewhat tired, especially the carpet and sofa and the in-room amenities were non-existent. Having said all of this, the cruise would have been enjoyable if not for the way Royal Caribbean operates. Everything is designed to sell, sell, sell. They start trying to upsell you the moment you step on the ship with upgraded meal packages, drink packages, photos, excursions, etc. The price for internet service was especially outrageous. Over $26/day for a single device. Very annoying. As for the ports of call, it seems that they berth the ship as far away from town as they can to encourage passengers to book their overpriced excursions. They provide very little information on where the ship is berthed or what transportation options there are to reach town. There were no port briefings on things to see so if you don't take their excursions you have little idea of what is available. If you don't want to use RCI's excursions at each stop you must do a little research prior to your trip. Try to find out where the ship will be berthed in each port and what types of public transportation is available. The daily tip sheet provided to the staterooms provided very little information. If you wish to explore on your, you must plan ahead. Before you leave home, print out a map of each town you will visit and decide what sites you wish to see. If you decide you don't want to do this and let RCI do it for you, that's your choice of course, but be prepared to travel with bus-loads of fellow cruisers and to pay RCI's exorbitent excursion prices. Prior to our departure we used the internet to pre-book our excursions in St. Petersburg and Warnemunde for far less money and with far fewer passengers. For the other ports we used the public bus system, taxis or our feet to get around. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
I choose this ship for two reasons. One I liked the itinerary and two I wanted to try a luxury cruise line. The itinerary was good in that it started in Stockholm allowing me to spend two days before departure exploring the city without ... Read More
I choose this ship for two reasons. One I liked the itinerary and two I wanted to try a luxury cruise line. The itinerary was good in that it started in Stockholm allowing me to spend two days before departure exploring the city without rushing and it ended in Copenhagen where I did the same thing. It also included two overnights ( 3 full days) in St. Petersburg where there is so much to see. I have sailed on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and the now gone Renaissance cruises. Renaissance was actually a wonderful cruise line with beautiful small ships that was the closest to this experience. As far as the actual cruise I will say it was wonderful not having to wait and crowd into elevators, the ship was a great size not to large, not to small. It was great not having to fight for a pool chair or make reservations for everything. Loved not being asked to have my picture taken every five minutes, and not having shops with sales. The ship itself was new and immaculate. The suite with balcony was gorgeous. Bathroom was large, walk in closet with enough drawers and hangers was great. On the downside the entertainment with the exception of two shows was far from great and there was really no other activities. The service was great, the liquor flowed freely, afternoon tea was nice, tapas was great, caviar on request was a nice touch too. What was a huge disappointment was dinner in the dining room which most nights was fair at best. The Grille was only available for guests to reserve one night. It was excellent. The other nighttime restaurant was outside and it was too cold for that. Did not try the sushi restaurant. I was very surprised that the food in the main restaurant was no better than I had on other much less expensive cruise lines. The on deck cocktail party was wonderful, food was very good there. So was it worth the extra money. Not sure I could say yes. Given the intensive itinerary it was great to return to the ship and not have to wait for things and not have to rush and be able to be very comfortable in the room, but on another type of cruise I might have been bored and the lack of activities/entertainment combined with mediocre food would have been more problematic on a cruise with more sea says or less intensive itinerary. Did all private shore excursions or just the HOHO bus ship excursions were very expensive. Highly recommend Alla tours in St. Petersburg. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
Costa is a Very Surprising Compony, We Enter the Ship in St. Petersburg, the ship is quite of big and good. We Booked Cabin with Window and the Cabin is quite big and good but there a addtion staff on money. The food on costa is good , ... Read More
Costa is a Very Surprising Compony, We Enter the Ship in St. Petersburg, the ship is quite of big and good. We Booked Cabin with Window and the Cabin is quite big and good but there a addtion staff on money. The food on costa is good , there what to eat everywhere. there 2 restaurants on the ship. We was on smeralda and it was an goodrestaurant but it was take the food a long to get. Costa having a show every day Evening. there a lot what to see on board and what to do. But Pizza on board is on additonal Payment. the service on board is good. on Information there staff that talking in multi languages. the loading and unloading was good and quick. and the shops on costa is quite good and recommanded to wait to last day for sales . very nice cruise maybe We'll go again Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
We’d booked the Mediterranean cruise onboard Freedom of the Seas & wanted to try out the Baltic & Russia cruise with Royal Caribbean. We found the ship smaller but enjoyable but having been on the larger ship Freedom of the Seas ... Read More
We’d booked the Mediterranean cruise onboard Freedom of the Seas & wanted to try out the Baltic & Russia cruise with Royal Caribbean. We found the ship smaller but enjoyable but having been on the larger ship Freedom of the Seas it felt like a downgrade. No soda dispenser machine & awkward to be asking at a bar for soda top ups. Highlight was the cinema & the excellent movies. Hardly anyone ever went into the crown pub it was also awkward walking through casino to get to other places. Onboard entertainment in Tropical theatre was average. The one shore excursion we booked via RC wasn’t great. The independent tours we did book online were more superior. A charge of about €245 was taken from my account despite having paid a final statement of over €600. Waiting to get this back. Overall I’ll consider trying another cruise company or going on a bigger ship with more facilities Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
We’re a family of six that had a most lovely time aboard the Serenade of the Seas for a 7 night voyage across the Baltic Sea. Our trip began with a little bit of conflict as one of our suitcases did not make it to Stockholm. Onboard ... Read More
We’re a family of six that had a most lovely time aboard the Serenade of the Seas for a 7 night voyage across the Baltic Sea. Our trip began with a little bit of conflict as one of our suitcases did not make it to Stockholm. Onboard the Serenade, Jasmine was most helpful by calling us every day, several times a day, to tell us of the latest whereabouts of the bag. She really went above and beyond and by the time we made it to Helsinki we were supremely confident that the bag would be there as Jasmine had shown her extreme dedication to the process! This was only the start to what was what we all unanimously agreed the best service that we’ve ever had on a cruise ever (and we’ve been on plenty!). Immediately we noticed that we had a very jovial crew. This continued throughout the entire stay with absolutely outstanding service throughout. Our waitstaff for the majority of the nights was a team of Kelly/Lissandro and they were beyond phenomenal. We ate at the main dining room every night and they were exemplary. We never had a dry glass or an empty plate. Lissandro we all joked was like Linus from How I Met Your Mother (a reference that I’m not sure how many people here will get, but I can assure you is the highest of high compliments!) and Kelly was the most well-versed on the menu server we’ve ever had in addition to being wonderfully attentive and patient. On one night the maître d (whose name escapes me sadly but was also excellent) sat us with TingTing and Samsul who were also outstanding. We apparently made an impression because every night after that TingTing/Samsul greeted us all by name. Additionally, this was the cruise where by far the staff also knew us all by name. Koko (a drink specialist) learned our names on the very first day and we saw him throughout the vacation and he was always outstanding. Aaron the pool bar bartender was also phenomenal! He made us an inhuman amount of Kracken Coladas (which I couldn’t recommend more!) and by the end of the second day he had both memorized our names, room numbers, and our orders. Franklin was our very first bartender onboard and we saw him throughout and the interactions were always warm and wonderful. We saw him both in port and in the other bars and he greeted us every single time! Ashford (I believe his name was, unfortunately there were so many great people that a few of the names escape me!) was another great bartender that we really enjoyed. Beyond the service, the food was also the best we’d ever had on a cruise. Specifically, dinner every single night was incredible. We never had a single complaint on any appetizer/entrée/dessert. In particular, the entrée choices every night were outstanding and I can’t remember a cruise where I had so many amazing dessert choices every night (NOT good for those of us that are dieting back at home, but some things are just more important than that!) I do wish that there was more late night eats/drinks on the cruise. The ship does stop serving alcohol at 2 am. Probably not an issue for most (particularly this cruise wasn’t exactly a frat/sorority getaway) but the fact that there wasn’t an easy burger/fries/pizza location was a bit of a bummer (again, not a college kid getaway). We did get room service one night and I can say that the grilled cheese/fries I ordered were quite good! The ports were also great as well. It’s amazing that for a vacation that we picked with the ports in mind that the service/food we had onboard was the thing we’ve talked about the most, but in truth, it was THAT good. St Petersburg, Russia lives up to all the hype. It’s a little surreal to be in Russia and to be sure, it confirms a lot of the stereotypes. We did Alla Tours and we did the Must See Tour, thinking it might be a little less extreme than the Grand Tour. While The Comfort Tour is supposedly the more laid-back version, the Must See Tour was still extremely taxing on us. We got to see A LOT (and Polina, our tour guide was incredible) but we came back to the ship both days (2 day tour) absolutely wiped. 4/6 of us collapsed for a nap upon arrival both days and that’s the younger part of our group! To be clear, you see a TON on Alla Tours. We saw the museums and the palaces and did the canal boat cruise. Polina, our tour guide, has apparently been doing tours for 10 years but she had all the enthusiasm and happiness of someone on their first day (while being as well-versed as someone that’s been doing it for 10 years). Just amazing that anyone could have that much enthusiasm for anything but she absolutely did. The one knock that I will say on Alla Tours is that we found the lunches to be lacking to put it kindly. Both days were “restaurant lunches” and for $230 for two days with lunches included we thought we were getting a steal but in actuality we were sort of getting what we paid for. Chicken kiev the first day and beef stroganoff the second day at two different restaurants were very uninspiring choices. One member of our group was essentially knocked out of commission due to an upset stomach after both. Not sure how much Alla Tours can do about the lunch choices but we were underwhelmed on that front. For Helsinki we also stuck with Alla Tours (they gave us a discount on our tour there because we had done the one in Russia). The first part of the tour we absolutely loved. The downtown part of Helsinki was great, the city is beautiful and the tour guide was great fun. Then, speaking of underwhelming, was the second part of the tour, Seurasaari, the open air museum. For two hours we walked around an old campground area. Interesting enough for some people, I guess, but for those of us that had never been to Finland (all of us) we really felt like we could’ve easily spent the time in downtown Helsinki. Tallinn we did more on our own (it’s a little walk from port to downtown but nowhere near bad of a walk as Helsinki/St Petersburg are from downtown). We did do a KGB Tour at the Hotel Viru which was very interesting (and it also had the best view from the 23rd floor of anywhere). We probably should’ve allotted ourselves some more time in Tallinn; the old town area was beautiful, and there was plenty to do in the way of exploring/shopping/bar hopping/eating through town that could be very fun/doable for a family. As aforementioned though, we were kind of just wiped from the previous three days worth of tours! After hearing that Visby was the “throwaway port” (and we’ve seen some throwaway ports in our day! Sydney, in Canada, NOT Australia! Is the gold standard in “throwaway ports) I booked us a “Free Tour” that I found on TripAdvisor with Aiden and I could not possibly recommend that more. It was short and sweet (1.5 hours) and he gave a comprehensive overview of the island/town/his life which were all fascinating. The tour was free (entirely on tips) and we tipped him handsomely because he really made our day. As much as we loved Polina, Aiden was a tour guide that really made the port for us and really put a nice capper on the trip. After returning to Stockholm, we all agreed that we were a bit burnt out on doing “tours” in the traditional sense. Our group split up amongst ourselves. We stayed at the Hilton Stockholm Slussen which is a nice place to keep you close to Old Town and the like. We tend to be rather fatigued at the end of trips, so we didn’t push ourselves too hard, so no real recommendations on Stockholm. We went right directly from airport to ship to begin the journey, so we had not seen the city at all on the way in. It was a wonderful trip, and for a family that’s been on many, we do absolutely have to say that it stood out in so many ways, for so many reasons, some of them not expected! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
Visiting the places we were interested in. Good value for money and suits all budgets. Booking in was very efficient. The ship it’s self was very ornate bars, lovely theatre & lounges. The food was ok if not fab, but ... Read More
Visiting the places we were interested in. Good value for money and suits all budgets. Booking in was very efficient. The ship it’s self was very ornate bars, lovely theatre & lounges. The food was ok if not fab, but bearing in mine the cost it was good value for money. The cabin staff, lounge staff and restaurant were lovely. What spoilt our experience somewhat was the aggressive attitude of the bar staff and some reception staff. We always treat all the staff with respect and a smile but some staff thought it was ok to be rude and aggressive. We did the Stockhol, Helsinki, St Petersburg, TAllinn stops and i would highly recommend these, take an extra day in Stockholm as there is plenty to see. At this point I am not sure I would book Costa again, purely due to the number of times I encountered rude staff and saw how they behaved towards other passengers, even on 1 occasion to an elderly and frail lady. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
We visited Stockholm, St Petersburg, Tallinn and Helsinki. This was a beautiful cruise that is very well organized in every aspect. I think it also gives you a great sense of Italy and their way of life and partying. The only bad ... Read More
We visited Stockholm, St Petersburg, Tallinn and Helsinki. This was a beautiful cruise that is very well organized in every aspect. I think it also gives you a great sense of Italy and their way of life and partying. The only bad thing that I have to point out is that they have VERY small swimming pools on the ship, and this is a real problem when 3000 people want to swim at the same time. I loved the food, Italian cuisine is famous worldwide and I think there is something to eat for everyone. :))) And they have a WONDERFUL entertainment team which made me dance and stay awake every single night till God knows which hours. Important to know: - You can link your credit card to your ship card and then don't have to worry about payment. - They have totems now, so you can book your excursions there. - Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly and without any crowds and problems. I will definitely travel with Costa again! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
In 2015 we journeyed on the Grand European river cruise and within that short 15 day trip we fell in love with Vikings’ high level of hospitality and service. That cruise led us to the Majestic Fjords & Vibrant Russia Viking Ocean ... Read More
In 2015 we journeyed on the Grand European river cruise and within that short 15 day trip we fell in love with Vikings’ high level of hospitality and service. That cruise led us to the Majestic Fjords & Vibrant Russia Viking Ocean cruise on July 11, 2019 aboard the Viking Sky. This cruise was to celebrate our 52nd wedding anniversary and Viking made it the most impressive holiday that we have ever experienced. Viking did a great job in planning our entire trip including airlines, transfers and the pre-cruise in Iceland. Our airline flights were well timed and comfortable. At our age handling baggage can be a chore but the Viking transfers took that burden out of the picture. The Iceland experience was great as Viking booked us into the Canopy by Hilton right in the center of old town Reykjavik. Some of the other people on the same cruise were in the Grand or Hilton Center which was a pricey taxi ride into old town. The Iceland tours were really interesting and the Blue Lagoon was extra special. The Sky is a well-designed ship with exquisite decorations that was constantly being manicured by a proficient crew. Everyone on the Sky needs a heart-felt thank you for a job well done but there are some that stand out. General Manager Forian Kibgilka runs a fine hotel and his hospitality places him at the top of his chosen profession. His “celebrations-by-the-crew” at the brow to welcome guests back aboard made everyone happy and exhibited pride in the Viking traditions. Charaine Hadeed, the onboard Viking agent, was exceptional in her service to the guests. After seeing how much we enjoyed the cruise she assisted us in booking our next Viking cruise in 2020. Narendra Singh, the Restaurant Supervisor performed his magic in accommodating our party of eight and made our anniversary evening special. As in any service industry, one customer will talk to others about their involvement. In our case we will talk to “hundreds” of people and happily share our memories. On other cruise lines they constantly have their hand in your wallet; money for water, money for dinners, money for excursions, money for drinks at meals, etc. In most cases you will spend more on these extras than you originally paid for the cruise. On Viking you put your wallet in the safe and enjoy your holiday in a stress free environment. We now consider ourselves to be part of the Viking family. There is no doubt in our mind that no one can even come close to the high standards of the Viking Cruise line. Read Less

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