5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
First time crusier, wonderful experience! We had a group of 6 from 11-78, accommodated all our needs. Staff couldn't have been nicer! Was a little concerned about the younger passengers in our group but we spent so much time off the ... Read More
First time crusier, wonderful experience! We had a group of 6 from 11-78, accommodated all our needs. Staff couldn't have been nicer! Was a little concerned about the younger passengers in our group but we spent so much time off the ship touring the cities that they were happy to come home to a friendly staff, wonderful food and cozy rooms. We had ship credits and enjoyed the spa, wonderful massage! Our room attendant, Yesf, bent over backwards to make us feel welcome. He brought in balloons for our youngest passenger on her birthday and the ship made her a special cake that was presented at dinner, very special. Madagascar Prawns were absolutely fanatastic, most all the food was wonderful! Would highly recommend for a low-key family excursion.. We did not use the ships excursions so I will not review those but from what I heard, they were average. We used an outside company in St. Petersburg which was fabulous! Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
I am going to focus on the positives! This is a beautiful ship with an amazing crew many of whom seek to go the extra mile in trying to give you a great time! We had an amazing trip. It was our first sea cruise and we were not ... Read More
I am going to focus on the positives! This is a beautiful ship with an amazing crew many of whom seek to go the extra mile in trying to give you a great time! We had an amazing trip. It was our first sea cruise and we were not disappointed. All of the four restaurants are excellent and we eat 3/4 times int he evening in each. Even the buffet style World Cafe is great in the evening as it is quiet, spacious and has the best views on the ship! We particularly enjoyed the Chef's table and were able to enjoy 4 out of 5 of the menus offered when we were on board. The included wines repeat a bit over 2 weeks but we are not great drinkers so it dodon't bother us. We loved the entertainment programme and music which were outstanding but for us the enrichment lectures were rather highbrow...and I am no intellectual slouch at all! They seem to be enjoyed by the academically minded on board. So for the downsides...security was a bit of a shambles...with the scanning process quickly abandoned after a port or two due to inefficiency. My wife's bag was impounded as she had a picnic knife and it took us 2 hours to track it down after we had to go to Guest Services and initiate a search! Finally what must be imporved - excursions...we had a really poor experience before we went with changed excursion times ( which Viking put right under pressure) and one really bad excursion that I am still discussing with them ( awful guide and not as described) . It is a challenge to get 700 or so people off on an included excursion. Those disattisfied with their walking tour allocation learnt that groups could be gatecrashed on the quay leading to a loss of control! ( not a problem with coach trips though as tickets were tightly controlled). It is early days and I am sure Viking will sort all this out. Most of our excursions are fine but be ready for immobile people who cannot keep up with the most gentle walks! Enough of that...an amazing experience...we loved it and hope to be back on a Viking cruise ship in a year or two. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
I read the negative reviews before we left the usa and started to get nervous. Having done the full cruise now -- they are ridiculous. This was an incredible experience from top to bottom. We are a young couple (34 and 30) and this was our ... Read More
I read the negative reviews before we left the usa and started to get nervous. Having done the full cruise now -- they are ridiculous. This was an incredible experience from top to bottom. We are a young couple (34 and 30) and this was our first cruise. I mostly want to address the negative stuff that has been written or that I noticed. First of all, the rooms are fairly small - it's a boat folks. Whatever you have you have to float on the ocean and sail. Our room was def cozy but 2 people lived there and felt luxurious from day 1 on. The shower blasts high pressure water, there are his and her sinks. Oh and btw you can order whatever you want whenever you want. We would get a wake up call at 7:30a and then at 7:40a there would be the steward with out piping hot coffee and english muffins. The rooms is just not going to be the same size as a suite at the Holiday Inn in Mobile, AL. Anyone who complains about the food on this ship needs their head examined, it is all-you-can-eat fine dining, full stop. I was incredibly skpetical of the all you can eat concept; I've been to plenty of crappy all inclusives in my day. This is 1 Michelin star quality every night and that's just the dining room. The service is incredible from top to bottom, my wife couldn't carry a plate to her table at lunch without having 3 guys swoop in and take it from her. The clientelle is older but so what? If your goal is to party hard don't got on a cruise. Go to Mykonos, Ibiza, etc. We had tons of fun meeting new people. Guess what folks? Senior citizens are more interesting than 18 year olds. If you're like me and you were worried that you had overpayed for this stop worrying and get ready for the trip of a lifetyime. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
Overall thing wer going well. The television had a tendency to stop and start at random, but that was minor. Crew was efficient and friendly. Food was very good. Leaving St Petersburg noticed that a Costa ship had passed us shortly ... Read More
Overall thing wer going well. The television had a tendency to stop and start at random, but that was minor. Crew was efficient and friendly. Food was very good. Leaving St Petersburg noticed that a Costa ship had passed us shortly after leaving port. When we awoke we were not in Tallinn and the Captain announced the engine problem. From there things quickly went down hill. Everything the capt and other officers told us was quite simply not completely accurate. Noticed that the company told one site that we were offered an opportunity to fly to Bergen to finish our cruise. Yes, we were offered, but that offer was unilaterally rescinded by the company the next mornig. Yesterday one couple in our group was told in the late afternoon to have their bags in the hallway by 10 p.m. And prepare to disembark at 4 a.m. the morning. I received a phone call telling me I was to depart on Aug 5 from Tallinn and to contact the Explorer Desk for further information. When I went there I was given flight information. When I went online to attempt to get seat assignments, the flights listed under the confirmation number provided were totally different. Additionally, some people are being told that Viking wants everyone off the boat by Tuesday, Aug 4. Guess we'll in a tent somewhere on the docks. An other person in our party was giving a flight to Chicago, even though she originated in Pittsburgh. Seems like the simple solution of just getting a flight from Chicago to Pittsburgh was too complicated so she was told to wait and they would get another set of flights. Their crisis management is just absurd. The people handling the flights will tell what will get you out of their sight and do not mind changing their story to your face. It is the ubiquitous "they" is running this operation. One can not discount the fact that if this mechanical failure had not occurred I would have been more than pleased with my experience. The mishandling of this event has soured my appreciated of all the good things about this trip. For example this morning we heard an announcement that basically stated we know nothing, don't bother us, we'll call you, but it took 5 minutes to tell us that. Additionally, announcements are often not made in our cabin. We have to go out into the hall to hear them. There seems to be a lack of real planning. For example this morning two tours had departed the boat when an announcement was made asking all passengers booked on a continuation of this cruise to report to the theater for important information. Wonder how made of these people were off the boat. Seems like they should know who these people are and contacted them directly. We're thinking of passing on our tour so we don't miss out on a opportunity to get off the ship for good. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2015
This was our first cruise and everything about it was first class from our original booking contact with Viking to our disembarkation. Prior to our embarkation we had a number of questions and always found the contact person to be ... Read More
This was our first cruise and everything about it was first class from our original booking contact with Viking to our disembarkation. Prior to our embarkation we had a number of questions and always found the contact person to be knowledgeable and courteous. The trip itself was outstanding. The ship was absolutely beautiful, quite comfortable, and offered a wide variety of spaces to enjoy/things to do. A number of dining options were available offering a wide variety of excellent food beautifully presented, and always top notch service. Shore excursion guides were excellent in both their knowledge and spoken English. As a person who likes organization, I was very impressed with the organization of everything from our airline reservations to shore excursions and extended tours. If there was any type of snag, Viking was quick to rectify it in some way. My only suggestion for Viking would be to be more explicit when describing excursion options for each port. We found that some tours overlapped and you saw the same thing twice when you could have gone somewhere totally different. Still, overall it was a wonderful trip, and I wouldn't travel with another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2015
I had not wanted to go on a cruise, but the "Viking Homelands" trip won me over. The crew was always attentive and friendly. Our cabin steward was absolutely the best ever! We enjoyed dining in all the restaurants and I was ... Read More
I had not wanted to go on a cruise, but the "Viking Homelands" trip won me over. The crew was always attentive and friendly. Our cabin steward was absolutely the best ever! We enjoyed dining in all the restaurants and I was particularly impressed with the creativity of the "Chef's Table" offerings. The activities were varied so that there was something for everyone, my favorite being the Chef's cooking demonstration. Of course, the spa experiences were heavenly with excellently trained staff. There were a variety of shore excursions with excellent guides. We particularly enjoyed the visits to the homes of Sibelius and Grieg with the concerts that followed. Those were experiences that we wouldn't have been able to have done easily on our own. We prefer to go on shore at our own pace and in most cases that was possible. The daily newsletter was extremely helpful in helping us to plan the day's events and will be an excellent memory of the locations we visited. The ship itself is beautifully designed in outstanding Scandinavian minimalist style and was created in such a way that there was always a place to gather with friends or be by myself if I chose. I loved the woodland birdsongs in the public restrooms, too! So very Finnish! Our two weeks on the "Viking Homelands" cruise spoiled me forever, and that's the way a cruise should be. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2015
This was my first major cruise. After reading some reviews of earlier cruises, I understood that there could be problems. I attributed the problems others had reported to the growing pains that happen with any new venture. I arranged ... Read More
This was my first major cruise. After reading some reviews of earlier cruises, I understood that there could be problems. I attributed the problems others had reported to the growing pains that happen with any new venture. I arranged my own travel from Roanoke to Stockholm and my return from Iceland. It allowed me the flexibility to travel on a great business class fare and to arrive a day early. I stayed at the Hotel Riddergatan which was well located and reasonably priced. From the moment I embarked, the Viking experience was first rate. I was traveling solo and found the staff and other guests welcoming. Each day was an adventure from the first cup of coffee in my room to a nightcap in the Explorer Lounge at night! Timing is everything and they had it down to a science by the time I cruised. I chose to do both included and "for a fee" shore excursions. They were informative and provided a good overview of the ports of call. I'm already planning to return to some destinations so I can see them in more depth than a cruise allows. I must say something about my dining experience. I ate meals at all the venues and found the food to be well prepared and delicious. I usually ate breakfast at the World Cafe or Mamsen's. The waffles with fruit and a drizzle of chocolate were a real treat at Mamsen's. World Cafe had all my favorite starters...yogurt, fresh fruit, and a pastry or bacon and made to order eggs on other days! Lunch by the pool, in The Restaurant, or at World Cafe offered so many choices that no two days were the same! It was so nice to relax with a glass of wine or a beer as I shared a meal with new found friends. I limited tea at the Wintergarten to 2-3 times a week. If I was going to pack on pounds this is where it would happen ...innocently. The open-faced tea sandwiches and pastries were such a treat and impossible to pass up! I enjoyed dinners at The Restaurant where they seated me at shared tables or at tables in such close proximity to other tables that it was easy to strike up a conversation with those nearby. I had the privilege of tasting all three menus at The Chef's Table. With a set menu, it isn't for everyone. Each time I was there, the food was delicious and impeccable. Manfredi's was another favorite...so much so that it was not easy to get reservations. While the food was excellent, I'll never forget watching the curtain of water that washed over the windows as we ate! The North Sea made sure we knew where we were. The only downside was being in the group that disembarked at 5:45 a.m. and a mix-up with my flight for the post-trip in Iceland. What would I change? I'd build ships that had some single cabins. It stings to pay for two when I only eat, drink and do the included shore excursions for moi! Thus my lower ranking on Value for Money. Would I go again? A resounding YES! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
I have long wanted to visit St Petersburg and revisit some of the old Baltic ports I visited 10-20 years ago on business and see more of them at leisure. This cruise was perfect, with 2 overnights in St Petersburg so that you can get to as ... Read More
I have long wanted to visit St Petersburg and revisit some of the old Baltic ports I visited 10-20 years ago on business and see more of them at leisure. This cruise was perfect, with 2 overnights in St Petersburg so that you can get to as many of the wonderful sites there as possible and stops in the Baltic republics, Finland, old East Germany and Denmark as well as an overnight in Stockholm. This was our first cruise and a true delight. People saying standards have slipped don't gel with my experience, things were so well organised in general, with complicated logistics of many different tours on the same day well handled with the minimum of delay. The suite (Penthouse A) was perfect, so stabile and quiet, so comfortable and lacking little except maybe more power points that someone from the UK could use (our adapter are large so when 2 are close together you can only use 1 of them) but unplugging the iPod unit (bit old fashioned now, I use bluetooth speakers when travelling and as modern iPod 6 doesn't fit it anyway) managed OK. The service was excellent, from the butler who was great through any staff we met who were friendly, polite and very helpful. The crew must be well managed at officer level for such consistent good customer relations. The food was great in all restaurants, though I liked the choices in Compass Rose best, Prime 7 is OK but just a standard London type steak house really, what I possibly missed was a good eastern choice. The curry lunch was good, the beef vindaloo actually spicy, surprising given the normal blandness of so much USA food. Let's have a good Thai/Chinese or Indian restaurant on the new ship. Service was good in all restaurants, the standard wine good enough mostly so that better wines really a waste of money, though the Sav Blanc and CabSav in Prime 7 were virtually tasteless, but then Sav Blanc most is poor. The tours which I had really looked forward to after looking through and booking then well in advance were mostly great, as luckily was the weather. I could happily have missed out Helsinki (especially when the shuttle bus driver took an hour off when we were trying to get back to the ship for our lunch, but Scandinavian customer service is often poor and you expect them to put their own breaks ahead of yours I guess even if you are only there for a few hours). ST Petersburg was the highlight of the cruise. Russian customs have got much more user friendly in recent years , especially since they did away with the landing card, and queuing was minimal (you should have tried going to Moscow before Domodedevo opened , back in the 1980s it was hell). The Regent only tour to Catherine's Palace in the evening was a triumph with the music, dancing and the meal + lack of crowns, and the timing at Peterhof was perfect too. The enrichment lectures were great and there always seemed a lot going on even if you just wanted to sit on the balcony and drink champagne, which always seemed to be there on ice!! Our only bad incident on the trip was an awful rep in the Hermitage who had no feeling for the people she guided, walked off quickly without a backward glance all tour and at the end lost us completely for 15 mins which could have been very serious. She had made no effort that we could see to find us, maybe hadn't missed us as she never counted, and I have no faith they would have done much to look for us, glad we found the bus eventually on our own. I put this on the feedback form and the Destinations people kindly called me to check and said they would look into it. So they really do read the feedback forms. A great 1st cruise and we will be back again, though the onboard discounts were nowhere near attractive enough to make us jump in again without checking the market as we have no fixed opinion yet where to go next. Our one bugbear all trip was the Internet. It is hopeless, so 20th century speed wise and hard to access and to quit. They really need to spend some money on getting a fast wifi available in port (Tallinn and Helsinki have great ones) as well as improving the speed and ease of use on ship. It just doesn't wash anymore saying its difficult. Its just technology and can be sorted. It needs to be, more and more people live on line and will not put up with slow on line service when they start cruising. Small niggles though, a great experience and a wonderful ship and crew. Read Less
82 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
Regent claim six star all inclusive of premium wines. Ran out of French rose on third day. No NZ wines at all! We did two back to back cruises and despite re-stocking in Copenhagen they ran out of Sancerre and Pouilly Fuisse 13 days into a ... Read More
Regent claim six star all inclusive of premium wines. Ran out of French rose on third day. No NZ wines at all! We did two back to back cruises and despite re-stocking in Copenhagen they ran out of Sancerre and Pouilly Fuisse 13 days into a 20 day cruise. In the end we bought ourselves some wine in Kristiansund. If we could find a decent supplier why couldn't they? This was our sixth cruise (140 days) with Regent and the second one where they have run out of certain wines. The Regent standards are undoubtedly slipping. Service on board is still excellent but staff are embarrassed and very apologetic of situation. Entertainment was adequate apart from a terrible American comedian. We agree with other reviews regarding the shamble prior to tours. You can wait for ages in the theatre and be addressed as if we are in nursery school or old peoples home! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
Viking arranged our flight at a time that we wanted, which ment we landed in Stockholm at 11:15 and were on board at 13:17 giving us half a day to explore Stockholm. Airport reception was great with Viking reps delivering us a trolley ... Read More
Viking arranged our flight at a time that we wanted, which ment we landed in Stockholm at 11:15 and were on board at 13:17 giving us half a day to explore Stockholm. Airport reception was great with Viking reps delivering us a trolley at the luggage pick up and escorting us to the coaches. Embarkation procedures were carried out whilst we sat in the coach at the port (out of the cold and rain) and we were greeted by ships staff with drinks as soon as we boarded. Service was great, I asked Martha where I could get English Breakfast tea and on return to my room had a dish of 16 tea bags by the coffee machine. Rest of the cruise was great in all departments and we had 2 resevations for Manfredi's and 3 for the Chef's Table but the Restraunt, World Cafe and Mamsens were excellant as well. Disembarkation was good and as I had asked for an evening flight to the UK I had full use of the ships communal facilities till 17:00 hours. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
Overall our cruise was what we had expected from Viking Cruises although this was our first trip. The ship was superb, if bigger than we expected, but never felt crowded even during embarking and disembarking. The staff was always warm and ... Read More
Overall our cruise was what we had expected from Viking Cruises although this was our first trip. The ship was superb, if bigger than we expected, but never felt crowded even during embarking and disembarking. The staff was always warm and friendly and most accommodating. The food excellent and generous . We enjoyed all of our tours and tour guides. We are looking forward to enjoying a river cruise in the future as so many told us how wonderful they were. All in all a very satisfying experience. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
The ship although rehauled was dark, which made it seem dingy. The food in the main dining room, Blu and Tuscan grille were also a let down, especially since we cruised the Mediterranean on the Equinox which is the same class of ship and ... Read More
The ship although rehauled was dark, which made it seem dingy. The food in the main dining room, Blu and Tuscan grille were also a let down, especially since we cruised the Mediterranean on the Equinox which is the same class of ship and the food on that was spectacular!! We were disappointed as we were hoping for the same quailty dining experience. The food in the ocean view cafe was, however , very good every day. The ship was spotlessly clean. We even observed them steam cleaning the hand rails! A+ for clean! Room was very comfortable especially the bed, which for me is the most important attribute. Cafe Bacio was excellent and the only place on board you could get a decent cup of tea. Although it will cost uou extra. The tea in ocean view was horrible, like warm dishwater. Very poor quality. Definitely not what you would expect from a Celebrity Cruise. I did hear that they hired an executive from carnival to cut costs. Whether that is true or not the quailty of food has gone downhill considerably. The ports of call were excellent which is why we chose this cruise also the 123 go promotion. However, the excursions were very poorly organized. We lost an hour at the hermitage due to poor cruise opetators.We will not sail with Celebrity again until the food improves. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
My wife and I went on our first cruise with a friend who had arranged it.I had some trepidation after booking (we agreed to the trip and booked it just 3 weeks before sailing), after reading the reviews on CC. With nothing to compare it ... Read More
My wife and I went on our first cruise with a friend who had arranged it.I had some trepidation after booking (we agreed to the trip and booked it just 3 weeks before sailing), after reading the reviews on CC. With nothing to compare it to, we both had a good time on the boat.Not once did I encounter rude behavior by the staff and apparently some of the issues that others raised I didn't experience. The food was good, but not great.Others wrote that there was no buffet food available if you missed dinner but the buffet was open 5 of the 7 nights we were on board, the exceptions being the two nights the Gala dinner was going on. Our cabin steward, Suresh, was very good, and we weren't lacking for anything we needed.The shows were good, especially the two singers from South Africa who both had good voices that could handle a variety of song styles.Some of the lounge acts were from Cliché City (how many times can you hear "The Girl from Ipanema"?), but the Alterra Disco Bar band had everybody on the dance floor at all times. Now for the Costa Company.My wife is from the Dominican Republic and our friend ,also from the DR, was visiting friends and family in Spain when she saw the Costa Baltics cruise special.We agreed and through email and phone set it up with a Spanish travel agency.I wanted to book some shore excursions and modify the trip, but was unable to because the travel agent booked it on Costa's Spain website, which is only available if you live in Spain! One excursion in St. Petersburg to Catharine the Great's palace was scheduled for Tuesday-except the palace isn't open on Tuesday.A Stockholm city tour included a museum visit which closed 20 minutes after we got there.You can book excursions from your room through your TV, except that two of the ones we wanted were said to be unavailable but our friend got them later in the day at the office (which had a very long line). Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2014
This was our first cruise ever. We subsequently went on four additional cruises in 2014. One with Celebrity, two with Viking (never again under any circumstance) and a final cruise on the Marina in the Mediterranean. I expected more on ... Read More
This was our first cruise ever. We subsequently went on four additional cruises in 2014. One with Celebrity, two with Viking (never again under any circumstance) and a final cruise on the Marina in the Mediterranean. I expected more on the Marina, but in comparison to the other cruises, it was far better than they were. The Suite (Penthouse) was huge in comparison, but we did pamper ourselves on the second trip on the Marina.The food was excellent (I react badly to High-Fructose Corn Syrup, & I only was in contact with it once at the milkshake bar). We went to Jacques Restaurant, the meal was superb, the Polish waiter was obnoxious (Only he, & he alone could select our meal.... it did not work). The Polo Grill served too much food, but it was soooo good. The food & service at the Terrace was wonderful. We spent a lot of time at the overpriced Spa, the land version of Canyon Ranch is superior. Mike Sterling from the London West-end is a terrific tenor and his duet partner Natasha Kemball was amazing as well, I only wish that we could hear them again. Perhaps we will as we are booked for another Oceania cruise. We did not partake in any of Oceania's onshore trips as we had arranged our own guide(s) and chauffeur(s). We only fly business or first-class & business class within Europe is pure garbage (Frankfurt to Stockholm). We spent four days in Stockholm in an executive suite at the Radison-Blu Waterfront in Stockholm prior to the cruise. We arranged this ourselves and will definitely go there again. (We subsequently found out that Oceania books there as well) Their breakfasts were terrific (& for those interested, they have gluten-free as well as lactose-free buffets). We disembarked in Copenhagen, and felt we were hurried off the ship (more like driven). I complained, and on the second Marina cruise disembarkation was friendly & efficient. We did not fly home immediately as we toured Copenhagen and eventually took the train to the Hook of Holland, a ferry to the UK and then a Celebrity Fjord cruise and then home. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
This was my first cruise on a bigger ship. I did do a Greek Island Cruise on a much smaller ship and enjoyed that too. We stayed at The Radisson Blu Royal Viking Hotel and this was fine for our two night pre cruise. We got a taxi to the ... Read More
This was my first cruise on a bigger ship. I did do a Greek Island Cruise on a much smaller ship and enjoyed that too. We stayed at The Radisson Blu Royal Viking Hotel and this was fine for our two night pre cruise. We got a taxi to the port and began embarkation which was fast with no hassle. The only thing I had to explain was that we each had one bottle of wine for a celebration with us. The young boy checking our hand luggage seemed unaware we were allowed one bottle each. This soon got sorted out once he checked. All was fine and we filled in our forms and had our passports checked etc. We were given our seapass cards and our wonderful Baltic cruise began with the usual Photos etc. We had a small hand luggage with us for swim wear and change of clothes which is important as we got our cabins immediately and went for a swim and then had lunch. The Windjammer was open for lunch and I really had no problem with it. Now keep in mind I have not done any Cruises before but the food was fine. Plenty variety, nice salads, Fruit, Hot meals ie Curry, Ribs, Fish, Chicken. I found all the food nice. There was a selection of good bread, nice sweet desserts and a hot and cold drinks counter. My only tiny gripe is that I like hot tea. I did feel the Water for making the tea was not boiling just hot. However they had a great choice of herbal teas also. Everything you could want. But we tried coffee also. No big queues as there was a few buffet counters and it moved fast. Seemed very clean and they also have hand Sanitizers before you enter the Dining areas. Food was served well past 3pm most days when we came back from visiting ports. We always got a lovely late lunch. The views were amazing from the Windjammer.We pre paid our gratuities so we had anytime dining. We got a wonderful window seat in the Restaurant. We were allowed to book this table each night. We were a group of four and we went for the wine package of 10 bottles for the week. Three in the group drank wine so between three of us we paid €108 each in total over the 7 nights inc 15% service charge. It turned out to be very good wine. I was surprised at the quality (after reading other reviews) We opted for the Kendal Jackson Red. Boy was it nice. I checked here in Ireland and its €24.99 a bottle at the off Licence. So I think we did well. We enjoyed starter, Main Course and Dessert followed by Tea Coffee. The starters were small but there is a lovely huge Bread basket also. If you want another starter they will bring that too. The Fillet steak I got was small but really good. The pork another night was good. I must say the night the stuffed chicken was on we all tried it and we were blown away. It was really tasty. I do like good restaurants and let me tell you this was good. The staff were so nice. They made our cruise and they deserve a good tip. We made sure we did an extra tip as well as the pre paid one. The shows were ok. I'm not a great one for shows but I enjoyed the ones I went to. Perhaps a little amateurish in comparison to say the West end London but they were included and we enjoyed what it was. We never booked the ships excursions, we got off in Tallinn and just walked the 10 mins in to the lovely old town. Its Euro here and the people are lovely. The town is just out of this world. We got a private two day tour of St. Petersburg and a trip to the Ballet (Swan Lake) I had never been to The Ballet but I truly adored every minute of it. The set was amazing, such wonderful vibrant colours. The costumes were so true to the time I felt I was in the woods looking on. We booked Red October but having spoke to others who took a cheaper option with Alla and SPB tours they all do the same thing. They are all excellent Tour Operators. Never a hitch once. Easy to arrange. So keep to the one that is within your budget. You get to see so much with them.Next was Helsinki, we docked at port and we say the Red hop on hop off bus. I had read bad reviews about this but decided to give it a try as they agreed €20 pp as were were four. It turned out to be a good choice. Now commentary is a bit hit and miss but it was just about ok. We got off at the Rock Church, then back on for the Sibelius Park. This was lovely as they played classical music while we took photographs. We then walked down to the water edge and chilled out in this lovely park before catching the bus again. Then a visit to Stockmanns department store. We walked from here to the Market area which is about 3 mins walk. The market was lovely. I purchased the most amazing handmade Christmas decorations which I hope to have as a lovely memory of Helsinki. We sampled the lovely food on offer and the Well earned Coffee. Its affordable enough to eat here. The coffee was a little on the expensive side about €2.70 for a tiny cup or €3.00 but hey it was nice. We then walked the 2 mins to Senate Square and visited the most amazing Cathedral. Its free and they also have toilets. The hop on hop off bus stops in front of the Cathedral and takes you back to the ship. Don't make the mistake of taking a bus that may be going all around again as point 1 and 13 are clearly marked on the guide sheet that they give you for the ho ho bus. Lovely Helsinki. Even after the delights of St Petersburg. We were back on the ship at 3pm for lunch. Riga was last and we did not dock in the town but an industrial port. They laid on free shuttle buses because of this. They did first think of charging $20 pp but I think people kicked up and they agreed it would be free. We walked all around Riga and found it to be nice. They take Euro in the odd place but bring credit cards. They do change to Euro soon. Its a lovely old town. The people are not quiet as friendly as Tallinn but you will enjoy the café culture. We got Fantastic weather all through our 7 day cruise. So hot. Finally we enjoyed a great day at sea dipping in the pool. This is cold out door and there is another indoors but it is deep. There are two Jacuzzi s and they were lovely. Beer on the ship was around $7 inc 15% but was a large glass. Gin Tonic was around $6 but was a good measure. Schooners bar is great. Piano music each evening and full length windows. Check it out. We loved our day at sea and that evening everyone was out on deck for the White Nights experience. I will never forget it. The ship seemed to glide gently along the water. Such a Surreal experience. I did a bit of shopping on board for a Guess bag reduced to $40 felt it was ok value. Bottom Line I would Recommend this Cruise to anyone but keep in mind your own Cruise style, If you have enjoyed more luxurious Cruised this may not be for you. But all in all I LOVED every minute. Cant wait to Cruise Again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2012
We're just home from 10-day Baltic cruise on Marina. As experienced and seriously independent travellers this was our first cruise other than a Rhine River trip. Here are my thoughts based on a lot of questions I see on this board: ... Read More
We're just home from 10-day Baltic cruise on Marina. As experienced and seriously independent travellers this was our first cruise other than a Rhine River trip. Here are my thoughts based on a lot of questions I see on this board: - The ship is fabulous. At 1200 pax it was just the right size. - I didn't go on a cruise for on-board shopping (?), TV programing or live shows so I have no comment on those things. - We took an upgrade to a PH suite with a butler and that was a real treat. Canapes delivered each afternoon, dinner reservations made for us, a kind and friendly guy. Nice. - The food it outrageous in terms of quality and quantity. Wow! The buffet in the Terrace is mind-boggling. - We liked the change of pace of the specialty restaurants. The only one that was mildly disappointing was Toscana - thought they could do better. - We like to dine, not rush so in the GDR we had to make sure to tell our server that we weren't in a hurry to eat and get out. - Fellow travellers were interesting and fun. You have to be prepared to just introduce yourself to people. If you don't gel, find someone else after dinner. - We went carry-on. You DON'T need two giant suitcases that guarantee a different outfit for every day; it's not that dressy unless you want to pretend you're at the Oscars. No one cares if you already wore that top/shirt/blazer. I'm happy to share my packing list. - At 48, hubby and I were among the youngest on board but business and travel interests span all ages so it didn't matter one bit except at the disco or karaoke nights where the lounge was almost empty and the (very funny) DJ was struggling to get involvement. However, when you've walked cobblestone streets for 5 hours, eaten canapes and then a wonderful meal along with a few of those glasses of wine, bed looks pretty good around 10 pm! - We didn't go to any shows - not our thing. After dinner one night we ambled into the theatre just as one of the singers broke out into "Memory" from Cats. Aaaak! I left immediately. - Go on, take a chance with a Share Table at dinner - you can meet some really neat people with whom you don't have to become new best friends. - The service is wonderful although there were staff everywhere which seemed kind of overkill. At the Terrace buffet the staff was literally bumping into each other behind the counters. - There's a ton to do and the Cruise Director was Willie Aames, the curly-headed kid from Eight is Enough (I thought he was a bit of a snob). - Beware: you gotta go early to get a seat and a team for the 5pm Trivia at Martini's Bar > now that was really fun! - Every morning and every night you receive in your room the little "What's On" pamphlet about today's town, weather, on-ship activities, when the freebies are , etc. There's no excuse for getting lost, missing an event or anything. Everything's politely laid out for you. - If you like a drink, TAKE THE PACKAGE. A glass of wine is either $8 or $10 so even if you have a beer/wine at lunch and a couple of glasses over dinner, you're ahead with the $30 package. Be advised, though, when you buy the package you MUST buy it for the entire cruise, not a day here and a day there. So before we even got to our suite we paid $500 for booze we hadn't yet consumed. Still, it's the better deal unless you're a wine aficionado and want to order bottles off the list. The package only allows you to buy "by the glass" but the list is pretty good, about five choices of each of red and white. - A couple of the restaurants seemed a little slow with the wine service and we wondered that they were slow on purpose in order to pour less (and pay less) once they realize you're going to drink more than one glass. - Still on the liquor package, remember that you probably won't be on the ship for lunch... - Take a cooking class - fun, fun, fun and yummy! If you don't book one ahead you'll likely find space on the day everyone else has gone to Berlin. - The specialty restaurants were great. Jacques was the best, in our opinion, and we ate there 3x. Try 'em all if you can. Don't be afraid of Red Ginger; the decor is amazing and the food was excellent. - On the day that everyone else attends night theatre in St. Petersburg or takes the 12-hour trip to Berlin, it's easy to get a specialty restaurant reservation! Even if you've already used up your allotted number of specialty rezzies, go and ask; odds are you'll get something. - For those obsessive planners who don't do shore-ex, there will be a map of the town you're visiting at Destination Services each morning and in some towns, local tourism reps were on board with proper maps and lots of terrific advice. - Plan your own trip in St. Petersburg. We used SPB and with just us two and the guide we paid a ton less and got in front of all the line-ups of the masses off the busses. The driver dropped us off in front of everything then went off to wherever while we toured and then he appeared at the front door and off we went - while all the bus people lined up and waited. And a car can take you through some back streets a bus can't manage. - Don't be afraid to book your own excursion through these boards. It's easy and reliable. There are only so many things you can do in these towns so it's not like you'll make the wrong choice of company or itinerary. - Unless you want to know the entire economic, socio-political and cultural history of any of these places, skip the shore-ex and just go walkabout. It's safe, easy and you won't have to stick to someone else's itinerary or line up with 46 other people on the bus (ugh!). - Everyone speaks English. - In Poland, the old town is a bit of a drive but you can easily hire a cab. You don't need a guide unless you want the history lesson. Just secure the price before you get in. This isn't the dog-eat-dog rip-off scenario most people imagine, and are afraid of. It's all very civilized. - Using info from these forums, I booked a 10-person trip to the Stutthof Concentration Camp and Gdansk and while it was worth it, the guide DID NOT STOP TALKING for the entire 8 hours. Yikes. - MY ONLY COMPLAINT is that the on-board internet service is terrible and outrageously expensive . Use your iPhone as a hotspot and get a good package if all you're going do is email or text the kids to say you're alive. There's a $3.95 activation fee. Prices range from 0.95/minute a la carte to $150 for 200 minutes. The signal is so bad in some places that you're eating up minutes trying to stay connected. The website and our Oceania rep gave me the confidence to believe I could easily keep in touch with business issues but I ended up spending $300 on internet services. Once you're on board, they "gotcha". I fully get that satellite service is sketchy in some countries but this was terrible. Be warned! - A massage was $182 ... but the spa is wonderful. Remember that "single sex" sauna means separate Men's and Women's so you don't end up naked with your husband in the MEN'S sauna when another man walks in ... (now THAT was funny!) - Bottom line: wonderful ship, staff, service, food, atmosphere Read Less
Sail Date: June 2012
We opted for this cruise as a trial to see if it would meet the very different holiday needs my hubby and I have. We are frequent travellers but since buying a holiday home in Spain 4 years ago, have not visited anywhere new since then. We ... Read More
We opted for this cruise as a trial to see if it would meet the very different holiday needs my hubby and I have. We are frequent travellers but since buying a holiday home in Spain 4 years ago, have not visited anywhere new since then. We chose this cruise as it was short and visited St Petersburg (which was in my bucket list). Hubby likes all inclusive but we don't like to be too long in one place. I worried that I would feel "trapped" on a ship. We LOVED it!. Did lot's of research before we went and noted that lot's of people were saying vision was tired and shabby? Well if it was, we never noticed it! Cabin. After trying our key and it not working, the steward let us in. When we went to the desk to change the keys, he had let us into the wrong cabin. The "right" cabin was smaller and the bed was squashed up against the wall. But it was adequate for such a short journey. Noisy aircon which was fixed as soon as I mentioned it. Food. Loved the salads in the buffet. Plenty of choice of food. Mostly of a good quality. Sometimes very busy but rarely had to look too hard for a seat. Main restaurant was ok. Our head waiter was ok but the assistant much better. Food was nice, small portions of what is in the buffet, presented well. But you could have more if you wanted it :-)Sometimes the wait was a bit long but not overly so. Entertainment. I'm cheesy and loved the shows. Ok they are amateur but enjoyable. I particularly LOVED the staff flag parade. So energetic and a bit emotional (dunno why but it was soooo funny seeing an Indian chef, dancing and waving his flag, in his full whites!). Also, met a few lovely people and we had a blast at karaoke. Nobody would ever see me again so I didn't care! We sang ABBA :-). Well we were in Stockholm. Excursions. Didn't do any of the ship ones. Used SPB in St Pete's. A long day but very well organised. Used the roll call on here to meet fellow travellers who wanted the same tour. Took the price right down :-) Walked into Tallin. Nothing special. We have medievel towns near where I live but it was a pretty place. Stockholm is amazing. But very expensive. We spent 2 days before the cruise here and one day after. Emabarkation/Disembarking. Got on like a dream. After a long walk to the check in which was not sign posted. Getting off was a nightmare. We had fantastic weather until the last day. We got off in torrential rain and howling wind. Got soaked getting driven to the luggage claim. But the weather isn't the fault of RCI. Not sure what I can add really? Booze wasn't too expensive (well not after Stockholm). $15 for a pint of lager and a glass of wine. $28 bottle of wine. Not much time for boozing tho as too tired! In all, a fantastic first cruise experience. Loved the boat and would go RCI again. Planning my next cruise now :-) Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
We were first-time cruisers and had read much on Cruise Critic, especially about this ship. To be honest we were a little apprehensive due to the many negative points and issues we read. Frankly, I think many of those issues lie with the ... Read More
We were first-time cruisers and had read much on Cruise Critic, especially about this ship. To be honest we were a little apprehensive due to the many negative points and issues we read. Frankly, I think many of those issues lie with the individuals themselves and not necessarily the staff! I will elucidate later on this point. We chose this cruise due to the many interesting ports from Stockholm through to Istanbul. It is far from South Africa and we needed to see as much as possible. Firstly we are glad we did not opt for a 7-day cruise. Only after 7 days did we really relax and begin to unwind. We spent an extra day in Stockholm and enjoyed the old city to which we could walk from the hotel. It is an expensive city and we did not dine out. Due to the airport taking so long to get our bags out we had missed our shuttle, but as they run regularly the next one was able to accommodate us. Have the address though as they do not know all the hotels. Friendly people in the hotel who assisted us. We had just enough kronen left for the taxi ride to the port. Embarkation was orderly and we were a little early but already there were a good many people. After 20 minutes we boarded and waited for the cabins to be opened. A lunch buffet was available and we enjoyed our first culinary experience. What I do not understand is that our bags were checked in simultaneously but we had to enquire about my wife's bags that night. Our cabin attendant did well to find the bags and it was our first encounter with Karen, an older lady from Nicaragua. She turned out to be a star and we had some good laughs and times together. Our cabin was a large outside stateroom and I am not sure where the 'large' comes in, but it was comfortable, tidy and spotless. Karen kept it that way. The one drawer was dodgy and I reported that and it was promptly fixed the following morning. For such a long cruise we were glad we chose an outside cabin. We are South African, after all, and like to see the sun! Karen would also look for our lost laundry even though I was happy for her to follow it up the next day and it was never too much for her. Well done. A bit of a mess was made with our My Time Dining reservations but it was sorted with the dining room and thereafter we had no problems. As someone mentioned they still try to get you to the same table in MTD to have the same waiters - in fact we eventually requested the same waiters as they were so professional and good to us. This impressed us: On the first night my wife jokingly commented to the head waiter Raymond that there was nothing with garlic on the menu. Within two minutes we had a bowl of garlic on our table. The next night we received our bowl of garlic within seconds from being seated and from there on it was the norm. We shared our garlic with the table. We later found that Raymond had briefed all the staff that when we arrive, we are to be presented with garlic. It was a nice touch and one greatly appreciated. Well done Raymond! To be honest we found the food in the dining room up and down. There were really good dishes (lamb shank) and the next night it would be so-so. Of course we did not expect to be ecstatic every night, but we would order two sirloins and one would be really tough. We only went to the dining room for our waiters and the pleasure of the interaction with them. That says a bit about their attitude and service orientation. The Windjammer was always available and the selection was wide and quite tasty and often competitive with the dining room. So there was no reason to go hungry (as if that would ever happen on a cruise ship!). After a day we cancelled our soda package. We don't like the syrup they use and decided to opt for the real thing instead. We found that you really had to drink a bit to make the package worthwhile. They did not credit me though and towards the end of the cruise I had to draw their attention to the fact. Again, thank you to Estoban at the Service Desk who dealt with it promptly and professionally. So don't leave it until the very last day when the queues are long. The basic wine package was sufficient for us and again Raymond was a star. When I really did not like one wine that was unknown to me (there are no South African wines on the list) he replaced it with a recommended wine that was spot-on to my taste. Obviously not all the shows were to our liking and we did not expect it to be. However there were some stunning performers and I appreciated the musical versatility of the ship's orchestra, playing saxophone myself. There was enough to keep oneself busy and we came to relax, in any event. We chose not be overwhelmed by activities and it suited us. We had made a number of reservations for port visits (thank you to CC where we gleaned our ideas from fellow cruisers) and made the most of the ports. Segways are the most fun! And a way to see as much as possible when you have a guide like Shamus in Copenhagen. A bike tour in Lisbon with Felipe is also a pleasure although your butt will complain the next day. In some ports we juest walked and our friends found the hop-on hop-off buses effective. We did one excursion with the ship and that to the Alhambra in Granada (port of Malaga). It is a long trip inland by bus. We are only able to complement the tour operator on this one - from the bus and guide to the guide in the Alhambra (father and son) - to the lunch which included a bottle of wine and glass of champagne. At first we were not sure if the wine was included, which it was. A great excursion. Unfortunately some of our new friends were not so lucky on their excursions, but they can tell their own story. Speaking to friends who were on a much larger ship they had to rise early to be taken ashore, being tendered. We always docked in port and perhaps there is something to be said for a smaller ship for the speed they are able to get one to disembark (mostly). We do not gamble nor did we use children's facilities, so cannot comment. The gym saw me once and then lost the popularity stakes when I beat my conscience down. I like good coffee and drink espresso like other people drink tea. Thus I enjoyed the speciality coffee on offer (you pay for it) and the dining room staff quickly remembered my preference. There was one sour(ish) note, and that was the smell of sewerage on the port side deck outside on deck 4. I could not pinpoint it but it seems to possibly have come from an air vent. In any case it was not pleasant, but we never lingered there. Disembarkation was fast and we found our luggage quickly although other people did not have the same experience. The system seems to be prone to foul-ups, though. Now if only our shuttle service in Istanbul was as organised... We spoke to people and that included the people who served us. They have families and they work hard. A kind word, a joke often make a difference to the way they perceive one. We were surprised at fellow passengers who did not know the name of their cabin attendant, even at the end of the cruise. Perhaps that is why our cruise was so enjoyable? On our way back we stopped over in Amsterdam to take in the museums (Van Gogh and Rijk). Our hotel was almost on Museum Square. At Schipol Plaza bus 197 will take you to the square and can be boarded there again for the trip back to the airport as early as 06h00. At 4 euro per person it is substantially cheaper than the shuttle or a taxi. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
This was our first ocean cruise after 3 previous river cruises (China, Russia, and Danube)with parents (in their 80s). This small ship had 189 passengers out of total 220 capacity. Our rooms were larger than we expected with plenty of ... Read More
This was our first ocean cruise after 3 previous river cruises (China, Russia, and Danube)with parents (in their 80s). This small ship had 189 passengers out of total 220 capacity. Our rooms were larger than we expected with plenty of space to relax (couch and 2 chairs) and enjoy the view out the large window. Service was excellent throughout the vessel with all having a smile and most addressing you by name. Minor problems (burned out light bulb) were fixed in a timely manner. Meals had a variety of choices with something that all 4 of us liked on the menu. Portions were of right size and the servers several times gave us side portions of other mains to try if we wanted a taste. Wine steward never let the glass get empty on this all inclusive ship. We normally did not stay up for the evenings entertainment after touring all day but couple times we did it was decent. Biggest issue we had was the use on your own washer/dryers were broke several times and since they were European style cycles were very long. Prior to cruise we stayed in Stockholm at Nordic Sea Hotel. Very convenient hotel, less than 100 feet from airport express train stop and short walk (15 minutes) to Old Town. Quiet and reasonable priced for Stockholm. Port not included in lists below was Mariehamn, Finland. Since we stopped on a Sunday almost all shops were closed. You could walk the whole town in less than a half hour. Did enjoy the sailing museum ship which was next to where we docked. I would rate a 3. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2010
Overall, both my wife and I enjoyed a comfortable and fascinating tour of the Baltic on this elegant and well appointed liner. We did however come to feel that Cunard is so preoccupied with turning a profit that the cruise experience was ... Read More
Overall, both my wife and I enjoyed a comfortable and fascinating tour of the Baltic on this elegant and well appointed liner. We did however come to feel that Cunard is so preoccupied with turning a profit that the cruise experience was cheapened for its guests, most of whom have already paid a premium price for their holiday. For example, on the final day of the voyage, my wife booked a 'relaxing head massage' at the Royal Spa that had been advertised at a price of $35. Throughout the massage, the masseuse politely but persistently tried to sell my wife beauty products that she neither wanted nor needed. The masseuse then presented my wife with a bill in excess of $50. To cut a long story short, my wife spoke to the manager and found that she'd been lied to. The price difference of $15 or so was less significant than the masseuse's determination to make money out a guest even if that meant lying. On a similar theme, I noticed bottled water being offered to guests at the assembly points for the shore excursions we took in St Petersburg during western Russia's heat wave. On closer inspection, it was clear that Cunard was in fact selling bottled water to guests at patently inflated prices. I neither needed nor expected water to be provided. Yet what I had taken as a thoughtful gesture towards guests who had paid about $200 per head for the day turned out to be yet another attempt to turn a quick profit. Likewise, while the daily programmes were immensely helpful, the travel advice was heavily skewed towards helping Cunard profit from on-board currency exchange. It didn't mention that many Scandinavian vendors accept the Euro, while Russian vendors accept the Euro or the US Dollar. Nor did it mention that in most cases, it is cheaper and more practical by far to use one of the various credit cards that don't charge foreign transaction fees. Purchasing six local currencies at on-board rates could make for an unnecessarily expensive holiday. Once again, Cunard plainly didn't have its guests' best interests at heart. We were also troubled by the fact that US Dollars were required for gambling in the on-board casino. We had assumed that 'cruise dollars' could be exchanged for chips or tokens as nothing in the pre-voyage documentation said otherwise. We gambled only rarely to avoid paying Cunard's inflated commission on US Dollars. I do appreciate that Cunard is a profit-making business. However, it is difficult to square the culture of class and elegance to which Cunard aspires with its persistent and often blatant chiselling at the wallets of guests. I have a number of other observations to make: • The gym has been very badly designed - the combination of low ceiling and large cardio machines meant that no man much above 6' in height could use anything other than the exercise bikes; • The free seminars offered by the gym staff began with some grains of good sense but quickly degenerated into boasting, scaremongering and pseudo-scientific sales pitches for individual consultations - because the gym staff were obliged to earn commissions, they seemed to have little time to look after gym-using guests, many of whom were overweight, frail or both, and using the gym inexpertly - as in the Royal Spa, gym staff were overwhelmingly focussed on their commission; • The atmosphere on the sun decks and in the Lido was spoiled for me by the use of pre-recorded, background music - this is tacky and not at all classy - in any case, if I'm relaxing in the sun, I don't want to be force-fed someone else's idea of pleasant music; • Our stateroom lacked the means for us to make tea or coffee, a major omission for what purports to be a classically British (albeit American-owned) liner - I appreciate that room service was available for a small fee, but I didn't want to have to ask someone else for something as basic as a cup of tea; • The acts hired in by Cunard as evening entertainment were generally excellent, particularly John Evans and CrazeeHorse. However, the Cunard in-house productions were generally dire, with the impressive exception of the dance showcase. While the dancers and musicians were certainly expert and the singers proficient, the musicals were without exception leaden, poorly written and wholly dependent on lazy clichEs - we quickly learned that a Cunard night in the theatre would be amateur hour. • We felt it unfortunate that the itinerary only allowed us about six hours in Oslo, a city boasting many unique attractions, compared to a full day in tiny Kristiansand and two full days in Copenhagen - whatever Cunard's reasons for this arrangement, P&O's Arcadia, which almost mirrored our itinerary, seemed to manage this issue better and find better berths. Overall, penny-pinching seriously compromised the Cunard experience for us. Read Less

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