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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2019
We have cruised with P&O and NCL and decided to do a Royal Caribbean taster cruise before we committed to booking a full cruise for us and our children. We travelled with our 2 and a half year old, we have found it very difficult ... Read More
We have cruised with P&O and NCL and decided to do a Royal Caribbean taster cruise before we committed to booking a full cruise for us and our children. We travelled with our 2 and a half year old, we have found it very difficult to get the right level of entertainment for him on previous cruises as he’s not a baby but still too little to go into any clubs/groups. There was a fantastic aqua park for him with a baby area which was great. The water was heated too which was a brilliant idea. There wasn’t much else going on for him though, there were a few toys laid out in a nightclub area in the day but very limited. We could pay $6 an hour to put him in a under 3’s club which we didn’t do. The food was comparable to NCL, a good standard and plenty to chose from. However, there were strict times on when food was available. On previous ships there was always food available in the buffet but it closed in the day for 3 hours and at 9:00pm in the evening which seems a bit early considering there is nearly 5k guests on board and there was a wait for a table. The only other option if you missed the buffet or dining room was pizza which is very limited, especially if you have dietary requests. We ate in the main dining room every night which we do on every cruise, A manager came to the table every night to ask how our dinning experience was which was great. We love the formalities of cruising and were disappointed when the waiters started doing the Macarena in the middle of dinner service, it really wasn’t great. Also on formal night, a guy wearing jeans and muddy running trainers was sat next to us in the main dining room while we were wearing a tuxedo and a cocktail dress. It’s disappointing that people can’t make the effort but also respect that people don’t always want to however, I feel on formal nights especially, trousers and shoes should be worn as a minimum to get into the main dining room. We decided to have an inside cabin as we were only sailing for 3 days. When we got to the cabin I was so disappointed. It was very dated, even though the independence had apparently had a refurb recently, the carpet was grubby and the sofa had stains on it. The cabin wasn’t cleaned properly with stains on the mirrors and marks on the walls. The cabin was really knocked about, dents in the wood work, paint chipped and just really dated. We did feel the need to complain about the cleanliness and someone was sent to shampoo the carpet and sofa but I feel for the price of a RC cruise, this shouldn’t be happening and I expected a much better standard. The toilets in the public areas were not cleaned all the time like on other ships. Bins were over flowing in the toilets and no toilet paper. The main promenade was dated too, i don’t understand where on this ship there has been a refurb. There were plenty of lifts which meant the wait time for one wasn’t too long, this is a plus when you have a buggy. For a taster cruise, I thought all the stops would be pulled out to ensure further bookings on RC but I felt it wasn’t, I think it was a true representation of RC. Would I sail with them again? Yes but only on a new ship which I think would be completely out of my price bracket. For the price of RC I think the standard should be a lot higher and couldn’t help but think it was a bit ‘butlins at sea’. I would definitely pick other lines over RC especially for the price of them. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2019
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and because we were already vacationing in London prior. We really enjoyed the ice show “Strings.” The violinist was phenomenal and the choreography of the skaters was great. We ate in the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and because we were already vacationing in London prior. We really enjoyed the ice show “Strings.” The violinist was phenomenal and the choreography of the skaters was great. We ate in the main dining room the first two nights. The food was good, portions could have been bigger but the service was very slow. Izumi was good but it was an hour until we ate. I understand there is a show involved with dining in a hibachi restaurant but it just took too long. The balcony room was in a great location mid ship on Deck 7. I liked the size of the ship. Not too big and not too small. The ship excursion to Brugge was very good. We did the half day guided tour with free time. Overall a very nice ship and we would travel on her again if the opportunity arose. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2019
Chose this cruise for the itinerary which was excellent. Loyal Royal Caribbean diamond member. The cabin was as expected. Very clean. The bathroom sink had shallow cracks in it. The shower faucet had obviously been repaired but not ... Read More
Chose this cruise for the itinerary which was excellent. Loyal Royal Caribbean diamond member. The cabin was as expected. Very clean. The bathroom sink had shallow cracks in it. The shower faucet had obviously been repaired but not well. There was a sharp hole in the left side handle. On the right side we had to learn how to manipulate the handle to get enough hot water. They did send the plumber in good time to replace the side with the hole. Dining was disappointing in the main dining room for the evening meal.. Not a lot of variety and the food was not much better than a local restaurant. No lobster for a twelve day cruise. The Windjammer was pretty much the same. Breakfast in the dining room was the same every day. Nightly entertainment was excellent. One complaint - one night no entertainment at all. Casino very smokey. The waiters and room attendant were excellent. The ports and excursions were excellent. I feel that loyalty benefits are eroding. They are selling the key instead of treating loyal members who have spent a lot of money cruising with them to more benefits. I also think they are lowering quality in the dining room in the hopes of selling specialty dining. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2019
I always wanted to cruise the Norwegian Fjords and this cruise suited my available dates. I travelled with my teenage niece who was cruising for the first time - it was my 4th cruise holiday and first one with Royal Caribbean. The ship ... Read More
I always wanted to cruise the Norwegian Fjords and this cruise suited my available dates. I travelled with my teenage niece who was cruising for the first time - it was my 4th cruise holiday and first one with Royal Caribbean. The ship is impressive overall though, on closer inspection, is showing some signs of wear and tear. I was impressed with cabin size. The evening entertainment was good in the main though the main headline shows were very short - a maximum of 45 minutes. That's fine for a so-so show but far too short for a good one - and we had one excellent show in particular, Beatle Maniacs, a Beatles tribute band who were exceptionally good. I'd have loved another hour or so of them! The main restaurant was where we dined every evening, we had availed of the My Time dining option. The food was simply outstanding as was the service. We had the same waiters each night and they felt like old friends by the end. We had a la carte breakfast in the main dining room most mornings and, while the food was good, the service wasn't. In the main service in the mornings was slow, impersonal and, we felt, unprofessional at times. We witnessed staff arguing with each other in front of passengers a few times. We weren't very impressed with the Windjammer buffet restaurant in terms of food quality. There was usually an Indian selection but we found that far too spicy for our palates. The cost of port excursions was very high - prohibitively so in my view in most cases so we ended up just doing our own thing at most ports. Finally our cabin steward was wonderful - friendly, cheerful and very helpful. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2019
Just returned from Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas Northern Europe and Russia cruise. THIS IS A FULL REVIEW. Explorer is 20 years old and smaller but otherwise identical layout to Freedom and Independence of the Seas, ... Read More
Just returned from Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas Northern Europe and Russia cruise. THIS IS A FULL REVIEW. Explorer is 20 years old and smaller but otherwise identical layout to Freedom and Independence of the Seas, sharing the same (but smaller) Deck 5 central shopping mall idea, Schooners Bar, triple-floor Sapphire Dining Rooms, Windjammer buffet, ice rink, FlowRider and Dizzys/Sky Bar etc. The August cruise from Southampton to Northern Europe was perfectly pleasant. Oslo, Copenhagen, Tallin, St Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm, Skagen (Denmark) and Stavanger (Norway) and the weather was kind, but lazing in the sun on the main deck was possible on one day out of 14, although I spotted several people, probably from Newcastle on Tyne, out there in their bikinis in Force 8 winds! This is an easy cruise to access all the cities visited. All ports were quayside docking and all within easy walking distance of the city centres (Helsinki and Stockholm a couple of miles away but with cheap public transport from the quayside). Don’t fall for the cruise-line’s nonsense of buying their organised trips or paying an extortionate $40 for their own local shuttles - every city had cheap (typically $3 per trip or $10 for a 24 hour ticket covering all busses, trams, water taxis and metros) and regular public transport always right from the quayside. We organised our own tours through local operators, but in cities like Oslo, Helsinki, Copenhagen and Tallinn you can walk everywhere. In every case, local tours were 50% cheaper than the cruise line’s official tour, and usually better. In Skagen we just walked but a friend rented a car for $35 for the day and visited everything there was to see - more than any of the organised tours. In Stavanger we booked a 3 hour fjord cruise with Rödne Tours from a booth right next to the cruise terminal for $40 each when we arrived, but I’d recommend pre-booking in case there’s more than one cruise ship in port. In St Petersburg we booked a 2 day tour with TJ Tours just 5 days before arriving and had a great experience with our own guide and a comfortable Mercedes minibus, all meals and water included, visiting more locations and for longer than the best available cruise-line tour for half the price ($250 each). You must book with an official Russian tour operator to get your necessary temporary Russian visa - you can’t visit St. Petersburg unaccompanied (well, not officially) but it’s as simple as booking online with a tour operator such as TJTours, SPB or Alla Tours. We found many fellow Americans were scared stiff of Russia, thinking the “Reds” might not like them. Well, that’s simply not the case. They are lovely! The guests on this cruise were 60-70% British. Some Americans and Australians for whom this was usually one half of their European cruising (the other half being a Mediterranean cruise, but not always with RCI). The Brits were a mix of classes, lots of blue collar families but nice, friendly and honest in the way Brits usually are. A couple of dozen feral kids under 10 running around, living in the elevators with no parents or ship security enforcing some manners. A public keel hauling of the worst offender would soon restore discipline (this is a joke, btw). . The negatives on this trip were all on board the ship. Having cruised with Royal Caribbean several times a few years ago, these are the noticeable differences – a general decline in standards whilst RCI try even harder to screw every last penny out of their guests: - Sapphire Dining Room - food still ok but menus not quite as varied as before and some dishes simply not up to scratch. Service definitely slower and poorer than we’ve experienced on any other cruise or cruiseline. One night we waited 30 minutes for our order to be taken. Another couple next to us waited 90 minutes for their main course. Lots of complaints heard about this. The dining rooms seem to have more tables crammed in and they’ve dispensed with the nightly “Showtime” singalong by the waiters. Coffee and liqueurs used to be offered automatically, now you have to ask. No chocolate mints anymore. MyTime Dining is a shambles. Dress codes are not enforced at all - families in tee shirts and shorts - even on Formal Night. This is not what I pay my cruise bucks for. If diners want to dress in shorts, send them to the Windjammer. There IS a choice! Hey, Royal Caribbean - stop this race to the bottom and restore some semblance of style to your ships. - Bars. There seem to be fewer waiters going round taking orders. Best bar for cocktails is still Schooner. Dizzy’s on the 14th floor has a good atmosphere (but the air con is always too cold). Some evenings it’s taken over by a “silent” disco, which actually means drunken guests singing the chorus of two different songs out of tune at the top of their voices. Silent it is not! Why on earth they can’t hold this in one of the disco clubs is beyond me. Drink prices noticeably up. $6-10 for a beer, ordinary branded spirits $10-15 and wine at $11-16 a glass. Cocktails typically $12 and up. - On board sales bargains - e.g. watches and jewellery. Quality and variety on offer is poor and prices are the same as high street. The rest of the goods on offer was tourist tat, overpriced by 50% compared to identical tourist tat in each port. On board bargains used to be one of the joys of cruising. It isn’t any longer. Art and overpriced jewellery auctions did zero business. I never understand how they make money, but this cruise full of savvy Brits wasn’t going to part them from their money. - Windjammer Buffet. A glorious spectacle of excess. Food quality is awfully variable, from awful to variable yet never excellent. If you want to watch fat people getting even fatter, pushing and vying to see who can pile their plates highest and yet still leave enough waste food to feed New York’s entire homeless community, then this is the best free entertainment venue on the entire ship! The number of electric buggies plus the constant feeding frenzy was like that scene out of Wally...... Not offendin’ anyone, just sayin’.... - Theatre Entertainment. The in house ‘orchestra’ is a great bunch of talented musicians tied to performing holiday camp-standard routines. The in-house song and dance reviews were nothing special, in fact highly avoidable. A couple of guest bands were excellent, though - a Beatles tribute band and The Wild Boys in particular were very good. A visiting West End singer, magician and a hypnotist who were all pretty mundane. I fell asleep during the hypnotist act. No idea why. - Round the Ship entertainment. There’s a talented solo guitarist playing a repertoire of 30 almost recognisable pop hits in a vaguely classical style. He looks tired and bored, but go and ask him to play something decent, like Tarrega or Rodriguez, and he perks up! The House Band is OK, best when they are doing live karaoke. Lead vocalist loves herself but the drummer is the better singer. The reggae band are very good. There’s a very camp Liberace clone who knows his downmarket audience to a Tee! Straight from Phoenix Nights! Truly awful....unless you like that kind of thing. - The usual selection of half hour games and quizzes, presented in a generally lacklustre way, always in a hurry, formulaic and rushed. Too few staff? - Casino. Never more than 1/4 full. The Brits obviously don’t gamble. The ship did nothing to entice them in, so each night it was the same 50 American faces playing the slots and a handful of tables. At least half the croupiers looked dead or asleep. They could have jumped ship for two weeks and no one would have noticed. A missed opportunity. - Cruise Director. Every other Cruise Director we’ve had has been the life and soul of the ship - always about, saying hello, geeing people up. Not this one. Known as “Hello Clo”. Been in the business 27 years, apparently. Never saw her round the ship saying hello to passengers, never saw her on the gangplank, only on-stage introducing the acts. Something missing here. - Photographs. Still expensive but with many more photographers and backdrops. The old style of printing out thousands of photos on paper for you to peruse has been replaced with a dreadful touch screen system. The staff said it was more popular but I doubt it. - State Room Stewards. Great, as ever. These people work the hardest on the ship and deserve the biggest tips. - On Sea Days the ship was heaving with people because it was too cold out on deck. 3,500 bored passengers wandering round inside an already crowded ship, all looking for something to do. You would think the Entertainment staff would make a bit more effort and lay on extra entertainments when it’s too increment to go outside, but no. Nada. Nothing. This, above all else, was the weakest element of the cruise. The Ship. 20 years old and looking its age. It had a refit in 2015 but there are a lot of defects. Lifts out of action, PA systems on their last legs, cutlery in the dining rooms old and knackered, large viewing windows which had gone opaque, furniture a bit tatty. Lots of maintenance engineers fixing things discretely. Many staff just seem to be tired, going through the motions. Even the Captain’s daily announcement was delivered in a flat, monotonic voice. The only time he sounded enthused was in Stockholm, probably his home town. I heard that Explorer of the Seas is due another refit to take away some public areas and add more cabins, so this ship is likely to get even more crowded. I hope the staff-guest ratio increases but somehow I doubt it. Would I cruise with Explorer of the Seas again? No. Has my opinion of a Royal Caribbean been tarnished? Yes. Cruise destinations. 9/10 Ship. 5/10 Entertainment. 4/10 Dining. 6/10 Steward. 10/10. Value for Money. 7/10 Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2019
We chose this cruise as it was the Right time of year school holidays and going to Northern Europe with st Petersburg on the itenary we were disappointed in that my two girls couldn’t attend the children’s club because they were 10 ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was the Right time of year school holidays and going to Northern Europe with st Petersburg on the itenary we were disappointed in that my two girls couldn’t attend the children’s club because they were 10 & 12 and would have had to go to separate clubs because of their ages they didn’t want to go alone & there was no leeway with this they also had to stop using the pools after the first week as they came out with terrible skin rashes all of our party did I reported it to customer services they said it was because someone had been sick in the pool so had to be drained and stronger chemicals put in !! There was another mum complaining at the same time and families around the pool were not using them for the same reason! My family and I were absolutely fuming that there was an extortionate fee for the shuttle busses there was 4 adults and 4 children only in Helsinki did they not charge for the children I can’t believe that RC did not receive most of this money as why did we have to pay directly to RC We were all very disappointed with the entertainment nothing for the children no pool party’s games on deck we had good weather most of the cruise so there was no reason for this The food was ok very samey but nice we only ate in the windjammer as we had 4 fussy children so it was great for them to just try things We only did the Russia trip preferring to do our own trips the guide was very knowledgeable but it was a bit manic as in on off the coach and they took us to a very expensive tourist gift shop but we were allowed to use the toilets The ship itself was looking a bit warn out and tired its due a refit I believe Most of the staff were really nice but they fussed around the alcohol drinkers more In short we won’t be travelling with RC again Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2019
Booked this cruise to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. The Baltic was chosen and Royal Caribbean as we were in Tallin on the day, a fab place we have visited before. The cruise to the Baltic was pleasant with reasonable ... Read More
Booked this cruise to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. The Baltic was chosen and Royal Caribbean as we were in Tallin on the day, a fab place we have visited before. The cruise to the Baltic was pleasant with reasonable weather, no rain!!!. However sun tans would have been missing unless you were an addict who went to the sunbeds when the sun was out. All ports were easy to access with the exception of St Petersburg, where you either had to have a Visa or be on an organised approved trip. We only did did ship trip in St Petersburg as we were able to get ashore with local transport very easily. If you use the ship shuttles they will cost at least double. A mixture of nationalities, British, Canadian Australians and some Europeans and Russian noted. As usual with a cruise during school holidays feral children were around in abundance, I think that some parents thought they could not get into mischief and left them to their own devices!!. Dining, well we had My Time Dining in the Sapphire, tables crammed in, and waiters have to manage more tables. We were very lucky, I had pre booked a time and we ate with the same waiters, location every night so did not have any concerns and did not wait long. Although I know that some other areas did complain etc. Food generally good but lack of niceties, no flowers on the tables, after dinner coffee served in large pot mugs not the thing for a delicate tea. Main bug bare was the lack of enforcement for dress code. On the 3 formal nights noticed many people in shorts and tee shirts allowed in for the evening dining. If they want to dress down then either go to the buffet or order cabin service!!!, the dress code was not enforced at all and as this is the only time that we can dress up and feel even if we are not a 1000 dollars. Entertainment was varied, in the bars very loud and always the same. Shows were lackluster as the group had only recently joined the ship, magician, hypnotist, several solo singers and several comedians. The in house band were always loud and with the solo singers blocked them out. Dizzies bar on the 14th floor very good until the disco arrived at 10pm and forced the over 50's to leave, offered headphones!!.Enjoyed Perry Granr very much but you have ti like his srt of entertainment. We had membership of the Diamond Lounge the savior in our opinion. The only place on sea days to find somewhere quiet to read, staff excellent and views wonderful. This place made the holiday enjoyable. One thing we noted seemed lack of organisation. Went down to see the ice show but had my ship card reviewed at the door to be told I was the next sea day Apparently the shows were viewed by the muster station we we were allotted to. I even know people who went and stood by the muster station expecting to be led in. Once I knew the method I looked at the ship paper each following sea day but our muster station details did not appear. On the last sea day I queried with reception to be told my viewing was the 1st sea day at 3pm. I very politely told them that they had not informed passengers of the method and had missed out and I was not happy. No apologies were forthcoming. at all. Disembarkation was a breeze as Diamond member we were no 3 off the shop at 0620am. Breakfast for us consisted of a cookie that I brought down to the cabin from the afternoon before and a coffee made in the cabin. The restaurant opened at 0530am, however, there was not time to get to breakfast, back to the cabin to pick up carry on and be down in the area for departure which was listed at 0610am for a 0620 departure. I would add that my husband and I only had 2 meals a day, we do not ever go on a cruise with the intention of loading a plate every 2 hours. Sitting with a couple who had a 9 hour journey to Scotland also departing at 0620 they had joined a line of 200 people at 0515 waiting for the restaurant to open. They did not get a proper breakfast at all. All in all we did enjoy the cruise, however we have traveled on a varied selection of cruise lines and prior to this cruise only 1 Royal Caribbean, based on this trip we would not travel with them again. For the evening of our 50th we did get a small cake with a candle to be asked how many years?. On returning home our travel agent asked did we have a good celebration as she had informed them it was our 50th wedding anniversary. As noted before a cheap bottle of wine would have been nice but I fear the accountants have a great say in what happens on board. As comparing with Celebrity, Princess, Holland America, Regent to name a few we have traveled with they are a budget line. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2019
We chose this cruise as it was sailing to a number of tick box locations. The embarkation process was amongst the easiest of all, after 8 previous cruises, we are big fans of cruise embarkation, this was excellent. We made our way to our ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was sailing to a number of tick box locations. The embarkation process was amongst the easiest of all, after 8 previous cruises, we are big fans of cruise embarkation, this was excellent. We made our way to our cabin 7204 - Ocean view, very clean and as we took our own phone chargers it didn’t matter that the only part of the cabin that didn’t work was the hub socket. We have now had cabins at the stern previously and chose a front facing cabin. Our first two week cruise, we took clothes to fit this, however we believe the wardrobe wasn’t big enough, perhaps during the next refit this could be addressed without losing too much. After checking out and being pleased with our cabin, as is our normal practice we look at the restaurant and where we were to spend our evening meal. We had informed Royal Caribbean of our request for early dining and a table for two. As far as we were concerned this was agreed however on reaching our table we were to be sat at a table for eight. Speaking to the chap with the laptop, we were told, “we decide table seating, not Royal Caribbean “, as we were an early sitting, he advised us to eat at 2000, when a two seat table would have been arranged. At 2000, we returned to the restaurant and were dealt with by embarrassed staff, who could not do enough for us. We ended our meal with the promise that our table for the next meal was a two seater table at 1800. This was confirmed with a note posted to our cabin. The following night we went to our nominated table at our nominated time and unfortunately another couple were sat having ordered their meal. Further embarrassment all around amongst the staff, eventually we had to be in the restaurant at 1745, we could then eat at the same table (for two) for the remainder of the cruise. On our return home I contacted Royal Caribbean to inform them and received the following reply “We have received your correspondence regarding the table issue. We apologize that it did not work out as you said it has in the past. When you request a table for two that is exactly what it is a request its not a guaranty”. (It would be impolite to alter the spelling) the evenings entertainment on day one was a make shift performance to introduce everyone to the guests, day two the entertainment on the first sea day was a Beatles tribute band, excellent they were to, standing ovation The entertainment was a series of guest artists appearing nightly, including Mick Miller, who was quite funny in the 70’s, 40 years later, not so! Visiting male singer, female singer, a juggler, a hypnotist, a magician all of whom were simple fare passing the time until the next days visit. The scenery of a Baltic cruise is exceptional unfortunately 50% is during the night, but it must be said the ports and shore excursions were second to none, however all when booked on the ship were very expensive due in main to the rubbish exchange rate between the dollar and the pound. We needed to book the shore excursion in St Petersburg to enable a visa to be covered for the trip. Otherwise normally we do not book onboard excursions, these were very expensive, what we did though was book the hop on, hop off buses for $18 each. Visiting Oslo, Copenhagen, Tallin, St Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm, Skagen, Stavanger, all superb places to visit, though the majority were not suitable for wheelchair users as explained in the ships daily post, still ignored however, particularly on the cobbles of St Petersburg, it was painful to watch the struggles of pushing or being pushed on the treacherous paths. The entertainment team (not singers or dancers) tried very hard to make the cruise enjoyable with lots of quizzes, these were in the main very difficult. They ran the bingo, very expensive at $56 for two pages of four and two dabbers. The session we attended was a very long session for one house which was $500. We think there were four singers in the entertainment team, they were brilliant but only put on four shows in the fortnight we were on our cruise, the team of dancers were equally talented but also only gave the four shows. Further entertainment was provided by the Wild boys, again brilliant and also another comedian who was up to date and funny Speaking to other passengers who had sailed with Royal Caribbean they agreed the ship was the worst they had been on, it was our first Royal Caribbean cruise and yes it will most probably our last. A shame, a very good crew, a very funny Cruise Director but the first weeks food was bland, the second weeks food was better. All in all if this was our first cruise we would not be upset, but after nine cruises, it was no where near the best one. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2019
We chose this cruise because it was cheaper than Disney and had basically the same itinerary. I had never been on Royal Caribbean before but I had been told that they were a little below Disney but above Princess, Norwegian and Costa. ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was cheaper than Disney and had basically the same itinerary. I had never been on Royal Caribbean before but I had been told that they were a little below Disney but above Princess, Norwegian and Costa. Embarkation process-Very smooth and fast. Best ever. Cabin- Was quiet and traditional with normal restroom set up(no thanks Norwegian Epic). However the shower was backed up (gross) and the door lock stopped working twice a week apart. Also third bed is a bunk bed not a sofa bed so of course I had to hit my head a few times. Food-Overall, the food qualify was a little below average but the selection was pretty good.The desserts were terrible with little selection. This is the first cruise where they didn't provide unsweetened ice tea and water. Sugar free drinks were gross. Also the ice cream machines provided ice milk not ice cream. Entertainment- The daily shows were average. They were showing previews of a magician/escape artist so I thought he would so some of those tricks in his show. However he only did card tricks on an overhead. The channels on the tv were not very entertaining. Not a lot of movies and a lot of the times the TV signal was bad. A lot of the video games in the arcade did not work. Classes/lectures-Did not have enough lectures or hobby classes. They had classes on how to play casino games, however. I would have appreciated more history classes on places we were going to or classes on how to make things or towel animals or things like that. Excursions-For the most part the excursions were as advertised. The excursion I went on in Copenhagen of the Christianborg Palace and Tivoli Gardens does not tell you you will only have an hour there. My son loves to ride amusement park rides so it was a little disappointing. I wish they would tell you the time spent at each location as it would make a difference. Outdoor activities on ship-Have rock wall and wave rider activity. My son loved the rock wall. The basketball court is also used as a soccer pitch at the same time. Not a good idea. I got hit in the head with a soccer ball. Could organize separate times for each activity to avoid possible law suits. Disembarkation-We left early taking our own luggage. I am not sure if I would take Royal Caribbean again. I would definitely not take the same ship again as it is old and not well maintained. The food might tip the scales as to me not taking them again. If I can get the same thing or better for less why wouldn't I? Read Less
Sail Date: August 2019
I'd heard about Royal Carribean and knew it had a good reputation. This was my first cruise. We had a great time! The stops were excellent;even Skagen where there wasn't too much to see, was a nice small town. The excursion ... Read More
I'd heard about Royal Carribean and knew it had a good reputation. This was my first cruise. We had a great time! The stops were excellent;even Skagen where there wasn't too much to see, was a nice small town. The excursion to St Petersburg was good, even though it was more expensive than some other providers.The 2 guides were full of information. It would have been better to get to the Hermitage early as it was just too crowded at 2pm. Ship entertainment was excellent.The shows were all good, and we LOVED Perry Grant who played alomost every evening for 3 hours in the Schooner bar. He's very very funny. We saw an excellent ice show in another hall one afternoon, and that was great. The staff are all lovely.The service is second to none.But we did feel the dress code was poor: too many people wearing (beach) shorts in the main restaurant was not good enough .These people should be restricted to the Windjammer for dinner if that's how they dress. There should definitely be a no-shorts (and possibly smart shirt only?) policy in the other restaurants. The excursions are very over priced.The fjord cruise in Stavanger was $280 for 2. We paid $110 for the same trip by booking direct. I'm aware all the other excursions were way over-priced. Drinks- the package is very expensive for the top option.With the discount on the first day it worked out at $1092 for 2 persons.After the first day the discount was taken away and it would have been over £2000 for 2. As light drinkers this was never an option.They should offer drinks deals by the day, as they do for wifi. -more later. Wifi- very annoying you have to pay for this, and a a high price. This should be free.I used it one day and it was VERY sloooow. One other beef- no irons were loaned to rooms.They claimed they were a fire hazard. Why do hotels offer them then? As a result it was $4 a shirt just to press.This is outrageous.If you don't allow a facility, you shouldn't then charge exhorbtant prices for cleaning and ironing. I sometimes got the feeling RCC were trying to bleed their customers dry whereever they could. it was my 60 th birthday on the cruise- I think RCC could offer a complimentary bottle of wine for all birthdays, especially big ones.It wouldn't cost them much . and would be excellent PR. In summary, though, it was excellent, and I'm sure my complaints are going to be similar or same with all cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
We have just returned from 12 night Baltic Trip from Amsterdam and can honestly say we enjoyed every single moment.We normally sail with Celebrity and while there are some differences the customer service provided by each and every ... Read More
We have just returned from 12 night Baltic Trip from Amsterdam and can honestly say we enjoyed every single moment.We normally sail with Celebrity and while there are some differences the customer service provided by each and every person on this ship more than made up for it.The staff are outstanding in every area. The atmosphere on the ship they created as a consequence was tangible. We pre booked all our excursions with the ship...the 2 day trip in St.Petersburg is worth every penny and the city itself is stunning although I would caution that they are 2 long days from 7.00am to 5.00pm and 1.5 days might suit some people more. Skagen was a wonderful surprise as cruise books advise there is little there but it is in fact a beautiful stop over.Helsinki bike ride is excellent for cycle enthusiasts and there is a free shuttle which we were not told about at the port. Tallinn, Copenhagen and Stockholm are very manageable alone.In Stockholm we had the service of Alex , a local taxi man who dropped us at The Vasa and Abba museums, collected us for drop off at the old town and then brought us back to the ship.(mobile no.0046736422255).He charged €75 euros for our family of 4 adults for doing all of that.Not to be missed on the top deck is the 4 hour sail out from Stockholm. The scenery is stunning.The Baltic cities particularly Copenhagen are very expensive so we didn't but buy a lot. Tivoli gardens is worth the entrance cost though without the rides as the gardens are beautiful. We took the 3 day speciality dining package which was excellent value particularly as we did not have a drinks package and enjoyed 40% discount on all wine bought there without a limit on the bottle numbers purchased.We also bought drinks cards at day 7 for $75 dollars plus 18% service for 10 drinks.The drinks package at the outset is very expensive and the cruise is very full on so it is not worth the cost as you will not have time to consume the number of drinks required to even break even. The activities including Murder Mystery night are great fun.The shows are not as good as Celebrity due to the fact that this is a small older ship and probably doesn't attract the big names.They are however enjoyable particularly the guest appearances. This trip was excellent value for money and I will look at Royal Carribbean again. I am no longer a committed Celebrity cruise due to the outstanding service. 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
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
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
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
My wife and I were celebrating our 25 years of marriage with the third of three RCCL cruises within the last nine months. We had spotted this itinerary of 12 nights in the British Isles and Ireland, and thought how nice it would be to ... Read More
My wife and I were celebrating our 25 years of marriage with the third of three RCCL cruises within the last nine months. We had spotted this itinerary of 12 nights in the British Isles and Ireland, and thought how nice it would be to visit Scotland, in particular. We had not cruised on Brilliance before, but had done trips on sister ships, Jewel and Serenade. Boarding/check-in in Amsterdam was probably one of the easiest we have ever done in 40 cruises. The problem was the gauntlet of sales crew between the dock and the ship, pushing everything from drink packages, restaurant specials, facials, massages etc. I t was like getting off of the ship in Barbados. That was not impressive. The stateroom was ready as advertised at 1:00 p.m. As soon as we walked in, the smell of the sewer system in the toilet/washroom was ridiculous. The cabin attendant came, washed and sprayed again, but had to call a plumber. Eventually the smell subsided until later in the cruise and it came back again. Again, the stateroom attendant had to take the same actions as on day one. Also we were told that our cabin was noticeably warmer in the middle of the night when we said how uncomfortable it was, because the line has instituted a rotating policy which raises the temperature to save energy. On one occasion we had to leave the door open to get some sleep. We were not amused or impressed. When we asked the attendant if he had forgotten to leave the shampoo, conditioner and lotion, as is always done, he replied that company policy at RCCL was that unless we had 340 loyalty points with Crown and Anchor, (even though were are Diamond Plus status) there would be no no shampoo, conditioner or lotion given. That may be written somewhere, but we had never heard of it. Makes RCCL look pretty cheap and classless. When we asked about a bathrobe that we have always had, we were told that since we asked, we could have one each. But if you do not ask, it will not be provided. So far, Day 1 not so impressive. We had been given onboard spending credit, and wanted to check the account on the TV. "Sorry that technology does not exist on this ship, but you can go and stand in line at Guest Services to have a copy printed out". Now the the line has decided that Guest Services is the best place to add the noisiest place on the ship; the Centrum. Morning Zumba classes, Evening rock bands and lord knows what else during the rest of the day. You literally have to yell to heard at Guest Services. Not bright. Do not choose your your cabin too close to the aft elevators if you retire early. Showtime ends at 11:30 p.m.To add insult to injury, after spending 25 minutes in the line, on two occasions, I was given another passengers account information, and had to go back again. Again, not impressed. The offers to sell us "special things" continued every day. We were informed that part of RCCL staff training and contract renewal states that the line is less interested in servers, and more interested in sales people. That is certainly obvious. With regard to food, the Windjammer buffet started out very well early in the cruise, but was less impressive in its choices as the cruise went on. But, in fairness, it was superior to the dining room. On its best night, the Dining room food quality was average. Up until now, if you did not like any of the daily offerings on the menu, there was always the fallback standards of steak, chicken and/or salmon. Well, not anymore. Forget about the salmon. The Assistant Head Waiter made it clear that we were not getting salmon. Unfortunately, his delivery needs work. When one person at the table said they would like salmon, in a frustrated tone our fearless head waiter huffed and said "why don't I just bring everyone salmon." Not everyone is cut out for sales, I guess. Because of the mediocre offerings in the dining room, we went to Chops and Giovannis three times, without the promotion. Which reminds me that someone should keep an eye on the differences between what the RCCL website says and what is practiced on the ship. The website offers what amounted to a three for the price of two restaurant deal, on the condition that your first night had to be taken on the first or second night of the cruise. When we talked to staff, we were told that that was not actually true, and we could have gone whenever convenient. Not impressed. When we filled in our mid-cruise "How is everything Survey" we shared some thoughts. We then received, on the second to last day, a letter offering a future cruise saving certificate. Don't get me wrong. They did not have to do this, and I know it. However, this is where we have another example of the difference between pretender to excellence and a real contender. The certificate was for a new cruise within the next 12 months. A quick check of our C&A file would reveal that we already have our next two sailings booked in May and September 2020. Considering that I am still working and have restraints on my vacation times, the offer is more frustrating than pleasing. The same applies to a Casino letter we received with the same conditions. The old saying that its the thought that counts does not apply here. As a final farewell, for the first time, we decided to purchase the airport transfer tickets, only to find that they had not put my luggage on the truck, and thus made me chase someone down at the airport, since the ship had no one there to help. Luckily the supervisor from Inter-Cruises was excellent and went above and beyond to help. Having said all of this, I must distinguish between the Corporate policies in Miami of RCCL which are tarnishing the image of the line, and the dedication of many of the on-board staff, who work hard and do what they can to help and make the thought of returning more palatable. The dining room waiters, the stateroom attendants, the Concierges in the Diamond and Diamond Plus Lounges made the difference. And less the HQ staff tries to take credit, forget it. Their policies have staff reminding at all chances to remember the number ten, as if it is the be all and end all. Miami needs to focus on defining how much is enough. This incessant nickel and diming of passengers is a reflection of what I see as a major malaise of our times. It is ruining the industry. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
Our cruise began in Amsterdam and the Amsterdam Cruise Terminal was wonderful. They had water bottles, wine, and cans of soda for sale to bring onto the cruise in your carry-on at a very reasonable rate. My 8 year-old daughter ... Read More
Our cruise began in Amsterdam and the Amsterdam Cruise Terminal was wonderful. They had water bottles, wine, and cans of soda for sale to bring onto the cruise in your carry-on at a very reasonable rate. My 8 year-old daughter absolutely loved the Adventure Ocean Kids Club. The activities ranged from sports activities, arts & crafts, and organized games. The counselors did an amazing job motivating and engaging the kids in the games and making everyone feel included. The Ports were wonderful! Our three stops in Scotland included Edinburgh, Inverness, and Glasgow. As guests returned to the ship in Inverness, RCCL arranged to have a fantastic Scottish Dance Troupe accompanied by a bag-pipe player, an accordion player, and a singer aboard to perform prior to departure. We had two days in Dublin, Ireland, a stop in Guernsey, Holyhead Wales, and Dover/Canterbury, England. One recommendation that I have is to look to 3rd party companies for excursions because RCCL doesn't offer many excursion options due to the limited sailings on this itinerary. The food in the main dining room was delicious however each night there were only 3 new courses that alternating with the 4 offerings that remained the same on the menu; in the past there was more variety. The WindJammer seemed to have a diversity of food options and theme nights that would have been welcome in the main dining room especially on a 12-night cruise. We used the 6:45 Adventure Ocean pickup & our waitstaff ensured that our daughter’s meal was expedited while our meal was served at a normal pace. We also dined in Chops. Our filets were cooked to perfection but we were disappointed that they no longer have the tator tots. We absolutely love Izumi’s and decided to take the sushi making class. The class was a blast and we made a California wrap, a Spicy Tuna roll, a Shrimp Tempura Roll, and shrimp sashimi. I highly recommend this class. A big disappointment was the amount of cigarette smoke that filled the atrium at all hours of the day from the Casino. People were consistently allowed to stand in both entrances while smoking & facing the atrium. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
I really wanted to leave a review here to offer my thoughts on this ship after reading some of the negative reviews. Prior to going on the trip, I had seen lots of reviews giving really harsh opinions of the ship looking really tired or ... Read More
I really wanted to leave a review here to offer my thoughts on this ship after reading some of the negative reviews. Prior to going on the trip, I had seen lots of reviews giving really harsh opinions of the ship looking really tired or of the food being awful or the service slow etc... Honestly, I have no idea if these people were sailing on this ship or if there is one with a similar name that they are getting mixed up with?! Or alternatively what sort of expectations these people have created for themselves! We chose the cruise based on the itinerary and the deal that Royal Caribbean were offering at the time (drinks package and onboard spend). We boarded relatively swiftly and soon discovered that this was both a mammoth ship and quite a magnificent city on water! We've cruised with Royal before and also NCL and Princess. I'd say the ship was somewhat of a hybrid of the two. Overall the ship was looking great and flowed really well - only on the odd occasion did we really feel that the ship was busy, which was at a couple of times in the buffet, particularly in the buffet for breakfast when the port call was shorter. All of the areas of the ship were smart, clean and in good repair - the promenade, whilst not to everyone's taste it seems was a hive of activity all the way through the cruise. The food was imaginative and plentiful to say the least - we ate really well... I'd say not quite as well presented or of quite the quality on offer by princess, but then this was price reflective also. My only criticism would be that they could offer some stronger and more imaginative vegetarian and vegan offerings - meat eaters definitely got a better deal here, but there were still lots of options and alternatives. The only significant let down was Jonny Rockets really. I really think Royal Caribbean should make this a complimentary eating spot. Every other line we've been on has an outdoor burger grill that is complimentary and whist the offering is marginally better, it really felt like we'd thrown $9.95 per person away, as the burgers in the buffet, just one deck down were almost the same, as were the fries etc. The absence of a burger bar on the pool deck compared to the other lines was noticeable on fine sea days, which seems a shame and a bit of a cash cow - I really wouldn't bother and I doubt we'll bother again. Jonny Rockets was notably quiet whenever we looked in... maybe people are catching on? The stateroom was smart and pretty sizeable. We had an inside and parents had a balcony - both were nice. Beds were comfy and decent storage space for a 2 week cruise. The shower gel was nice and the sheets and towels always clean, fresh and had a nice feel to them. The activity and options for things to do were quite simply never ending, there was always a plethora of activities and things on offer to do. The entertainment was variable. We saw some BRILLIANT shows and entertainers and some entertainment which seemed below par, unfortunately the Royal Caribbean post cruise survey didn't really give the opportunity to differentiate. As other have said, the ice show is brilliant! GO AND SEE IT!!! Shows in the theatre varied a lot... We had a bit of a random singer spell during the two weeks, where we had like three solo singer nights in a row and by the third, we seemed to be suffering singer fatigue! The Royal Caribbean production shows were usual cruise fayre really... singers and dancers singing and dancing to music that is no longer in copyright etc etc... they were so so, but ok to pass an evening with. The promenade parties were a lot of fun, the 80's one and the 70's one were really well polished, well attended and lots of atmosphere - Rock Britannia, seemed a bit flat - but still a good laugh. Be nice if it was a few decibels louder to really rock the ship. One entertainer that deserves an extra special mention was Perry Grant... oh my goodness, this guy was the most entertaining guy I have ever seen on a cruise ship anywhere... he rightfully gets rave reviews again and again - I won't say too much, but if he is still on when you sail - spend some time with his show in the schooner bar, you will laugh, sing and make friends! The service was consistently brilliant. Super polite, fast, efficient etc. One of the things that I really liked was that the staff always said how much Royal Caribbean had looked after them - this is a really big deal to me and it would influence me to holiday with them again. In terms of the ports of call, they are pretty personal, so I won't review them, but we chose the Baltic's and thoroughly enjoyed them! Explorer is a remarkable ship with a remarkable crew - I would definitely recommend it! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
We've been cruising with Disney before RC, and even considering the fact that Disney is much more expensive, it left us with a feeling that it was much better, especially in the food, entertainment, and general feel ( there were 2 big ... Read More
We've been cruising with Disney before RC, and even considering the fact that Disney is much more expensive, it left us with a feeling that it was much better, especially in the food, entertainment, and general feel ( there were 2 big spots of rust in the indoor pool on Serenade). Even the free food court (near the pools) in the Disney Dream was much better. What I found most irritating the design of the beds, that for some reason are half arched toward their end, so if you are a tall person like myself ( 1.92 meters) , if you sleep with legs stretched, you ankles will be outside the bed. I was told it is the same in all RC ships, and it was not comfortable at all. The RC app is a very good idea - too bad it doesn't always work in the real world and needed many restarts during the day. We tried specialty drinks ( 1 coffee, 1 alcoholic and one mocktail) , the mocktail was good but the other terrible especially for the price of 12$ before 18% tip. Quality of food in main dining room - 7/10 Main dining room service 10/10 Quality of food in Windjammer (buffet) 7/10 Service at Windjammer 9/10 The specialty restaurants (extra charge) Chops Grille (American, Meat) Giovanni's Table (Italian) 10/10 If you get a discount, you should try these. The food is noticeably better than in the main dining hall. Breakfast in Windjammer - tends to be very very busy, and it takes some times to find a place to seat. Guest services staff 10/10 Service was terrific! All staff members tried to help and find solutions, smiling, positive. Service - We got Alemao and Dehiby as waiters in the main dining hall, and Ikomang as room attendant. They were all excellent 10/10 and we gave them an extra tip. Staterooms - very clean, but design feels outdated (and uncomfortable as mentioned) Entertainment - 8/10 Daytime Activities (Rock Climbing Wall, Mini Golf, Dance Classes, Pool Side Events, Contests, Enrichment Classes, Lectures,etc.) 7/10 Arcade - very small arcade, with around 20 machines. It was deserted when I visited it during rainy days, and it was July (many kids on board) General : * I wish they would state the names of the cruise piers in each destination in advance, as it might lead to confusion when you tour by yourself. * The cruise felt like it was best for the adult crowd, less for families with children. *Embarkation - Swift and easy. Leaving the ship on disembarkation was also a very fast process, while in Disney it took a long while. *Duty free or not, the shops on the ship changes the stock everyday, but the prices are pretty expensive. I saw there a Russian chocolate they sold for 7 Euros, found it was sold for 2 Euros in St.Petersburg. * The Itinerary is pretty good, since the cruise began and ended in Stockholm and that enabled us to visit the city for a total of 5 days. The stops in Tallinn, Visby and Helsinki were too short (last boarding time 15:30 to 17:00), but those city are much less to offer than Stockholm. St.Petersburg is a marvel - try to book a cruise that docks there at least 1 night (equals 2 days in the destination). Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
Chose this ship because it was going where we wanted to at the time we wanted to at a price that we wanted. Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly, except that we were given the impression that you had to check your luggage on ... Read More
Chose this ship because it was going where we wanted to at the time we wanted to at a price that we wanted. Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly, except that we were given the impression that you had to check your luggage on boarding but we saw people who carried their own luggage on, which I would have preferred to do since we only had carry-on bags. The first day onboard you must attend a safety drill, which was not done well, they had us standing inside a hall near a bar, it was hot and they had us standing for over a half hour without any information or instruction, when they finally did give us info it was very sparse and took about 5 minutes. Awful! Finding where you were to go for certain things such as safety drill, disembarking on a daily basis, etc were not clear, the announcements were not always loud or clear enough and there was no signage on the decks to direct you. The food was very good, I was impressed with the quality and choices in the buffet, though we had dinner in the main dining room every night except one. The main dining room was lovely, our waiter (Francis) and assistant (Michael) were very attentive and personable. I felt the entertainment was just okay, no high end shows, etc. The Duo ArtMotion, Moroshka, and Tap Factory shows were very good. The Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers, Serge Massot and Roger Wright left a lot to be desired. In general I found the ship clean and neat but "tired", in need of updating, refurbishing and maintenance. Loved all the ports, but didn't do any of the ships excursions. Did a local tour in St. Petersburg with TJ Travel which gave us a discount for being a Cruise Critic member which was wonderful. Otherwise we explored on our own in the other ports and was happy that we did. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
We chose this ship based on the fact that it had the ONLY embarkation point from Amsterdam. We were on the 12 night Baltic cruise and the ports were fine it was the ship that was awful! When we had the safety drill, the crew penciled ... Read More
We chose this ship based on the fact that it had the ONLY embarkation point from Amsterdam. We were on the 12 night Baltic cruise and the ports were fine it was the ship that was awful! When we had the safety drill, the crew penciled in who was in attendance (I know that they have electronic devices that can check in). The rooms, while quite beautiful in a 1940's way have no updated electronics. The TV's are all old and the 3 movies replay after 4 days. How many times can you watch "a dog's life?" The food was good although there was no variety in the menu. Day after day the same foods were offered in the main dining room as well as the Windjammer Buffet. The evening entertainment was not professional at all except for the 'special' entertainers that made a one day appearance. The bathrooms need to be updated as well as the electronics on board. All in all I would recommend the excursions but definitely NOT this ship! The enrichment class was only 40 mins & I got the feeling that everyone in attendance would have loved more. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
This cruise was the third leg of a 4-leg trip including a land trip across Austria and Switzerland, a river cruise on Avalon from Switzerland to Amsterdam, this Baltic cruise, and then 4 extra days in Amsterdam. All 4 legs were great, ... Read More
This cruise was the third leg of a 4-leg trip including a land trip across Austria and Switzerland, a river cruise on Avalon from Switzerland to Amsterdam, this Baltic cruise, and then 4 extra days in Amsterdam. All 4 legs were great, although admittedly we were a bit weary by the time we checked into for the Baltic Cruise in Amsterdam (which was about two blocks and a very short cab ride from the river cruise in Amsterdam, VERY convenient transfer!). The process checking in (we already had our sail passes) was VERY convenient and quick and could not have been better. The transition from river to ocean cruise was so easy and the terminal was so easy for this cruise! I booked this cruise to see bits of Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea area in a convenient way (just the highlights). Like all cruises, you only see so much in a port day (or two in the case of St Petersburg, Russia) but we felt like we saw and did many things even given the nature of cruises, and we were satisfied that we had a good sampling of Denmark, Estonia, St Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm and, including the extra 4 days we did separately, Amsterdam (all travelers should definitely spend extra time in Amsterdam before, after, or both if they take this cruise). All in all the itinerary was very good, and we actually enjoyed having the 4 sea days to relax, especially at the beginning and end of the cruise. I've cruised before, and have sometimes booked excursions in advance, before sailing, but this time I actually research everything and booked ALL the excursions in advance. I was very glad I did, and we ended up paying much less that way (and we didn't spend any time in lines at the excursion desk). I will probably do that at all times in the future (they can always be cancelled onboard as long as the cancellation period is met). We were satisfied with all the excursions and felt that we maximized our time in each port. They do seem expensive, but for the entire trip, for two people, with all the excursions we wanted, we spent about an extra $1000. Since the cruise itself was quite cheap (I booked early on a different site and got a good deal) it all worked out well. The biggest kudos to Royal Caribbean was the customer service. I have to say that EVERYONE was very helpful and friendly. We didn't ask for a lot, but when we did, everything we needed was taken care of quickly and well. The excellent customer service made up for a few things that were a little less than great. The food was good, overall, although I wouldn't say fabulous, and the choices were very helpful. We enjoy the late dining period (8:30) because we spend a lot of time at the gym and in the spa and don't like to rush for dinner. The show times forced us to see the show at 7 pm most of the time, but it still worked out. The food choices were better at the buffet a Windjammer but we don't like the crowds so we usually dined at the main dining or a specialty restaurant (we booked the 3-dinner package in advance). We personally choose room service for breakfast most days (the continental is free) but did enjoy the buffet for that on sea days. Our waters (Juwan and Anniket) were outstanding and we enjoyed our dinner partners we met and ate with on some nights. We thought the shows were terrific and offered talent and variety. We saw all but one of them and enjoyed them all. Keeping them less than an hour is perfect so we can see the show, eat dinner, and not have to rush or stay up too late. I love the gym and spent a lot of time on the treadmill (or walking the promenade decks) watching us sail. The main thing we spent money on (beyond the excursions) was the spa (3 massages each) and although the massages aren't "great" they were adequate. They are expensive but if you book in advance and/or book carefully to take care of "specials" for multiple massages the helps (and my medical insurance pays back $60 for each massage, so that helped too). We also buy the thermal suite all-cruise pass and we spent lots of time in the heated marble chairs, steam rooms and saunas. Very relaxing, if expensive. It also kept us away from the crowds. We were in a ocean view cabin just below the promenade deck (it was on deck 4) and it was perfect for us. Would love to have had a balcony but it wasn't worth the extra cost (especially in the Baltic Sea). The porthole window was quite large and I spent lots of time looking out (and didn't have to worry about closing curtains except in port). We found it to have adequate room and we were comfortable (we prefer the beds split to give more room). The bathroom was outdated and sometimes smelled bad, and this is clearly an older ship that is getting a bit worn, so that was a negative, but other than that all was fine. Our cabin steward (Nick) was great :) More on that in the cabin part. Overall we thought this cruise was a very good value for the money, but we do warn cruisers to research and plan carefully, and be judicious with your money while onboard. Unless you plan to drink or use the Internet all the time, avoid the all-cruise packages (they are very expensive). We drank some, but avoided most of the extra costs onboard (except the spa, which we admit we probably spent too much money on). If you're not careful you'll owe a fortune after 12 days on the ship. Just make sure you read and research, and think about what you really want and need. We would recommend this cruise to others, but book ahead for excursions and other extras if possible (but don't buy the expensive beverage and internet packages unless you really need them). Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose this cruise due to the locations and our previous experience of Royal Caribbean. Our embarkation was good only taking about 15 mins to check in, clear security and step aboard the ship. The ship has benefitted from some ... Read More
We chose this cruise due to the locations and our previous experience of Royal Caribbean. Our embarkation was good only taking about 15 mins to check in, clear security and step aboard the ship. The ship has benefitted from some recent refurbishment but areas are looking a little tired and in need of some minor maintenance. Dining was reasonably good with the quality in the Windjammer buffet of a decent standard although a little repetitive after a few days. The main dining room we used on Deck 3 was again of decent standard although the standard of service was a little mixed. The best waiter by a mile was Dody who I could not fault. We sampled most of the bars on the ship and found the R bar to be slightly quieter than the others. Christine was excellent offering quality cocktails and suggestions of drinks to try. The Promenade café was ok for coffee and snacks but finding a seat was a bit of a lottery as was seating in most of the bars. The entertainment was a huge disappointment with the quality of the performers poor apart from a few. The ships orchestra and ice dance troop however were very good. The only way to sum up the entertainment director was he was a complete waste of space. The ship in general was ok but I think it will find it hard to compete with the newer ships that are now on offer. The Captain was very good at putting people to sleep with his daily midday announcements. St Petersburg was a highlight and we used Alla Tours for our excursions for two days who were excellent and cheaper than the options the ship could offer. Overall we enjoyed our cruise but I think this was due to the fact we met some good friends whilst on board (thanks to them and the Key Lime Pie episode !!!!!!) Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We wanted a cruise with interesting destinations and the Baltic/Russia itinerary was perfect as the ports themselves were mostly significant and interesting which meant that there was no need to book an expensive tour. We visited all the ... Read More
We wanted a cruise with interesting destinations and the Baltic/Russia itinerary was perfect as the ports themselves were mostly significant and interesting which meant that there was no need to book an expensive tour. We visited all the major capital cities. The ship was a mind boggling experience for the first couple of days. The sheer size of it ( although today that would not be a large ship). Dining....The Sapphire dining rooms provided a very pleasant experience. We chose My Time Dining. The service from all staff was excellent.. Menu choices were varied and the quality superb most of the time although desserts could have been a little more imaginative and were not always tasty. Windjammer...again there was a mind numbing array of choice and all tasty. The views from all parts good and ample seating even when busy. There was never any queuing other than if you wanted something freshly prepared. We have a few criticisms...no fruit juices were available unless you had a drinks package, only squashes/cordials. There was not enough choice of healthy/vegetarian type dishes, interesting salads etc. Maybe instead of the unhealthy sweeteners offered, you could offer honey/ healthy sweeteners. The music on the piped system was terrible, intrusive, often loud and screechy, not at all suited to dining or the older ages of most of the clientele. We agreed with the head waiter that as he was unable to change the music he would turn it down, but we still had to complain when this was not done. Entertainment.....some of the evening shows were superb, some okay, the seating was excellent. As for the entertainment around the ship, Perry Grant was the best thing RC had, so entertaining, funny, original, he was a great success all round. Activities.... Daytime activities could be much improved. Often there were several things on at 10 am but obviously I could not do them all! Why oh why does the table tennis have to be on the outside deck? If you've never played it in the wind, here is your chance! Ridiculous. You cannot please everyone with daytime activities, but we felt there were too many simple, childlike attempts at quizzes, games etc and not enough exciting activities where one could learn something or see a demonstration, ice carving or something. All in all, they obviously cater for the 'masses' and not the more discerning traveller. Read Less
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