Starting with the bad which was not much: $30 per day for Wifi? Elevators that would pass by empty going the direction you wanted to go! Awfully loud if you were trying to watch things going on in the atrium from above.
Ugly was smoking in the casino and the pool deck.
Good was the way everyone on the staff was friendly, helpful, and kind. Excellent training by the company. Food in specialty restaurants was excellent. Food at the Windjammer buffet was good. We are not real fussy but it appeared to me that there were enough different styles from different cultures that even the most discriminatory palates should be relatively happy.
The ship itself was nice but everything looked a little worn. Last cruise - and my only other cruise on Royal Caribbean - either the ship was newer or better maintained than this one or I am noticing more things about cruise ships. Not bad enough to complain about but a noticeable difference in quality. The destination is always the important part, the other stuff is not really important if everything goes well. And it did on this trip. I would recommend it to anyone. Full of surprises. Fun surprises. Learned a lot. Had a lot of fun.
United Vacations who we booked thru was terrible, didn't get promised on board credits, we booked 3 rooms and were promised they would be together not true. They never returned calls or e-mails, made booking terrible.
The things that stand out are the good experiences on the excrusions - very knowledgeable guides and breathtakingly beautiful scenery. Everyone on the excursions was super nice, helpful and knowledgeable. that made the trip worthwhile. We were very happy with the cabin - it was very comfortable for 2 people and well kept up by our care taker. What we were not as happy with was the buffet which had limited hours, unfriendly staff, very average food, and worst of all - not enough seating on on days at sea and on top of that, the restaurants would close at 9am for breakfast - if the sit down breakfast could have stayed open until 11am that would have helped to take off some of the load on the buffet. It was a MAD HOUSE trying to get any food or a seat....VERY bad experience. If it weren't for the problems with the buffet, I would have given this cruise a higher rating.
We cruised the Baltic 15 years ago and enjoyed the entire experience but especially we loved St. Petersburg. We wanted to see and compare the changes since our last visit (on a different line.) We were impressed with RCI and the quality of the cruise experience. The ports have changed (different locations and better dock facilities) and the cities are better prepared for visitors. There were 4 ports that we did not visit our first time around and they were a delight. St. Petersburg is wonderful and the fact that we had 3 days in port was a deciding factor. The Baltic was our second cruise and also our twenty-third cruise.
Excellent ship and crew. A few of the port excursions were poorly planed and the WIFI ($30.00 per day) did not or hardly worked. The food and service were excellent. I learned portion control on the cruise and with no bread or lunch, I lost three pounds. We are planning another RC cruise for next year.
The food on the ship isn't that good, and almost all the shows we went to were terrible, with the exception of two. This is also the first time we've been on a ship that didn't have karaoke. On a brighter note, the service on this ship is very very good, and we were pleased with the friendly and attentive dining room staff.
If you want a snapshot of the Baltic this is the cruise to take. The ship was very comfortable and our cabin near the Centrum deck 9 was very quiet. Centrum entertainment was very good and half of the Showroom presentations were of high quality while the rest was just OK.
The food and variety was very good, especially lunches in the Windjammer. Unfortunately Windjammer experiences can be poor as there is not enough seating or staff to continuously clear tables. We only had dinner there once after a long excursion to Berlin; however this was a terrible ordeal because many excursion returned to the ship late forcing most people to the Windjammer and not the Dining Room. My Time dining in the Reflections dining room was very good. Reasonable variety and very good service.
The quality of the excursion guide often dictated the quality of the excursion. If your guide had a clear loud voice or provided headsets and receivers. This should be a requirement for all excursions! Since Royal Caribbean provides little information on the excursions or the ports you really have to do your homework to decide an itinerary.
We have used the excursions offered by United Cruises and found then to be of high quality and good value. Groups are smaller and they are offered at lower prices. Since we tend to be risk averse we only use them when the ship is not leaving port. With the higher priced ship excursion you are guaranteed that the shop won't leave with out you.
We chose this specific sailing primarily because of the three-day stay in St. Petersburg, which allowed us to take the full-day excursion to Moscow and still have two days in the port city. Royal Caribbean is not our preferred cruise line, but the ports-of-call, coupled with our pre- and post- hotel stays in Stockholm and Copenhagen (respectively), made this an ideal itinerary to see Scandinavia, the Baltic States, and Russia (day trip to Berlin from Warnemunde was a plus, but be aware that more hours are spent traveling to/from Berlin than in the city itself).
NOTE: U.S. citizens do not need a visa to visit Russia if traveling via cruise ship in port for less than 72 hours. You can only leave the ship without a visa, however, if you are taking an escorted tour (including a day trip to Moscow) booked through RC or a local tour provider.
very poor communication procedures with customer service and headquarter financial polices
department causing unnecessary stress for customers... at the end things were fine. Training the staff is poor and left to each individual to make up for corporate polices to save money on that, which is not fare to customers and employees. I felt than Wall Street is running the company and cuts were on everything including on the quality of shows, too!
The ports were awesome. I used an outside tour company and was very pleased with the small tours with the maximum of 12 people, rather than the large buses used by the tour company. The ship was very easy to navigate. In Berlin and one day in St. Petersburg the line to get back on to the ship was taking a half an hour.
get the Thermal Suite package on the first day! it averages out to about $14/day per person which is absolutely worth it. Also, we really enjoyed the Evening Stretch class provided in the gym which was free & as challenging or as relaxing as you choose to participate.
Remember it's YOUR vacation, just because the ship is at port doesn't me you HAVE TO get off the boat. Do what works for you, if your 'my time' dining doesn't work, then change it. If service is bad, SAY SOMETHING to a manager. And if someone is great, recognise them. :)
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