The Ultimate Baltic Cruise is a bucket list of ports for anyone wanting to sail in the Baltic.
4 out of 5
Embarkation was fine except that only people in wheelchairs needing assistance are considered for an accommodation. Those of us using a cane may need it to walk further, but standing is the most painful experience for us. If you see a grimice on a person with a cane standing like a flamingo, they are in pain. People complain about TSA, but they make an effort for all mobility challenged folks no matter what assistive devices we use.
Food and Dining
4 out of 5
I loved dining in the Garden Room. The staff made our casual dining experience enjoyable. Windows, the more formal dining room had a pianist playing, but my wife enjoyed a more environment. The buffet was adequate, but for diabetics, there were 4 to 6 choices of ice cream or desert none of which were for us. The ubiquitous pudding or mouse square. You can get a better desert in the regular dining rooms. Strangely not in specialty restaurants, so we skipped them.
3 out of 5
This is a small ship, with 14 ports and one sea day. No time to lounge by the pool this trip. Bingo is expensive, and payout is insignificant for most pots. The free cruise drawing on sea day was the only time we played. Music and dancing at night was fun, but the 7:15 am excursion will put a dent in your night life. Not into dancing, a game show or trivia contest is held several times a day for various interests.
5 out of 5
I enjoyed the shows in the theater. Elements was Brilliant!!! World beat featured the ships’ vocal and dance troupe. The singers also sang Broadway tunes to a standing room crowd in the Galaxy lounge. The Knights also filled both their performances with fans of English musicians who have been knighted. The juggler was the lone comedian. Sorry no adult show at midnight. The acrobats are always amazing.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
Crew was friendly and helpful. Photo staff worked with us to make fun memories. Servers made an effort to be personal and tried to make things right if something seemed disappointing. The staff in the buffet area worked diligently to clear tables so you can enjoy the buffet.
4 out of 5
Yes the Spirit is small, and older. It is well maintained and we found it to be very clean despite. It could use some refreshment, but I still enjoy smaller older ships as they are more manageable to maneuver, don’t have all the glitzy add-ons that some of us won’t use, and provide more value for the cruising budget.
Cabin / Stateroom
4 out of 5
Canine was on lowest deck, but so convenient when arriving at ports are returning to ship. Port hole was small, cabin and bath were adequate. Could have used two small night stands instead of the larger one on my wife’s side. I put a towel on one piece of luggage and kept it by my bedside as a night stand.
If you have a large number of ports, or have motion sickness, Deck 4 and 5 offer a good location midship. Worried about health, Health Center is close to cabins on deck 4.
We took an excursion that took you two two churches, the one midway offered a shirt organ recital. The feature here is the organ. While you face toward the alter, look back at the angels in the organ holding horns. They move with the music. St. Mary’s was the other church. It’s in Gdansk. The main thing my wife wanted was a special piece of Polish amber. We shopped and found a piece that will always remind her of her Baltic cruise to where her grandparents were born. Time was short so we didn’t have time to enjoy a break at a cafe before returning to the ship.
We had an evening walking tour excursion. So during the day we wandered into town from the port. We docked next to a shopping and ding complex. Toured the town, visited the old church. Had lunch at an outdoor cafe on a shopping street and enjoyed the day. After some Advil and dinner we were ready for the evening walking tour. Now we were able to learn about what was seen by day, and how it looked at night with all the lights on. The stumbling stone left in front of a home where Jewish residents were taken to their deaths left an impression with my wife. The artist has placed these stumbling stones through Europe to remind us of our past. The ice bar is touristy, but something different.
Riga’s old town is a short stroll from where the ship docked. We walked to the right, under the overpass and along the waterway until we reached the first light to cross the street. Walking past the blue church we turned right and walked into the plaza with the old Cathedral. We toured the Cathedral and kept walking down the street that led us to the Cathedral Plaza. The next big plaza is further to the right and has an open market. Wandered around and found the tower that was struck by canon balls. Around is a great inexpensive outdoor cafe. Further down the street is a linen outlet.
This port was not covered in my cruise port books. We took a shuttle from the cruise port into town. There we whispered into the bronze mouses’ ear and wandered around town. We found a park and a flea market. There was also a small market square and some vendors. By the shuttle stop there is an amber museum. Its showroom includes some nice nice pieces and only place I found bright cherry red amber.
Who knew that our transport from Southampton to Heathrow Airport would turn into a guided tour of sights along the way. Our driver was part tour guide and part comedian. We even got a glimpse of Ascot, the race track. Blessed are retired soldiers who enjoy serving rather than vegging in front of the television.
We took the excursion to Rowan, five hours. The only problem was that it was a three hour round trip tour and that left two hours for a tour of the city and free time to explore. Just not a good balance between travel time and tour ad free-time. We had so much time that we purchased a shuttle ticket into LeHave and toured both its modern and old church. The park in front of its grand hotel has a wonderful fountain.
Bruce is a wonderful place to spend a day. Took the Romantic Bruge excursion. The guide was great, but she was trying to pace herself for the canal ride. She pointed out the chocolate ally that held the entrance to the town’s bath. In the Alley you will find the only shop that sold no added sugar chocolate for diabetics. They even gave you choices. Definitely a taste of Bruge, leaving a desire to return again.
Took the Amsterdam on your own excursion as it provided the most time to discover the city. We were dropped off by the Central Station. Walk around or through the station. On the other side is a canal with shops on your right. Straight ahead along the canal there are several canal tours. This may be the highlight of your day if the line at Anne Frank’s house is too long. Wander to you heart’s content. We shopped and had lunch at a little sidewalk cafe around the corner from the old church which is now a museum. I ha an open face sandwich and cider.
We docked at a cruise port further way from town so we tried the hop on hop off buses at the port. There was a free for all among cruisers and it was not pretty. Waited for another bus and took the tour of the city. We transferred to a waiting bus by the Little Mermaid Park. We left her for later in the day. We hopped off after we decided to walk through Tivoli Gardens. You can choose to pay for entrance just to wander like you could at Disney before everything was included. Visited the LEGO store. Never got to actually see the little mermaid.
The walking excursion we discussed taking in Rostock sold out way before the cruise. So we played it by ear. The ship docked at the port closer to town and offered a shuttle into town. It was Sunday and ALL the stores were closed. We toured the old Church and wandered around the plaza. After lunch at an outdoor cafe. We decided on a trip to the zoo. The tourist information office sold us tram tickets and we took the tram to the zoo. It’s a very big zoo and we made the most of our time with the animals. It was a pleasant day.
One of our favorite ports. You can take a stroll to the lovely old town. There is an open market in the town square and some nice amber shops. Plenty of places to grab a bite to eat or have a drink. I tried the Blood sausage and sauerkraut at an outdoor cafe.
You need an excursion or private tour to avoid an expensive visa requirement. You can shop at two stores on the dock without going through passport/tour inspection. There are a few stores in the cruise port. Tour guides are responsible to get you back to the ship, ours frequently when one man disappeared at the very crowded Hermitage museum. He waited for use at the bottom of the stairs on the way out. Lose a passport and you have to get to Moscow. The private imperial churches are rather beautiful.
Loved walking in the old town. Arrived early because you don’t want to arrive on the day you sail.
5 out of 5
We hAve luggage with spinner wheels and will self disembark as soon as we are cleared. No wait, no fuss, no flamingo leg or pain. Off the ship and on our way to the airport in no time. Just remember to get a cup of coffee before hand to avoid the dreaded caffeine withdrawal headache.
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