The cruise was chosen because of the itinerary. This was our third Holland America Cruise.
It was a Baltic Sea cruise with an itinerary that included 9-10 ports in 7 countries in 14 days.
We didn't believe the food in the Pinnacle Grill (with an upcharge of $39 per person) was any better than the food in the main dining room (where there was generally a better selection, too). The entertainment in the main show room was okay, some evenings better than other. None of it was spectacular. The comedian was fresh and funny. Entertainment at the piano bar was okay. The pianist had a good repertoire and played well, but didn't have a voice to match. I have more comments in the cabin review. Ports seemed to be well chosen and excursions were generally good. We had an issue in St. Petersburg, Russia, where arrangements to visit the Hermitage were not well handled. After waiting for an hour to gain entrance, and about time for the museum to close, the tour operator rushed us through a single exhibit (spent maybe 20 minutes) rather than canceling and refunding. Traffic conditions that day were atrocious, and we were delivered back to the ship an hour after it should have sailed. Fortunately, since the excursion was sold by the cruise line, the ship waited for us. We all received an apology from HAL and a 25% rebate on the cost of the excursion.
We took an optional excursion via bullet train to Moscow from St. Petersburg (offered by HAL), and believe it was an exceptional experience that anyone with an opportunity should try. Spent a day in Red Square and the Kremlin. The ride was itself a neat experience. The only poor experience we had on any other excursion was a weather-related disaster in Arhus, Denmark, where we thought it would be neat to attend a July 4 celebration. The weather that day was cold and wet and windy. Since most will not have an opportunity to be in Arhus, Denmark, on July 4, it is not likely that this note will matter to many of who read it. We returned to Denmark about a week later (Copenhagen), and the weather and the excursion (mostly in Tivoli Gardens) was wonderful. We thought the best part of the time in Stockholm was actually on the ship as we sailed past great vistas of large and small islands, some with a single home, some with several, some with none.
Where there was a home, there was a boat that was necessary to get off the island.
We spent a some time in the old town of Talinn in Estonia. Old town means really old. There is a pharmacy that is and claims to have been in business since 1492. Yes, 1492.
These are some of the highlights. With as many as two excursions each day and 10 ports, it is impossible to review all of them, but I will be happy to answer any questions directed my way.
Large suite, plenty of room and closet space. But, bathtub leaked on two occasions, jetted tub failed to operate on one occasion, room safe shorted out and we couldn't open on one occasion. All of these issues were promptly addressed and repaired, and an apologetic note with a bottle of wine followed each. Of our many cruises, this is the first time we've experienced issues with a cabin. Since each issue was quickly resolved, I would call them "annoyances" rather than major problems. The cabin stewards were very pleasant and accommodated all of our requests, but we had a few "annoyances" there, too. They periodically forgot to refill ice buckets. They periodically failed to renew coffee products. They periodically failed to replace used glasses, leaving none or only one a few times. Each time we mentioned an issue, it was quickly and satisfactorily handled. Again, it is the first time we have experienced these kind of annoyances. This was our third Holland America cruise, but we have been on many others. We chose this cruise because the timing and itinerary was what we wanted, not necessarily because of the cruise line or the ship. We have had extended (21-day) cruises on both the Nieuw Amsterdam and the Volendam, and had no problems on either. Food in the main restaurant was good (not great) and at least as good as that in the Pinnacle, where we ate on four occasions. We canceled our last reservation in the Pinnacle. The itinerary was everything we hoped, and the excursions were as expected. No issues there. Entertainment in the main show room was mediocre. Piano bar entertainer was good on the piano and put on a good show, but wasn't much of a vocalist. There were other entertainment venues on the ship, and they get good marks from me. Overall, the cruise gets a good review - despite the annoyances - but we have never been on a cruise that required as many calls to the desk for assistance.
Long walk, raining, wind 40+ mph, temperature about 50 Fahrenheit. Stayed only a few minutes, then walked back to a cafe to wait out the time remaining. Not the fault of the cruise line or tour operator, but not a good experience.
Very interesting. Many points of interest, including a pharmacy that claims to have been in business since opening in 1492.
Excursion offered - bullet train to Moscow and Red Square and Kremlin tour. 4 hours by train each way. First Class accommodation on train. Very interesting experience touring the Kremlin. Total excursion about 18 hours. Also, on second day a city tour with a trip to the Hermitage. Traffic horrible. Most of the time was spent on the tour bus. 2 hours at the Hermitage, most of that waiting to get in. Back to the ship an hour after ship was to have sailed. Departure of ship delayed because of the tour bus delay. Grateful that we had booked through the cruise line, or ship would have sailed without us.View All 378 City Tour Reviews
With only an hour to spend in the museum, got only a glimpse of one of the exhibits -- Impressionist and post-impressionist period French artists. Traffic issues and failure to deliver line-skipping promises cost at least couple of hours, which still would not have been enough.View All 377 Hermitage Museum Reviews
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Not much to offer in Helsinki. We jumped off the tour in Market Square and spent the afternoon there. That made for a pleasant afternoon.
Ice Bar - unusual experience. Glad we did it. Probably wouldn't do it again. Simply novel. Views of the archepelgo, though not part of any tour or excursion, were spectacular.View All 28 Ice Bar Reviews
Great deal of walking on cobblestone streets. Interesting history lesson. Best part of Stockholm visit was looking at the many little islands for a couple of hours as the ship sailed out of Stockholm.View All 54 Stockholm Old Town Tour Reviews
Not to be missed. Open since 1853, said to be the inspiration for Disneyland.
Lunch in the area. Ski jump is spectacular and worth a visit.
Beautiful park -- at least in the summer -- very colorful. Statues representing the circle of life are well worth the visit. One of the most picturesque excursions.View All 40 Vigeland Sculpture Park Reviews
Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin Wall, included river cruise and Berlin history as seen from the river, much more. And the best meal (lunch served family style) of any, on or off the ship.View All 100 Berlin Reviews