I am planning a Baltic Cruise in August and my agent has given me four alternatives - All ships have mixed reviews.
Azamara Journey - free upgrade, he says 5 star ship and only 680 passengers and seems this is a bonus at Baltic ports - has 3 days St Petersburg, 2 days Stockholm, less sea days than others but 2 days Warremunde ( Berlin) which I have no real interest in, extra 4 hrs in Tallin. Deps Copenhagen/ Returns Copenhagen
Negatives read - Small cabins, food average, hard sell on board and pay for things that you woul dexpect included re food/beverages
MS Prisendam - Same duration as Azamara. Oceanview same cost as Balcony on Azamara, Stops at Oslo which I'd like to see - is Oslo good to see? Not overly interested in Kiel/Warremunde. Also a smaller ship.Deps Amsterdam/Returns Greenwich
MS Eurodam - Shorter cruise,bigger ship, 4 sea days,Depts/returns Amsterdam
Celebrity Constellation - Amsterdam to Amsterdam; Shorter time in Tallin, Stockholm. Stays at Warremunde for Berlin only 1 day.
Negatives were food, ship layout
This would be our second cruise only and I plan to do HAL Magic of Med in May 2011. Previous cruise was on Oosterdam to Alaska in 2006 and we enjoyed that.
I would appreciate some advice on the cruise options as I have only experienced HAL and thought I'd go again with them but I want to be open to other cruise lines if they are better. Through various forums and sites it is great to get feedback from experienced cruisers
At the moment I am leaning to the Prisendam over Azamara.
Thanks in Advance
Boy... I could write an epic on thsi post.
I say Azamara is the best, You will want three days it St Petersburg, the more time you have there the more you see. Prinsendam is a nice ship, but older. You will appreciate having the balcony and the food will be better on Azamara.
Seeing St. Petersburg; Cruise Ship Ports and Cruising Regions
Read this article about seeing St Petes. There is SO much to see there.
Also, do not discount Warnemunde. The trip to Berlin is worth it but if you dont want to go the seaside town there is a very friendly seaside (a large nude beach) town which is the main seaport for Berliners.
The trains run between Berlin and Warnemunde almost hourly so you can do Berlin on your own.
You are going all that way - don't get on a ship with a lot of sea days - you want to see Europe, not the ship. Also, don't believe the thing about nickel & diming on Azamara. The small ship makes it more convenient and dining in the regular dining room is good food. You are there to see Europe, Azamara gives you good food and comfortable rooms - the rest is about touring.
Oslo - believe me, by the time you have seen the other Skand. ports Oslo will look mush like the rest of them. There is a distinct sameness to Oslo, Helsinki, Copenhagen, etc in terms of architecture etc.
Gdansk is a great place to visit.
Please do a search in CruiseMates for all aricle about cruising the Baltic - we have many.
The Eurodam is the best ship in the HAL fleet, IMO. But I wouldn't want a shorter cruise.
I actually did this cruise on the Constellation. It's a very large and elegant ship, but Celebrity really screwed up by putting the galley on a different level. Dinner takes FOREVER!!! The food was good, though. It's about the same level as the food on HAL.
The length of dinner service is the only negative I could name. Other than that, the cruise was A+. Well, one other consideration -- it's like 1000 feet long, so you do have to walk quite a bit. That's actually a plus for me. Our cabin was huge and very well laid out.
Really, there are people who like larger ships because you get more in the way of facilities, bigger shows, a wider selection of people to meet, etc. And there are people who like smaller ships because they are quieter, you don't have to walk as much, you get to know the other passengers better. The only time I haven't made some great friends on a cruise was on a small ship, though.
I'd never heard of Warnemunde (really Rostock, Warnemunde is just a docking facility) either, but this is a fantastic stop. Go into Rostock and take the train to Schwerinn (yes I realize you've never heard of it). This was the home of one of the seven Electors of the Holy Roman Empire. It is not only one of the most charming little towns you could ever want to see, but also, the castle is magnificent and it isn't totally overrun with tourists.
I've never seen Berlin but if I had 2 days in Warnemunde, I would get a private tour service and spend a day there. For one day, it would just be too much land travel for my taste.
Extra time in Tallinn is a big plus. Extra time in St. Petersburg is also a big plus. Again, in St. Pete, do not under any circumstances use a cruiseline excursion. You can rent a car, driver, and guide with another couple for half the price. I used Red October and it was fantastic -- the guide was a professor at the University -- she spoke flawless English and knew EVERYTHING about St. Petersburg. We had absolute freedom to go anywhere we wanted to go, for as long as we wanted. And they take care of all visa requirements for you.
Oslo is a beautiful city and well worth a day. Everyone speaks great English, it's amazing. I will say, we did not make a single stop that I didn't love, except we were so tired we only went into Helsinki for an hour or two.
Don't be prejudiced against any Baltic stop. If you can get to Gdansk, it is also fantastic.
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