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1st time cruiser: Baltic or Mediterranean cruise?

1st time cruiser: Baltic or Mediterranean cruise?

Jul 29th, 2004, 05:03 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,220
1st time cruiser: Baltic or Mediterranean cruise?

We'd like to try our first cruise and can't decide which area to do. I don't want more than 10 days (in case we find that we really don't enjoy it). Both HAL and Radisson (the 2 I've narrowed it down to) have interesting-sounding 10 day cruises to both those areas. Is one less likely to cause sea-sickness? I'm hoping that some of you may have done both and can tell me which you think is the more interesting water to sail on; and which ports are more interesting. I know, of course, that subjectivity comes into play here, but it may help me to hear some feedback. Thanks!
poss is offline  
Jul 30th, 2004, 06:31 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 890
Both itineraries are great! I've cruised on HAL in the Baltics and Radisson in the Med. Although both are great, I'd opt for Radisson in the Med...you will NOT be disappointed! Radisson is a far superior product and overal experience. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to email me at [email protected]

You're in for a real treat!
petlover is offline  
Jul 30th, 2004, 08:05 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
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I have taken both cruises with Raddison. I would definitely select it over HAL. I would opt for the Baltic. While the Med. is lovely, after a few days many of the ports start to look the same. On the Baltic, each port has its own, unique look. Also, I don't know if your Med. cruise goes to Turkey, but sometimes, if there a a "situation" in the Middle East, there will be a port change during the cruise to avoid that area. Then the cruise isn't the exact one you signed up for. Also, there is much more of a variety of sights and onshore excursions in the Baltic. St. Petersburg was fantastic!
ready_set_travel is offline  
Jul 30th, 2004, 08:55 AM
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ready-set-travel-- Thanks for responding. Is Warnemunde interesting enough to spend an entire long day there? I have no interest in going to Berlin (was in west Berlin some years ago, and am not really interested in more Berlin-- but I am interested in the other ports.) can't decide abt HAL and Seven Seas Voyager, since the latter (Rad) costs the same for a 7 day tour as HAL costs for 10. There's no question in my mind that Radisson is better-- I just don't know how much better. And maybe HaL will be ok for a first cruise.
poss is offline  
Jul 30th, 2004, 01:46 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 42
Although I haven't been to Baltics I have been to the Mediterranean on the Voyager and it was awesome. This is the nicest ship I've been on out of about 12. Every cabin is large, walk in closets, large bathrooms and they all have a balcony. To me, this would be an easy choice. Even if one is 7 days and one is 10 days, go with the Voyager. Remember, Holland America charges $ for all the little things that Radisson gives you for free so it may not be the savings you'd think. You'll even have an insuite bar set up with your choice of liquor, free soft drinks, water, juice. If you have your heart set on the Baltics, this shouldn't be a problem because the Voyager goes there too.

I've also been to the Med on other ships but nothing compared to the Voyager.
jillllybeans is offline  
Jul 31st, 2004, 12:14 PM
Join Date: Jul 2004
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Both are great. Everyone is right that Radisson is far superior. As Jilllybean said, by the time you add water, wine with dinner, taxi to downtown(Radisson runs free shuttle to town while HAL does not), etc., the cost of HAL and Radisson won't be much different. It would be a much more pleasant experience with less people. That said, for the first cruise, Med might be better. It's warmer so more chance of lounging by the pool. The right way to visit Istanbul is from the sea. The impression is totally different from coming in by air. Ephusis is breath taking. I enjoyed Baltic also. If you are going to St. Petersburg, splurg and take a private tour. It's worth every penny. In fact it's true of most ports. Being your first cruise, if HAL, be sure to take a balconey room.
simonv is offline  
Jul 31st, 2004, 05:35 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 270
I've been on both on Radisson, which is a truly great cruise line (did alaska on HAL, and hated it). As between Med and Baltics, you can't make a mistake here--both are great itineraries. I preferred the Mediterranean cruise but only by a hair. If seasickness is a concern, we did experience rougher waters in the Mediterranean than the Baltics, but it wasn't awful by any means. Flip a coin and go--you can't go wrong.
crys is offline  
Jul 31st, 2004, 08:16 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 196
I did my first cruise with Crystal (Panama) and then my next with Orient (around the Horn). Crystal is generally considered much better (crew to passenger ratio, age of ship, food, entertainment etc.). I must adsmit that I felt very pampered aboard Crystal. Orient seemed more of an adventure but the itinary was very different too. HAL is about midway between the two IMO. I just took HAL wertern Med. I was on RCCL for Baltic. Both itinaries are so special that I'd like to go back to both. I've been on Celebrity 3 times, NZ, Alaska, Carib. Each ship was different, each group of passengers unique, each crew interesting. But every crew I've encountered on every cruise has been professionally polite, helpful, friendly and carried out their duties as promptly and carefully as I could want. And when they've had time, they've gone the extra mile. So I can't advise which ship or which itinary .

I HAVE A STRONG RESERVATION THOUGH. HAL has a very troublesome gratuity policy, newly implemented In May, 2004. I have informed HAL and my TA that I never want to travel with HAL or any other cruise line that enforces pooling of tips among crew. I didn't notice any lack of service on my May trip, but I am now reading (on cruisecritic) that other passengers have found service standards slipping, crew indifferent, less helpful. I worry that when incentive to work for tips isn't rewarded because tips must be shared by "behind the scenes" staff (to quote HAL's own information) morale would go down. Plus, I think it is the responsibility of the employer to recognize good service of cooks, etc. by raising wages instead of expecting their waiters and cabin stewards to take a cut in their tips. If that means raising fares of passengers, then HAL can compete with other lines by providing better services.
Hope this is helpful. I know how excited/worried I was before my first cruise. I was hooked on cruising immediately and hope you are too.
everittp is offline  
Aug 1st, 2004, 03:21 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 261
I just want to touch on the last reponse. I was told once that ALL ships/lines pool their tips. This was around the time some ships began automatically putting them on your sail card, which made some say that it didn't really matter because tips were always pooled anyway.
I'd really like to know if that is the case or not. I always thought they went right to..and only to, the person we handed it to. Just curious.
esd is offline  
Aug 1st, 2004, 05:59 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 196
esd On Celebrity passengers have the option of charging tips to their onboard account but the amount and recipient are directed by the passenger. You get an invoice that you fill out. This means you don't have to carry and keep back cash to pit in envelopes, or go to the money changers on ship which charge big service charges. I use that method on Celebrity. But since May, 2004, HAL clearly states in a leaflet titled "you need to know" that $10.00 pp per day will be charged to your ship board account. When severely pressed by a large number (I was present in the entertainment lounge that was filled and at other times on that cruise) Noordam cruise staff finally on the last day announced that the breakdown was $4.00 to wait staff, $3.00 to cabin staff and $3.00 to be shared among the "behind the scenes staff which included the cooks, the laundry staff, and other housecleaning staff that worked through the night to keep the ship clean." The leaflet "you need to know" cautions that if passengers remove or reduce the amount charged to onboard account, the cabin staff ARE REQUIRED TO TURN IN ANY TIPS RECEIVED DIRECTLY FROM GUESTS.
On that cruise, I was able to question some staff discretely. I chose to sit beside the Noordam staff sent to accompany the various land tours. They spoke English well. And they verified that tips revenue was down, morale was hurting, crew felt coerced into signing the new contract. HAL cabin and wait staff work 11 month tours. Since May, I was told, 1/12 of their fare home was being kept back from their pooled shares to pay for their fares home. That also was new. Before May, the incentive to work a full tour was the "gift" of a fare home.
HAL is not registered in the USA so do not have to follow USA minimum wage laws. Wait and cabin staff get between $50 and $100.00 a month plus room and board plus medical care WHILE ON BOARD. WE all know that their main salary comes from tips. That's what they agree to, but now many more people are getting tips. Why? When I worked waiting tables, I never was expected to share my tips with the "highly paid kitchen staff" as HAL now expects. Shades of Lenin!
everittp is offline  
Aug 1st, 2004, 06:46 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 228
poss, I'd opt for the Voyager in the Med, better weather and better for a first time cruise. Save the Baltics for a later cruise.
Also, all Radisson gratuities are included so no reason to stress over whom or how much to tip. Lines like HAL and Princess are nice but certainly not in the same league as Radisson. I don't know your age but the average age will be lower on Radisson than HAL, also the average age in the Med will probably be lower than in the Baltics.
newyorkgolfer41 is offline  

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