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Trip Report: Baltic Cruise on the Rotterdam, 6/22/06

Trip Report: Baltic Cruise on the Rotterdam, 6/22/06

Jul 5th, 2006, 09:48 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 346
Trip Report: Baltic Cruise on the Rotterdam, 6/22/06

General info about me…this was my 31st cruise (third on HAL). My prior cruises are split between Cunard, Crystal, Princess (8+ each) with the balance to Celebrity, Royal Caribbean & NCL. I’m a solo traveler.

Air Arrangements: Since this itinerary left from Copenhagen & returned to Rotterdam, I used HALs air arrangements. My flight to Copenhagen was on Iceland Air (from NY), so had one connection. The flight home was from Amsterdam and was direct on KLM. Interestingly, all flights were full and HAL had booked me middle seats, which I was unable to change. Not great. Many people on the cruise were extremely unhappy with their HAL air arrangements since they involved bizarre routings and multiple connections (3 or 4).

Embarkation/Disembarkation: Very efficient. In fact, my group was the second called to disembark the ship (at 7:35 am), the luggage was very organized and I was on the bus to the airport by 7:45 and the bus left at 8:00. Because it was rush hour, the drive to Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport took 1.5 hours, but it was a nice drive through cattle and flower fields.

Cabin: I had booked an interior 1933 (category NN, the lowest level). Upon arrival, I noticed ladders, removed ceiling tiles and multiple workmen in the area adjacent to my cabin. Since the ship wasn’t full, I asked the front desk if I could be moved to a different cabin within the same category. They changed me to 1805 which was great. It’s a handicapped cabin, so the configuration is slightly different (the beds couldn’t be moved together) & there was no sofa, but it was large and I had two portholes. I was quite happy with the new cabin.

Ship: I like the Rotterdam specifically because it is decorated in a more traditional style – lots of dark woods in the public areas, with brass accents (versus neon & chrome like some other ships). In general, it was well maintained, although the upholstered chairs in the Ocean Bar were shabby & in need of re-upholstering (or a thorough cleaning). Crow’s Nest is a great spot to read. Best of all, the non-stop background music was turned OFF on the Lido aft decks on sea decks – how refreshing to hear only the water and the wind!! This is a great idea and one that I wish all ships embraced!

Activities: I play the team trivia on all cruises, and there was a daily session (whether in port or at sea) at 3:30; 4 or 5 nights also offered an evening trivia; and there was one 10:30 am trivia. Won a variety of “dam” stuff, but it’s a great way to meet people. Several “Name that Tune” evenings in the piano bar. There were a few lectures and a multitude of sporting events (volleyball, putting, etc.) that I didn’t participate in.

Ports/Excursions: Since was a Baltic cruise, we had ports 8 days. I never book cruise excursions since they’re costly and I like being in control of my own destiny. I research each port beforehand and come up with a list of 3 or 4 things to do. This way, I can move at my own speed, stop where I want to stop and eat/shop when I choose. The only port where I used ship excursions was St. Petersburg, due to the difficulty of getting an independent visa. Some people did 3 excursions a day (including an evening event) but I did two: Church of the Spilled Blood & Russian Museum and Murder on the Moika. The guides on both were great – fluent in English and able to provide more than ample information. I wouldn’t have gotten nearly as much out of these excursions if I had done them independently, so St. Petersburg is definitely a good place to utilize the ship’s tours. The port lecturer, Frank, was exceptional. Very informative, heavy on the background/culture /history/politics and light on the shopping (fine with me!)

Dining: I ate in the upper level of the dining room, which I like much better than the lower level (it’s a slightly earlier seating, 8:00 pm vs. 8:30 pm). Plus, it’s not as large so seems more like a restaurant than a banquet hall. I was impressed with the food in the dining room and thought it was much better than the QM2 (or other HAL ships). The menu had a nice variety and plenty of choices; food was well prepared, flavorful; portions were appropriate; well-presented (lots of artistic touches); and requests for special items were accommodated cheerfully. Breakfast in the buffet (Lido) was fine – typical selection of rolls, pastries, cheese, eggs, waffles, cereals, fruit, etc. Lunch in the Lido was only so-so; menu was limited (as compared to the dinner menu); sandwich bar was very basic (and they kept running out of wraps and potato chips); salad bar was nice though. The grill (next to the pool) was OK, but the burgers weren’t charcoal grilled, so didn’t really appeal to me. BUT, the taco bar was a favorite, along with the pizza. Three days, the taco bar was replaced with a curry bar, a Mongolian bar and an Indonesian risjafffetl bar – all tasty and something out of the ordinary. In general, I don’t go on cruises for gourmet food so I’m not terribly critical; however, I thought the food on this ship was unusually good.

Entertainment: Maybe I’m not a good judge, living near New York, but I thought the entertainment was poor. There’s just no other way to say it except that the3 traditional shows (a la Vegas) were bad. Singers & dancers were enthusiastic but sub-standard (dancers didn’t know the steps – one or two were always a step or two behind the others); voices were shrill; the sets were nonexistent; costumes were lame; and the concepts were outdated…the Broadway show, the Vegas/Monaco show, etc. The magician, comedian and quick-change artists….it’s difficult to get acts that will appeal to diverse tastes, so I heard comments from many people that they walked out of these shows, but there were some who enjoyed them. The flutist, the pianist and the female vocalist seemed to appeal to the broadest spectrum.

Overall… I enjoyed this cruise very much (which could be due partially to the great ports and great weather!) and am planning on sailing on the Rotterdam within a year. It’s an attractive ship, well run, good food and a nice cross-section of passengers.
vickiebypass is offline  
Jul 5th, 2006, 10:28 AM
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What was the itinerary? We're looking for a cruise to Russia for next year but we'd like to see St. Petersburg & Moscow.

Please advise. Thank you.
Jul 5th, 2006, 01:14 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 346
We left from Copenhagen and went to:

Tallinn, Estonia: medieval portion; streets were cobble-stoned - not the flat, rectangular stones, but knobbly, rounded stones; churches galore; occupation museum; tours in the country through forests. Interesting but wouldn't go back.

St. Petersburg: 2 days; ship tours were the best solution since visas were taken care of and guides were good. All locations were crowded but the cruise on the Moika river was great - a different perspective.
Helsinki - OK
Stockholm - great city; lots of museums, parks w/scuptures; boat trips through islands
Arhus (Denmark) - one of the more interesting ports; university town; medieval section; good museums; etc.
Oslo - I liked this; Vigeland park is fascinating; city hall is noteworthy; Arkhus castle & musuems were large and interesting to explore;
Warnemunde - this is the port for Berlin (a mere 1.5 hours away by train) but I explored Warnemunde instead. Sea-side town (very different from a US beach town). Good tours of this very active working port.

I'm not aware of any cruises that include Moscow, although all Baltic cruises feature 2 days in St. Petersburg. You could add on some days at the beginning or end of your cruise and go to Moscow then.
vickiebypass is offline  
Jul 12th, 2006, 07:06 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 14
Viking River Cruises includes Moscow and St Pete.
geiffel is offline  
Jul 12th, 2006, 12:13 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 94
For Moscow... check the shore excursions listed for the cruises you are considering. There might be an early morning flight from St. Petersburg to Moscow with all-day sightseeing and return to the ship late at night. Renaissance Cruises used to offer such an excursion, but it was extremely expensive. I'm not up on whether or not other cruise lines are doing so. That's the only way I'd do it because you'd be accompanied by a guide the entire time. It makes for a very long day and cuts down your time in St. Petersburg, although those who took the tour said it was worthwhile. (They also said the Russian airplanes were a bit scary.)

Hope that helps.

Linda Coffman
Author, Fodor's The Complete Guide to Caribbean Cruises
CruiseDiva is offline  
Jul 31st, 2008, 12:38 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 63
Would appreciate your thoughts on two points concerning Copenhagen:
1. How many days did you allow for sightseeing in and around the city before embarkation ?
2. Which hotel did you use, what was the rate and would you recommend it for others ?
bigarm1 is offline  
Jul 31st, 2008, 01:58 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,451
This post is 2 yrs. old. You would get more info by posting on www.cruisecritic.com and going to the port boards.
jacketwatch is online now  
Jul 31st, 2008, 02:44 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 346
Bigarm1: I actually didn't arrive early in Copenhagen, since it's not one of my favorite cities, so can't answer that question. Having said that, I've taken two Scandinavian cruises since the 7/06 Rotterdam cruise (both on the Queen Victoria in Dec. 07 and June 08) where we had multiple days in Copenhagen. There is a lot to see and do in the city, which could fill up 2-3 days depending on your tolerance for palaces, etc. Over my two days there in December, I enjoyed Tivoli for half a day, took a harbor boat cruise, went to the WWII museum, traipsed around the downtown area and did some shopping. For me, there's no need to go back again whereas I love Stockholm and have gone back for longer trips.
vickiebypass is offline  
Jul 31st, 2008, 06:46 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 13,134

I will jump in here as I was did the Baltic Cruise last August.

I came 3 full days earlier to Copenhagen and stayed a full day after coming off the cruise ship.

There is lots to see here and I also had a private guide that took me to places like Frederiksborg to see the castle and also to Kornborg to see the famous castle here.

I really like Copenhagen , it is a lovely place.

I stayed at the Marriott which is right along the river and for $20.00 more per night you can have the waterfront view which is worth the extra money.

Bye jacketwatch...I am off later tomorrow .... to France ,Switzerland and Germany.
Percy is offline  
Aug 1st, 2008, 02:27 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,451
Awesome Percy. I sort of was hoping you would jump in on this thread too. Cheers, Larry
jacketwatch is online now  

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