Today we are sailing the Baltic Sea back to Stockholm. So a short entry with some observations. I enjoyed Stockholm very much. A nice city with lots to do and see. It was interesting to try some food that is very foreign to me. Surprised that I liked the herring!
Helsinki was interesting but overall not a place I would go back to. It just did not have enough of the old town cultural things that I enjoy.
St Petersburg was an interesting experience. Guided tours, although not my cup of tea, were very good and informative. During the busy tourist season, I would say they are pretty much mandatory. A crowded adventure but well worth it. The Palaces and the Hermitage were all incredible works of art themselves. Add the many different artifacts and paintings as well as the beautiful gardens for a hard to take it all in opulent experience. The guides were friendly, the customs people, museum ladies, and the waiters we had were not. I can’t say much about the people as we had limited to no interaction. My impression is that Russia has a long way to go to shed its old serious beaurocratic and secretive ways.
Tallinn, Estonia was a very nice and interesting old town.
We enjoyed walking around seeing the sights. I think one day is enough to see everything but do not know what is in the surrounding areas.
Riga, Latvia seemed like a nice relaxed place. We walked around many side streets and alleys occasionally getting a glimpse of local life. Like Estonia, it has an interesting history going way back with Swedes, Germans, and Danes to the more recent German and then Russian rule. It emphasizes how lucky we are in America to have enjoyed our freedom for over 200 years. These countries were oppressed until 1991 which is sometimes hard to fathom.
The cruise ship itself was a little disappointing from our past experiences.
They are definitely cutting corners and it is obvious. No lobster at any dinner ( 35 ridiculous dollars if you want to have lobster), wait staff overworked and not as attentive as they should be, desserts no where as grand as they used to be. The shows were lacking in talent compared to our past cruises. Activities were pretty lame and the scheduled times were inconvenient. Our welcome back crown and anchor reception amounted to a drink or two and one long infomercial on excursions, etc. they used to be in the lounge with hordouves and a lot of drink choices including wine, this was held in the theater. Our room steward was the only bright spot and excellent service we felt we received. So overall, we were disappointed in Royal Caribbean this go around.
A very bright spot on the cruise were the people we had dinner with every night. Jerry and Bell who both came to California from the Philippines in the 1970s are super nice. They met in California
and have been married 33 years although Jerry may be from Arkansas since his Uncle is his brother in law. Susan from L.A. Definitely will let you know what she thinks. Her love for Donald Trump is unmatched, ha ha. Rudy and Cecelia were very nice even if they always sat way on the other side of the table from us. Terje and Inger were wonderful people and I really enjoyed discussing life in Norway and the U.S., even some politics, with them. We hope that our travels or their travels will allow us to meet again and get to know each other even better. The cruise is winding down.
Now we will be on to Norway for a new adventure.
The last 7 days were amazing! Our stateroom location was perfect, our dinner companions were alot of fun. What is really funny is that when we were walking from the bus stop to the ship, we met Jerry & Bell. We were so happy to see them when they walked up to our table. The ports we went to were well worth the trip. St.
Petersburg, Russia was amazing. The sites we saw were overwhelming! It is peak tourist season, but our tour guide knew all the ins & outs and took great care of us. The first day we went to the Palace of Catherine the Great (who was married to Peter the Great) It was amazing. The highlight was our lunch which included a shot of Russian Vodka and a glass of Russian champagne which was very good! Finland was interesting. Estonia was interesting, glad we got off the ship early to do our Rick Steeves walking tour because their was about 6 cruise ships that came in to port so the little town got so over crowded. We were back on the ship by 1 pm. The town we thoroughly enjoyed was Riga, Latvia. Great little medieval town, fun to walk around. We even had time to sit and enjoy a local beer!
The only disappointment we had was with Royal Caribbean.
The food selection and quality was not up to par at all. I even had to send food back that was terrible. The service in the dinning room was not very good either. The waiters seem like they never really got engaged with us at the table. Often forgot our drinks and even our meal selections. Even the dessert selections were terrible. And everyone knows I love my desserts. The highlight was our room stewart, he was friendly and always had time for conversation. Well, off to Norway! A nice relaxing 6 hour train ride!
T Shirts 20 USD