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Captain-John

Meraviglia YC Experience - Baltic Itinerary

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35 minutes ago, Captain-John said:

Yes, the position of the cabin was fantastic. I did a little tour to pace out the distance from TSL to the YIN cabins - stay tuned!

Haha thank you Captain. 

You are my new hero - But don’t tell Bea I don’t want a right hook in New York 😂

 

Thanks for the spa info very helpful. 

Pleased to have added the skewer, cheese soufflé & crepe to my ‘special’ food list 🙄

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1 hour ago, thecruisers6 said:

Haha thank you Captain. 

You are my new hero - But don’t tell Bea I don’t want a right hook in New York 😂

 

Thanks for the spa info very helpful. 

Pleased to have added the skewer, cheese soufflé & crepe to my ‘special’ food list 🙄

 

It's not the right hook you should concern yourself with - I'm a Southpaw!  😂

 

If it hadn't been for the photo of the Angus filet I'd have been saying "No YC restaurant for me, tonight!"  DH would be happy with the monkfish.  One man's meat, etc etc...

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Oh Captain, no more food pictures, I beg....operation starve is going to have to commence very quickly after our next trip to take advantage of all those plates of deliciousness 😂

 

Look forward to the update on measurements, we too are on deck 16. I'll need to know how far it is to run if Bea and Mark start a fight 😂

 

Disappointing handling of the SPB situation. The church has had works ongoing for a long time, it had scaffolding when we visited last year. I can't believe it was such a last minute decision and they couldn't advise sooner. Particularly, as you say it's not a place you can visit unaccompanied. 

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Church of the Spilled Blood of the Savior in St. Petersburg:  I can understand why you would wish to visit this Church.  It was on my list of things to visit when I was in Russia.  Disappointing is my reaction.  The crowded interior made it difficult to view and the noise made my guide's narration difficult to hear.  The chaos from/to our tour bus to the Church added to that day's tour of St. Petersburg a very disappointing experience.

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9 hours ago, CruisingFox27 said:

Oh Captain, no more food pictures, I beg....operation starve is going to have to commence very quickly after our next trip to take advantage of all those plates of deliciousness 😂

 

 

At least you'll have a little time in which to do it, CF.  We'll only be 6 weeks off Seaview before embarking Meraviglia.  Not enough time to recover from gorging on those treats for a week on that ship beforehand.  😱

 

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I'll need it. Haven't fully addressed our indulgence on our TA, given up as all starts again tomorrow 😉

Will need to try harder if I'm going to fully appreciate everything in the above photo's.

It's fortunate excess baggage charges only apply to suitcases 😂

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Finishing off Helsinki:

 

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CF - so, so sorry - now it's time for lunch!! We got back on the ship around 1400, having spent around 3 hours in Helsinki (covering old ground). I had absolutely no idea what a 'mushroom cappuccino' is and didn't have much desire to try it - despite liking mushrooms quite a bit.

 

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Duck rillettes - quite strongly flavoured. Delicious red onion jam - would have loved more.

 

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Fish & chips - chips slightly greasy/undercooked but edible, fish tasty but had obviously been sitting as batter not as crisp as it could have been.

 

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Vegetable lasagne (tastier than it sounds!)

 

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Chocolate fudge cake

 

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Apple pie

 

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Ambiance ( we were the only diners in! Arrived about 10 minutes before closing)

 

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Posted (edited)

Burned (very little) of lunch off by touring the ship - bit quieter onboard as people still out in Helsinki. Swung by another food venue (the YC pool grill) to see what was on offer. Was directed through a crew area by a member of crew having a cigarette break on the promenade deck. We popped out at the venue for the Cirque shows.

 

This ship definitely has cushioned mattresses for the sun loungers - I remember reading on here (and being shocked by) the news that some YC pool decks don't have cushioned loungers. The injustice! Seriously though - there should be consistency across the fleet in this regard.

 

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We slipped out of the berth

 

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And sailed off into the sunset

 

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Edited by Captain-John

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When I saw the menu first I thought I'd have trouble having to choose between fish n' chips (which we love to see on the lunch menu) and devilled rooster (had it on Meraviglia in 2017 and wished I could have eaten a second helping -it was sooooo good).  However, having seen your fish n' chips, Cap'n, I would have been disappointed.  It's usually a serving of 3 small fish goujons.

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Now you would all be quite right at this point to call us gluttonous pigs. Horrible, self serving creatures who can only think about their next meal. I swear we must have had 10,000 calories this day - you'll agree when you see the following pictures. Dinner in Butcher's Cut this evening. We made the booking the same morning - with the YC Concierge. Didn't bat an eye and guaranteed our requested time of 2000.

 

We got a bit behind schedule and when I came back from the spa around 1830 I asked if we could dine at 2030 instead. Again no problem at all.

 

As a complete aside (I forgot until I seen the photo again) - Dream Cruises and their film crew were nowhere in sight - would have preferred Jane McDonald anyway!

 

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Anyway, back to business. I need to shamelessly pinch a photo of the Butcher's Cut fixed price menu (which is covered by the Black card dining perk) as I forgot to take my own. Thanks Bea!

 

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I had in my head we would have difficulty trying to get a drink in here without having to pay extra. We took one in, but when we needed refreshed it wasn't a problem at all - our card was swiped but no charge.

 

Shrimp cocktail

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Baked goat cheese - not at all what I expected, but very tasty indeed. The combination of lemon and berries is one I never would have made, but went so well with the rich goat's cheese. Would definitely order this again next time.

 

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I have the 14oz Sirloin, DW the 8oz Filet Mignon. Both cooked perfectly, and as requested. I had assumed my 14oz steak was 'bone in' due to the weight and was somewhat surprised when there was no bone in sight! You are allowed to order one complimentary side each (fries), and we also paid for onion rings and mac and cheese. Total bill 6.90 Euro. You are given all four sauces automatically.

 

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Far too much food, especilly considering the 3 course lunch we had 3 hours before, but we made a heck of an effort and thoroughly enjoyed it - with still room for dessert!

 

Peanut butter and milk chocolate cookie

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NY Cheesecake

 

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Followed up by another whiz round the (busy) ship - and back to the comforting glow of the TSL.

 

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16 minutes ago, Beamafar said:

When I saw the menu first I thought I'd have trouble having to choose between fish n' chips (which we love to see on the lunch menu) and devilled rooster (had it on Meraviglia in 2017 and wished I could have eaten a second helping -it was sooooo good).  However, having seen your fish n' chips, Cap'n, I would have been disappointed.  It's usually a serving of 3 small fish goujons.

 

Yes - definitely not a highlight - execution could have been better but underlying fish was quite good quality, so I'm told (I don't eat the stuff).

 

The rooster did catch my eye - but with a view to the steakhouse that evening decided to go veggie (and the moon was blue!)

 

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Drinks are definitely included for YC guests in SRs, Cap'n.

 

On our second visit to Butcher's Cut on Meraviglia (in the days that each Black Card member received a comped meal for two) the sommelier spotted us down in the corner of the restaurant and immediately came down to us with a bottle of champagne to pour a couple of glasses as it was included for both YC and those with the Deluxe package.  (We knew him from other cruises and had spoken to him regularly on Mera, where he ensured we were taken care of, drinks-wise, when in Butcher's Cut).

 

I'll add an FYI - Only the 'Easy' drinks package is not honoured in Speciality Restaurants.

 

Looks like you enjoyed your visit to BC.  😉  Would you agree that the menu is worth every penny of the €39 charge (should you have to pay it - that is)?

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I was getting my wires crossed then. Too many package combinations and changes.

 

Very much enjoyed the visit. As I alluded to on another thread, I do believe specialty restaurants should be partially subsidised as one is not availing oneself of another, free, dining venue (already paid for the in the cruise fare). That said - on land I would expect to pay well north of €100 for such a meal. So that's a convoluted way of saying 'yes'!

 

I do fondly remember the days on NCL, in Cagney's (equivalent of BC), where it was a flat $25 p.p. cover charge. Things change so fast in the cruising world......

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Today is a big day. St. Petersburg! Actually, this is the shortest, least stressful day we've spent there compared to our 2-day, 20 hour tour last year when we were visited aboard NCL Breakaway.

 

SirWolf - appreciate this is a particular port of interest for you, so I'll do my very best with this one.

 

Last year, we opted for a private tour (SPB Tours) to cover the main places of interest. The very vast majority of ships coming to St. Petersburg dock overnight, and some even dock for two nights (3 days total). Meraviglia was only here for the day so that rules out a lot of the popular tour options. There are compressed tours available through both MSC and privately, but cannot include as much as the multi-day tours evidently. The tours are expensive - but, when you factor in you will likely need a visa to DIY in Russia, and the associated costs, the tour price isn't so outrageous.

 

The tour operators cover you with some special kind of permit/visa whilst you are in their custody (although you cannot 'wander off' and must be supervised at all times, as they are responsible for you). This time round, we decided to do a half-day tour. Previous posts outline the issues I encountered. With some hesitancy, we selected the 'Metro and Food Market' tour. We didn't want to stay on the ship as this is such a 'rare' destination for us, and very tricky to do on a land based holiday. We wanted exposure to the city again - which was the original reason for choosing a tour with a heavy walking element in the first place.

 

Anyway, we had already seen the fantastic Metro stations last year - but hoped we would see some new ones this time (we did).

 

Russian immigration like to take their time - on purpose, I feel, to show who's boss. Last year, we left the ship around 0800 and queued for in excess of 50 minutes before we cleared passport control. Tours organised through the cruise line were allowed off the ship first, which no doubt helped those guests get touring quicker. Although the private tour operators are very experienced and expect delays - they build it into the schedule so little danger of the tour leaving without you.

 

This time, our butler Bruce escorted us from the TSL right to the front of the queue at immigration. Looking at our feet sheepishly, instead of the 20 deep queue of people we had cut in front of, we waited to be summoned forward.

 

The agents spent a lot of time looking at their screen, your passport, your face, boring into you, totally expressionless. Then they print a little slip with your name etc. translated into Russian, passport is stamped and you're in.

 

Find the bus and join your tour, as we did.......

 

 

 

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The view and drive out from the port area to me looks like something out of another world entirely. Jetsons-like in some regards. Very, very Soviet in others. The port facility itself is very modern and has clearly had significant investment. Without delving into the politics too much, apparently the majority of the tour companies as well as the port etc. are run by the same vested interests.

 

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After a short drive, we arrived at the Metro station which would begin our 45 minute tour of the underground and various stations. We were given a token and led down several hundred feet to the platform.

 

One thing that jumped out at me is just how clean the entire system is - stations, platforms and the carriages. We should be thoroughly ashamed in the UK and other places in the 'West' as people are so careless with rubbish, and there's nothing spent on cleaning or maintenance.

 

In this day and age, it shouldn't be 'fascinating' to see ordinary Russians going about their daily business - but it was. There was definitely a very different feel to it compared to the London underground for example - even although at a high level it's the same thing.

 

As I say we had been to the Metro before but still a 'wow factor' as to how ornate the stations are.

 

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On 5/22/2019 at 10:54 AM, Beamafar said:

Sorry to hear your (preferred) excursion was cancelled, Cap'n.  What a bummer!  As you say, you can't just walk off a ship in Russia.

 

A salutary tale, nonetheless - though how you can be prepared in advance for something like this I don't know.

 

Book directly with one of the private tour companies in SPB.  That is one way.

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Next up, exited the underground system and proceeded to the 'food market.' Quite an underwhelming stop. The guide said we had 15 minutes but everyone left for the fresh air immediately. For the short time we were in the market, the guide explained the majority of the produce was not actually Russian. The spices etc. were from Belarus or some such - I can't remember the details but I did walk away thinking there wasn't much authentically Russian about the place.

 

The guide also, rather alarmingly, suggested she would never buy mushrooms at a Russian market, as she did not know from where they were picked. There was then a reference made to Chernobyl, and the fall-out contaminating soil far and wide, and that for that reason she preferred to pick her own as she knew the provenance. Not sure if this is a common fear or just a particular quirk of our guide.

 

I think the photos make it look more vibrant than it actually was.

 

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Potential deadly mushrooms!

 

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We then walked a bit before boarding the bus again. The bus drove us down the Nevsky Prospekt, the main street in SPB. We had already walked around this area and the Khazan Cathedral last year (hence why we were so particular about which tour we wanted this year). Still, it was nice to see again.

 

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Posted (edited)

After this, we were spat out at a sanitised duty-free type store with Chinese-made, Russian branded tat in abundance. Again a very new facility, and had obviously been created for the sole purpose of squeezing money out of cruise passengers. This seemed to be an obligatory stop for all tours, as I counted at least 25 busses turning up in the time we were there - if not more.


An outrageous 45 minutes were spent in this hell-hole. One lady on the toured quipped it 'wasn't long enough' - but I've ranted enough about my troubles with SPB tours so I won't do the full spiel again. Suffice to say a tour broken into 3 parts that spent equally as long in a shop for stereotypical Russian junk as it spent in the Metro (a main focus of the tour) shows how corrupt the linkage between cruise line and tour operator is. Avoid, avoid, avoid a cruise line sponsored tour in SPB. No doubt a % of the sales made in the shop were paid back to MSC. I can't even describe the number of things wrong with the shop either - baskets with inlays of currency conversions just one of them.

 

We only did it because we had done the private tour the year before (and it absolutely drained us - we were exhausted for days after). Had this been my first and only experience in SPB I would have been even more annoyed than I was when they cancelled the original tour.

 

Back to the sanctuary of the ship now.

 

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Lunch was odd, because I only have 1 photo, but we must have dined in the YC restaurant. Ceasar salad with chicken to start. Believe I had the burger for a main. No photos, although I do recall both dishes being delicious.

 

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And then dinner, with a spectacular sunset.

 

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Potato and mascarpone flan. Not the best.

 

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Salmon, which I am told was very good.

 

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Vegetable tortilla (I can't believe this is my second vegetarian dish - most unlike me!). Avoid.

 

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Thyme and lemon chicken breast. Quite acceptable although a side of fries was required.

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Chocolate duo cake

 

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Tarte tatin

 

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The sunset was better than the meal. A definite 'miss' - not much on the menu appealed and what we did have wasn't executed awfully well. Luckily we were still full from Butcher's Cut.

 

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Edited by Captain-John

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I had hoped to have this review finished - but due to being quite busy (returned from the trip Sunday, been working all week) along with this being a day-by-day account rather than just a summary has meant I'm behind schedule.

 

At exactly the halfway point of the trip and therefore at the halfway point of this review - hopefully my next statement will be met with at least some sadness. My next post won't be until Tuesday 28/05 - as I fly out tomorrow morning for the Monaco GP, and won't be taking anything with enough computing power to allow me to keep going with the review.

 

Happy to answer ad-hoc questions from my phone whilst away, but please accept my apologies in advance - I hate losing momentum in a review and I know that, if at least some people are enjoying this account so far, it will be frustrating to have to wait. I have been in your shoes awaiting updates on a ship or itinerary I've been interested in, and I sympathise!

 

I did have the best of intents in wrapping up in 5 days I had between returning and then jetting off again. Apologies. But anything pressing I can help with, I will definitely do so!  🙂

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Cap'n ... thank you so much for the wonderful reportage, so far.  Really appreciate the amount of work you've put into it this far.  I await, with eager anticipation, for Part II.   😘

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On 5/21/2019 at 8:06 PM, Captain-John said:

Followed by more exploring:

 

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We could never, ever get a seat in the Sky Lounge (last picture) - always packed to capacity so very grateful we had the TSL to retreat to, with equally great views.

 

We stopped in the Brass Anchor for a drink - ordering one which cost 10.50 Euro and expecting to be charged - the charge never applied to our account but we had to sign for the drinks. I have the menus if anyone requires them.

 

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I love tot see the menus. We have a premium drink package...I have been keen to know what we can drink in the Pub

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Here you go. :) Apologies these were taken early on in the cruise, my menu photography skills got abit better as the week went on! 

 

 

IMG_20190512_223400.jpg

IMG_20190512_223052.jpg

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The menu item called 'rooster':  is that the same as Capon?

 

A capon is a castrated rooster [it was amusingly listed on a Spanish menu as 'Gelding,' which is how I found this out!]

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1 hour ago, Captain-John said:

Here you go. 🙂 Apologies these were taken early on in the cruise, my menu photography skills got abit better as the week went on! 

 

 

To be fair to your good self, Cap'n, those Brass Anchor Pub menus are difficult to photograph due to their size.

 

Host J... a rooster is just an adult male chicken (it's specified to distinguish it from the more common chicken meat from younger chickens.  Rooster is tougher but has a stronger flavour, being older).

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