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Jay23

Thoughts on Nautica's Baltic Cruise

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  Eleven day Baltic Cruise.  Aug 24 - Sept 4

 

   I was beginning to wonder if Oceania was the company for us as there were a few naysayers on this Forum.   No smoke without fire I thought.  Here is what we experienced and I leave it up to you to decide.

 

GENERAL         We live only two hours from Southampton.   At 2.10pm we checked in at the terminal and were in our PH Stateroom 8049 by 2.45pm  The bags were waiting outside the door.    No complaints there.

 

The Stewardess introduced herself soon after we arrived and I requested a foam pillow instead of a feather one.  (This was on the bed when we returned from dinner)   Mani, the Butler, was soon at the door and we were able to ask him to bring morning tea each day.  He was charming and professional.  Tea came as requested each day.

 

Boat drill was at 4.15 . This took a slightly different form from what we remembered, as we were taken out on deck to our lifeboat after the talk.   Previously we were only instructed in the muster station. It seems a good idea to show the guests exactly how the safety drill works. You are not required to take your life jacket.  On returning to our stateroom, we phoned Mani and requested tea and cookies.   Ten minutes later he was there with the order.  Perfect.  He also got us a table in the speciality restaurant when we asked him. Oh and replaced the ailing fridge within hours. and brought us lunch one day.  And breakfast a couple of days too.

 

DRESS.  ( I hesitate to mention this contentious issue!) My husband wore a linen jacket every night for dinner because he likes to and I wore a nice dress or smart trousers and a pretty top.  Gentlemen frequently wore a jacket in the speciality restaurants and the ladies always looked good to me.   We did see guests going to the Terrace who were not quite so formally attired but we did not eat there in the evening so don’t know what the general look was.

 

FOOD AND DINING SERVICE.    Waiters were attentive and the sommelier was prompt, the wine poured before any food was served and glasses topped up frequently.  We had an included wine package.     I am at a loss to understand the comments about slow and lax service in the GDR that some recent reviewers mentioned.  We were always greeted by name and when we asked for a table for two that’s what we got.  Sometimes we shared.  We do feel, however, that the menu is not as extensive as on previous cruises and did not change as often.  (our last cruise was two years ago on the same ship)  Only one meal did not meet expectations. It was duck a l’orange. I mentioned it to the restaurant manager.  He wrote it down but I did not hear any more about it.  All the desserts were delicious.

 

SPECIALITY RESTAURANTS.    Three meals in Polo and two in Toscana.  Some on our own and some shared.  I had shrimps and lamb in Polo and Dover sole in Toscana.  The sole is superb.   We always enjoyed the company of our companions in fact we sat with the same people on two different occasions quite by accident!    In Toscana we requested a special dessert a couple of days before we went.   It was Zabaglione.  This has to be made and served immediately. That is why it has to be requested.     The chef came to see us at our very special forward facing table to make sure we enjoyed his dessert. We did. And we enjoyed the view leaving St Petersburg.

 

TOURS   For the first time we took Oceania tours as they were included in our fare.   The guides were charming and spoke good  English. The tours were well organised and did what we expected.  The guests were “well behaved” and always returned to the bus on time.  Except once, but that was a genuine mistake by the guest and she was mortified so we forgave her!!!!!!!

 

ENTERTAINMENT…  What we went to see we enjoyed.  True there are no big presentation shows. The singers were good and they also did duty as Entertainment Officers. I am really not sure what is expected from these shows that guests say they are disappointed with.

Last but not least I must mention the CD.  Shawn Carter.  Excellent.  Enthusiastic.  Friendly.  Kept us informed.  Just right.    

 

We will be travelling with Oceania again.   J

`      

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On the R ships we have always had Muster drill the way you  did   but we had to have life jackets with us ..maybe not taking them is something new

 

The Terrace is more casual dress code  so maybe  that is why people were not dressed up

 

Thanks for sharing

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Thank you for the review.

Glad you enjoyed your cruise - nice to hear positive reports for a change 😊

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Agree with Paulchili. 👏

 

Returned in August from a 24 day cruise on Marina.

We were a party of 6 who had over 40 Oceania cruises between us.

This trip was excellent.

We all felt that the food was the best of all our trips.

When you go on your next Oceania cruise I suggest you try the buffet for dinner. It is not your "normal "buffet" 

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3 hours ago, zz19 said:

Agree with Paulchili. 👏

 

Returned in August from a 24 day cruise on Marina.

We were a party of 6 who had over 40 Oceania cruises between us.

This trip was excellent.

We all felt that the food was the best of all our trips.

When you go on your next Oceania cruise I suggest you try the buffet for dinner. It is not your "normal "buffet" 

We have just booked a cruise on Sirena for next August so we will consider your suggestion re The Terrace for dinner. J

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agree with OP- we were on same cruises but on Nautica for 2 months.  One of our best ever and maybe #2 behind ATW16 although we did love Mumbai-Rome on Nautica last year which may also be #2! 

 

Looking forward to seeing and traveling on the 'new' Insignia for ATW20.  I was assured while on Nautica this year that we are going to love Insignia.   We know some of the staff that will be on with us! 

 

and yes the new policy is that you no longer take the life jackets to the muster station. 

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8 hours ago, zz19 said:

When you go on your next Oceania cruise I suggest you try the buffet for dinner. It is not your "normal "buffet" 

Not everyone likes  popping up & down to get food for dinner  in the Terrace    not your "normal buffet" or not

We prefer to be served

JMO

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10 hours ago, zz19 said:

This trip was excellent.

We all felt that the food was the best of all our trips.

Good to see you back on CC zz19 - I missed you 🙂

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On 9/6/2019 at 7:30 AM, Jay23 said:

  Eleven day Baltic Cruise.  Aug 24 - Sept 4

 

  

Would you please tell me where the Nautica docked in St. Petersburg. Was it close to downtown (walking distance to the Hermitage), where only smaller ships can dock, or was it farther from the center, where the larger ships dock. Thank you.

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1 hour ago, Maya_C said:

Would you please tell me where the Nautica docked in St. Petersburg. Was it close to downtown (walking distance to the Hermitage), where only smaller ships can dock, or was it farther from the center, where the larger ships dock. Thank you.

it may or may not be the same location for your sailing

you can check the  port  schedule

https://www.portspb.ru/en/Ships_Schedule

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they do not seem to show the  schedule for the  English Embankment or Lieutenant Schmidt Embankment

so if you are  not on the main port maybe you will be  at one of the closer docks

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On 9/7/2019 at 1:37 AM, Jay23 said:

We have just booked a cruise on Sirena for next August so we will consider your suggestion re The Terrace for dinner. J

 

Lobster tails, prawns, steaks, lamb chops all grilled to order. Food is prepared in small batches and served to the passenger. Staff is very accommodating on portion sizes. There isn’t a bad dining venue on an O ship.

 

 

C43A5D8E-3240-41CF-A3D5-14B02DE72970.jpeg

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8 hours ago, Maya_C said:

Would you please tell me where the Nautica docked in St. Petersburg. Was it close to downtown (walking distance to the Hermitage), where only smaller ships can dock, or was it farther from the center, where the larger ships dock. Thank you.

 

6 hours ago, LHT28 said:

they do not seem to show the  schedule for the  English Embankment or Lieutenant Schmidt Embankment

so if you are  not on the main port maybe you will be  at one of the closer docks

 

For this cruise it was at the English Embankment, close to downtown, probably the best location possible for a cruise ship.  While the dock is close to downtown, it is still a bit of a walk to the Hermitage though not too bad.  That said, to walk to the Hermitage on your own you will need a visa from the Russian government to leave the ship and not sure the cost of a "free-to-roam" visa is worth it if you're visiting by cruise ship for just a few days.  You cannot leave the customs/immigration area of the port without a visa of some sort.

Edited by ShopperfiendTO

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The only Nautica cruise I've been on was to the Baltic. I enjoyed the ship and the itinerary very much. 

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1 hour ago, ShopperfiendTO said:

 

 

For this cruise it was at the English Embankment, close to downtown, probably the best location possible for a cruise ship.  While the dock is close to downtown, it is still a bit of a walk to the Hermitage though not too bad.  That said, to walk to the Hermitage on your own you will need a visa from the Russian government to leave the ship and not sure the cost of a "free-to-roam" visa is worth it if you're visiting by cruise ship for just a few days.  You cannot leave the customs/immigration area of the port without a visa of some sort.

Thank you so much for your information about where the ship docked. If we can get a tour that will allow us to spend  more than just a few hours in the Hermitage, we would definitely prefer that. If not, we'll go through the red tape of getting a visa. I appreciate your assistance. ~Maya_C

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Maya, our experience there goes way back -- to May 2001.  We DID have a personal visa.  We had a very reasonably priced guide -- $60/day for the two of us!  (She no longer does guiding work.)  And I found that getting our visa through a service somehow seemed cheaper than using Oceania or going to the consulate.  My calculations could have been off, of course, but then again it was very simple and reasonably priced.  We were there for two days.  And yes, the guards would check our documents at least 3 times between leaving the ship and actually getting to the street.

 

So you would need to do the calculations to see if a personal visa is worth it for you.

 

When we arrived the ship had a last minute diversion to a different port and I wasn't able to notify our guide, so we missed her on Day #1.  But two crew members drove us to the Hermitage and we caught a cab back.  Yes, the driver cheated us on the fare but again, it wasn't impossible.  For him it was a lot, for us it wasn't.  We spent 6 hours in the Hermitage ...

 

You should, however, check into the various private tour groups there that give you a group visa and early admission to the Hermitage.  I don't know how long you have there with them!  Surely not 6 hours ... But maybe 1 or 2.  Red October, St. Petersburg, Alla ... do a search here and you will find several recommendations.

 

Mura

 

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16 hours ago, Maya_C said:

Would you please tell me where the Nautica docked in St. Petersburg. Was it close to downtown (walking distance to the Hermitage), where only smaller ships can dock, or was it farther from the center, where the larger ships dock. Thank you.

Nautica docked at English Embankment.   It is a small docking area and the buses have to park on the road!  However it is very conveniently close to many of the public attractions.  You could walk to the Hermitage but don't forget you MUST have your own visas if you are  going to go out on your own without being part of a tour.   J

Edited by Jay23

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7 hours ago, Maya_C said:

Thank you so much for your information about where the ship docked. If we can get a tour that will allow us to spend  more than just a few hours in the Hermitage, we would definitely prefer that. If not, we'll go through the red tape of getting a visa. I appreciate your assistance. ~Maya_C

While the Nautica can dock at the English Embarkment (and ours did in 2006) there is no guarantee that you will dock there as well.

It depends on number of smaller ships that may be in port that day (Seabourn, Silversea, etc)

I think you’ll soon regret your decision to get your own visas - it’s a protracted and complicated process. Better to book your tours with a private agency who will get your visas and you can arrange with them to spend as much time at the Hermitage as you want.

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2 hours ago, Paulchili said:

While the Nautica can dock at the English Embarkment (and ours did in 2006) there is no guarantee that you will dock there as well.

It depends on number of smaller ships that may be in port that day (Seabourn, Silversea, etc)

I think you’ll soon regret your decision to get your own visas - it’s a protracted and complicated process. Better to book your tours with a private agency who will get your visas and you can arrange with them to spend as much time at the Hermitage as you want.

Agree with this and loved how easy it was for in 2012 using agency

I am sure all the main operators are similar but we used Red October for our three days in SP and they allowed us to plan where and how long we wanted for each attraction

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On our cruise this summer Nautica had to dock "out" because it was Naval Day, a huge holiday for Russia, so the docks "in" were used for their ships.  (in the spirit of accuracy, it could have been "Navy Day" because we heard both terms used)

 

Apparently the goal on Naval Day is for everybody to get as drunk as possible.  And that was the description of the holiday from our guides!

 

Previously we had docked "in"  & used Alla (highly rec'd) for our visits there but this time we took shorex including the high speed train (itself a wonderful experience) to Moscow and saw the sights.  Highly rec'd this, too. 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, cbb said:

Apparently the goal on Naval Day is for everybody to get as drunk as possible.  And that was the description of the holiday from our guides!

This type of “celebration” is certainly not limited to Naval Day celebrations - Russians do love their vodka 😀

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Jay23 - Would you comment on which of Oceania's excursions you took and enjoyed?  Thanks.

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15 hours ago, Paulchili said:

While the Nautica can dock at the English Embarkment (and ours did in 2006) there is no guarantee that you will dock there as well.

It depends on number of smaller ships that may be in port that day (Seabourn, Silversea, etc)

I think you’ll soon regret your decision to get your own visas - it’s a protracted and complicated process. Better to book your tours with a private agency who will get your visas and you can arrange with them to spend as much time at the Hermitage as you want.

It is true that there are no guarantees, but it's a good data point to have!  

 

Interestingly enough, a Silversea ship was also in port but was docked at the Lieutenant Schmidt Embankment on the other bank of the river.  A Celebrity ship was also in port but must have been docked at the outer port.  Having said that, we basically had he same tour itinerary as the group from that ship for both days there so I don't think location really matters if you're going on a group tour with a blanket visa.

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