Britannia B818

Reports about cruises on Britannia
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Britannia B818

Post by Kendhni » 15 Jul 2018, 17:08

This is probably going to come in installments as and when I get time to write it up.
We are just back from our latest adventure with P&O a Baltic criuse on the Britannia. This is not a cruise we would have picked but there is a significant back story as to why we ended up on this (which I won't bore you with).

Boarding
This was our fist cruise out of Southampton so we did have some initial concerns. In particular we had a choice of one flight that got us into Southampton early in the morning and P&O gave us a boarding time of 15:30. Julie phoned the call centre to try to get this changed and, while they were polite, they simply read a script that said do not turn up until your alotted time ... yea, like that was going to happen!!!

On the Sunday FlyBe did the honurs and uneventfuly took us to Southampton. To try to kill some time we went to the restaurtant in the airport for breakfast - and very nice it was too. At about 10:30 I checked the price of a cab (£25 from the airport). I thought this was expensive so I phoned West Quay Cars (02380 999 999) who had a car with me in under 10 minutes and it was only £15. We were at Ocean terminal just after 11AM and had to wait for the baggage collection to open (which it did at 11:15AM) and we went inside the building expecting several hours of wait.

Our group, red A, got called at about 12AM and we were checked in, went through security and were on the ship getting something to eat by 12:30. We are normally used to fly cruises, so we went to Southampton with apprehensions about sailing from there and expecting a lot of waiting about ... but the freindliness of the staff and sheer efficiency of the boarding process has won us over ... we would consider cruises from Southampton in the future.


Cabin
We dandered down to our cabin at about 13:30 to find it was ready and our bags were there already (again very efficient), so we unpacked and were changed and up at the bar at the serenity pool shortly after. We get an inside cabin (not for any of the silly made up reasons that I have read on the web), simply because we only use it for changing and sleeping and it suits our budget (especially when we like to be on holiday every 3-4 months - stressful job and the company I work for positively encourages us to take our time off).

The cabin was exactly what we expected (it was the same one we always book on Britannia). King sized bed, made up of two single beds pushed together, a couple of bedside cabinets, good sized flat screen TV, fridge (stocked with stuff, but it costs if you use it), mirror (vanity and full length), kettle for tea/coffee. There are a couple of drawers on each bedside unit, a couple on the vanity unit (plus a cupboard) and 'round the corner' is loads of hanging space and a cupboard with shelf space and a safe. The bathroom has all the usual stuff (including the White Room toiletries) but it is quite small (suffice to say there wasn't even enough squares on the floor to set up a full game of chess ... should you ever decide to do that for any reason).

Britannia
The ship was exactly as I remembered it from the last time. The one big positive change for me was that the pepsi tasted like pepsi (on our previous trip I believe some of the bar staff were using elderflower flavoured water from the pumps instead of soda water). Although I would still prefer Coke to pepsi.

Britannia is a large ship with great facilities, it is probably our favourite ... but we are really looking forward to trying Iona (sorry P&O, but that is an awful name) when it arrives. Whitewall galleries now also has a small area on deck 5 where they exhibit artwork (I am led to believe they are getting a proper space at some time in the future).
Last edited by Kendhni on 15 Jul 2018, 17:19, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Britannia B818

Post by Kendhni » 15 Jul 2018, 17:13

A veritable herd of elephants ....


The first elephant in the room
During our cruise the captain announced the demise of Oriana next year ... not unsurprising (I had heard rumour of this several weeks before the cruise). I think that this announcement was probably more for the future cruise sales team so that they could sell Oriana au revoire cruises. I was surprised that I barely saw any reaction to the news - I guess I sort of expected a stronger reaction to a much loved ship.

The second elephant in the room
The darned world cup. When we booked the cruise I made absolutely no connection that it would clash with the world cup - if I had have realized that I probably would not have booked it (given my poor experience during the last world cup on Oceana). One (minor) complaint I had was that they turned over Brodies, the Crystal room, The Live Lounge and The Studio to show the matches, which meant there was no entertainment for those of us that have no interest in football. On the plus side, the sun decks were nice and quiet without the hootering and hollering ... also the service in The Beach Hut, which we used when there was an evening match on, was fantastic because those wanting to see the match had wolfed their food down and left it much emptier allowing the waiters to focus on those left.

To be fair, we did tour the lounges during the Croatia match, and they were all full, so obviously there was a lot of interest in watching. The Studio was bunged and people were trying to take the chairs from Sindhus into the Studio, I watched one person nearly send another flying because he couldn't see around the chair and walked straight into him hitting him with the chair (the man could not have been more apologetic and the other passenger shook it off and laughed).

It is just a shame that alternative entertainment all but died on the ship for a couple of hours.

The third elephant in the room
Let's get tipping out of the way ... I have always treated tipping simply as part of the holiday, like the bar bill and Julie's jewelry bill and have no issues with it, but I have read a lot about tipping over the last few months and am even more confused than ever about the best approach. My decision however was to go to reception and reduce the amount of tips from £7pppd to £6pppd. There were 2 reasons for this
- firstly, it gave me leeway to personally reward staff who went above and beyond (especially since we were on Freedom dining)
- secondly, when I signed the contract with P&O the tipping level was £6pppd and I consider their unilateral change from £6 -> £6.50 -> £7 as a contract change that was not agreed to

I had to fill out a little form but it was otherwise quite painless (I will be doing the same on our Emirates cruise next year on Oceana).
Last edited by Kendhni on 15 Jul 2018, 17:15, edited 2 times in total.


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Re: Britannia B818

Post by Librarian » 15 Jul 2018, 17:58

I had a very similar embarkation experience on Britannia in June. I was given a time of 15.30, as I travel solo and drive a couple of hours to Southampton I like to allow time for disasters. I was in the queue for CPS at 12.30 and on board in the buffet at 13.00. Not even time in the terminal to get a drink. Way exceeded my expectations especially having read several revports of disastrous embarkation. In the main I loved Britannia, if only it had a full prom, when using the outside area I felt rather disconnected to the sea.
Looking forward to the rest of your report.

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Re: Britannia B818

Post by GillD46 » 15 Jul 2018, 18:17

We also liked Britannia, mainly for the vast choice of dining venues which meant we didn’t use the MDR once.

Looking forward to the next instalment.
Gill


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Re: Britannia B818

Post by oldtimer » 15 Jul 2018, 21:48

Don't bother with next instalment, you need to get out more.

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Re: Britannia B818

Post by Kendhni » 16 Jul 2018, 05:52

Dining
For this cruise Julie and I decided that we weren't even going to pack formal garb - it was casual the entire way. Prior to going we received no information about what nights would be formal (nothing in the personaliser or any literature sent out by P&O). Having read the P&O FAQ pages it was apparent that the only places that required formal gear were the dining rooms (inc Glass House and Sindhus) and the Crows Nest, so there was no issue with the entertainment venues or bars.

I did my best to guess which nights were formal and we booked Sindhu's through the cruise personaliser. When we got onboard it turned out that was a formal night so we changed it from Skagen night to Copenhagen night.

For breakfast and lunch we used the buffet. The staff in there are great except that sometimes we went up to get the next course only to find our table had been cleared and, on one occasion, someone else was sitting at it. Fortunately I found this amusing, there were many other seats available. The nice thing was that, in the main, the food in the buffet was hot (so often buffets can be cold). On some occasions we grabbed-and-went from the grab-and-go area by the pool - there is a range of sandwiches, wraps, salads and desserts available (plus some warm pasties).

On most formal nights we ate in The Beach House and got excellent service from Vimi and Derek (especially on our wedding anniversary when they kept us a great seat for the sail out from Stockholm). It cost a few quid extra but the food and service were well worth it. Each night we made sure to try something different from the menu but saved the lava rock steaks for our anniversary (beautifully cooked, even though I say so myself).

On other nights we ate in the Peninsular dining room (Freedom dining). The food was the usual dishes we are used to from P&O, but we both felt the sparkle had been lost a bit ... maybe they were just trying to change the tables too quickly ... it felt a bit rushed and not as personal as it had the last time we were on Britannia.

We didn't get a chance to try the glass house and Julie could not put together a menu from the Epicurean, so we didn't try there either. We did however try the ice creams and Eric Lanlard pastries on deck 5 which were fantastic - nearly ended up in divorce when I went to try a bit of Julies
pastry :(

FInally, our night at Sindhu's ... we have missed out on this previously (although we have tried the lunch time nashtas) and all I can say is wow!!! What I thought was going to be a 3 course meal turned into a fantastic 8 course banquet and has to be one of the best meals I have ever had. I do like Indian food but generally have to reach for the Gaviscon the next day - not with Sindhus, all the flavour was there but none of the burning or numbing of the lips and tongue (through overuse of chillis). We had menu B and could not fault a single dish or flavour ... especially the dark chocolate sphere ... after eating that I was ready to marry the chef.

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Re: Britannia B818

Post by GillD46 » 16 Jul 2018, 06:51

We really rate Sindhu’s. I agree good Indian food is about spices and flavour and not necessarily about heat. Sindhu’s do it well.

Thanks for your comprehensive reports.
Gill

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Re: Britannia B818

Post by Stephen » 16 Jul 2018, 07:55

oldtimer wrote:
15 Jul 2018, 21:48
Don't bother with next instalment, you need to get out more.
:lol:

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Re: Britannia B818

Post by Kendhni » 16 Jul 2018, 19:24

Just a quick update this time.
Julie loves and collects Doug Hyde's so we had a conversation with Lisa (the Whitewall rep onboard). She had a couple of interesting pieces that were exclusive to P&O but, at first I don't think she was convinced we were serious (given it was towards the end of the day and I was my usual scruffy self). Ultimately we we bought both and another one that she had mentioned (I picked it up for Julie for our anniversary).

The little update is that the artwork arrived this evening very well packaged. I wasn't expecting for another few weeks. Great job Lisa and Whitewall.

Now I have to start thinking of excuses as to why I can't put them up this weekend. :(
Last edited by Kendhni on 16 Jul 2018, 19:25, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Britannia B818

Post by Kendhni » 17 Jul 2018, 05:44

Entertainment part 1
PULSE - what can I say about Pulse? They were our preferred show to watch in the Live Lounge. The lead guitarist is brilliant and the drummer, Baby Ben, is a good laugh (he just seemed to really enjoy being there and to have an affinity with others in the group).

They did a wide variety of music including disco (yeuch), Motown, Queen, an entire show of Dire Straits and some Pink Floyd (the greatest British Band ever). They even did some AC/DC and it was weird to watch an elderly bald headed gentleman head banging and playing air guitar ... good on him, he was having a great time. There was meant to be a session of Pink Floyd but it was announced that they had technical difficulties and had to cancel it. However they did do a few Floyd numbers including 'Comfortably Numb', 'Wish you were here' and 'The Wall' (so I was in auditory heaven). For the Dire Straits session the Pulse lead guitarist was front and centre and they backed Pulse up with the guitarist and drummer from the Headliners theatre - they really got the house rocking that night.

The vocalists were good but sometimes the band was drowning them out. It was great to see that the singers were coming off the stage and onto the dance floor (and generally seemed to be enjoying themselves). For me the two highlights from the singers were 'Comfortably Numb' and 'Purple Rain', but all of them did great solos at some point.
Last edited by Kendhni on 17 Jul 2018, 05:45, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: Britannia B818

Post by oldtimer » 19 Jul 2018, 21:59

KENDHNI I cannot understand why you think anybody is interested in every part of your life, who cares where you had breakfast etc etc

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Re: Britannia B818

Post by oldbluefox » 19 Jul 2018, 22:48

I, for one, enjoy other peoples' reviews and am grateful they take the time and trouble to post them. Next instalment Kendhni?

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Re: Britannia B818

Post by Gill W » 19 Jul 2018, 23:21

oldtimer wrote:
19 Jul 2018, 21:59
KENDHNI I cannot understand why you think anybody is interested in every part of your life, who cares where you had breakfast etc etc
I thought your first comment was some sort of joke, but I can see now you appear to be serious. I’m really surprised, as, although people have had differences on this forum, we have kept it generally amicable. Therefore, I’m sad to see actual trolling on this forum.

Please keep posting, Ken. I’m enjoying your reports, and if anybody doesn’t want to read them, they don’t have to open the thread.
Gill

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Re: Britannia B818

Post by GillD46 » 19 Jul 2018, 23:32

I think most of us thoroughly enjoy reading about other forum member's cruises, including where they have breakfast. I lnow I certainly do, and I appreciate the time and effort that goes into writing them!
Gill

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Re: Britannia B818

Post by Happydays » 19 Jul 2018, 23:38

Ken,
I also have been enjoying your review as I probably won't be on Britannia due to the size but of course that's just a personnel choice. Ignore the rude comments from the nasty troll! People like that we're better off with out, like Gill I thought the fist comment was meant to be funny (but wasn't) :wave:

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Re: Britannia B818

Post by Kenmo1 » 20 Jul 2018, 07:53

oldbluefox wrote:
19 Jul 2018, 22:48
I, for one, enjoy other peoples' reviews and am grateful they take the time and trouble to post them. Next instalment Kendhni?
I feel exactly the same about reviews and really appreciate it when people take the time to add a review. I have learned a lot of useful information from many of them. Sorry to see your remark oldtimer but the choice is yours whether you read them or not.

Please carry on Kendhni.

Maureen

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Re: Britannia B818

Post by Jan Rosser » 20 Jul 2018, 07:59

As a Britannia fan I love to hear about other people's experiences on the ship and know from posting reviews myself that it takes time and effort to put the report together - keep it up Kendhi - waiting for next episode :thumbup:
Janis


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Re: Britannia B818

Post by CaroleF » 20 Jul 2018, 09:33

Please keep posting the review. I think it can be really interesting when people tell where they had different meals. Sometimes it can be somewhere we would never thought of going - eg dinner in the buffet - so it's interesting to read of other people's experience. Ignore the rude comments.

Carole

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Re: Britannia B818

Post by Manoverboard » 20 Jul 2018, 09:46

oldbluefox wrote:
19 Jul 2018, 22:48
I, for one, enjoy other peoples' reviews and am grateful they take the time and trouble to post them. Next instalment Kendhni?
Me too but less so from anybody who didn't watch the World Cup, reports on that from Ken would have been really cool :lol:

ps … I had Wheet-a-Bix for my breakfast …. just saying :angel:




.
Last edited by Manoverboard on 20 Jul 2018, 12:34, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Britannia B818

Post by oldbluefox » 20 Jul 2018, 10:10

Manoverboard wrote:
20 Jul 2018, 09:46
oldbluefox wrote:
19 Jul 2018, 22:48
I, for one, enjoy other peoples' reviews and am grateful they take the time and trouble to post them. Next instalment Kendhni?
Me too but less so from anybody who didn't watch the World Cup, reports on that from Ken would have been really cool :lol:
Just goes to show we're not all perfect!!! :lol:
(and thee's a bit dicky sometimes!!)
Last edited by oldbluefox on 20 Jul 2018, 10:10, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: Britannia B818

Post by rita17 » 21 Jul 2018, 08:02

As I haven't yet been on Britannia I am really enjoying your reviews as it will help me decide whether to go on her. I generally like the smaller P & O ships. I hope you'll keep posting.

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Re: Britannia B818

Post by Onelife » 21 Jul 2018, 10:42

I was of the same opinion as Gill in that l thought the first post was a joke. Having read the second post l am now of the opinion that 'oldtimer needs to get out more. :thumbdown:

As for Ken's review?.......l haven't read any of them as l find them quite depressing!!....you would feel the same if you hadn't had a cruise for 15 years.

As always......donations to the onelife cruise appeal

Thank you. :thumbup:

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Re: Britannia B818

Post by Stephen » 21 Jul 2018, 15:59

If it's a one way trip, count me in for 50p :thumbup:
Last edited by Stephen on 21 Jul 2018, 15:59, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Britannia B818

Post by Kenmo1 » 21 Jul 2018, 17:20

Stephen wrote:
21 Jul 2018, 15:59
If it's a one way trip, count me in for 50p :thumbup:
That's really mean of you, Stephen. You could have least made it a pound. :shock:

Maureen

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Re: Britannia B818

Post by Onelife » 21 Jul 2018, 17:43

Thanks for sticking up for me again Maureen your 'contributions' always bring tears to my eyes.

:wave:

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Re: Britannia B818

Post by oldbluefox » 21 Jul 2018, 17:45

So will Stephen's 50p when he tells you where he is going to put it :lol:

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Re: Britannia B818

Post by Onelife » 21 Jul 2018, 17:55

I remember what happened the last time he gave me a helping hand.......He can stick is 50p l've never been the same since :lol:

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Re: Britannia B818

Post by Stephen » 22 Jul 2018, 08:10

Onelife wrote:
21 Jul 2018, 17:43
Thanks for sticking up for me again Maureen your 'contributions' always bring tears to my eyes.

:wave:
A kick in the nuts can have that affect.

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Re: Britannia B818

Post by sunseeker16 » 22 Jul 2018, 09:28

Thanks to Kendhini for his review. I am under the impression that there might be more to come, should he decide to continue. It takes effort to write up a cruise; it doesn’t take a lot to snipe or post one-line irrelevances.


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Re: Britannia B818

Post by cruisin_duo » 23 Jul 2018, 12:23

Just caught up with your review, so thank you for posting.


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Re: Britannia B818

Post by Mamil1 » 23 Jul 2018, 12:44

Please continue with the review Kendhni,i’m on Britannia shortly and finding it very interesting/useful.Don’t let one boorish character bother you.

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Re: Britannia B818

Post by Kendhni » 29 Jul 2018, 10:15

Sorry I haven't got back to this (desperately trying to catch up in work). But next episode

Other Entertainment
We went to see many of the Headliners shows. Several we had seen before but there were a couple of new ones as well. The new Astonish show was very good and well worth seeing. It is mix of song, dance and magic. I can't say I was "astonished" but we both thoroughly enjoyed the show. Other shows during our little voyage
- Jimmy Tamley, the ventriloquist was very funny, especially the closing part of his act
- Philip Browne (singer), we did not see his show but other passengers had told us it was very good
- Jenna Lee-James (singer), good but not really our cup of tea
- John Courtenay (pianist and comedy), very enjoyable
- Tucker (comedian) very good in both his Headliners and adult show. One of those all-rounder type entertainers that can sing, dance and crack a few jokes (like Brian Conley)
- Stephen Frost Improv Show (comedy), blimey he is tall, had its moments but some of the sketches went on a bit long
- Bootleg McCartney (Beatles tribute), I am not a Beatles or a Wings fan but we did see part of his show which looked good (if you are Beatles and Wings fan)
- The 4 tunes (singers) we did not see them (the lure of Pulse doing a Pink Floyd set won that nights entertainment choice - although the PF got cancelled :( )
There was also
- Jean Heard guest speaker
- Limelight entertainment. We didn't go to the Limelight so can;t say much about them (there was Wendi Peters, Darren Day, Dean Andrews, and someone else whose name escapes me (sorry I have given loaned all the Horizon and information about the cruise to a friend who is thinking of booking this cruise next year ... it might have been Claire Sweeney))

During the day time there was the usual dancing, bingo, choir practice and flea market stalls. The big 'sale' item on the ship was Russian Dolls, I had thought about taking a few home until I saw the price (ranging from several hundred to several thousand), however they were beautifully painted and not like the little cheap one my grandmother used to have and I played with as a kid.

On afternoons when the weather wasn't the best we called into the cinema (The Studio). The movies shown were bang up to date and I was surprised that the cinema was usually full with no seats for the late arrivals. Shows included 'The mountain between us, Peter Rabbit, and some oldies like Armageddon.

Overall, compared to the Caribbean, I would say there was more day time entertainment. Overall we really did not have nay time to be bored so congratulations to Neil Oliver and his team.


Late one night, about 11:30 to midnight we were also all up on deck, freezing as we passed under a bridge (whose name escapes me ... how embarrassing). Apparently there was only a few feet of clearance for Britannia.

I will try to get to the ports next.
Last edited by Kendhni on 29 Jul 2018, 10:19, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Britannia B818

Post by Manoverboard » 29 Jul 2018, 10:26

Was it the Oresund Bridge ? :wave:

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Re: Britannia B818

Post by Kendhni » 30 Jul 2018, 05:35

I think you are correct MOB - that sounds familiar

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Re: Britannia B818

Post by Kendhni » 12 Aug 2018, 06:21

Ports of Call

Day1 - at Sea
This started out as lovely day, so it was up early (as we always do), breakfast and out on deck. Our preferred area being the Serenity pool. Unfortunately by mid morning we sailed into some fog which really dropped the temperature and the fog horn made you jump out of your skin every few minutes - plus the wind got up. We opted to head in and explore the ship and see what other entertainment was on. The British, being a hardy bunch, meant that many stayed out on deck, albeit wrapped in towels, blankets and fleeces. We ended up in the Studio watching "The Mountain Between Us" with Kate Wislett and Idris Elba - very good it was too.

Day 2 - at sea
This was more of a Caribbean style day, the weather was lovely so we were up on deck for most of the day. This was a formal night so we went to the Beach House and had a lovely meal. We then went to see the Headliners (the theatre was full of waiters sitting waiting for the show - and not one offered me a drink). Then off to see Pulse late night show. This was also the night where we all stood up on a freezing cold deck at midnight to watch the sale under the bridge.

Day 3 - Warnemunde.
We had originally booked a tour into Rostock from Warnemunde, but a couple of weeks before the cruise we got notification that the ship would be going into Rostock instead - so we cancelled the tour. We pulled in early in the morning to what looked like an industrial port - a bit chilly. After breakfast we took the bus into Rostock (about 20-30 minutes). The bus was complimentary if you booked the select fare or 4Euro each way if you had booked the saver fare (they scanned the cruise card as you boarded the bus and, I assume, it got charged to your on board account) . As we left the ship locals handed out tourist walking maps - make sure you grab one - my only issue was is that nobody told us where on the map the drop off point was.

It started off a little damp but that soon cleared up and we explored Rostock which was a lovely little town. Lots of shops (so Julie was happy, despite being outnumbered by me and the credit card). One thing, we noticed and it applied to most ports, is that shops did not seem to open until about 10AM.

Day 4 - at Sea
It was a bit blustery and overcast in the morning so Julie decided to peruse the wares on the tat stalls. They had the usual smelly stuff, £200 body warmers, inch of gold, watches etc. but the cruise specialty item seemed to be painted boxes and Russian dolls. Absolutely lovely to look at and appreciate the detail of the artwork but eye watering prices. In the afternoon it brightened up so we sat out and enjoyed the weather.

Day 5 - Helsinki
Like Rostock this looked like an industrial port requiring a bus to get into the heart of the city. As before it was free for select passengers or 4Euro for saver passengers. It was a muggy old day, overcast with a little drizzle. The local agents handed out walking maps so we set off (once we had figured out where the bus had left us). Lots of trams but we opted to walk up to the Rock church. It took about half an hour to reach and then cost 6Euro to get in - a bit expensive I thought, but what the heck, I am on holiday.

On leaving that we then consulted the map and headed towards the Sibelius monument. It took about another 40 minutes or so to walk there but by this time it was brightening up a bit (and I realised my choice of jacket had not been the best, being a full lightweight waterproof jacket that had been keeping the drizzle out but was now keeping the moisture in). We then walked back into the shopping area, strolled around a bit before heading back for the bus (Julie didn't even buy anything :) ).

Day 6 - St Petersburg
Sorry will pick up on this later

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