17th Apr 2015
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Getting used to being on board
Author: Max Williams
Getting used to being on board

Having made their way to Copenhagen to board their Baltic cruise, Max and Jenny share their first impressions of being on board and the things you need to know.

It was with a feeling of excitement that we eventually embarked from Copenhagen on our first cruise – on the Baltic Sea to St Petersburg. We opted for a short eight-day cruise. The shi, Poesia, launched in 2008, is one of 12 from the Italian MSC cruise line.

Poesia has all the trappings that one would expect from the Italians – lots of brass, colourful decor and glitz. Because we had nothing to compare it with, we’re guided only by our experiences on board, and considered this as a four-five star floating hotel. It definitely didn’t have a carnival type atmosphere and seemed to be fairly low key and very relaxed – more casual than we expected.  At the formal Gala nights on the two at-sea days, I saw a couple of tuxes only, with most guys opting for jackets and open-neck shirts. Some were even wearing denim. On this cruise we met just one other Aussie couple –maybe only a handful of others were on board. At rare times, we heard some Aussie twang cut through the mellow European soundwaves, like a knife through butter.

There was an abundance of food on board. Breakfast and lunch at the buffet meant you would choose what you wanted, however, a more refined sit down service was also offered. For dinner, we were allocated the first sitting at 6.30pm and chose the Allegrissimo drinks package (about $33/day each). This gave us unlimited drinks with cappuccino-style coffees and ice creams included. The problem with this was that there was a tendency to try to get your money’s worth – by having that extra cocktail or three! Our livers responded with rapturous applause when we disembarked. Generally meals were small in size but there were lots of different courses and being an Italian shipping line, plenty of filling pasta. The brewed coffee was awful, so it was lucky we had access to the decent stuff.

Because the passengers were so language diverse, the idea of a comedian for the nightly shows was out of the question. The theatre, which holds over 1000 people, was a great venue for our entertainment. It included lots of can-can dancing by the show girls and boys, cabaret-style singing, acrobatics and feats of strength, illusionists, mono wheel riders and operatic singing. According to our dinner buddies, who had been on a number of cruises, the entertainment was lacking in variety and wow factor. In our jetlagged state, it was easy to drift off during the 30-minute shows. On our final night, however, the show was an extravaganza with all Poesia entertainers doing their stuff. It was certainly the best for the week. There doesn’t seem to be much to do during the days at sea. But, if you consider bingo, cards, cooking, learning the cha cha or Russian as entertainment, then you will have been well catered for. There is a casino on board, which we attended on one occasion and broke even. However, smoking was permitted in the casino, which is rather off-putting.

At the first sign of any sunshine, the pool areas buzzed with life. The lounges were crammed and sunny spaces at a premium. We didn’t even contemplate joining the Vitamin D-deprived groups (the warmest daily temperature during the cruise was about 18 degrees) and opted instead, for a nice quiet spot with a good book and one of those yummy cocktails.

Next week, read about where Max and Jenny visit on their Baltic cruise.





    COMMENTS

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    Mary
    18th Apr 2015
    9:03am
    A very realistic picture of first impressions -
    Paul
    18th Apr 2015
    10:46am
    MSC is not a great cruise line. Although their ships are beautiful and the Gelato great, that is about all that l can say in favor of this cruise line. The smoking that is allowed in the casino and several bars, spreads throughout the ship like wildfire! The fine dining experience is terrible.
    Their waiter/service staff are not to the same standard as other cruise lines. Probably because they don't recommend tipping! Buffet food was good . The entertainment is about 30 years behind other cruise lines
    CM
    18th Apr 2015
    2:39pm
    Doing a baltic cruise with Regal Princess in August any advice about ship or cruise
    pixii
    23rd Apr 2015
    6:01pm
    Baltic or anywhere with Princess is wonderful !
    Pack mix of clothing , layers are best , plastic poncho , umbrella , comfy walking shoes ,
    Great trip , St Petersberg fantastic. ! ! Enjoy.
    Radish
    26th Apr 2015
    5:48pm
    always take your own bottle of Nescafe or whatever when cruising. None of the coffee we have encountered has been any good! We always take those anodised cups with the lids as well and you can make a cup and take it with you wherever you go on the ship.
    Radish
    26th Apr 2015
    5:50pm
    comments from friends who have been on Italian ships...the large number of European cruisers (which would be natural of course) and the inability to communicate with them.
    Alan
    2nd Jun 2015
    6:37pm
    It was good to read the comments from a first time "cruiser" as I have never been on a cruise but am thinking about it. Also good to hear other peoples comments.
    MADMAX
    2nd Jun 2015
    8:28pm
    Thanks for your feedback Alan. Jenny & I didn't know what to expect of our first cruise & we had resisted the thought of ever going on one. However, it fitted in with our other travel plans & we particularly loved the idea of getting to Russia (St Petersburg) without the complicated Visa issues. So the Baltic was a great choice over 8 days. We absolutely loved it & are heading off to the Med in September for another cruise with Celebrity. It's certainly a great way to divide your trip into separate parts - land & sea. Alan, do it - you won't regret the decision.
    Gra
    2nd Jun 2015
    9:28pm
    I have only done one cruise so far although there is another one booked for the end of the year. The first cruise was with Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) on "Pride of America" which was doing a 7 night cruise out of Honolulu and visiting the islands of Maui, the big island (Hawaii) and Kaua'i.
    NCL is big on free cruising which means you have a choice of a number of restaurants to dine in, many of them at no cost although there are several where a small cover charge applies and you do need to book for them. All sailing but for the last afternoon is done early evening and at night. First stop is on Maui where you spend two days, next port of call is Hilo on the east coast of the Big Island where you get to spend one day then overnight you cruise around to Kona on the west coast. The following night you sail to the island of Kaua'i where you have another two days. All NCL Hawaiian Island cruises leave Honolulu Saturday evening and return to Honolulu the following Saturday morning. I would thoroughly recommend this cruise to anyone new to cruising, we found it to be low key, relaxing and an excellent introduction to cruising.


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