Oceania Nautica review: The Baltic & St Petersburg

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It's easy to imagine the Baltic as a cold, grey and unfriendly place, but my cruise on board Oceania's Nautica was typified by sunny days and welcoming ports of call.

My concierge level veranda cabin on Deck 7 was a reasonable size at 216 square feet, with a good sized balcony and plenty of storage space. Our steward Venson acquainted us with the cabin and offered the concierge level Bon Voyage bottle of champagne. For the small additional upgrade fare from the standard veranda cabins I would highly recommend this for the added benefits such as priority boarding, speciality restaurant reservations and use of the Canyon Spa Terrace area on board.

Nautica's onboard decor is quintessentially English country home: dark woods, grand stairways and comfy chairs, with plenty of space to find a nice hideaway.

Oceania is a foodie's dream - you can't miss the fact that this company's per passenger spend on catering is far higher than the industry average. There are loads of choices for breakfast and lunch, and I can highly recommend the Surf and Turf ciabatta of fillet steak and lobster with truffle fries served at Waves Grill by the pool.

For dinner four venues are available to suit every mood: the grand dining room and the terrace café (more casual) both offer open seating, and there are also two speciality restaurants: the Polo Grill, with the ambience of a classic steak house, and Toscana, an elegant northern Italian-inspired restaurant. Booking in advance is highly recommended, and guests can dine at both these restaurants for no additional charge.

The highlight of my cruise has to be St Petersburg in Russia. For many years I have wanted to tick this off my bucket list, and I wasn't disappointed. Travelling to Russia by ship offers the bonus of not having to pre-obtain a visa as long as you participate in the cruise line's shore excursions. I booked onto the St Petersburg highlights tour, which included St Nicholas's Cathedral and the gold domed St Isaac's Cathedral, as well as plenty of photo opportunities by the Hermitage and the Neva River. St Petersburg is a colourful city and every corner holds a new architectural surprise. On my second day I decided to book onto a tour by river to discover why St Petersburg is known as the Venice of the North, and the city truly lived up to this title; the winding rivers and wide canals give you a remarkably different perspective.

The ports of call on this voyage offered a varied selection of well known destinations including Stockholm, Copenhagen, Helsinki, St Petersburg, Tallinn and Gdansk, as well as smaller non-commercial ports such as Klaipeda in Lithuania.

My overall impression of Nautica, one of Oceania's smaller ships, was of a friendly little ship. The onboard staff are unobtrusive but read the needs of guests well, the ship is well maintained, and the country house feel on board together with the casual dress code makes for a pleasant sailing experience. If you like good food, relaxed surroundings and port-intensive itineraries, then Oceania is the one for you.

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Meet the author

Darren Seward is a former Cruise Consultant at Mundy Cruising

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