Wonderful cruise - for the most part
Baltic & Northern Europe
Emerald Princess- Great -
-cabin design is excellent - closet area huge and open - situated such that it blocks light from opening bathroom door so as not to disturb DH when you make a mid-night visit - adequately spacious room w/ balcony
-cabins on Riviera deck in low 600's will feel ship's vibration, being under stacks and will hear late night and early morning furniture moving noise from Horizon Court dining area directly above as they move tables and chairs to floor clean every day.
-same area cabin is very stable and does not experience rocking/rolling at all, even in rough seas
- staff very friendly and responsive
- John Lawrence lectures on each port- comprehensive knowledge of history, geology, customs, economy, etc. - interesting and often humorous - accompanied by slides - also guides as we pass by interesting areas - Princess broadcasts these on ship's TV also
- great Russian folklore presentation on ship first night in port at St. Petersburg (you More
don't really need to take the excursion offering into city for one of these)
- remarkably good prices on-board for items also found in ports - matroyshka Russian nesting dolls were cheaper that those in port!
Okay or not so great-
- food often bland in regular dining rooms, but some stand-out meals
-Crown Grill meats covered in heavy sauce, masking flavors, or just bland
- every port was very interesting, but needed more time in Stockholm (7:00 am to 1:30 pm only)
- major disappointment when capt. chose not to go into Oslo because of pilot's strike, while other ships did go in and were able to leave as well
- entertainment by Princess dancers and singers very good, comedians okay to not so good
- on-board activities are game formats, gambling, shopping, spa, walking on deck, nothing of cognitive interest except for Lawrence lectures
- remember to put your do not disturb tag in door lock if you are in your room after say 9:00 am and you have hearing impairment or are doing something like showering or hair drying that would prevent your hearing steward's knock on cabin door before entering
-ship's city maps need more detail and indication of where ship may be docked Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
Open Air history museum is a distance to walk to, but every bit worth it - fascinating! Homes and shops moved here from all over Denmark to reflect the history.
We took the Princess train to and from Berlin (about 3 hrs.), but arranged our own walking tour w/ Sandeman's. The train was very comfortable and new. We were given water, tea, coffee, and snacks in the am and a sandwich meal in the pm. Very helpful, knowledgeable guide on train w/ us, who accompanied us on the bus in Berlin to the Hilton which was the pick-up place for the return to the train in the afternoon.
Sandeman's tour guide was a university student, very knowledgeable and pleasant. However, because of the long distances between sights, it might be a good idea to take the hop-on, hop-off bus. We did get to see the parking lot which was once the sight of Hitler's bunker, though, and some other places not included in the HOHO. Because of the long walks, we were not able to go inside any sight in the available time.
Get Rick Steve's Scandinavia and take it apart for each port to reduce weight and use as a guide to walking tour here and in every port - essential! Very interesting city!
Take a canal boat ride and go see Tivoli at night.
Be aware that many of the restaurants in Tivoli close at 6:00 pm.
Rosenborg Palace was fascinating - be sure to see the Treasury Room for all the crown jewels and jewelry!
Food is extremely expensive.
Grand Hotel is okay, a bit run down, but has a great restaurant and superb breakfast and is only a half block from the train station!
Took the ship's shuttle into Helsinki - stop very near famous Stockman department store, and from there walked through the city park to Market Square where locals sell their handcrafted and other items. You can see the major cathedral and church within a block from there.
We did not get to go into Oslo because capt. made a decision not to because of a pilot's strike and concern we would not be able to leave. Other ships went in and had no problem leaving. We heard from others that this was a fantastic port, the most interesting, so my rating is based on impressions from others who got to go in.
Alla Tours with Ellena as guide was incredible! We saw: subways lavishly decorated, a city tour,the Hermitage view from across the river, early morning (less crowded) tour through Hermitage, had a lovely lunch in a restaurant,took a boat ride, saw The Church of the Spilled Blood, Yusupov Palace, and St. Issac Cathedral on 1st day. The 2nd day we saw the St. Peter and Paul fortress and Cathedral there,had a warm sandwich lunch on board the hydrofoil, the Peterhof gardens and fountain park, the amazing Catherine palace with the dazzling Amber (all made of amber!)Room, and the beautiful blue, gold, and white St. Nicholas church. All the while our guide is telling us about the history, the art, the economy of historic times as well as the present - her knowledge and ability to answer any question was superb. She also had a knack for figuring out how to route us around other tour groups for the best views and smooth passage.
You do NOT need a visa for this - being on any organized tour (not justs the ship's which is twice as expensive) gives you a blanket visa for all members of the tour.
This city was a major highlight of all of our 35+ years of travel experiences. The opulence and beauty of the palaces and churches is a must to experience!
Although it was very cold and pouring rain (after days of glorious weather) this was a reallly interesting port@! VASA museum - go early by 1st HOHO boat - amazing! Gamla Stan - old city - a must!
Beautiful old walled city with very helpful locals! We took the Rick Steve's walking tour and one near the "sweater wall" that lets you walk the top of the city walls for some fantastic views (3 euros each I think).
Great shopping for locally made sweaters at sweater wall, linens in shops, juniper wood items and other handcrafted items in the square just off the main square. Also, there is a shop on the right just before you go through the city gate that is Estonia Made - very reasonable prices at this shop.