This cruise was a little different for us as the others have all originated from the US and we have used Princess Transfers from/to the airport. This time, we flew into Copenhagen a few days early and got ourselves to the ship. I must say, the check-in was much quicker than usual and their were Princess reps to guide all through the process...and it was very nice NOT to have to wait for our luggage to show up at our room since we wheeled it right on ourselves.
After talking with our daughter and family who took this cruise last year, we purposely chose an inside cabin to avoid the late-night sun. It was large and fine, and on the Caribe Deck, you have many choices to keep you away from the elevators and laundry rooms, so it was very quiet. (not that we spend much time in our cabin anyway).
The Emerald is a large ship and this cruise was sold out, so it tended to be pretty crowded at times. We chose anytime dining as the times in the different ports varied, but found a wonderful waiter and steward and our request for them was never a problem. The food, as we have always found on Princess, was excellent. We skipped the shows as we had seen most of them on our Panama Canal cruise in 2010 (Princess needs to update them more often.)
This cruise has a very packed port schedule and only 2 sea days - frankly, if you are coming in from Canada or the US I would skip the tux and gown and just bring a nice travel dress/sportcoat and tie as the formal days are not that great. If you are a Captain's Circle member don't expect much from the Captain's Circle "party." We were stuffed into the Princess Theater, handed a free drink voucher, and shown a 20 minute commercial for the latest Princess Ship (The Royal?) Not what we have experienced in the past.
Another review told you about SPB tours. I second that! Alla Tours is also good. Unless this is your ONLY chance to see Berlin, skip the 6 hour train trip/bus ride and do Rostock and Schwerin instead for the Germany port stop. DON'T PAY THE PRINCESS PRICES for a stuffed to the gills tour bus and a single guide trying to herd 40-60 people around. You will pay more and see less than an off-the-ship tour. And don't fall for the "only Princess can guarantee your Russian Visa" line. Any legitimate tour company can take care of your Visa. Also, get your Krone, Kroners, Rubles, or Euros BEFORE you leave or at a local ATM. DON't use the ship exchange. Worse exchange rates and fees I have ever seen!
This is a fast-paced and fully packed itinerary, but we had a thoroughly enjoyable time.
A wonderful "old town" with a strolling street. Good food if you stay away from the main tourist areas.
Did this on our own (3 days ahead of the cruise) with Rick Steves guide
Loved the Viking Museum, the Nobel Peace Prize Museum, and, believe it or not, the City Hall! This is a very easy walk from the port to the town.
Again on our own with Rick Steves
Skip the 6 hours to/from Berlin (leaving you too little time to do anything there) and do Warnemunde, Rostock and Schwerin. Alla and SPB both offer tours here and if combined with St. Petersburg, you get a discount.
We used Alla and had a great time.
For all stops in St. Petersburg, used SPB. Leba, our guide was the best guide we have had on a tour in a long time. She was so knowledgeably and even though we did a lot, we never felt rushed or short-changed. The small group made it so easy to both hear what she said AND to make some extra stops or extend things a bit on some things. And we just breezed by some of the large Princess tour groups.
Stockholm is fantastic, but the ship gives you sooooooo little time here that it was very frustrating. Definitely see the Vasa museum.
Absolutely LOVED the old town here. We did this on our own with Rick Steves guide, then took the tram out to the new Modern Art Museum. Fantastic! All Estonian artists.