We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and were not sorry. The ports of call were all very interesting.
The Emerald Princess:
-great food (best we have had on a cruise ship), standard cabins with good storage; Good service; International Cafe is good for a quick lunch & snacks; disembarking was simple & fast but embarkation was a wait since everyone came at once (2-3 pm)
-ship is not well suited to cooler climates as it has 3 pools - all outdoor and uncovered - that were seldom used as the weather was not that warm; doesn't have a promenade deck that goes all around; does not have a front viewing area (would have been nice when going through archipelagos).
Our room was on the plaza deck behind the art gallery & near the piazza- was very convenient during this cruise as due to the cooler weather, all the activities centered around the piazza rather than the pools.
Ship was pretty much walking distance from the sites in all More
cities except for Helsinki but we took the JOPO bikes (ship excursion) so did not need the shuttle bus. JOPO bikes are fun but expensive for a bike tour. Helsinki was the warmest day we had so the only day we used the pool deck. (around 21C degrees).
The only other organized tour we took was SPE tours in St Petersburg booked with a group of 16 through cruise critics. Katya at SPE was very good, spoke excellant English and was very conscious to what we wanted to see. Had lunch the first day with borscht and beef stroganoff; second day we stopped at STOLLE (the pie place) for lunch. These were pies to die for!! We saw so much in St Petersburg but unfortunately could not take the hydrofoil to Peterhof as the wind was too strong. Much as I loved seeing everything, I would consider a more relaxed tour if I did it again (no fault of SPE but we are on vacation after all!. Did not really see anything of normal Russian life, only the spectacles of grandeur.
We did not go to Berlin but instead went to Rostock and Schwerin by train using the Lander ticket (for 4 of us). In Schwerin we rented bikes at the railway station and had a lot of fun seeing all the sites. It was a Sunday so everything was closed in Rostock unfortunately. If to do again, I would have gone to Schwerin & spent more time in Warnemunde, a really nice & interesting little seaside town).
ARos museum in Tallinn; Vigeland park in Oslo; Schwerin on bikes; Tallinn walking around; Helsinki (everything); Stockholm the VASA;
Copenhagen - free 3 hour Copenhagen tour at City Hall at 11 AM daily & harbour tour by the same folk at 4 pm each day (cost $17 including boat cruise).
Note re Copenhagen - a 3rd metro line is being built so it is better not to stay near Tivoli right now as it is all under construction. The Nyhavn area is much prettier and interesting. We stayed at the Clarion Neptune & it was great -well located & breakfast plus a light supper are included in the price. Free Internet. Easy to take the metro from the airport to the hotel - cheaper & more convenient than a taxi.
Finally, remember to bring clothes to layer as it can be cold & windy. Sometimes rain. Less