Copenhagen. We spent a day before our cruise in Copenhagen and we stayed at the Best Western Hotel. The hotel was conveniently located near the Nyhavn area and the accommodations were fine. The Nyhavn area is lovely with many restaurants but 25% of the people in Copenhagen smoke so be prepared for lots of second hand smoke in the restaurant district.
Eurodam: Pros: Both embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly. The Eurodam was clean and the on-board decorations and artwork were beautiful. We enjoyed our stateroom with a balcony and the bathroom was larger than most with a tub/shower combination. We felt that the entertainment was very enjoyable. We were pleased with the cruise itinerary with visits to Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden; and Warnemunde and Kiel Germany.
For us the highlight of the cruise was our tours with the independent excursion company SPB Tours. We,and and our travel companions, were extremely pleased with the quality and value of the SPB tours. The SPB itinerary in Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, and Berlin, the tour guides, the cleanliness of their vehicles, the size of our tour group (only 14 people), the restaurant selections, bathroom and souvenir shop stops, and adherence to schedules were all exceptional. The tour guides spoke English very well, were very easy to understand and were passionate about their cities and teaching us about the local culture and fantastic sights. HAL stated that unless your took an excursion with them in Russia, you would be required to have a Visa. This is not true because by touring with SPB in Russia, we were not required to have Visas--just the SPB tour ticket that was e-mailed to us before our cruise. In St. Petersburg we were able to use US Dollars, Euros, and Charge Cards in most places.
Eurodam: Cons: In general the food was okay. The Rembrandt Dining Room seemed to need more assistant waiters to take care of tasks such as refilling water glasses and bringing bread. The main waiters worked very hard. We ate at the Pinnacle Grill Specialty Restaurant. The service was very good but one in our party had a gristly Filet Mignon steak and the baked potato was all dried up. It is a shame that you now have to pay extra for "specialty restaurants" to provide improved service and quality of food which used to be included in your "standard" cruise package 10 to 20 years ago.
We took two HAL ship excursions and they were overpriced and did not live up to the descriptions provided in the ship excursion advertisements. We took the Castles, Lakes, and Roses in Kiel, Germany. Our tour guide (Denise) spoke such poor English that no one was able to understand her. When we arrived at an attraction, most people in our group nestled up to other tour groups so that we could understand what we were seeing.
In summary, we would cruise again with HAL but it would have to be based on itineray and price. We definitely would tour again with, and recommend, SPB Tours because of their exceptional quality and value.