Princess's transfer service was outstanding. We were met at Copenhagen airport's luggage claim and escorted a waiting bus. We were brought to our hotel and our bags were brought to our room. Two days later we left them outside our hotel door and the bags were delivered to our stateroom. The last night of the cruise the bags were picked up then staged in a building next to the airport bus drop off location, and there were many Princess people directing passengers to their bags then into the airport terminal. Check-in at the ship was very fast with no waiting in line.
For us, we stayed at the wrong pre-cruise hotel, the Kong Arthur. Although the room and bathroom were large and very nice, the hotel is "green," carbon neutral with no air conditioning. The outside temperature got up to 73 degrees but our room was 89 and only went down to 79 at night with all the windows open, which also allowed a lot of noise inside. The hallway also felt like a sauna and we didn't get the proper rest following our long flight. The buffet breakfast was really good but not included with the room price. Not a problem for us, but the metro transportation station is a 5-7 minute walk away and the most touristy areas, like Tivoli, Nyhavn, Stroget shopping street, are 15-20 minutes away.
Our stateroom was very nice with a comfortable bed, desk and chair, tv cabinet with refrigerator, small table, 2 small end tables, a large open closet, a shelf unit with safe, and lots of mirrors that made the room appear larger. The balcony was spacious for more than the 2 of us and our cabin attendant kept the room spotless and the ice bucket full. In the bathroom there was a 2-prong U.S.-style electrical outlet (the prongs had to be the same size), a 3 prong outlet above the desk and another one behind the flatscreen tv. The European-style 2-prong plug we used at the hotel did not fit into the stateroom's outlets. The Eucalyptus scented bath products were a minor problem for this allergy sufferer. Room service for coffee a couple of mornings and for bottled water and sodas on other occasions was prompt.
Other than during the first day's emergency muster drill, the ship seemed half empty. It was never overcrowded in the main dining rooms, the Horizon Court buffet, the main showroom, lounges, casino, etc. About 3 non-smoking nights at the Casino was appreciated. Food was good and the service was excellent in the dining room. Water glasses were not allowed to be empty and used dishes immediately were picked up. Even the service in the buffet was good. As soon as you were seated people were taking beverage requests. We purchased and easily used up one coffee card for a slight savings.
One problem did occur at the Internet Cafe the day before disembarkation. The printer wasn't working during the day and caused a lot of problems for people trying to print airline boarding passes. The problem was fixed in the evening and they had a special 15 minute package that we used in addition to the 15 free minutes coupon found in our stateroom.
The highlight of on board activity was John Lawrence's port lectures. The day before each port, he outlined in some detail useful information and history of the city we were about to visit. The in-person shows were better than watching the tapes on tv in the cabin, as he injected a lot of humor into the live lectures. As a bonus, he also gave a lecture about the last Russian czar's family, Nicolas & Alexandra, Anastasia and the other children. He was also available almost every evening to answer questions.
The shows were good, although the best was our night in St. Petersburg. Guessing we would be too tired for an evening excursion, and we were, we were pleasantly surprised to find a local Russian folk dance/song group performing in the on board theater. Although the people who went into town for evening performance were pleased, I don't think we missed much by staying on the ship.
After investigating private shore excursion companies, we decided to use Princess. They may have cost more but each was excellent and well-prepared. After meeting on board, we would march off the ship and onto our tour bus. A tip is to go to the gathering place early. As soon as a busload of people were there, they were led off the ship early. Many times I saw private company's on the dock waiting for their guests or at venues waiting to get in. We always walked straight inside buildings and a couple of times, most notably at the Peterhof summer palace outside St. Petersburg, we were the first group inside. See our port reviews for more information.
Sometimes there was a line to get back on the ship and the worst lines were in St. Petersburg the first day to to through Russian Customs upon entering, then returning, but not too bad to make us late.
Overall, we were very pleased with the Emerald, the Baltic itinerary (although skipping Aarhus and spending more time in Stockholm would have been great), and highly recommend this cruise