PRE CRUISE, SHIP, DINING, ENTERTAINMENT:
We arrived day before around Noon & stayed one night at the Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers which was very convenient & staff there very helpful. Next morning we booked a city/harbor tour with a local tour company which allowed us to return to hotel by 1:00 PM; we took a taxi to cruise port (about $50) & arrived around 2:00 PM.
Since we just attained Platinum status, embarking & disembarking was a breeze but have never had problems prior either. Used Princess transfer for disembarking day & was airport before 9 AM.
The ship as well as our room was very clean and well maintained. Our room was in the rear on the Riviera deck (14th floor) just below the Caribe Cafe which was very convenient; also we did not hear any noise from above although we did experience some vibration from the motors but not enough to bother us. Also, had no problem with the mattress being uncomfortable. Room was very comfortable and loved the balcony which we used a lot due to nice weather.
Used self serve laundry couple times & that worked well. Loved the non smoking throughout the ship except for just a few areas.
We selected this cruise for the itinerary & were not disappointed plus we had spectacular weather the entire cruise. It is a very port intensive cruise so usually by evening we were tired & not concerned too much about the entertainment onboard or fabulous dining. We went one night to see the Princess singers & dancers & they were pretty good but one night was enough. We also went the one night a comedian performed & he was good and the night we were in St. Petersburg, we went to see the local folk music group performance which we enjoyed. Occasionally watched the entertainers in the Piazza area. Did not participate in daytime activities due to all the port sightseeing.
We always ate breakfast & lunch in the Horizon Court or burgers or pizza for lunch. We only ate in the dining room twice, the formal nights and found the service good. On this cruise, did not see a lot of tuxes or formal type dresses on the formal nights. Remaining evenings we ate at the Caribe Cafe which worked well for us. I found the food overall to be good & a nice variety which lots of options so that we never went hungry. I do feel the evening dinner entree options are not as good as they used to be; those options are now at the Crowne Grille. Coffee seemed better than on past cruises.
The only objection we had was the photographers but you can refuse & no pressure from them. Biggest problem was in the evening where multiple areas for photographs were setup & people waiting in line really caused a lot of congestion.
PORTS: Lots of walking; old towns usually cobblestone streets & hills.
Copenhagen city/harbor tour was good when you have limited time. City very clean, people are friendly & most speak English. Very good public transportation.
Oslo we did on our own as we were docked in town & very walkable & very pretty. In the morning we walked across the street to old town & then continued into town to a square by the main pedestrian walk area; we went inside a cathedral for free in the square. Continued on to the central station square & over to the new opera house & walked along waterfront back to ship. After lunch walked along waterfront to City Hall area & went inside.
Leaving port, very scenic.
Aarhus we did on our own; from ship we walked to Gamle By Museum (an outdoor museum of a reconstructed old town) - about 20 minute walk each way & entry fee was $20. Then lots of walking at museum; stopped at cafe there for coffee & biscotti, about $10; used our credit card for everything. In town lots of outdoor cafes and pleasant. River runs through town; follow the river to the museum.
Berlin we booked through Princess the train tour/bus city tour with lunch & Allied museum. Train ride each way 3 hours but train was very comfortable & with open windows was pleasant. We were very satisfied with this tour & got to see the highlights plus the meal was very good at the hotel. I would have liked another day at this port to see the port area & Rostock.
Tallin we did on our own but took the bus shuttle for $10 round trip; shuttle tickets were at a booth as we got off the ship. Bus dropped us off in lower town near an outdoor market & just a few block away was the entrance to old town & the flower market was there. We walked up to the upper old town & saw all the sights before returning to the lower old town & stopping for a drink at a pub & people watch. A beautiful, charming old town.
St. Petersburg first day we booked with Princess the Catherine Palace, lunch & city tour seeing St. Issac cathedral, Peter & Paul Fortress, Savior on Spilledd blood. A long day, lots of walking beginning with the lines getting off the ship & going through immigration. The palace is amazing & beautiful & can take lots of pictures except in Amber room. Lunch was very good with some musical russian entertainers. Got to see lots of St. Petersburg on the afternoon city tour with several stops. We were pleased with this tour & the guide was very interesting. We were glad we had not booked an evening tour, particularly since there was the folk russian musical group on board that were good.
St. Petersburg second day we booked the canal cruise tour with Princess so had the morning to rest up. Also, no lines when getting off ship. The canal cruise was nice but we saw much of the same areas we had seen the day before so would not do that again. For us, seeing one palace and an overview of the city was enough.
Helsinki we did on our own & used shuttle near ship for $12 round trip to get to town as it was quite a long walk. In town bus dropped us off by the Swedish Theatre & we walked to the Rock church & went inside. On way back we stopped at the railway station & went inside, bought a newspaper from US & then stopped at Stockmans Dept store (no charge for restrooms). From there we walked down the Esplanade to the waterfront market area which is beautiful. Beautiful city with park area along the Esplanade & lots of outdoor cafes; nice city to wander around.
Stockholm we did on our own & walked from ship to old town, Gamla Stan; follow blue line & then continue on sidwalk along waterfront (to your right) until you ssee sign pointing to right for Gamla Stan, cross bridge (first one) & Gamla Stan to your left up a few blocks you will see sign for Palace. Great place to wander around all the nice little shops & cafes. About 30-40 minute walk each way. Leaving the port, the Archipegalio is beautiful scenery.
Would recommend this cruise ship & particularly this itinerary if you are interested in beautiful, old European countries with lots of history. People were all very friendly & helpful and we primarily used our Visa credit card for everything in the ports.