We began our cruise in Copenhagen. Because of our early flight arrival, we had to sit in the cruise terminal for about four hours. This was a situation that could not be avoided, so I cannot complain. People were very chatty, which kept me from napping in the terminal, but then again, I had some interesting, if bleary-eyed, conversations. We also had tea, coffee, and ice water provided by Princess. Some people took the hop on hop off bus, or walked to the Little mermaid statue, but we've seen Copenhagen, and were too tired to do this. We were one of the first to board and had our first of many excellent meals in the main dining room. The food choices were numerous enough, and the quality ranged from very good to excellent. We chose any time dining, and after a while, requested a table for two, rather than sharing a larger table. This was due to the only unpleasant aspect of the cruise. As Americans, my husband and I resented the negative comments from the many Canadians and Australians aboard who considered themselves knowledgeable about what they regarded as the evils of our American system and values, values based on the hard-fought efforts of our founding fathers. When we apologized to the dining room manager about our persistent resistance to sharing a table and explained the reason, he was in sympathy and agreement (and he was NOT American).
A friend of ours who has taken many cruises and has grown tired of them, cynically remarked before our departure, "a cruise is camp for grownups." At times I agreed, especially when I saw some of the childish pastimes that were engaged in (I mean, it was really a laugh to see the seriousness and vigor which passengers displayed in learning line dances. Line dances??? How far the human intellect has fallen! But, happily, I resolved my inner conflict by realizing that Princess offered many options for many tastes, and there was a lovely library and interesting lectures.
The ports were interesting. In Oslo, we walked around on our own and saw the changing of the guard at the palace and "people watched" in the park. It was Sept. 11, and we witnessed some racial profiling on the part of the police, asking for ID from a young man whom we believed was one of the ship's crew. That evening, the captain, who was also the commodore of the entire Princess fleet, asked over the PA system for a moment of silence to remember the tragedy that hit America, but effected the entire world.
In Greenock, Scotland, we took a bus provided by Princess to Edinburgh where we met some friends to see the sites on the Royal Mile. The guide on the bus was very well informed and enthusiastic about the points she discussed. We have been to Dublin before, so we walked into the center of the city and visited St. Stephen's Green, referred to extensively in the works of James Joyce, Grafton Street, and the Archaeological Museum (free entry). In Belfast, we took the free bus from the port to the city center, and attended church services, saw City Hall and the Titanic Memorial there, and went to the food fair, where we had many samples of local produce, cheese, beer, and bread.
In Iceland, we took a private tour we learned about through the Cruise Critic Roll Call. It was more than excellent!!! It was half the cost of the ship's tour, and we traveled in a 12-passenger van. The guide was the owner of the business, and he provided a wealth of information about the sites we saw, the history of Iceland, the economy, and the country's main sources of income.
Due to bad sailing conditions, we skipped Greenland and a port in Norway. We were happy to have two substitutions, instead of being deprived of two more places to explore. We stopped at St. Johns, Newfoundland, and learned about life there by talking to locals and reading the signs in front of historic sites. Our last port was Saint John, New Brunswick, which we have visited before. We took a long walk and saw the City market, the Loyalist Cemetery, and the local churches.
The entertainment on the ship was enjoyable and varied each night.
The cruise ended in Brooklyn, at the cruise ship pier there. People complained because we were not sailing past the Statue of Liberty to Manhattan, but there was a wonderful view of it and the lower Manhattan skyline.
Overall, Princess provided an excellent cruise. We had no complaints, but it was obvious that if we were to have had a problem, the staff of the ship would have been happy to assist us.