This is the first time we took a cruise tour (land and cruise) before we sailed on June 25, 2013 on the Emerald Princess. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Berlin beforehand. We had a terrific tour director, Lucy, and a wonderful bus driver (Chaba). We only had 21 people on this tour with us and by the end we got to be one happy family! Going on the land tour afforded us the ability to see the beautiful countryside along our journey. We stayed in high-end hotels with dining that was superb, which included local restaurants. We got personalized attention with Lucy as well as answers to all of our questions about the history of the countries we visited. The local guides were good as well. Of course, it all helped that the weather cooperated, sunny and warm.
Once we boarded the ship for Scandinavia and Russia, of course, the weather changed; we knew it would be cooler with rain. Then of course big bus loads on the shore excursions. Unfortunately on our first excursion to Oslo, the guide did not provide any "headset" for us to hear her with and when you have massive tourists around you it is difficult to hear anything; way too crowded at the viking ship museum.
I have to say I was pretty impressed with the food on the ship. It was very good. We did first seating traditional dining, all meals were presented well and tasted very good.
This was a very port intensive trip, and I'm in good shape at 62, and I was glad to get home after 3 weeks! We love the history and culture, however, towards the end of the trip all of the churches, museums, castles as well as the Scandinavian countries started to look alike.
Favorite places: Budapest is amazing! Finland was beautiful as well - take the shore excursion to Porvoo (old town).
We enjoyed the land tour so much that perhaps next time we will skip the cruise and take a Globus tour.