We flew from new York to Amsterdam and spent a few days in the city before our cruise started. Beautiful city with lots to do and great food and museums but very expensive. We arrived on the constelation on a Monday and checked in with no problems and very cooperative crew who helped us solve a problem we had with our bookings. The ship is beautiful and easy to navigate. One of the things that made the cruise special were the captain and cruise director. Captain Tasos is very involved with the passengers and entertainment and should be a stand up comic. The cruise director, John Grantham was a lot of fun and very accessible and engaging. On my previous two cruises on Princess I had no idea who the captain or cruise director was.
Dining: the dining room was beautiful the service was good but the food was a little disappointing. The buffet was very disappointing with a poor selection of food.
Crew : excellent. Everyone was polite , cooperative and helpful. I had a fabulous spa massage.
Cabin: we had a balcony cabin and it was comfortable and attractive.
Activities: these ranged from horrible to excellent
PORTS: We only had a guide in Russia and otherwise navigated on our own.
WARAMUNDE Germany: This port followed a day at sea. It rained all day But we walked around this little beach town which I hear is lovely when its sunny. We took a train to Rostock which was a nice college town. We chose not to take the bus to berlin because it would take too much time out of the day. This was a very pleasant but unexciting port.
STOCKHOLM Sweeden: This followed another day at sea. I loved Stockholm. The archipelago of Islands sailing in and out of Sweeden is just beautiful and it is well worth watching the sailing in and out of the port. The city is beautiful. We used the hop on hop off boats to get around. There was so much choice of what to see including the Vasa museum which is fascinating. We decided not to see it because it would take up most of the day and we would not be able to see the city itself. We had my favorite meal of the trip in a sidewalk cafÃ© there which was a stew of salmon, cod, potatos , and heart of palm with a saffron sauce The only problem I had was that I did not know that I had to pay for the bathrooms and was yelled at by a bathroom attendant. This actually happened in Germany as well. Otherwise it was a wonderful experience, easy to navigate without a guide with great public transportation.
HELSINKI Finland.: This was the day following Stockholm. Helsinki has a fabulous market and town square selling food produce and handicrafts. This was wonderful , but the rest of the city was nothing special and mostly boring. Even the rock Church which everyone recommends was pretty, but just OK.
ST PETERSBURG Russia: This was the day following Helsinki. We spent two days there and our guide mad the most of the two days. We saw the Hermitage museum , The Catherine Palace, The church of the Spilt Blood a synagogue and much more . The days were exhausting but each place we visited was not to be missed.
TALLIN Estonia: This was our fifth day in a row of touring. Taliin is a small medieval city with winding cobble stone streets. It was the perfect port for exhausted people that really needed a sea day. It was relaxing and was the best pace to by souveniers and gifts with a wide selection and the lowest prices of the whole trip.
COPENHAGEN Denmark: This followed a sea day so we had gotten some energy back. Copenhagen is beautiful, the people are friendly and there is a wonderful positive energy in that city. It was also the only place with public toilets in the streets of the city. WE went to a restaurant that was frequented by locals and they only served open faced sandwiches. Three beers and four of these sandwiches cost $100.00. Restaurants were very expensive everywhere but Tallin. Next to Stockholm, this was my favorite port even though there were not as many things to see it just felt great being here. This was our last port. We had one more day at sea before the cruise ended.
Final thoughts : This was a wonderful itinerary in a fascinating part of the world for someone from the US. Not to put a damper on this but one thing I had not considered was how much the trip makes you think about Word War Two and the extent of the devastation in Europe by the Nazis. Each city has a resistance museum and all over you are shown places that were destroyed and had to be rebuilt with pictures of the place before restoration. This was quite and education, but despite this the cruise was wonderful and I am very glad I went on it.