As others have said, we took this cruise for the itinerary. Since it was our first cruise, we did not know what to expect. I booked our extra nights before & after the cruise in Copenhagen through the Radisson's website. This cost half of what Princess would have charged so I don't know why anyone would book through them. We took a taxi from the airport to the hotel. Princess was going to charge us $120 to get to the hotel and we paid $40 on our own. There was a Princess table set up in the lobby & the woman told us to wait until 3 or 4 in the afternoon to board the ship after all the groups had checked in. it was great advice & we breezed through.
The ship itself was grand. It was everything I expected. it was huge, well organized & super clean. Our mini suite with balcony worked great for the 4 of us. It was well thought out. I never felt cramped. There was plenty of storage so we were able to unpack everything. The bathroom was a good size - bigger than expected. We saw maintenance people working all the time.
I had always heard people rave about cruise ship food so I was coming in with high expectations. I know cooking for thousands cannot be easy but really - can't they cut the rind off the pineapple before serving it? It took a lot of sawing to get it off with that butter knife. We ate mainly in the Horizon Court because it was convenient. We spent the extra $25 per person for dinner at Sabatini's & really should have saved our money. It was heavy on atmosphere & short on food. The menu was very limited with the pasta course being "chef's choice" which means zero passenger choice. I felt nickeled & dimed with the food. I wanted a Diet Coke one day & was asked for my room number so they could charge me so I skipped it. I had hot tea at no charge in the Horizon Court, dining rooms and through room service. I was surprised when I ordered tea at the European style cafe in the Atrium & they wanted to charge me! Ice cream was available at no charge near the pizza counter but if you wanted the "special" ice cream at the cafe, there was a charge. That said, the food was adequate & nobody starved. We loved the $3 flat fee for room service.
The staff are very friendly & well trained. I found getting on & off the ship surprisingly easy. The only port I did not like was Aarhus. I cannot figure out why the ship stops there. I would rather have had another day in Stockholm. the ship docks in an industrial area with lots of commercial traffic so passengers are not allowed to walk off the ship into town. We had to wait for a bus to take us a mile into town. Plus it was pouring rain & we went back to the ship. St Petersburg was the highlight of the trip. We booked a private tour through SPb tours & it was fabulous. Because we were a small group, the tour guide was able to get us to the front of every line. it was expensive & worth every penny. It was hot when we went to Peterhof & my kids loved running through the fountains. I had read that we might have to wait to get off the ship because we were not on a Princess shore excursion but that was not the case at all.
My 9 year old went to the kids club one afternoon when we were at sea. My 14 year old did not go at all. I know Princess is not really geared towards kids but Disney Pictionary for 13-17 year olds??
They were so tired from sightseeing that we watched movies or swam in our free time.
Princess really pushes on-board shopping & art auctions. I think having shops on board with nice souvenirs is great but please don't clutter up the hallways with tables of stuff. And don't tell me not to buy souvenirs in Russia, that I should buy them on board. I wanted to buy a book or magazine but the selection was almost non-existent. The onboard travel guru was great until they started broadcasting his lectures over the PA system. The entertainment was pretty hokey although we enjoyed the crew talent show - they were very genuine.
Overall, the trip went smoothly & we have great memories.