This was our second Princess Cruise, the first being in the late 1980's and we booked it due to the itinerary although we had been to St. Petersburg and Berlin on previous river boat cruises. We opted to go into Copenhagen several days early to experience the city, and we booked accommodations at the Best Western City Hotel. The location was great, the breakfast substantial, and the staff most helpful and accommodating.
We took a taxi from the airport to hotel at a cost of about $50 and another to the pier at $15 per person through arrangements with the hotel.
Since our initial Princess Cruise was years ago, we had not been on such a large ship, and think we prefer a smaller vessel. We found the Piazza noisy and impersonal rather than classy as on a Celebrity ship. The locations of the dining rooms, at the stern and on the lowest passenger decks, can be a challenge to get to depending on the deck and location of your cabin.
We ate in the dining room most evenings and had anytime dining. There are advantages to choosing your own time to dine, however you must plan ahead if you want to attend any shows in the theater, The time required to dine is unpredictable and depends on the others at the table, the food choices made, and the conversation. Although we could have attended a couple of performances, sitting in for a few minutes made us decide to pass on it and choose other options for our evening time. The menu varied each night and there were only a few selections that disappointed. Service is generally good, although one night at table 470, we were rushed and not given some of the items requested. We did dine at Sabatini's and found it most enjoyable. From the appetizers to dessert everything was excellent and would rival some of the best restaurants in the North End of Boston. We felt the extra charge was reasonable for the quality and service. We regularly had breakfast and lunch in the Horizon Cafe, and except for an occasional rude passenger knocking you out of place, that was a pleasant experience. The selection was varied, and everything we tried we found well prepared. My only wish was that less salt was used.
Other options for dining would be the pizza stop, pool deck grill, and International Cafe. One certainly would not go hungry.
Our cabin was well arranged, had a comfortable bed, 2 chairs and a desk. We were on our balcony every day that the weather allowed, and although one had to be careful showering not to soak the floor of the bathroom, our room steward could not have been more accommodating in providing plenty of towels.
I found the library had a decent selection of reference books on the ports we were visiting, and the onboard speaker on the ports gave advice that was useful to both the passenger taking a shore excursion with Princess or for those wishing to do it on their own. This was good, as we found the shore excursion desk, not helpful nor willing to answer questions, so having other resources was necessary when one excursion was cancelled and we did not hear from the staff when requesting a tour at another port.
We really didn't see many passengers watching the movies under the stars. Perhaps the schedule and weather dampened that venue. It seemed most people were frequenting the various cubs and bars onboard. Since we are not smokers and are bothered by the smell of stale smoke, we avoided the Casino, so I cannot comment on that.
Disembarkation could have been a little more convenient for passengers. We were loaded onto a double decker bus, with steps so steep that one woman could barely get up to the second level then could barely get down. Our luggage was brought to a holding area in the airport garage and after finding our suitcases we then had to determine what terminal our airline was in and maneuver our luggage through crowds to find our check-in counters. The departure terminal was the most disorganized I have ever encountered. There were only signs for SAS, and everyone else was wandering around trying to determine where and how to check in for flights. It would have been nice if some Princess Representatives had been there to assist some of the people who were definitely lost and confused. We found one woman, who needed a wheelchair, crying because she was overwhelmed, and was getting no assistance. We helped her locate the line for check-in which was snaking around the the terminal and I only hope she was able to get her boarding pass in time to board her flight.
Will we cruise with Princess again? Maybe, but not in Europe. That particular ship seems more suited to the Caribbean where ports of call are not as intense.
In addition, there seems to be mixed messages about bringing wine and champagne onboard. Each passenger is allowed to bring 750ml of wine or champagne on at embarkation, and told any brought on from ports would incur a $15 charge to keep in your stateroom, or would be held until the end of the cruise. Frequent cruisers with Princess said that the rule is not enforced, and some people even brought hard liquor onboard at embarkation and from ports of call. We could not get a definitive response on this. One of the niceties of cruising in Europe is to try local wine and beer, however, if you cannot bring it onboard from a port of call, you loose that aspect of the cruise. There certainly is not time to stop for a drink in port if you are on a tour.
The weather was not good on this day, and I think we spent more time at the Cathedral than was necessary. Then the bus that was supposed to transport us to the Den Gamle By was about 25 minutes late in picking us up. We stood in the rain waiting with no place to get cover. When we finally got to the location, our time was shortened, and it was not the type of place to race through. Just too much to absorb.
Would have loved to spend more time here. Between the very uneven streets and the need to read information, plus the number of buildings to visit, we just did not have the time needed.
Again, a rainy day. The tour company reversed the order of items with the hopes that the weather would clear. We went to the brewery first, nice, very typical of Germany, then to Rostock. This was a very interesting old city and the weather did break enough to make the visit pleasant. Again, our guide was well spoken, a native of the city who had lived in various parts of the world, and brought a wealth of information to his narration. He also gave us general information on life in the old city.
We had a very personable and clearly speaking tour guide that narrated our bus ride, and tours of the museums. She answered many questions about life in Sweden and everyone seemed pleased. Our original tour was canceled due to the arrival of some heads of states for meetings before the G-20 summit.
Because we were docked within walking distance to the city, we simply walked the city using a route I found in one of the resource books in the library. We were able to see the Upper
Fortress, and the Old Town lower region. Even though there was a marathon going in, we were able to navigate the city, and spent 6 hours walking around enjoying the environment.