My wife and I arrived in Copenhagen two days before our cruise to acclimatize ourselves and do some sightseeing in the city. This was good as it took us longer than normal to get over the jet lag this time and with our flights being delayed, it would have been very hard on us if we had arrived the same day as the cruise. We took the train from the airport and it was an easy experience. For 36 Kroner each (about 7 dollars) we were shuttled to Central Station with no problems. When exiting follow signs to trains, purchase tickets at a automated kiosk or at the information desk in the main hall and take track 2. To go from Central Station to the ship, purchase a ticket for zone 2 for 24 Kroner (about $4.50) and take track 9/10and go 4 stops to Nordhavn station. From there it is a bit of a walk but not unobtrusive. Just follow the signs and look for your ship, you won't be able to miss it.
Embarkation was very easy and the port is not hampered with American style security so everything goes smoothly. We arrived at the port at 11:45am and were in our ready state room by 12:30pm.
The ship is very similar to the other Princess cruise we took on the Ruby Princess. The layout of the ship is almost an exact replica so finding our way around was very easy. On this cruise we went to Aarhus, Oslo, Warnemunde, Tallinn, Stockholm, Helsinki and St Petersburg. Despite the rain, Oslo was a great port of call with lots to see and do. The best way to see the city is on public transit with a one day pass and museum entrance ticket. It is 216 Norwegian Kroner ($38) per person and will get you into everything you could possibly want to see. Stockholm is another great port of call. Walking to town is not obtrusive; it was only marred by President Obama's visit causing sections of the city to be closed off depending on where his motorcade was. My wife mentioned that she would like to come back and really see the city. Wernemunde is the port for Berlin. I would not recommend taking the trip there though. It is a long journey there and you would only see a snippet of the city. It is best seen on a separate trip so you can explore the city over a few days or even a week. I would take the train to see Rostock instead. It only costs a few Euros and is a very interesting medieval city. Tallinn is also a interesting place to see with things off the beaten path to explore and see. Helsinki is also easily explored inexpensively by public transit. Purchase a day pass for 8 Euros from the bus driver at the stop right next to the port. I recommend printing out a transit map before arriving. It makes it easier to plan where you want to go without getting on the wrong bus or tram (like we did). The port presentation on the TV in the state room is very informative and helpful for those who like to explore on their own and will tell you which stops to get off of but a map would have helped me a lot. The only stop that was not the greatest was Aarhus. We arrived on a Sunday and not much is open. I don't know what excursions are available as we generally don't take them, but if you walk in don't expect to see much.
St Petersburg was a great port of call, the port was the main reason we went on this cruise. I just had wished that the Russian authorities made it easier to enter the country. Going through customs was a bit of a bottleneck and seemed pointless. And having either a Visa, or a ticket for either a ship or private excursion, is the only way to get to see the city. We purchased a Hermitage and on your own excursion from Princess. It allowed us to do some personal exploring without being herded the entire time we were in the city. I only purchased the one excursion so we originally were only going to be able to get off the ship once on our second day in port. Two of our table mates had purchased tickets to see the Russian folk dance on the first day but were too tired to use them so they offered it to us. It was a very generous offer that we are indebted to them for. If I am lucky to be able to visit this city again, I will not be so cheap and purchase tickets to see other sights such as Peterhof palace etc. It is a once in a lifetime experience to visit this city and should be seen without worry about cost. This was my only regret on our cruise.
The food was good but not great, I find the food on Holland America a little more flavourful and varied but Emeralds was still more than palatable. I just wish that they had a more varied menu especially at breakfast in the dining room. I much prefer the dining room as I always find that by the time you get everything you want in the buffet and sit down it is cold, but the dining rooms menu only has one thing that is the special of the day. If it isn't what you feel like eating, your choice is very limited and not very inspiring. Having the buffet available later in the evening was good though, sometimes you feel like a little snack before retiring. It was appreciated.
The shows onboard are very similar to many other cruises we have been on. My wife and I have seen so many of these shows that we took a pass this time. The one thing that Princess could do is offer more activities during the day that don't involve shopping or some form of exercise purchase. I really enjoy seminars and demonstrations of differing interests but unfortunately very few were offered on this cruise. I know it is becoming more prevalent on other cruise lines also, but the up selling is becoming very noticeable.
We were upgraded to a window view cabin and it was very nice. We always book inside cabins so this was a nice surprise. Our cabin was located as far back and as high up as was possible on this ship. If you don't like movement, vibrations or are prone to seasickness then this is not the cabin for you. I don't mind it as it seems to rock me to sleep and would not mind being upgraded to this cabin again, but it is quite noticeable.
This is the largest passenger count ship that I have been on (the Ruby Princess is the same), it doesn't seem that there are 3082 passengers onboard unless you are trying to use the elevators during busy times or when you are in port and everywhere you go it is packed. I think I much prefer lower passenger count ships especially when you are in port. I can't imagine what it would be like on those monster Royal Caribbean ships, St. Petersburg was over run with just our ship on the second day in port.
All in all, Princess provided us with all we really wanted on this trip, decent food, good ports and an attractive price to a place in the world we wanted to see. In the end that is really all you can ask for. They succeeded in giving us a good vacation.