We chose this cruise because of the ports and the fact that there were few days at sea.
We arrived in Copenhagen early in the morning the day of departure. We had decided to spend 36 hours in Iceland rather than spending an extra day in Copenhagen prior to our trip. (We flew Icelandair and they let you spend time in Iceland as part of a layover.) Because we arrived so early (6 am), we took the train to the main train terminal and left our luggage in the lockers (very easy). We then had some breakfast, explored on foot, and took a canal cruise. Copenhagen was lovely. We got our luggage and took a cab to the port as we were running a little late at this point and weren't sure how long the bus would take.
Emabarkation and disembarkation was easy at every port. We had heard that it might take awhile in St. Petersburg, but it didn't seem to be that bad.
Our cabin was perfect. There were 4 of us traveling, and the room was a perfect size. Our daughter had the murphy bed and our son the pull out couch. Each sleeping area could be enclosed by curtains that gave each of us some privacy and allowed our two teenagers to sleep in on our days at sea without being disturbed by us. The room steward was wonderfully efficient. Each afternoon the two comfy chairs were set up to face the windows. These windows were fantastic. They go from ceiling to almost the floor, perfect for viewing the scenery as you leave and enter the ports. The bathroom was roomy with lots of storage and there was a lot to storage space in the closets and room.
I had read a lot of negative reviews about the food, but I found it to be fine. Honestly, we didn't choose this cruise for the food but rather for the ports. If you are a foody, this may not be the cruise for you. Sometimes the food was a little bland or cold but all in all it was fine.
We didn't see a lot of the shows as it was during the World Cup and the ship set up a big screen for the games. I was fun to watch the games with people from all over. Our son used the fitness center and found that it had everything he needed to keep in shape for swimming while away. My daughter and I had a pedicure and found the staff to be very friendly and our toes looked great.
Our teenagers had an amazing time with the other teens. Sunny, the teen coordinator, did a great job setting up activities for them. They were so busy with their activities, we barely saw them while on board ship.
The ports were amazing. We chose to go to Berlin instead of staying local. We wish we had not gone to Berlin. It is 5 1/2 hours of traveling and that leaves you little time to actually tour the city. Berlin needs more time. Also, it didn't help that it rained the entire time we were in Berlin and was beautiful in port.
Helsinki is an easy city to visit using a Hop On Hop Off bus. Where we docked was far from the center of town. It could be walked, but those that did found it long. They take you to all the sites and back to the port. We did ours through NCL but there was another company that was at the dock and seemed to have a better schedule. The market area is fun with lots of local food and goods. I really liked Helsinki, everyone was very nice.
In St. Petersburg we used Alla tours. I chose them because they have smaller groups. There were 14 on our tour. The weather was beautiful in St. Petersburg. I could have spent all day at Peter's Palace exploring the gardens. The next day we were able to get into the Hermitage early. It was still crowded, but nothing like it was when we were leaving. The art in the Hermitage is amazing but even more so are the rooms that house the art.
We loved Tallinn, by far our favorite spot. It is REALLY easy to walk to Old Town from the ship. There is really no need to take a tour as it is a lot of fun to just wander through the streets and poke into the shops. There are great places to eat and shop. Sturdy shoes are a must on the cobblestones!
In Stockholm we did the roof top tour. You walk on the roof top of the old parliment building. The views are incredible. Not something to do if you are afraid of heights. Old town was something of a disappointment after Tallinn. A lot of tourist shops and it just didn't have the same feeling. We didn't return to the ship after our tour, but rather walked around on our own. Leaving the old town we discovered some great streets to explore.
All in all this was an amazing adventure! I wasn't too sure how much our teenagers would like it as it didn't involve beaches, but they loved it.