We flew into Copenhagen, took the Metro to Kongens Nytorv and walked to the Hotel Bethel. Rolling suitcases can cause soreness in the wrists, otherwise a lovely experience. We easily walked all over the historic district of Copenhagen from Nyhavn to Amalienborg Castle and then took in the Rundetarn (Round Tower), the City Hall square and Tivoli Gardens. If you get a chance, try the tomato bisque at Cafe Norden. The best anywhere. Embarkation was the slowest we have experienced; it took us about one and one-half hours including standing on line to get to security, sitting and waiting for our group to be called, standing on line until a place was available to finally check-in. They took our passports at check-in so they could make a copy for us for our stop in St. Petersburg, but instead of telling us that, they were very mysterious about why they needed them. Lunch at the Lido was unremarkable, but dinner that evening and all of our subsequent meals were what we associate with HAL. Our cabin was spacious and more than adequate for our needs, but then we travel light (one 22 inch roll-aboard and one tote each). Included with the key cards was a map that made it easy to navigate on board. There were maps by each elevator bank also. The sailing was uneventful except in one instance to be mentioned later.
Our first port was Warnemunde where we caught our DenRus tour to Berlin. The trip to Berlin was colorful and we had many opportunities to walk in Berlin, which was desirable by all in our party. The trip provided an overview of Berlin and packed a lot of information and scenery into a limited amount of time.
Tallinn was our second port and the ship was docked close enough to town that we were able to walk to the Old Town and tour it without effort.
St. Petersburg was our next port of call for a two day visit. The ship was docked at a new cruise facility and the Customs people were not equipped to handle the crowd from the ship. If you have a private tour be ready to go ashore the minute the ship is cleared. Otherwise, you will be delayed quite a while as they do not have enough capacity and we were the only ship there! We had arranged for a private tour with Anastasia Travel and they were able to get us to everything we wanted to see when we could see things without running into a lot of tour groups, which made the experience more pleasurable. St. Petersburg's castles are beautiful and not to be missed.
Helsinki was the next port. The city provided shuttle buses for the trip into town. They let us off by Stockmann's Dept. store, which is easy to find. We were able to walk from there to the Rock Church, Senate Square, Market Square and the Uspenski Cathedral (a must see). It was then time for lunch. Afterwards we looked through Stockmann's, the largest department store I have seen since Macy's Herald Square store.
We returned to the ship to sail for Stockholm. We were advised to use the shuttle buses (some from the city, some from the HOHO company) because there was construction going on along the walking route into the city near the Opera House. We walked to the Vasa Museum and took the free tour of the vessel and viewed the exhibits. From there we walked to Gamla Stan and found a cafe for lunch. After touring Gamla Stan we returned to our ship to sail for Kiel. Our time in Stockholm was far too short to see all that we wanted. We should have used vehicular transportation to save time, but the walking was fun.
During our sailing to Kiel the ship encountered heavy fog and the fog horns were going all night. Despite that we arrived in Kiel one and one-half hours late, which put a severe crimp in our sightseeing tour of Hamburg. We made the best of it, but were disappointed not to be able to see all that we had planned. At least we were able to see some of the city, which meant it wasn't a total loss for us.
The next day we returned to Copenhagen and a messed up debarkation process. If you can carry your bags off the ship yourself, do so. We didn't and had to scour the dock to find our bags then stand on line for quite a while until we could get a cab to our hotel. We decided not to plan on making a tight connection from the ship to the airport and it turned out to be a good choice. We spent the rest of the day walking around Copenhagen and seeing Rosenborg Castle and the crown jewels. A wonderful trip. We returned home tired, but happy.