Emerald Princess Cruise Review by rbtkua: First time Cruiser went to the Baltic
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First time Cruiser went to the Baltic
A bit of background, my wife and I are in our mid 30s and have traveled on our own around Europe in the past. We wanted to see the Baltic region but it didn't seem realistic on our own so we looked for a company that would allow us to see St. Petersburg and also was not greater than two weeks. Our top priority is to see sites, so an aggressive itinerary with the least time at sea was preferred.
Embarkation was painless when we arrived. Princess didn't provide us the location of our departure. On our paperwork, that section was left blank. It wasn't a big deal as most in Copenhagen knew of our ship. Taking a taxi is recommended and not expensive. Public transportation was not realistic. Check-in was fairly quick as we arrived about an hour and half after the published start.
When we first saw the ship, it seemed immense, but by the end of the cruise seemed to be what we needed. The ship was in great condition and the we had an interior cabin which was set up with a queen More bed. Now these beds were two twins together but you couldn't tell. We walked around to get our bearings together and found that it was very nice. Now I am quite tall at 6' 6" so the ceiling made it pretty tight with just enough space that I didn't have to hunch over while on the ship.
They were promoting a soft-drink card for unlimited drinks while on the ship. I had read previous reviews about this and took the offer. I found the older reviews to be wrong as the card was easy to use on the ship and the staff always asked if you had it when trying to get a soft-drink.
Now the staff works like dogs on the ship, and even though they say that there are over 1,000 staff onboard, you may question if it is enough. One area where the service was poor was in the buffet sections of the ship. They had adequate staffing for pushing alcohol, water for shore excursions, and cleaning off tables, but trying to get a drink was a long wait. One of the last mornings, I had three people try to sell me water for the upcoming port but only one person pouring coffee.
Also, passenger services was always busy! If you called, there were times they wouldn't answer the phone. Fortunately I didn't need them often.
This cruise offered two formal nights. My wife and I have no interest in getting dressed up for vacation as we spend our work days like that all the time. That said, we had no problem eating in the buffet area and many also did as well. In case others are like us, you will have somewhere to go on those nights.
Our cabin attendant also worked hard. Not sure how much time they get, but he needed some patience. The first night on the ship, my wife was changing and he knocked and proceeded to open the door. She jumped out of view, but you would think you would wait and see if you got a response before just entering. It was a one-time event, but the ladies should remember to deadbolt the door if you are changing.
One of the reasons we chose the interior cabin was because I have a hard time sleeping with light. I heard from others that I made the right call. Remember on the Baltic in summer that the sun is up much of the night. Some guests mentioned that they were trying to find ways to block to light. Less
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Cabin review: InA512
We travel lighter than most and found the cabin to be more than enough. The hallway was rarely noisy but there was banging going on in other areas but nothing that impacted sleeping. Close enough to the restaurants and the center of the ship.
Port and Shore Excursions
If you are thinking about seeing any of the towns museums or the Reichstag you are probably not going to have enough time or you will be missing something else on the way.
We walked around town and asked to avoid the bus ride from the arriving train station to the meeting point. This wastes a half hour and allows doesn't give you the chance to see the East Side Gallery. Now, the train's arrival point is apparently not the same for each cruise. You will find out that information on the train. There is a guide on the train that preps you with a map. The train is not air conditioned but with all the windows open, we were fine and it was quite warm outside.
On the way coming back, they supplied a nice little bag of food that was more than I had imagined given the description. We had a sandwich, stick of salami, peanuts, apple, and cheesecake. These are package to all be eaten by hand so the cheesecake may not be the traditional look you were thinking.
The old town had a look of Amsterdam to it. Very nice city. The tour guide was an interesting character. Silence is appropriate as tour guide, not everyone needs to see each McDonalds and KFC that is in town.
John Lawrence is on the ship giving you tips which are very useful. His video is played on tv if you can't catch his presentation and his information on tv had more to offer sometimes. He offered the public transportation advise.
St Petersburg is going through major restoration. We took a private car to see both Catherine's Palace and Peterhof. We saw them extensively. We heard from some that took the all-day tour that they didn't get to see all the fountains on at Peterhof because they were there too early. You should also know that pictures are not allowed in Peterhof but they are allowed in Catherine's Palace. Not sure why because both had the same types of interiors.
The next day we took two tours; the Hidden Scenes Walking Tour and Venice of the North. Both were interesting, but the only thing that was annoying was that both ended with the last hour at the same shopping area near the Church of the Spilled Blood which didn't offer very good prices at all. Before going on this cruise, we were in Moscow and found the prices to be substantially better there.
Stockholm was beautiful city. Walking into town wasn't that long and you didn't buy much additional time taking the shuttles because you had to wait for the others to get on. It also drops you off in the center of town not giving you a great way to circle the town.
We started by walking to the Old Town. From there we walked to Town Hall and took a tour (required) of where the Nobel prizes are announced. We then walked around town and had lunch. After lunch, we thought we would go see the Vasa museum but that proved to be impossible. While we made it to the building, the line was incredible and we only had one hour before we had to get back.
For our first port, we were disappointed in the lack of time for this city because there was more to see. Ideally, another two to three hours would have made it perfect.