We arrived a day early in Copenhagen and stayed at a wonderful unique 4* Botique Hotel, Nyhavn 71. (150 rooms & suites) It previously was two old spice warehouses. Check it out if you like boutique hotels. Ask for the new air conditioned section. We had a great room overlooking the water. The friendly staff speak English well. Excellent buffet breakfast, and the dining room is very nice. The Nyhavn area of Copenhagen is full of bars and restaurants. You can walk to almost all the tourist sights from this hotel. We enjoyed walking around in the evening and morning. At 1:30 we took a short taxi ride to the ship.
We were extremely lucky and had beautiful weather almost the entire trip. High 60's, 70's and even in the 80's in Berlin. The Emerald Princess is a beautiful ship. We were on deck 11, stateroom B411, Inside Room. We've done a balcony room for Europe Cruises before, but we just find it unnecessary because of always being off the ship sightseeing. Plus, in the More
Baltic, it stays light late so we enjoyed our inside room. B411 is very well located, and is very quiet. We love the anytime dining that Princess provides. They do a great job with it.
This ship has 3 dining rooms, and 2 of them offer anytime dining. We never waited more than 10 minutes, and only then when we wanted our own table. They give you a buzzer so you can walk around the shops or Piazza and they buzz you when your table is ready. The food was very good, and the waiters were attentive and friendly. Deck 15 has a great bar out back and the buffets are just inside. Several nights we got our food from the buffet and ate outside on the back of the ship as we were leaving port. The buffet food was very good. If we didn't eat out we went there every afternoon for drinks. A very enjoyable, relaxing place to be. We ate breakfast in the dining room when we had time. It wasn't very busy, didn't take long, and we met many interesting people as we requested a "shared table". Fish & Chips for lunch and Afternoon Tea in the Wheelhouse Bar were very good also. The shows in the Princess Theater were very entertaining. Movies Under The Stars are fun. They serve you popcorn, pizza, cookies and milk. There is so much entertainment everywhere you can't possibly do it all. The spa on this ship is very good. I had the hot rock massage and another day had the seaweed wrap and massage. Both are great for getting over jet lag, and/or recovering after a day of sightseeing. Getting on and off the ship for tours, or on our own, was very organized and easy to do. We really enjoyed this ship and itinerary. I think it's the first time in our 15 cruises we had absolutely nothing negative to write about on the survey form at the end of the cruise.
If you want to enjoy the ports, this is not a relaxing cruise as you can tell from the itinerary. Only one sea day, but what you "see" along the way is absolutely incredible. Go to the port seminars or watch them on the TV in your room. These are not "shopping talks" like on Caribbean cruises. John Lawrence does an excellent job telling the top sights to see and the history of each. These are especially valuable if you are doing any ports on your own as we did. Three things made this trip exceptional. 1) The Weather. It can be very iffy with rain. We had absolutely beautiful weather, even two sunny days in St. Petersburg.(They only have approximately 50 sunny days a year) 2) Our tour guides. It's really just luck. We talked to people who did the same tours as us but didn't enjoy them because their guides couldn't speak English well, or they maybe didn't know all that they should have. Our guides were wonderful! 3)The people on the ship, and in the ports we visited. We made wonderful new friends on the ship, and everyone was very friendly in every port we visited. Less
We did the Princess Berlin Old and New Train trip to Berlin. The train was better than we expected. Compartments for 6 people. We met another couple in line and joined them in a compartment. Luckily we were the only four in ours giving us a little more room. We had the window open and didn't get hot even though the train isn't air conditioned. We saw beautiful countryside along the way and enjoyed the ride. We visited the Jewish Museum, but drove by and had photo stops at many of the famous sights including the Berlin Wall, Check Point Charlie, Brandenburg Gate, and more. We had a box lunch during our river cruise. We lucked out and again had an excellent tour guide. Great day and great weather. 82 degrees, the hottest day of the year so far for them. Again, even on the trip back, the train wasn't hot with the window open. Bus in Berlin was air conditioned.
We did the Princess "Gdansk On Your Own". Gdansk is an hour away from where you dock so this is the easiest way to get there. The people we talked to that didn't go to Gdansk were sorry they hadn't because there wasn't much for them in Gydnia. Gdansk is much larger and more crowded than we had expected. Part of it along the riverfront reminded us a little bit of Copenhagen. Many, Many outdoor vendor's in the town selling all kinds of things, but especially Amber. (Probably not all of it real Amber). The town is charming. We ate lunch at a great Polish Restaurant Salonik Restauracja (Polska.www.salonik.gda.pl) Excellent Polish Sausage and Polish Beer. Right on the main avenue..great people watching. We found that Gdansk was easy to do on our own.
We did the Princess 2 Day Grand Tour of St. Petersburg, and the Princess evening tour to the Russian Folklore Show. I would highly recommend both. We had a great guide.(You keep the same guide both days, but change drivers and buses). The Princess tours are allowed off the ship first. The first day it takes you a little while to get through Russian Customs(15 minutes), but the evening and second day are very short. You have to have a COPY of your passport in addition to your passport to go through customs. Once you are through customs you walk outside and your bus is close by. Our bus was air conditioned as I believe all, or at least most are. This was just an absolutely wonderful experience. St. Petersburg is incredible! If you don't do the two day tour I would definitely suggest you do some tour that takes you "inside". The people we talked to that just drove by the outside and didn't really go in anything didn't like St. Petersburg. I felt terrible for them because of what they missed. If you only go in one place you must visit The Church Of The Savior On Spilled Blood. The entire inside is done in mosiacs. It is incredible and I believe the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. Next to it is the best open air shopping area that we went to during the two days. The Theater we went to in the evening was beautiful and we saw the Song and Dance Ensemble Volga. The costumes, music, and singing were fabulous... Everyone loved this show. We also went in Peterhof Palace, Peter and Paul Fortress, St. Isaac's Cathedral, The Hermitage, Yusupov Palace, and went on The Canal Tour...All incredible
We did Old Stockholm (Gamla Stan) on our own. The ship has a shuttle (nice buses) running back and fourth every 15 minutes or so and they are very reasonably priced. You buy the tickets when you get on and can pay in US dollars. It's only a short ride away and once in Old Town it's very easy to walk around. We went to the Palace and saw The Changing Of The Guard at 12:15, and then walked the cobblestone streets visiting churches and shops. We had lunch outside, authenic swedish meatballs, at a small cafe The Gasgrand 4 (also the address). The food is excellent and the cafe privides a wonderful Swedish dining experience.
We did the Tallinn Old City on our own, and many of the people we met that had done tours had wished they had done it on their own. Again, Princess had the shuttles to run you over there. It's only a 5 minute shuttle ride. Many people walked, but by the time you walk around Tallin we were happy to be on the shuttle. Tallen is a hidden jewel. Brick walls, ancient towers, a wonderful midieval town. Outdoor Markets set up along some of the walls with Ladies selling their beautiful handmade "woolens". There is another outdoor market outside of the ship, but the best shopping was in town. Port time is very short here. We wish we would have had more time.