I chose this cruise to see Russia and some of the other wonderful countries in the Baltics, on the promise to my girlfriend that we would go somewhere hot next time! We had never cruised before, and must say everything exceeded our expectations (except some of the entertainment!)
In our early 30s, we did seem a little out of place at times but we had not gone for the more social aspects of cruising. Did not see many kids, but we had chosen a date outside of the school holidays. We saw this as a more comfortable alternative to backpacking to see so many countries!
Embarkation was quite painless, a coach took us from the airport and we waited excitedly in a large tent. We arrived about 30 minutes before boarding, and we were on the ship in less than an hour. I had booked a mini-suite as a surprise for my girlfriend, and was amazed at the size and the luxury!
The food was great, but I missed some of the more spicy food I like at home. My girlfriend laughed when I bought some chilli sauce at port! Main dining room service was hit and miss, some nights was very good... other nights seem like a dressed up McDonalds! Loved the Crown grill, and ate there several times. The buffet was not too crowded and had good options. Also enjoyed the pizza and the hamburgers by the pool. My favourite location was the International Cafe, and my first purchase on board was the coffee card and this was well used! Some of the best mochas I have ever tasted and my girlfriend was nagging me for hot chocolate! Also enjoyed the sandwiches and pastries there too.
A hot topic on the boards... had to go to a special desk in Sabatinis on the last sea day to remove auto-tips from account, and was given a brief interrogation! They were less than subtle when asking "where do you come from?", but they seem to be getting the message that the English do not like to have forced tips judging by the size of the list he had in front of him! Tipped in cash to our steward at the end, and filled in a card for him. This might not be popular here, but I like to be honest.
Entertainment onboard was mixed... we went to the Motown show in the theater, and it was terrible. They could not sing or dance at all. We werent the first to leave, as we saw several even in the front row get up and leave after the first couple of numbers. Also caught the hypnotist act, very poor although I think that type of show is quite old, and would not blame the performer. The highlight of the cruise was the magician Tony Laffan and his beautiful assistant. They put on a very good show with a mix of comedy and very technical stage illusions. Was quietly hiding behind a rather large drink at the audience participation sections! They also put on a magic school the next day as part of the scholarship at sea program. Some of the bands in the wheelhouse and explorers lounge were very good. Loved movies under the stars, although could be a little cold for some on this cruise. Also had a good choice of films on the cabin TV to relax in front of. Library also had a good selection for those of you who had forgotten to bring anything to read by the pool (like my girlfriend!). We had a quick go shoting some hoops on the basketball court, when approached by one of the crew and encouraged to play a game with some other passengers, he even produced a medal for the winner. Was a nice touch, that shows the class of Princess.
Took all our excursions through Princess for ease of use (except a quick bus into Tallinn). They might have been a little more expensive, but the guides were informative and friendly, and the transport comfortable.
Disembarkation was a lot smoother than I was expecting. Left the cases out later than asked, as we had a late dinner already booked that night. Only had to wait about 30 mins in the theater before getting on coaches to airport. The airport was packed and our flight overbooked, but can not really blame Princess about this!
Overall was very impressed with our first cruise, and will go on more. Already trying to drag my Dad on next one with us! This was an amazing way to get a sampler of some of the beautiful countries in the Baltics and would recommend Princess and this cruise to anyone!