Copenhagen whizzed by as we headed for Emerald Princess on our way from the airport.
Embarkation was smooth and efficient. A treasure hunt type card was given to us which was useful for people to familiarise themselves with the ship's layout. It also had the incentive that you may win a prize. I did win a prize, a $75 massage treatment in Lotus Spa, but more about that later.
Please note that on this cruise you will be moving the hour forward twice on the way to St Petersburg which can make full day visits very tiring in the first half of the cruise.
We choose to have "anytime dining" and to share tables as we like to meet new people however even with this flexibility and arriving around 8p.m. it didn't mean we avoided queues. We believe this is mainly due to Princess introducing fixed dining in Da Vinci between 5.30 and 7.30. If you dine after 8.30 you should have no problem with queues.
Food was very good with good choices. Having been on Ruby Princess for the last two years we noticed the same dishes turning up. For us this meant we had a chance to have our favourite dishes again.
The Baltic is not the Med. During May/June it may be very warm on some days and cool and breezy on others. Inside the ship is the same temperature as always so no changes need to be made to evening/day wear. Bring a waterproof (umbrella's are no use when it is windy) and a warm jacket for trips and on your balcony/on deck on cool days. Also bring some good comfortable walking shoes or trainers for exploring.
Epithani (as spelt on the ship)are a very entertaining cover band and are good both for dancing and listening. Shows in the Princess Theatre included a comedian Cary Long..observational humour..we liked him. Thom Peterson, listed as a comedian but a magician...very entertaining. Various cast shows in Princess Theatre, went only once and wasn't impressed (we left). Atrium acrobats good to watch from Crooners with your cocktail. Pianists both in Adagio and Crooners were also worth a listen.
Films we watched included "The King's Speech" and "Robin Hood" (the Russel Crowe version) We saw both of these in the Princess Theatre.
Tour/Visit guidance was given freely and very expertly by John Lawrence both at lectures in the Princess Theatre (these were repeated later on the TV) and over the loudspeakers as we entered and left ports such as Stockholm and St Petersburg.
He also gave everyone excellent tips for visiting ports "on your own".
I won a $75.00 massage in the treasure hunt tombola. I have never had a massage before. I chose to have a back shoulder and neck massage for the $75.00. I could have paid more and had a full massage but didn't. The massage was wonderful. I did buy some Elemis oils/lotions which I have used regularly on my return home and will replenish when finished. Staff in the Spa are programmed to try and make you book further sessions and hence spend further money. I resisted, not because I hadn't enjoyed the experience but at upwards of $159 a time this is not something I want to do regularly. One tip is that they tend to discount treatments throughout the cruise. Keep an eye on Princess Patter for these deals. I will certainly now have a further massage on Princess and at home.
Airport on departure:
Please note that you have to print your own boarding cards and luggage tags at Copenhagen airport. There are special machines in the entrance area on which to do this and you can choose instructions in English by selecting the correct "country flag". You will need your booking reference. Please check this reference before you leave home as we were given an incorrect booking reference by Princess or our travel agent. We were not the only ones to have this trouble and we had to search for someone to help us. The Princess staff on hand at the airport seemed to only be there to deal with arriving passengers and were no help at all.