First, the non-cruise stuff. We went to Stockholm for three days, then Gutenberg for a day and a tour of the Volvo factory, and finally Copenhagen for three days. At the end of the cruise, we went to Bergen and took a six day tour of Norway. I'll comment in port reviews on the length of time the ship spends in ports.
Air arrangements: we used miles, except for SAS from Copenhagen to Bergen.
Embarkation took a little time. No champagne on boarding.
We had a balcony room. The balconies are not as useful as in the Caribbean, so we took a room with a smaller balcony. We were on it on occasion, usually for breakfast. Our steward was outstanding and usually invisible. Room service was just average. For the first time, Internet was reliably available in our room. (We used about 850 minutes as we had to keep in touch on business matters.)
We had the late seating for dining. I think the food was a notch lower than last year. In particular, the beef was of a lower grade. Service was great.
We ate in the dining room for breakfast and a few lunches. Service was decidedly less than with our regular waiter for dinner. One waiter refused my wife's request for grilled chicken for a chicken Caesar even though, according to a sign in the kitchen, "chicken is always available."
We had the Chef's Table dinner. Tour of the kitchen, hors d'oeuvres and champagne in the kitchen, dinner in the dining room. $75 per person. Well worth it. I tried to do the ultimate ship tour, but it was cancelled. We renewed our vows, with a crowd of 12 people we met on the ship.
We did Sabatini's one night. Not as impressive as the Crown Grill. You dine at their pace. Everyone in the room eats at the same pace. If the food is not to your liking, it is still what's on the menu.
When we ate breakfast in Horizon Court, things went smoothly until we needed a table. And we're not bashful about asking to share. Some of the folks we shared with were talkative, some were really stand-offish.
The ship was sold out. There really was never a problem or a crowd, other than in Horizon Court for breakfast.
We used the spa and spa pools. Never crowded. One massage, which was good, and my wife had her hair done twice.
I'll cover ports in other reviews. We took the Princess tours in Stockholm, Helsinki, Berlin and Tallinn. All Tours in St. Petersburg. (Great!). On our own in Arhus and Oslo.
We purchased Princess transfers to CPH for a flight to Bergen. $34 each. A bargain. Less than one hour from stepping off the ship to tying my shoes after airport security.
We're trying to figure out next year's cruise.
To get to Berlin you have to take a train three hours. The train is not air conditioned. However, if you want to see Berlin, this is pretty much the only way to do it from a cruise.
You need to buy a tour from the cruise or an independent operator. Berlin on your own in six hours is tough. See the wall, Brandenburg Gate, Holocaust Memorial, Checkpoint Charlie. Understand most everything has been built since 1945 as the city was devasted by WWII.
Skip the Carlsberg Brewery. Not worth the time in a tight schedule.
Go to the Resistance Museum, but it is not a fun outing. The tour takes one hour. The guide is excellent.
You can walk from the Viking Museum to the other museums, but there is a bus, free with the Oslo card.
After you have had your fill of museums (Fram is the best), take two buses (it's really easy, and when you get your Oslo Card you get the bus map) to Vigeland Park. 101 sculpture's, including the Obelisk and Angry Boy.
From Vigeland, take a tram (still free) to Central Station. Cross the street and walk down the main shopping street, Karl Johan's Gate if I recall correctly, past shops, restaurants, a church or two, parliament, ending in the Royal Palace. Watch the guards, then turn back to the harbor and see the Nobel Peace Museum and the City Hall. Then back to the ship; you can wander the outside of Akershus Fortress. The tour of the fortress (also free with the card) is only available within a narrow window. The Resistance Museum is on the grounds with longer hours.
Peterhof is outstanding; the fountains are on a schedule, so only go when the fountains will be on. Make sure you see the trick fountains.
Catherine's Palace demonstrates the disconnect between the nobility and the peasants. Ostentatious does not begin to describe it.
Don't miss the Church on the Spilled Blood, especially the memrial on the spot of Cazr Alexander's assasination. Don't miss St. Isaac's Cathedral, which is a huge Russian Orthodox Church. Don;t mkiss Peter and Paul fortress, especially where the Czars are buried.