Emerald Princess Cruise Review by cruisemissile: June 26, 2011 Scandinavia/Baltics
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June 26, 2011 Scandinavia/Baltics
First of all understand that I am more of a sights and scenery guy as opposed to museums, Palaces etc. I also like to visit to say I've been there, put the pin in the map so to speak. My wife is the opposite. The emerald princess was great, the service and food were fantastic. The entertainment was average.
Our room, Aloha Deck A-205 was great for the 2 of us. We loved the balcony. We traveled roundtrip from Newark to Copenhagen on SAS and they were a terrific airline. First stop was Warnemunde Germany, we did the Alla Tours via minibus to Berlin, the tour was fine, the drive a little long(3hrs each way). My wife liked Berlin, I found it drab, although glad that I visited. Disappointed that Checkpoint Charlie was so commercialized, also disappointed that we were dropped off for lunch at a Shopping mall. It was about 90 degrees in Berlin. I heard that the local Warnemunde tour was great, relaxing and had lunch in a local German restaurant.
Next day at sea was More relaxing, the Baltic was flat calm and the temps about 85 degrees. We enjoyed time in the Serenity Spa at the top of the ship up front. Stockholm was very nice, we did the Ship's City tour with skyride then walked around and had lunch in Gamla Stan. Very scenic approach and departure from Stockholm. Very clean city. Helsinki was nice as well, we did the Ship's Home visit, Temppeliaukio Church and City drive. The home visit to the bucolic residence of the "Nurmi" family was awesome. The baked for us, served Finnish coffee and allowed us free access to roam their house and expansive property. Harriet Nurmi's dad drove in the Monte Carlo races in the 1950's and they maintain a fully restored Ford Model T along with other historical collectibles. There is a lake on the property with several sauna's. We loved shopping at Helsinki's market and wished we had more time there.
St Petersberg was very hot, in the 90's both days. TJ Tours was half the cost of the ships tour and their guides were great. Had lunch each day in a local Russian restaurant. For me, a visit to 1 opulent palace, and church and maybe the hermitage would suffice, after that I lose interest rapidly as all of the beauty and ornate/opulent decor blends into 1 place in my mind. The canal boat ride was terrific. our guide was a young woman named Alex and she was exceptional. After seeing the hermitage, Catherines palace, Peterhof and several churches(which were all beautiful/spectacular)I was more then ready for a beer and a beach! My wife on the other hand loved all the palaces and churches as she was raised Russian Orthodox. She took "a million" pictures which she has yet to download.
Tallinn, Estonia was a quaint little town, very nice to visit. Same for Aarhus, Denmark. We did not do any tours here but walked around ourselves, a tour wasn't really necessary. On a side note, I am glad to have visited both Tallinn and Aarhus, however I would have gladly traded both for a stop in Stavenger and or Bergen on Norway's west/Atlantic coast, then again I prefer scenery to "quaintness". We enjoyed lunch at a nice sidewalk cafe in Tallinn and drank a local beer called Saku.. In Aarhus, the owner of the Amethyst shop is an American from Memphis,and the bakery offered the greatest bread we've ever had. Also, interesting that all the babies looked alike, round head and blond hair, we saw 2 young mom's wheel their 1 year old kids in older style carriages(US 1960's vintage), leave the kids outside a store while they went in to shop, they thought nothing of that, not so here in the US.
Oslo was great too, we had lunch there and shopped. The ship sailed the 3 hours from the North Sea up the Oslo fjord as we slept but had a narrated tour as we departed, great scenery. The ship docked right in the middle of town and 30 ft from Akarshus Castle. Directly off the bow and 200 yards right in front of us were shops separated by a side street. in 1 shop there was a woman from Phoenix who worked there and had been there for 30 years. We felt the best souvenirs were in Norway. Also, throughout the trip we saw horrible T-Shirts, but found something we liked in Norway. Like its fellow Scandinavian cities, Oslo was nice, clean and friendly and throughout the natives all speak English.
One note, although we loved all 4 Scandinavian cities, they all lacked that one "famous"/defining site such as an Eiffel Tower, Vatican or Coliseum. yet all the cities were wonderful. Sadly we only spent from 7am to 2 pm in Oslo, clearly not long enough. Could have used another 2 hrs in Helsinki too. In Oslo we did the ships tour to the Fram Museum which was interesting and then had a Fjord ride aboard an old sailing ship. Again the Baltic was flat on our return to Copenhagen. We spent our final night of the trip in Copenhagen at the Clarion Mayfair Hotel on Helgolandsgade, about 3 blocks from the Tivoli Garden amusement park. Nice clean hotel, no air conditioning, but did offer a complimentary dinner buffet and breakfast. Centrally located. Cost was about $200/night US, and did include breakfast and dinner.
Copenhagen was nice as well. Did the canal boat ride and the hop on /hop off bus. Visited the Carlsberg brewery but did not take the paid tour as it was about $70/person. We did our own walk around then had lunch in their outdoor cafe/bbq. 2 8 oz glasses of Carlsberg or Tuborg beer,+ 2 avg size cheeseburgers cost us $44 dollars US or about 220 Danish Kroner. A very small bag of British potato chips was $4 so $48 for a burger and a beer for 2. Scandinavia was very expensive for food so we're glad we ate most meals aboard the ship. Food on the Emerald Princess was superior. I have an allergy to Dairy, wheat and nuts and they easily accommodated me with gluten free breads, rice milk etc. The weather was as warm as it gets there. Strange to feel so tired with the sun still shining, then you realize that its 10:30 PM. Up in St. Pete's and Helsinki the sun was still visible at midnight just before it set. It wouldn't get dark there. Other places it would get gray from say 11PM to 3am, then light all the rest of the time. Very similar to Alaska at the same time of year.
Overall a wonderful trip. I highly recommend that you join your ship's roll call on this site, we instantly met about 40 friends aboard from this website here at cruise critic. Ask your ship to allow you space to host a "meet and greet" and tell the ship you are with Cruise Critic, they try to treat you very well. We highly recommend this cruise and this ship. Less
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Cabin review: BAA205
Cabin A205 on Aloha deck was great. Nice roomy balcony. The queen bed was comfortable, more than enough room for 2 people. very quiet being that far forward and up high. Convenient to stairs and elevators. Roomy bathroom, the enclosed shower was a bit tight, but the bathroom was fine. TV/info was fine, nice desk and comfortable side chair. The closet and storage area was roomy and good sized. Great cabin, would book it again. Was in easy view of Starboard bridge wing and got to watch the capt get us in and out of some ports. A/C worked fine. Cabin Steward was Fantastic.
Port and Shore Excursions
They were half price of the ship and sounded like they did a better job, in fact they did a GREAT job, a young woman named Alex was our tour guide...exceptional.
Many very ornate Palaces and Churches, the hermitage was wonderful, the canal boat ride fantastic. 2 very long hot days there. Highly recommend TJ Tours.