Great Cruise in the wonderful Baltic region
The Emerald Princess is a beautiful ship, very clean and in very good condition.
All members of the crew were very friendly and tried to help and serve you all the time.
We didn't use the traditional dining rooms because we prefer a more casual atmosphere.
The food at Horizon Court and Cafe Caribe was of very good quality and there were a lot of choices at every time of the day.
Bar service at Horizon Court / Cafe Caribe was faster than on other Princess ships in the past.
We went once to the Crown Grill and had probably the best steaks ever (try the three types of salt they are offering, they give your steaks different and delicious tastes).
Also try the ice cream at the International Cafe on Deck 5, it's only US$ 1.50 for three scoops and the taste is like in an Italian "Gelateria" and don't miss the shows of the artists in the piazza! COPENHAGEN
We arrived one day before sailing at Copenhagen and stayed at the Imperial More
Hotel which is very close to the railway station, city hall and the main shopping area.
The Imperial is a 4-Star-Hotel and we paid US$ 260 for a nice double standard room including breakfast.
The only negative point was that the safety deposit box in our room did not work and we asked twice at the reception to fix it, which they promised to do but nobody of the housekeeping showed up.
Although we had only a few hours time we were able to see some of the most important things in this beautiful city.
We had a nice dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe and thanks to our PX reservation we made on the internet we didn't have to wait for a table.
The embarkation was the easiest and fastest we have ever seen.
It took us about 10 minutes from leaving the taxi at the pier to get onboard the ship. There was no waiting time at all, although we had no pre-printed boarding passes, luggage tags or a credit card registered before. DISEMBARKATION AND TRANSFER TO CPH AIRPORT
The disembarkation process was very smooth.
For the first time we booked a Princess transfer to the airport and were very happy to have chosen this option. They take your luggage directly to the airport where you easily find it and pick it up in just a minute and the check in area is just a few yards away.
Check-in at CPH was terrible.
You can check in only at the self service machines and the SAS system did not recognize our booking code, so we had to go the “self-service-check-in-assistance-counter”.
It seemed that there were quite a lot of people having similar problems, because it took us an hour to check in.
The same day there were thousands of people from four different cruise ships leaving the city and so the small terminal 3 of CPH was crowded and there were only two (!) counters open to assist people having problems with the self-service check-in.
Overall our 10th cruise and 5th with Princess was a great vacation and we already booked our next Princess cruise for 2012 in the Mediterranean / Greek Isles.
Having also tried Carnival, Celebrity and MSC myself and my wife also Costa we found for us in Princess the best cruise line. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
Although we read some negative comments about Aarhus before, we really liked the place. We found out that there is plenty to do in the area of Aarhus (thanks to our Princess port lecturer), but as time is never enough we had to choose and went to the Old town (Den Gamle By) which is a beautiful open air museum with old Danish houses, shops like a century ago and friendly employees, dressed like in the old days and always willing to explain you everything with a smile and in fluent English. We took take a Taxi, it costs around US$ 20 each way and is much faster than the shuttle bus. The shuttle bus in Aarhus makes 4 stops, and the last one is the museum, so with the bus you would lose only time without saving money, as it costs Eur 5 per person each way and if you decide to get off the bus let’s say at stop number two and then take another bus to get to stop number 4 you will have to pay again.
We used the shuttle bus to get to downtown Helsinki. Helsinki is also a very nice city and like in all Scandinavian countries and Estonia the people are very, very friendly and helpful. We just strolled around the tourist port area where you find a beautiful market with local products and nice places inviting you to have lunch “al fresco” on a sunny day. We also saw two cathedrals and some of the government buildings and the main shopping area . Probably it would have been a good idea to do a Princess tour to see also something of the Finnish countryside.
In Oslo we took the ship’s shuttle bus (US$ 8 per person each way) which drops you off by the Nobel peace museum, close to the famous city hall building.
The main shopping street and the royal palace are in a short walking distance.
When we came back to the ship it was raining, but Princess staff was there with a lot of umbrellas, so you could make the short walk to the ship without getting wet,
Our fist port of call and therefore our tour to Berlin was cancelled by the captain at around 07.00 hrs in the morning due to strong winds that made it impossible for the ship to reach the port. Princess tried hard to find an alternative solution and they really made the best of it. They decided to anticipate the sea day and to arrive the next day (ahead of schedule) in the afternoon in Stockholm.
We stayed overnight in St. Petersburg and were on the Princess two-day / 18-hrs.tour. St. Petersburg was supposed to be the highlight of the cruise and although the tour was worth its money and we saw the most important points of interest (Peterhof Palace, Hermitage, Church of the spilled blood, St.Isaacs cathedral and some more), in our opinion it would have been better to have less time in St. Petersburg and more time in other places. Of course all the palaces and churches in St. Petersburg are very important but for us in the end it was just a bit too much and too long.
The change of the schedule allowed us to have an unexpected overnight stay in the Swedish capital. Princess managed it to arrange shuttle buses and even evening tours. We took the shuttle bus and used the time to explore the beautiful city centre and the lovely old town (Gamla Stan) by night. On the next morning we went on a Princess tour (3 hrs, city drive and Vasa Museum), which was very interesting especially for the Vasa Museum. We just would have wanted to have more time at this interesting museum.
The Estonian capital is a small medieval treasure to explore on foot. We took the ship’s shuttle bus and started our walking tour on our own at the “Fat Margaret’s” tower. Just a few yards from the tower you will find the entrance to the lower old town. Our first stop was the St.Olav’s Church and Tower. For just Eur 2, you can climb up to the top of the tower from where you have a very beautiful view. But be aware that the staircase of the tower is very narrow and there is traffic from people going up and down at the same time but you’ll get used to it. After this we strolled the streets of the old town up to the city hall with its great place, surrounded by restaurants and bars. In every street you can find nice shops. We then arrived at he upper old town with the Estonian parliament, some beautiful churches like the Russian-orthodox church. We had also a snack and a couple of beers at the Beer House, which is a great pub you really should see! They brew their own specialty beers inside the pub (BH Premium was our favourite). The Beer House reminds you a medieval tavern and it is a rustic and pleasant place for a break. Tallinn was also the port where the area close to our pier was developed best compared to the other ports. There is quite a big local market with quality souvenirs and several bars to taste local specialties before you go back on the ship. Tallinn was definitely the best place we visited during this cruise.