We did not get to go into Oslo because capt. made a decision not to because of a pilot's strike and concern we would not be able to leave. Other ships went in and had no problem leaving. We heard from others that this was a fantastic port, the most interesting, so my rating is based on impressions from others who got to go in.
We took the Princess train to and from Berlin (about 3 hrs.), but arranged our own walking tour w/ Sandeman's. The train was very comfortable and new. We were given water, tea, coffee, and snacks in the am and a sandwich meal in the pm. Very helpful, knowledgeable guide on train w/ us, who accompanied us on the bus in Berlin to the Hilton which was the pick-up place for the return to the train in the afternoon.
Sandeman's tour guide was a university student, very knowledgeable and pleasant. However, because of the long distances between sights, it might be a good idea to take the hop-on, hop-off bus. We did get to see the parking lot which was once the sight of Hitler's bunker, though, and some other places not included in the HOHO. Because of the long walks, we were not able to go inside any sight in the available time.
Beautiful old walled city with very helpful locals! We took the Rick Steve's walking tour and one near the "sweater wall" that lets you walk the top of the city walls for some fantastic views (3 euros each I think).
Great shopping for locally made sweaters at sweater wall, linens in shops, juniper wood items and other handcrafted items in the square just off the main square. Also, there is a shop on the right just before you go through the city gate that is Estonia Made - very reasonable prices at this shop.
Alla Tours with Ellena as guide was incredible! We saw: subways lavishly decorated, a city tour,the Hermitage view from across the river, early morning (less crowded) tour through Hermitage, had a lovely lunch in a restaurant,took a boat ride, saw The Church of the Spilled Blood, Yusupov Palace, and St. Issac Cathedral on 1st day. The 2nd day we saw the St. Peter and Paul fortress and Cathedral there,had a warm sandwich lunch on board the hydrofoil, the Peterhof gardens and fountain park, the amazing Catherine palace with the dazzling Amber (all made of amber!)Room, and the beautiful blue, gold, and white St. Nicholas church. All the while our guide is telling us about the history, the art, the economy of historic times as well as the present - her knowledge and ability to answer any question was superb. She also had a knack for figuring out how to route us around other tour groups for the best views and smooth passage.
You do NOT need a visa for this - being on any organized tour (not justs the ship's which is twice as expensive) gives you a blanket visa for all members of the tour.
This city was a major highlight of all of our 35+ years of travel experiences. The opulence and beauty of the palaces and churches is a must to experience!
Took the ship's shuttle into Helsinki - stop very near famous Stockman department store, and from there walked through the city park to Market Square where locals sell their handcrafted and other items. You can see the major cathedral and church within a block from there.