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Home > Member Reviews > AgouraTraveler's Port Reviews of Copenhagen, Oslo, Aarhus, Berlin, Tallinn, St. Petersburg

AgouraTraveler's Port Reviews of Copenhagen, Oslo, Aarhus, Berlin, Tallinn, St. Petersburg
Emerald Princess cruise in July 2012
Member Name: AgouraTraveler
Cruise Date: July 2012
Embarkation: Copenhagen
Destination: Baltic & Northern Europe
Member Review: AgouraTraveler's Emerald Princess Review
Copenhagen
Port Rating: 5+ out of 5+
We got two good overviews of the City. First, we took the free 3 1/2 hour walking tour by Sandeman's, you simply tip the guide at the end. Starting at City Hall, we got an in depth explanation of the city's history and passed many notable building, statues, squares, etc. Then we took the Canal Tours of Copenhagen, an hour-long relaxing ride through the city's port and canals. This passed the Little Mermaid, although for a side and back view. On our own we also visited Tivoli Gardens and some of the churches and shopping areas.

The highlight of our visit was taking an s-train North for about an hour to the end of the line at Helsingor, a 20 minute walk away from Kronborg Castle. This intact home to Danish kings, then used by the military, was made more famous when Shakespeare used it as the site for Hamlet. The moats, gun fortifications, buildings, underground rooms (take a flashlight or have a flashlight app. on your cellphone), chapel, ballroom, royal quarters and dining rooms, etc. were much more fascinating because we took the 2 back-to-back free English-speaking tours. Renaissance life in all it's dirty glory were brought to life by our excellent guide.

We bought a 24 hour Copenhagen Card to use for entrance fees, plus train and bus fares. Check to see if one would be worth it for your plans. We did not have time to see everything in 2 days.

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Oslo
Port Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
The Viking Ship museum is a must-see, with 3 ships and other artifacts recovered from grave sites. It was very crowded when our tour group visited, but well worth seeing. Surprising to us was the Holmenkollen ski jump. It didn't sound too exciting in the brochure but is spectacular and huge. The Vigeland Sculpture park has dozens of interesting statues in a beautiful park. The site we enjoyed the most is City Hall, where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded. The first floor walls are decorated with colorful murals, the second floor houses murals, tapestries and paintings, and the outside entrance is lined with large colorful wood carvings. We also visited the National Gallery, home to the first "The Scream" painting by Munch.

There is a huge tent area on the pier with food and souvenirs.

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Aarhus
Port Rating: 2.0 out of 5+
We visited the pretty Aarhus cathedral and walked through many streets, although almost everything was closed on Sunday. The best vendors are located on the pier near the ship. We purchased some really nice crafts directly from the people who made them.

Unfortunately, we feel this port could have been skipped and wish there had been more time than 1/2 day in Stockholm.

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Berlin
City Tour Rating: 5+ out of 5+
This equaled the best tour on the cruise. The 3 hour train ride to then from Berlin was fine. Somehow we got a private compartment, were able to catchup on some rest, and were kept busy with visits from the train attendant bringing information, maps, bottled water, muffins, large soft pretzels, wine and soft drinks, a lunch with a mystery sandwich, good-sized packages of cake, peanuts, a box of tic-tacs, etc.

Our tour guide, Burkhardt, had an excellent sense of humor and told us stories of growing up with the Berlin Wall and it's aftermath. We visited some city sites as the Eastside Gallery (interesting murals painted on the wall), Checkpoint Charlie (recreated but the guide pointed out the actual sites of the American and East German checkpoints and the path of the wall seen by a double-row of bricks in the street and sidewalk), Brandenburg Gate (spectacular), and the Reichstag parliament building. Lunch was at an upscale German restaurant with prime rib.

Highlights were the 4-piece organ recital at Berlin Cathedral and seeing the huge Greek and Babylonian structures at the Pergamon Museum (check out the website for amazing photos).


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Tallinn
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
What a beautiful medieval city with fortified city walls, cobblestone streets, old buildings, and churches. We walked 15 minutes from the ship into Old Town and visited the City Hall Museum (free restrooms) that houses period costumes, furniture, tapestries, tableware, paintings, and has an interesting attic containing a weathervane and views of the Town Square below. Wandering narrow alleys to discover courtyards, the town is full of shops selling glasswares, crafts, woolen products, cafes, etc. There is a Tourist Center if more information is needed.

Walking up to Toompea Hill, we visited the spectacular Alexander Nevsky Cathedral with it's onion-shaped domes topped with a gold cross, a palace, Tall Herman's Tower, a Catholic Church, and saw good views of the city and port below.

There is also a large craft and food sales area close to the ship.

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St. Petersburg
Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
An extremely colorful interior and exterior at at this traditional onion-domed church made it a favorite to visit. Photos are amazing, but to see it in person is best.


City Tour Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
Our excellent tour guide pointed out several landmarks over the 2 days, including many drab soviet-style buildings. The Peter and Paul Cathedral houses the graves of some tsars, including the family of Nicholas and Alexandra.


Hermitage Museum Rating: 5+ out of 5+
2 hours just gave us a glimpse of the treasures housed in this museum and Winter Palace. Countless art pieces by the masters and royal rooms are seen on this tour


Neva River Cruise Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
The relaxing river and canal cruise passed many significant buildings and sites, some we would later visit. One was a bridge built by the same designer who built the Eiffel Tower, and you could see the similarities. We also saw a couple of 3-masted ships.


Peterhof Palace Rating: 5+ out of 5+
Our tour group was the first to enter on the 2nd day of our visit to St. Petersburg. Therefore, we got an excellent view of the ornate rooms although photos were not allowed. I purchased some postcards at the giftshop. The palace grounds are amazing with gardens, statues, fountains, aviaries, and views of the Gulf of Finland. Some of the fountains, all powered by gravity, are tricky--they only go on when one walks closeby, thereby getting soaked. The main fountain area went on at 11:00 to the sound of music.


St. Isaac's Cathedral Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
This gold-domed church was a pleasure to visit. The ornate interior is spectacular and some of the exterior columns still bear the results of German shelling during WWII.


Yusupov Palace Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
Another exquiste palace, with a Rasputin figure in the basement where he was poisoned. Gold everywhere, artwork, mosaics, intricate woodwork, tapestries, stained glass, a chapel, a small Russian men's chorus sang a short song in one room.


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Helsinki
Port Rating: 3.0 out of 5+
The Sibelius monument was nice for a quick stop. Porvoo town in the countryside, built in 1346, has a nice church, cobblestone streets, and a chocolate shop with many free samples. Lunch on this tour was at a nearby farm in the pretty area. Returning to Helsinki, we visited the Temppeliaukio Rock Chuch, built into a rock hillside. Modernistic, it is beautiful with rock walls, windows that let in lots of light, and a copper roof.

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Stockholm
Port Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
This is a beautiful city. The Vasa Museum houses a 17th century warship that sank on it's maiden voyage. Perfectly preserved, the museum is extremely dark so be ready with the proper camera settings for photos. Don't overlook the original sails on display behind the stern, or some of the original cannons.

Our tour then took us to City Hall, site of the Nobel Prize ceremony (except for the Peace prize awarded in Oslo). The building has pretty wall murals upstairs. Old Town, or Gamla Stan, is an area of narrow streets where you can really get the feel of the original city. Senate Square is a main meeting area with a statue in the middle and buildings, one with a large wide step area. This is just a few blocks above a market square with dozens of food and craft vendors.

The Emerald cruised that afternoon through the archipelago, a beautiful wooded landscape dotted with homes, old forts, and numerous private watercraft.

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