We're anti-tour folks, as we like to spend the time we want to spend in the places we want to spend it, without being shuffled around. With Rick Steeve's book in hand, we explored Tallinn on our own, and found it to be a charming medieval city. I was really suprised, and enjoyed our time there.
I'd give St. Petersburg a 3+. I was expecting it to be my favorite city, because it was the reason we booked the cruise. I think it wasn't for several reasons.
1. You really have to do a tour. Even with a private tour, we would have rather gone on our own. But with Visas and language barriers, it's just not feasible. 2. St Petersburg is opulent. Beautiful. Almost too much. And with all that opulence, it's still a cold city. It's Soviet past is hard to shake. Much is being rennovated, and our tour was awesome, it's jut it lacked, well, heart. 3. There's a lot to see and take in. It's almost too much.
Helsinki was my husband's favorite port of the cruise, and was up there on my list. It's a newer city, with no medieval core, but still charmingly European, and compact. The food was great (fresh salmon!) and the hop-on hop-off bus was convenient (not so in Stockholm - more on that later.)
Why do cruises even bother stopping in a port for 6 hours. Then the ship was an hour late, the hop on hop off bus was a mess - it was a frustrating start to a day in a cool city. Not enough time to truly evaluate, but the Old Town was really cool.