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Home > Member Reviews > denisedld's Port Reviews of Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Berlin, Aarhus

denisedld's Port Reviews of Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Berlin, Aarhus
Emerald Princess cruise in June 2011
Member Name: denisedld
Cruise Date: June 2011
Embarkation: Copenhagen
Destination: Baltic & Northern Europe
Member Review: denisedld's Emerald Princess Review
Stockholm
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
We walked from the ship into Gamla Stan (the Old City). If you plan to do this, be sure to find out exactly where your ship will dock, because there are several different places which can add quite a bit of distance. I can't remember the exact name of where we came in, but there is Stockholm thread on CruiseCritic which provides quite a bit of detail.

Gamla Stan was quite enchanting; small enough to be walkable at a pleasant pace, be able to see things, and not be rushing through. We took Rick Steves' Scandinavia book, and followed his self-guided tour, which worked out great. We had a pleasant lunch at a cafe in a square. The downside was that it was raining and a little chilly, but the rain was on and off, so we made the best of it.

Since I am a "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" fan, I also researched various points of interest from the book, and managed to visit 5 of them before returning to the ship in time for the ship's Canal Tour. Unfortunately it was quite cold and rainy by the time we did the Tour, which lessened the enjoyment, although the tourguide was quite good, and I think it would have been a great excursion on a nicer day.

The sail through the archipelago was one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen.



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Helsinki
Port Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
Wish we had not taken the ship excursion. We met another couple who had walked in from the ship and self-toured, and then took a Princess shuttle back, this was probably a better option, although they did not get to see the Tempeliako Church, which was very beautiful and worth seeing.

Helsinki itself seemed to be a lovely, and surprisingly tree-lined city.


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St. Petersburg
Port Rating: 5+ out of 5+
We spent two days in St Petersburg and were incredibly impressed and overwhelmed with this beautiful and historic city. Our enjoyment and understanding of the city were greatly enhanced by touring with SPB Tours. Elaine (Yelena) our tourguide was incredibly mature for a 23-year-old, and so knowledgeable. She was entertaining, but knew vast amounts of interesting information. She also was able to get us into crowded venues efficiently, and since we only had 6 in our group, we could always hear her and maneuver about with her.

We visited all the usual tourist sites; the Peterhof Fountains were simply beautiful and a "must-see".

We were also able to go to dinner after our first day, and then to the ballet, which was quite a treat.

The city was also very noticeably clean. Very little graffiti, hardly any, and no trash on the streets whatsoever, despite the fact that the previous evening apparently had been a large celebration of graduation for the local students.

While the palaces are notable for their use of gold and incredibly expensive material, while the vast majority of the people were living in very poor conditions, it was still quite amazing to see. We also learned a great deal about the 3-year siege of St Petersburg by the Nazis, during which so many people died of starvation.

I would strongly recommend anyone with the opportunity to visit St Petersburg.



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Tallinn
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
As with Gamla Stan in Stockholm, we came into the Old City, which was compact enough to walk through the entire area at a leisurely pace. Some of the views were beautiful, as it is quite hilly. My friend and I climbed a church tower which was about 250 steps, but worth it at the top (although coming down those spiral steps was a bit scary!).

We enjoyed walking through here and bought some local goods which seemed good quality and reasonably priced for a tourist spot.



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Berlin
Port Rating: 3.0 out of 5+
It was 3+ hours from the ship port in Warnemunde, into Berlin, so we were on a breakneck pace touring through. Although I am glad to have seen Berlin from its historic perspective, I probably would not return. It was incredible to see how much of the city was destroyed - even though we knew this before we went, to see the extent to which it had been destroyed and rebuilt in person was very impactful.

It is not, however, a particularly beautiful city - many of the buildings at least that we saw were not very esthetic, but looked to be basic industrial /functional. Given that we had such a short time, however, it is probably not fair to Berlin to make such a quick judgment.



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Aarhus
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
This was a surprisingly delightful port. By the time we arrived, I was so tired of so much touring that I considered staying on the ship. However, I was very glad that I decided to go. What a pleasant area down by the canal! I wished we had a little more time to spend in this city.



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Oslo
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
Oslo may have been my favorite city after St Petersburg, on our Baltic cruise. This was just such a beautiful city, with its hilly and tree-lined streets. My husband and I went on our own, taking the tram to the Vigeland Sculpture Park, which is a must-see. We spent a wonderful 1.5 hours at a leisurely pace, and really enjoyed it.

We then returned to the portside area, and walked through City Hall - amazing! - and then on into the park area near the National Theatre. We walked a little off the beaten path, and found a lovely outdoor cafe, where we had lunch, and then watched a parade go by! It was a wonderful experience, and I just wish we had a little more time, as I would have liked to visit the National Museum.

I would very much consider returning to Oslo to spend more time.

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