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101 Copenhagen to Baltic Sea Princess Emerald Princess Cruise Reviews

My wife and I went on the Baltic Cruise with Princess in July 2015. I had mixed feelings about it. We had previously gone on the Alaska cruise with Princess and it was wonderful. The Baltic Cruise was a good way to get a sampling of ... Read More
My wife and I went on the Baltic Cruise with Princess in July 2015. I had mixed feelings about it. We had previously gone on the Alaska cruise with Princess and it was wonderful. The Baltic Cruise was a good way to get a sampling of Scandinavian countries. The stateroom was comfortable, the staff was very helpful and the food, although a bit institutional, was good. Princess also added some live shows with audience participation which were fun. That said, I do have some constructive comments for Princess (which I sent to Princess and never received a response) and advice for possible passengers. First, unlike the Alaska cruise, there was no one in the food courts ensuring that passengers washed or used antiseptic on their hands before eating. On the Alaska cruise that was really reassuring. On the Baltic cruise, no one was there to remind people and I noticed about half of the passengers did not clean their hands. I think this is a real health risk. Second, we had an unfortunate experience in Stockholm. Because the ship was so large, passengers had to take buses hired by Princess to get in. We were assured that the leaders on the buses would make sure we got back in time before sailing. We were expressly told on our bus that the last bus back to the ship would leave at 5:15. When we arrived at the pick-up spot, there were eight other passengers from different buses who also understood that. I had actually checked with our bus leader and she showed me that the last bus was at 5:15 on her list. When no bus arrived by 5:30, I called the local Princess agent and was told that the last bus had been at 4:30. When I explained that was not what the 10 passengers were told, we were told we would have to pay for a taxi. Luckily, Princess then called us back and said it had ordered and would pay for the taxis, which it did. When the taxis finally arrived and took us to the ship, we were told that the captain was mad at us because we had delayed sailing. I explained to the excursion director that we were angry because we had been misinformed about the last bus. While all of this worked out and I appreciated Princess paying for the taxis, we never got an apology from Princess. Good customer relations would have at least led to an email or a note in our cabin that Princess was sorry for the confusion. Third, and while this is a personal preference, I thought the stops in Estonia and Germany were really unnecessary. I understand the stop in Germany was to let people take trains to Berlin, but that meant we were stuck in Kiel for almost 15 hours because we did not want to go to Berlin. In addition, Estonia was a bit disappointing as it seemed very touristy. In contrast, Helsinki and Stockholm were really interesting but we only had about half a day in each city. I would suggest letting people get to Berlin before the cruise, deleting the Germany and Estonia stops and staying two days in Stockholm and Helsinki. Finally, I want to thank the fitness staff. The equipment was really state of the art and the yoga classes were excellent. I would have liked to have more yoga classes - there were only two classes for the whole cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We eagerly flew off to Copenhagen for two days to start our Baltic cruise vacation. Copenhagen is definitely on our list for a return trip. The city is lovely, people friendly, food expensive but good. We booked transfers to the hotel with ... Read More
We eagerly flew off to Copenhagen for two days to start our Baltic cruise vacation. Copenhagen is definitely on our list for a return trip. The city is lovely, people friendly, food expensive but good. We booked transfers to the hotel with Princess, and it really was an easy process. Had I known how really close the Radisson Blu is to the train station, I might have tried that, but with both of us still recovering from surgery, I had not wanted to risk starting the trip with any difficulty. Emerald Princess is much like the other Princess ships we have sailed on, too much Las Vegas glitz for my taste, but Princess has really good itineraries, good prices, and up until this sailing, we have been happy with them. We were the last of the Baltic sailings and perhaps that had something to do with the lack of anything interesting to do on sea days, ring toss in the Piazza, really!! The port lecturer was excellent, as good as any we have heard. The big problem for us was the food quality. Second night out, I sent my dinner back twice, and finally opted for another menu choice. Some nights, the beef had a decidedly odd aftertaste. One night, the potatoes looked so odd, like the old Playtex nursing bottles. One of our table mates suggested that the head chef really needed to look at what was being served. I don't expect real gourmet when so many passengers are being served, but after five cruises on Princess, we are sailing on Celebrity in January to try them out. We did book our shore excursions with one of the Russian agencies and were very happy with that decision. We saved a lot of money and had wonderful days. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
This was our third cruise , the second with Princess, and from the moment we stepped on board we were thoroughly impressed. Our cabin had ample space for all our needs and the cabin staff wonderful. The room was serviced at least three ... Read More
This was our third cruise , the second with Princess, and from the moment we stepped on board we were thoroughly impressed. Our cabin had ample space for all our needs and the cabin staff wonderful. The room was serviced at least three times per day and done while we were absent from the room so it didnt interfere with us. The meals at the dining room were good if we didnt like something the waiters had no hesitation in getting something else for us. We were seated on a six table and had the same couples every night and found them to be great dinner companions. We only did one tour of the princess and that was to St petersburg. We did the 2 day tour and found that it served the purpose and we saw everything that we had wanted to see with that tour. All other ports we did on our own and found the cities very easy to get around and had no problems at all. Do some research on the internet so you have some idea of where to go and what to see. We would recommend the princess line if you are looking for a quiet cruise ...It isnt a line that encourages young children and most passengers on this cruise were aged 45 and above. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
My wife and I arrived in Copenhagen two days before our cruise to acclimatize ourselves and do some sightseeing in the city. This was good as it took us longer than normal to get over the jet lag this time and with our flights being ... Read More
My wife and I arrived in Copenhagen two days before our cruise to acclimatize ourselves and do some sightseeing in the city. This was good as it took us longer than normal to get over the jet lag this time and with our flights being delayed, it would have been very hard on us if we had arrived the same day as the cruise. We took the train from the airport and it was an easy experience. For 36 Kroner each (about 7 dollars) we were shuttled to Central Station with no problems. When exiting follow signs to trains, purchase tickets at a automated kiosk or at the information desk in the main hall and take track 2. To go from Central Station to the ship, purchase a ticket for zone 2 for 24 Kroner (about $4.50) and take track 9/10and go 4 stops to Nordhavn station. From there it is a bit of a walk but not unobtrusive. Just follow the signs and look for your ship, you won't be able to miss it. Embarkation was very easy and the port is not hampered with American style security so everything goes smoothly. We arrived at the port at 11:45am and were in our ready state room by 12:30pm. The ship is very similar to the other Princess cruise we took on the Ruby Princess. The layout of the ship is almost an exact replica so finding our way around was very easy. On this cruise we went to Aarhus, Oslo, Warnemunde, Tallinn, Stockholm, Helsinki and St Petersburg. Despite the rain, Oslo was a great port of call with lots to see and do. The best way to see the city is on public transit with a one day pass and museum entrance ticket. It is 216 Norwegian Kroner ($38) per person and will get you into everything you could possibly want to see. Stockholm is another great port of call. Walking to town is not obtrusive; it was only marred by President Obama's visit causing sections of the city to be closed off depending on where his motorcade was. My wife mentioned that she would like to come back and really see the city. Wernemunde is the port for Berlin. I would not recommend taking the trip there though. It is a long journey there and you would only see a snippet of the city. It is best seen on a separate trip so you can explore the city over a few days or even a week. I would take the train to see Rostock instead. It only costs a few Euros and is a very interesting medieval city. Tallinn is also a interesting place to see with things off the beaten path to explore and see. Helsinki is also easily explored inexpensively by public transit. Purchase a day pass for 8 Euros from the bus driver at the stop right next to the port. I recommend printing out a transit map before arriving. It makes it easier to plan where you want to go without getting on the wrong bus or tram (like we did). The port presentation on the TV in the state room is very informative and helpful for those who like to explore on their own and will tell you which stops to get off of but a map would have helped me a lot. The only stop that was not the greatest was Aarhus. We arrived on a Sunday and not much is open. I don't know what excursions are available as we generally don't take them, but if you walk in don't expect to see much. St Petersburg was a great port of call, the port was the main reason we went on this cruise. I just had wished that the Russian authorities made it easier to enter the country. Going through customs was a bit of a bottleneck and seemed pointless. And having either a Visa, or a ticket for either a ship or private excursion, is the only way to get to see the city. We purchased a Hermitage and on your own excursion from Princess. It allowed us to do some personal exploring without being herded the entire time we were in the city. I only purchased the one excursion so we originally were only going to be able to get off the ship once on our second day in port. Two of our table mates had purchased tickets to see the Russian folk dance on the first day but were too tired to use them so they offered it to us. It was a very generous offer that we are indebted to them for. If I am lucky to be able to visit this city again, I will not be so cheap and purchase tickets to see other sights such as Peterhof palace etc. It is a once in a lifetime experience to visit this city and should be seen without worry about cost. This was my only regret on our cruise. The food was good but not great, I find the food on Holland America a little more flavourful and varied but Emeralds was still more than palatable. I just wish that they had a more varied menu especially at breakfast in the dining room. I much prefer the dining room as I always find that by the time you get everything you want in the buffet and sit down it is cold, but the dining rooms menu only has one thing that is the special of the day. If it isn't what you feel like eating, your choice is very limited and not very inspiring. Having the buffet available later in the evening was good though, sometimes you feel like a little snack before retiring. It was appreciated. The shows onboard are very similar to many other cruises we have been on. My wife and I have seen so many of these shows that we took a pass this time. The one thing that Princess could do is offer more activities during the day that don't involve shopping or some form of exercise purchase. I really enjoy seminars and demonstrations of differing interests but unfortunately very few were offered on this cruise. I know it is becoming more prevalent on other cruise lines also, but the up selling is becoming very noticeable. We were upgraded to a window view cabin and it was very nice. We always book inside cabins so this was a nice surprise. Our cabin was located as far back and as high up as was possible on this ship. If you don't like movement, vibrations or are prone to seasickness then this is not the cabin for you. I don't mind it as it seems to rock me to sleep and would not mind being upgraded to this cabin again, but it is quite noticeable. This is the largest passenger count ship that I have been on (the Ruby Princess is the same), it doesn't seem that there are 3082 passengers onboard unless you are trying to use the elevators during busy times or when you are in port and everywhere you go it is packed. I think I much prefer lower passenger count ships especially when you are in port. I can't imagine what it would be like on those monster Royal Caribbean ships, St. Petersburg was over run with just our ship on the second day in port. All in all, Princess provided us with all we really wanted on this trip, decent food, good ports and an attractive price to a place in the world we wanted to see. In the end that is really all you can ask for. They succeeded in giving us a good vacation.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
This was our second Princess Cruise, the first being in the late 1980's and we booked it due to the itinerary although we had been to St. Petersburg and Berlin on previous river boat cruises. We opted to go into Copenhagen several ... Read More
This was our second Princess Cruise, the first being in the late 1980's and we booked it due to the itinerary although we had been to St. Petersburg and Berlin on previous river boat cruises. We opted to go into Copenhagen several days early to experience the city, and we booked accommodations at the Best Western City Hotel. The location was great, the breakfast substantial, and the staff most helpful and accommodating. We took a taxi from the airport to hotel at a cost of about $50 and another to the pier at $15 per person through arrangements with the hotel. Since our initial Princess Cruise was years ago, we had not been on such a large ship, and think we prefer a smaller vessel. We found the Piazza noisy and impersonal rather than classy as on a Celebrity ship. The locations of the dining rooms, at the stern and on the lowest passenger decks, can be a challenge to get to depending on the deck and location of your cabin. We ate in the dining room most evenings and had anytime dining. There are advantages to choosing your own time to dine, however you must plan ahead if you want to attend any shows in the theater, The time required to dine is unpredictable and depends on the others at the table, the food choices made, and the conversation. Although we could have attended a couple of performances, sitting in for a few minutes made us decide to pass on it and choose other options for our evening time. The menu varied each night and there were only a few selections that disappointed. Service is generally good, although one night at table 470, we were rushed and not given some of the items requested. We did dine at Sabatini's and found it most enjoyable. From the appetizers to dessert everything was excellent and would rival some of the best restaurants in the North End of Boston. We felt the extra charge was reasonable for the quality and service. We regularly had breakfast and lunch in the Horizon Cafe, and except for an occasional rude passenger knocking you out of place, that was a pleasant experience. The selection was varied, and everything we tried we found well prepared. My only wish was that less salt was used. Other options for dining would be the pizza stop, pool deck grill, and International Cafe. One certainly would not go hungry. Our cabin was well arranged, had a comfortable bed, 2 chairs and a desk. We were on our balcony every day that the weather allowed, and although one had to be careful showering not to soak the floor of the bathroom, our room steward could not have been more accommodating in providing plenty of towels. I found the library had a decent selection of reference books on the ports we were visiting, and the onboard speaker on the ports gave advice that was useful to both the passenger taking a shore excursion with Princess or for those wishing to do it on their own. This was good, as we found the shore excursion desk, not helpful nor willing to answer questions, so having other resources was necessary when one excursion was cancelled and we did not hear from the staff when requesting a tour at another port.We really didn't see many passengers watching the movies under the stars. Perhaps the schedule and weather dampened that venue. It seemed most people were frequenting the various cubs and bars onboard. Since we are not smokers and are bothered by the smell of stale smoke, we avoided the Casino, so I cannot comment on that. Disembarkation could have been a little more convenient for passengers. We were loaded onto a double decker bus, with steps so steep that one woman could barely get up to the second level then could barely get down. Our luggage was brought to a holding area in the airport garage and after finding our suitcases we then had to determine what terminal our airline was in and maneuver our luggage through crowds to find our check-in counters. The departure terminal was the most disorganized I have ever encountered. There were only signs for SAS, and everyone else was wandering around trying to determine where and how to check in for flights. It would have been nice if some Princess Representatives had been there to assist some of the people who were definitely lost and confused. We found one woman, who needed a wheelchair, crying because she was overwhelmed, and was getting no assistance. We helped her locate the line for check-in which was snaking around the the terminal and I only hope she was able to get her boarding pass in time to board her flight. Will we cruise with Princess again? Maybe, but not in Europe. That particular ship seems more suited to the Caribbean where ports of call are not as intense. In addition, there seems to be mixed messages about bringing wine and champagne onboard. Each passenger is allowed to bring 750ml of wine or champagne on at embarkation, and told any brought on from ports would incur a $15 charge to keep in your stateroom, or would be held until the end of the cruise. Frequent cruisers with Princess said that the rule is not enforced, and some people even brought hard liquor onboard at embarkation and from ports of call. We could not get a definitive response on this. One of the niceties of cruising in Europe is to try local wine and beer, however, if you cannot bring it onboard from a port of call, you loose that aspect of the cruise. There certainly is not time to stop for a drink in port if you are on a tour.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
The ports of call were Tallin (Estonia), St. Petersburg (Russia), Helsinki (Finland), Oslo (Norway), Stockholm (Sweden), Copenhagen (Denmark), Arhuus (Denmark). Most people choose to embark in Copenhagen but Princess allows passengers to ... Read More
The ports of call were Tallin (Estonia), St. Petersburg (Russia), Helsinki (Finland), Oslo (Norway), Stockholm (Sweden), Copenhagen (Denmark), Arhuus (Denmark). Most people choose to embark in Copenhagen but Princess allows passengers to embark in Warnemunde, which is the port for Berlin. Berlin is about 3 hours by train to Warnemunde. We bought our train tickets online at www. bahn.de and caught our train at Berlin bahnof, the largest train station in Europe. We had to change trains in Rostock but had no trouble with the very efficient train system in Germany. We only booked the excursion with Princess for St. Petersburg. Every other port is very easy to see independently. Make sure to go to the port lectures on the ship as John Laurence is very helpful. The food on Princess has declined and we have noticed that the entertainment is not so great either.The ship was fine; nothing special.We really enjoyed all the ports of call except that we don't think Princess should stop in Arhuus, Denmark, as there is not much to see there. Instead, Princess should stop overnight in Stockholm, as we were only there until 1:30 p.m. and there was a lot to see so this was very disappointing. We spent a few days in Berlin and there is a lot to see and do. There are 5 museums on Museum Island and a lot of history with respect to WW2 and the Cold War in other museums. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
As others have said, we took this cruise for the itinerary. Since it was our first cruise, we did not know what to expect. I booked our extra nights before & after the cruise in Copenhagen through the Radisson's website. This cost ... Read More
As others have said, we took this cruise for the itinerary. Since it was our first cruise, we did not know what to expect. I booked our extra nights before & after the cruise in Copenhagen through the Radisson's website. This cost half of what Princess would have charged so I don't know why anyone would book through them. We took a taxi from the airport to the hotel. Princess was going to charge us $120 to get to the hotel and we paid $40 on our own. There was a Princess table set up in the lobby & the woman told us to wait until 3 or 4 in the afternoon to board the ship after all the groups had checked in. it was great advice & we breezed through. The ship itself was grand. It was everything I expected. it was huge, well organized & super clean. Our mini suite with balcony worked great for the 4 of us. It was well thought out. I never felt cramped. There was plenty of storage so we were able to unpack everything. The bathroom was a good size - bigger than expected. We saw maintenance people working all the time. I had always heard people rave about cruise ship food so I was coming in with high expectations. I know cooking for thousands cannot be easy but really - can't they cut the rind off the pineapple before serving it? It took a lot of sawing to get it off with that butter knife. We ate mainly in the Horizon Court because it was convenient. We spent the extra $25 per person for dinner at Sabatini's & really should have saved our money. It was heavy on atmosphere & short on food. The menu was very limited with the pasta course being "chef's choice" which means zero passenger choice. I felt nickeled & dimed with the food. I wanted a Diet Coke one day & was asked for my room number so they could charge me so I skipped it. I had hot tea at no charge in the Horizon Court, dining rooms and through room service. I was surprised when I ordered tea at the European style cafe in the Atrium & they wanted to charge me! Ice cream was available at no charge near the pizza counter but if you wanted the "special" ice cream at the cafe, there was a charge. That said, the food was adequate & nobody starved. We loved the $3 flat fee for room service. The staff are very friendly & well trained. I found getting on & off the ship surprisingly easy. The only port I did not like was Aarhus. I cannot figure out why the ship stops there. I would rather have had another day in Stockholm. the ship docks in an industrial area with lots of commercial traffic so passengers are not allowed to walk off the ship into town. We had to wait for a bus to take us a mile into town. Plus it was pouring rain & we went back to the ship. St Petersburg was the highlight of the trip. We booked a private tour through SPb tours & it was fabulous. Because we were a small group, the tour guide was able to get us to the front of every line. it was expensive & worth every penny. It was hot when we went to Peterhof & my kids loved running through the fountains. I had read that we might have to wait to get off the ship because we were not on a Princess shore excursion but that was not the case at all. My 9 year old went to the kids club one afternoon when we were at sea. My 14 year old did not go at all. I know Princess is not really geared towards kids but Disney Pictionary for 13-17 year olds?? They were so tired from sightseeing that we watched movies or swam in our free time. Princess really pushes on-board shopping & art auctions. I think having shops on board with nice souvenirs is great but please don't clutter up the hallways with tables of stuff. And don't tell me not to buy souvenirs in Russia, that I should buy them on board. I wanted to buy a book or magazine but the selection was almost non-existent. The onboard travel guru was great until they started broadcasting his lectures over the PA system. The entertainment was pretty hokey although we enjoyed the crew talent show - they were very genuine. Overall, the trip went smoothly & we have great memories. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Finally getting around to sorting out the pictures and reliving the wonderful time that we had aboard the Emerald Princess. We flew in the day before the cruise started and stayed at the gorgeous Phoenix Hotel, what a lovely place to ... Read More
Finally getting around to sorting out the pictures and reliving the wonderful time that we had aboard the Emerald Princess. We flew in the day before the cruise started and stayed at the gorgeous Phoenix Hotel, what a lovely place to stay, nothing was too much trouble and it is conveniently situated for walking to all the major sites. So fully refreshed we set off for the ship at around 2pm, straight through the suite line and on to the ship in 20 mins. We had been planning for this cruise for 6 months and had listened avidly to the wonderful DVD sent by John Lawrence who incidentally was on board lecturing as well. A truly lovely man with a wicked sense of humour. Anyway we thought that we knew exactly what to expect but boy were we blown away by all the wonderful sights. Firstly the ship, it was clean-ish, our room wasn’t the cleanest I have ever seen but I had brought the ever trusty Clorox wipes so it was soon sparkling and clean.The bedroom steward Alan was nice enough but did seem a little distracted at times. We are not high maintenance so really didn’t bother him after getting things sorted the first day. We did not find the food to be to our liking, a very subjective subject I know so won’t dwell on it, but I have never been in an Italian ‘restaurant’ that didn’t have aglio olio e peperoncino or tiramisu. Ah well. The Horizon court we tried once, and then opted for the International cafe. Still the good thing was we certainly didn’t gain any weight and had fun trying restaurants ashore. We managed to ‘do’ most of the ports on our own following Johns advice and excellent directions. Not people for rushing around trying to see everything, as long as we get a feel for the place thats good enough. Quite funny to watch people with their maps on street corners turning themselves round and then the map. We loved Estonia and plan to go back to explore, what a gem of a country and such lovely people. Tallinn is extremely ‘touristy’ but thoroughly enjoyable. Found a wonderful Italian restaurant here. Helsinki we walked into the town which took about 40 minutes followed the water and enjoyed lovely scenery, we wandered around the market square and looked at the senate cathedral, then stopped for a quick bite in one of the lovely cafes on the esplanade. We walked back a different way and found some lovely antique and second hand shops. Stockholm was another longish walk into the town, the Gamla Stan was lovely to stroll around, Nobel Museum fascinating but as this was such a short stop we didn’t venture further afield Oslo was not quite what we were expecting, it seemed quite dirty to me lots of paper and garbage on the streets and many homeless people begging, I hadn’t expected that at all. We took the train up to the ski run which was fun and then on to the sculpture park and caught the tram back to the harbour, it was a full day. Aarhus was a shambles, firstly the ship docked in a container port, so no-one was allowed to walk off everyone (apart from tour people) had to get on a shuttle bus which went around to the cruise terminal which in turn was about 10- 15 mins from the town, no transport available. So that seemed to take for ever and the last shuttle back was 1.5 hours before the ship was due to leave which made the stop quite short. The city itself isn’t really geared up for tourists, no HoHo bus and very little in the way of tourist transport, we walked over to the ‘must see’ Den Gamle Bye and it was very interesting, quite long lines waiting to get in though, and then strolled back through the town. I must say that this place could be replace by somewhere a little more interesting, many, many place seem to have alot more to offer than Aarhus. The stop in Warnemunde was probably our favourite, we took the efficient train to a lovely town called Stralsund, a truly Gothic place, absolutely lovely, then came back an wandered around Warnemunde. Since we were staying in Europe after the cruise we couldn’t see the sense in travelling 3 hours each way to Berlin. We had a lovely day, Warnemunde is just charming and such a lovely promenade and beach area. Good food too! Now for St Petersburg, We had a visa for the first day so set off map in hand on the local bus to the metro station, bus was very crowded and went all the way round the dock area squeezing more and more people in, still it was good practice for the metro. Luckily the nearest metro is the end of the line so although busy as least we got a seat. The trains are an experience in themselves, they hurtle along seemingly very close to the walls and stop suddenly, the doors aligned exactly with the doors on the station. It was only two stops to the main street - Nevsky Prospect, so we left with nearly everybody else and were swept out into the street. A short walk to the right we found a HoHo bus and spent 2 hours travelling around the city. That gave us a good overview. Then off to the Hermitage (just from the outside) and the enormous square, over the bridge to the peter and paul fortress and on to the Aurora battle ship, which unfortunately wasn’t accepting visitors for some reason, never mind we got great pictures of the outside, then on the walk back we stopped at Tsar Peter the Greats original log cabin, this was amazing, apparently it had been preserved by Catherine the Great and as we had loved the experience of the metro we studied the map, (they have help points with maps in English and other languages at all stops) and travelled on the red line, fascinating to watch everyone and we managed to squeeze into a seat at one point. Back on Nevsky P we stopped for a quick bite at a fun blini cafe very cheap and good. Suitably refreshed we went to the church on the blood and then off to St. Isaacs. Both amazing experiences. As we didn’t have to get back to the ship we thought that we would have dinner ashore, so remembered that we had passed the St Petersburg Cafe close to the Church on the Blood, so went in there, very nice food and there was also a floor show, so it was a very nice day. We walked to the Grand Hotel to pick up a taxi back to the ship, cost the equivalent of $50. Second day we opted to take the ships tour to Peterhof, and we really wish that we had done it ourselves on the first day and then explored the city on the second day. Loads of busses arrived at the same time and we were rushed through the gardens, certainly not enough time to enjoy the fountains, and then whisked through the main house. We were back at the ship with 5 hours to go before sailing, a very disappointing waste of the afternoon. So we had a great time, but are so glad that we did the research so we could do our own thing, I would have hated to be confined to ships tours and rushed everywhere. We didn’t see much of the entertainment, there always seemed to be a crowd outside the theatre when we went near, so mainly just listened to the bands and relaxed. It certainly is a strenuous time but oh so enjoyable. We left the ship under our own steam as we were staying in Copenhagen for one more night before heading off to Germany and the rest of our tour. There were plenty of Taxis despite the warnings from the tour office that there would not be many there.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
This is the first time we took a cruise tour (land and cruise) before we sailed on June 25, 2013 on the Emerald Princess. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Berlin beforehand. We had a terrific tour director, Lucy, ... Read More
This is the first time we took a cruise tour (land and cruise) before we sailed on June 25, 2013 on the Emerald Princess. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Berlin beforehand. We had a terrific tour director, Lucy, and a wonderful bus driver (Chaba). We only had 21 people on this tour with us and by the end we got to be one happy family! Going on the land tour afforded us the ability to see the beautiful countryside along our journey. We stayed in high-end hotels with dining that was superb, which included local restaurants. We got personalized attention with Lucy as well as answers to all of our questions about the history of the countries we visited. The local guides were good as well. Of course, it all helped that the weather cooperated, sunny and warm. Once we boarded the ship for Scandinavia and Russia, of course, the weather changed; we knew it would be cooler with rain. Then of course big bus loads on the shore excursions. Unfortunately on our first excursion to Oslo, the guide did not provide any "headset" for us to hear her with and when you have massive tourists around you it is difficult to hear anything; way too crowded at the viking ship museum. I have to say I was pretty impressed with the food on the ship. It was very good. We did first seating traditional dining, all meals were presented well and tasted very good. This was a very port intensive trip, and I'm in good shape at 62, and I was glad to get home after 3 weeks! We love the history and culture, however, towards the end of the trip all of the churches, museums, castles as well as the Scandinavian countries started to look alike. Favorite places: Budapest is amazing! Finland was beautiful as well - take the shore excursion to Porvoo (old town). We enjoyed the land tour so much that perhaps next time we will skip the cruise and take a Globus tour.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
I am sailed 7 times in 10 years. I have sailed with Celebrity (a long time ago) and Royal (about 7 years ago). All other cruises have been with Princess. I always thought that Princess was a bit better in every way. While I do not know ... Read More
I am sailed 7 times in 10 years. I have sailed with Celebrity (a long time ago) and Royal (about 7 years ago). All other cruises have been with Princess. I always thought that Princess was a bit better in every way. While I do not know if other lines have improved or declined, I can say that Princess is declining. It seems like they are trying to save money and hoping we do not notice. Well, guess what-I do. Let me start with the food- Mass produced food is difficult to stand out- I get it. I usually found something very good at every meals and often many things very good. This last cruise it was harder to find. There were still some very good choices at times, just not as many. This ship itself, is still fine, although there are not enough activities to suit my taste. The rooms are adequate. The friendly nature of the staff is still outstanding. The entertainment however, on my cruise, was awful-and I am being kind here. The only worthwhile entertainment in 11 days was a cover band for the Beatles-who was great by comparison. A 35 minute set left us wanting more. The cruise director and his 2 female helpers were nice people who should be in a different line of work. There- I was kind. The ports were very good and seeing 7 countries in 11 days is just great. There was a ventriloquist who was sooooooo baaaaaaaaaaad. Look him up online and he writes his own reviews and blocks you tube comments. It seemed like the Carnival Company was trying to recoup some lost money from their mishaps. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
The land tour by Globus thru Princess was exceptional. We started in Budapest, Hungary for two nights and toured Vienna, Austria, Prague, Czech Republic, Dresden and Berlin, Germany. We then took a ferry across from Rostock, Germany to ... Read More
The land tour by Globus thru Princess was exceptional. We started in Budapest, Hungary for two nights and toured Vienna, Austria, Prague, Czech Republic, Dresden and Berlin, Germany. We then took a ferry across from Rostock, Germany to Copenhagen, Denmark. The whole trip was fun, enlightening, met new friends on the tour and enjoyed everywhere we stayed. We boarded the Emerald Princess and was overwhelmed with its size. When we opened the door to our mini-suite it was very worn and not so clean. Old soap was left in the tub and the bed dipped in the middle. I had paid extra to surprise my husband. I can say the room was large and had a nice balcony. We had arrived late from our tour and did the muster station then went back to our room to freshen up for dinner. We had the 6:00 seating and were late by 15 minutes. The head waiter said we couldn't come in even though we had a set table. He sent us to the anytime dinning and they said we had to wait 40 minutes. We were so hungry that we went up to the cafe and everything was picked over. We ate a few bites and went to our room. One morning my husband got up to brush his teeth and brown water came out of the faucet. We called the desk and they said they cleaned the tanks and it was okay to drink. My husband went down to the desk to talk to them after it didn't clear up. When he left I went out side my stateroom and several of the people were out asking what happened to the water and they were not happy. We bought a bottle of water for $3.50 to use. We were clearly disappointed with Princess. The next day I cancelled all but 1 Princess tour (Russia for 2 days). In each port we either hired a taxi to take us to all the places for the day or walked to all the places the tours would have taken us. We enjoyed talking to the locals and having coffee or lunch with them. Back to the Emerald Princess....food was inconsistent with meat being tough or no flavor, entertainment wasn't that great, port/shore excursions were very expensive. Our 2 day Russian tour cost $600/each but it was really worth it! The ports that we visited we would gladly revisit. All in all, we had a terrific trip with the exception of things that happened on the ship. We will not take another cruise with Princess and we will not recommend them to our friends. To us it is a step above Carnival. I know others on this trip thought the same thing about the food, service and entertainment and they had been on other Princess ships. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We flew into Copenhagen from London after self drive holiday. Arrived mid morn, taxi to Port and expecting to have to wait a while before could check luggage as there were still people disembarking, but were pleasantly surprised when our ... Read More
We flew into Copenhagen from London after self drive holiday. Arrived mid morn, taxi to Port and expecting to have to wait a while before could check luggage as there were still people disembarking, but were pleasantly surprised when our luggage was tagged and whisked away! Entered embarkation building and process from there was smooth and efficient. We were on board before 1300, directed to out Mini -suite, which we found out to our delight we had been upgraded to 2 days previously. All welcoming crew were very professional and everywhere. Very impressed with cabin layout and big balcony with 4 seats. Cabin steward very obliging and cabin well cared for. Needed more EU power points, only 1 to charge media devices in bathroom. Went off armed with maps to explore and found our way to Horizon buffet for lunch, very well set up. Thus begun a great cruise with very few complaints except breakfasts taken in Horizon where the food always seemed to be cold. We ate most meals in either of the Anytime dining rooms and every meal was lovely, the waitstaff and Maitre D very attentive and we rarely had to wait long for a 'share' table and met some lovely, interesting people from many corners of the globe. We were one of the very lucky 11 people who enjoyed the SUPERB Chefs Table dining experience which was worth every dollar and more. One of the highlights of our cruise. Also ate at Sabatinis to celebtrate a birthday and we loved the ambience and the food and superb service, especially 'corny' rendition of 'Happy Birthday', sung by our waiter! We enjoyed the Pizza outdoors when we needed a quick snack, loved 'Afternoon Tea' on the days we got there after getting back form day onshore and on at sea days when we had light snack lunch. We made full use of 'Coffee' card in International cafe, and I enjoyed delicious non-coffee cold creations introduced to me by Johannes, Customer Service Director we met there on day 2 who was more then hospitable towards us our whole cruise. We met some other Aussies whilst 'sailing away' from Oslo whom became firm cruise buddies.and met on back deck bar every afternoon for drinks, sometimes in wild weather. The Wheelhouse became our favourite bar and were very well looked after there by friendly familiar crew and enjoyed the Jazz Duo . Also moved on to other bars depending on Princess Patter music programme. Only made it to a couple of shows in Princess Theatre but enjoyed those. We booked our selection of port excursions after purchasing John Lawrences DVD prior to cruise. A definite MUST! We walked around Oslo, Aarhus, Tallin and did excursions in Warnemunde, to Rostock, St Petersburg, Catherines palace 1st day, canal cruise 2nd day but traffic made it a long drawn out day. Did excursions in Helsinki and Stockholm as big cities to explore on own in a few hours. Overall, our best cruise experience so far with each past cruise quite different. Big plus was Laundromats, downside there having to have enough American dollars, would be much easier to buy tokens or swipe cruise card. Found all crew very obliging and courteous, with minimal language barriers considering the many nationalities. Chose independent disembarkation which we changed on last evening as didn't want to get off too early as were checking in Copenhagen hotel for 5 nights post cruise. Our luggage was waiting for us on dock and we had a reasonable wait for taxi which we expected. Have already decided on Regal Princess Mediterranean cruise next July but a bit concerned re reviews on Royal Princess so far. Will keep eye on them.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We chose this cruise because of the port itinerary. Our focus is the ports of call, verses the ship itself. But both are highly recommended here. We made our own travel arrangements, including booking the cruise online. For the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the port itinerary. Our focus is the ports of call, verses the ship itself. But both are highly recommended here. We made our own travel arrangements, including booking the cruise online. For the first night we stayed at the Crown Plaza Copenhagen Towers, but I would recommend at least two nights in Copenhagen pre-cruise. This modern high-rise hotel is highly recommended and a common pre-cruise hotel. The advantage during summer is A/C and a quiet room. The nearby mall closes at 8pm. The front desk sells Metro tickets. Just about everyone we ran into in Scandinavia spoke English, most without an accent. We were extremely lucky with the weather for our cruise from August 8th to August 19th. No rain on excursion days and most days were sunny. Several days were warm enough to swim in the ship's pools. We were prepared for rain, but not for the wind during rain downpours: typical umbrellas reverse in the wind. We were extremely lucky the Emerald Princess has a very knowledgeable and independent port lecturer: John Lawrence. He was very funny in person during his talks. Had I to do it over, I would have purchased and watched his DVD titled "Baltic Treasures" in advance. Also the book "Northern Europe by Cruise Ship" by Anne Vipond was useful along with the http://istopoli.com/cruise site. Princes Cruises has a downloadable PDF that describes the excursions which was very helpful and be sure to make your shore excursion reservations online before the cruise. You only have about 9 hours at each stop, so you have to spend your time wisely. The exceptions are Stockholm at 7 hours, so we will have to return on own someday, and at St. Petersburg which has a lot to see. The disadvantage of HOHO buses is sometimes you have to wait 30 minutes for the bus to pick you up. The advantage is price. Using cabs at key points will save you some sightseeing time. Small amounts of local currency via local ATM's for WC's and trinkets are a good idea. Some places require photo permits. City Halls are good attractions in Scandinavia. Oslo, Norway: Much is walkable; ship docks at city. National Gallery allows pictures except for one room. Need bus to get to worthwhile Vigeland Sculpture Park and need krone for the WC next to it; no ATM at park. (Norwegian Krone) Aarhus, Denmark: Most boring. We took ship's tour to see the countryside. Not sure what the best choice is here. Have some local currency via local ATM. (Danish Krone) Warnemunde, Germany: Instead of 6 hours traveling to/from Berlin, we took the ship's tour to Schwerin Castle, Lake Schwerin Cruise, lunch, & St Mary's Church. Well worthwhile. Castle allows pictures. We were lucky to visit Warnemunde during the sailing festival, highly recommended to watch during the sail out with horns blaring. (Euros) Tallin, Estonia: Walkable, no bus/tour needed. For WC need Euros and only good one is at entrance to Old Town. Take taxi to TV tower early in morning, if interested, otherwise long waits. Town Hall tower is very difficult to walk up. (Euros) Saint Petersburg, Russia: Took the most popular two day bus tour from Princess. My guess is a private tour would be better. With respect to the Peterhof Palace: long travel time, extremely crowded, long waits for WC, no pictures. Recommend seeing outside only. Outside WC there requires rubles (no line). Actually the Peterhof Palace was mostly destroyed in WW II, so what you are looking at inside is a new reconstruction. Other places have far better interiors. Hermitage museum allows pictures, and has great interiors, so maximize your time there. Be on deck as the ship leaves through a new narrow levy. (Rubles) Helsinki, Finland: HOHO bus a good choice here. (Euros) Stockholm, Sweden: Took John Lawrence's advice and did HOHO by boat and saw Vasa Museum first thing. Royal Palace Apartments were very worthwhile, but no pictures. Take cab to city hall for tour. Be on deck during the three hour entry or exit to Stockholm. We did not do Skyview, which requires reservations, so best to do on tour. (Krona) This was our first time with Princess. I was skeptical of the tipping system but it worked out fine. The staff was very friendly and helpful. Lounge music was varied and very good. Formal dining room service was excellent. What to drink at dinner was a problem, since only iced tea was free, in the formal dining rooms. This was the first cruise I signed up for free beverages and I am glad I did with all the free juices and sodas I could drink. Free afternoon tea was served in a formal dining room. The passengers were mostly older on this cruise. There were few children. Nevertheless, doing this port intensive cruise when you are younger is even better: lots of opportunities to do a lot of walking. There were plenty of taxi's on the way out. A flight leaving Copenhagen at noon seems about right except on Sundays, when 11am would have been good enough. You have to be out of your cabin at 8am. Having two point & shoot dedicated cameras are better than one, in case one fails (battery or lens lock), at a location you will never have a chance to return to. And since they have different specs, you pick the right one for the picture. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
We booked our flight separately, flying Delta-KLM. Be sure to pay a little extra and get the Economy Plus; more leg room, more tilt, and two across. The food and refreshments were frequent and included. You get early boarding with the ... Read More
We booked our flight separately, flying Delta-KLM. Be sure to pay a little extra and get the Economy Plus; more leg room, more tilt, and two across. The food and refreshments were frequent and included. You get early boarding with the First Class. We were met at the airport by a team of efficient Princess representatives, who directed us to where to take our luggage (free handy carts) and to our bus. We were whisked to the ship's terminal and noticed a long line of people waiting to get aboard. We were pleasantly surprised to find our wait was only about 15-20 minutes and we received a handy pocket map of the ship, our room card and pictures taken for i.d. Once aboard we made our way to our stateroom, with the help of conveniently placed personnel to aid us on our way. It was disappointing to find our balcony stateroom very cramped. It wasn't as nice or roomy as on a smaller Princess Two people couldn't be about at the same time. One had to sit on the side of the bed with feet out of the way while the other maneuvered around the bed. Also don't drop the soap in the shower or you'll get a bump on your head. There was no room for a foursome card game or pre-dinner refreshments. Our daughter and her husband had to knock on our cabin door and wait in the passageway. We couldn't all fit in the room together. The first day or two it was bewildering trying to find our way around. The little pocket map really helped, and on each floor near the elevators you would find a plaque of the ship and the layout for the floor you were on. The food was prepared for any variety of ethnic people, special diets, etc. My complaint is that the vegetables were almost raw. I like al dente, but their cooked veggies were 1 degree from raw. The baked sweet potato slices were hard and undercooked. Since I like vegetables and heaped them on my plate, I must say there was quite a waste. We were assigned a table at dinner, but ate there only 3 times due to the noise level. The workers stations are nearby and noisy, even though they tried to be quiet and the surrounding tables were quite noisy. Perhaps more insulation is required.'s We dined in the Grill and Sabatini's which were well worth the cover charge, and also the anytime dining room and the buffet. For a delightful treat, get a specialty coffee at the International Cafe and next to that is a delicious pastry, salad, quiche, and small sandwich counter to enjoy with your coffee. Nice place to meet a friend.The selection for the ports of call were excellent. Didn't enjoy Aarhus that much. St. Petersburg was the highlight but very, very crowded. The archipelagos on the way to Stockholm were beautiful...stay up to see the beauty of the area as you glide by; also the fjords in Norway. Warnemunde/Rostock, Germany was one of my favorites. Overall, the tours were well planned and educational. I had trouble understanding one or two guides. We noticed in the Princess Theatre that the shows were shortened to about 30 min. The crew singers, however, were excellent. Some amenities were missing such as the towel figures in your stateroom. I suppose corners have to be cut somewhere, but it doesn't feel as special to not have the extra niceties to remember that you were special and being pampered. We will not travel on such a large ship again as we felt we were lost in the shuffle of humanity. I didn't see or talk to the same people twice. I felt I was in a tenement building and the thought struck me, "what if there was a fire".On embarkation, it was very organized and easy to leave the ship. The buses were waiting and promptly took off for the airport making it easy for us. The hard part was when we were on our own. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
We left from Copenhagen on the Emerald Princess on Aug 30th. I will divide this review into major sections but all in all it was an absolutely wonderful experience with great staff on a beautiful ship. Very intense itinerary but a short ... Read More
We left from Copenhagen on the Emerald Princess on Aug 30th. I will divide this review into major sections but all in all it was an absolutely wonderful experience with great staff on a beautiful ship. Very intense itinerary but a short nap every afternoon enabled us to enjoy the ship in the evening. PORTS OF CALL; We had been in Stockholm and Helsinki in the past so I will focus on the new ones for us. Oslo, wonderful port, went to the Viking museum and visited couple of churches, found the people friendly and very helpful. took excursion with Princess, very organized and efficient. AArhus great medievil city with original wall around it, found people very friendly and architecture interesting. St. Petersburg highlight of our trip, took the 2 day excursion, very interesting, guide was great. History so interesting and the architecture so intricate and amazing. Went to 2 different restaurants for lunch both good but not great. Copenhagen interesting city with a great Canal Boat tour, people very friendly. Saw Tivoli Gardens at night so beautiful all lit up. Stayed overnight in the Kong Arthur, beautiful hotel but no air conditioning so would not stay in the summer. We were very Blessed to have sunny weather during our entire cruise, people told us this is very unusual for this time of year. SHIP: Beautiful, many different food and bev venues, well kept, always clean, staff courteous. Very disappointed in the Main Dining Room food choices. The food was good just not many options. I asked every night we went (4) about Escargot, I finally was told one night they were available but not on menu so I ordered them. They had Lobster one ight that was the size of a prawn. It actually was served with prawns as they were so small. My favorite meals were actually in the Caribe Cafe where theme dinners were served most nights. My favorite was the Bavarian night with an unbelievably tasty roast pork, sauerkraut and potatoe pancakes. I know it sounds like a little thing but I love the fact that the staff brings you beverages while at the Buffet. We took a Celebrity cruise last year and this was not offered and it really made a difference. The Lotus Spa is wonderful, had a different massage each sea day which I needed desperately after all the walking on cobblestones. Never took advantage of the specialty restaurants though we usually do, so I can not comment. Cabin we were in a Balcony room on the Caribe deck, the balcony was huge with 2 reclining chairs, 2 upright chairs and a small table. It was like having another room, We had a balcony for the 1st time about 10 years ago and can't go back now. It is well worth the money, the entry and exit into and out of Stockholm is breathtaking. The Cabin itself was pretty roomy with large space for clothes, etc. Cabin steward was excellent, took really good care of us. MISC: John Lawrence, past cruise director was on our cruise and did all of the port tours, I was lucky enough to send away for his DVD on the ports beforehand and it really made a difference. You can google his name if interested. HAPPY CRUISING!!!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
We left on Aug. 20th for a land package and Baltic cruise with Princess Cruises sailing on the Emerald Princess which we had sailed before 3 times.Let me start by saying the pre-cruise was fabulas-Princess contrats with Globas and our ... Read More
We left on Aug. 20th for a land package and Baltic cruise with Princess Cruises sailing on the Emerald Princess which we had sailed before 3 times.Let me start by saying the pre-cruise was fabulas-Princess contrats with Globas and our 8night package began in Budapest. We then went by bus transport to Vienna,Prague and Berlin then joining up with the cruiseship in Copenhagen.Our land tour was very comfortable, the hotels lovely and our tour guide Martina was outstanding. She was a wealth of knowledge who knew her history as well as any historian I have ever heard-She even knew little known stories about kings and queens that would make you understand how oppulant and crazy these people were back in their day!! She was a joy to be with and you could tell loved her job!! It was a fantastic 8 nights!!! Once we got on the cruiseship we were a little disappointed. The entertainment was awful and they had 5 production shows where the singers and dancers weren't even dancing together with each other or the music. They only had one decent show the whole 11 nights and that was a ventriloquist who was hysterical,but otherwise all the entertainment was not good. Princess has really cut back on that and that is very disappointing. The food was just mediocure and the head waiter not very accomadating,saying if you wanted this or that he would ask the chef and then came back saying no to me (I am a funny eater and don't like most items on the menu)I have never had this on any other Princess Cruise we've been on. The ship was well kept up and our room was excellent, service by our cabin steward very good. The ports of call were great and our two day call in Russia fantastic. We did NOT use the ship tour and instead used SpB tours which we found on cruisecritic and they were FANTASTIC!!! Half the price of the ship 2 day tour and we saw more and were in all the places the Princess tour takes you.They have a folkloric show right on the ship which is very good on the first night you are in St.Petersberg so going with SpB tours was GREAT!! You also don't have to worry about a visa because they take care of that all for you-so don't believe the cruiseline when they tell you-you can only go with a ship tour-NOT TRUE- In the rest of the ports we did Hop on Hop off buses which are right outside the ship right on the dock and very convenient and you save a lot of money by not using the ship tours. In all I would sum it up as a good time and for the money a very good choice if a Baltic Cruise is what you want. If you have the time I would highly reccomend the Pre-Cruise package! Budapest,Vienna,Prague and Berlin were the highlight of the whole trip. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
PRE CRUISE, SHIP, DINING, ENTERTAINMENT: We arrived day before around Noon & stayed one night at the Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers which was very convenient & staff there very helpful. Next morning we booked a city/harbor tour ... Read More
PRE CRUISE, SHIP, DINING, ENTERTAINMENT: We arrived day before around Noon & stayed one night at the Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers which was very convenient & staff there very helpful. Next morning we booked a city/harbor tour with a local tour company which allowed us to return to hotel by 1:00 PM; we took a taxi to cruise port (about $50) & arrived around 2:00 PM. Since we just attained Platinum status, embarking & disembarking was a breeze but have never had problems prior either. Used Princess transfer for disembarking day & was airport before 9 AM. The ship as well as our room was very clean and well maintained. Our room was in the rear on the Riviera deck (14th floor) just below the Caribe Cafe which was very convenient; also we did not hear any noise from above although we did experience some vibration from the motors but not enough to bother us. Also, had no problem with the mattress being uncomfortable. Room was very comfortable and loved the balcony which we used a lot due to nice weather. Used self serve laundry couple times & that worked well. Loved the non smoking throughout the ship except for just a few areas. We selected this cruise for the itinerary & were not disappointed plus we had spectacular weather the entire cruise. It is a very port intensive cruise so usually by evening we were tired & not concerned too much about the entertainment onboard or fabulous dining. We went one night to see the Princess singers & dancers & they were pretty good but one night was enough. We also went the one night a comedian performed & he was good and the night we were in St. Petersburg, we went to see the local folk music group performance which we enjoyed. Occasionally watched the entertainers in the Piazza area. Did not participate in daytime activities due to all the port sightseeing. We always ate breakfast & lunch in the Horizon Court or burgers or pizza for lunch. We only ate in the dining room twice, the formal nights and found the service good. On this cruise, did not see a lot of tuxes or formal type dresses on the formal nights. Remaining evenings we ate at the Caribe Cafe which worked well for us. I found the food overall to be good & a nice variety which lots of options so that we never went hungry. I do feel the evening dinner entree options are not as good as they used to be; those options are now at the Crowne Grille. Coffee seemed better than on past cruises. The only objection we had was the photographers but you can refuse & no pressure from them. Biggest problem was in the evening where multiple areas for photographs were setup & people waiting in line really caused a lot of congestion. PORTS: Lots of walking; old towns usually cobblestone streets & hills. Copenhagen city/harbor tour was good when you have limited time. City very clean, people are friendly & most speak English. Very good public transportation. Oslo we did on our own as we were docked in town & very walkable & very pretty. In the morning we walked across the street to old town & then continued into town to a square by the main pedestrian walk area; we went inside a cathedral for free in the square. Continued on to the central station square & over to the new opera house & walked along waterfront back to ship. After lunch walked along waterfront to City Hall area & went inside. Leaving port, very scenic. Aarhus we did on our own; from ship we walked to Gamle By Museum (an outdoor museum of a reconstructed old town) - about 20 minute walk each way & entry fee was $20. Then lots of walking at museum; stopped at cafe there for coffee & biscotti, about $10; used our credit card for everything. In town lots of outdoor cafes and pleasant. River runs through town; follow the river to the museum. Berlin we booked through Princess the train tour/bus city tour with lunch & Allied museum. Train ride each way 3 hours but train was very comfortable & with open windows was pleasant. We were very satisfied with this tour & got to see the highlights plus the meal was very good at the hotel. I would have liked another day at this port to see the port area & Rostock. Tallin we did on our own but took the bus shuttle for $10 round trip; shuttle tickets were at a booth as we got off the ship. Bus dropped us off in lower town near an outdoor market & just a few block away was the entrance to old town & the flower market was there. We walked up to the upper old town & saw all the sights before returning to the lower old town & stopping for a drink at a pub & people watch. A beautiful, charming old town. St. Petersburg first day we booked with Princess the Catherine Palace, lunch & city tour seeing St. Issac cathedral, Peter & Paul Fortress, Savior on Spilledd blood. A long day, lots of walking beginning with the lines getting off the ship & going through immigration. The palace is amazing & beautiful & can take lots of pictures except in Amber room. Lunch was very good with some musical russian entertainers. Got to see lots of St. Petersburg on the afternoon city tour with several stops. We were pleased with this tour & the guide was very interesting. We were glad we had not booked an evening tour, particularly since there was the folk russian musical group on board that were good. St. Petersburg second day we booked the canal cruise tour with Princess so had the morning to rest up. Also, no lines when getting off ship. The canal cruise was nice but we saw much of the same areas we had seen the day before so would not do that again. For us, seeing one palace and an overview of the city was enough. Helsinki we did on our own & used shuttle near ship for $12 round trip to get to town as it was quite a long walk. In town bus dropped us off by the Swedish Theatre & we walked to the Rock church & went inside. On way back we stopped at the railway station & went inside, bought a newspaper from US & then stopped at Stockmans Dept store (no charge for restrooms). From there we walked down the Esplanade to the waterfront market area which is beautiful. Beautiful city with park area along the Esplanade & lots of outdoor cafes; nice city to wander around. Stockholm we did on our own & walked from ship to old town, Gamla Stan; follow blue line & then continue on sidwalk along waterfront (to your right) until you ssee sign pointing to right for Gamla Stan, cross bridge (first one) & Gamla Stan to your left up a few blocks you will see sign for Palace. Great place to wander around all the nice little shops & cafes. About 30-40 minute walk each way. Leaving the port, the Archipegalio is beautiful scenery. Would recommend this cruise ship & particularly this itinerary if you are interested in beautiful, old European countries with lots of history. People were all very friendly & helpful and we primarily used our Visa credit card for everything in the ports. . Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
We had a great time on this 11-day Princess Cruise of the Baltic aboard Emerald Princess. We are experienced cruisers who had done a similar itinerary once before about 11 years ago. We loved Scandinavia on that trip and wanted to go ... Read More
We had a great time on this 11-day Princess Cruise of the Baltic aboard Emerald Princess. We are experienced cruisers who had done a similar itinerary once before about 11 years ago. We loved Scandinavia on that trip and wanted to go again. We chose this cruise because it also went to Oslo, Norway which we hadn't seen on our first trip. After watching the weather reports for several weeks prior to our tour, we were prepared for lots and lots of rain. In fact, the cruise before ours experienced rain every day of their trip. We were delighted when we were greeted by sunny skies for most of our trip. We only had rain parts of two days and felt very lucky. Embarkation was a snap here. We had taken a taxi from our hotel to the pier and were greeted by Princess personnel, who unloaded our luggage and pointed us to the check-in area. We are Platinum members of Princess' Captain's Circle but we didn't even need our preferred check-in benefits. We just walked right up to the counter, showed our passports and were welcomed aboard the ship. One of the best embarkation experiences ever. Our cabin was the usual (great) balcony cabin. We were on the Caribbe Deck (10) which gives you a much larger balcony than those on other decks. We had taken another cruise on Ruby Princess (Emerald's twin sister) a few years ago and had horrible water pressure and fluctuations in the hot/cold. We were worried this might be the same because the ships were built at the same time. We needn't have worried. Our water pressure and temperature were the best we've ever had on ANY cruise ship. Bravo! Our cabin was right across the hall from the self-serve laundromat. It was nice and convenient on the one day we did laundry. And we didn't notice any noise from its proximity the rest of the time.The food on the trip was fine, but in general the food on all cruise ships seems to be going downhill. You now have to pay extra in a specialty restaurant for the quality you received every night in the main dining room every night. There were a couple of nights when there was nothing on the menu that sounded appetizing and we ended up getting the "always" available steak or chicken instead. They did have the one night when lobster was served in the dining room and that was very good. Their cream of mushroom soup is also excellent. And we always found the service in both the dining room and buffet to be top notch. We dined at the specialty steak house one night and enjoyed a fabulous dinner. The steaks here rival Morton's and other great steakhouses on shore, so it is worth the $25 pp cover charge. The Horizon Court (buffet) was its usual chaotic experience with people criss-crossing back and forth through the lines and people trying to go both directions in a cafeteria situation. The fact that Emerald Princess has an additional buffet area (Caribbe Court) at the aft of the ship does seem to take a bit of the pressure off the Horizon Courts (port and starboard) but it was still challenging trying to find a table most mornings. I really wish Princess would take a cue from their parent company Carnival in this regard...it's probably the only area in which Carnival is better than Princess. Carnival has a huge buffet area with food stations spread out throughout the area. So you don't find a bottleneck of passengers all in one area at the same time. And they have plenty of tables so it never seems to be an issue trying to find a seat. Please, Princess, take heed and address this when designing your new ships or remodeling your existing ones!We rated the entertainment lower than normal on this cruise because there were no comedians included. We have been on so many cruises that we generally don't go to the main song/dance shows anymore. But we do love the comedy shows that we have enjoyed on most cruises. This time there wasn't ONE comedian in 11 days. Princess needs to correct this on future sailings. The one MAJOR problem we had was with an unexpected "course correction" when we were leaving St. Petersburg. We were still in the main harbor in completely smooth water when suddenly at 7:15 p.m. the ship listed violently to port and then just as violently back to starboard. We were in our stateroom watching a movie and we almost fell off the bed. A large bottle of water on top of the refrigerator went flying across our cabin. We were on the 10th floor and when we rolled back to starboard, we could see water and a red buoy directly outside our cabin. It's disconcerting when you are on the 10th floor and suddenly you are at water level. We talked to other passengers who were in the main dining room and had bottles of wine go crashing to the floor and many plates were broken. In the Horizon Court they had a flood when all the pools and hot tubs emptied. The Horizon Court was closed until the next morning, with only the Caribe Court in operation. There were crew member everywhere trying to squeegee water off the decks and use wet/dry vacs to vacuum up the water. One crew member told us that the galley was a total mess. The thing that amazed us was that there was total silence on the part of the captain until a full hour had elapsed. He then came on the intercom and basically blamed the incident on the Russian pilot who had been aboard to get us out of the harbor. Passengers were livid and everyone was speculating that they were too busy contacting their legal department to let us know what was going on. Again, we had NO CLUE what had caused the problem. I thought, what was that? A rouge wave? But you look outside and the water is completely flat! We did speak with one elderly woman the next day who had just gotten out of an elevator when this happened and she was thrown across the elevator lobby and crashed into the opposite wall. She was bruised but was able to continue with the cruise. We wonder if anyone else was hurt. In this day and age after the Costa Concordia incident you would think that cruise lines would be more proactive in communicating with passengers in the event of something like this. We are veteran cruisers and don't plan to stop cruising because of this, but there are other people who will probably never set foot on a cruise ship again because of it. You need to do a better job communicating with people. And for God's sake, don't let that Russian pilot anywhere near any of your ships ever again! Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Princess's transfer service was outstanding. We were met at Copenhagen airport's luggage claim and escorted a waiting bus. We were brought to our hotel and our bags were brought to our room. Two days later we left them outside ... Read More
Princess's transfer service was outstanding. We were met at Copenhagen airport's luggage claim and escorted a waiting bus. We were brought to our hotel and our bags were brought to our room. Two days later we left them outside our hotel door and the bags were delivered to our stateroom. The last night of the cruise the bags were picked up then staged in a building next to the airport bus drop off location, and there were many Princess people directing passengers to their bags then into the airport terminal. Check-in at the ship was very fast with no waiting in line. For us, we stayed at the wrong pre-cruise hotel, the Kong Arthur. Although the room and bathroom were large and very nice, the hotel is "green," carbon neutral with no air conditioning. The outside temperature got up to 73 degrees but our room was 89 and only went down to 79 at night with all the windows open, which also allowed a lot of noise inside. The hallway also felt like a sauna and we didn't get the proper rest following our long flight. The buffet breakfast was really good but not included with the room price. Not a problem for us, but the metro transportation station is a 5-7 minute walk away and the most touristy areas, like Tivoli, Nyhavn, Stroget shopping street, are 15-20 minutes away. Our stateroom was very nice with a comfortable bed, desk and chair, tv cabinet with refrigerator, small table, 2 small end tables, a large open closet, a shelf unit with safe, and lots of mirrors that made the room appear larger. The balcony was spacious for more than the 2 of us and our cabin attendant kept the room spotless and the ice bucket full. In the bathroom there was a 2-prong U.S.-style electrical outlet (the prongs had to be the same size), a 3 prong outlet above the desk and another one behind the flatscreen tv. The European-style 2-prong plug we used at the hotel did not fit into the stateroom's outlets. The Eucalyptus scented bath products were a minor problem for this allergy sufferer. Room service for coffee a couple of mornings and for bottled water and sodas on other occasions was prompt. Other than during the first day's emergency muster drill, the ship seemed half empty. It was never overcrowded in the main dining rooms, the Horizon Court buffet, the main showroom, lounges, casino, etc. About 3 non-smoking nights at the Casino was appreciated. Food was good and the service was excellent in the dining room. Water glasses were not allowed to be empty and used dishes immediately were picked up. Even the service in the buffet was good. As soon as you were seated people were taking beverage requests. We purchased and easily used up one coffee card for a slight savings. One problem did occur at the Internet Cafe the day before disembarkation. The printer wasn't working during the day and caused a lot of problems for people trying to print airline boarding passes. The problem was fixed in the evening and they had a special 15 minute package that we used in addition to the 15 free minutes coupon found in our stateroom. The highlight of on board activity was John Lawrence's port lectures. The day before each port, he outlined in some detail useful information and history of the city we were about to visit. The in-person shows were better than watching the tapes on tv in the cabin, as he injected a lot of humor into the live lectures. As a bonus, he also gave a lecture about the last Russian czar's family, Nicolas & Alexandra, Anastasia and the other children. He was also available almost every evening to answer questions. The shows were good, although the best was our night in St. Petersburg. Guessing we would be too tired for an evening excursion, and we were, we were pleasantly surprised to find a local Russian folk dance/song group performing in the on board theater. Although the people who went into town for evening performance were pleased, I don't think we missed much by staying on the ship. After investigating private shore excursion companies, we decided to use Princess. They may have cost more but each was excellent and well-prepared. After meeting on board, we would march off the ship and onto our tour bus. A tip is to go to the gathering place early. As soon as a busload of people were there, they were led off the ship early. Many times I saw private company's on the dock waiting for their guests or at venues waiting to get in. We always walked straight inside buildings and a couple of times, most notably at the Peterhof summer palace outside St. Petersburg, we were the first group inside. See our port reviews for more information. Sometimes there was a line to get back on the ship and the worst lines were in St. Petersburg the first day to to through Russian Customs upon entering, then returning, but not too bad to make us late. Overall, we were very pleased with the Emerald, the Baltic itinerary (although skipping Aarhus and spending more time in Stockholm would have been great), and highly recommend this cruise Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
This was our 2nd Princess cruise. Last year did the Grand Mediterranean on the Ruby and loved it, so I had high expectations. I was a little nervous as I knew the Emerald is due for dry dock in a few months. The Emerald Princess exceeded ... Read More
This was our 2nd Princess cruise. Last year did the Grand Mediterranean on the Ruby and loved it, so I had high expectations. I was a little nervous as I knew the Emerald is due for dry dock in a few months. The Emerald Princess exceeded my expectations. We arrived at the ship about 2:00pm and were in our cabins by 2:15pm. We had 2 balcony rooms with adjoining balconies. I was pleased with the size of the rooms and pleasantly surprised to see that the closet and storage areas were just as large as in a mini-suite. Mustering: Relatively painless, done on the 1st evening in various lounges or restaurants and it lasted about 30 minutes. Food: We dined the 1st night in Sabitini's as it was a gift from our travel agent. The food and service were excellent. There is a lovely view out the back of the ship. All of our other dinners were anytime dining in the Michelangelo Dining Room. We had the same wait staff (Edwin and Yulia) every night but one, and had an outstanding experience. One of our party is a vegetarian and a little picky. Every night the head waiter (Martins) came to our table to go over the choices for the next evening. Several nights they served her veggie burgers from the Trident Grill near the pool! We thought that most of the food was great. The only exception was probably the steak entrees which we thought were good, but not great. We also did the Chef's dinner for the second time which is really special and well worth the money. They really make you feel like a VIP. Most mornings we did not have time for breakfast and grabbed a muffin or yogurt parfait from the International Cafe. Good quick food, and my husband loves the cappuccino and brewed coffee. They had 3 pub lunches on our 11 day cruise and we ate at all 3 of them. My 18 year old son LOVES Princess's fish and chip and bread pudding! I love the pizza but only managed to eat it once. Entertainment: We generally do not do a lot of shows, but even with our busy itinerary managed to see a few. The variety show with ventriloquist Steve Hewlett was funny and entertaining. It was not Vegas show quality, but I wasn't really expecting that type of show. I would say the same for the magician, Luca Volpe. He was not Houdini or David Copperfield, but I would not expect someone world class to be on a cruise ship. We enjoyed the short show. The farewell shoe with Pianist Liam Stewart and juggler Tibor Szobo was excellent. We also enjoyed Liam (this was his 1st cruise!) most night in Crooners and Tibor in the Piazza. Our favorite show in the Princess theater was the International Crew talent and variety show. It was really fun to see the young lady who served us coffee in the International Cafe perform a traditional Indonesian dance and the bartender from Crooners belly dance. Shore Excursions: We did not use Princess's shore excursions, we did all ports on our own except for St. Petersburg where we did a private tour for the 4 of us. The Emerald's port lecturer, John Lawrence was excellent and we had preordered his DVD on the Baltic ports. (johnlawrencecd dot com) I felt that this and cruise critic more than prepared us to do our ports on our own. I love the flow of the Emerald and for having over 3000 passengers it almost never seemed crowded. There were 2 exceptions. 1.) Some port days everyone tried to disembark at the same time and this was not pleasant. Security did do a good job of moving the crowd quickly. and 2.) On sea days and some evenings the shops would set up tables in the halls outside of the shops. Even though almost all of the merchandise could be found in the shops for the same price, it tended to create a shopping frenzy with the passengers. Disembarkation: We were supposed to meet in Michelangelo restaurant at 7:50am and wait to be called. We had a nice breakfast in Da Vinci dining room at 7:15am and by the time we got to Michelangelo at 7:53am a lady told us our group had already been called and to proceed to the ramp on deck 4. We had our luggage and were in a mini-van taxi by 8:05am. We heard a lot of stories about a lack of taxis, but there were plenty there when we disembarked. The taxi from the port back to the Marriott was 162.58 DKK or approx. $26.97. A few final thoughts: I would definitely recommend both the Emerald Princes and this itinerary! Almost everyplace we went took credit cards and we had no trouble with businesses accepting our sign and swipe card. I researched credit cards to make sure that I would not be charged conversion fees. I used a Capital One Master Card. I used local ATMs to get a small amount of currency in each country. I only used cash for tipping, and a few small businesses that did not accept credit cards. I researched ATM cards and used one that does not charge any fees and returns all other bank fees to the user. I used Capital One and Charles Schwab bank ATM cards. Don't forget to ask for a signed tax free form to get you 18-25% VAT tax returned to you. The amount you need to spend varies in each country, but it is usually anything greater than $20-$45. You take your receipt and the signed tax free form to the global tax free desk in the airport when you leave Europe and they will either give you cash or put the money back on your credit card. This took us about 20 minutes at the airport. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Embarkation: We took a cab from hotel by Central Train terminal, it was about 250 dkk and worth not trying to find our way from the hotel. We did go right at 1pm, there was a long line but moved quickly. Bags were taken as soon as we got ... Read More
Embarkation: We took a cab from hotel by Central Train terminal, it was about 250 dkk and worth not trying to find our way from the hotel. We did go right at 1pm, there was a long line but moved quickly. Bags were taken as soon as we got out of the cab, Princess has lots of people at the port directing you, very efficient. Probably took us 20 minutes to get to a check in clerk but again very efficient. Our keys were ready and we were on the ship pronto. It was raining and there isn't cover from check in to ship gangway but they had staff with umbrellas. Security takes your picture when you board the ship and it is in the system for them to check as you board at each port. Our room was ready and our room steward Karn greeted us and reviewed the safety drill time and where we could eat, the refrigerator in room, fruit orders and how everything operates. He did a great of cleaning up the room 2x a day and keeping us supplied with amenities. Food: We ate in the buffet, International Cafe, Da Vinci formal at 5:30pm, Sabatini's and Crown Grill on this trip. I liked the buffet better this trip then my first. Salad offerings at Horizon Court were great and you do have problems at peak times finding a place to eat in the dining area or on deck but there are many servers around to assist you and serve beverages. They also had varied offerings for all meal periods. I really liked the International Cafe salad and sandwich offerings, the greek salad is escellent as is the chicken salad with apples. The staff is ready for busy times and very pleasant. The seated dining at 5:30pm is a bit too early but our wait staff, Stephen and nino were very efficient and remembered out likes. The way the kitchen can feed so many people daily and well is amazing. Stephen has worked for Princess for around 20 years and is a big cheerleader for the company, took time to tell us of new innovations and how Princess is better than other lines. Nice to see positive employees. Afternoon Tea was fun but too close to our seating for dinner, so we just enjoyed scones and cream vs whole experience. Sabatini's was excellent, nice view on high deck. Adagio has got to be the best kept sectret for drinks, small and intimate, a string quartet played on night, was never crowded. We had a balcony so was amazing going into Oslo, Helsinki and especially Stockholm which has 58 miles through the archipelago to port. I couldn't believe going in how quiet it was considering how big the ship was, like on glass. You are so close to the islands...it was breathtaking. I would suggest in Stockholm, get up early to see the entrance into port for a few hours. My only complaint was the spa. Spa is predatory...my college aged daughter wanted acupuncture and I said yes to one visit. The acupunturist signed her up for $1000 of treatments including $190 worth of vitamins( 2 bottles) for weight loss. She wears a size 2 or 4! My daughter told me what happened and we went immediately back to the spa and the manager said she would have Julie call us. Julie did call and asked for my daughter, I said I was the person paying and would like to cancel the treatment, I was Ok with the first treatment only. She then asked me if me daughter knew she wouldn't be "cured" without the treatments and I said yes. So later I discovered only part of the cost was refunded. I didn't realize she had given the vitamins, so went back with the vitamins and they were supposed to be credited. Spa person told me she would call when the acupuncurist credited it...never got the call, went back and was told it was done. It wasn't....Also spa manager Dana is not hospitable. I went on first sea day for a 9am pedi and asked to cancel sanctuary times since it was so cold, she told me I had to go myself and cancel. I asked how to get there, bottom line is couldn't find it so got on house phone to do it. This is a hired company by Princess and they are all about $$$. You don't even get to relax during a pedi, no magazines, just upsell from the staff on other treatments. Enjoyed all the excursions booked through Princess. In Berlin we were delayed and the ship had to wait about 45 minutes for our train to get back. Stress free, lots of people we talked to were not booking excursions through Princess becasue of cost, I felt they were well run and decent value. We did walk off to leave ship at 5:30am due to early flight home, easy to walk off with luggage and catch a cab to airport, $500 dkk but take credit cards too. TAKE YOUR OWN HAIRDRYER! one in room is worthless:) Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
My wife and I really enjoyed our Baltic Cruise even with the few problems and observations we had made on our other voyage with the Emerald princess. Our first cruise was on the Emerald Princess 2007-2008 on the New years Cruise. We were ... Read More
My wife and I really enjoyed our Baltic Cruise even with the few problems and observations we had made on our other voyage with the Emerald princess. Our first cruise was on the Emerald Princess 2007-2008 on the New years Cruise. We were totally impressed with the Emerald at that time and were thus hooked on the cruising life style. Emerald really had a very high WOW factor at that time with many activities demonstrations, games, lectures live bands at pool side. The food in the Horizon was varied. There were lots of choices to select from well prepared and presented. Never a line up as both sides of buffet were being used. This cruise it was different. Emerald princess appears tired and lost its focus. Dessert selection was very narrow. It seems that in order to cut costs Princess is willing to lower what is being offered to their passengers. Even the lemonade is being watered down so that it is unrecognizable. Your choice of drink for adults at meal time in the Horizon is iced tea, tea, coffee, water, or watered down lemonade nothing else. It seems as though Princess is trying to save money by offering low cost items in buffet and limiting selection. The main dining room is great. The selection is somewhat limited but of high quality and taste. Head waiter is always willing to go the extra mile eg another desert or fillet. Just ask. If you are not happy let The food and beverage manager know using the cards in your stateroom. Place them in container at customer service desk. Believe me Princess takes these complaints/suggestions seriously. My complaints were resolved to my satisfaction the next day. Good for Emerald Princess!!! They do listen. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
I travelled the Baltic on the Emerald Princess with my 82 year old mom. Once aboard, our balcony mini-suite was comfortable and roomy, as described. Meals were fine, although occasionally the evening menu was a bit too eclectic and ... Read More
I travelled the Baltic on the Emerald Princess with my 82 year old mom. Once aboard, our balcony mini-suite was comfortable and roomy, as described. Meals were fine, although occasionally the evening menu was a bit too eclectic and out there for my taste, and I'm a foodie. Their standard "always available" menu is excellent. The Horizon buffet was very good with many choices. Evening entertainment included ballroom dancers (so-so), a magician (so-so), a juggler (amazing and hilarious), a Beatles tribute band (great fun) and the EP singers and dancers (fantastic). Playing throughout the ship was a truly fine classical string quartet (all lovely young ladies), a soft jazz combo with singer, Evolution cover band, and a few others. Something for everyone. Onto the shore excursions, comments are listed individually. But a few points about Russia: It's all about the bathrooms, and traffic. We did EP excursions both days, but also had a special AAA tour to St. Catherine's. Guides were competent, knowledgeable and utterly humorless. We used EP but if I were to do it again, I'd try something else. It's difficult to appreciate the sights when you're so frustrated by the iron control the Russians still exert over their guests. Check your other options. Also YOU WILL BE LATE to everything, so don't book two excursions too close together in time. You will leave late, and you will arrive back late, up to a couple hours. Save yourself stress and don't plan things too close together. Personal add-on to Bergen, Norway. After the cruise I spent 4 days in Bergen on my own. What a lovely city! But not for the disabled or those who need level ground. It's all on steep hills, and they're so steep there are staircases between the streets. I booked a cozy, utterly simple room with Ingrid's Summer Rooms. She is lovely, the room is clean, quiet, with shared bath and fridge. There's a grocery store 5 minutes away. I ate nothing at a restaurant. It's terribly expensive to do anything in Norway, but I did do the Norway Active tour for my splurge and loved every minute of it. PS, there's also a Noa Noa store near the beginning of the light rail. I got the 48 hour Bergen card and it was well worth it for me. Even with the price of the card I saved over 500 kroner on the things I did. It includes all bus and light rail, a big plus. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
A few thoughts concerning the Emerald Princess itself. Although this was my first experience with a mega-ship with over three thousand passengers, I've taken several trips with Holland America. I was not looking forward to long lines ... Read More
A few thoughts concerning the Emerald Princess itself. Although this was my first experience with a mega-ship with over three thousand passengers, I've taken several trips with Holland America. I was not looking forward to long lines and cattle call tours, but this itinerary fit my ports of choice, my price range, and my schedule. Overall, my experience was extremely positive. The international crew is upbeat and well trained. The cruise director was informative without breaking in with the continual peppy intrusions I grew to despise on HA. Not once did I feel that I was part of a massive tourist package, though of course I was. Food was excellent, tasty and beautifully presented. Did not attend any of the specialty restaurants. Didn't feel the need to. Lucked out with table mates, a diverse and congenial group. About half the time I had dinner in the dining room, other times at one of the buffets. I particularly enjoyed the meals which were themed to our ports, both in Berlin and St Petersburg. HA does nothing like that. Even the coffee, much reviled on these boards, was not as bad as I was expecting. My one issue, and it's a big one, concerns the complete lack of response to my complaint of obnoxious and unsupervised children monopolizing the pools and whirlpools. Although an advisory was delivered to each stateroom early on, advising parents that children must be supervised, there were often kids running, diving, and doing cannonballs with absolutely no consequences. My written complaint was ignored. As positive as was the remainder of my experience onboard, that one issue could be a deal breaker. Someone is going to get hurt. There will be lawsuits. A much smaller quibble, they're still listing kroons as Estonia's official currency. How often do they update these port information sheets? John Lawrence is Princess' own "Baltic Treasure.." His port lectures are not to be missed, especially if you plan to go off on your own. His personal insight and quirky sense of humor come through best during his live presentations, although much of the same information from his CD is replayed afterwards on TV. I'd read so many people say that they'd wished they had John's CD in advance of their trips that I ordered a copy from his website and watched it once soon after I booked my trip and again about a week before departure. I also caught his live lectures whenever I could. John's CD was the single best resource I used in preparing for my trip. Unlike other travel writers, John's information is specific to your cruise. He's aware of your time limitations and allows you to make the most of every minute. Anyone reading this will see that I followed the advice of many on Cruise Critic. Obviously, this a very intensive cruise. Several times a day I would be reminded of the importance of doing your homework to maximize your limited time ashore. So glad I opted for the ship's transfer from the airport. My last cruise out of Copenhagen I took the train to Central Station, then a city bus to the pier. Cheap but labor intensive, schlepping bags from place to place. This time there was a Princess cruise representative at baggage claim who directed me to the bag drop off then to the bus. On our way about fifteen minutes after collecting the bags. Highly recommended. The driver was very personable and provided a mini-guided tour of Copenhagen on the way to the ship. Lots to see in Oslo, and much of it is accessible on foot. I bought an Oslo pass, but since I walked everywhere and visited only one museum, I really didn't get my money's worth. The ship docked directly across the street from Akershus Castle so I crossed through the grounds on my way to the Opera House, a must see if you have any interest in contemporary architecture. The interior is as spectacular as the exterior, and it's free. From there I wandered through Central Station, walked through part of the Stroget and since the ship was only a few blocks away, decided to return for lunch. I passed both the Museum for Comtemporary art and the Architecture Museum. Should have made a quick stop at both but thought I'd have time on the way back to the ship. As it turned out, I had the time, but not the energy. After lunch I took the opposite direction toward city hall, a quick look at the National Theatre and the Royal Palace and then the National Museum. Like most tourists my goal was to see "The Scream," but I found the collection of European Impressionists to be quite impressive as well. Though I had a few more hours before sailing, I decided to head back to the ship and a well deserved soak in the hot tub. On the way I stopped at an classic Norwegian cafe for a rest and a cider. Eleven dollars! They're not kidding when they say that Oslow's an expensive city! Another beautiful midsummer day for our arrival at Aarhus. We we docked near the Danish Royal Yacht, guarded by handsome military men, providing an unexpected photo op. I'm a real fan of the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson so I walked to the ARoS contemporary art museum to see his installation, "Rainbow Panorama. ". By the time I finished with the museum, my plan to spend a few hours at Den Gamle By was shot. So I took a different route back to the ship, along the Stroget with a detour to see the cathedral. Of all our ports, Aarhus was the one I would have chosen to skip, but having spent an afternoon there, I found the city most enjoyable. Warnemunde is a beautiful little seaside resort town. A perfect way to spend your time if you don't want to spend most of your day on a non-air conditioned, non-narrated, crowded train ride to and from Berlin. Not much to see in a cultural sense, but pretty streets to wander, a beautiful beach with sand like powdered sugar, and a nude section, if that sort of thing appeals to you. Tallinn Old Town is a delight. For $10, I opted to take a shuttle bus to and from the port., thus avoiding what appeared to be a time consuming and boring walk of over a mile in each direction. You really don't need to do much other than wander the cobbled streets, climb Toompea Hill for some spectacular photos of the medieval city below, stop at one of the many cafes and browse through shops full of typical tourist tchotchkes. Just before returning to the ship, I visited the Occupation Museum, a short walk from Freedom Square. A powerful and sobering reminder that Estonians have paid a heavy price for the lives the have today. Its remarkable that these people who have suffered so much, maintain such a positive and optimistic outlook. If you can get ahold of the documentary, "The Singing Revolution," before you leave, you will gain valuable insight into Estonia's painful history. Just before returning to the ship, I visited the Occupation Museum, a short walk from Freedom Square. A powerful and sobering reminder that Estonians have paid a heavy price for the lives they have today. Its remarkable that these people who have suffered so much, maintain such a positive and optimistic outlook. I've been to St Petersburg before, but hadn't been to Peterhof. Without a visa I needed to take a organized tour and a ship-sponsored half-day trip excursion seemed to fit the bill. Although our guide was a lovely young woman, there were the lines. To enter the building, to use the restroom, the mandatory bag and coat check, the required plastic booties. Being herded from room to room by grim faced matrons. I was miserable throughout. Wish I had skipped it. Perhaps the private companies handle it better. Our overnight in St Petersburg featured a Russian Cossack dance show aboard the ship. Although I cruise for destinations not entertainment, I found this production very well done. No need to take the excursion for a folklore show. The second day in St Petersburg, I took the ship's walking and subway tour. It's the kind of thing that I'd prefer to do on my own, but no visa; no independent travel in Russia. This tour was as well organized and informative. The port of Helsinki looks like a massive construction project. Using public transit seemed complicated so I took a shuttle which dropped us off right at the edge of the Esplanade from there, it was easy to explore the city on foot. Helsinki is a beautiful city and the weather was perfect, so I cut back on what I'd planned to see and instead spent a lot of time just wandering around the open air market or sitting on a park bench along the Esplanade enjoying the people and the scenery. Then I picked up the 3T tram which travels a figure eight through the city. Got off near the Sibelius monument. From there, it was an easy walk to the Rock Church, then the contemporary art museum and back to the shuttle stop. I'd done a considerable amount of research about Stockholm, and it soon became obvious that our short five hour visit would allow for only a few highlights. The idea of a ship's excursion began to look better and better. I didn't want to spend my day watching the clock or racing around to make sure I got back in time. So I booked a tour which included my top priorities, the Vasa Museum and Gamla Stan I got to see what I'd come for and had no worries about quite literally missing the boat. As much as I prefer doing things on my own, there are times like this where there's no way I could have covered the ground that I did by myself. Our tour guide got us to the Vasa within a half hour of its opening, provided excellent commentary throughout, and directed us to a special exhibition in the basement which I'm sure I would have missed otherwise. We were left with a little over an hour in Gamla Stan. Not enough shopping time for some, but I didn't see anything that I couldn't live without. After a relaxing sea day en route back to Copenhagen, I was one of the first to depart the ship because of an early flight out. If you opt for the airport transfer, Princess makes it simple. Obviously, I enjoy researching my trips almost as much as taking them. I'm as addicted to my smartphone as anyone else, and I downloaded many apps before my trip, but nothing beats an old fashioned, good quality, city map. Not the ad-filled freebies you get as you leave the ship, but high quality travel maps that you've gathered in advance. Marked up and annotated with information you've gleanened from the research that you've done. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
This cruise was a little different for us as the others have all originated from the US and we have used Princess Transfers from/to the airport. This time, we flew into Copenhagen a few days early and got ourselves to the ship. I must say, ... Read More
This cruise was a little different for us as the others have all originated from the US and we have used Princess Transfers from/to the airport. This time, we flew into Copenhagen a few days early and got ourselves to the ship. I must say, the check-in was much quicker than usual and their were Princess reps to guide all through the process...and it was very nice NOT to have to wait for our luggage to show up at our room since we wheeled it right on ourselves. After talking with our daughter and family who took this cruise last year, we purposely chose an inside cabin to avoid the late-night sun. It was large and fine, and on the Caribe Deck, you have many choices to keep you away from the elevators and laundry rooms, so it was very quiet. (not that we spend much time in our cabin anyway). The Emerald is a large ship and this cruise was sold out, so it tended to be pretty crowded at times. We chose anytime dining as the times in the different ports varied, but found a wonderful waiter and steward and our request for them was never a problem. The food, as we have always found on Princess, was excellent. We skipped the shows as we had seen most of them on our Panama Canal cruise in 2010 (Princess needs to update them more often.) This cruise has a very packed port schedule and only 2 sea days - frankly, if you are coming in from Canada or the US I would skip the tux and gown and just bring a nice travel dress/sportcoat and tie as the formal days are not that great. If you are a Captain's Circle member don't expect much from the Captain's Circle "party." We were stuffed into the Princess Theater, handed a free drink voucher, and shown a 20 minute commercial for the latest Princess Ship (The Royal?) Not what we have experienced in the past. Another review told you about SPB tours. I second that! Alla Tours is also good. Unless this is your ONLY chance to see Berlin, skip the 6 hour train trip/bus ride and do Rostock and Schwerin instead for the Germany port stop. DON'T PAY THE PRINCESS PRICES for a stuffed to the gills tour bus and a single guide trying to herd 40-60 people around. You will pay more and see less than an off-the-ship tour. And don't fall for the "only Princess can guarantee your Russian Visa" line. Any legitimate tour company can take care of your Visa. Also, get your Krone, Kroners, Rubles, or Euros BEFORE you leave or at a local ATM. DON't use the ship exchange. Worse exchange rates and fees I have ever seen! This is a fast-paced and fully packed itinerary, but we had a thoroughly enjoyable time.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Emerald Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.5 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.2
Value For Money 4.5 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.0

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