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101 Copenhagen to Baltic Sea Princess Emerald Princess Cruise Reviews

Check-in is the fastest most efficient we and our lifetime cruising friends have encountered. The destinations exceeded expectations except for Arrhus which we would have preferred to skipped in liew of more time at some of the ... Read More
Check-in is the fastest most efficient we and our lifetime cruising friends have encountered. The destinations exceeded expectations except for Arrhus which we would have preferred to skipped in liew of more time at some of the destinations where we only had 1/2 day. To get the most out of St. Petersburg we took a Red October private tour and we're glad to have done that as we missed the crush in the hot tour locations. Princess has had a reputation of holding it's private tour passengers 2+ hours in the ship until the 'ship's tours' have departed. The irrating part is that they were creating a second class passenger and they lied to them saying it was the customs people that insisted on this. We were set for a confrontation that never materialized as Princess provided a second gangway for departure.The ship is grand with the constant complaints by everyone about crowding in the public spaces. Cool weather keeping most people off the top decks. Level 7 becomes the inside walkway to get around the ship and it's jammed.We gave up on the buffets on the Lido deck due to crowding. The buffet area is better suited to a ship of 600 and the seating inadequate for the numbers of people.The food quality declined as the trip went on. Too long under the heat lamps and limited variety. The exception is Sabatini's and the Grill which were both excellent.Service was good for us. On a par with Crystal and they had better room service than Crystal.Re-entering the ship by the gangway you better lineup and behave or the gestapo like security staff will step in. Even with 2 gangways, everyone goes to the closest one creating backups.The toilets in our stateroom failed to work properly 7/11 days. We were told they were supposed to work that way. LOL Nawt!Elevators D,N and R are flakey. When multiple buttons are pressed, the first stop cancels all the other floors and sends the elevator back down.Stairs are the best recourse most of the time as elevators are overused.Finally the gym hours are limited to 7AM -!0PM. There are 30+ people waiting most mornings. Longer hours would be appreciated. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
My husband and I recently enjoyed a fantastic eleven night cruise on board the Emerald Princess in the Baltics and Russia Ref: 118 (26.06. - 07.07.11.). The weather was brilliant, the sea was incredibly calm and all of the ports we ... Read More
My husband and I recently enjoyed a fantastic eleven night cruise on board the Emerald Princess in the Baltics and Russia Ref: 118 (26.06. - 07.07.11.). The weather was brilliant, the sea was incredibly calm and all of the ports we visited, apart from one, turned out to be excellent destinations. Each time we favour the independence of doing our own thing in port rather than accepting the expense of organised tours. Our d.i.y. approach adds to the fun and memories we have and also gives the satisfaction of knowing we managed to do and see so much yet spent as little as possible! It may be the glorious sunshine was responsible but we found the city ports to be beautiful with great cultural interest and so, in my opinion, far better than the long haul Carribbean cruises we have done in previous years. We thoroughly enjoyed everything about this cruise. We arrived in Copenhagen around 10a.m. and were greeted by P.C. Staff and transferred to the cruise port quickly and smoothly. Unfortunately we had to sit and wait for at least an hour before the embarkation process began. Once started though our movement was extremely quick and professionally handled. Having travelled on a sister ship on a previous holiday we knew it was best to head up to the Horizon Court on deck 15 to have our lunch, drop off hand luggage into our cabin and then use the afternoon to see something of Copenhagen. It took about 50 minutes to walk through the commercial port area in order to see The Little Mermaid, The Geffion Fountain and the Kastelet. I was very keen to see these sites as I was uncertain about being able to do so on our return trip to the city when we would have our suitcases in tow. Warnemunde, Germany which I'd never heard of before turned out to be lovely. In the morning we made a short walk to see the town itself. It turned out to be an extremely pleasant, beautifully clean, colourful, quaint and charming with its cobbled streets. After the centre of town we took some back streets and wandered through a park to get a proper feel for the place and eventually ended up on a fairly quiet promenade. This took us past a lovely lighthouse and a delightful riverside walk in the Alte Strom before returning to the Emerald Princess for lunch. Later we headed to Warnemunde's pretty harbourside and took a 45 minute cruise to the city of Rostock (8 Euros each). Rostock was quite a big settlement in comparison to Warnemunde and so it offered lots of shopping opportunites. After a couple of hours we returned to Warnemunde by train (approx 2 Euros each) and as the station was so close to the ship still had time to stop for some local beer before getting back on board. We hold memories of a delightful day without the hassle of getting up ridiculously early to catch a train for a 3 hour journey to reach Berlin. In Stockholm the ship docked some distance away from places of interest so we accepted that the Emerald Princess shuttle bus was the most convenient way to get quickly into the city ($5 dollars each, each way). An amazing city where buildings of interest are fairly close to each other. Cobbled streets again so wear some sensible shoes. There was a real buzz and atmosphere Gamla Stan and the square outside of the Alfred Nobel Museum which we found an ideal place to stop for coffee and to absorb all that we could see around us. Not too distant is the Royal Palace where the Changing of the Guard at 12.15p.m. is a must see. Get there earlier than this if you want to be able to see all that's going on because the crowds grow extremely deep. A further treat followed in the late afternoon-evening when the ship sailed for Helsinki along a very narrow and scenic passage for about 3 hours or more. Beautiful! There was a guy on board (John Lawrence) who was extremely knowledgeable about the geography and history of the region and he would contribute information live from the Bridge. He also ran lectures in the Princess Theatre during the day and would offer advice on how to travel around each of the ports. In Helsinki we caught local bus 16 and I think we paid 7 Euros each to the driver for a day ticket which allowed us to travel into the city and take the city ferry to the island fortress of Suomolinna. You have to be careful to pick up the City Ferry to get the benefit of this all day ticket and avoid the other companies offering cruises around the harbour. What a beautiful harbourside this turned out to be with a bustling and colourful market alongside the quay and fantastic views across the water. Suomolinna was a real treat being green, peaceful and its beautitiful views offering a welcome break from the city atmosphere we'd experienced elsewhere. For the return trip to the Emerald Princess do remember to stand on the opposite side of the very wide main street to where yo were droped off to pick up the number 16 bus!!! Several people we bumped into seemed to have had trouble realising this especially as the first stop was further up the street from where we had been dropped off and near to the Laura Ashley shop. As we didn't have Russian visas we had no alternative but to accept the Emerald Princess's tour provision. Though I had checked out all of the other companies advertising tours using the internet before I left the UK I decided to settle for the ship's Two Day Connoisseur Tour of St Petersburg ($599 each - phew!!) and reserved it online before the cruise began. It was most attractive because it was the only one offering an evening tour and dinner at Catherine's Palace as well as seeing all of the major tourist sites during the two days. Even though we had to get up ridiculously early on both mornings (5.30a.m. to make a 6.30a.m. departure) and then we didn't get back to the ship until after midnight it was an amazing experience that I will never forget. This glorious evening visit was extremely special for both of us. Canapes, wine, a military band reception, classical music and elegant dancing in the palace all followed by a late dinner. Add to this a St Petersburg 'white night' and you will understand why it was so special. What the food served at the dinner was lacking the wonderful atmosphere made up for! During both days we had a great Russian guide in 'Natasha' who was fluent in English, caring for our experience and extremely knowedgeable about all places of interest. Natasha had clearly been doing this work for some time as she knew how to jump the huge queues that inevitably formed at all of the tourist sites. The company (Aktur) provided us with earphones and bottles of water each morning and there was a maximum of 25 people on each tour bus. Unfortunately the traffic in the city of St Peterbsurg is dreadful at peak times and so we frequently sat for long periods waiting for traffic lights to change. This was frustrating but there was no alternative. For us the St Petersburg visit was a once in a lifetime experience and we believe that this Princess Cruise Two Day Connoisseur Trip served our needs very well. What a surprise the city of Tallinn was, especially after the delights of St Petersburg! If you do not have trouble with mobility then there is absolutely no need to book a tour to see this city. It is all easily walkable with plenty of time to stand, stare and to drink as much as you want to. A great place, not too expensive and I reckon unique with its medieval setting. Some parts look like ideal places for film sets. I would happily visit this city again. Aarhus in Denmark really didn't suit us at all. We walked in to the city quite comfortably but sadly once there began to question why it was on the cruise itinerary at all. Rather disappointing from our point of view but being able to relax back on board was great as we chose to lie on the sunbeds on top deck in peace and quiet instead. It was here that I began to wonder if anybody actually goes in to The Sanctuary on Emerald Princess? What a complete waste of space it seems to be or maybe I am just missing the entire point of its existence! When I opened our cabin curtains to say hello to the world in Oslo I found the wonderful walls of a castle just a few yards away. Our ship was virtually in the city! No need for transport here either. I reckon you could walk around this city and be back on board within 90 minutes if you really wanted to. The shopping area does not open until 10a.m. so its probably best to go and look at some of the sights first. Another Royal Palace to see at the top of a gentle hill but Changing of the Guard here takes place some time after 1p.m. and we had to be back on board by then. The fairly ugly City Hall wasn't open until after 10a.m. either. There are supposed to be some Edward Munch paintings inside this building (of The Scream fame) but unfortunately we couldn't work out how to get inside. The cost of living in Norway is pretty high at present and so everything appeared to be pretty expensive. Not the place to buy your last minute gifts but a very nice place to look at though. The passage out of Oslo was just amazing with beautiful scenery either side of the ship and I'd recommend you get out and absorb it all. Great!! Back in Copenhagen we were ready for disembarkation. Our suitcases had been left outside of our cabin the previous evening before 10p.m. and so we headed up for a leisurely breakfast in the Horizon Court on deck 15 at around 8.45a.m. We left the hand luggage in our cabin to pick up later. Many passengers had already left the ship by this time but we had been allocated a late flight for the home journey. In these circumstances we were very surprised and appreciative of the complimentary City Tour Princess Cruises provided to help pass the time between disembarking and the airport check in. This tour worked really well and we were free of suitcases. We had a second opportunity to see The Little Mermaid and The Geffion Fountain before heading in to the city to see the Royal Place and the city centre itself. There was an hours free time in the city before finally being taken to the airport to pick up luggage and to check in for flight. I really don't think this pick up could have been made any smoother by the PC staff. We were very impressed with this. Our cabin was E205 with an obstructed view and with some audible noise from the Princess Theatre in the evening. This wasn't a problem though as we were rarely in the cabin and it was silent after 11.15 p.m. I had hoped we might get an upgrade but it wasn't to be. The only real problem with the cabin was the distance from here to the Horizon Court and Cafe Caribe where we chose to eat almost all of our meals. After the second evening we'd decided the dining room experience midship really didn't suit us. As we were having fantastic weather we wanted to eat out in the open air in the evenings. Pretty soon we favoured a quiet little bar right at the back of the ship overlooking the Terrace Pool and ate there looking out over the sea and evening sunshine whenever it was free. We found the food presented in the Cafe Caribe was pretty much the same as that being served in the dining rooms. However, here you could help yourself to whatever you fancied without having to wait around or put up with any pretence. We always found the service on deck 15 to be excellent and there was an amazing selection of food choices available. The standard and nature of the entertainment in The Princess Theatre was variable but there was always something different going on in there twice a night. As a stand by there was always MUTS and we enjoyed the biscuits and popcorn staff served us up there. Overall, a great cruise, lovely staff, excellent organisation, and unbelievable weather. We couldn't ask for anything more. Thanks Princess Cruises I really can't wait for the next cruise with you. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Fantastic ports and weather and the Emerald Princess was not a disappointment. Wife, I and two other couples enjoyed the 11 day Baltic cruise on Princess. Spent three day prior to boarding in Copenhagen and the Tiffany Hotel. Did public ... Read More
Fantastic ports and weather and the Emerald Princess was not a disappointment. Wife, I and two other couples enjoyed the 11 day Baltic cruise on Princess. Spent three day prior to boarding in Copenhagen and the Tiffany Hotel. Did public train trips outside the city as well as the normal boat and walking tours of Copenhagen. Well worth the time spend at the Viking museum, "Hamlet" castle and Sweden. Great people and wonderful sights. Emerald Princes was our first on a large (previous cruises on 1500- passenger) ships) and we were suspect. Worries turned out to be unfounded. Handled embarkation and initial organization very well. Deck 7 was crowded at times but other than the congestion at the photo area and tour organization the crowds were not an issue. Food was reasonably good most of the time. Caribe Grill was our favorite "grab something to eat" place. Did the late fixed seating, which worked out very well considering the full day ports and late late sunsets. Did both "up-grade" restaurants and were not disappointed. Both offered unique service and better than average food. Cabin was regular balcony room, nice enough but smaller than anticipated and no bath/very small shower was an unpleasant surprise. Service overall was good, professional but not very warm or friendly. Got the feeling Princess was 'stretching out" the service help. The biggest service issues were the attitudes and lack of consistent information from the Service Desk personnel. Several times we got different and inaccurate information over the phone or at the desk on various questions. Inaccurate or mistaken info should not occur but if you are wrong at least be pleasant when you give bad info. This was a port intensive cruise and Princess did a good job most of the time getting us off and back on the boat. Even the worries we had about St. Petersburg did not materialize. Emerald had special lines for those persons doing private tours and we got thru customs easily. We did TJ Tours with Katya and it was wonderful. Went to the head of the lines and got special inside info - even an off the itinerary, side trip to get a local meat pie and Russian beers. Ports were all great. We did not do any Princess tours either walked or took local transportation to sights. Worked out very well even for less than experienced tourist. Each port was different and enjoyable. Oslo, Arrhus, Warrenmount, Tallinn, St. P, Helsinki, Stockholm were better than expected. Wish we had money and time for a 30 day cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
First of all understand that I am more of a sights and scenery guy as opposed to museums, Palaces etc. I also like to visit to say I've been there, put the pin in the map so to speak. My wife is the opposite. The emerald princess was ... Read More
First of all understand that I am more of a sights and scenery guy as opposed to museums, Palaces etc. I also like to visit to say I've been there, put the pin in the map so to speak. My wife is the opposite. The emerald princess was great, the service and food were fantastic. The entertainment was average. Our room, Aloha Deck A-205 was great for the 2 of us. We loved the balcony. We traveled roundtrip from Newark to Copenhagen on SAS and they were a terrific airline. First stop was Warnemunde Germany, we did the Alla Tours via minibus to Berlin, the tour was fine, the drive a little long(3hrs each way). My wife liked Berlin, I found it drab, although glad that I visited. Disappointed that Checkpoint Charlie was so commercialized, also disappointed that we were dropped off for lunch at a Shopping mall. It was about 90 degrees in Berlin. I heard that the local Warnemunde tour was great, relaxing and had lunch in a local German restaurant. Next day at sea was relaxing, the Baltic was flat calm and the temps about 85 degrees. We enjoyed time in the Serenity Spa at the top of the ship up front. Stockholm was very nice, we did the Ship's City tour with skyride then walked around and had lunch in Gamla Stan. Very scenic approach and departure from Stockholm. Very clean city. Helsinki was nice as well, we did the Ship's Home visit, Temppeliaukio Church and City drive. The home visit to the bucolic residence of the "Nurmi" family was awesome. The baked for us, served Finnish coffee and allowed us free access to roam their house and expansive property. Harriet Nurmi's dad drove in the Monte Carlo races in the 1950's and they maintain a fully restored Ford Model T along with other historical collectibles. There is a lake on the property with several sauna's. We loved shopping at Helsinki's market and wished we had more time there. St Petersberg was very hot, in the 90's both days. TJ Tours was half the cost of the ships tour and their guides were great. Had lunch each day in a local Russian restaurant. For me, a visit to 1 opulent palace, and church and maybe the hermitage would suffice, after that I lose interest rapidly as all of the beauty and ornate/opulent decor blends into 1 place in my mind. The canal boat ride was terrific. our guide was a young woman named Alex and she was exceptional. After seeing the hermitage, Catherines palace, Peterhof and several churches(which were all beautiful/spectacular)I was more then ready for a beer and a beach! My wife on the other hand loved all the palaces and churches as she was raised Russian Orthodox. She took "a million" pictures which she has yet to download. Tallinn, Estonia was a quaint little town, very nice to visit. Same for Aarhus, Denmark. We did not do any tours here but walked around ourselves, a tour wasn't really necessary. On a side note, I am glad to have visited both Tallinn and Aarhus, however I would have gladly traded both for a stop in Stavenger and or Bergen on Norway's west/Atlantic coast, then again I prefer scenery to "quaintness". We enjoyed lunch at a nice sidewalk cafe in Tallinn and drank a local beer called Saku.. In Aarhus, the owner of the Amethyst shop is an American from Memphis,and the bakery offered the greatest bread we've ever had. Also, interesting that all the babies looked alike, round head and blond hair, we saw 2 young mom's wheel their 1 year old kids in older style carriages(US 1960's vintage), leave the kids outside a store while they went in to shop, they thought nothing of that, not so here in the US. Oslo was great too, we had lunch there and shopped. The ship sailed the 3 hours from the North Sea up the Oslo fjord as we slept but had a narrated tour as we departed, great scenery. The ship docked right in the middle of town and 30 ft from Akarshus Castle. Directly off the bow and 200 yards right in front of us were shops separated by a side street. in 1 shop there was a woman from Phoenix who worked there and had been there for 30 years. We felt the best souvenirs were in Norway. Also, throughout the trip we saw horrible T-Shirts, but found something we liked in Norway. Like its fellow Scandinavian cities, Oslo was nice, clean and friendly and throughout the natives all speak English. One note, although we loved all 4 Scandinavian cities, they all lacked that one "famous"/defining site such as an Eiffel Tower, Vatican or Coliseum. yet all the cities were wonderful. Sadly we only spent from 7am to 2 pm in Oslo, clearly not long enough. Could have used another 2 hrs in Helsinki too. In Oslo we did the ships tour to the Fram Museum which was interesting and then had a Fjord ride aboard an old sailing ship. Again the Baltic was flat on our return to Copenhagen. We spent our final night of the trip in Copenhagen at the Clarion Mayfair Hotel on Helgolandsgade, about 3 blocks from the Tivoli Garden amusement park. Nice clean hotel, no air conditioning, but did offer a complimentary dinner buffet and breakfast. Centrally located. Cost was about $200/night US, and did include breakfast and dinner. Copenhagen was nice as well. Did the canal boat ride and the hop on /hop off bus. Visited the Carlsberg brewery but did not take the paid tour as it was about $70/person. We did our own walk around then had lunch in their outdoor cafe/bbq. 2 8 oz glasses of Carlsberg or Tuborg beer,+ 2 avg size cheeseburgers cost us $44 dollars US or about 220 Danish Kroner. A very small bag of British potato chips was $4 so $48 for a burger and a beer for 2. Scandinavia was very expensive for food so we're glad we ate most meals aboard the ship. Food on the Emerald Princess was superior. I have an allergy to Dairy, wheat and nuts and they easily accommodated me with gluten free breads, rice milk etc. The weather was as warm as it gets there. Strange to feel so tired with the sun still shining, then you realize that its 10:30 PM. Up in St. Pete's and Helsinki the sun was still visible at midnight just before it set. It wouldn't get dark there. Other places it would get gray from say 11PM to 3am, then light all the rest of the time. Very similar to Alaska at the same time of year. Overall a wonderful trip. I highly recommend that you join your ship's roll call on this site, we instantly met about 40 friends aboard from this website here at cruise critic. Ask your ship to allow you space to host a "meet and greet" and tell the ship you are with Cruise Critic, they try to treat you very well. We highly recommend this cruise and this ship. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Copenhagen was the worst city I ever visited in Europe. It was dirty, hard to find a garbage bin, even you found one, they were all full to the top with a lot of garbage around it on the floor. We arrived 4 days earlier which was a big ... Read More
Copenhagen was the worst city I ever visited in Europe. It was dirty, hard to find a garbage bin, even you found one, they were all full to the top with a lot of garbage around it on the floor. We arrived 4 days earlier which was a big mistake. We booked a junior suite at the Radisson Royal Blue hotel which is in a good location. But for a five star hotel, there was no turn down service, no bottle water, nothing special for US400 a night...Room rate including breakfast, but no one told us we could have breakfast on the top floor, until 3rd day. Breakfast on the ground floor was chaotic, lots of empty tables and long line up, but no one clear the tables... Just don't expect any service... Same thing for other restaurants... Lousy service all around town...Including expensive restaurants... Staying in Oslo will be a better choice than Copenhagen which is not a tourists friendly city... Near the little Mermaid, there was no sign whatsoever, and we made a wrong turn, ended up in a park full of dog waste, you can't avoid stepping on the dog waste as it was just full of it, the whole path... I have never seen anything like this... Weather was lousy and rained a lot during the cruise. Embarkation was nice, the service and the food was the best princess cruise I have ever taken. This was our fourth princess cruise, but the food and service was almost as good as the celebrity cruise we took last year, which really surprised us as I did not expect much from Princess. The best port is St Petersburg. Tallinn was the second best port. The rest ports are just waste of time. I would advise people not to take a cruise to Northern Europe, just join a land tour for a week in St Petersburg. Most of the ports are not worth to visit, either too short, such as Oslo which is much nicer than Copenhagen, only three hours ferry ride, we stayed there from 8-2, but the museum and art gallery don't open until 10 or 11. Whoever designed this itinerary should be fired. If you are retired and has nothing to do and don't mind to waste your time, this is a good cruise as the food and service are both 5 star. By the way, we had 4 dinners at Sabatini, and we loved the food and wine selection. However. being our annual vacation, and it took me more than 6 months to plan this trip, it's a big disappointment because of the lousy weather and itinerary. By they way, it's too cold to go to Northern Europe in June, I think July and August will be better. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
We sailed on this ship a few years ago in the Caribbean and enjoyed the trip and the ship, even though (and understandably) it was heavily American orientated. It was tasteful, clean and the staff were excellent. These haven't ... Read More
We sailed on this ship a few years ago in the Caribbean and enjoyed the trip and the ship, even though (and understandably) it was heavily American orientated. It was tasteful, clean and the staff were excellent. These haven't changed. This time the Baltic ports were fine but not spectacular, apart from St Petersburg. Here we took a private tour with Ulko Tours and our host Katia was brilliant in getting us past all the queues and making the day thoroughly enjoyable. Aarhus seems a waste of time as there is not a lot there. A few hours extra in Oslo may have been better, although this city is modern and doesn't seem to have much that is historical nearby, other than the castle and the palace. Warnemunde was an unexpected gem!We had 'anytime dining' which worked well and the waiters were excellent. The food was OK, not spectacular. We didn't eat in either of the two speciality restaurants.The entertainment in the theatre was mediocre, but Rosie in the Wheelhouse bar was 'par excellence' and Epithani (all over) were good. This group were good for dancing in the evening and a good few of the passengers enjoyed themselves - until the plug was pulled at midnight, or the annoying crew directors staff interfered and thought they could make it better - they couldn't, and spoiled a good evening - 'know your passengers Princess!When the daily newsletter opens up with the 'Enchanting Evening' entertainment section declaring a 'Basketball throw' as the start of the evening, hey come on, how enchanting can this be - surely something is not right. Replace the Editor with someone more inspirational. But then, hey, the other daily and evening programs seem more akin to a floating geriatric hotel than a super cruise liner!Bedtime according to Princess is midnight, as most venues close down then - sharpish, and the ship becomes a ghost ship. I, like several others on the cruise, like a quiet chat and drink when the entertainment finishes, so an extra hour or half hour even in just one venue would have been good. OK, some will say the Casino and the nightclub remain open after midnight. But the Casino has no tables and chairs suitable and it's smokey. The nightclub is on deck 19 and, whilst nice, is also smokey and has rap music rebounding off each wall!There are 2 so-called formal evenings on this cruise, but one has to question whether these should be in the program at all. We like formal evenings, but ones that are a little special. The captain in his newsletter asked everyone to be dressed to the 'nines' on these nights - very few bothered. But why should they - all it is is dressing up, parading around 2 decks and taking a photo-shoot, we can do this at home! A little effort and imagination could have made both evenings that little bit special. For example - a special dinner (oh yes we had the Chef's special 6 course dinner, but the night before, and on a night when half the passengers hadn't returned from a long day in Berlin) And why not have a dance evening, in say Club Fusion, exclusively for those who have taken the time to dress formally - they have a very good band in Gordon and his men. Could have been done with little effort!Sorry Princess but it's time for us to look elsewhere. Somewhere where we're not told to go to bed at midnight, somewhere where the entertainment is better, somewhere where it's less American orientated when ships are across the pond in Europe. Bon voyage Princess! Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
We stayed two nights in Copenhagen, prior to our cruise and we were able to get a taste of this remarkable city. The combination of our hotel base on the Nyhavn canal, and the great public transportation system allowed us to visit many of ... Read More
We stayed two nights in Copenhagen, prior to our cruise and we were able to get a taste of this remarkable city. The combination of our hotel base on the Nyhavn canal, and the great public transportation system allowed us to visit many of the key sites including Tivoli, National Museum, Rosenberg castle, and the Mermaid. Our final day we took the canal tour.Our room on the Emerald princess was on the back of the ship; it included a double sized balcony since we were on the corner. The ship was fantastic with great dining, (we picked the Michangelo Dining Room), and we picked our dining time. Most nights we sat with other couples and had great conversation. The lounges had good entertainment and every night at 5:00 a small venue would occur in the atrium. We thoroughly enjoyed the Princess dancers and singers, but did not catch the comedian or magic shows. We were too busy on shore to enjoy what looked like a great pool area. Our room attendant and morning room service coffee were both perfect. Love those laundry rooms.The crew handled shore departures very well and we were blessed with fantastic weather. Each port was unique and enjoyable, our Alla-Tour of Berlinand Saint Petersburg made them unforgettable. Currency exchange machine was excellent as was daily narration of ports. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Most interesting cruise we have ever taken. Not a cruise for sea days....almost every day was a port of call, and as we had never been to any of the countries visited, it was very exciting. Boarded in Copenhagen after spending the ... Read More
Most interesting cruise we have ever taken. Not a cruise for sea days....almost every day was a port of call, and as we had never been to any of the countries visited, it was very exciting. Boarded in Copenhagen after spending the night at the "Admiral" hotel. Very nice and close to the port.....( short cab ride ) ..... Ship was immaculate, and the staff very friendly. Weather was unpredictablem and we had an equal amount of rainy and sunny days....temps were cool for June, mostly in the low 60's. St Petersburg was the highlight. We contracted with a local Russian tour agency ( SPB Tours ) and it was fantastic. We saw musch more than the Princess tours offered at half the price. They were on time, responsive to our requets, and I can't say enough about the experience. Our guide, Eugene, was fantastic.....our small group of 11 was whisked around for two days in a Mercedes van, avoiding traffic and never waiting to see all the sites. Especially loved the subway experience that brought us face to face with all the images of the Communist era in the Soviet Union. ( One complaint about Princess....they tried to make everyone believe that they may be left on board if not tied to an official Princess tour....this is NOT TRUE ) .... as long as you book with a local agency authorized to come to the pier, you do not need a VISA or an authorization from princess. ) Tallin was our second favorite port......Beautiful mid evil city and beautiful smiling people.....Loved it. No tour required....easy walking throughout the city. One scary event on board occurred on the night of June 22/23..... Woke up in the middle of the night to the ship listing heavily to the port side. I literally had to walk up hill to close the balcony doors and keep out the rain and wind. We remained like this for a couple of hours. In the morning, it was the talk of all the passengers, but no statement was made by the crew. "I feel they should have offered an explanation"....in the end I approached an officer and was told we encountered Hurricane force winds that caused the ship to list.......it was pretty scary ......They should have posted something on the TV so as no to alarm passengers....it was clearly unusual and discomforting. Lastly, aside from the listing experience, it was an amazing adventure, and one I would recommend to all.......Be sure and say hi to Marina and Goce in the Crooners lounge if you take this trip. They were Awesome! Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
My husband I cruise several times a year and we always enjoy the experience. This time we traveled with four other couples and with out exception we all felt that this cruise exceed our expectations. We choose anytime dinning and as we ... Read More
My husband I cruise several times a year and we always enjoy the experience. This time we traveled with four other couples and with out exception we all felt that this cruise exceed our expectations. We choose anytime dinning and as we were a large group we were concerned that we might have a problem eating when we wanted. We were pleasantly surprise when the matradee told us not to worry and he took care of us every night as did the head waiter and the waiter. We all felt that the care given to us by the restaurant staff was excellent and the quality of the food was superior. My husband has special dietary needs and they were met with out exception. The cabins were beautiful and the ship was very clean. We enjoyed the entertainment and the Casino. The Shore Excursions were great but the ship also made available information on getting around the different countries without taking tours. Disembarkation was handled in a very orderly fashion. The only port that we had a slight problem was in St Petersburg as we had arranged a private tour and we had to meet them early and the ship did not want us to get off until they took off their tours. But in the end it all worked out and we had a really great time. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
The Baltic/Northern Europe cruise on the Emerald Princess in May 2011 exceeded our expectations. We were never disappointed. The ship was beautiful, clean and well appointed. The staff were gracious, helpful and always smiling. ... Read More
The Baltic/Northern Europe cruise on the Emerald Princess in May 2011 exceeded our expectations. We were never disappointed. The ship was beautiful, clean and well appointed. The staff were gracious, helpful and always smiling. Nothing was ever too much trouble. We really enjoyed the itinerary (Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Warnemunde (Berlin), Aarhus and Oslo and back to Copenhagen). Highlights: Copenhagen - if you get a chance, it is a lovely city to explore by foot, especially Nyhaven (people watching/good restaurants) and Stroget (longest pedestrian road); avoid Tivoli Gardens if you do not love rides and amusement parks (a huge waste of money). People are friendly and it is a clean city with interesting areas.St. Petersburg - did a 2 day tour with Alla. It was absolutely fantastic (it is tiring though). Definite highlights: The Hermitage (did on day 1), metro ride, Catherine's Palace (day 2), church of the spilled blood and St. Isaac's cathedral. Alla Tours was fantastic - our guide was knowledgeable and personable. We were in small groups of 14, which was really nice too.Tallinn, Estonia - an easy walk from the ship and a great medieval town to explore on your own.Warnemunde (Berlin) - did a Princess tour to Sachsenhausen concentration camp (in the morning) - via train to Berlin, had a wonderful lunch in an elegant hotel and then a tour of Berlin in the afternoon (some walking, some on the bus). Our tour guide (Tim) was brilliant and handled the whole jaded history of WWII as sensitive as possible. We saw a great deal without feeling we were too rushed. The train trip from Warnemunde to Berlin was fun too with great scenery.Our only criticism of the itinerary was Aarhus, Denmark. We arrived on a Sunday (8-2 in port) and they obviously had some party the night before because the streets were littered with broken glass and garbage. Nothing was open and no one was making any attempt to clean up anywhere. You would think that with a cruise ship of 3100 passengers coming into port and possibly spending money, which you would make some effort to clean up your city and encourage those passengers to speak highly of your city, which isn't on everyone's itinerary. We wouldn't go back and would pass seeing it again.Princess is a great choice for cruising. We felt pampered the whole time and there are many options for dining and entertainment at your disposal. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Perhaps I should get this over with first. Princess Air total botched our airline reservations. Despite being advised by me that Delta insisted our names on the reservation be spelled correctly, Princess of several occasions insisted ... Read More
Perhaps I should get this over with first. Princess Air total botched our airline reservations. Despite being advised by me that Delta insisted our names on the reservation be spelled correctly, Princess of several occasions insisted otherwise. I had to begin straightening things out at our local airport and then then, when we arrived in Amsterdam, we had double reservations. I had to run, not walk, run, two concourses to straighten things out and reach Copenhagen. On the return trip we spent a half hour at the ticket counter while KLM sorted out the mess. This could have been entirely avoided if Princess Air had been willing to correct the names on our tickets. I do not recommend anyone use Princess Air. Our cabin steward was unobtrusive and most competent. We never returned to our cabin without finding that everything had been cleaned and he ensured we were aware of any matters that required our attention. Our servers at the 8:20PM dining were outstanding in every way. I found the tone of Princess' lectures distinctly low brow, not to enriching and imagine that they match the interests of the majority of Princess passengers. It would be pleasant if a corporate entity, even a cruise line, actually attempted to provide lectures that truly uplift and teach. That said, their Baltic expert's lectures, repeated on the television, were first rate. Diner was a splendid experience on the Emerald Princess. Our 8:20 seating was most pleasant; the food, excepting the fish, was excellent, the waiters were superior and the wine reasonably priced with a good selection. The wines essentially duplicated those we drink at meals and carried no more markup than standard in a restaurant, however, they did add a 15% tip! We wandered quite a bit throughout the ship, which I was told holds 3,000 persons, and I don't recall feeling crowded at any time, except when we looked around the shops down in the bowels of the ship and at the Horizon Court Dining Room. We found the service at the Horizon Court Dining Room to be grossly inattentive. At breakfast, the waiters and bus persons walked past us, not offering coffee, juice or anything. After you hailed them, which often brought about a sneer, then they would continue to pass you without looking to see if you needed a refill. Now, one imagines the better personnel work the service for about a week at the Horizon Dining Room. Others have said this but the coffee was truly horrible; it was watery, tasteless and was delivered through a pipe! Our cruise was splendid once we boarded in Copenhagen We found the majority of the ports visited by the Emerald Princess to be excellent. We would recommend Tallinn, Oslo, Stockholm and St. Petersburg to anyone. Tallinn is undoubtedly one of the best preserved medieval walled cities in the North and it has managed to survive without damage either natural or man-made. I can't imagine a trip to the Baltic without a stop in Tallinn. St. Petersburg is wonderful. We had a tour with ALLA tours and the itinerary and guide were first rate. If we never get to Aarhus or Helsinki again, it won't be much of a problem as these ports were at best time fillers. Tallinn is undoubtedly one of the best preserved medieval walled cities in the North and it has managed to survive without damage either natural or man-made. I can't imagine a trip to the Baltic without a stop in Tallinn. St. Petersburg is wonderful. We had a tour with ALLA tours and the itinerary and guide were first rate. Incidentally, this is the best place to buy either Scandinavian or Russian gifts. The quality is high and the prices much, much more reasonable than the later ports. Frankly, Aarhaus isn't ready for prime time. There was little to do of value, and that was a shame, because we spend only about 8 hours in Stockholm, far too little time. Helsinki was a bit of letdown, especially the monument to Sibelius, my favorite 20th century composer. It is worth a ten minute look at most. Oslo is a bit different in the way its people view the work and gosh, everyone should see the Sculpture Park there. Three hundred nude statues done in a distinctive style, my that's wonderful; let the prudes get their apoplexy, I found the statutes alive and, in all cases the depictions either caused one to consider aspects of the human condition or laugh. It was great fun and we will never forget it. Also, the cruise's walking tour of the downtown was super; the woman to walked with was an opera singer and she sang to get our attention. She was deeply committed to Oslo and really provided an insightful commentary as we walked. What little of Stockholm we were able to see was outstanding; the problem was that 8 hours doesn't cut it for such a city. We plan to return and explore some more. The rating is lower because Princess failed to make a sufficient commitment to visiting the port. We thought Helsinki would be something special. It wasn't. We managed to spend a day looking around, but our time would have been better spent in Stockholm. The Hermitage, Russian Orthodox churches, the Peter and Paul fortress and Catherine and Peter's palaces are the highlights in and around St. Petersburg. We spend two days there and could have stayed a month. It is very different than other European cities and possesses some of the best museums and preserved palaces in Europe. The architectural style is a bit over-the-top but wow! We couldn't imagine a Baltic cruise without St. Petersburg, the absolute high point. We took a small group tour with ALLA Tours, a local outfit and it was just wonderful. Outstanding itinerary and great guide. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We reserved the nine day Imperial Cities tour which covered visits to Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Berlin before joining the ship in Copenhagen. I had polio as a child and now use a travelscoot scooter as I am both somewhat unsteady on my ... Read More
We reserved the nine day Imperial Cities tour which covered visits to Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Berlin before joining the ship in Copenhagen. I had polio as a child and now use a travelscoot scooter as I am both somewhat unsteady on my feet and a slow walker. The scooter allows me to keep up with the group. I found the normal and expected obstacles throughout Europe. There are fewer curb cuts and many cobblestone areas but I did better than I expected. The primary challenge was getting on and off the bus. Princess uses Globus tours for the Imperial Cities Tour. The bus driver, named Marco stayed with us for the entire tour and was excellent both as a driver and in loading and unloading my scooter at each stop. At the first stop in Budapest I did not have an accessible room as Princess had not notified the tour operators that I had reserved an accessible cabin (and filled out their required form) on the ship. However the guide arranged an appropriate room in the other three cities. Upon arriving at the ship in Copenhagen we found the ship on Norovirus precautions being maintained from the previous transatlantic cruise. This caused us no problems and was removed about three days later. We have cruised previously on the Crown Princess and found the Emerald to be almost identical. The ship met our expectations with one exception. On previous cruises on this class of ship we have sailed to the Caribbean. The ship always felt spacious. However it was cold and rainy during this cruise and almost everyone stayed inside all the time. We found the bars and hallways extremely crowded, especially the hallways when the boutiques had their sale tables set up. Our accessible cabin had enough room for us to store the scooter inside the room. The bathroom was level entry with the room. The shower had a pull down seat. There was one minor problem with the room that could not be fixed. The temperature control did not cool the room sufficiently. The food on this cruise was excellent. We ate one night in the buffet, one night at Sabatini's (old menu), and one night at the Crown Grill. All of our other meals were in the anytime dining rooms. We always chose to share a table and never had any wait. Most evening we ate about 6 or 6:30 PM. For lunch we chose to go to the International Cafe for the shrimp salad. At breakfast we used the buffet when we had early excursions and the dining room other mornings. I was always offered assistance in the buffet but if it was not crowded I declined the assistance. Our only problem with this cruise was the personnel in the Shore Excursion Department. I had never previously experienced discrimination due to my disability. Every time I or other passengers using walkers or wheelchair/scooters passed the shore excursion manager she rolled her eyes. One time I heard her sigh. This plus the poor excursion we had in Aarhus, Denmark were solely her responsibility. We had a train excursion in Aarhus and there were four of us who did not have seats. I spent the train portion of the tour seated on a wooden table in front of the door to the washroom. Three men stood on the deck outside the car because there were no seats. Although this was completely unacceptable it was not addressed on the ship even after I complained. After I returned home and snail mailed a complaint to Princess I got a phone call that informed me I was on a tour that was "too strenuous" for me. I also found this to be unacceptable. I was on the train, I didn't have a seat for the ride but since I can't stand for long periods I sat on the wooden table. This should be unacceptable for anyone, disabled or not. Overall this was an excellent cruise. We had an outstanding cabin steward. The food was very good and we enjoyed seeing so many new and exciting cities. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Don't pass up Rostok. The tours, except for St. Petersburg, were expensive and unnecessary. Helsinki and Arrhus could have been bypassed to give more than 4 hours in Stockholm. Two days in every city would have been nice. Food ... Read More
Don't pass up Rostok. The tours, except for St. Petersburg, were expensive and unnecessary. Helsinki and Arrhus could have been bypassed to give more than 4 hours in Stockholm. Two days in every city would have been nice. Food was great except for any beef dish. It seemed to me that beef quality was sacrificed. The best salad was the Greek salad, available at the salad/dessert station before the dining room. That was also where you get the best chocolate desserts. The men at the salad station and also the hot dog station was very friendly and got to know what I wanted as soon as I got there. Chocolate ice cream had a strange taste. Towels in the pool area, were not stacked and had to be requested each time. Hawking drinks was excessive. Don't even think about buying internet time! You don't get what you pay for as the system is very inefficient and you're lucky to actually get 25% of your time. More reclined bikes are needed in the gym. Two of the men's showers in the gym were not working and the showers could have been cleaner. There is a $3 charge for exchanging dollars. The ship's staff were excellent. They always gave great service. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Emerald Princess, May 24, 2011 sailing.Pre-Cruise -My husband, Tim, and I arrived in Copenhagen to sunny weather, four (4) days before the cruise. We bought our Copenhagen card at the airport and took the train to the Central Station and ... Read More
Emerald Princess, May 24, 2011 sailing.Pre-Cruise -My husband, Tim, and I arrived in Copenhagen to sunny weather, four (4) days before the cruise. We bought our Copenhagen card at the airport and took the train to the Central Station and walked the few blocks to our hotel. All the stories you've heard about how expensive things are in this area of the world are true. We were very glad we chose the Clarion Mayfair with it's free breakfast and dinner. (Also anytime free tea, coffee, fruit and afternoon snack) We would have spent hundreds more on food and were in fact, very pleased with the great meals the Clarion served. Our traveling companions, Mike, Suzie and Shirley, joined us at the hotel a few days later. The Clarion Mayfair is located right at the edge of the (for lack of a better term) Red Light District. This in NO way interfered with our adventures or enjoyment of this location. The hotel staff were all very helpful and accommodating. Thomas at the front desk was a gem! We would choose to stay here again in a heartbeat!We did all the usual tourist things in and around Copenhagen with our Copenhagen cards. The card even covered our train ride to Roskilde. In Roskilde, they have a Viking ship museum where they have made life size replicas of the ships they found,...and,....you can take a ride on one of them in the fjord! You have to row the Viking ship in and out of the dock area, but they unfurl the sails when you get further out into the fjord. We had a great time! We thoroughly enjoyed Denmark and would go back for another vacation.Cruise-We took the train to the cruise ship station stop and walked about 15 minutes to the Princess dock. We boarded in a flash and had cocktails in less time than it took to walk from the train station. Our cabin was neat and clean and our Steward, Laurence, was excellent. The Emerald is in tip-top condition and we saw no signs of wear and tear. We didn't go to any of the shows, but did catch some entertainment in the atrium. The Hoola Hoop lady was amazing! Sounds strange, but her act was very entertaining. We also watched a pair that did a strongman/gymnast act. The strongman held up a big metal hoop and his gymnast partner did handstands and other poses on top of the hoop. I've never been so close to an act like that before. Everything ran like clockwork on this cruise and we had no problems embarking or disembarking at any of our ports. Alex, our TA, sent us a beer package,....love you Alex!! This was to set the tone for our "Beer Drinking Around the Baltic" cruise. Yes,...we were the loud neighbors, drinking beer and laughing on the balcony each night at sail away. :)Dining-We ate most of our meals in the dining rooms, only hitting the buffet when time was short. We also ate at the International Cafe in the late afternoons for tea and snacks before dinner and sometimes for breakfast when time was very short. The food was good and most of our service was excellent, thanks to Peres and his staff in the DaVinci dining room. There was one glaring exception,....our service in the Crown Grill. We arrived at 8:00 pm and left at 11:20pm. It took over three (3) hours for our party of five (5) to be served dinner,...not including dessert. We got nothing but bad attitude from our waiter. It took 30 minutes just to get a bottle of wine. We have NEVER complained about anyone or anything on a Princess ship before, but my husband was steaming and went straight to the head man over food and beverages for the entire ship. He listened to our saga, took notes and offered us dinner on another night. We accepted his offer and ate at Sabatini's on the last night of the cruise. It was a great dinner with perfect service. And, we were seated right next to a group of Cruise Critic friends. Princess had righted the wrong.Casino-I'm only adding this section because I want everyone to know that I won $160 from a penny slot machine! That's 16,000 pennies! Woohoo!Ports-Most of the port cities on this itinerary are very walkable and/or have great public transportation available. If there was a city transportation or attraction card at any of our stops, we bought it. Not only did we buy it, we used it up! Of course, there was a lot of homework that had to be done before the cruise to be able to use these efficiently and effectively. But, we had Mike, the Human GPS with us, and he's logistically gifted! We saw everything and took planes, trains, automobiles, trams, subways, ferries, hydrofoils, buses and moving sidewalks to get there. We did buy the John Lawrence Baltic DVD before the cruise. He gives you a lot of great and helpful information, but will put you right to sleep on a rainy day. zzzzzzzz,..... John Lawrence gave port seminars on the Emerald, and I am pleased to announce that he is NOT boring in person,....as Shirley will tell you. :) How many autographs did you get Shirley?We did take an SPB tour for our two (2) days in St. Petersburg, Russia. We were on a "modified" active tour with our guide, Elena Skidan. She was very friendly and informative. Elena kept us together and moving! She did a great job, as we had a long list of things to see and do. I would recommend Elena and SPB to anyone. Aarhus is the only port on this cruise that we really didn't enjoy. Maybe because it's such a new stop and all the bugs haven't been worked out of the system yet. The Princess shuttle was chaos. No one knew the rules,...receipts?, where does the shuttle go?.. or when is the last shuttle back to the ship? Not very well orchestrated. Plus there's not a whole lot to see in Aarhus.Don't miss: Vigeland Park in Oslo, Norway. The images of every stage of life, from birth to death, captured in stone and bronze are incredible. The Vasa Museum in Stockholm, Sweden. AMAZING!!! My jaw dropped open when I saw this ship! You can see where Disney got his inspiration. The Beer House in Tallin, Estonia,...old towne. The name says it all! The food, beer, service and atmosphere were awesome! Departing CPH Airport-Fair warning, Copenhagen Airport was a nightmare. Cruise ship passengers getting OFF of four (4) cruise ships were all trying to check in at the same time. And, incoming passengers ready to get ON four (4) cruise ships were trying to get out of the airport at the same time. Unless you have a flight scheduled for the late afternoon or evening, you will have to endure the ridiculously long lines and the crowds.Overall-This was a great cruise with an exciting itinerary. If you are at all interested in this part of the world, take this cruise. But, remember you must do your homework BEFORE you get there to get the most out of your (sometimes short) time in port.Until the next cruise,....... Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
I booked the cruise room almost a year ago. My room is next to my parents room. When I check in, they told me my room has be change to other Deck. How can they change my room without let me know??? My kid was travel with me. It is very ... Read More
I booked the cruise room almost a year ago. My room is next to my parents room. When I check in, they told me my room has be change to other Deck. How can they change my room without let me know??? My kid was travel with me. It is very inconvenience for us. Cause they change my room, so I need to go up and down many times everyday to my parent's room. My room should be on Deck 12 and they move me to Deck 8. And they can't change back cause other people took that room already! We check in at 14:00 with 3 luggage. I only got one around 17:50. So we need to wear jeans to the dinning room. After dinner, there still one missing. I went down and found they put my luggage in the lobby. They lost my tag so I need to take it back to my room by myself. When I book the cruise, I said we don't want share table with others. But they put us with other people. And the reception told us, no more tables. If you don't like, go eat in some other restaurant! The room service line always busy, the buffet area is always hard to find seat, waiter always talk to each other, they always serve you without smile. The food is not good, the soup always too salty. I booked a SPA for my parents. But the reception told them there is no reservation made for them. The attitude is very bad. After 10-15 mins. The manager came in and checks again. She found their reservation and the manager said they need to pay more for get the service. The package I booked is $279 and they ask my parents pay $399! My kid was sick at last night. Cause they collect all the luggage already so my dad went down to ask the nurse see if they have medicine for the kids or not. The nurse said, paid $130 first then I'll answer your question. Again, very bad attitude! We took Celebrity Cruise before. Their service, room, food and show is much much better then Princess! We paid more than $3000/person. And this is what we got. We will never take Princess again! Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
My husband and I had come over on the TA on the Emerald and stayed on for this 11 day Baltic cruise. I had never been to any of these ports before, and had always wanted to go to Scandinavia, so I was very much looking forward to this ... Read More
My husband and I had come over on the TA on the Emerald and stayed on for this 11 day Baltic cruise. I had never been to any of these ports before, and had always wanted to go to Scandinavia, so I was very much looking forward to this cruise. We ended up having a number of unusual happenings on this cruise (started out with the norovirus, a passenger death on day #1, a medical helicopter evacuation of another passenger, and a barge accident which damaged a number of tenders) but despite all this, it was a wonderful cruise.Weather was cool but sunny most days - couldn't really use the MUTS since the nights were so cold, and during the day there was often wind and/or misty rain, so never used the pools the whole cruise. Water was smooth sailing though, except for about 5 hours on the last night.Some of the issues that I will discuss below have already been noted by me in my previous review of the TA.Food - we mostly eat in Cafe Caribe for dinner. We have anytime dining and only went to the dining room twice during this cruise. We find that the dining rooms are simply too noisy for any conversation other than with the person right beside you. We also found that some of the food in the buffet this time seemed overly salty. We had been on the Emerald in the fall for 20 days and did not notice this before. So we wondered if there was a new chef on board.We did dine in Sabatini's for my husband's birthday. We have dined here before and as always, found the food to be excellent and the service to be top-notch. Well worth the extra $20 per person. The sea bass was outstanding.We were under "code red" for the first 3 days of the cruise from the norovirus on the previous cruise, which did make for a slower line in the buffet, etc. But, the crew, as always, was cheerful and helpful and it did not affect our dining experience very much.Entertainment - we spend every night in Crooners, since we are friends and fans of Arny G, the piano/vocalist there. As I have written many times he is simply the best entertainer on any ship. Versatile, extremely talented, funny, entertaining, involves the audience, every night is different since he sings all requests from the audience. Makes for a great evening of entertainment. But, this cruise we also went to hear Lovena Fox sing in Princess Theater (fabulous voice, great show, wonderful entertainer), and went to see David Days the hypnotist (who also sings, writes songs, and plays the piano). Arny G. ended up having both of these entertainers join him in Crooners as "guest singers". Made for funny, wonderful evenings. They were three amazingly talented people who obviously enjoyed entertaining the audience and they played to standing-room-only crowds. Later in the cruise we also went to hear Caroline Davis, a pianist, singer, dancer in the Princess Theater. Her show was very unusual - she plays classical music with a jazz bend to it. Very good.My only complaint about the entertainment was that the show times were adjusted to be earlier. The excuse given was that people are tired after all the ports. But, to have a show at 7:00 p.m. is unfair to the entertainer. Many people were still in port (for days like St Petersburg and Berlin) and those that were on the ship, many of them were at early seating dinner. So, the shows were very poorly attended. And, the only entertainment other than dance bands and Arny G was in the Princess Theater. So, if you wanted to see the production shows, the guest singers or the comedian, they were in Princess Theater. Only one of them per night. In Explorer's and the Wheelhouse it was always a dance band. And, there may or may not have been trivia or a game show in Club Fusion. So, that meant, really one less entertainment venue (at least) per night. Arny G played to packed houses every night, so that would indicate (besides that he is a wonderful talent) people did want entertainment at night, even with long port days.Ports - we usually do the ports on our own. We like to walk, find free wifi, talk to locals, take pictures, visit pubs, and soak up a town's atmosphere.Turnaround day was in Copenhagen - we had a fabulous day just walking around, taking pictures, having a picnic in a park, going to the botanical gardens, finding free wifi in a great coffee shop. The walk to the city from the ship is very easy and actually very beautiful and interesting. Right past the Little Mermaid statue.Stockholm - walked, and then took the hop-on-hop-off boat, visited the Vasa Museum (amazing)and enjoyed the city. Could walk right off the ship to explore, so great location. The sail into and out of Stockholm is amazing - an area of about 500 islands with small cottages with saunas on them (summer homes for people in Stockholm.) A great view from our balcony.Helsinki - our only day of real rain, so we walked, shopped, and returned to the ship. Had to take a shuttle to get to the city.St Petersburg - you can't get off the ship to tour on your own (as we like) unless you have a visa. So, we signed up for Princess tours. We did not want to do the "full 2 day do every thing and exhaust yourself" tour, so we signed up to do Peterhof Palace on day 1 and the Hermitage Museum on day 2. I enjoyed the day at Peterhof Palace in that we were allowed to roam the grounds after touring the palace, but the palace itself is way too ornate and gaudy for me. I could understand why the proletariots revolted. Too much excess while the rest of the people were poor.On day 2 the trip to the Hermitage was less successful, in my opinion. They opened the museum early for the cruise ship tours but there were 62 buses coming in at the same time. It was a mad house. I barely saw anything. It was all I could do to keep my tour leader's flag in my view so as not to lose my group. It was way too many people in way too short a time frame and small a space. I barely saw anything. The bus drives through the city showed lots of traffic, graffiti, and poorly constructed housing complexes. Definitely my least favorite stop.Additionally, while in St Petersburg, the refueling barge had an accident and crashed into the side of the Emerald, knocking out one tender and damaging two others. There was a flurry of activity over the two days as they rushed to get the tenders fixed so we could remain on schedule.Tallinn Estonia - by contrast my favorite stop. What a delightful medieval town surrounded by a modern city. Very walkable from the ship, and you passed stands where people were selling craft items made in Estonia (very reasonably priced knit wear in particular. Great sweaters and shawls.) The people in Tallinn were very friendly and the shops were cute. It was like living in a shrek movie or attending a giant medieval faire.Warnemunde Germany - most people on the ship took the full day tour to Berlin (as my husband did, who loved it.) I chose to stay in Warnemunde and explore the town. And I was so glad I did. I loved it! There were flower, vegetable and fish stalls in outdoor markets. Had a delicious herring sandwich for 2 euros. Took lots of pictures, found free wifi, walked for miles on a beautiful white sand beach. A wonderful and surprisingly delightful stop. It also helped that there were no other large cruise ships in town, so with many people in Berlin, those of us who stayed behind had no crowds in the town at all.Aarhus, Denmark - the stop here was very short - only from 8 - 2 and it was a Sunday, so almost everything was closed. We just walked around and took pictures and it was time to get back.Oslo, Norway - we had been here on the TA on a Monday and on this trip we were also there on a MOnday. Many museums in Oslo are closed on Monday, so we did not get to see The Scream. But, did tour City Hall to see the beautiful murals and toured the Nobel Museum. Our stop here was only from 7 - 2 so again, a very short day.Disembarkation in Copenhagen was really organized and very easy. We had been warned that there were few taxis in Copenhagen and we were not the only ship at the port. But, we found that the line to get a cab was orderly and moved quickly. We left our room on the ship around 9:30 and were in a cab within 30 minutes.All in all, despite some unusual happenings on the ship, we had a wonderful cruise. Lots of fun. Beautiful ports. Smooth waters. Great crew on the Emerald. Wonderful room steward. Fun evenings in Crooners. Another example of Princess "excellence." Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
There have been several negative reviews on this ship, so I thought I'd add my own more positive review. But read ALL the reviews and make your own mind up if this is for you. Pre-board notes: We arrived in Copenhagen from ... Read More
There have been several negative reviews on this ship, so I thought I'd add my own more positive review. But read ALL the reviews and make your own mind up if this is for you. Pre-board notes: We arrived in Copenhagen from London (and Phoenix, AZ) night before the cruise, Thursday evening, about 20:00, and stayed at the Copenhagen Marriott. Can't rave enough about that hotel. Took the train from the airport to Copenhagen H main rail station (easy, fast, about 12 minutes), then a taxi to the Marriott. Barring tugging our large bags, we could have easily walked it from the train station to the hotel. Marriott was packed of course. Next morning, cruise day, lobby was stacked to the ceiling with cruise bags, those departing and those who arrived early that morning from the positioning cruise, so it was chaos. We spent the morning walking Copenhagen (Little Mermaid park & town), and, later, in the concierge lounge waiting where we met some Canadians who were waiting for their room to be cleaned. It's there we learned about the virus outbreak en route from Ft. Lauderdale (see last paragraph). Two of our group (who arrived that morning via Iceland Air from Seattle) used the Princess "transfers" option from the airport. Two of us at the hotel did not since we had come in by train. No real difference. Embarkation: Marriott has a bus every hour or so to the pier. We took a taxi (150DK, 20 minutes). We waited until 15:00 to avoid the rush. Good move. We waltzed in, through security, got our key cards, and were on board within 15 minutes. Very smooth (when you have all the requisite paperwork in your fist as you arrive). Photo taken. No help getting to cabin from the boat staff, but no big deal finding cabins for anyone who has been on a cruise before. Cabin: Mine E727 mini suite, 8 deck. My friends had 2 outside obscured, and 1 inside. We had the full gamut of facilities. Cabins are smaller than, say, the Holland America ships, but okay. Mine was bigger, with a nice sitting area and a small balcony, enough room for the 4 of us to have an evening cocktail party when we could. Cabin, balcony, head and closets were spotless. Doors on cabinetry were loose in my cabin but tight in the other cabins so I expect mine had fallen victim to rug rat occupancy at one time or another. Outside obscured was just big enough. Inside cabin was same size as outside but had a problem in that cooling in her inside was tricky. One click of the temperature button up or down moved the cabin temp several degrees at a time. Tough to get it right according to her. All cabin stewards were the usual friendly and efficient. Noise: None in my cabin, and I was directly above the dance floor in one of the club public rooms. BTW Room service: Used it every night to get peanuts and free snack for our evening cocktail parties, and occasionally to get some booze. Took about 15 minutes typical, and 30 minutes worst case. Room service answers in about 3 rings. Didn't try any actual food in the room. Baggage arrived shortly after we did. That was anticlimactic. I was just relieved United had not shipped my checked baggage to Singapore! More than enough wardrobe space, shelf space, hangars, etc., for one person in a mini-suite. Outside cabins have slightly less wardrobe space but each of us had a cabin solo, so no issue. Plenty of shelf space in the heads. I had a bath tub, which I consider useless. Rest had showers only. Plenty of hot water pressure any time of the day or night. Lighting in the cabins was more than adequate and there were convenient light switches every where you looked. Phone system worked fine. Electronic door locks failed for me 3 times during the cruise, and for my friends several times, but I discovered early on it was because I put the card in my wallet with my chip-and-PIN cards when on tour and the key card failed immediately after that. When I carried the key card separately, it worked the rest of the cruise. That's no excuse for that card key system, but it is a solution. Boat: It is huge. Impossible to get bored like we did on the half-that-size boats on HAL through the canal. There's always something going on, and the Baltic 11 day has you at a port pretty much every day so no real time to get bored. As another poster mentioned, the lifts failed on a regular basis, but engineers seemed to get them back on soon after. There was a lot of passenger waiting for the lifts many times but I took the stairs mostly so I had no issues. Still, from my cabin on 8 deck, it is a hike to the Lido buffet on 15 deck. Rest of the boat was clean throughout, including the public heads. PS. My traveling partners found there were fewer public heads than on other boats, and you have to search them out. The ship's crew also tried to discourage you from using the public heads due to virus issues. Food lines: We anticipated the inevitable lines on this boat from all the posts. Not so in our experience. We did not dine together all the time. Some of us used the free style dining and others used the buffet. None of the food was exceptional. People, read this: Ship food is genrally bland! The days of the gourmet dining for all are long gone with the SS France and Queen Mary. The food does have taste, just not a lot of it. One of us (the one with the money) dined in some of the specialty dining rooms. She said the food was good, not great. Better than "average". One poster said the buffet system sucked, that only some of the lines were open some of the time. This was not our experience. There are 2 main Lido deck buffets (identical) and one Caribe Cafe line, usually themed. With the possible exception of breakfast on the early morning tour days, and immediately after a day tour returned, there was rarely a line at any of the buffets of more than 5 or 10 people, and it moved very fast. What WAS a problem was seating. Occasionally crew would close one of the buffet seating areas. This congested the remaining 2 areas and seating could difficult to find. It was usually too cool to eat on the many available outdoor tables. Those of us who tried the dining room said the food was pretty average. They did note that, at a table for 10, our two had steak and it was good while two other people at the same table had the same steak and they couldn't even cut it. There were frequent lines at the purser's office and at the tours desk. Those could be avoided by visiting the purser's desk early or late and the tour desk immediately as it opens. Formal: We've done so may formal nights on so many cruises we didn't even bother bringing our formal gear. We feel formal nights are more a South pacific or Caribbean or Med cruise thing anyway. Tours: Tough one. We booked 1 tour each port, then ended up canceling most of them and doing a self guided tour, mostly because of tour cost. We looked at, but did not use, some of the non-Princess tour companies. To us, and by that I mean perhaps only to us, the Baltic Sea is a small place. You could pitch a rock from the port you were berthed in today and hit the one you were going to tomorrow. So the architecture, churches, museums, and general sights are about the same, place to place. We did Stockholm, bagged Helsinki (Princess has local bus service, ship to downtown, every 15 or 30 minutes, most ports, so we did our own tours), did the Hermitage and Catherine Palace in St. Petersburg, the train tour to Berlin from Warnemunde. We walked the others. Some of our group did one or two others but said it was a mistake for the money. The Russia tours are pretty much the only way to go. The Russian tour guides were exceptional and well educated. St. Petersburg is a traffic nightmare so you spend a LOT of time in traffic. And there is the problem of Russian visas, so stick with Princess tours there. The Berlin tour was good but way overpriced for what you got. By that I mean Princess rented a train (which had seen MUCH better days immediately following WWII) to haul us to Berlin (about 3 hours). No air conditioning - okay in May near the sea, but probably not so okay later on in the summer. Then a bus takes you on a tour but there are really only a few things to see in Berlin -- Checkpoint Charlie, the (remaining) wall, Brandenburg Gate. Now the train station is right at the boat pier. You could walk to the station (5 minutes), take the frequent Deutsche Bahn train to Rostock and the DB ICE high speed train to Berlin, round trip, 1st class, for about $60, and have air conditioning, nice seats, a bar and restaurant car, and be in Berlin in 2 hours. Then a taxi or local tour will take you from Berlin Main train station to see (literally) all the sights for about $50. Add a nice lunch at the Berlin Westin (like Princess provided) for about $25 but do you really need that nice a lunch? Get on the train on the way back and wave your wine glass to the Princess charter train as you speed past it. The Princess tour was $300. You do the math. Tour hint: There is no penalty for booking the tours in advance and then canceling them, provided you pay attention to the posted cancel times, about 24 hours prior to arriving that port. Canceling means you just drop your tour tickets in the box by the tour desk. No waiting in line. So make a best guess as to which tours you want when you book the cruise, and then drop the ones you don't once you're on board. Other general boat stuff: We rarely use the theater and the crochet classes (I'm not joking here!) so can't comment on those. Internet is available and very slow, except just after tours and early evening when it is too congested to even log on. The Internet lounge, with banks of Windows PC's, is usually available, except at those same congested times where there is a wait. Hint: Bring your own iPad or similar. When available, WiFi is ubiquitous in all public areas. Note: Pay attention to the Internet connect time "packages". They're deceptive. You would think the more time you buy the less you pay. Not so. Each package lists the actual "per minute" cost (like unit pricing). BTW I had WiFi in my mini-suite but I was immediately above one of the lounges, all of which have WiFi. My other friends did not in their cabins. Other: Coffee lounge was nice. Good coffees & espressos. Wine bar/sushi bar also very nice. Good champagnes, okay wines. Drinks: Alcohol - spirits & beer -- reasonable. Wine, not so. Never bought any soft drinks. Tips: Cabin gratuity was okay for us, solo in the room, at about $10/day. Last HAL cruise we took, friends had 3 in a room. Automatic $30/day tips was NOT so reasonable, but they had the purser's office change that without issue. Pay attention. Pizza and burger bar: Okay. It's fast food. What do you expect? Ice cream bar was pleasant. Outdoor movie: On our cruise, blankets were provided. Was also pleasant. Disembarkation: If you are shlepping your own baggage, you MUST disembark by 05:15 or so. Taxi times: Avoid 08:00 to 10:00 if you need a taxi. Too many people leaving the boat at the same time. You could miss your plane or train. We departed at 06:45, walked off the boat, picked up bags right off the gangway, and were in a taxi in 5 minutes. No fuss. Taxi to train station at rush hour, 20 minutes, 150DK. Trains to airport about every 20 minutes. Don't try the ticket machines. The ticket window inside the station door, left side, will get you a ticket (English spoken. I mean, how complicated to understand is "One, airport"?). Those of us who used the Princess transfer package to the airport found it worked just fine. All in all, we were all pleased. We wouldn't do the Baltic again, but it was the experience we wanted, and the boat exceeded our expectations given its size and some of the bad vibes on these boards. Virus: We learned about the boat's virus problems positioning to Copenhagen from Ft. Lauderdale from some Canadians who had just disembarked and were waiting with us in the Marriott. For OUR first 3 or 4 days, on board, it was like a prison in the public areas. In the buffets, you touched NOTHING! Not even salt & pepper in the tables. Gloved staff handed you whatever you wanted. If your hand touched their ice tea glass, they looked like you had just handed them a bar of enriched plutonium! You want to feel like a pariah? But, after the 4th day, the procedures were lifted and life was normal. One further note: A suite two doors down from me was being cleaned one day just before our cocktail party. We all watched. It looked like a hazmat team was cleaning! Full hazmat suits with head covers! No explanation. Oh well. No one that we know of was taken ill on board. All in all, an okay experience. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Copenhagen whizzed by as we headed for Emerald Princess on our way from the airport. Embarkation was smooth and efficient. A treasure hunt type card was given to us which was useful for people to familiarise themselves with the ... Read More
Copenhagen whizzed by as we headed for Emerald Princess on our way from the airport. Embarkation was smooth and efficient. A treasure hunt type card was given to us which was useful for people to familiarise themselves with the ship's layout. It also had the incentive that you may win a prize. I did win a prize, a $75 massage treatment in Lotus Spa, but more about that later. Please note that on this cruise you will be moving the hour forward twice on the way to St Petersburg which can make full day visits very tiring in the first half of the cruise. Dining: We choose to have "anytime dining" and to share tables as we like to meet new people however even with this flexibility and arriving around 8p.m. it didn't mean we avoided queues. We believe this is mainly due to Princess introducing fixed dining in Da Vinci between 5.30 and 7.30. If you dine after 8.30 you should have no problem with queues. Food was very good with good choices. Having been on Ruby Princess for the last two years we noticed the same dishes turning up. For us this meant we had a chance to have our favourite dishes again. Clothing: The Baltic is not the Med. During May/June it may be very warm on some days and cool and breezy on others. Inside the ship is the same temperature as always so no changes need to be made to evening/day wear. Bring a waterproof (umbrella's are no use when it is windy) and a warm jacket for trips and on your balcony/on deck on cool days. Also bring some good comfortable walking shoes or trainers for exploring. Entertainment: Epithani (as spelt on the ship)are a very entertaining cover band and are good both for dancing and listening. Shows in the Princess Theatre included a comedian Cary Long..observational humour..we liked him. Thom Peterson, listed as a comedian but a magician...very entertaining. Various cast shows in Princess Theatre, went only once and wasn't impressed (we left). Atrium acrobats good to watch from Crooners with your cocktail. Pianists both in Adagio and Crooners were also worth a listen. Films we watched included "The King's Speech" and "Robin Hood" (the Russel Crowe version) We saw both of these in the Princess Theatre. Tour/Visit guidance was given freely and very expertly by John Lawrence both at lectures in the Princess Theatre (these were repeated later on the TV) and over the loudspeakers as we entered and left ports such as Stockholm and St Petersburg. He also gave everyone excellent tips for visiting ports "on your own". Spa: I won a $75.00 massage in the treasure hunt tombola. I have never had a massage before. I chose to have a back shoulder and neck massage for the $75.00. I could have paid more and had a full massage but didn't. The massage was wonderful. I did buy some Elemis oils/lotions which I have used regularly on my return home and will replenish when finished. Staff in the Spa are programmed to try and make you book further sessions and hence spend further money. I resisted, not because I hadn't enjoyed the experience but at upwards of $159 a time this is not something I want to do regularly. One tip is that they tend to discount treatments throughout the cruise. Keep an eye on Princess Patter for these deals. I will certainly now have a further massage on Princess and at home. Airport on departure: Please note that you have to print your own boarding cards and luggage tags at Copenhagen airport. There are special machines in the entrance area on which to do this and you can choose instructions in English by selecting the correct "country flag". You will need your booking reference. Please check this reference before you leave home as we were given an incorrect booking reference by Princess or our travel agent. We were not the only ones to have this trouble and we had to search for someone to help us. The Princess staff on hand at the airport seemed to only be there to deal with arriving passengers and were no help at all. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Been on Emerald Princess 3 times. My review is not of the ship. There are many one can see. In general. We've extremely enjoyed the ship. Would definitely select the ship again Spent 2days in Cophengan. Stayed at the Isbens ... Read More
Been on Emerald Princess 3 times. My review is not of the ship. There are many one can see. In general. We've extremely enjoyed the ship. Would definitely select the ship again Spent 2days in Cophengan. Stayed at the Isbens Hotel. See review in Trip Advisor. Highly recommend. As others have indicated. This city is expensive. Soft drinks are $5.00; McDonalds meal for two is $25.00. No refills. A good meal for two is around $100.00. So be prepared. Great city to walk. Get good mape at the airport. Exchange monies at local banks in the city. Better rates in city. We used taxis. From airport to Hotel. 261 krones. Then taxi to ship terminal. 181 krones. Taxi from terminal to airport. 281 krones. Taxis take credit cards. Get the CPH card. If you use it 3 times...it more pays for itself. Read the Rick Steves book.....great leads on what to see and save monies Highly recommend having good light weight hooded jacked. Plus umbral.....one fore each person We didn't need any heavy jackets. We took them but, did't use Stockholm.....Get up early to see the trip thru the channel and the numerous islands. See the Vasa ship......Not in port long enough to any shopping. Tours take up most of the time. Recommend seeing the Vasa ship....then tour on your own Helsinki.....took ships tour. Rock Church, Nobel awards building, old market.....All there was in time. Again sort time in port St. Petersburg......We took private tour with Denrus......What others have said about this tour group is true. They are fantastic. They handed us a large packet with maps, DVD, tour out line in detail, etc. The issues of using other then a ships tour have faded. Our group was first off the ship. Only 24 in the group. We saw all what you read in the Complete St. Petersburg tour. It was the cruise highlight. The two days there .... With the small group allowed us to see more then the larger tour group. Smaller bus moved faster from spot to spot. Spend as much as you can for a tour. Best monies spent Buy your stacking dolls on ship. Found the quality and prices better Good buy on vodka. Also fur items.....need to know what you are buying Tallinn....We walk off the ship and tour by ourselves. Easy walk. Best shopping is just off the ship. There must be 50. Vendors there. Better prices ...then you'll find in town. Cash speaker...you can negotiate on items...... Warnemunde....bad weather....we did not get to port Aarhus......Another walking .... Self. Tour. We took a visit to the old village...great time spent. Again look at Rick Steves book for pointers Oslo.....took ships tour to ski jump + Viking ships......this is a must..limited time for any shopping. There was a building outside the ship for buying items and getting back vat taxes on purchases. In all cities people spoke very good English........ Weather can be rain, over cast, and at times in low 60's. We did have some days with sun. Never uused the Ships pool.....no time. Day at sea. Spent resting and enjoyed I could write more.......truly enjoyed Oslo.....took ships tour. Again limited in time...saw the ski jump....wow.....a must...saw the other Viking ships another must as part of the tour. Limited in time to do any shopping. just before end of tour some of the group asked to be let off in town.... Approx. 15 minute back to ship Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Background: My wife and I are in our late 30's, and have no children. We are Americans from California, and we currently live in Germany. We work for the U.S. Department of Defense as Civilians. This is our second cruise. Our first ... Read More
Background: My wife and I are in our late 30's, and have no children. We are Americans from California, and we currently live in Germany. We work for the U.S. Department of Defense as Civilians. This is our second cruise. Our first cruise was an Eastern Mediterranean cruise two years ago with Royal Caribbean on the Splendor of the Seas, and we absolutely loved the ship and the destinations. We chose this cruise because it did not start in Dover, (I have been there before, nothing special about the place), and I did not want to pay for a longer cruise because it did not seem worth the extra money for the boring part. We also liked the fact that the cruise took place after school started, so it would minimize the amount of children on the cruise. Copenhagen: We flew in the night before, which is a nice small airport. There is an ATM immediately on the left once you clear the baggage claim (If you don't know, ATMs give you the best exchange rates, so we always try to get local currency from them). We rode the Metro into town, which was very cheap compared to a taxi. Getting tickets from the ticket machines was difficult, one type only took credit cards with the chip in it, and the other type took only small bills and coins, but we only had big bills from the ATM. So we had to stand in line and buy tickets from the ticket counter. We stayed at the Scandic Hotel; it is a few blocks from Tivoli. It was a nice and clean hotel, but it is a little on the older side, and is due for a refresh. I do not know why, but they upgraded us to a suite, and the suite was very nice. It had a great view, and it was a big room. The breakfast was pretty good, and all things considered, we would stay there again. We ended up walking around the area that night and having a few beers. We had a good time. The next morning, we did some sightseeing, but the weather was not cooperating at all. It kept going from light rain to heavy rain and back. We took a cab from the hotel to the ship, and it cost us 120 Kroners. Bad news: At the dock, we checked our bags with the attendants, and my wife decided to check her small carry-on bag as well to avoid holding it while waiting in the long lines to get onto the ship. When the bags finally arrived, my wife's IPod Nano was gone from her small bag. We immediately reported it to our cabin attendant, and she told us to report it to the passenger services desk. At the passenger services desk, we explained what happened, and he told us that we have to fill out a lost and found report. He went on to say that, we need to check back towards the end of the cruise, and then if it did not turn up, we could fill out a formal report. This did not sit well with me. It was obviously stolen by someone on the baggage crew, and this extra step was stupid and a waste of time. I did not push the issue, and decided to play the game and get on with the cruise. This definitely put me in a very bad mood, and it took a few hours for me to put it behind. Now I knew better about putting valuables into checked bags, but I did not know that my wife did not know this rule, so when she checked her small bag, I did not think to ask her if she had anything valuable in it, I figured her valuables would be in her purse. This turned out to be a learning experience. Not being satisfied with just doing a lost a found claim, we filled out a customer comment form, detailing the whole experience. A couple of days later, we got a call in our room. She asked us to explain what happened, and wanted to know if we checked with the hotel (no, we did not, but it is not like two zippers were undone and it fell out). She then tried to shift blame from Princess to the baggage handlers, saying that they are contractors that do not work for Princess. It does not matter to us who signs the paychecks, our IPod was still stolen, and we blame Princess. Finally, she told us that we had to fill out a formal complaint, so the man at the desk on day one was misinformed or just wanted to get rid of us quicker, since there was a big line that day. So we had to go to the passenger services desk again, to fill out a report, and finally someone said I am sorry that your IPod was stolen. That was something at least. After filling out the report, we had to come back later, yet again, to sign the report after a supervisor did. We have not heard anything since. First Sea day: It was rainy and windy pretty much the whole day and night. My wife did the Ceramics at Sea, and had a good time. She made a box, but they also have mugs, plates, bowls, etc. This was a formal night. We purposely skip those nights, something about wearing a tie on vacation, strikes me wrong. We ended up ordering a pizza, which was very good. They do a great job, and we got pizza several times on the cruise. They do charge you $3 for room service pizza. On the pool deck, they have a pizza and ice cream bar where they serve the same pizza, so you can go there to avoid the $3 charge. Later that night we had some sushi from Vines bar (which is free), along with a bottle of wine (which is not free), both were good. We also played some blackjack that night. Stockholm: The weather was great, sunshine, light breezes and temperatures in the low 70's. The approach into Stockholm was so beautiful, with all the houses on the little islands, it is a cannot miss sight. There is a shuttle bus that takes you to the old town, but you could walk it fairly easily if you chose. However, I strongly recommend taking the Hop on, Hop off water taxi. That is what we did, and it is the best way to see the sights. The old town area is nice, and there are plenty of souvenir type shops if you want the touristy stuff. We then walked around the main shopping district and ended up eating lunch at the international market that they had going on. The Vasa museum was really cool, even my wife, who is not really into history, really liked it. That ship was huge! We could have used more time in Stockholm, what a great city. Helsinki: The weather was overcast with a little bit of rain, temperatures in the mid to low 60's. We took the shuttle into town, but you could walk into town, it is a 30-minute walk. The best thing about Helsinki was the local market; the food there offered different kinds of fish and reindeer dishes. At the market, my wife bought two silver necklaces with some local stone in it for her sisters. After we walked away, we noticed that he only charged us for one. Our consciences got the best of us and we went back. The look on the guy's face was priceless, his mouth was open in astonishment. He kept saying thank-you. So we made a positive impact on the locals, and that made us feel good. The flea market however was a waste of time. The main train station was not worth visiting either. We did not make it to the Rock Church, but others said good things about it. I think that they could have shaved time off the visit to Helsinki and added it to Stockholm. St. Petersburg: We were really looking forward to going to St P, and we were not disappointed. You could easily spend a couple of weeks there trying to see everything. History-wise, it is my second favorite place after Rome. After doing some research, we went with DenRus, and took the two-day tour. We went with DenRus over Princess because they got better reviews, and it was $104 cheaper per person. Heck, that amount of savings could replace our stolen IPod. We were not disappointed with the tour. Our tour guide Anna was very knowledgeable and at times very funny. We ran into some of the Princess tour groups during the two days. The Princess tour guides were young and attractive, and due to their youth, I do not think that they were as knowledgeable and experienced as Anna. I am not saying that the young tour guides did not know what they were talking about, but with Anna, you could listen to her talking about what life was like under Communist rule, and how the city and country has changed over the years based on her first hand experience. Anna has lived in the city for decades, and she could give you little nuggets of information that the young tour guides cannot provide. The two lunches we had were pretty cool, the food was good, and the ambience was lovely. We also really loved the Church of Spilled Blood, and the boat ride. What I did not like about the tour, was that it was kind of rushed. They try to pack so much in, in so little time, but they kind of have to rush it, two days is not enough. Some places we visited were crowded with long waits, but that's not DenRus' fault. Part of the problem was that the ship landed on Monday, and many places are closed on Mondays, so everyone was crammed into the places that were open that day, and then everyone went to the closed places on the other day. We stayed on the bus for the Metro ride, we live in Germany, and so public transportation is somewhat ho-hum for us. What also left a bad taste in our mouth about Princess, in addition to the IPod incident, was their propaganda campaign about disembarking in Russia on day one. Starting three days out before we arrived, Princess put out in their daily newsletter that the Russian government required that people booked on Princess Tours must go first, then people booked on private tours, and then finally people with individual visas could go. Not true at all. I guess that this tactic is done to discourage people from booking tours with anyone else. What they should be doing is offering quality tours at a competitive price. How much money do they need to make anyway, they are making cash hand over fist in so many different ways, this strategy do not make any sense to me. So on the day of arrival, we looked out from our balcony and waited until we saw that they were letting people off. Once people started getting off, we walked over to the mid-ship elevators and took it down to the 4th floor. There was almost no one getting off. They were letting people off on the 4th and 5th floors, and from the front of the ship. We were docked at the new cruise terminal, and there were about 20 immigration lines open for us. We got through in about five minutes. No troubles what so ever. So I am really confused as to why Princess lays down that load of BS. We were parked in the new passenger terminal. Once you clear customs, there are a few shops, ATMs, and a Taxi kiosk. You meet your tour guide inside the terminal. The ship comes in at 6:30, but you also have to keep in mind that that you jump one time zone forward that night, so it is really 5:30 in the morning. I assume that we are there so early, so people can do a daylong tour, and then go to ballet or something else that night. We did not do a night excursion because the tours offered were not our thing. If they had a tour hitting some bars or something along those lines, we would be all in. Or if Russia would let us in without a visa, we would have hit the town. Tallinn: Probably our second favorite stop after St P. It was such a beautiful city. The problem with this stop was that we got in at 7 am and had to be back on the ship at 12:30. At 7 in the morning, nothing is open except souvenir shops. That was very disappointing. It would have been nice to visit the city during the afternoon, and maybe had some time to have lunch. I thought that we could have left St P much later to make this happen. Definitely do not book a tour, the town is so small, and everyone could easily walk back and forth between the ship and the city. The bathroom situation is not good in Tallinn, there are three public toilets, and you need 3 Koon coins to use one. The McDonalds bathroom saved us. Gdynia & Gdansk: The weather was great, with highs in the mid 70s, I wore shorts. The ship docks in Gdynia, but Gdansk is the real destination. We decided on taking the train there, which was a smart idea. We took a taxi to the train station, since we were not 100% on how to get to it. There is a ton of taxis waiting at the docks. Following one of the crewmember's advice, (Do not hesitate to ask crewmembers about the ports, they have firsthand experience) we knew that we should not pay more than $10 for a taxi to the station. The first taxi driver wanted to give us a tour along with ride to the station, but as soon as I turned him down, a second taxi driver took 30 Zlotys, which is $10 for the ride. At the train station there is a row a cashiers to buy tickets from when you first walk in, but they are the wrong ones. To the left of those, right around the corner, is the correct cashier. It costs 4.50 Zlotys one-way, so it was 18 Zlotys for two round-trip tickets, cheaper than the taxi ride. We met an older Vietnamese couple from Texas from our ship at the station and we helped them out getting tickets and getting to the train. Ironically enough, they walked from the ship to the station. You have to get your ticket validated on the platform, there are yellow machines on the platform that you stick your ticket into and it get time-stamped. We were on the train when we found out about the validation. We asked a local young and beautiful university student about the process, and not only did she tell us about the validation, since the train had already left, she offered to run off the train at the next stop and validate our tickets for us. What a nice girl to help out some tourists. Gdansk is a very beautiful city, with lots to see and do, they have a lot of amber shops there as well. We were going to stop at Sopot on the way back, Sopot is halfway between the two towns, and it is supposed to be a nice beach resort type community. However, we spent our whole day in Gdansk. When we got back to Gdynia, we decided to walk back to the ship. On the way, we found local market with lots of different booths, mostly selling clothes, but we were too tired to check it out. Oslo: The weather was cool and overcast. The ship docks right in town. We have been to Oslo before, and here is a warning for you. This city is incredibly expensive, way more than the other stops. We left the ship late and only walked around for a couple of hours and then went back to the ship for lunch. On our previous trip, we took a water taxi to the Viking ship museum, which is interesting, but not as good as the Vasa museum in Stockholm. About being on the Ship: The regular coffee in the restaurants is horrible. My wife could not stand it, and even though, I can usually handle bad coffee, it was pretty bad even by my low standards. The premium coffee at the international cafe was great. Buy a coffee card there; it is a good deal compared to single coffee price. If you need good coffee, buy the card. Alcohol policy. Let me tell you that there are no cheap drinks on the ship. They automatically add a 15% service charge, and when you sign for the drinks, they have a tip line. We did not like this approach, they are automatically getting a 15% tip, and they seem to be trying to shame/trick you into tipping more. We drink a lot when we go out at night, so to minimize an even more massive bill at the end of the cruise; we snuck a liter of Bacardi in two Listerine bottles in our checked bags. I guess that they were too busy stealing our IPod to notice. On the two sea days, we ordered a bucket of cokes from room service and pre-drinked in our room before going out those nights. Anytime dining. We liked this option. They will ask you if you want to share a table, if you do not want too they will give you a pager to let you know when your table for two is ready. We never waited more than 15 minutes for a table. The later in the evening you eat, the less you have to wait, and sometimes not at all. Beer selection. Not good, unless you like American domestic beers. The only beer they have on tap is Stella, which is what we mostly drank. Adagio bar. A great place to relax and have a drink either before after dinner. The Tiramisu martini is delicious! This bar is never crowded, has piano playing, and they serve these stuffed olives that I was addicted to. Try the ones with blue cheese. Wheelhouse bar. On sea days, they serve a British lunch, which is free. The room. We had a balcony room, and doing research is important. We were on the Baja deck 11. Starting out on the level below us, each balcony sticks out higher than the floor above it. So we can completely see anyone in the balconies below us. No privacy whatsoever and no shelter from the rain. So only book on decks 11 and up. Princess vs. Royal Caribbean: Royal Caribbean had better food in both the dining room and in the buffet, hands down. We liked the service on Royal Caribbean better as well. Service is good on Princess, do not get me wrong, but it just was not as good. We will probably cruise with Princess again. However, before the cruise I wanted to book a western Caribbean cruise while on this cruise because I heard that that is the best way to get a deal. But after the IPod incident, and their disinformation campaign about disembarking at St P, it made me delay my decision. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
ARRIVAL-My husband and I flew from Phoenix, and our travel agent advised us to arrive a day before in Copenhagen. We stayed at the Clarion Mayfair, which included dinner and breakfast, for under $200. We used city transportation in the ... Read More
ARRIVAL-My husband and I flew from Phoenix, and our travel agent advised us to arrive a day before in Copenhagen. We stayed at the Clarion Mayfair, which included dinner and breakfast, for under $200. We used city transportation in the rain, so we got a jump start on immersing into another culture. EMBARKATION-Princess advised to arrive at 2 p.m. for a shorter line, but everyone seemed to do that. Never mind, we were too psyched. Stepping onto the ship, the first person to greet us was the 'Coke card' girl, an omen of what was to come throughout the cruise, which we came to boycott and ignore. Everyone showed up at the buffet for lunch, another hint of vacationing with a group of 3,000 of your fellow man. ROOM-We booked in January during the economy crisis so got upgraded to the top deck. Even with temps in the 50's, a balcony was worth it for views and spaciousness. Room and staff were luxurious. FOOD-We went to both formal nights, preceded with photos. It bugged us to see the photographers in the dining room, shooting groups of 24 while we tried to eat a romantic meal. We don't drink alcohol and expect to be ignored for this. Cafe Caribe and Horizon Court buffets on either side of the ship we busy but efficient. We tried many new dishes, but by the end, much of the food looked the same. Chilly, damp weather kept the pool area vacant, and few used the burgers/dogs or pizza restaurants. SERVICE-Staff is from around the world, and while busy always answered questions about their countries and job experiences. I hope Princess consistently gets its highest marks from passengers about their staff; they are their best attribute. ENTERTAINMENT-Just like Branson, Missouri: kareoke, acrobats, amateur singing, staff skits. Not our cup of tea--but afternoon tea was. Lisa and 'Hollywood' reminded me of what the Akron, Ohio morning show would be like. SPA-We didn't use; no time, and the mani/pedi sale price was $79; not a sale to me. ACTIVITES-Again, little time, and the balcony was our investment in relaxation and downtime. PORTS-Our favorites, in order: 1-Helsinki, a surprise of overcast skies with exuberant color handicrafts and flowers. 2-Tallinn, medieval charm. 3-St. Petersburg, a first-hand look at why there was a revolution [haves and have-nots]; forget the art in the Hermitage, the ceilings, chandeliers, inlaid flooring, furniture, gilded doors and painted walls were the world's best. 4-Stockholm, cobblestoned islands with bridges over dark blue water against a forest. National flags everywhere. 5-Oslo, the park was a sanctuary on the last day after a crowded ship and many ports with multiple ships and daytrippers. 6-Gdansk, because the travel from the ship to the city was stop-go, and the passengers on our Princess excursion (only one we took) were insensitve to the tour guide's pride of his country. RUSSIA-Lots of warnings in the Princess Patter, but the disemarkation went smoothly. We used DenRus for two days plus the Russian ballet. Our guide offered graduate-degree level explanations. She did say that companies pay more to get early time slots in popular places--that while we were in an hour-long line. DenRus is keenly aware of what their clients want--boat ride on Neva, Metro ride, city and country, history, borscht and stroganoff for lunch. High point of the trip. SHOPS-John Lawrence, fine with area narratives, advised cruisers not to buy on land but instead on onboard for amber and babuska dolls. Phooey. Don't buy until the last 'at sea' day when merchandise will be discounted. VALUE-I remember when 'fine' dining and nonalcoholic drinks were free; it feels chintzy now and is the most influential negative for my husband and me taking a Princess cruise again. I couldn't even get club soda. Iced tea came in a juice glass. OVERALL IMPRESSION-The vacation means different things to different people: casino? shopping? bar hopping? dancing? napping? You could take your pick. This particular cruise is port-intensive, a rich mix of languages, currencies, foods, and history. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
As a disabled person this was the most challenging cruise that I have ever been on, both on the ship and on the shore excursions. To get around the ship I use a small (fold up) electric scooter and on shore excursions I use a wheelchair. ... Read More
As a disabled person this was the most challenging cruise that I have ever been on, both on the ship and on the shore excursions. To get around the ship I use a small (fold up) electric scooter and on shore excursions I use a wheelchair. Our next-door neighbors and good friends, Dan and Ellen were on the cruise with us, which was great for my wife (she did not have to push me around all the time). On The Ship Positives for Mobility The best part of the cruise was our accessible outside stateroom (with blocked view). It had plenty of room for me to move around on my scooter and the bathroom was equally roomy and well laid out (good job Princess). Also the public accessible restrooms were roomy and well laid out. The doorways to the outdoors areas were wide and usually automatic with low thresholds. Negatives for Mobility The hallways in the stateroom areas were wide enough for a scooter or wheelchair but were usually blocked by numerous carts used by the room attendants. This meant that I had to go up or down to one of the public decks to move fore and aft on the ship. But the ship had a "chopped up" layout. To get down to the Botticelli dining room I could only use the aft elevators The elevators were small and with 3100 people on board usually crowded. The stairways were directly across from the elevator doors and a crewmember told me of an incident where a guest, on a scooter, backed out of an elevator and down the stairs. There were crowds of people everywhere. The Horizon Court cafeteria was always jammed packed with hungry cruisers. None of the outside decks went all around the ship and on the top outside deck, one has to thread his way around numerous barriers to move fore and aft. Food We had our dinners in the Botticelli dining room where the food was OK. The wait staff was very good and attentive. One night we ate in the Crown Grill (surcharge) were the food was good and plentiful and the wait staff very good. For breakfasts and lunches we ate at the very crowded Horizon Grill with its confusing food pods and limited food selection. In all of the dining areas the free coffee supplied was terrible (it tasted like instant). To get good coffee you had to go to the International Cafe. There you could buy a "Coffee Card", $25 for 15 cups of specialty coffee. If you had a coffee card you could get a cup of regular coffee (usually $1.00) for free. Some of the sandwiches and pastries were free, some were extra charge. You could order a free basket of fresh fruit for you stateroom. Entertainment The four production shows by the Princess Singers and Dancers were high-energy song and dance acts of good quality presented in the Princess Theater. This theater is set up with rows of seats like a movie theater. The space adjacent to the end seats of the lower floor is reserved for the disabled to park. Even though you are parked on the side the visibility is good. The other variety acts vary in quality according to your taste. There is entertainment at many other venues, which we did not sample. General The hotel staff did a very good job of keeping our stateroom clean and neat and the temperature control for the room worked well. But the public areas had a cramped feeling. Many of the shops had their wares in the aisles, which added to the congestion. Overall the ship had the feel of a Middle East bazaar with everything on sale. Princess Port Tours In general, you had to be able to climb up into and descend from the big tour busses Princess uses for its tours. The busses all had room to stow my wheelchair. After informing the tour desk of my disability we found that they reserved two front seats for my wife and myself (very helpful). I always got help on the gangways when entering or exiting the ship Stockholm - We visited the Vasa Museum, which is very accessible. Fascinating old ship but so dark inside the museum that my old eyes had trouble seeing it. Later went to the Royal Palace were we watched the King and his family leave the Palace for Parliament where he made the opening speech. Then watched the changing of the Guard but did not see much of the adjacent Old Town due to the hills and cobblestone. A wheelchair ride on cobblestones is ROUGH. Helsinki - We took a tour, which took us through the city out to the old village of Purvo (cobblestones) and then on to horse farm in the countryside. There we had a country lunch with home made beer. There were three steps to get in the back door. Then on to the Rock Church in Helsinki, which is accessible, St. Petersburg - 2 Days with lots to see. Day 1 we toured the Peter and Paul Fortress in the morning. Lots of cobblestones but our neighbor Dan pushed me all over the fort grounds. We had lunch with Russian entertainment at an accessible (elevator) restaurant. After lunch we went to the Hermitage. To get in, Dan and volunteers from our tour group carried me (in my wheelchair) up about 10 stairs at the entrance. Once inside there were elevators and accessible restrooms. Part of the Hermitage was the private museum of Czarina Catherine the Great. WOW Day 2 we toured Catherine's Palace in the morning. Not the least accessible. The palace is opulent. Again Dan and the tour volunteers carried me (in my wheelchair) up and down many stairs. Lunch with entertainment on the Palace grounds. We had an afternoon tour of the Grand Palace and Gardens (built for Peter the Great) at Peterhof located outside St. Petersburg. Not the least accessible. It is another opulent palace with beautiful gardens and many fountains. Again Dan and the tour volunteers carried me (in my wheelchair) up and down the stairs. Tallinn I did not get off the ship. To get to the Old Town (the only attraction) you have to go uphill on cobblestones. Not worth the effort. This also gave Dan a chance to recover from St. Petersburg. Gdynia and Gdansk Very challenging port stop. My wife and I and our neighbors were booked on a tour of Gdansk. Just when I rolled up to the amidships elevators (the only ones that would take me down to the accessible exit gangway) the elevators were turned OFF (terrible scheduling) because the ship was having a crew safety drill. I was stuck. We called the tour staff; Our friends were on the bus looking for us. Dan even came back on the ship to try to find us, but could not. The tour bus left without us. After listening to many lame excuses from the tour director we were give a complementary shorter tour of the Old Town of Gdansk. The Old Town is a totally new reconstruction, but very faithful to how it looked before WW II. A lot of cobblestones and all the stores and restaurants had stairs at the entrance. Oslo We took a tour of three ship museums, all were accessible. The first had two well-preserved Viking ships. One was a Queen's burial ship and contained many artifacts which were on display. The second displayed the Kon Tiki raft that sailed across the Pacific. The third displayed the Fram, which was used by early Artic explorers. Conclusion - Accessibility is good in Oslo and Stockholm, very poor in the other cities. I was extremely fortunate to have Dan on the cruise and many thanks to him and the volunteers who carried me up and down the stairs. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
We traveled as a group of 4 in our early 30s. For my husband and myself, it was our 4th cruise (2 Carnival, 1 RCI). All of us have been to Europe several times for land-based vacays. I know I'm terribly late in posting this, but I ... Read More
We traveled as a group of 4 in our early 30s. For my husband and myself, it was our 4th cruise (2 Carnival, 1 RCI). All of us have been to Europe several times for land-based vacays. I know I'm terribly late in posting this, but I figure that people are probably right now planning their Baltic cruises for this summer so it might still be useful. If you're just considering booking this cruise, DO IT! It's great. The ship: The ship is nice. Well maintained and all that. Less gaudy than a Carnival ship but laid out similarly, which we like (except for the decks that you can't pass all the way through on, but it's not that big of a deal). The cabin: It was fine. The shower was much bigger than we'd seen on other ships. The food: It was really good! We didn't even go to any of the specialty restaurants because we were so pleased with the options in the dining room. This was especially delightful after having bad food on RCI's Splendour of the Seas in 2008. It was like an improved version of Carnival's food, which we'd liked. The service: Like the food, this was a bit better than what we'd seen on Carnival (which we really liked) and far superior to what we experienced on RCI. Everyone was cheerful and very attentive. The entertainment: The comedians were great! We were really impressed. We didn't especially enjoy the shows, but we've never been impressed with that sort of entertainment on a ship. The partying: Oh boy, if you like dancing, bring your dancing shoes! There was dancing in at least a couple of venues every night. Take ballroom lessons if you want to take full advantage of this. It was super fun. The casino: Our guys seemed to like it. Other passengers: We met a lot of super nice ones. I'd say the average age was probably upper 50s/lower 60s, and there were only a couple of kids on board. Although we were 4 of very few 30-somethings on board, we had a blast with the other passengers. We did get a bit irritated with groups who don't understand lines, but that's obviously a cultural thing and really no big deal if you go in knowing that it's a possibility. If that sort of thing really bothers you, I'd recommend avoiding European cruises altogether. I'll briefly review the ports below, but check out my blog - feistync.wordpress.com - for pictures and the specifics of what we did. Based on this cruise, we *definitely* plan to cruise with Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
This was my 10th cruise on Princess. We had a group of 11 seniors sailing. All of us arrived a day early in CPH and stayed at the Marriott which we had booked on Priceline for about $110/night w/o breakfast. Hotel is very nice and well ... Read More
This was my 10th cruise on Princess. We had a group of 11 seniors sailing. All of us arrived a day early in CPH and stayed at the Marriott which we had booked on Priceline for about $110/night w/o breakfast. Hotel is very nice and well located, but would rather have been in a less commercial area. The positive thing is that is a short walk from train station. ARRIVAL- Flew into CPH and following direction obtained here on the board, took the train into the central station. People were very helpful making sure we got on the right train and off at the right stop. Walked to the hotel. Not a long walk, but pulling our bags over cobblestones was not fun! EMMBARKATION- It was raining! Arrived about 12:45 pm and Princess had a covered walkway, but you still got really wet waiting for clearance at the security check point. This was too bad, since they had a huge room just sitting empty. Would have thought that they could have gotten us into the room and then ran us through security and on to check-in. Once in the building everything went smoothly. Got on the ship and headed up for lunch at the Horizon. ROOM- We had an inside room and it was fine. They have reconfigured the rooms since the building of the Grand Princess and the new design is more efficient. Room steward was fine-- did his job, almost never saw him. SHIP- It is BIG! Most of the ship is really nice, The International Cafe and Wheelhouse Bar are nice additions. The central area of the ship is a gathering place with food and entertainment. Very nice. Public rooms are all well done. Library could be open longer hours. Had arranged to use of the specialty restaurants for playing cards and that worked out well. The only problem we saw with the ship was since it was a sailing to a cold weather climate, not many people used the deck space, so the ship felt really crowded at times. Especially in the Horizon Buffet. Felt the Grand Princess was less crowded and more comfortable, but we were in the Med and there were a lot of people on deck. FOOD- Was very good. Loved the new Cafe International and the addition of the fixed right side of the dinning room menu. They have placed many traditional dishes on the right side of the dinner menu and it never changes, so you can always find something to eat. Buffet was generally good. Pizza very good and Hot dogs and hamburgers were great. You will not want for food. Did not eat in any of the extra charge restaurants. ENTERTAINMNT- Good to very good. Better than the Grand Princess. Singers and dancers were very good and headline acts good. They run a repeat of many shows so you have a second chance if you miss them the first night. SERVICE- Best waiter I have ever had on any cruise. Purser's office improved over the Grand Princess. Generally a very good and friendly staff. Especially good in the Horizon. NEGATIVES- Ship was a bit crowded at 100% occupancy. Photo people not up to standard. Once dinning room captain was just overwhelmed with his job. The fright job that they continue for getting off in St Petersburg is inexcusable. We just walked off. No problem. HINTS- Book your tour in St Petersburg with Anastasia Travel Company. We had a great two day tour with 13 people with lunch one day for a little over $200 pp. Almost $200 pp less than the ship. We saw everything and they were very easy to work with. www.anastasiaworld.com Hotels in CPH are expensive, try Priceline. Don't try to eat breakfast in the Horizon on the days in Russia-- just too many people in too small a space. John Lawrence's DVD has a lot of great information on it, but he is very boring on his DVD, much better on the ship. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
My husband and I arrived in Copenhagen the day before we were to embark on the cruise. At the airport we simply got on the local train (luggage and all) and took this mode of transportation into town. It was only 3 stops and we were at the ... Read More
My husband and I arrived in Copenhagen the day before we were to embark on the cruise. At the airport we simply got on the local train (luggage and all) and took this mode of transportation into town. It was only 3 stops and we were at the Central Station which was right across the street from Tivoli Gardens. The cost was approx. $8.00 per person which certainly beat the price of a taxi. At the Central Station we went to the information booth and were informed that our hotel (Marriott) was only two blocks away. It was an easy walk and we checked in and proceeded to the bar for a much anticipated beer. The beer was quite pricey so after we finished one we walked a couple of blocks and found a local convenience store where we purchased a cold six pack to have in the room. By the way, the bottled water in the room when the conversion was done worked out to $9.00 a bottle - ouch!! Needless to say, we didn't open it. Later in the day we were joined by friends who arrived from Vancouver and the next day the four of us took the local bus for some sightseeing and then we took a river cruise. The weather was a little iffy in Copenhagen (downpours coupled with overcast skies) but it was still enjoyable. After this we took a taxi to the cruise terminal. Embarkation was painless and the luggage arrived quite promptly at out cabin. Now I will tell you why we are upset with Princess.... Prior to leaving Vancouver we had called Princess and explained that we were planning on using a private tour company when we were in St Petersburg. They were ADAMANT that if we did not use their tour that we were not getting off the ship without a visa. This resulted in several back and forth emails to the tour company (Alla Tours) who assured us that this was a ploy by Princess and to please not believe them. The truth of the matter is that as long as the tour company is licensed in St. Petersburg there is no problem. It was very stressful to us and to the other couple that we were travelling with and we finally all decided just to trust Alla. I will talk more about this when we get to the St. Petersburg portion of my review. Our first port of call was Stockholm - wonderful city! We woke up early to watch the ship sail through all the islands (Stockholm is surrounded by 25,000 islands). It was a cool morning but that is to be expected at this time of year. Once the ship docked and we were allowed ashore we caught the local hop on hop off water taxi which took us to the Vassar Museum - this is well worth a look as it is really interesting. We next caught the water taxi and proceeded into the city where we walked across the bridge into the old town. We purchased tickets and viewed the Royal Palace which was okay but after talking to other people the Town Hall sounded like the better place to see. After the palace we proceed to wander the street of old town (enchanting place) and then we caught the water taxi back to the ship. A little bit about the ship....we have done 3 cruises with Royal Caribbean in the past and in our opinion they are far better than Princess. We really didn't like the layout of the Emerald Princess which we found too "chopped up" for our liking. We much prefer Royal Caribbean's central atrium. We did not eat at any of the buffet's as we much prefer open dining room seating where you get to meet other people and get their views on the various ports of call. The food on the ship was just ok. We ate once at the Crown Grill and once at Sabatini's (the restaurants where you pay a surcharge) and although the decor was lovely the food was good but not great. I really think that Princess should concentrate on giving much smaller portions but make it food with a wow factor. On the positive side our room steward was absolutely wonderful! Our next port of call was Helsinki - could have been a great place but we arrived on Sunday and all of the stores were closed. Took the shuttle into town and then walked to the train station which was one of the places that John Lawrence said was worth a look - don't waste your time (nothing of interest to see). We then walked to the famous Rock Church which was surrounded by cruise ship tour buses. It was worth a visit. We then walked through town and found a lovely market by the quay. It was delightful and we made a few purchases there. We did not get to the flea market as everyone we spoke to said that it was not worth going to as it was primarily second hand clothing. The next morning was what we were all waiting for - St Petersburg! The Princess Patter had every day mentioned that the Princess Tour people were supposed to go ashore first (by order of the port authorities) and then the independent tour people. The ship was cleared at 7:00 a.m. and shortly after we proceeded to leave the ship and no one gave us a hard time - it was actually very easy as long as you don't listen to the Princess propaganda. Once through immigration we met our tour guide (there were four of us, the guide and a driver). It was a wonderful two days and we saw everything that we hoped to (Peterhof, Peter & Paul Fortress, Hermitage, Usopoff Palace, Church on the Spilled Blood, St Isaac's Cathedral, etc). One of the highlights was the guide remembered that I had wanted to see the subway stations as I have always heard that they are like works of art. She had the driver stop at a station where the five of us got out and she purchased tickets. After going down a very long escalator, we were in the subway and it was amazing!! Crystal chandeliers, crystal columns, just stunningly beautiful! We rode the subway for 3 stops and when we surfaced our driver was sitting there waiting for us. We used Alla Tours and I highly recommend them. One really nice thing is that we never waited in any lines - our guide took us right to the front and we got in immediately with no problems (oh yes, the entrance fees to the various places was included in the tour cost). The cost of using a private company is almost the same as doing a Princess Tour only you see so much more! On the second day our guide took us to a restaurant for lunch which was absolutely beautiful! We really couldn't have been happier with our tour of St Petersburg and the wonderful service that Alla provided. The next stop was Tallinn which seemed to be every one's favorite. You can walk into town but the ship gets in early and the shops don't open until 10:00 a.m. (you have to be back on the ship by 12:30). Fortunately for us the open air market was in full swing (last day of the season) and it was really enjoyable - great shopping - lovely linens. After that it was on to Glydia (Gdansk). Once the ship cleared we walked to the local bus stop and caught a bus with other like minded ship people to the local train station. We caught a train to Gdansk (approx 40 minutes). We found the main shopping area (through the arches that John Lawrence talks about) which was nice but primarily filled with amber shops. I did buy my first piece of amber jewellery there from a reputable dealer (c/w Certificate of Authenticity). Took the train back to Glydia and took a taxi from there back to the ship. Paid $16 for the taxi ride and I have since read in other reviews that it should have been $10. Our last port of call was Oslo - very lovely, very expensive. We took the local tram to the gardens (name escapes me - one that John Lawrence talks about with the sculptures). After that we took the tram back into town and wandered the local shops. It is very easy to get around Oslo and you can walk it with no problems. All in all we loved the ports - wished we would have had more time in some of them but saw enough to entice us to return one day. We never did any Princess tours as they seemed very expensive and we prefer to see things on our own. We did use the Princess buses to get to the airport though, although I heard afterwards we would have saved around $30.00 if we would have simply taken a cab. Oh well. All in all it was a very enjoyable holiday except for the grief that Princess gave us over using the private tour company. A lot of passengers used private tour companies (Denrus seemed popular)and much of the evening dinner conversation centered on the fact that the consensus was that most people were thoroughly ticked with Princess over their attitude and vowed that they would not use Princess again because of it. I have to say that we concur. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
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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