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13 Copenhagen to Baltic Sea Princess Emerald Princess Cruise Reviews

My wife and I went on the Baltic Cruise with Princess in July 2015. I had mixed feelings about it. We had previously gone on the Alaska cruise with Princess and it was wonderful. The Baltic Cruise was a good way to get a sampling of ... Read More
My wife and I went on the Baltic Cruise with Princess in July 2015. I had mixed feelings about it. We had previously gone on the Alaska cruise with Princess and it was wonderful. The Baltic Cruise was a good way to get a sampling of Scandinavian countries. The stateroom was comfortable, the staff was very helpful and the food, although a bit institutional, was good. Princess also added some live shows with audience participation which were fun. That said, I do have some constructive comments for Princess (which I sent to Princess and never received a response) and advice for possible passengers. First, unlike the Alaska cruise, there was no one in the food courts ensuring that passengers washed or used antiseptic on their hands before eating. On the Alaska cruise that was really reassuring. On the Baltic cruise, no one was there to remind people and I noticed about half of the passengers did not clean their hands. I think this is a real health risk. Second, we had an unfortunate experience in Stockholm. Because the ship was so large, passengers had to take buses hired by Princess to get in. We were assured that the leaders on the buses would make sure we got back in time before sailing. We were expressly told on our bus that the last bus back to the ship would leave at 5:15. When we arrived at the pick-up spot, there were eight other passengers from different buses who also understood that. I had actually checked with our bus leader and she showed me that the last bus was at 5:15 on her list. When no bus arrived by 5:30, I called the local Princess agent and was told that the last bus had been at 4:30. When I explained that was not what the 10 passengers were told, we were told we would have to pay for a taxi. Luckily, Princess then called us back and said it had ordered and would pay for the taxis, which it did. When the taxis finally arrived and took us to the ship, we were told that the captain was mad at us because we had delayed sailing. I explained to the excursion director that we were angry because we had been misinformed about the last bus. While all of this worked out and I appreciated Princess paying for the taxis, we never got an apology from Princess. Good customer relations would have at least led to an email or a note in our cabin that Princess was sorry for the confusion. Third, and while this is a personal preference, I thought the stops in Estonia and Germany were really unnecessary. I understand the stop in Germany was to let people take trains to Berlin, but that meant we were stuck in Kiel for almost 15 hours because we did not want to go to Berlin. In addition, Estonia was a bit disappointing as it seemed very touristy. In contrast, Helsinki and Stockholm were really interesting but we only had about half a day in each city. I would suggest letting people get to Berlin before the cruise, deleting the Germany and Estonia stops and staying two days in Stockholm and Helsinki. Finally, I want to thank the fitness staff. The equipment was really state of the art and the yoga classes were excellent. I would have liked to have more yoga classes - there were only two classes for the whole cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
The ports of call were Tallin (Estonia), St. Petersburg (Russia), Helsinki (Finland), Oslo (Norway), Stockholm (Sweden), Copenhagen (Denmark), Arhuus (Denmark). Most people choose to embark in Copenhagen but Princess allows passengers to ... Read More
The ports of call were Tallin (Estonia), St. Petersburg (Russia), Helsinki (Finland), Oslo (Norway), Stockholm (Sweden), Copenhagen (Denmark), Arhuus (Denmark). Most people choose to embark in Copenhagen but Princess allows passengers to embark in Warnemunde, which is the port for Berlin. Berlin is about 3 hours by train to Warnemunde. We bought our train tickets online at www. bahn.de and caught our train at Berlin bahnof, the largest train station in Europe. We had to change trains in Rostock but had no trouble with the very efficient train system in Germany. We only booked the excursion with Princess for St. Petersburg. Every other port is very easy to see independently. Make sure to go to the port lectures on the ship as John Laurence is very helpful. The food on Princess has declined and we have noticed that the entertainment is not so great either.The ship was fine; nothing special.We really enjoyed all the ports of call except that we don't think Princess should stop in Arhuus, Denmark, as there is not much to see there. Instead, Princess should stop overnight in Stockholm, as we were only there until 1:30 p.m. and there was a lot to see so this was very disappointing. We spent a few days in Berlin and there is a lot to see and do. There are 5 museums on Museum Island and a lot of history with respect to WW2 and the Cold War in other museums. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
As others have said, we took this cruise for the itinerary. Since it was our first cruise, we did not know what to expect. I booked our extra nights before & after the cruise in Copenhagen through the Radisson's website. This cost ... Read More
As others have said, we took this cruise for the itinerary. Since it was our first cruise, we did not know what to expect. I booked our extra nights before & after the cruise in Copenhagen through the Radisson's website. This cost half of what Princess would have charged so I don't know why anyone would book through them. We took a taxi from the airport to the hotel. Princess was going to charge us $120 to get to the hotel and we paid $40 on our own. There was a Princess table set up in the lobby & the woman told us to wait until 3 or 4 in the afternoon to board the ship after all the groups had checked in. it was great advice & we breezed through. The ship itself was grand. It was everything I expected. it was huge, well organized & super clean. Our mini suite with balcony worked great for the 4 of us. It was well thought out. I never felt cramped. There was plenty of storage so we were able to unpack everything. The bathroom was a good size - bigger than expected. We saw maintenance people working all the time. I had always heard people rave about cruise ship food so I was coming in with high expectations. I know cooking for thousands cannot be easy but really - can't they cut the rind off the pineapple before serving it? It took a lot of sawing to get it off with that butter knife. We ate mainly in the Horizon Court because it was convenient. We spent the extra $25 per person for dinner at Sabatini's & really should have saved our money. It was heavy on atmosphere & short on food. The menu was very limited with the pasta course being "chef's choice" which means zero passenger choice. I felt nickeled & dimed with the food. I wanted a Diet Coke one day & was asked for my room number so they could charge me so I skipped it. I had hot tea at no charge in the Horizon Court, dining rooms and through room service. I was surprised when I ordered tea at the European style cafe in the Atrium & they wanted to charge me! Ice cream was available at no charge near the pizza counter but if you wanted the "special" ice cream at the cafe, there was a charge. That said, the food was adequate & nobody starved. We loved the $3 flat fee for room service. The staff are very friendly & well trained. I found getting on & off the ship surprisingly easy. The only port I did not like was Aarhus. I cannot figure out why the ship stops there. I would rather have had another day in Stockholm. the ship docks in an industrial area with lots of commercial traffic so passengers are not allowed to walk off the ship into town. We had to wait for a bus to take us a mile into town. Plus it was pouring rain & we went back to the ship. St Petersburg was the highlight of the trip. We booked a private tour through SPb tours & it was fabulous. Because we were a small group, the tour guide was able to get us to the front of every line. it was expensive & worth every penny. It was hot when we went to Peterhof & my kids loved running through the fountains. I had read that we might have to wait to get off the ship because we were not on a Princess shore excursion but that was not the case at all. My 9 year old went to the kids club one afternoon when we were at sea. My 14 year old did not go at all. I know Princess is not really geared towards kids but Disney Pictionary for 13-17 year olds?? They were so tired from sightseeing that we watched movies or swam in our free time. Princess really pushes on-board shopping & art auctions. I think having shops on board with nice souvenirs is great but please don't clutter up the hallways with tables of stuff. And don't tell me not to buy souvenirs in Russia, that I should buy them on board. I wanted to buy a book or magazine but the selection was almost non-existent. The onboard travel guru was great until they started broadcasting his lectures over the PA system. The entertainment was pretty hokey although we enjoyed the crew talent show - they were very genuine. Overall, the trip went smoothly & we have great memories. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
I am sailed 7 times in 10 years. I have sailed with Celebrity (a long time ago) and Royal (about 7 years ago). All other cruises have been with Princess. I always thought that Princess was a bit better in every way. While I do not know ... Read More
I am sailed 7 times in 10 years. I have sailed with Celebrity (a long time ago) and Royal (about 7 years ago). All other cruises have been with Princess. I always thought that Princess was a bit better in every way. While I do not know if other lines have improved or declined, I can say that Princess is declining. It seems like they are trying to save money and hoping we do not notice. Well, guess what-I do. Let me start with the food- Mass produced food is difficult to stand out- I get it. I usually found something very good at every meals and often many things very good. This last cruise it was harder to find. There were still some very good choices at times, just not as many. This ship itself, is still fine, although there are not enough activities to suit my taste. The rooms are adequate. The friendly nature of the staff is still outstanding. The entertainment however, on my cruise, was awful-and I am being kind here. The only worthwhile entertainment in 11 days was a cover band for the Beatles-who was great by comparison. A 35 minute set left us wanting more. The cruise director and his 2 female helpers were nice people who should be in a different line of work. There- I was kind. The ports were very good and seeing 7 countries in 11 days is just great. There was a ventriloquist who was sooooooo baaaaaaaaaaad. Look him up online and he writes his own reviews and blocks you tube comments. It seemed like the Carnival Company was trying to recoup some lost money from their mishaps. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We picked the Emerald Princess primarily for the excellent Baltic itinerary. The ship itself is very similar to two other Princess ships we were on (the Sapphire and Star) and, like the others, a very attractive ship with good use made of ... Read More
We picked the Emerald Princess primarily for the excellent Baltic itinerary. The ship itself is very similar to two other Princess ships we were on (the Sapphire and Star) and, like the others, a very attractive ship with good use made of the cabin space. Service has suffered as it seems they've cut back on dining staff, but overall was still reasonable and the food still some of the best we've had on cruise ships. One exception is the pathetic coffee they serve; good, fresh brewed, coffee is available for purchase and available for free with a "coffee card" that is also good for 15 specialty coffees (e.g. lattes or espressos). Cards purchased on previous voyages are still good for specialty coffees but can no longer be used for unlimited fresh brewed coffee (or specialty teas) except for the voyage during which the card was bought. This is part of Princess's apparent latest policy of cutting back everywhere and being in the forefront of nickel-and-diming you at every turn. They don't, however, pressure you for sales, so the upside is it lowers the cruise cost for those, like us, who spend our money elsewhere. Speaking of Princess cutting back, we recently learned that effective 8/1/12 Carnival (the owner of Princess Lines) will not allow travel agents to give any cash or equivalent credits and will limit booking incentives to a $ 25 pp non-cash item. This seems very consumer-unfriendly and I think (and hope!) it comes back to hurt them. One other area Princess could usefully address is their Coupon book. For ourselves, and every one of the other passengers we spoke with, there is nothing of value here. For those who do Anytime Dining, it can be difficult to get a table during prime dining times (say 6:30 to 8). A good idea would be to speak with the Maitre d' your first day on the ship, give him a $20 or so tip in advance saying, "I know you'll be very helpful if we need anything this cruise." For different reasons we got to know our Maitre d' and we never had to wait for a table and always had top-notch service. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
My wife and I, both in our early 60's, decided on the Baltic as our first cruise with Princess. Our only other cruise was with Royal Caribbean in the Med 2 years ago. We are not 'party people' so were looking for comfort, ... Read More
My wife and I, both in our early 60's, decided on the Baltic as our first cruise with Princess. Our only other cruise was with Royal Caribbean in the Med 2 years ago. We are not 'party people' so were looking for comfort, good food,good excursions and entertainment rather than bars, casinos, bingo or dancing. My sister in law has for years travelled with Princess and told us how good she thought they were.We decided to try them to compare with Royal Caribbean. We decided to try an inside cabin rather than a balcony just to see if we could cope with it. We had no problems and would go inside again. We went 'anytime dining' for dinner and thought that the food and service was excellent. Breakfast and lunch were taken in the self service Horizon area and again excellent food but a crowded at peak times. Entertainment quality was good but most of the evening shows were very short at 30-35mins long and this was my only complaint about the cruise. We were told by the Cruise Director that the time had been cut to fit 3 rather than 2 performances in per evening. I was not impressed!One thing I have to praise was SPb tours. We did tours with this company in Berlin,Tallin, St. Petersburg, Helsinki & Stockholm rather than with Princess, and our choice was based mainly on price and comments we read here on Cruise Critic. There were no problems even in St Petersburg! Your ticket was your visa and the guides were excellent. Think twice before paying the prices that Princess charge when this company is available. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
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
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
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
Emerald Princess - muse on the cruise!!! Good things! 1. Bedroom and balcony excellent (but expensive!) 2. Food superb. Service bad on first night, then very good after. 3. Boarding OK as was organisation of trips out. Variable busses!!! ... Read More
Emerald Princess - muse on the cruise!!! Good things! 1. Bedroom and balcony excellent (but expensive!) 2. Food superb. Service bad on first night, then very good after. 3. Boarding OK as was organisation of trips out. Variable busses!!! 4. Fresh fruit in room, and bath-robes! Maybe only balcony cabins? Not so good, but silly little problems! 1. No tea and coffee making in room - could use room service for free, but not always convenient! 2. If you wanted ORDINARY tea / coffee from anywhere other than main self-service restaurant, you had to pay! 3. NO cider on board ANYWHERE! 4. Found some Boddingtons on third night, BUT only in one bar! Could not get them to stock another bar with it - when I asked he finished up bringing THREE cans and CHARGING THEM TO MY ACCOUNT!! ("Well, you can always take it back to the room, Sir!!") 5. Excursions very hit and miss - one of them (Gdansk) VERY BAD - two hours in a bus and half an hour in Gdansk!! Another one was bad value for the price paid! A right rip off to change any money on board (I suppose I should blame myself for this!) 6. Entertainment very hit and miss. They didn't seem to know where to put it on, as they had THREE stages. Often the Ship's entertainers put on the show - not using external entertainers. One comedian on three nights - think he ran out of jokes! 7. All the on board courses / lectures were charged for!! 8. Peculiar (American??) sockets in room and NO ON BOARD ADAPTORS available - this meant NO curling tongs, phone chargers etc. could be used! 9. No BASIC bar with draught beer / cider. All in expensive cans! 10. 15% service charge on EVERYTHING, plus a "discretionary" charge of 10.5 dollars per person per day for "tips" 11. Had to pay for bottled water in room. 12. Could buy cigarettes on board in 200s, but NOT SMOKE THEM. 13. Door lock failed FOUR times!!! Very inconvenient!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
We are a mother and daughter traveling together with over 10 cruises between us. Here is our impression of the cruise. We had no problem getting on the ship. It was an easy process; however, the first day on the ship we had so ... Read More
We are a mother and daughter traveling together with over 10 cruises between us. Here is our impression of the cruise. We had no problem getting on the ship. It was an easy process; however, the first day on the ship we had so many Princess employees approach us to sell products (Coffee Card, Soft Drink Card, and etc.) it was absurd and a nuisance. Our room steward was the best one that we had ever had. The rooms are standard (Balcony - Category BA) and they were fine. The food was ok. The type of food was not to our taste. I do have one complaint I had a hair in my dessert. That was pretty disgusting. We did not complain - we just left and never went back to that dining room. Ports: I hated the way they organized the tours through Princess. They would have 5 to 6 different tours meet in the Wheelhouse bar and then they would call you in to the theater and then assign you a bus. You would sit for another about 5 to 10 minutes in the theater until you were called. This created an atmosphere of a rush to be the first in the theater. It was like the day after Thanksgiving shopping every day . On the cruises that I have been on with Royal Caribbean they would have you meet in the theater and you would be assigned a bus and watch for the number to be called. No rush or being stuck in a small room with a lot of people trying to rush the door. We mainly stuck with the tours through Princess. We had the best guide in Berlin. They had to change the schedule because of a sporting event and instead of a bus tour of Berlin we did a walking tour. This allowed us to see scheduled landmarks but also we were able to see points of interest that were not scheduled. This was not the case for St. Petersburg. We pick the tour of Catherine's Place and the Peterhoff Place. The tour description said there would be time to shop at the markets at both places and this did not happen. Our tour was late leaving because a couple missed the bus and we had to wait in a parking lot so a princess representative could drive them to our bus. We advised a Princess staff member that we did not see everything as promised and she told us that she wrote the tour descriptions and that the markets were not scheduled. I advised her that it needs to be address because it was incorrect because it was listed apart of the tour. Getting off the ship was a problem for us. We had ordered a transfer from the ship to the airport. We had an 11:25 flight and they told us to meet in the Club Fusion as a platinum member. They did not take us to the airport until 9:30 and we had 50 people on the same bus and after you pick-up the luggage from the warehouse and checked it in we had no time to spare to get on the airplane. We would not recommend anybody using this service. They did not leave any room for any problems to arise. We would have been better off getting a cab. Princess reason for taking us late was because Delta did not open the desk until 8:30 and you would not want to sit in the airport. Instead we were stuck in bumper to bumper traffic with a large group of people trying to get on the plane. The plane was already boarding by the time we made to the gate. This was my second cruise with Princess. My mother just went on the Sapphire in China and loved the ship and Princess. My mother and I had agreed that we are going to stick with Royal Caribbean. We have had better overall experiences with that cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
My previous sailing on the Grand Princess was so thoroughly enjoyable that I was taken aback by the differences I encountered on the Emerald Princess. Many of the frustrations I encountered seem to be indirectly related to obvious staff ... Read More
My previous sailing on the Grand Princess was so thoroughly enjoyable that I was taken aback by the differences I encountered on the Emerald Princess. Many of the frustrations I encountered seem to be indirectly related to obvious staff reductions and a change in priorities from passenger satisfaction to passenger sales. While my experiences in port were very positive, they were almost overshadowed by the shipboard frustrations.I had booked all our other excursions through Princess and, discovering that some cities were easily explored by a simple Hop On - Hop Off tour, attempted to make some changes. Because the Tour Desk does not offer passengers a telephone number for simple questions nor the option to book/change tours via the TV or computer (as does Celebrity), the lines get very long. This is compounded by the fact that the Tour Desk is only open for two hours each afternoon (4:30 to 6:30) and only staffed by a crew of three. I was forced to stand in line for one hour and ten minutes to simply confirm some changes I had made! My fellow passengers were very angry and frustrated and, when someone attempted to cut in line, there was shouting and obsenities were tossed about. The anger and tension could have been avoided by adding staffing, increasing hours and/or accessibility. A fourth crew member manned the end of the desk with the sole responsibility of selling CDs of the tours to passengers. He was unable and unwilling to assist in any other way.Currency exchange was handled by two machines that charged $3.50 for each transaction and usually one of the machines was not working. Gone are the days of the on-board  "bank" for personalized currency transactions.I was particularly disturbed by the significant increase in "marketing" that took place on the ship. I was regularly subjected to ship's crew trying to sell me something and there was no escape from it. At every meal, drinks and bottled water were "pushed." After dinner we were asked to purchase liquors and special souvenier glasses. There were three times more people selling bottled water in the buffet area than there were people to pour coffee, tea and free water. At 7 AM one morning, my fellow passengers and I were assembled in the Princess Theater to leave on an excursion and we were subjected to a ten-minute sales pitch by the person responsible for making the CDs for each port, on sale for $35.00. Only after he was finished was he replaced by the Tour Director calling our departure groups. In voicing my concerns to other passengers, many agreed that marketing had become far too high a priority.Staff has clearly been reduced as also evidenced by the fact that our Room Steward was still servicing rooms late into the afternoon each day - around 2 PM. The towel and trash carts sat in the hallways each day until this was complete. On my previous cruises all servicing was completed in the mornings.We chose "Anytime" dining for this cruise and I appreciate the flexibility that it allows. In addition, we were introduced to many more passengers with whom we could swap stories. While dining almost exclusively in the dining room (as opposed to the available buffets) I was very disappointed in the quality, presentation and selection of menu items compared to previous sailings. Portions have been reduced significantly (which certainly reduces waste) but the quality has also suffered. It was not uncommon for me to resort to the standard "Optional" items on the left-side of the menu because I was unable to find a regular selection that suited me. Those "Optional" items have also been reduced significantly - noticably, the steak is no longer an option. Some meals were served lukewarm. One evening I received red potatoes that were cold.The "Optional" Ceasar salad was not an even an option because the dressing was terrible. Salad dressings were a frequent topic of discussion at many sittings. We all noticed that the Ranch, Blue Cheese and Italian dressings were so far from the standard taste they were almost unrecognizable. It tasted like the dressings were all were made from a common base of mayonaise and vinegar. This was the case in the buffet area as well.The anticipation of high-quality shipboard entertainment like I had experienced on the Grand Princess lured me to the theater twice, before I accepted the fact that the singers and dancers were not of the caliber I previously encountered. The productions were poorly produced and the selections questionable. The production of "Shoes" delivered loud, discordant, unfamiliar music and lyrics and chased several passengers out during the course of the show. The only safe option was Sammy in the Crooners Lounge who played the piano and sang and enchanted the passengers with his stories and familiar music. One evening he brought sheet music for a sing along. Great fun. Just be ready for the sales pitch for his CD which is sold in the shipboard store.Finally, if you use the Internet Cafe, don't expect too much support from the Manager on-site. He was generally surly and not helpful. He made you feel like you were wasting his time when, I believe, his primary function should have been to provide support for the passengers. There were many complaints from people who felt they were overcharged for their minutes - the available plans starting at $55 and went up from there. The only other alternative was $.75 per minute which seems  high for a computer that is frustratingly slow!In summary, I found many passengers in agreement that quality has suffered in the areas of dining, shipboard entertainment and the staff reductions have inconvenienced passengers. Until this cruise, Princess was always my first choice but,  I am afraid the negative influence of Carnival as has become the order of the day, and I will look elsewhere for high-quality cruising satisfaction and comfort. Read Less
Sail Date July 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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