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24 Copenhagen to Baltic Sea Princess Emerald Princess Cruise Reviews

My wife and I arrived in Copenhagen two days before our cruise to acclimatize ourselves and do some sightseeing in the city. This was good as it took us longer than normal to get over the jet lag this time and with our flights being ... Read More
My wife and I arrived in Copenhagen two days before our cruise to acclimatize ourselves and do some sightseeing in the city. This was good as it took us longer than normal to get over the jet lag this time and with our flights being delayed, it would have been very hard on us if we had arrived the same day as the cruise. We took the train from the airport and it was an easy experience. For 36 Kroner each (about 7 dollars) we were shuttled to Central Station with no problems. When exiting follow signs to trains, purchase tickets at a automated kiosk or at the information desk in the main hall and take track 2. To go from Central Station to the ship, purchase a ticket for zone 2 for 24 Kroner (about $4.50) and take track 9/10and go 4 stops to Nordhavn station. From there it is a bit of a walk but not unobtrusive. Just follow the signs and look for your ship, you won't be able to miss it. Embarkation was very easy and the port is not hampered with American style security so everything goes smoothly. We arrived at the port at 11:45am and were in our ready state room by 12:30pm. The ship is very similar to the other Princess cruise we took on the Ruby Princess. The layout of the ship is almost an exact replica so finding our way around was very easy. On this cruise we went to Aarhus, Oslo, Warnemunde, Tallinn, Stockholm, Helsinki and St Petersburg. Despite the rain, Oslo was a great port of call with lots to see and do. The best way to see the city is on public transit with a one day pass and museum entrance ticket. It is 216 Norwegian Kroner ($38) per person and will get you into everything you could possibly want to see. Stockholm is another great port of call. Walking to town is not obtrusive; it was only marred by President Obama's visit causing sections of the city to be closed off depending on where his motorcade was. My wife mentioned that she would like to come back and really see the city. Wernemunde is the port for Berlin. I would not recommend taking the trip there though. It is a long journey there and you would only see a snippet of the city. It is best seen on a separate trip so you can explore the city over a few days or even a week. I would take the train to see Rostock instead. It only costs a few Euros and is a very interesting medieval city. Tallinn is also a interesting place to see with things off the beaten path to explore and see. Helsinki is also easily explored inexpensively by public transit. Purchase a day pass for 8 Euros from the bus driver at the stop right next to the port. I recommend printing out a transit map before arriving. It makes it easier to plan where you want to go without getting on the wrong bus or tram (like we did). The port presentation on the TV in the state room is very informative and helpful for those who like to explore on their own and will tell you which stops to get off of but a map would have helped me a lot. The only stop that was not the greatest was Aarhus. We arrived on a Sunday and not much is open. I don't know what excursions are available as we generally don't take them, but if you walk in don't expect to see much. St Petersburg was a great port of call, the port was the main reason we went on this cruise. I just had wished that the Russian authorities made it easier to enter the country. Going through customs was a bit of a bottleneck and seemed pointless. And having either a Visa, or a ticket for either a ship or private excursion, is the only way to get to see the city. We purchased a Hermitage and on your own excursion from Princess. It allowed us to do some personal exploring without being herded the entire time we were in the city. I only purchased the one excursion so we originally were only going to be able to get off the ship once on our second day in port. Two of our table mates had purchased tickets to see the Russian folk dance on the first day but were too tired to use them so they offered it to us. It was a very generous offer that we are indebted to them for. If I am lucky to be able to visit this city again, I will not be so cheap and purchase tickets to see other sights such as Peterhof palace etc. It is a once in a lifetime experience to visit this city and should be seen without worry about cost. This was my only regret on our cruise. The food was good but not great, I find the food on Holland America a little more flavourful and varied but Emeralds was still more than palatable. I just wish that they had a more varied menu especially at breakfast in the dining room. I much prefer the dining room as I always find that by the time you get everything you want in the buffet and sit down it is cold, but the dining rooms menu only has one thing that is the special of the day. If it isn't what you feel like eating, your choice is very limited and not very inspiring. Having the buffet available later in the evening was good though, sometimes you feel like a little snack before retiring. It was appreciated. The shows onboard are very similar to many other cruises we have been on. My wife and I have seen so many of these shows that we took a pass this time. The one thing that Princess could do is offer more activities during the day that don't involve shopping or some form of exercise purchase. I really enjoy seminars and demonstrations of differing interests but unfortunately very few were offered on this cruise. I know it is becoming more prevalent on other cruise lines also, but the up selling is becoming very noticeable. We were upgraded to a window view cabin and it was very nice. We always book inside cabins so this was a nice surprise. Our cabin was located as far back and as high up as was possible on this ship. If you don't like movement, vibrations or are prone to seasickness then this is not the cabin for you. I don't mind it as it seems to rock me to sleep and would not mind being upgraded to this cabin again, but it is quite noticeable. This is the largest passenger count ship that I have been on (the Ruby Princess is the same), it doesn't seem that there are 3082 passengers onboard unless you are trying to use the elevators during busy times or when you are in port and everywhere you go it is packed. I think I much prefer lower passenger count ships especially when you are in port. I can't imagine what it would be like on those monster Royal Caribbean ships, St. Petersburg was over run with just our ship on the second day in port. All in all, Princess provided us with all we really wanted on this trip, decent food, good ports and an attractive price to a place in the world we wanted to see. In the end that is really all you can ask for. They succeeded in giving us a good vacation.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
This was our second Princess Cruise, the first being in the late 1980's and we booked it due to the itinerary although we had been to St. Petersburg and Berlin on previous river boat cruises. We opted to go into Copenhagen several ... Read More
This was our second Princess Cruise, the first being in the late 1980's and we booked it due to the itinerary although we had been to St. Petersburg and Berlin on previous river boat cruises. We opted to go into Copenhagen several days early to experience the city, and we booked accommodations at the Best Western City Hotel. The location was great, the breakfast substantial, and the staff most helpful and accommodating. We took a taxi from the airport to hotel at a cost of about $50 and another to the pier at $15 per person through arrangements with the hotel. Since our initial Princess Cruise was years ago, we had not been on such a large ship, and think we prefer a smaller vessel. We found the Piazza noisy and impersonal rather than classy as on a Celebrity ship. The locations of the dining rooms, at the stern and on the lowest passenger decks, can be a challenge to get to depending on the deck and location of your cabin. We ate in the dining room most evenings and had anytime dining. There are advantages to choosing your own time to dine, however you must plan ahead if you want to attend any shows in the theater, The time required to dine is unpredictable and depends on the others at the table, the food choices made, and the conversation. Although we could have attended a couple of performances, sitting in for a few minutes made us decide to pass on it and choose other options for our evening time. The menu varied each night and there were only a few selections that disappointed. Service is generally good, although one night at table 470, we were rushed and not given some of the items requested. We did dine at Sabatini's and found it most enjoyable. From the appetizers to dessert everything was excellent and would rival some of the best restaurants in the North End of Boston. We felt the extra charge was reasonable for the quality and service. We regularly had breakfast and lunch in the Horizon Cafe, and except for an occasional rude passenger knocking you out of place, that was a pleasant experience. The selection was varied, and everything we tried we found well prepared. My only wish was that less salt was used. Other options for dining would be the pizza stop, pool deck grill, and International Cafe. One certainly would not go hungry. Our cabin was well arranged, had a comfortable bed, 2 chairs and a desk. We were on our balcony every day that the weather allowed, and although one had to be careful showering not to soak the floor of the bathroom, our room steward could not have been more accommodating in providing plenty of towels. I found the library had a decent selection of reference books on the ports we were visiting, and the onboard speaker on the ports gave advice that was useful to both the passenger taking a shore excursion with Princess or for those wishing to do it on their own. This was good, as we found the shore excursion desk, not helpful nor willing to answer questions, so having other resources was necessary when one excursion was cancelled and we did not hear from the staff when requesting a tour at another port.We really didn't see many passengers watching the movies under the stars. Perhaps the schedule and weather dampened that venue. It seemed most people were frequenting the various cubs and bars onboard. Since we are not smokers and are bothered by the smell of stale smoke, we avoided the Casino, so I cannot comment on that. Disembarkation could have been a little more convenient for passengers. We were loaded onto a double decker bus, with steps so steep that one woman could barely get up to the second level then could barely get down. Our luggage was brought to a holding area in the airport garage and after finding our suitcases we then had to determine what terminal our airline was in and maneuver our luggage through crowds to find our check-in counters. The departure terminal was the most disorganized I have ever encountered. There were only signs for SAS, and everyone else was wandering around trying to determine where and how to check in for flights. It would have been nice if some Princess Representatives had been there to assist some of the people who were definitely lost and confused. We found one woman, who needed a wheelchair, crying because she was overwhelmed, and was getting no assistance. We helped her locate the line for check-in which was snaking around the the terminal and I only hope she was able to get her boarding pass in time to board her flight. Will we cruise with Princess again? Maybe, but not in Europe. That particular ship seems more suited to the Caribbean where ports of call are not as intense. In addition, there seems to be mixed messages about bringing wine and champagne onboard. Each passenger is allowed to bring 750ml of wine or champagne on at embarkation, and told any brought on from ports would incur a $15 charge to keep in your stateroom, or would be held until the end of the cruise. Frequent cruisers with Princess said that the rule is not enforced, and some people even brought hard liquor onboard at embarkation and from ports of call. We could not get a definitive response on this. One of the niceties of cruising in Europe is to try local wine and beer, however, if you cannot bring it onboard from a port of call, you loose that aspect of the cruise. There certainly is not time to stop for a drink in port if you are on a tour.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
This is the first time we took a cruise tour (land and cruise) before we sailed on June 25, 2013 on the Emerald Princess. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Berlin beforehand. We had a terrific tour director, Lucy, ... Read More
This is the first time we took a cruise tour (land and cruise) before we sailed on June 25, 2013 on the Emerald Princess. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Berlin beforehand. We had a terrific tour director, Lucy, and a wonderful bus driver (Chaba). We only had 21 people on this tour with us and by the end we got to be one happy family! Going on the land tour afforded us the ability to see the beautiful countryside along our journey. We stayed in high-end hotels with dining that was superb, which included local restaurants. We got personalized attention with Lucy as well as answers to all of our questions about the history of the countries we visited. The local guides were good as well. Of course, it all helped that the weather cooperated, sunny and warm. Once we boarded the ship for Scandinavia and Russia, of course, the weather changed; we knew it would be cooler with rain. Then of course big bus loads on the shore excursions. Unfortunately on our first excursion to Oslo, the guide did not provide any "headset" for us to hear her with and when you have massive tourists around you it is difficult to hear anything; way too crowded at the viking ship museum. I have to say I was pretty impressed with the food on the ship. It was very good. We did first seating traditional dining, all meals were presented well and tasted very good. This was a very port intensive trip, and I'm in good shape at 62, and I was glad to get home after 3 weeks! We love the history and culture, however, towards the end of the trip all of the churches, museums, castles as well as the Scandinavian countries started to look alike. Favorite places: Budapest is amazing! Finland was beautiful as well - take the shore excursion to Porvoo (old town). We enjoyed the land tour so much that perhaps next time we will skip the cruise and take a Globus tour.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
My wife and I really enjoyed our Baltic Cruise even with the few problems and observations we had made on our other voyage with the Emerald princess. Our first cruise was on the Emerald Princess 2007-2008 on the New years Cruise. We were ... Read More
My wife and I really enjoyed our Baltic Cruise even with the few problems and observations we had made on our other voyage with the Emerald princess. Our first cruise was on the Emerald Princess 2007-2008 on the New years Cruise. We were totally impressed with the Emerald at that time and were thus hooked on the cruising life style. Emerald really had a very high WOW factor at that time with many activities demonstrations, games, lectures live bands at pool side. The food in the Horizon was varied. There were lots of choices to select from well prepared and presented. Never a line up as both sides of buffet were being used. This cruise it was different. Emerald princess appears tired and lost its focus. Dessert selection was very narrow. It seems that in order to cut costs Princess is willing to lower what is being offered to their passengers. Even the lemonade is being watered down so that it is unrecognizable. Your choice of drink for adults at meal time in the Horizon is iced tea, tea, coffee, water, or watered down lemonade nothing else. It seems as though Princess is trying to save money by offering low cost items in buffet and limiting selection. The main dining room is great. The selection is somewhat limited but of high quality and taste. Head waiter is always willing to go the extra mile eg another desert or fillet. Just ask. If you are not happy let The food and beverage manager know using the cards in your stateroom. Place them in container at customer service desk. Believe me Princess takes these complaints/suggestions seriously. My complaints were resolved to my satisfaction the next day. Good for Emerald Princess!!! They do listen. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
A few thoughts concerning the Emerald Princess itself. Although this was my first experience with a mega-ship with over three thousand passengers, I've taken several trips with Holland America. I was not looking forward to long lines ... Read More
A few thoughts concerning the Emerald Princess itself. Although this was my first experience with a mega-ship with over three thousand passengers, I've taken several trips with Holland America. I was not looking forward to long lines and cattle call tours, but this itinerary fit my ports of choice, my price range, and my schedule. Overall, my experience was extremely positive. The international crew is upbeat and well trained. The cruise director was informative without breaking in with the continual peppy intrusions I grew to despise on HA. Not once did I feel that I was part of a massive tourist package, though of course I was. Food was excellent, tasty and beautifully presented. Did not attend any of the specialty restaurants. Didn't feel the need to. Lucked out with table mates, a diverse and congenial group. About half the time I had dinner in the dining room, other times at one of the buffets. I particularly enjoyed the meals which were themed to our ports, both in Berlin and St Petersburg. HA does nothing like that. Even the coffee, much reviled on these boards, was not as bad as I was expecting. My one issue, and it's a big one, concerns the complete lack of response to my complaint of obnoxious and unsupervised children monopolizing the pools and whirlpools. Although an advisory was delivered to each stateroom early on, advising parents that children must be supervised, there were often kids running, diving, and doing cannonballs with absolutely no consequences. My written complaint was ignored. As positive as was the remainder of my experience onboard, that one issue could be a deal breaker. Someone is going to get hurt. There will be lawsuits. A much smaller quibble, they're still listing kroons as Estonia's official currency. How often do they update these port information sheets? John Lawrence is Princess' own "Baltic Treasure.." His port lectures are not to be missed, especially if you plan to go off on your own. His personal insight and quirky sense of humor come through best during his live presentations, although much of the same information from his CD is replayed afterwards on TV. I'd read so many people say that they'd wished they had John's CD in advance of their trips that I ordered a copy from his website and watched it once soon after I booked my trip and again about a week before departure. I also caught his live lectures whenever I could. John's CD was the single best resource I used in preparing for my trip. Unlike other travel writers, John's information is specific to your cruise. He's aware of your time limitations and allows you to make the most of every minute. Anyone reading this will see that I followed the advice of many on Cruise Critic. Obviously, this a very intensive cruise. Several times a day I would be reminded of the importance of doing your homework to maximize your limited time ashore. So glad I opted for the ship's transfer from the airport. My last cruise out of Copenhagen I took the train to Central Station, then a city bus to the pier. Cheap but labor intensive, schlepping bags from place to place. This time there was a Princess cruise representative at baggage claim who directed me to the bag drop off then to the bus. On our way about fifteen minutes after collecting the bags. Highly recommended. The driver was very personable and provided a mini-guided tour of Copenhagen on the way to the ship. Lots to see in Oslo, and much of it is accessible on foot. I bought an Oslo pass, but since I walked everywhere and visited only one museum, I really didn't get my money's worth. The ship docked directly across the street from Akershus Castle so I crossed through the grounds on my way to the Opera House, a must see if you have any interest in contemporary architecture. The interior is as spectacular as the exterior, and it's free. From there I wandered through Central Station, walked through part of the Stroget and since the ship was only a few blocks away, decided to return for lunch. I passed both the Museum for Comtemporary art and the Architecture Museum. Should have made a quick stop at both but thought I'd have time on the way back to the ship. As it turned out, I had the time, but not the energy. After lunch I took the opposite direction toward city hall, a quick look at the National Theatre and the Royal Palace and then the National Museum. Like most tourists my goal was to see "The Scream," but I found the collection of European Impressionists to be quite impressive as well. Though I had a few more hours before sailing, I decided to head back to the ship and a well deserved soak in the hot tub. On the way I stopped at an classic Norwegian cafe for a rest and a cider. Eleven dollars! They're not kidding when they say that Oslow's an expensive city! Another beautiful midsummer day for our arrival at Aarhus. We we docked near the Danish Royal Yacht, guarded by handsome military men, providing an unexpected photo op. I'm a real fan of the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson so I walked to the ARoS contemporary art museum to see his installation, "Rainbow Panorama. ". By the time I finished with the museum, my plan to spend a few hours at Den Gamle By was shot. So I took a different route back to the ship, along the Stroget with a detour to see the cathedral. Of all our ports, Aarhus was the one I would have chosen to skip, but having spent an afternoon there, I found the city most enjoyable. Warnemunde is a beautiful little seaside resort town. A perfect way to spend your time if you don't want to spend most of your day on a non-air conditioned, non-narrated, crowded train ride to and from Berlin. Not much to see in a cultural sense, but pretty streets to wander, a beautiful beach with sand like powdered sugar, and a nude section, if that sort of thing appeals to you. Tallinn Old Town is a delight. For $10, I opted to take a shuttle bus to and from the port., thus avoiding what appeared to be a time consuming and boring walk of over a mile in each direction. You really don't need to do much other than wander the cobbled streets, climb Toompea Hill for some spectacular photos of the medieval city below, stop at one of the many cafes and browse through shops full of typical tourist tchotchkes. Just before returning to the ship, I visited the Occupation Museum, a short walk from Freedom Square. A powerful and sobering reminder that Estonians have paid a heavy price for the lives the have today. Its remarkable that these people who have suffered so much, maintain such a positive and optimistic outlook. If you can get ahold of the documentary, "The Singing Revolution," before you leave, you will gain valuable insight into Estonia's painful history. Just before returning to the ship, I visited the Occupation Museum, a short walk from Freedom Square. A powerful and sobering reminder that Estonians have paid a heavy price for the lives they have today. Its remarkable that these people who have suffered so much, maintain such a positive and optimistic outlook. I've been to St Petersburg before, but hadn't been to Peterhof. Without a visa I needed to take a organized tour and a ship-sponsored half-day trip excursion seemed to fit the bill. Although our guide was a lovely young woman, there were the lines. To enter the building, to use the restroom, the mandatory bag and coat check, the required plastic booties. Being herded from room to room by grim faced matrons. I was miserable throughout. Wish I had skipped it. Perhaps the private companies handle it better. Our overnight in St Petersburg featured a Russian Cossack dance show aboard the ship. Although I cruise for destinations not entertainment, I found this production very well done. No need to take the excursion for a folklore show. The second day in St Petersburg, I took the ship's walking and subway tour. It's the kind of thing that I'd prefer to do on my own, but no visa; no independent travel in Russia. This tour was as well organized and informative. The port of Helsinki looks like a massive construction project. Using public transit seemed complicated so I took a shuttle which dropped us off right at the edge of the Esplanade from there, it was easy to explore the city on foot. Helsinki is a beautiful city and the weather was perfect, so I cut back on what I'd planned to see and instead spent a lot of time just wandering around the open air market or sitting on a park bench along the Esplanade enjoying the people and the scenery. Then I picked up the 3T tram which travels a figure eight through the city. Got off near the Sibelius monument. From there, it was an easy walk to the Rock Church, then the contemporary art museum and back to the shuttle stop. I'd done a considerable amount of research about Stockholm, and it soon became obvious that our short five hour visit would allow for only a few highlights. The idea of a ship's excursion began to look better and better. I didn't want to spend my day watching the clock or racing around to make sure I got back in time. So I booked a tour which included my top priorities, the Vasa Museum and Gamla Stan I got to see what I'd come for and had no worries about quite literally missing the boat. As much as I prefer doing things on my own, there are times like this where there's no way I could have covered the ground that I did by myself. Our tour guide got us to the Vasa within a half hour of its opening, provided excellent commentary throughout, and directed us to a special exhibition in the basement which I'm sure I would have missed otherwise. We were left with a little over an hour in Gamla Stan. Not enough shopping time for some, but I didn't see anything that I couldn't live without. After a relaxing sea day en route back to Copenhagen, I was one of the first to depart the ship because of an early flight out. If you opt for the airport transfer, Princess makes it simple. Obviously, I enjoy researching my trips almost as much as taking them. I'm as addicted to my smartphone as anyone else, and I downloaded many apps before my trip, but nothing beats an old fashioned, good quality, city map. Not the ad-filled freebies you get as you leave the ship, but high quality travel maps that you've gathered in advance. Marked up and annotated with information you've gleanened from the research that you've done. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
This cruise was a little different for us as the others have all originated from the US and we have used Princess Transfers from/to the airport. This time, we flew into Copenhagen a few days early and got ourselves to the ship. I must say, ... Read More
This cruise was a little different for us as the others have all originated from the US and we have used Princess Transfers from/to the airport. This time, we flew into Copenhagen a few days early and got ourselves to the ship. I must say, the check-in was much quicker than usual and their were Princess reps to guide all through the process...and it was very nice NOT to have to wait for our luggage to show up at our room since we wheeled it right on ourselves. After talking with our daughter and family who took this cruise last year, we purposely chose an inside cabin to avoid the late-night sun. It was large and fine, and on the Caribe Deck, you have many choices to keep you away from the elevators and laundry rooms, so it was very quiet. (not that we spend much time in our cabin anyway). The Emerald is a large ship and this cruise was sold out, so it tended to be pretty crowded at times. We chose anytime dining as the times in the different ports varied, but found a wonderful waiter and steward and our request for them was never a problem. The food, as we have always found on Princess, was excellent. We skipped the shows as we had seen most of them on our Panama Canal cruise in 2010 (Princess needs to update them more often.) This cruise has a very packed port schedule and only 2 sea days - frankly, if you are coming in from Canada or the US I would skip the tux and gown and just bring a nice travel dress/sportcoat and tie as the formal days are not that great. If you are a Captain's Circle member don't expect much from the Captain's Circle "party." We were stuffed into the Princess Theater, handed a free drink voucher, and shown a 20 minute commercial for the latest Princess Ship (The Royal?) Not what we have experienced in the past. Another review told you about SPB tours. I second that! Alla Tours is also good. Unless this is your ONLY chance to see Berlin, skip the 6 hour train trip/bus ride and do Rostock and Schwerin instead for the Germany port stop. DON'T PAY THE PRINCESS PRICES for a stuffed to the gills tour bus and a single guide trying to herd 40-60 people around. You will pay more and see less than an off-the-ship tour. And don't fall for the "only Princess can guarantee your Russian Visa" line. Any legitimate tour company can take care of your Visa. Also, get your Krone, Kroners, Rubles, or Euros BEFORE you leave or at a local ATM. DON't use the ship exchange. Worse exchange rates and fees I have ever seen! This is a fast-paced and fully packed itinerary, but we had a thoroughly enjoyable time.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
My husband and I began planning our 11 Day Scandinavian & Russian cruise over a year ago. The trip was planned as our one year anniversary celebration and we invited my sister and brother-in-law to join us. Overall I think that the ... Read More
My husband and I began planning our 11 Day Scandinavian & Russian cruise over a year ago. The trip was planned as our one year anniversary celebration and we invited my sister and brother-in-law to join us. Overall I think that the cruise was mediocre but the ports were so great that it made up for it. The only port we missed was Oslo because of a strike in the city. Booking process: I booked online during a promotional week and was promised a $50 on-board credit. Once my sister booked her trip, I e-mailed my contact at Princess to ask that our two parties be sat at the same table. This went fine. One week prior to the embarkation my sister was notified that they received an upgrade from an interior to a balcony room. I contacted Princess to ask why I hadn't received an upgrade since we had booked first. I was told that I didn't mark that I would like one and there was nothing they could do other than add me to the list. Two days later I received an upgrade to a window room. I later found out on the cruise that they took away our $50 on-board credit in exchange for the upgrade. So, basically my sister was able to get a balcony for free and I was charged $100 for a window. Flight/pre-cruise hotel: I booked air independently through Scandinavian Airlines. The flight was as comfortable as possible and the Copenhagen airport was very easy to navigate. They have a line of taxis waiting to take you downtown. I had booked two nights at the Grand Hotel in Copenhagen. We then arranged a taxi to the ship on embarkation day. Embarkation: This was the easiest and fastest embarkation I have ever experienced. We got there at about 12:20 and we were on the ship by about 12:45. Our luggage arrived in just over an hour. Very simple, very easy. Stateroom: We had a window stateroom that was on the Emerald deck. It was a nice location because it was just two floors above our dining room. This was larger than most staterooms and there was plenty of room for all our bags to be unpacked. The television channels offered a lot of good movies and port information. Ship layout: I was disappointed in the ship's layout. There were several floors that we weren't able to walk from the front to the back of the ship. This became a problem over and over again. Food: In general, the food was very mediocre. We tried practically every food place (that was free). I think my favorites were the tapas in the Vines wine bar. Dinners each night were good but not much really was great. I loved the pizza but was surprised that it wasn't open 24 hours. The buffet was never good and I eventually gave up. Room service was very prompt each time we ordered but the breakfast choices were very limited. Service: Our stateroom steward was Zeus and he was great. Our waiters in the Botticelli dining room were Oscar and Menino and they were also fantastic. The servers in the Wheelhouse Bar and Vines were very attentive. Anywhere else I went they just didn't seem to ever see you. I'm used to ships that when you sit down someone approaches right away to get your drink order. There appeared to be only one server for the entire Princess Theater so I never was able to order anything there. The Explorer's Lounge was the worst. I would have to signal the servers for about 5 minutes every time to get someone to come over. I would have just gone to the bar myself but I was playing Trivia so I couldn't get up. The buffet servers were sometimes attentive but it depended on the day. Sometimes it would be 10 minutes before someone would clear our plates. Spa: The spa services were great. Since we missed our stop in Oslo I was able to reschedule to that day without any problem. I got a hot stone massage that was sooo relaxing. Entertainment: The shows were very good. We saw the ventriloquist and the magician; I even was brought on stage for the magician. There was a piano player that did a show one night and he was great fun to see. We participated in a lot of trivia games and played Bingo a couple times. We loved listening to the Rick Kilburn Quartet and we stopped by before or after dinner almost every night. Disembarkation: We purchased a ship transfer to the airport because they sent out a letter stating that there could be a 2 hour wait for taxis. This was not true! There were probably 50 taxis waiting for passengers. The ship transfer was very easy, though. We put out our luggage the night before and then claimed it when we got to the airport. I am always nervous to let go of my luggage but this was not a problem. Excursions: We only booked one Princess excursion and I will never book another ship excursion again. The guide's commentary was terrible. When we got to the Vasa Museum she asked us to meet back at 10 am. At 9:57 my husband and I went to the meeting spot and no one was there. My brother-in-law finally came back with the guide about 2 minutes later saying that she had tried to leave without us. There were two other couples that also had just gotten to the meeting point and would have missed the bus. I am a very prompt person so when I was told 10:00, I didn't think that meant 9:50. Ports: I will review the ports individually but I will mention that other than our missed day in Oslo and some rain and a bad tour guide in Stockholm, they were all excellent. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
The Emerald Princess caters for just over 3000 passengers, and on our cruise though the majority of passengers were American as expected, there was a rich variety of nationalities present. The ship is spacious, kept immaculately clean, ... Read More
The Emerald Princess caters for just over 3000 passengers, and on our cruise though the majority of passengers were American as expected, there was a rich variety of nationalities present. The ship is spacious, kept immaculately clean, and we found the staff to be friendly, attentive and polite at all times. Our cabin steward, (David from Mexico), was excellent. Both embarkation and disembarkation were smoothly handled by the Princess staff, again as expected. The ship is very stable and in fact there is little feeling of sailing, apart from seeing the sea. This may be an advantage to anyone who fancies the idea of cruising but may be hesitant about sea motion - there just wasn't any on this Baltic trip. (This may be be different on, say, a transatlantic crossing.) There is a wide variety of entertainment on board which should offer something for most tastes. Despite the fact that the cast of singers and dancers were both talented and energetic, I found the stage shows to be rather 'tired' and lacking in any innovation. By contrast, the singing duo of Allan and LaDonna were superb.In terms of dining, there is considerable scope for improvement. The food was always well presented, but the quality ranged from 'excellent' through to 'uninspiring'. Generally, however, the quality was very good, but definitely not luxury cruise standard. Despite the restaurant staff apparently working hard, the eating experience in the main dining rooms was disappointingly slow. The system is that the waiters visit the kitchen to collect meals for several tables at a time. This means that you can be sitting around waiting for others to 'catch up' while you wait for your next course. On more than one occasion we waited for 30 minutes before our order was even taken. If your preference is for long, slow, chatty meals, then you'll have no problem. I was, however, pleased that we could easily obtain a table for two, with no pressure to share. The buffets provided a good choice of foods, generally of a high standard. They can, however, become very crowded at normal meal times. Much has been written about the different tipping philosophies between Americans and Europeans or Australians. In addition to the $11 per person per day standard gratuity, there is also an additional 15% added to every bar bill, including a bottle of wine bought at dinner. As a Scot, this was hard to bear! Shore excursions are not cheap, but are exceptionally well organised by Princess staff and their representatives. We enjoyed three, two in St Petersburg and one in Stockholm. At other ports we chose the option of exploring on foot or by local 'hop-on, hop-off' coach. Unfortunately our 'River & Canal Cruise' in St Petersburg was curtailed by a third, was limited to the canals, and so we only saw the magnificent riverside palaces from the bus. Quite a disappointment.Other niggles included piped music virtually everywhere - it's actually quite difficult to find a quiet place on board, even although the ship is as big as it is. And finally, in line with Princess's apparent aim of getting you to part with as much money as possible, there are the ships' photographers who are constantly photographing passengers. Like the alcohol and internet access, prices for the photographs are extortionate, and it would be interesting to know how many printed photographs are shredded on each cruise. I full appreciate that each traveller will have their own expectations and experiences. My expectations were based on two previous cruises with Princess, one with Star Clippers, and one with NCL. Although the Emerald Princess has much to commend it, I feel that it falls short of the mark. Did we have a great cruise? Yes, most certainly. Would I sail on the Emerald Princess again? No. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Emerald Princess- Great - -cabin design is excellent - closet area huge and open - situated such that it blocks light from opening bathroom door so as not to disturb DH when you make a mid-night visit - adequately spacious room w/ ... Read More
Emerald Princess- Great - -cabin design is excellent - closet area huge and open - situated such that it blocks light from opening bathroom door so as not to disturb DH when you make a mid-night visit - adequately spacious room w/ balcony -cabins on Riviera deck in low 600's will feel ship's vibration, being under stacks and will hear late night and early morning furniture moving noise from Horizon Court dining area directly above as they move tables and chairs to floor clean every day. -same area cabin is very stable and does not experience rocking/rolling at all, even in rough seas - staff very friendly and responsive - John Lawrence lectures on each port- comprehensive knowledge of history, geology, customs, economy, etc. - interesting and often humorous - accompanied by slides - also guides as we pass by interesting areas - Princess broadcasts these on ship's TV also - great Russian folklore presentation on ship first night in port at St. Petersburg (you don't really need to take the excursion offering into city for one of these) - remarkably good prices on-board for items also found in ports - matroyshka Russian nesting dolls were cheaper that those in port! Okay or not so great- - food often bland in regular dining rooms, but some stand-out meals -Crown Grill meats covered in heavy sauce, masking flavors, or just bland - every port was very interesting, but needed more time in Stockholm (7:00 am to 1:30 pm only) - major disappointment when capt. chose not to go into Oslo because of pilot's strike, while other ships did go in and were able to leave as well - entertainment by Princess dancers and singers very good, comedians okay to not so good - on-board activities are game formats, gambling, shopping, spa, walking on deck, nothing of cognitive interest except for Lawrence lectures - remember to put your do not disturb tag in door lock if you are in your room after say 9:00 am and you have hearing impairment or are doing something like showering or hair drying that would prevent your hearing steward's knock on cabin door before entering -ship's city maps need more detail and indication of where ship may be docked Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
This was the first time we had a balcony and it was wonderful to be able to open our doors at anytime and breathe in the fresh air...not sure I want to go back to an interior room after this holiday. The staff were all very pleasant and ... Read More
This was the first time we had a balcony and it was wonderful to be able to open our doors at anytime and breathe in the fresh air...not sure I want to go back to an interior room after this holiday. The staff were all very pleasant and greeted us with a smile. The room was cleaned to perfection twice a day with chocolates on the pillow each night. Room service,when used, was prompt and the food was as requested and hot. We tried the Princess theatre but decided it wasn't really how we wanted to spend our time. The smaller venues were much more appealing and featured bands for dancing and an excellent vocalist that was flown in for 2 nights to entertain. We went to 2 of the restaurants that required a $25pp charge. Sabatinos and Crown grill were excellent. The extra cost was a hit to the pocket book but the quality of the food surpassed the regular dining areas and was quieter for a special meal away from the crowd. We were too busy with excursions to enjoy the Santuary pool area but I could see this area would be worth paying for if the cruise had more days at sea or for those not interested in getting off the ship. Embarkation was painless but the disembarkation had us leave the ship much sooner than we would have liked. The ride and getting our luggage was very smooth but... We had to wait over 2 hours at the airport for the service counter to open. They said taxis would be a huge problem and taking their shuttle was the smartest plan. This was not so! The taxis were lined up waiting and would have been available at a proper time for us to relax on board and leave the ship at a sensible time yet still be off the ship before 11 am. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
We cruised the Baltic with the Emerald Princess in June 2011. First, the non-cruise stuff. We went to Stockholm for three days, then Gutenberg for a day and a tour of the Volvo factory, and finally Copenhagen for three days. At the ... Read More
We cruised the Baltic with the Emerald Princess in June 2011. First, the non-cruise stuff. We went to Stockholm for three days, then Gutenberg for a day and a tour of the Volvo factory, and finally Copenhagen for three days. At the end of the cruise, we went to Bergen and took a six day tour of Norway. I'll comment in port reviews on the length of time the ship spends in ports. Air arrangements: we used miles, except for SAS from Copenhagen to Bergen. Embarkation took a little time. No champagne on boarding. We had a balcony room. The balconies are not as useful as in the Caribbean, so we took a room with a smaller balcony. We were on it on occasion, usually for breakfast. Our steward was outstanding and usually invisible. Room service was just average. For the first time, Internet was reliably available in our room. (We used about 850 minutes as we had to keep in touch on business matters.) We had the late seating for dining. I think the food was a notch lower than last year. In particular, the beef was of a lower grade. Service was great. We ate in the dining room for breakfast and a few lunches. Service was decidedly less than with our regular waiter for dinner. One waiter refused my wife's request for grilled chicken for a chicken Caesar even though, according to a sign in the kitchen, "chicken is always available." We had the Chef's Table dinner. Tour of the kitchen, hors d'oeuvres and champagne in the kitchen, dinner in the dining room. $75 per person. Well worth it. I tried to do the ultimate ship tour, but it was cancelled. We renewed our vows, with a crowd of 12 people we met on the ship. We did Sabatini's one night. Not as impressive as the Crown Grill. You dine at their pace. Everyone in the room eats at the same pace. If the food is not to your liking, it is still what's on the menu. When we ate breakfast in Horizon Court, things went smoothly until we needed a table. And we're not bashful about asking to share. Some of the folks we shared with were talkative, some were really stand-offish. The ship was sold out. There really was never a problem or a crowd, other than in Horizon Court for breakfast. We used the spa and spa pools. Never crowded. One massage, which was good, and my wife had her hair done twice. I'll cover ports in other reviews. We took the Princess tours in Stockholm, Helsinki, Berlin and Tallinn. All Tours in St. Petersburg. (Great!). On our own in Arhus and Oslo. We purchased Princess transfers to CPH for a flight to Bergen. $34 each. A bargain. Less than one hour from stepping off the ship to tying my shoes after airport security. We're trying to figure out next year's cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
We enjoyed our cruise on the Emerald Princess. Our meals at 8:15 in the Boticelli Dining Room were good, the choice varied and service was good. The air conditioning and cold draft at our table made it uncomfortable during dinner. We ... Read More
We enjoyed our cruise on the Emerald Princess. Our meals at 8:15 in the Boticelli Dining Room were good, the choice varied and service was good. The air conditioning and cold draft at our table made it uncomfortable during dinner. We mentioned this several evenings but nothing was done to improve our comfort level in the room. Our cabin was well located and well serviced. Clean towels were always provided and our ice bucket kept full of ice. Our room attendant always had a kind word to say to us. Even though the weather was cool, rainy and cloudy a lot of the time, we enjoyed relaxing in the hot tub and swimming in the heated pool. At times the buffet was very crowded and it was difficult to find seating. We were impressed with the cleanliness and freshness of the food at the buffet. Our group of six arranged a private tour with White Nights to tour St Petersburg. We corresponded with Kate on line to set up the package. Kate was prompt in her replies and adjusted the tour to suit our wishes. When in St Petersburg, our tour guide, Dasha, was a delight. Dasha spoke perfect English, was on time, polite and very knowledgeable about St Petersburg. Since it was her place of birth she had a special love for the city. We were able to bypass line ups, find quiet places for her to speak to us when viewing the very crowded Hermitage and Catherine's Palace. The van we used was very comfortable and the driver excellent. When touring Berlin our group of six hired SPB Tours. We travelled by tour bus with about 40 people to Berlin, a 3 hour ride, met our tour guide in Berlin, had a 4 hour tour in a small van for the six of us, 3 people faced forward and 3 faced backward making visibility poor. We returned to the ship by tour bus, a 4 hour ride due to heavy traffic. Our tour guide spoke excellent English, since he was from Australia, but his love, knowledge and enthusiasm for Berlin was not nearly as good as we experienced in St Petersburg. We joined a Princess Cruise Tour in Oslo which had 40 people in the group. It was difficult to hear our guide and we missed the intimacy we experienced on our other tours. The on board shore tours lecturer John Lawrence was very good. If we missed the talks we watched them on TV in our room. We also enjoyed the TV play by play description of points of interest as we left Stockholm. On board all public areas and washrooms were always clean. An enjoyable vacation. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
We have cruised with many different cruise lines and itineraries, but this was our first time with Princess and with the Baltic. I must say that both are pretty darned impressive. As experienced cruisers, however, we found ourselves making ... Read More
We have cruised with many different cruise lines and itineraries, but this was our first time with Princess and with the Baltic. I must say that both are pretty darned impressive. As experienced cruisers, however, we found ourselves making some mental comparisons with previous experiences. Hopefully this review will help others get a sense of expectations. THE GOOD: Somehow Princess has really figured out the embarkation and disembarkation process. This may be a function of some proprietary magic Princess has or with the Danish authorities in Copenhagen, but getting on the ship for the first time and off for the last was a breeze. We arrived at the port at noon, were directed to the waiting staff for processing, were issued room card keys and got on the ship. Period. The stateroom was ready for occupancy so there was none of that hanging around the lunch buffet with 3,000 other folks with all manner of carry-on luggage. We were ready to sail. Getting off was just as easy and from the time we left the stateroom and arrived at the Copenhagen airport was no more than 40 minutes. Of note is that we had pre-processed on-line and had purchased shuttle service from the port to the airport...this is highly recommended. Other items such as service/ attentiveness of the wait staff and room attendants, cleanliness of facilities, quality/quantity of food,entertainment and overall cruise experience are on par with other premium cruise lines and we consider them the price of entry to the category. Really good...but not remarkable. THE BAD: One baffling fact is that Princess prides itself on being the industry leader in food service by introducing 24-hour dining; yet access to their health club facilities is very limited being open from 7a-10p every day (in the interest of the war on obesity, you'd think these two would be reversed) . This fact coupled with a pretty aggressive Baltic itinerary put some logistical strain on our daily work-out regime as many of the port tours start around 7:30 or 8:00 am. Additionally, while casino and food court opening/closing times are listed in the daily "Princess Patter", there is no mention of the work-out facilities, nor are there special "walk-a-mile" programs as found on other ships. Deck 7 which is the Emerald's official walking deck, includes two sets of stairs and is usually being hosed down by maintenance folks early in the morning. The treadmills in the facility are in dire need of regular maintenance. Please be aware of this if this type of thing is important to your vacation experience. We had pre-arranged locally-based tours for Berlin and St Petersburg, so our experience with the Shore Excursion Desk is limited to a very mediocre (and expensive) city highlight tour of Helsinki. This is where we found out that most of the ports we visited have "Hop-On; Hop-Off" bus tours available with excellent recorded commentary in a variety of languages for a fraction of the Princess tour price. This became our preferred mode of city touring. Tour desk personnel were obviously trained to steer people to their proprietary offerings to the point where they would give us incorrect and conflicting information. Off-setting this bias however was John Lawrence, the on-board port lecturer. He really knew his stuff and provided valuable historical and practical information on each port of call. John kind of looks like Kelsey Grammer and kind of sounds like John Houseman. I'm not sure John is available throughout this cruising season, but he really added value to our cruise experience. By the way, Cruise Critic was very useful in helping us connect with TJ Tours in Russia. While the process of signing up for one of their tours may seem a little confusing at first, this is a top-drawer outfit which offered smaller tour groups better access to some of the most crowded tourist sights at a cost of some $100 cheaper than the Princess offering. The Princess information is written in a manner that would lead one to believe that the only way to get off the boat in Russia is to have a privately arranged visa or to use the Princess tour. Not so. Do yourself a favor and check this out. THE TRULY UGLY: For those interested in accessing the internet on your cruise, please be aware that the ship's offering is expensive and almost worthless. You'd expect slower service than DSL with a satellite-based system. What you wouldn't expect is to pay hundreds of dollars for a service that works only occasionally with non-responsive screens that read "service not available. Too many users are logged on". This seems like a fairly simple fix...build in more capacity. This was an unexpected disappointment. Overall, we truly enjoyed our experience on the Emerald Princess and its various ports of call in the Baltic. Given the above, however, we may look to another cruise line for our next adventure. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Overall we were very satisfied with this cruise. We traveled with 2 other active couples like ourselves who are all in our early 60's. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. We know what to expect from Princess and have found ... Read More
Overall we were very satisfied with this cruise. We traveled with 2 other active couples like ourselves who are all in our early 60's. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. We know what to expect from Princess and have found them to be consistent in all areas. The food ranges from good to very good. The entertainment is okay. We never feel pressured to make purchases on board like we did on Norwegian. They ask once if you would like a drink, put a napkin down to indicate you were asked and do not bother you again. We never take pictures anymore and saying no thanks one time is sufficient. There is still pressure to take shore excursions through Princess but we know how to get around it and I will talk more about this when I talk about the ports. Our room steward Tarahut from Thailand was very attentive to detail and Juan in the Michelangelo dining room was outstanding. We had anytime dining, never had to wait and requested Juan each night and half the time he had an open table. Otherwise we found the service to be very good from anyone. Getting on and off the ship was a breeze. We arrived after 2PM to embark as Princess suggested and there was no line. Princess offers a transfer to the airport for $34 pp when leaving. We took the train for $8.00 pp US money which Princess never tells you about. It is a 17 minute walk from the ship on a well marked sidewalk. You change trains once. The person selling tickets will tell you where to change. People in Denmark are amazing. It is a total of 45 mins from the ship to the airport via the train. We were very lucky on this cruise as the weather was very warm and sunny. Many people only packed for cold weather. Big mistake. Check the forecast before you leave as we did. 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
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
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
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
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
A few random notes about this cruise: 1. We did this cruise after spending three nights in Copenhagen to start, followed by a trip to NorwayBergen, Balestrand, and Oslo. We basically combined a Norway/Denmark trip and a Baltic cruise into ... Read More
A few random notes about this cruise: 1. We did this cruise after spending three nights in Copenhagen to start, followed by a trip to NorwayBergen, Balestrand, and Oslo. We basically combined a Norway/Denmark trip and a Baltic cruise into one three-week trip. From Oslo, we took the DFDS ferry back to Copenhagen, where we boarded the Emerald. Although not luxurious, the DFDS Commodore class stateroom was more than decent, the ship's food was quite good and reasonably priced, free Wi-Fi was available for my laptop, and the ship had a huge duty-free store where we bought bottles of wine to bring on the Emerald (which was no problem getting on the ship). The cost of passage was less than a 3 or 4 star hotel room in Oslo or Copenhagen and included an excellent buffet breakfast. I would highly recommend this overnight trip if it fits within your travel plans. 2. The DFDS ferry docks at 9:30 AM about a mile or so away from the Emerald. We walked from one ship to the other as we had a reasonable amount of luggage. Normal people would either take a bus from the ferry dock to within a couple of hundred yards of the Emerald, or a taxi right to the ship. 3. We were among the first to arrive at the Emerald waiting area. As are Platinum we waited in the "Preferred" area to board. By the luck of the draw, when the ship started boarding, we were the first ones on a little after 11:30 AM. 4. Upon boarding, we immediately got the primary essentials of any Princess trip�soda and coffee cards. In addition, we made a beeline to Guest Services to sign up for the Ultimate Ship Tour and called in Chef's Table and Crown Grill reservations. More on those later. 5.You are allowed to get off the ship after boarding if you want. As stated above, the bus stop is not far away, the Nordhavn train station isn't much farther, and taxis are available. The small tourist information building by the ship provides excellent local maps and transport/sightseeing information. We took the bus to the �sterport stop, walked about 10 minutes to the Danish Resistance Museum (excellent), then walked back to the ship (about 30 minutes) past the Little Mermaid statue through a pleasant park. On a side street on the way back to the ship (about a 15 minute walk away�one block off the main harbor road closer to the docks through a residential/office building area) there is a small supermarket where we bought bottles of water to bring on the ship. 6. We had the coveted E-731 mini-suite with the extended covered balcony. This was our favorite stateroom ever on Princess. You could easily fit 6 people on the balcony. Due to the excellent weather we had on this trip, we used the balcony quite a bit. On the one sea day it was too cold for part of the time to sit there, but it was fine the rest of the time. This cabin makes it easy to get to the aft areas�the dining rooms, Club Fusion (no noise could be heard from there directly below us), and everything on the Promenade Deck, but it's a long walk to other parts of the ship. 7.Princess has obviously upgraded the mini-suites since we last had one a few years ago�much better mattresses, towels, and numerous other amenities. 8. Our stateroom steward did a good job and provided robes when requested. Nothing beyond the call of duty. 9. I'm trying to avoid 4 massive meals a day on a cruise for a change so I only ate breakfast and lunch once on the ship (I brought my diet cookies with me to eat for breakfast and lunch along with the stateroom fruit items) at the Horizon Court. Nothing new there�still decent food. The burgers and pizza (also succumbed to those one time each) are still above-average. There is now lemonade available at the Horizon Court along with the horrible coffee and iced tea, but you have to ask for it. 10. Thanks to the coffee card, I was finally able to avoid the swill passed off as coffee in the Horizon Court. The International Cafe is the best place by far on the ship for coffee and a small meal or quick snack. The brewed coffee served there is fine as is the latte and cappuccino. 11.  The main dining room food was OK, but nothing special, although as always there were a few standouts. We didn't starve, but we have had tastier meals with the same menu items on other Princess ships. It's the same food as before with a few new items, but a lot of it was simply too bland for my taste. Exceptions included quite good roast duck, lamb, and snow crab legs. I tried one of the new "Home Style" entrees (the pork ribs) which were pretty good as well. One night (the first night in St. Petersburg, when many shore excursions were still running)nothing looked enticing on the menu, we asked our waiter what he recommended from the daily special entrees, and he said stick to the always available items! That was a new one for us. My wife and I ended up each eating an appetizer pasta dish (the signature Princess Fettucine Alfredo is still good, but Princess does seem to be cutting back on the cheese, cream and portion size) and then going to Cafe Caribe, where the Indian buffet items that night were more flavorful than anything that we ate all week in the MDR except for the Chef's Table described below. As for desserts, I usually stick to Princess' great ice cream, after it messed up the Love Boat Dream recipe a few years ago. Our waiter (an 11 year Princess veteran) and his assistant were efficient and after the first night our drink and coffee/tea preferences were always anticipated and quickly refilled. This is why we almost always choose traditional dining. 12. This was by far the emptiest I have ever seen the MDR at night after 14 cruises. I don't know if it was the food, the service, the strenuous port stops (my guess is that) or whatever, but on many evenings, the MDR was no more than half full. In contrast, the Horizon Court and Cafe Caribe were packed every night when we happened to walk through them. 13. We ate the Crown Grill twice�much better food overall than the MDR, and worth the $25 upcharge. The steaks were OK (the meat is not top steakhouse quality, but we didn't expect this), but everything else was delectable, especially the seafood dishes, superb onion soup and the other appetizers. 14. Being a port intensive cruise, we did very little on the ship. We've spent lots of time at art auctions, trivia contests, and the casino, but not on this cruise. As for the entertainment, the Boogie Shoes production show was pretty good (we've seen the others), Kevin Hughes was a good comedian, the Perry Phillips Trio was entertaining as always, but the juggler we saw was simply not very talented. We usually spend a lot of time in Crooners (big Bert Stratton fans). We stopped by Crooners to hear Sammy Goldstein the first night, but he spent most of his time chatting with a few audience members and very little time singing. Not our cup of tea, so we didn't go back. I enjoyed watching Wimbledon at MUTS along with lots of Brits. 15. We loved the Emerald in general�a beautiful ship. We liked the tweaking that Princess has done to its product with the new ship changes and additions�the International Cafe, Vines, a much more impressive central atrium, much better Internet Wi-Fi (it worked most of the time in our far aft cabin�there are access points in the ship's hallways), etc. We didn't use the Sanctuary or the spa. The gym is quite nice and is almost always busy�bring your headphones for the built-in TVs on the cardio equipment. 16. Our two best experiences on the ship were two splurges�the Chef's Table and the Ultimate Ship Tour. Chef's Table has been explained many times on CC so I won't do it again�but the food was excellent and beyond plentiful, the wines were good, and the Executive Chef, his assistants and the Maitre D' could not have been more gracious or accommodating in answering questions, serving us hors d'oeuvres in the kitchen and showing us the galley and its workstations. We also had an excellent interesting dining group that accentuated the experience. It was certainly $75/PP well spent, and I wouldn't have known about it (or how to sign up for it) without the knowledge gained from the wonderful people here on CC. 17. The same superlatives apply to the Ultimate Ship Tour. We were shown completely different parts of the galley and provisions areas than at the Chef's Table dinner and met with different key personnel who would answer any question. Also part of the tour was a backstage look at the Princess Theatre, its chief technicians and performers, the engine control room, the photo and printing areas, the laundry (an amazing operation), the funnel pipes at the top of the ship, and last but not least, the bridge, where Commodore Romano was personable, funny and interesting. We were also supposed to see the medical facilities, but they were occupied by a sick passenger. The robe (the NICE one), chef's jacket and photos Princess gives you of your experience (you can't take your own pix) just sweeten the deal�it ain't cheap at $150/PP, but it was also well worth it. 18. 3200+ on board notwithstanding (apparently, the last remaining unfilled cabins were taken by Royal Princess fire refugees), the ship never seemed crowded, except at the T-shirt extravaganza sale at the atrium shops. 19. As for the ports�an absolute essential is listening to John Lawrence, both before and during the cruise. We bought his Baltic Treasures DVD before the cruise and found it very helpful in deciding what we wanted to do in each port (along with the Rick Steves and Fodor's Scandinavia books), and his port and other lectures were interesting and witty. We had incredible, lucky Baltic weather�warm and sunny everywhere except Germany, where it was hot and sunny. Copenhagen�there is quite a lot to see here. The city is very easy to get around by bus, train and Metro. If you don't have a lot of luggage, the Nordhavn train station is a 15-20 minute walk to the ship, and you can get from there from the airport by taking a train to the Copenhagen H central station and then changing trains. If you will be doing a lot of sightseeing and traveling in the area, get a Copenhagen Card. Our first nights in Copenhagen were spent at the Marriott which we got cheap on Priceline. It's a very nice hotel that's a 15 minute walk from the central train station and walking distance to Tivoli, the Black Diamond library, the Fisketorvet shopping mall, and many other things of interest. The only downside is that the Marriott's buffet breakfast is $40 (ouch) if you do Priceline, so hit a bakery at or near the train station instead or grab the free fruit and coffee offered at the hotel. Stockholm�we ordered Stockholm Cards online in advance�they saved us much time and money. We first took the 10 minute boat ride (leaves from a dock next to the ship) to the Vasa Museum (soon afterward, we were told that the line outside got ridiculously long, so many on the ship didn't bother with it�too bad), the Nordic Museum, Skansen (where we easily could have spent the entire day), and then a walk around Gamla Stan. We walked back to the ship from there, but it took almost 30 minutes, and in retrospect we should have taken a bus. The Stockholm Card covered everything except the boat. Helsinki�in the morning, we took the ship's "Helsinki at 40 Knots" shore excursion, which shows you the city's waterfront areas in small fast Zodiac-type boats with a nice sausage and beer lunch at a pleasant island setting�a very nice trip, although expensive (a theme here?) Only about 15 spaces are available�sign up early. After this 2 � hour tour, we took the Princess shuttle bus into town (really too far to walk), and just strolled around the bus stop Esplanade area and did some shopping at the enormous Stockmann's department store. St. Petersburg�to make a long story short, rumor had it that the reason no one could get off the ship for over an hour after the ship was originally cleared was that some flu-ridden buffoons insisted on trying to get off the ship. Following this delay, everyone got off the ship at the same time (Princess tour or otherwise) in a surprisingly orderly manner, but the Russian authorities took everyone's temperature when disembarking using a non-invasive thermal device (not the device you would expect Russians to use for this purpose) and stopped you if your temperature was too high. Once we got off the ship, going through the passport control process took five minutes. The Emerald stops at the new cruise port, which apparently greatly speeds up this process as many lines are open and available. A Princess rep told us when leaving the ship that we would have serious problems with the local authorities if we tried to take any food off the ship except packaged granola bars, so we ditched everything before we got off. It turned out to be complete misinformation. No one got searched, there were no dogs sniffing backpacks, many people brought sandwiches, cookies and other food off the ship without any problems at all, and we did so ourselves the next day after our tour guide assured us for the umpteenth time that it was OK. We used Red October for our group of 7, and we were very happy. Tallinn�some people stayed on the ship after the grueling two days in St. Petersburg. Don't make that mistake. In our short time here, we greatly enjoyed walking around this well-preserved, compact medieval town (the shuttle bus takes longer than walking) which had the cheapest prices for shopping anywhere on our whole trip. Gdynia�we had an excellent private tour (with the same 7 persons) of Gdansk, the Oliwa cathedral, and Sopot. Gdansk is surprisingly beautiful, as it was completely rebuilt after WW II. Warnemunde�thanks to HeinBloed on the Northern Europe and Baltics CC board, we rented a Hertz car (the well-hidden office is a 5 minute walk from the ship�make a right turn when leaving the ship area and look for the Pier 7 complex) and had a easy, pleasant drive to Lubeck, Schwerin (where the BUGA flower festival is currently running�it was beautiful but it was too hot of a day to really enjoy it) and Wismar. If we had to do it over again, we would have spent most of the day in Lubeck, a quite delightful town with good shopping and great food. We didn't want to do the 6 hour round trip train tour to Berlin that most on the ship took. Positive/negative reactions that we heard thereafter about the Berlin trip ran about 50/50. One couple in our dinner group exited the ship early at Warnemunde and rented a car to eventually fly out of Berlin�no problem once they told Princess about it. The MDR did stay open very late to accommodate the Berlin train travelers, but most of them instead apparently hit the buffets or room service. Helsingborg�in our continuing tradition of death-march type shore excursions, we bought "Around the Sound" 2 day train/ferry/attraction passes at the Helsingborg train station, then took the train to Malm�, an attractive Swedish city across the �resund bridge from Copenhagen with good shopping. (If we had stayed off the ship until its arrival back in Copenhagen, which Princess told us was OK with advance notice, we also would have spent time in Lund and Copenhagen). We then took the train from Malm� to Helsingor to see the Kronborg castle complex, and took the 15 minute ferry ride back to Helsingborg to complete the circle trip. 20. After disembarking the ship carrying off our luggage (you could do this any time after 5:30 AM, so making an early flight was not out of the question), we walked to the Nordhavn train station and took trains to the airport station, from where the Hilton hotel (extremely nice, and relatively cheap on weekends) is a 5 minute walk. The Hilton is wonderfully convenient if you're paranoid like we are about getting to the airport on time through morning rush hour traffic to catch a flight. We flew back to the U.S. the following day.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
A bit of background, my wife and I are in our mid 30s and have traveled on our own around Europe in the past. We wanted to see the Baltic region but it didn't seem realistic on our own so we looked for a company that would allow us to ... Read More
A bit of background, my wife and I are in our mid 30s and have traveled on our own around Europe in the past. We wanted to see the Baltic region but it didn't seem realistic on our own so we looked for a company that would allow us to see St. Petersburg and also was not greater than two weeks. Our top priority is to see sites, so an aggressive itinerary with the least time at sea was preferred. Embarkation was painless when we arrived. Princess didn't provide us the location of our departure. On our paperwork, that section was left blank. It wasn't a big deal as most in Copenhagen knew of our ship. Taking a taxi is recommended and not expensive. Public transportation was not realistic. Check-in was fairly quick as we arrived about an hour and half after the published start.When we first saw the ship, it seemed immense, but by the end of the cruise seemed to be what we needed. The ship was in great condition and the we had an interior cabin which was set up with a queen bed. Now these beds were two twins together but you couldn't tell. We walked around to get our bearings together and found that it was very nice. Now I am quite tall at 6' 6" so the ceiling made it pretty tight with just enough space that I didn't have to hunch over while on the ship. They were promoting a soft-drink card for unlimited drinks while on the ship. I had read previous reviews about this and took the offer. I found the older reviews to be wrong as the card was easy to use on the ship and the staff always asked if you had it when trying to get a soft-drink. Now the staff works like dogs on the ship, and even though they say that there are over 1,000 staff onboard, you may question if it is enough. One area where the service was poor was in the buffet sections of the ship. They had adequate staffing for pushing alcohol, water for shore excursions, and cleaning off tables, but trying to get a drink was a long wait. One of the last mornings, I had three people try to sell me water for the upcoming port but only one person pouring coffee. Also, passenger services was always busy! If you called, there were times they wouldn't answer the phone. Fortunately I didn't need them often. This cruise offered two formal nights. My wife and I have no interest in getting dressed up for vacation as we spend our work days like that all the time. That said, we had no problem eating in the buffet area and many also did as well. In case others are like us, you will have somewhere to go on those nights.Our cabin attendant also worked hard. Not sure how much time they get, but he needed some patience. The first night on the ship, my wife was changing and he knocked and proceeded to open the door. She jumped out of view, but you would think you would wait and see if you got a response before just entering. It was a one-time event, but the ladies should remember to deadbolt the door if you are changing. One of the reasons we chose the interior cabin was because I have a hard time sleeping with light. I heard from others that I made the right call. Remember on the Baltic in summer that the sun is up much of the night. Some guests mentioned that they were trying to find ways to block to light. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
Emerald Princess June 15-25 2009.  Weather started "early spring" and ended "early summer".  We used hop-on/hop-off (HOHO) buses in Copenhagen, Stockholm and Tallinn, walked in Oslo, DenRus in St. Petersburg and a ... Read More
Emerald Princess June 15-25 2009.  Weather started "early spring" and ended "early summer".  We used hop-on/hop-off (HOHO) buses in Copenhagen, Stockholm and Tallinn, walked in Oslo, DenRus in St. Petersburg and a taxi driver/private tour in Gdynia/Stopot/Gdansk.  Emerald Princess dinner food is fabulous.  The seafood is kept truly fresh - the executive chef told us that they "blast chill" the food when it arrives on board.  Evening ship entertainment not for us.  The Las Vegas style shows have the performers emoting; the comedian had his moments; the hypotist and the juggler struggled; the string quartet played VERY light classical.Examples of the excellent food: truly fresh Alaska king crab, shrimp and scallops; Beef Wellington and Fettucini Alfredo as if it was from the origins; bisque and cold soups that definitely took time to makeWe spent 2 days in Copenhagen before the cruise.  Restaurants charge USD 6.00 for coffee, orange juice, water, but the shopping for clothing was great - high quality and value.   Emerald Princess is a quieter, spacious ship.  They don't have as much blaring commercials and dinner time is quieter.Our children (ages 16 and 18) immediately made 6 close friends and were consumed with the Teen Center.Copenhagen pier can be reached by a 7-minute walk to Nordhavn train/metro station with 2 stops to Copenhagen central station, and then 3 stops to the airport. Read Less
Sail Date June 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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