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14 Princess Emerald Princess Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Baltic Sea from Copenhagen

My wife and I went on the Baltic Cruise with Princess in July 2015. I had mixed feelings about it. We had previously gone on the Alaska cruise with Princess and it was wonderful. The Baltic Cruise was a good way to get a sampling of ... Read More
My wife and I went on the Baltic Cruise with Princess in July 2015. I had mixed feelings about it. We had previously gone on the Alaska cruise with Princess and it was wonderful. The Baltic Cruise was a good way to get a sampling of Scandinavian countries. The stateroom was comfortable, the staff was very helpful and the food, although a bit institutional, was good. Princess also added some live shows with audience participation which were fun. That said, I do have some constructive comments for Princess (which I sent to Princess and never received a response) and advice for possible passengers. First, unlike the Alaska cruise, there was no one in the food courts ensuring that passengers washed or used antiseptic on their hands before eating. On the Alaska cruise that was really reassuring. On the Baltic cruise, no one was there to remind people and I noticed about half of the passengers did not clean their hands. I think this is a real health risk. Second, we had an unfortunate experience in Stockholm. Because the ship was so large, passengers had to take buses hired by Princess to get in. We were assured that the leaders on the buses would make sure we got back in time before sailing. We were expressly told on our bus that the last bus back to the ship would leave at 5:15. When we arrived at the pick-up spot, there were eight other passengers from different buses who also understood that. I had actually checked with our bus leader and she showed me that the last bus was at 5:15 on her list. When no bus arrived by 5:30, I called the local Princess agent and was told that the last bus had been at 4:30. When I explained that was not what the 10 passengers were told, we were told we would have to pay for a taxi. Luckily, Princess then called us back and said it had ordered and would pay for the taxis, which it did. When the taxis finally arrived and took us to the ship, we were told that the captain was mad at us because we had delayed sailing. I explained to the excursion director that we were angry because we had been misinformed about the last bus. While all of this worked out and I appreciated Princess paying for the taxis, we never got an apology from Princess. Good customer relations would have at least led to an email or a note in our cabin that Princess was sorry for the confusion. Third, and while this is a personal preference, I thought the stops in Estonia and Germany were really unnecessary. I understand the stop in Germany was to let people take trains to Berlin, but that meant we were stuck in Kiel for almost 15 hours because we did not want to go to Berlin. In addition, Estonia was a bit disappointing as it seemed very touristy. In contrast, Helsinki and Stockholm were really interesting but we only had about half a day in each city. I would suggest letting people get to Berlin before the cruise, deleting the Germany and Estonia stops and staying two days in Stockholm and Helsinki. Finally, I want to thank the fitness staff. The equipment was really state of the art and the yoga classes were excellent. I would have liked to have more yoga classes - there were only two classes for the whole cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
As others have said, we took this cruise for the itinerary. Since it was our first cruise, we did not know what to expect. I booked our extra nights before & after the cruise in Copenhagen through the Radisson's website. This cost ... Read More
As others have said, we took this cruise for the itinerary. Since it was our first cruise, we did not know what to expect. I booked our extra nights before & after the cruise in Copenhagen through the Radisson's website. This cost half of what Princess would have charged so I don't know why anyone would book through them. We took a taxi from the airport to the hotel. Princess was going to charge us $120 to get to the hotel and we paid $40 on our own. There was a Princess table set up in the lobby & the woman told us to wait until 3 or 4 in the afternoon to board the ship after all the groups had checked in. it was great advice & we breezed through. The ship itself was grand. It was everything I expected. it was huge, well organized & super clean. Our mini suite with balcony worked great for the 4 of us. It was well thought out. I never felt cramped. There was plenty of storage so we were able to unpack everything. The bathroom was a good size - bigger than expected. We saw maintenance people working all the time. I had always heard people rave about cruise ship food so I was coming in with high expectations. I know cooking for thousands cannot be easy but really - can't they cut the rind off the pineapple before serving it? It took a lot of sawing to get it off with that butter knife. We ate mainly in the Horizon Court because it was convenient. We spent the extra $25 per person for dinner at Sabatini's & really should have saved our money. It was heavy on atmosphere & short on food. The menu was very limited with the pasta course being "chef's choice" which means zero passenger choice. I felt nickeled & dimed with the food. I wanted a Diet Coke one day & was asked for my room number so they could charge me so I skipped it. I had hot tea at no charge in the Horizon Court, dining rooms and through room service. I was surprised when I ordered tea at the European style cafe in the Atrium & they wanted to charge me! Ice cream was available at no charge near the pizza counter but if you wanted the "special" ice cream at the cafe, there was a charge. That said, the food was adequate & nobody starved. We loved the $3 flat fee for room service. The staff are very friendly & well trained. I found getting on & off the ship surprisingly easy. The only port I did not like was Aarhus. I cannot figure out why the ship stops there. I would rather have had another day in Stockholm. the ship docks in an industrial area with lots of commercial traffic so passengers are not allowed to walk off the ship into town. We had to wait for a bus to take us a mile into town. Plus it was pouring rain & we went back to the ship. St Petersburg was the highlight of the trip. We booked a private tour through SPb tours & it was fabulous. Because we were a small group, the tour guide was able to get us to the front of every line. it was expensive & worth every penny. It was hot when we went to Peterhof & my kids loved running through the fountains. I had read that we might have to wait to get off the ship because we were not on a Princess shore excursion but that was not the case at all. My 9 year old went to the kids club one afternoon when we were at sea. My 14 year old did not go at all. I know Princess is not really geared towards kids but Disney Pictionary for 13-17 year olds?? They were so tired from sightseeing that we watched movies or swam in our free time. Princess really pushes on-board shopping & art auctions. I think having shops on board with nice souvenirs is great but please don't clutter up the hallways with tables of stuff. And don't tell me not to buy souvenirs in Russia, that I should buy them on board. I wanted to buy a book or magazine but the selection was almost non-existent. The onboard travel guru was great until they started broadcasting his lectures over the PA system. The entertainment was pretty hokey although we enjoyed the crew talent show - they were very genuine. Overall, the trip went smoothly & we have great memories. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
We booked our flight separately, flying Delta-KLM. Be sure to pay a little extra and get the Economy Plus; more leg room, more tilt, and two across. The food and refreshments were frequent and included. You get early boarding with the ... Read More
We booked our flight separately, flying Delta-KLM. Be sure to pay a little extra and get the Economy Plus; more leg room, more tilt, and two across. The food and refreshments were frequent and included. You get early boarding with the First Class. We were met at the airport by a team of efficient Princess representatives, who directed us to where to take our luggage (free handy carts) and to our bus. We were whisked to the ship's terminal and noticed a long line of people waiting to get aboard. We were pleasantly surprised to find our wait was only about 15-20 minutes and we received a handy pocket map of the ship, our room card and pictures taken for i.d. Once aboard we made our way to our stateroom, with the help of conveniently placed personnel to aid us on our way. It was disappointing to find our balcony stateroom very cramped. It wasn't as nice or roomy as on a smaller Princess Two people couldn't be about at the same time. One had to sit on the side of the bed with feet out of the way while the other maneuvered around the bed. Also don't drop the soap in the shower or you'll get a bump on your head. There was no room for a foursome card game or pre-dinner refreshments. Our daughter and her husband had to knock on our cabin door and wait in the passageway. We couldn't all fit in the room together. The first day or two it was bewildering trying to find our way around. The little pocket map really helped, and on each floor near the elevators you would find a plaque of the ship and the layout for the floor you were on. The food was prepared for any variety of ethnic people, special diets, etc. My complaint is that the vegetables were almost raw. I like al dente, but their cooked veggies were 1 degree from raw. The baked sweet potato slices were hard and undercooked. Since I like vegetables and heaped them on my plate, I must say there was quite a waste. We were assigned a table at dinner, but ate there only 3 times due to the noise level. The workers stations are nearby and noisy, even though they tried to be quiet and the surrounding tables were quite noisy. Perhaps more insulation is required.'s We dined in the Grill and Sabatini's which were well worth the cover charge, and also the anytime dining room and the buffet. For a delightful treat, get a specialty coffee at the International Cafe and next to that is a delicious pastry, salad, quiche, and small sandwich counter to enjoy with your coffee. Nice place to meet a friend.The selection for the ports of call were excellent. Didn't enjoy Aarhus that much. St. Petersburg was the highlight but very, very crowded. The archipelagos on the way to Stockholm were beautiful...stay up to see the beauty of the area as you glide by; also the fjords in Norway. Warnemunde/Rostock, Germany was one of my favorites. Overall, the tours were well planned and educational. I had trouble understanding one or two guides. We noticed in the Princess Theatre that the shows were shortened to about 30 min. The crew singers, however, were excellent. Some amenities were missing such as the towel figures in your stateroom. I suppose corners have to be cut somewhere, but it doesn't feel as special to not have the extra niceties to remember that you were special and being pampered. We will not travel on such a large ship again as we felt we were lost in the shuffle of humanity. I didn't see or talk to the same people twice. I felt I was in a tenement building and the thought struck me, "what if there was a fire".On embarkation, it was very organized and easy to leave the ship. The buses were waiting and promptly took off for the airport making it easy for us. The hard part was when we were on our own. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Princess's transfer service was outstanding. We were met at Copenhagen airport's luggage claim and escorted a waiting bus. We were brought to our hotel and our bags were brought to our room. Two days later we left them outside ... Read More
Princess's transfer service was outstanding. We were met at Copenhagen airport's luggage claim and escorted a waiting bus. We were brought to our hotel and our bags were brought to our room. Two days later we left them outside our hotel door and the bags were delivered to our stateroom. The last night of the cruise the bags were picked up then staged in a building next to the airport bus drop off location, and there were many Princess people directing passengers to their bags then into the airport terminal. Check-in at the ship was very fast with no waiting in line. For us, we stayed at the wrong pre-cruise hotel, the Kong Arthur. Although the room and bathroom were large and very nice, the hotel is "green," carbon neutral with no air conditioning. The outside temperature got up to 73 degrees but our room was 89 and only went down to 79 at night with all the windows open, which also allowed a lot of noise inside. The hallway also felt like a sauna and we didn't get the proper rest following our long flight. The buffet breakfast was really good but not included with the room price. Not a problem for us, but the metro transportation station is a 5-7 minute walk away and the most touristy areas, like Tivoli, Nyhavn, Stroget shopping street, are 15-20 minutes away. Our stateroom was very nice with a comfortable bed, desk and chair, tv cabinet with refrigerator, small table, 2 small end tables, a large open closet, a shelf unit with safe, and lots of mirrors that made the room appear larger. The balcony was spacious for more than the 2 of us and our cabin attendant kept the room spotless and the ice bucket full. In the bathroom there was a 2-prong U.S.-style electrical outlet (the prongs had to be the same size), a 3 prong outlet above the desk and another one behind the flatscreen tv. The European-style 2-prong plug we used at the hotel did not fit into the stateroom's outlets. The Eucalyptus scented bath products were a minor problem for this allergy sufferer. Room service for coffee a couple of mornings and for bottled water and sodas on other occasions was prompt. Other than during the first day's emergency muster drill, the ship seemed half empty. It was never overcrowded in the main dining rooms, the Horizon Court buffet, the main showroom, lounges, casino, etc. About 3 non-smoking nights at the Casino was appreciated. Food was good and the service was excellent in the dining room. Water glasses were not allowed to be empty and used dishes immediately were picked up. Even the service in the buffet was good. As soon as you were seated people were taking beverage requests. We purchased and easily used up one coffee card for a slight savings. One problem did occur at the Internet Cafe the day before disembarkation. The printer wasn't working during the day and caused a lot of problems for people trying to print airline boarding passes. The problem was fixed in the evening and they had a special 15 minute package that we used in addition to the 15 free minutes coupon found in our stateroom. The highlight of on board activity was John Lawrence's port lectures. The day before each port, he outlined in some detail useful information and history of the city we were about to visit. The in-person shows were better than watching the tapes on tv in the cabin, as he injected a lot of humor into the live lectures. As a bonus, he also gave a lecture about the last Russian czar's family, Nicolas & Alexandra, Anastasia and the other children. He was also available almost every evening to answer questions. The shows were good, although the best was our night in St. Petersburg. Guessing we would be too tired for an evening excursion, and we were, we were pleasantly surprised to find a local Russian folk dance/song group performing in the on board theater. Although the people who went into town for evening performance were pleased, I don't think we missed much by staying on the ship. After investigating private shore excursion companies, we decided to use Princess. They may have cost more but each was excellent and well-prepared. After meeting on board, we would march off the ship and onto our tour bus. A tip is to go to the gathering place early. As soon as a busload of people were there, they were led off the ship early. Many times I saw private company's on the dock waiting for their guests or at venues waiting to get in. We always walked straight inside buildings and a couple of times, most notably at the Peterhof summer palace outside St. Petersburg, we were the first group inside. See our port reviews for more information. Sometimes there was a line to get back on the ship and the worst lines were in St. Petersburg the first day to to through Russian Customs upon entering, then returning, but not too bad to make us late. Overall, we were very pleased with the Emerald, the Baltic itinerary (although skipping Aarhus and spending more time in Stockholm would have been great), and highly recommend this cruise Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
I travelled the Baltic on the Emerald Princess with my 82 year old mom. Once aboard, our balcony mini-suite was comfortable and roomy, as described. Meals were fine, although occasionally the evening menu was a bit too eclectic and ... Read More
I travelled the Baltic on the Emerald Princess with my 82 year old mom. Once aboard, our balcony mini-suite was comfortable and roomy, as described. Meals were fine, although occasionally the evening menu was a bit too eclectic and out there for my taste, and I'm a foodie. Their standard "always available" menu is excellent. The Horizon buffet was very good with many choices. Evening entertainment included ballroom dancers (so-so), a magician (so-so), a juggler (amazing and hilarious), a Beatles tribute band (great fun) and the EP singers and dancers (fantastic). Playing throughout the ship was a truly fine classical string quartet (all lovely young ladies), a soft jazz combo with singer, Evolution cover band, and a few others. Something for everyone. Onto the shore excursions, comments are listed individually. But a few points about Russia: It's all about the bathrooms, and traffic. We did EP excursions both days, but also had a special AAA tour to St. Catherine's. Guides were competent, knowledgeable and utterly humorless. We used EP but if I were to do it again, I'd try something else. It's difficult to appreciate the sights when you're so frustrated by the iron control the Russians still exert over their guests. Check your other options. Also YOU WILL BE LATE to everything, so don't book two excursions too close together in time. You will leave late, and you will arrive back late, up to a couple hours. Save yourself stress and don't plan things too close together. Personal add-on to Bergen, Norway. After the cruise I spent 4 days in Bergen on my own. What a lovely city! But not for the disabled or those who need level ground. It's all on steep hills, and they're so steep there are staircases between the streets. I booked a cozy, utterly simple room with Ingrid's Summer Rooms. She is lovely, the room is clean, quiet, with shared bath and fridge. There's a grocery store 5 minutes away. I ate nothing at a restaurant. It's terribly expensive to do anything in Norway, but I did do the Norway Active tour for my splurge and loved every minute of it. PS, there's also a Noa Noa store near the beginning of the light rail. I got the 48 hour Bergen card and it was well worth it for me. Even with the price of the card I saved over 500 kroner on the things I did. It includes all bus and light rail, a big plus. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Before embarking on this cruise, I read quite a few negative reviews. I think many of them were over-critical, and possibly the result of being jaded from past luxurious experiences. Like other cruise lines, Princess has cut back on ... Read More
Before embarking on this cruise, I read quite a few negative reviews. I think many of them were over-critical, and possibly the result of being jaded from past luxurious experiences. Like other cruise lines, Princess has cut back on what is included in the base price. You have to pay for drinks (including soda, juice, and coffee), with the exception of the breakfast offerings. There are restaurants on board that require a cover charge, and pool areas that require a spa fee. All irritating, but I chose to ignore all of these options, and enjoy everything else. The ship: The Emerald Princess is a classy ship, in excellent condition. Decor consists of lacquered wood and brass. All of the public areas were comfortable and elegant. The only design flaw I could see was that it was difficult to walk from one part of the ship to another without having to go up and down to avoid blocked passageways. On the positive side, all of the stair climbing helps burn off calories! Stateroom service was not very personal, and was more like Motel 6. The food: I saw no need to spend money on specialty restaurants, since the food was so good in the main dining room. If you are patient, nearly all of the specialty food, such as lobster, are eventually served for free. The wait staff was very friendly, and their individual personalities showed through the stiff formality. Specialty cheeses and desserts were available 24-hours a day in the atrium, and pizza and burgers could be found near the pools. Entertainment: The shows are short, and shown more often, to try to make scheduling easier. The ship's dance crew put on a couple of really good shows, but overall the entertainment was less impressive than other cruises I have been on. (I guess I'm a bit jaded as well) The most valueable shows were the port lectures by John Lawrence. Listening carefully to his advice will save you time and money, as well as helping you to plan your port time. They were always repeated on the stateroom televisions. The ports: The ship visited 8 ports in 11 days, which was exhausting at times. I actually heard a few people complaining that it was too much, but my wife and I looked at it as a real value for the cost of the cruise. Be prepared for strenuous days. The port strike was resolved in Oslo Norway, so we were able to visit the port. The castle right next to the ship was incredible! The self guided tour allowed me to see it at my own pace, with time left over to visit the open air Viking Folk Museum. Aarhus Denmark was a small port, with not much to see. We made use of Denmark's free bicycles, and rode along the coast for a while before heading to the shopping district to explore and have a cold beer. We procrastinated too long, and arrived at the cathedral after closing hours (4 pm). Oh well, we had another beer instead. In Warnemunde Germany, we booked a tour through SPB that went to Rostock and Schwerin Castle. Our guide was relaxed and knowledgeable about the sites. She was actually part of the congregation of one of the old churches that we visited. Schwerin Castle was one of the highlights of the cruise. Lunch was included with the tour, and consisted of German sausage, sauerkraut, and a beer. Unlike the unfortunate people who went all the way to Berlin, we had time left over to walk around Warnemunde before boarding the ship. Tallinn Estonia was a warm and friendly medieval town. The people were vibrant, friendly, and willing to talk. I could see myself living there. We found a three story restaurant housed in a very old building, which was candle lit, and served wild game and a beer resembling mead in HUGE mugs: another highlight of the cruise. St. Petersburg Russia took about a day to grow on us. When we left the ship, we were greeted by some very serious Russian agents. It felt very oppressive. We booked the 2-day, as well as the Evening Fun Tour, with SPB tours. Our day guide was reserved and efficient. We must have seen every cultural sight there was. Well worth the money, and less costly than the Princess sponsored tour. The fun evening tour is what really won our hearts. Our tour guide, Sasha, was confident, outgoing, and funny. Ladies, keep an eye on your husbands around this cute young woman! Helsinki Finland was spread out, and therefore difficult to see in such a short day. We got to see the Temppeliaukio church, met some really friendly people, and enjoyed fresh fish in a farmer's market at the downtown docks. Stockholm Sweden was another highlight of the cruise. Unfortunately, the port had the shortest stay of the trip, so we changed our approach. We were the first people off the ship, and immediately grabbed a taxi into Old Town, where we stayed to explore the rest of the day. We were able to get pictures of the old palace, medieval church, and town streets before anyone else arrived. As the stores began to open, we sampled Swedish pastries, meatballs, herring, and of course...local beer! We made it back to the ship with a whole 5-minutes to spare. After the cruise, we spent 5-days in Copenhagen Denmark (it takes a minimum of three to get a good look at the city). We disembarked just as the International Jazz festival began. It rained a little bit just about every day, which was actually kind of nice. There is a lot to see here, and I think we covered about 80% of it. Kronborg Castle was definitely worth the 50-minute train ride to see. The underground ramparts really gave us a feel for the military life of its inhabitants. Climbing the tower at Our Saviour's Church was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. The staircase spirals around the outside of the tower, to dizzying heights. My fear of heights had me crawling the last few steps! In summary, I would definitely recommend this cruise. It is rich in Norse culture, and a bargain for the money. I hope to return to some of the countries visited, because I enjoyed them (and the cool weather) so much. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We (mother, father, 24 yr old daughter) flew into Copenhagen the morning of the cruise. We usually prefer to give ourselves more time but our work schedules would not allow for this. After a rather unfriendly meeting with the Danish ... Read More
We (mother, father, 24 yr old daughter) flew into Copenhagen the morning of the cruise. We usually prefer to give ourselves more time but our work schedules would not allow for this. After a rather unfriendly meeting with the Danish immigration official I discovered my luggage did not make the trip. Not to worry I was handed "the essentials kit" at the airport so what more could I need? Other than underwear, socks and a formal outfit and party shoes? Filing the lost luggage claim took some time so we missed the transfer bus. The Princess rep outside was sympathetic to our plight and sent us in a taxi to the port. As Platinum members we were checked in quickly and were onboard and in our inside cabin on the Aloha deck by 12 noon. After a quick bite in the Horizon Court we crashed for some much needed sleep. I still kept hoping that a miracle would happen and my luggage would appear but that did not happen. We met our cabin attendant Rico and he did a fine job without being intrusive. He did have a thing for straightening up the room and every day we had a treasure hunt trying to find where he put things away. Dinner in the Botticelli dining room was good. We had a table for 3 as we requested and our waiter Mateo and Katarina the assistant did a fine job keeping us well fed. I have a food allergy and Mateo was very careful to be sure I had no problems. I found that the staff such as the waiter and cabin attendant were very good and showed genuine concern for our needs and preferences. I also found the general staff such as in the casino and Horizon Court was less concerned. Several times when asked a question or asked to do something they would snap back at you. I was surprised at their irritated comments. I also witnessed a shouting match between 2 deck attendants by the pool. They had a long and loud very public discussion about a difference of opinion. I was really surprised at that one. The first morning the captain made an announcement that the stop in Germany was canceled due to high winds in the channel that would cause dangerous conditions for the ship. Many people were disappointed because they had tours to Berlin planned. I hope they were able to get their money back from those private companies. I was disappointed because I was hoping that I would be able to be reunited with my luggage. The ship also decided this would be the first formal dinner which was unfortunate for me as all I had was the same jeans and cotton shirt that I had put on Monday afternoon to fly to Copenhagen. I also had only my sneakers for shoes. The ship had promised me some generic formal clothes they keep in stock for such emergencies but when I went to collect them I was told they had run out so I was out of luck. Many people had luggage missing and they were overwhelmed. I did do some shopping in the ship stores but they do not have socks, underwear or shoes available. I made do with what I could get; needless to say we did not do photos that night. Thursday we did stop in Stockholm and stayed there overnight till 2PM Friday. The trip through the fiords was a real treat. Stockholm was a lovely town and easy to get around. The ship had a shuttle into town but it was easy to just walk into town. Follow the blue line painted on the pavement. They do need to refresh the paint a little as it disappeared at critical moments but we were able to figure it out and find our way. It was much cooler than we expected on this trip and I wish we had packed heavier clothing. Sweden is also very expensive just a warning to those planning this cruise. The changing of the guard at the palace and the palace tour were both very interesting and enjoyable. Then good news at 10:15pm on Thursday my battered pink suitcase appeared at the cabin door. Rejoice! Lesson learned- pack a change of clothes in your carry on. I will not get caught again. Friday afternoon we set sail for Finland and enjoyed the reverse trip through the Fiords of Sweden. My husband got some great video of the journey. Saturday in Finland we did use the ships shuttle as it was not walkable into town. We walked around Helsinki including a stroll around the flea market. There was a souvenir store right at the dock where I could get some postcards and stamps and even a mailbox to mail them. We also picked up a few trinkets to bring home. Saturday and Sunday were days in St Petersburg. We booked the 2 day ships tour. It was great and we saw everything there was to see as shown by the 500 photos I took. A stop at a souvenir store where the prices were in Euros was a big help as we saw many items we wanted to bring home to friends. Each day the tour included a lunch including Russian Vodka. The first meal was not so great and the vodka was more like paint thinner but the second day was quite tasty and the vodka was smoother and drinkable. They also provided entertainment. It was amazing to see the beautiful churches with the beautiful mosaics. We were lucky to have cool but clear weather to do all our touring. Our guide was very informative. We had a group of 30 but they provided headphones and receivers so we were able to hear all the explanations. I confess that after a while I got my Catherine's and Alexander's confused but that's just me. Tuesday was a delightful surprise as we visited Tallin, Estonia. It was a warmer day and we could walk around without a sweater. Tallin was a nice friendly town and we enjoyed a beer in a sidewalk cafe in the town square. The ship docked right in town and it was a very short walk to the old town. Wednesday was an at sea day . It was cold and rainy and we really could not sit out on deck. The blah food in the Horizon Court was getting boring. My daughter wanted a plain turkey sandwich for lunch and she was told in the Horizon Ct that this was not possible. We finally went to our cabin and ordered on though room service. I know on past cruises they had a deli area where they would make sandwiches but when I asked I was told that never happened. Thursday the stop in Aarhus Denmark was a waste of time. There was nothing bad about it but nothing great to see either. We arrived early 7:30am and left at 2pm. The stores didn't open until 10am so we just walked around and returned to the ship early. Friday was Oslo, Norway. It also was quick stop leaving at 1:30pm. We were able to just walk into the town and see the harbor area. We also did some shopping for some Norwegian sweaters and hats. We were able to use credit cards for our purchases even though we didn't have a pin. We had been warned that this might be a problem. Disembarkation was quick and easy. We booked a post cruise stay at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel. The hotel was nicely located. Our room was clean and large. The transfers ship to hotel and hotel to airport the next morning were smooth and hassle free. The entire cruise we used Euros, credit cards, and some Danish Kroners. We did not get all the Swedish or Norwegian Kroners or Rubles and we did just fine shopping. In general it was a great trip. I would suggest bringing some warmer clothes. Reading reviews I got the impression it was warmer but Aug 9 to the 20 it was cool most days. I feel the food on Princess has sadly gone down in quality. Many people we spoke with felt the same way. This was our 7th Princess cruise and we missed the delicious cuisine we had enjoyed on past cruises. The layout in the Horizon Court was also annoying. The buffet was like a giant pinball machine with people bumping into each other trying to find what was being served and the returning to get it. The layout at the coffee area was also not right. The cups were on the far left and the coffee on the far right with condiments in the middle. It made it awkward to get the morning coffee. On most days for breakfast and lunch we had great difficulty finding a table. Occasionally a staff member would help but most days we were just on our own. The last major difference was the attitude of some of the staff members. I was really surprised when I got snapped back at. I am a happy camper on vacation and am always grateful for the hard work of others to make sure we have a good vacation. I always say please and thank you. I do not expect to be made to feel like an idiot when I ask how we could get a turkey sandwich. I was very happy when I called room service and found that staff member was "old school" and very helpful and friendly. Many fellow passengers thought that this attitude problem was due to the fact that gratuities are automatic and not based on actual service rendered. I understand that this was cause by some rude people who did not give tips or gave much less than the suggested amount. I don't know what the answer is. I am just making an observation that I notice a change and I am sad that this is happening. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Having always wanted to tour Scandinavia we opted for a cruise, as this would enable us to visit all the capital cities in the easiest way possible. We chose Princess because they had one of the best itineraries among the 5-star cruise ... Read More
Having always wanted to tour Scandinavia we opted for a cruise, as this would enable us to visit all the capital cities in the easiest way possible. We chose Princess because they had one of the best itineraries among the 5-star cruise lines. What can I say; we absolutely loved this cruise - "we" being my wife and I in our mid 40s, my daughter (24) and my son (20). We had a balcony double stateroom and the grown up offspring had an internal stateroom directly opposite us, which worked very well e.g. they could nip into our cabin to use the balcony or borrow things from us!!! The staterooms were of a high standard and were kept immaculate by our stateroom steward "Reynaldo" from the Philippines. They had everything we needed e.g. minibar, hairdryer, plenty of storage space and hangers, a mini safe, full ice-bucket (refilled twice a day), decent TV with good selection of movies, mainstream TV shows, info on upcoming ports and other cruises as well as activities onboard, weather conditions and up to date details of the voyage. A nice touch was the self-service Laundromats on every deck, which cost £1.25 per wash and the same for a dry. Just be aware that you need US $ notes to change for quarter (25c) coins and if you don't have these, you will be charged currency exchange at $4. This was a port intensive tour with only 2-sea days, one of which was hot and sunny and the other was damp and dull. The food was of an excellent standard, particularly in the main dining rooms. As it was our first time with Princess and the menus were always interesting and of high quality, we did not feel the need to try the speciality restaurants (Sabitini's Italian Restaurant $20 charge each or Crown Grill $25 each). We used the Horizon Court on the first night for dinner, which is a self-service buffet. The food was of a good standard and there was plenty of choice but this is very much casual dining. All other nights we chose Da Vinci's using "Anytime Dining" were we just rocked up when ready to eat and opted to share tables. A couple of times there were just the four of us but for the most part we enjoyed the company of strangers, mainly from the USA but also Sweden, UK, Australia and Canada. This made for a very interesting trip and we met some very nice people. For breakfast we used Horizon Court most mornings with the exception of one day in the Da Vinci and one day we had breakfast sent to our stateroom. Horizon Court has most choice but it is a bit of a zoo on port days. However, we always managed to get a table although on one day we had to find a covered table in the pool area as the dining room was packed. They do have two waiters covering the pool area so we were still able to get water and juice from them. There was plenty of entertainment, just not enough time to do everything. We liked Movies Under the Stars and enjoyed a few balmy summer nights lying on padded sun loungers watching pretty up to date movies and being served popcorn, cookies and milk by the staff. Embarkation and disembarkation were fast and efficient, we did not join the ship until nearly 4 pm and it was very quiet. We enjoyed the refined but not snobby atmosphere, the staff were attentive, friendly and helpful. Onboard drinks prices were fine, particularly being from the UK. The wines at dinner ranged from around £15.50 (incl 15% gratuity) upwards and they had at least 10 different cocktails permanently priced at around £2.87 (incl 15% gratuity). A pleasant surprise was the off licence prices for drinks to take home. A 1ltr bottle of Capt Morgan's Spiced Gold was under £8 if you purchased two (£18 for one in Tesco!). Makeup and perfume were also excellent value compared to the UK. We did our own sightseeing in all ports with the exception of St Petersburg were I had got four groups together via the cruisecritic rollcall for our cruise and used Guide-Guru at only US $240 each for 2 full days of sightseeing in a 16 seater minibus, including lunch on both days, a metro trip and hydrofoil back from the Peterhof. This also included entry to all museums, galleries and palaces. We used public transport in all other ports, usually opting for the day-tickets, which we paid for in local currencies. You do not require public transport in Tallinn, as it is very walkable from the ship. In Aarhus we used the public transport to get to a Viking Moot at Moesgard but that is a once a year event and you don't need transport if staying in the city. I could go on for ages and have written reviews for each port separately but the bottom line is this cruise was top notch. If you want any specific further info regarding the ship or the ports, e-mail me at kevin.belam@ntlworld.com and I'll help you. Ports of Call: OSLO (Port Location - Akershusstranda). A lovely city, particularly poignant as there were floral tributes everywhere in memory of those killed the previous week. We used public transport, get a 24 hr card from the Tram stop at Akker Brygge (4 min walk from ship) - you will need Norwegian Kroner (70 each adult and 35 for anyone 20 years or younger) then use Tram 12 from Akker Brygge to Vigelandsparken for the sculpture park then return to the city centre on Tram 12 and get off at the Domkirke then just walk the rest of the city. Top sights are: 1. Vigelandsparken (park). 2. Domkirke (Cathedral). 3. Kvadraturen (Old City Area). 4. Stortingset (Parliament Bldg). 5. Radhuset (City Hall). 6. Oslo University. 7. Nasjonalgalleriet (National Gallery bldg). 8. Det Kongelige Slott (Royal Palace), Changing of the Guard at 1330 hrs. 9. Norges Hjemmefrontmuseum (Norway's Resistance Museum). 10. Akershus Slott eg Festning (Akershus Castle and Fortress). 11. Opera House. 12. Oslo Ice Bar. 13. Aker Brygge Wharf. AARHUS (Port Location - Cruis3 Terminal, Kovnogade). Decent sized city with some nice residential areas. No need for transport unless you visit sights 8 and 9. Once you cross the main road on leaving the ship, turn left to head towards the city centre. Top sights are: 1. Sankt Clemens Bridge 2. Stroget (pedestrian high street). 3. The Frederiksbjerg Quarter (M.P. Bruunsgade, Jægergårdsgade). 4. The Latin Quarter (Klostergade, Volden, and Borggade). 6. Vestergade district & Møllestien 5. Toldboden. 6. Aarhus Theatre. 7. Den Gamle Nationalbank - Nykredit. WARNEMUNDE (Port Location - Cruise Centre, 30 Am Passagierkai). We lived in Berlin for 3 years so did not use this port to go to Berlin. Instead we got the train from Warnemunde to Rostock, which was only about 4 Euro each return. When you leave the ship, turn left and train station is about a 5-minute walk. We walked all around Rostock then returned by train to Warnemunde and walked round there. This with Tallinn is a good value for money compared to the rest of the port calls on this cruise. It is a lovely non-tacky seaside resort. Top sights are: 1. Fisch Market. 2. Warnemunder Vogtei (Bailiwick of Warnemunde & Tourist Info). 3. Heimatmuseum (Local History Museum). 4. Wartnemunder Kirche (Church). 5. Seepromenade am strand (promenade and beach). 6. Sand Sculptures on the beach Pier 7. 7. Leuchtturm (Lighthouse). 8. Westmole (Western Breakwater). 9. Alter Strom (mall of Warnemunde). 10. Yachthafen Hohe Dune (Yacht Harbour). 11. Bahnof (Train Station) ROSTOCK 1. Hauptbahnof (Station). 2. Steintor (Stone Gate). 3. Standeshaus (House of the Estates). 4. Rathus (City Hall) & Kerkhoffhaus. 5. Marienkirche (St Marien Church). 6. Hausbaumhaus (House Tree House). 7. Universitatsplatz (University Place). 8. Kloster zum Heiligen Kreuz Convent. 9. Kropeliner Str & Tor (Kropelin Gate). 10. Fischer Bastion view of city harbour. 11. Stadhafen (city harbour). 12. Waterfront. 13. Petrikirche (St Petri Church). 14. City Wall. 15. Nikolaikirche. 16. Document & Memorial Place STASI (closed on Mondays) TALLINN (Port Location - Old City Harbour, Pier 25). The best place to buy amber and also the best value port call on this cruise. No need for transport, the walled city is about a 10-15 minute walk from the cruise terminal, where there is an open-air crafts market for last minute souvenirs once you have checked out the city. Don't bother with the areas outside the walled city unless listed below (i.e. Freedom Square). Top sights are: 1. Vabaduse Valjak (Freedom Square). 2. Okupatsioonide Museum (Occupation Museum). 3. Kiek in de Kok & Bastion (Bastion and Tunnels). 4. Taani Kuninga aed (Danish King's Garden). 5. Aleksander Nevski Katedral (Cathedral). 6. Toompea Castle and Tall Hermann's Tower. 7. Vaateplatvormid (Viewing Platforms). 8. Toomkirik (Cathedral of St Mary the virgin). 9. Raekoja Plats & Raekoda (Town Hall & Square). 10. Katarlina Kaik (St Catherine's Passage). 11. Meistrite Hoov (Master's Courtyard). 12. Puha Vaimu Kirik (Holy Spirit Church). 13. Suurgildi Hoone (Great Guild Hall). 14. Mustpeade Maja (House of the Brotherhood of Black Heads). 15. Oleviste Kirik (St Olav's Church). 16. Suur Rannavaray & Peks Margareeta (Great Coastal Gate & Fat Margaret's Tower). SAINT PETERSBURG. It is simply not practical to self-tour St Petersburg. In addition to having to fork out big bucks for a VISA for each member of your group, the distances between some of the major sights outside of the city (Peterhof and Catherine's Palace in particular) coupled with the language just make it too much hassle. So you have to bite the bullet and pay a tour company, that way you don't need a VISA and they will take care of everything. I got four groups together via the Cruisecritic roll call for our cruise to form a party of 16 at a cost of US $240 each if paying in US $ cash. This included two full days of sightseeing in an air-conditioned 18-seater Mercedes mini-bus. Be aware that irrespective of the company you choose (e.g. Guide-Guru, Denrus, SPB, TJ, etc). Your guide is likely to be freelance and they all seem to be very knowledgeable and professional. The Princess organised tour was US $399 each so ours was nearly $200 less but also included lunch on both days, a metro ride and journey back from the Peterhof to the city on a hydrofoil. HELSINKI (Port Location - Hernessaari Terminal, Hernesaarenranta). Bus 16 from Hernesaaren Laituri (Times: 0719, 0744, 0809 or 0834) to Ritarihuone arr 12 mins. Return from Kauppatori stop 2005 (Times: 1311, 1331, 1351, 1410, 1420, 1430, 1450) arr 15 mins. Buy an all day ticket at 7 Euro each and you can use this for the buses, trams, metro and the ferry to Suomenlinna Island. Top sights are: 1. Presidentinlinna (Presidential Palace). 2. Uspenski Cathedral. 3. Luotsikatu Street (Jugendstil architecture). 4. Senaatintori (Senate Square). 5. Tuomiokirkko (Cathedral). 6. Aleksanterinkatu (Shopping Street). 7. Esplanadin Puisto (Esplanade Park). 8. Pohjoisesplanadi (street with 19th century stone bldgs). 9. Esplanadi (esplanade promenade). 10. Kauppatori (City Market). 11. Kauppahalli (Old Market Hall). 12. Kaupungintalo (City Hall). 13. Kaivopuisto Park. 14. Suomenlinna Island. 15. Mannerheimintie (Main thoroughfare). 16. Central Train Station. 17. Eduskuntatalo (Parliament Building). 18. Rock Church (Temppeliaukion Kirkko). 19. Bulevardi (Eira and Ullanlinna districts). STOCKHOLM (Port Location - Berth S167 Stadsgarden). Use Royal Sightseeing(Rederi Mälaren Stockholms Taxiflotta) for HOHO boat. SEK 100 each (400 = £40.65). Just short walk from the ship. More info on www.rederimalaren.se. From the Stadsgården 167 into the Old Town or City Center its about 10 minutes by taxi. Its approx SEK 150-180. We recommend Taxi Stockholm, Taxi Kurir, Taxi 020 or Transer Taxi. You can catch a local bus, a single ticket is SEK 30. From the pier to the bus stop is approx 10 minutes walk. There is also a day ticket for the public transport for SEK 100. Valid on metro, tram and a ferry boat too. Changing of the guards at the Royal Palace is at 12.15 Mon-Sat and at 1.15 on Sun. Main sights using the HOHO boat: Gamla Stan (Old Town area), Kungliga Slottet (Royal Palace), Storkyrkan (Cathedral), Riddarhuset (House of Nobility), Riksdaghuset (Parliament Bldg), City Hall, Blasieholmen (waterfront area), Nybroplan (Hamngatan street, east from Bybroplan, shopping district), Vasa Museum (via hoho boat), Skeppsholmen & Kastelholmen island (via HOHO boat), Djurgarden (island) via Grona Lund (HOHO boat stop). Then back to Cruise Berth Terminal via HOHO boat from Grona Lund. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
We stayed two nights in Copenhagen, prior to our cruise and we were able to get a taste of this remarkable city. The combination of our hotel base on the Nyhavn canal, and the great public transportation system allowed us to visit many of ... Read More
We stayed two nights in Copenhagen, prior to our cruise and we were able to get a taste of this remarkable city. The combination of our hotel base on the Nyhavn canal, and the great public transportation system allowed us to visit many of the key sites including Tivoli, National Museum, Rosenberg castle, and the Mermaid. Our final day we took the canal tour.Our room on the Emerald princess was on the back of the ship; it included a double sized balcony since we were on the corner. The ship was fantastic with great dining, (we picked the Michangelo Dining Room), and we picked our dining time. Most nights we sat with other couples and had great conversation. The lounges had good entertainment and every night at 5:00 a small venue would occur in the atrium. We thoroughly enjoyed the Princess dancers and singers, but did not catch the comedian or magic shows. We were too busy on shore to enjoy what looked like a great pool area. Our room attendant and morning room service coffee were both perfect. Love those laundry rooms.The crew handled shore departures very well and we were blessed with fantastic weather. Each port was unique and enjoyable, our Alla-Tour of Berlinand Saint Petersburg made them unforgettable. Currency exchange machine was excellent as was daily narration of ports. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
My wife and I decided to treat ourselves to the September 14 Baltic Cruise on Princess' Emerald Princess. It was our first time on Princess, having cruised several times before on HAL, Celebrity and Cunard. These are just some ... Read More
My wife and I decided to treat ourselves to the September 14 Baltic Cruise on Princess' Emerald Princess. It was our first time on Princess, having cruised several times before on HAL, Celebrity and Cunard. These are just some comments and observations which I hope will be of help to any cruisers planning on taking this cruise. Embarkation - Took place in Copenhagen. Transfer from the airport couldn't have been smoother - you come out of Customs and the good folk from Princess are right there to steer you to the bus to take you to the ship (buying the transfer is, in my mind, a very good deal - a taxi will cost you at least $60.00). After a short 20 minute ride you're at the terminal and after a very brief wait, you're checked in and boarding. Unlike HAL, the staterooms are already ready so you drop off your hand luggage and go and have lunch. Shortly thereafter the luggage arrives. On Board - Life Boat Drill is painless. Unlike HAL and Celebrity you are mustered to different collection places in the ship, and given the "chalk talk" as to how to use your life vest, etc. No standing on the Promenade deck at lifeboat stations, no attendance roll taken. Very quick, very efficient. Stateroom - We took the standard outside stateroom. A little smaller than HAL but better organized. Closets don't have doors which creates tons more space when you're hanging clothes. Shower is tiny (don't try and turn around) but beats trying to get in and out of a tub. Stewards are friendly and conscientious and, unlike some other lines, always seem to be immediately available! Dining - We opted for the traditional dining, second seating in the Botticelli Dining Room. The service was as good or better than Celebrity or HAL, as was the quality of the food offered. (I know there have been negative comments re the food on Princess, and don't know if this being the last Baltic cruise of the year had any impact but we just had no complaints). We didn't try one dish we didn't like, although I've got to admit that by the 2nd formal night (i.e. Lobster tail night) the menu was so predictable that the waiters were astounded that we ordered something else! Particularly notable were the desserts - a myriad of them every night, and since we had trouble choosing, our waiter on his own took to bringing us one of each to try! Definitely bad for the waistline (but great for the Soul!) We didn't think Lunch in the Cafeteria was as good as on HAL or Celebrity. Many cruisers have commented on the strange design of the food "pods" where everyone ambles in and then buts in and out of line at each station with no rhyme or reason, and it is definitely annoying. I thought the overall quality of the food was below standard, but as an offset there were many more options than on the other lines. And, since you serve yourself, portion control is in your hands. No one went hungry, for sure! My negative note on Room Service here - Princess, unlike HAL and Celebrity has an extremely limited Room Service Menu (except for those in the full-price suites). The one night (after Stockholm) we were so bushed that we just didn't want to get dressed and go upstairs to eat , so we had to rely on Room Service. Somehow a Club Sandwich and a Hamburger just didn't do it for me for dinner! I definitely think Princess should re-think this policy. Entertainment on board seemed to be at least or probably above average for this type cruise, and people seemed to be having a good time everywhere we went. I can't comment much more, although the comedians all seemed to be British, which is kind of 'you either like it or you don't' kind of thing... Ports of Call- Copenhagen - it's a beautiful city, but hold onto your wallet! The whole impact of a low dollar plus high European costs becomes evident immediately in the airport. I grabbed a small bottle of Coke at a 7-11 - $5.00! Everything else was commensurately expensive. For my money, try and stay in the City Center if you can, the Airport Hilton is tired and shows it. The carpet in the halls smells reminiscent of a Motel 6 and the rooms, as a table mate so aptly put it, looked like they were furnished by the lowest bidder, IKEA. We thought we'd try the weekday lunch buffet at the Hilton Lobby, until we translated the price and came up with $60 per person! The city itself is lovely and you can see everything you want to by taking the Hop on- Hop Off bus from just past the Central Station.If memory serves the cost of the bus tour is $25 p/p. Stockholm - Just the approach to Stockholm is a show in itself, working your way through an archipelago of some 25,000 islands until arriving at the Swedish capital itself. Don't miss it, particularly at departure!! Stockholm itself is constructed on 14 islands and is very easy to visit. Important note!!! Don't, don't don't get a tour. Get off the ship and head straight for the Hop on Hop off BOAT (not bus) ! The boat makes the great circle that stops at every possible tourist destination and the distance between each part is so small that you're never disoriented. You can literally see four destinations at a time from any stop. If you're in a hurry to get to the VASA museum, you can go there first, and you'll be way ahead of every tour group. Same with the other stops. Don't miss the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace daily. Helsinki - We took the ship's tour - a big mistake. On top of it being a lousy day, the guide spent the whole tour on what was basically a stream of consciousness babble about all the qualities of Finland - how much a teacher makes, why (s)he makes so little, why it's all worth while, etc. etc. The first 15 minutes or so were vaguely interesting but all this was done at the expense of telling us next to nothing (or nothing at all) about the buildings and landmarks we were passing. She was limited to such illuminating discourse as "There's the Railway Station".. "There's another view of the Railway Station", although we already knew that the Railway Station had won an important architectural prize when constructed. Possibly the worst was when we were finally at last left for 35 minutes on our own in Alexander II Square ("Finns don't like Russians") we were never even directed to the important Russian Uspensky Orthodox Cathedral ("Finns really don't like Russians"). Tallinn - A real gem of a medieval city. Don't make the mistake we made and believe the guide books which tell you that you can walk from the ship to the center of town in about 15 minutes - it's true. You can then stroll around this beautifully maintained medieval city on your own and shop (there is genuine good amber and some decent paintings everywhere), but be aware that a lot of the walking when you get to the city gate is steep uphill. It's worth about 2 hours tops, and you can be back to the ship easily in time for lunch and perhaps a well-deserved after-lunch siesta. St. Petersburg - What can you say? This is the absolute highlight of the trip, and rightfully so. One important note - I don't know if Princess has finally given up on their telling people that are on independent tours other than the ship's tour that they would not be allowed to disembark until AFTER the ship's tour had cleared - they certainly still put that warning in all their daily publications. However, I was ready for a fight about this and called the ships' desk the night before to enquire about that policy, and was told that we could disembark as soon as the gangway opened at 7:00 or so. We went down at 6:45 and shortly thereafter the gangway was opened and we disembarked, with no problem from Princess staff. I don't know if this was because this was Princess' last Baltic cruise of the season - I suspect that with the fuller Summer Cruises they may still try and stick independent tour participants with late disembarkation. You should be aware that the independent tour agencies such as Red October and DenRus all have opinion of Counsel that Russian law in no way mandates which group should disembark first, so be aware and prepared for this. Another note - the information you are given states that Russian Immigration requires a photocopy of the information page of your passport - I don't know if it was just us, but the Russian authorities gave it back to us without even looking at it. You do have to fill out a small immigration form (do it VERY CAREFULLY) and you are then given a little red card when you go thru immigration. Be careful and don't lose it! There's a hefty fine for those who do. It's small and you may not even see it at first, since the Immigration officers stick it inside your passport when they return it to you, so look for it and hold onto it. We used DenRus for their Economy Tour, and cannot say enough favorable things about it. We were on the go from 7:00AM to 5:30 PM straight, and saw virtually everything there was to see given the limited 2 day time frame. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and competent and I think it's the best money I've ever spent on a tour. (Note - my daughter took the same tour three years ago and used Red October with identical results. so I think you can feel comfortable using either agency). DO NOT use the ship's tour - you will spend much more and get much, much less in return. We watched the ship's tours hopelessly in line at major attractions while we breezed through! Gdynia - We almost didn't get off the ship, but decided to take the advice of previous cruisers and take the train from Gdynia to Gdansk and we're delighted we did. It's a little bit of an adventure since the Railroad people speak no English, but still well worth doing. You get a taxi from the pier to the train station (about $15 US). Change $20 or so US into Polish Zloties - then buy a RT train ticket for 18 Zloties). The train (a holdover from Soviet days) takes about 30 minutes and drops you at the Central Station in Gdansk. From there, it's only about a 5 minute walk to the Old Town, which is a straight,level street of over a mile lined with absolutely breathtaking Medieval homes and buildings and teeming with commerce, restaurants, etc. It's so well maintained it almost looks like it's something Disney created, but this is the real thing, and photo ops abound. There are plenty to places to stop and rest along the way. We both thought Gdansk was Well worth doing. Oslo - Our only other bad weather day. Took the ship's tour which wasn't as bad as the other ones but still not worth the money to our way of thinking. We got to see the Viking Long Boat museum which is very impressive and some other points of interest. Oslo is clean, green, and very, very expensive. Edvard Grieg park is a real letdown, since the "monument" to Grieg is a horrendous collection of some thousands of steel pipes which hang down and create a horrible noise when the wind blows. The obligatory castle is right where the ship docks, and you can explore it yourself. You can look at the City Hall (another 'point of interest') from the ship, a large brick monstrosity which has been deemed the ugliest building in Norway too. Save your money and, if you're so minded, get the Hop On Hop Off Bus to take you around. Disembarkation in Copenhagen - Again, painless, although Princess is very remiss in not giving passengers vital information regarding what is expected of them. We knew from experience that the suitcases had to be packed and left in the hall by 'x' time, but nowhere was the time laid out. I finally caught a steward and learned that it as 10:00 (not midnight as in other lines). But the morning disembarkation was very rapid and orderly. Note - if you had bought the transfer from the ship back to the airport you will have saved yourself not only considerable $$ but also a 40 minute wait in line to get a taxi. Bottom line - a marvellous ship and a wonderful cruise. Would do it again in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
Sailed on July 15th, 2009 from Copenhagen on Emerald Princess.We had 8 passengers including a 12 yo and 15 yo.We each had a mini suite on Dolphin deck well worth the money!This was our second time in a mini and i don't want anything ... Read More
Sailed on July 15th, 2009 from Copenhagen on Emerald Princess.We had 8 passengers including a 12 yo and 15 yo.We each had a mini suite on Dolphin deck well worth the money!This was our second time in a mini and i don't want anything else.Ship was clean and gorgeous, staff was wonderful.Food was good, not exceptional but, met our expectations as we havenow taken our 14th cruise. Entertainment was good, Troiska Dancers werecanceled this cruise and 2 prior as the Russians think we all have swine flu.They currently do not allow the dancers aboard, what a disappointment.Magician was really great and preformed 3 times, comedian funny!John Lawrence is the port talk specialist and is on until Sept.Don't miss his talks, he is very good and knows everything!We loved Stockholm and did the Vikings and royal armory tour, nice.Don't miss the Vasa Museum. Try to get up at dawn and watch as yougo through the Archipelago into port. Heavenly sights oh my God!!! It takesabout 3 hours total through this passage way, have camera ready.We booked a private tour 2 day, in St.Pete's. book with Alla Tours.Incredible!!! Our guide(Irena) had a masters in art history, she was amazingand wore us out and we were on the moderate tour! She knew everything as wasa doll. She got us into places before the crowds came and knew were to go toavoid long lines. So worth it!!! ONLY $350.00PP based on 8 in a private van withac. It was fairly new very clean and driver had bottled water on the bus. everywhereyou go to sightsee there are lots of people especially at the Hermitage so takeAlla Tours and you won't run into this. They are on the web. You don't even pay themin advance!! It is based on trust that you pay on day 2 in the morning on Visa or cashbut bills must be crisp and clean.  They met us just outside customs and we were on ourway. You DO NOT NEED A VISA as long as you have a pre arranged organized tour thatis with an approved Russian tour guide like Alla. There is no need to book Princess excursionsas they want you to do. The tour company will email you a print out of tickets and that alongwith your passport and tourist card that the cruise will provide is all you need. They say you needa photo copy of passport but they did not want it in customs. Be sure to have one anyway and DONOT wait to have a copy made on board. My god the line was miles long as everyone forgot to do it!Currently you will have your temp taken as you disembark in Russia on day 1. They swipe it with an infer redthermometer and you go on your way. They are paranoid of the swine I am telling you!!!Estonia was really neat and charming we did the shopping excursions with some sightseeing.Finland was lovely and we did our own thing using an all day bus/trolley pass we bought right atthe port. There is a tourist info on shore. Go to the market of the Esplanadi, great fresh berries andsome nice rabbit fur scarves hats etc. Did not have the heart to buy fox fur that is everywhere. SAD.Poland was wonderful but do not need to go again. We did the Tri city tour. Very nice but you do not get a refreshment in Sopot as described, Sopot is really really nice. Wish we could have stayed for a few hours.Gdansk is neat but to me was a large tourist trap with every store selling the same junk. Though the townis a must see. Cobblestone streets everywhere, be ware if you are not stable on your feet. One in our party misjudged her step and broke her ankle. Took cab back to ship and doctors xrayed and cast it for her.She spent the rest of trip in her cabin. sad.  This is not a trip for anyone feeling unbalanced with their footing.Norway was just amazing!! Again, get up earlier and you will see some Fjords and scenery that was evenmore beautiful than Alaska. Yes really!!!Must go to the Vigeland sculpture gardens,free (all nudes). Just wonderful and great flowerseverywhere. Take the hop on/off tour bus on an all day pass. What a great system so easy to go all over thetown. They are at the ship as soon as you arrive and stop every 30 mins at all stops including the ship.Just super for about $35.00 each. Norway is not affordable for anything so do not shop here.25 % vat on all purchases. Expect to pay 4 to 5 times than your are used too. Mcdonalds big mac,fries and cokeis currently $23.00. However they make $30 per hour at the counter as an employee. Oslo is now in the top3 most expensive cities in the world. Sight seeing entrances are either free or a nominal charge.Too bad it is a short stop in Olso, I could have stayed for a week.We had great weather the whole time except 2 short rain showers. Temps are 50's to high 70's.Expect rough seas in some parts others are so smooth you cannot tell the ship is moving.Disembarkation was super fast in the earlier hours, everyone must be off by 8:00 am. It gets crowdedat 7:30 to 8:00 so leave early if you can. The airport is very crowded please allow like 3 hours to check in.We went through 3 security check points and had no time to eat. There are a lot of taxis if you depart on Saturday.They said cabs were hard to get so we booked a private transfer for 8 of us at $35.00 each with world airporttransfers on line. They came in a motorcoach bus for just us, hilarious. Amazing how many cabs werethere even though they insist you can't get one. Again I think it was because it was the weekend and we gotoff early, sorry we did not take the Taxi as we could have gotten to the airport before the 3000 passengersalso got there!!!We did stay at the Marriott pre cruise and loved it!!! So pricey, stay on the concierge floor, well worth it for thefree high speed computers 24 hrs and the great breakfast and cocktail hour. also free bottled water in the frigin lounge. Great views of the canal from the lounge too! Restaurants nearby at Tivoli just 3-4 blocks away.We took the train from the airport to Tivoli Central station then walked. Easy but take a cab as cobblestone streets are toohard to pull your luggage across and it was hot and humid. There is nothing to see from the train anyway as we thoughtthere would be. Canal tour available every morning in summer right from the Marriott. we loved it!! only 1 hour 15 minride. Perfect for families. Cheap trip as well. We did take a taxi to the pier from hotel,however they now have a shuttlethat costs but was already booked full. So sign up in advance for shuttle. Taxi was about 150 DKK total for 4.taxis are always lined up at the hotel door. Also there is a shopping mall with restaurants about 6 blocks fromhotel, nice walk along the canal to get there. They had a nice grocery store where we bought wine to bring on board.Kids ate at McDonalds which they loved! about 2 times the cost as here. i could go on forever but must go for now!!PS Cruise director staff was annoying!!! The only bad thing about the whole trip.      Also you can exchange currency on this neat machine before every port      at the piazza. Get the coffee card if you want fresh coffee from the cafe in      the piazza each day. Starbucks at sea!! yummy coffee drinks of all kinds.  Read Less
Sail Date July 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
Rather than a full review, I'm going to note some things I would have liked to know before I went. We usually avoid ship excursions, so I'll have some comments on what we did. Bring binoculars (we did to that). Shipping is ... Read More
Rather than a full review, I'm going to note some things I would have liked to know before I went. We usually avoid ship excursions, so I'll have some comments on what we did. Bring binoculars (we did to that). Shipping is heavy in the Baltic, and there are lots of interesting things to see.  We were docked next to the HMS Illustrious in Tallinn, and passed a surfaced submarine on the way to Oslo, for example. Binoculars brought lots of things into view. The lounge to the rear of deck 18 is usually quiet during the day, with great views and no music (during the day). The port lectures by John Lawrence are excellent, with not much on shopping.  We should have gone to more of them. The currency exchange machine on board does not offer best rate, and charges $3.50.  Avoid it. In Stockholm & Helsinki, take the cruise bus into town at around $12 RT.  In Helsinki, the cruise through the waterways leaving from Market Square is half the ship's price, and for the same basic route.  In St. Petersburg, we reserved a private car with guide and driver from Den Rus for two days at a cost of $698 for the three of us. They tried to upsell us on a western car, but we liked the Russian Lada (no air conditioning).  Our guide and driver were excellent, and we could go where we wanted, and change plans at a moment's notice.  Den Rus will also suggest that they design a tour for you, at a cost.  I recommend figuring out where you want to go, and working out the details with your guide.  We were very happy with what we got. When we got to the Hermitage, for example, there was the usual huge line for individuals.  Our guide looked, pulled out her black book, made a call, and the next thing we knew, we were somehow entering through the exit.  We're not quite sure what she did....  And, of course, we could see what we wanted there, rather than follow a forced march with a group. I recommend Den Rus highly. When I gave the driver less than I intended as a tip, I emailed Den Rus from the ship.  They replied: "Tell us how much more you want to tip, and we will give the driver the money.  Send us a check when you get back home."   Tallinn is an easy walking city from the ship, assuming reasonable fitness. No need for a tour.  There is no ship bus in Gdynia. To avoid a tour, take a taxi to Gdynia train station ($10).  Cabs just outside will try to sell a $100 trip to Gdansk.  Walk a few hundred yards to the port entrance.  Cab drivers there will try to sell a tour, too, but will take you to the train station if you persist.  From there, take the  commuter train (track 1) to  Gdansk Glówny (About $1.25).  There are ticket machines.  There is no need to validate the time-stamped single ticket.  The thinner ones need to be cancelled in the machine at the entrance ramp to the platform.  It is a 40 minute trip.  Everything in Gdansk is an easy walk from the main train station. The first ATM in Gdynia did not like my American ATM card.  Fortunately, I also have a German one.  However, there were other ATM machines in the area, one of which probably would have worked. In Oslo, the ship docks in easy walking distance of most everything.  Again, no need for a ship excursion. I recommend the national art gallery, which had more paintings I liked per gallery room than most I've been in. No admission fee, so if Norwegian art isn't your favorite, you can turn around and walk out immediately.  Now, we jumped ship in Oslo, rather than going back to Copenhagen.  I'm writing from Oslo.  Tomorrow, we take the train to Bergen, which is supposed to be one of the best train rides in the world.  You might think about that. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
We were a group of 3 (2 boomers and 1 Gen Y) well-seasoned travellers.  As far as cruising goes, this is our second one with Princess. TRANSFER & EMBARKATION We flew from Toronto to Copenhagen through London, and upon arrival at ... Read More
We were a group of 3 (2 boomers and 1 Gen Y) well-seasoned travellers.  As far as cruising goes, this is our second one with Princess. TRANSFER & EMBARKATION We flew from Toronto to Copenhagen through London, and upon arrival at Copenhagen airport, there were only 2 kiosks open at Passport Control.  Once we retrieved our luggage, we were met by several Princess reps.  Transport to the dock and the embarkation process were smooth, and our luggage arrived at our mini-suite intact within an hour after we set foot into the room. Our mini-suite was the same size and setup as the one we had on the Golden Princess, except that the beds were more comfortable, the carpets were brighter and cleaner, and we had LCD tvs.  Our room steward, Ionel, was polite and provided very good service up until we gave him our extra tips the day before disembarkation.   On the morning of disembarkation when we asked him a question, we noted a tone of sarcasm and impatience in his response. EMERALD PRINCESS This ship compared to Golden Princess (pre-renovation) is newer, brighter, and cleaner, but MUCH more crowded (1,000 more passengers).  It generally felt crowded in the Atrium, the buffet areas (more to come), and at the stairways heading to the gangway dor shore excursions. Speaking of buffet areas, Horizon Food Court and Cafe Caribe were absolute nightmares!  Throughout our 10-day trip, there was only one morning where we were able to find a table for breakfast, and we tried going there at different hours ranging from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.  We were constantly walking with our trays bumping into people with the same purpose, while our food turned totally cold.  The same goes for lunch, although the weather permitted us to sit outside, where there were a few more tables available.  As far as service goes in these buffets areas, it appeared that a number of servers did not want to be there, and when we asked for lemonade, we were given excuses like "we are not supposed to serve it out here".  The food itself was ok, and there was a wide variety. The staff at the Trident Grill (where hot dogs and burgers were served) were unfriendly at best, and they practically threw the plate at you.  Would it hurt them to smile?! We wanted to try the pizza after we read a lot of good reviews about it, but found it disappointing - it was dripping with oil, and, in our opinion, there was way too much salt. We really enjoyed our specialty coffees at the International Cafe.  The gentleman that always served us did a superb job with our orders, and was very pleasant and courteous.  Another lady server, however, Rowena, was extremely rude and gave another customer a really hard time...thank goodness we never had to go to her for service! Our experience in the dining room was superb!  We did anytime dining, and our waiters, Antonio, Joszef, and Dame, were absolutely amazing in that it seemed they could not do enough for us, and were practically waiting on us hand and foot.  The gentlemen made sure we had enough food to eat, offered more variety if we wanted, and made recommendations as to what to pick out of the many choices.  They were entertaining as well, always making us laugh and making our dining experience very relaxing and enjoyable.  We cannot praise them enough!  Even the people who greet you at the door at the Da Vinci dining room (maitre d and hostess) were extremely helpful and accommodating!  Talk about service with a smile!  They really made you feel welcome. It was nice to have Movies Under the Stars, although it got cold and a bit wet at night for us to enjoy the outdoor theatre; however, blankets were provided. We were appalled at the lineup at the Shore Excursion Desk during Day 1 (at sea) of the cruise.  On that day, most passengers would be inquiring about, planning, booking, or even cancelling/changing any shore excursions, and yet, there were only 2 people stationed at the counter (there was room and computers for at least 2-3 more staff).   Thank goodness we had booked our shore excursions online ahead of time. While Princess seemed to promote booking future cruises for passengers onboard, the availability of staff at the Future Cruise Sales Desk proved otherwise.  Half the time there was nobody there to even answer questions, and when someone was there, she was at the computer with her back to the customers.  The setup was better on the Golden Princess, where the representative was facing the right direction to address the passengers who may appear interested. A NOTE OF CAUTION REGARDING THE PURSER'S DESK: The final statement of onboard expenses for each passenger is not provided until the early hour of the morning of disembarkation.  One word of caution: mistakes are not uncommon in these charges.  We learned from experience to ask for a detailed list a day before the final statement was produced, so that we can go through the details and verify that the charges really belonged to us.  As an example, we were charged for bottles of wine and beer in a dining room that we never dined at.  Bear in mind that these mistakes need to be corrected before passengers leave the ship, and you can imagine the line up!  Again, as with other counters, staff did not seem to be assigned according to need.  We noticed that during the last 2 days of the cruise, there were only 3 representatives at the Purser's Desk while the line up was a mile long.  We decided to wait until after midnight thinking that it may be better, only to find 2 people working, and we had to wait 90 minutes to be served.  Even if we chose to disregard the wrong charges, we had to line up at the Purser's Desk anyway because, for some unknown reason, we did not get our disembarkation luggage tags.  During peak hours on the last 2 days, there were still only 3-4 reps working.  From the number of cruises that Princess runs, do they not realize what peak hours are for each type of activity?!  On the 3rd day of the cruise, we noticed there were 6 people at the Purser's desk twiddling their thumbs.  We cannot comment on any of the nightly entertainment, as we were too tired from the shore excursions.  Be sure to use the days at sea to rest up, as this is a port-intensive cruise! DISEMBARKATION Disembarkation process and the transfer to the Radisson SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen were well organized, fast, and smooth.  The Princess reps at the hotel were informative and helpful. TIP: Do not miss John Lawrence's lectures on each port in the Princess Theatre (if you miss the live lecture, you can watch it on your tv).  A lot of interesting information about the port, its history, and the currency were given.  We really enjoyed each port, and our favourite port was Tallinn (Estonia) - the beauty of the city was beyond our expectations.  We also lucked out with the weather, except for a little drizzle in Stockholm and the last day in Copenhagen.  At St. Petersburg, we were docked at the new terminal, which made the drive to the city center a lot shorter.  We took shore excursions at each port and booked a private tour through Princess for St. Petersburg.  The car for the private tour was a Mercedes sedan, but it was pretty crowded for 3 adults in the back.  We highly recommend going to an amber factory/exhibit in Gdansk, if you are at all interested in shopping for genuine jewellery at a reasonable price.  During our one-night stay over in Copenhagen, we booked a tour through the hotel where we visited Amalienborg Palace and the Little Mermaid. The entire cruise experience was good overall, and we may most probably choose to go with Princess again.  Read Less
Sail Date May 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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