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21 Princess Emerald Princess Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Baltic Sea

We chose this 14 day cruise for its itinerary as we had only every visited Bruges before. Never started a cruise from Southampton due to the difficulties of getting down from the North driving with a stopover was our best option to ensure ... Read More
We chose this 14 day cruise for its itinerary as we had only every visited Bruges before. Never started a cruise from Southampton due to the difficulties of getting down from the North driving with a stopover was our best option to ensure we got to the ship on time. This proved to be a good choice as it took 7 hours to get within 2 hours away the next morning due to traffic. The check in at the Mayflower terminal was very well organised with our car collected when we arrived to be waiting on our return. The ship was familiar to several other cruises that we have been on so finding our balcony cabin was easy, which we found it to be as expected with good size double bed, shower /toilet room, good storage space, TV and fridge which had three bottles of water (chargeable). TV had several English channels plus films should you wish to stay in you cabin. We brought the permitted two bottles of wine on board for the cruise any extra wine or spirits would be confiscated and given back at the end of the cruise. We later found out from fellow passengers that this rule was not being applied and they were bringing wine etc at each port of call. As the average cost for a bottle of wine at dinner was around $35 including the 15% service charge we would have saved a lot of money over the 14days even paying the $15 corkage. The overall cost of drinks on the ship were the most expensive that we have every experienced on any cruise ship or 5 star hotel around the world. When you consider that they do not pay any duty or vat the pricing is off the scale with only two draught beers available in some bars one being Newcastle brown, your only option was to have a can or bottle with a standard can of Boddingtons costing $5.95 plus 15% service charge. A good way to get better value is t buy a bottle of wine which has 5 glasses at a cost $25 as opposed to 5 glasses at $8 each both plus 15% s/c. They do have a happy hours in the wheelhouse every day from 3 – 4 and at the Skywalker at 10.30 if you are still awake. The deals is buy one drink at full price and get one for $1, speaking to the staff they said the previous cruise the extra drink was free. As moat people were on shore most days I suspect the opening times were not very well attended it would have been better to have a later time before dinner. We found at some bars practically around the pool areas there was an absence of waiters which meant you had to go to the bar to be served and at no time did the bar staff offer to have the drinks sent over to your table and for your convenience they charge your 15% etc. Overall we found lot of the staff did not seem to be interested in going out of there way as they believed they would not receive any tips. Staffs in the wheelhouse bar and the two evening restaurants were the exception very professional and gave good service. We were offered the drinks packaged when we booked at just under $40 each per day and when we boarded the ship this had gone up by $10 even at their very high prices you would have to be a drink a lot to get value for your money. Food in the De Vinci & Michelangelo restaurants was expellant with the flexible dinning we meet some lovely people from all around the world this coupled with great service made each evening memorable. The breakfast in the Horizon and Cafe Caribe was a little frenetic trying to find a table. With plastic plates we found by the time you got to your table the food was going cold. If you used the restaurants for lunch the same problems would arise and over the cruise not once were we asked would we like a glass of wine /beer with our meal. We did not try the three themed restaurants Share supplement $39, Crown Grill supplement $29 and the Salty dog $19. When you purchased any drinks you were not required to sign and on several occasions you did not receive receipt. You could check and print your account at terminal by customer relations or log onto your ID of phone FOC. Gratuities for the cruise other than the 15% service charge were not compulsory and opted out preferring to tip the staff who gave us the best service such as the cabin steward ad dining room staff. We tried room service once in the morning for tea/coffee sadly it arrived cold so we gave up and walked up two floors up each morning and brought hot drinks to the cabin. That same day when we got back in the afternoon from trip the tray was still there and the cabin was not cleaned. Phoning the number for the steward got no response when I phone customer services I was told to hang on before I could explain why I was calling. I was left hanging on for 35 minutes, I left the phone off the hook and when down to customer service only to be told they had no way of knowing if a gusts was holding on. The room was cleaned an hour later and as a way of apology we were left a large dinner serving tray with a four chocolates and a note of apology. Entertainment overall was good in the main theatre with the exception of a poor guitar playing comedian and a very dodgy hypnotists. The remainder of the entertainment was very good with some very talented performers and the resident ships staff headed by Kevin Joy the cruise director putting on some great shows. A range of quizzes/trivia games in the bars plus dancing and bingo which again was expensive at $25 for two cards. There was a great emphasise every day on promoting fine art with several auctions taking place mostly I suspect at the prices they were being sold for our American friends this together with the daily jewellery news letter and demonstrations made a lot of us Brits feel very poor. We do not go on a cruise to buy fine art and jewellery and found that the effort that was being made could have been better use entertaining the guests particularly at sea days they could have put on an afternoon show in the theatre. Other services such as internet were again very expansive with tea or coffee with your cake $3/5. Duty free was a joke up to 60% off was stated not sure what they were basing their pricing on it certainly was not UK shop prices which were a lot less. It was noticeable that there were no price tickets on the shelves these could be found on an A4 sheet by the till, I suspect that they alter pricing depending on the cruise. When you left the ship at each port we found the staff to be totally uninterested and never once did any staff say good morning or have a nice trip this was repeated when you arrived back on board with only the last shore visit one member of the crew welcomed us back. The crew mix were from all corners of the world and not sure if this worked as we found some gave the appearance that they did not want to be on the ship. Ports of Call: We did not purchase any trips from the ship due to the high cost and at a lot of the ports you can walk into the town. We did buy from our cruise travel agent Cruise,co.uk a two day trip to St Petersburg and Tallinn. Zeebrugge/ Bruges we paid €10 for a coach from the ship to Blankenberge which had the local Sunday market and fair from their we were able to get a train for €5 each return to Bruges station with the centre of town 20 minutes walk or you can hope on one of the local tourist busses for €2 Copenhagen: You can walk from the ship to the Little Mermaid in 10minutes the centre of the town would take you a further 30minutes if you are fit. We used the combined hop on hop off Red bus visit all of the main sites. Stockholm: The port is a little way to the centre so we used the combined hop on hop off Red bus and river ferry which we were able to the main site including the Royal Palace and the not to be missed Vasa museum. Cost for the combined ticket €35 each Helsinki: The only bad day of weather with rain all of the day. The centre of the city is well within walking distance but due to the poor weather we paid the €10 for the ship bus to the town, you could get a walk on bus but did not believe that with the weather you would see much. St Petersburg: The organised tour company “Tour De Force” ensured you had a tourist visa, we did not have to queue at passport control and were meet by our young very knowledgeable guide for the two days. Lunch on the two days was arranged at an extra small cost. A very tiring first day with lots of walking but little queuing at each stop as our bus only had 28 people we were able to get some priority at each stop, we did notice the ship trips were large coaches and speaking to fellow passenger that night they had some queuing. The trip cost was less than £200 each plus the cost of the meals. Tallinn: The old town is in easy walking distance from the port we did however use a pre arrange walk on Red bus to see the main site before getting off at the top f the old town. One word of warning sadly at the old town battements were there many of passengers from the three ships that were in port a lot of Romanian pick pockets were operating, I myself had my mobile taken out of my from shoulder bag but luckily I felt the movement and the woman dropped it on a ledge in front of her and I was able to retrieve it back. The cheeky person just smiled and waked a little way in the crowed we were able to warn a lady that she was in her bag again she just blow a kiss and walked on. Sadly we did see several other pick pockets operating in the area but no police presents. Gdynia/Gdansk: The town is within easy distance to walk. We did take a taxi to the station to catch a train to Gdansk cost 22 Zolty return. Good service took 40 minutes. Nice old town but not a great deal to see. Money: We get some local currency for Copenhagen, Stockholm, Poland and Russia just enough to buy some food or drinks. All counties took the euro including Russia but not sterling so do not both changing into rubles. As your ship account is in US dollars your credit card will be charge at the ships special rate unless you opt for your card to be charge in $ and let you bank covert the rate. When we left the ship there rate was $1.21 to £ our Nationwide credit card was converted at £1.308 yet one more money making scheme from Princess. They should change their statement “Come Back New” to Come Back Poorer. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Had a fabulous cruise to the Baltic. All ports of call were excellent. The standard of service was great. And the staff went well beyond the call of duty to ensure you had a great cruise. The food on board was excellent but some of the ... Read More
Had a fabulous cruise to the Baltic. All ports of call were excellent. The standard of service was great. And the staff went well beyond the call of duty to ensure you had a great cruise. The food on board was excellent but some of the shows left a bit to be desired in there quality.the production shows were excellent and very well produced. Only major complaint was the stafff in the MDR not applying the dress code on formal nights. They had a couldn't care less attitude about passengers wearing,shorts,polo shirts,tee shirts etc. I think Pricess should abandon formal nights.i think it is pointless to advertise formal nights then totally ignore the rules. The selection of shore excursions was great and the staff at the tour desk were very helpful as were all the staff on board. The guides on the tours were very good and very helpful with any specific queries we had about things.. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Having previously cruised (with Princess) on our Honeymoon, we decided to do so again for our 10th Anniversary - this time, with our children (5 and 7) too!! We were very pleased with our previous Princess cruise, although we primarily ... Read More
Having previously cruised (with Princess) on our Honeymoon, we decided to do so again for our 10th Anniversary - this time, with our children (5 and 7) too!! We were very pleased with our previous Princess cruise, although we primarily selected the Baltic Heritage cruise because of the itinerary - the fact that we "knew" the cruise line made our choice even simpler. Due to an early morning flight, we arrived at the cruise terminal in Southampton slightly early for our embarkation time slot. However, we were checked-in very promptly and were allowed to board the ship shortly thereafter. The check-in/embarkation process was excellent and very "slick". After a brief walk-around the ship and some lunch from the Horizon Court buffet, we returned to our stateroom to find that our cases had all been delivered - again, very quickly indeed! We had primarily chosen this cruise because of the excellent itinerary, however we did not do any of the ship’s organised excursions. In the majority of ports, we simply did our own thing (very easy to do in most cases – especially Tallin!) and in St Petersburg we booked a 2-day tour via an independent operator – which was excellent and substantially less expensive that Princess’ own offerings. I would add however that the itinerary did not disappoint – it was fantastic – we visited some fascinating places and having 2 “sea days” at the end to simply “chill out” was perfect! Our cabin/stateroom was larger than we had anticipated (Room E114 - as reviewed separately below) and was more than adequate for our family’s requirements for 2 weeks. Whilst on-board, we enjoyed a variety of dining experiences - usually a buffet breakfast which was good, but could get very busy - and sometimes difficult to find a table (there are two sides to the buffet - usually only one of which is open at a time - so a good "tip" is to take your plate/food through to the other side which is quieter and usually had plenty of tables - the tea/coffee/water was always available in both sides). We sometimes used the buffet also for lunch - when we weren't ashore - or had a snack from the excellent pizza bar (cooking fresh pizza's throughout the day) or something from the grill (which had very good burgers!) - both of which are very handy for the pool. The evening menu in the restaurants had a "core" selection of dishes available each evening and also varied other dishes each evening. There was always something to suit all members of our family. The waiting staff in the main dining rooms were excellent and made our Anniversary dinner special and also made our son feel special on his birthday! Our children thoroughly enjoyed the kids activities on-board and the children’s centre staff were all first-class. We were fortunate to be on a cruise with a relatively small number of children (although still an adequate number for them to make friends and enjoy themselves) and as the children's area rooms are not vast, I could imagine they may get crowded on busier “school holiday” cruises. Similar to the embarkation process, disembarkation was a well-organised and “slick” process. We were able to enjoy a leisurely breakfast on-board prior to leaving the ship at our allotted time to find all our luggage ready and waiting for us. No fuss – just a very easy and fast process. In summary, I would highly recommend this cruise to anyone interested in seeing the Baltics. There were no particular negative experiences to our cruise and innumerable positives. All-in-all, a fantastic holiday! Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We chose this Scandinavian cruise as it is a part of the world I have always wanted to visit, and Emerald Princess happened to be there. We visited Zeebrugge, Copenhagen and Oslo, and had a visit to Helsinborg in Sweden aborted due to bad ... Read More
We chose this Scandinavian cruise as it is a part of the world I have always wanted to visit, and Emerald Princess happened to be there. We visited Zeebrugge, Copenhagen and Oslo, and had a visit to Helsinborg in Sweden aborted due to bad weather. I had not heard much about Princess before, and I was nervous about travelling with an infant after reading articles on this site warning about what an awful experience I was likely to have. Turns out, this could not have been more wrong. This was our third cruise, and hands down the best. The service was second to none - easily the best service I have ever experienced, not only on any cruise before, but in any leisure or hospitality environment. My baby daughter was treated like a celebrity across the ship, so much so that on our last day we had to take her on a "tour of duty" to say goodbye to each and every waiter and bar person who had fallen for her charms over the week! The team onboard could not do enough to make sure we had everything we needed, and the food and presentation was exceptional. There was plenty of choice food wise - we ate in the Michaelangelo anytime dining room every night, and even my fussy teenage stepdaughter found something to eat off the menu. My 6 month old was quite happy chomping on breadsticks and steamed veg, although I was regularly offered baby food. A high chair and a clean, film-wrapped tray were provided quickly for us each time we arrived at either the dining room or the Horizon buffet for breakfast and lunch. The buffet was more than adequate for breakfast and lunch with plenty of hot and continental options available - my teenage stepdaughter was quite happy to have Belgian waffles with chocolate sauce for breakfast every day! Embarkation was smooth and speedy (we were onboard the ship less than 45 minutes from pulling up in the car in front of it), and our bags beat us to our room. There were plenty of areas, inside and out, to sit, and at no point during the day did anything feel crowded. This was despite the fact that due to bad weather stopping us from going ashore in Sweden and leading to an unexpected sea day - there was still plenty to do. Evening entertainment was varied and we found something we wanted to do every night - my stepdaughter took a shine to the house band, Starwave, so we watched them in a number of venues around the ship on different evenings. The theatre shows were lots of fun, including a musical written for Princess by Stephen Schwartz, a Robbie Williams tribute, and a version of The Voice. The only nights they were really crowded were the formal nights when more people were out and about, but we arrived 15 minutes before showtime and had no problems getting seated. We didn't purchase any official excursions so I can't comment on those, but we found something to do in each port - there was a shuttle at Zeebrugge which took us to the nearby town of Blankenberge for 10 euro each, We walked into Copenhagen, and we jumped on a hop on hop off bus in Oslo for around 30 euro each. Shuttles etc were all available from just outside the ship. Overall - I don't think I've ever been so sad for a holiday to end, and I would happily return to Emerald Princess tomorrow. I've already started looking at Princess again for next year! Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We booked this cruise, our first Princess Cruise, mostly for its itinerary in Scandinavia, which interested us greatly. We weren't expecting a lot from the ship itself due to its negative reviews. However, we were pleasantly ... Read More
We booked this cruise, our first Princess Cruise, mostly for its itinerary in Scandinavia, which interested us greatly. We weren't expecting a lot from the ship itself due to its negative reviews. However, we were pleasantly surprised! To begin, the ship was stunning. The piazza is gorgeous, and the public areas and lounges were very well designed to host a large number of people, as we almost never felt crowded. We liked to hang around spaces like the Adagio bar on deck 16 (great for playing cards) and Vibe on deck 7 (where many events were held throughout the day). The main dining room, though somewhat less impressive than those on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Ships, still felt elegant and calm. This ship has definitely held up over the years! We absolutely loved our balcony cabins. Our family of 4 had two of them side-by-side, and we opened up the balcony divider. It performed its function extremely well, with space used very efficiently (HUGE closet). The beds, which I understand were recently replaced, were very comfortable. We had no trouble falling asleep at all. I'd highly recommend our cabin location, deck 14 aft. This offered easy access to the Horizon Court and Terrace pool, and we heard nothing from the buffet above us. The dining was what stood out to us most on this cruise. The buffet, Horizon Court, was one of the best we've had at sea. Though it wasn't huge like some other ships we've been on, we never saw the same items twice! Everything was constantly being changed, and the food was consistently good. The Trident Grill was fantastic for snacks, as was Prego Pizzeria. All of these restaurants close at 11pm, by the way. The main dining room food quality varied from okay to fantastic, but it always arrived hot and beautifully presented, which is something other cruise lines have struggled with. As for the on-board entertainment, we were quite impressed. Shows were somewhat smaller scale than Royal Caribbean, which I think still outperformed this ship in Broadway-style shows. However, what Emerald Princess excelled at was the amount of shows. While Royal Caribbean only does 1 big show a night, with 2 time slots (early and late), Princess had 2 - 4 shows a night, with multiple showings of each! To name a few of these shows: "The Voice of the Ocean" (singing competition), "Magic To-Do" (Broadway style show), David Knight (comedy hypnotist) and "HalfDanskerne Trio" (Danish folk singers). Entertainment throughout the day was very creative as well. Our favourite was the "Crazy golf" in the Adagio bar on the last day. The Cruise director staff was very engaging and made good use of the on-board space. Aris was really great and never failed to make us laugh. There was constantly more than one activity going on at any given time: you won't get bored on this ship. Service was excellent. There are very attentive and courteous servers in the Horizon Court, which Royal Caribbean somewhat lacks, and our stateroom steward, Luney, was very good. We had a few very minor hiccups with the Dining room service, but they were working hard. Our server, Katarina, was very professional and our food always arrived hot. I won't go into too much detail about the ports, but I will say that I highly recommend this Scandinavian Itinerary. Bruges was picturesque, and great if you're a chocolate lover. Copenhagen was magical, despite the downpour of rain we got, and Tivoli Garden is not to be missed! I loved Oslo's engaging museums (we did the Folk museum and Fram museum), though it should be noted that if you prebook your Oslo pass, it is QUITE the walk across town to get it. Unfortunately, we did not get to Helsingborg as the captain had to cancel the tender due to a storm. This came as quite a crushing disappointment to us, as we really wanted to get to see Kronborg castle. Apparently, this cancellation is not uncommon either. If there is anything you really want to do in the area, do it in Copenhagen: don't wait for Helsingborg, as you very well may miss it. A word of warning about the weather: pack for the worst and expect the best. I had a sweater, a rain coat and a pair of shorts in my backpack, and I used all three over the course of one day! The weather in this part of the world changes drastically VERY QUICKLY. Be prepared. We would certainly cruise with Princess again, and it may actually be our new favourite cruise line. I urge anyone looking to book a cruise on this ship not to get scared away by the negative reviews. Bad experiences can happen on any ship, don't let a few of them stop you from trying a cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Note: this review is very much food focused! Everything about this cruise to Scandinavia was fantastic. This was not our first cruise (NCL & RCCL) but our first on Princess. Travelling with my elderly mum who has coeliac disease ... Read More
Note: this review is very much food focused! Everything about this cruise to Scandinavia was fantastic. This was not our first cruise (NCL & RCCL) but our first on Princess. Travelling with my elderly mum who has coeliac disease (needs a gluten free diet) we arrived at check in desks in Southampton approximately noon and we were on-board by 1pm. We went straight to our cabin something other cruise lines don’t allow until a set time and amazingly our bags were outside of the door. Off to the buffet next, a good selection of food, mum being a coeliac has to be a bit careful when eating in the buffet so selected some fruit and some cheese. We couldn’t believe it when I spotted a ‘gluten free’ tapioca pudding. There was a different GF pudding available in the buffet daily throughout the cruise which is tremendous. Back to the cabin. We were on Caribe Deck towards AFT – starboard and were really happy with the location. The Balcony on this deck is double the length of those on deck 9 and 11 – so a great choice for us. The balcony has 2 adjustable chairs with footstools and a table. The cabin itself was well appointed and I particularly liked the separate dressing room area which was particularly useful for mum to park her 3 wheel walker. The bathroom whilst small was again good with a walk-in shower. The only shame about this was it was a static showerhead and not a showerhead on a hose to be able to wash your more difficult parts! We ate in the main dining (Michelangelo) which was available for anytime dining. We always asked for a table for 2 and generally we had a small wait, this was anything from 10 to 30 mins. We were given a pager which allowed us to sit and get a drink or just sit and watch the piece band in the piazza. The first evening we made it known that mum needed gluten free meal. A Head waiter was then allocated to us for the whole cruise. Nelson was ours and was wonderful, he helped mum select off the menu for the first night and arranged for some gluten free bread. She had the country chicken as main and there was flourless chocolate cake for desert. He then gave her the menu for the next night and told her only to select Starter and main course and he will arrange something special for desert every day. This was on-going for the cruise. She ordered whatever she fancied and he made sure it was made gluten free. The deserts were amazing. She had Strawberry gateaux, raspberry and coconut cake, lemon sponge, a version of a red velvet cake and the list goes on. She was blown away. We also went to the dining room one morning and she had GF Pancakes. In the Buffet I was able to order GF Toast from the chef – this usually took about 5 mins to cook fresh for her. At 3.30pm everyday there was afternoon tea in the Botticelli. Again they more than catered for GF. Sandwiches, cake, Scones and these didn’t need to be ordered. For me, the sandwiches, cakes and scones were great and being brits the tea was good too! I must say the food quality and quantity was a high as we’ve had on any cruise. I was more than satisfied with the breakfast in the buffet and dinner in the dining room. So now onto the rest of the cruise. We were so lucky with the weather, we stayed on the ship in Zeebrugge and the weather was lovely and gave us the opportunity to look around a near empty ship and to generally chill out. In Copenhagen we had selected the ‘Easy Copenhagen’ tour as this was shown as being good for people not wanting to walk far. Imagine our surprise when we got the coach and it was a double decker! Luckily we managed to get a seat downstairs, however if there hadn’t been room we would not have been able to go on the trip. Not happy with these arrangements and to be honest it spoiled the excursion as even though mum was down stairs there was a large step she had to climb just to get to her seat this meant she wasn’t able to get out of the coach for the photo stops. Unfortunately but the time we got back to the ship it had started to rain so we didn’t go back out. The next stop was meant to be Helsingborg, this was a tender port. Due to high winds this stop was abandoned for safety reasons so it meant an extra day at sea. It actually didn’t bother us too much and we enjoyed the day relaxing. Next day was Oslo and again we selected the ‘Easy Oslo’ tour, this time we had a proper coach. This was an excellent tour, Oslo is a beautiful city. Once we got back to the ship mum went back to the cabin to rest and I went out and walked around the city and saw most of the main buildings close up. It helped that it was a lovely day. Upon leaving Oslo the scenery was stunning and reminded us of Alaska in some ways. We’d definitely like to do Norwegian Fjord cruise now. So in summary... a fabulous cruise and particularly if you or your travelling companions are in need of a special diet. The ship was lovely and we would definitely travel on Princess again. There was always lots to do, including plenty of trivia, karaoke, Movies under the stars.. You can do as much or as little and you want. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Emerald Princess, 2nd July 2016, Northern Europe. This was our 3rd cruise having been twice with P&O on Aurora in 2014 and Britannia in 2015. We won’t be using Princess again and I would like to share our experiences. I am sure ... Read More
Emerald Princess, 2nd July 2016, Northern Europe. This was our 3rd cruise having been twice with P&O on Aurora in 2014 and Britannia in 2015. We won’t be using Princess again and I would like to share our experiences. I am sure plenty of people had an enjoyable week and I am pleased for you if you did. I found many things to be totally not up to standard and as such my review will not be positive. I’ll break it down into categories: Embarkation: Very, very smooth. Yes, it is a bit odd to have numbered cards as you wait in line, but it is a system that appears to work. Good for the suite and elite passengers to get to queue jump...I find that to be absurd and a little demeaning, but it is what it is. Those extra 5 minutes must be worth the pushing in, eh? Cabin. We had an outside cabin with a fully restricted view. This did not bother us as we rarely used the cabin other than for sleeping and changing. You could see the sea or the quayside to see if we were docked, etc, so no problem and a fair bit of cash saved for spending elsewhere; cash you’ll need, by the way, the ship is very expensive. The shower is small, as per expectations, but the shampoos and soaps are a bit cheap to say the least. The bed, as reported elsewhere, was magnificent. Food. Dire. We are generally quite easy to please and my wife is a vegetarian, but not a fussy one, if you know what I mean. But the non-meat options are so poor, she barely had what you could describe as a full plate for most of the cruise. She had to ‘piece together’ suitable meals and all had to be fish with no special vegetarian meal on offer. The buffet is way too small and there are nowhere near enough seats in the Horizon restaurants with breakfast being particularly shambolic. We shared tables, often, which is fine, but it is not a good set up at all. The buffet food was a bit strange, we felt, and the concept of vegetables is misunderstood. If there is a carvery, for example, have carrots, peas and green beans instead of just one with several potato variations. Strange. We only went to the anytime dining restaurants on one occasion and had that been a paying restaurant (well, I suppose we did pay up front...) I would have challenged a number of items on the bill, not least the ‘gourmet burger’, which was poor. We sat down and were asked if we wanted sparkling or still water. I asked for sparkling and so had to pay, though I didn’t know this at the time and no-one said anything...the sharing table guests got still water...free. This sort of mealy mouthed money grabbing leaves its mark and I hope they are pleased with themselves for it. Ports of call: Really, just really? In a nutshell: Bruges. It is not Bruges, it is Zeebrugge, a soulless container port. Bruges is miles away and Princess made it very clear in their port description that taxis from the port exit were ‘not plentiful’. Plus, as Zeebrugge is a container port, you cannot just walk off the ship and make your way to the exit. You could, of course, buy their trip into town for an amazing, amazing, amazing price of $179...each. This is laugh out loud ridiculous. Money grabbing, did I mention that? We stayed aboard, fed up, not knowing how to get to Bruges. Many people went to Blankenberge for about €10, I think, but the itinerary said it was Bruges...no, it was a container port and the sales pitch for a Princess partial excursion monopoly. Copenhagen: Fine. Helsingborg: Nope. Too windy for tenders, so we carried on towards Oslo at walking pace. Safety first, we have no problem with that, of course not. We also got $18 each refunded for the missed port as a port tax rebate. That bought a single drink! Lol. Oslo: Fine, but it left at 15.30 hours...we had missed the previous port, so why not extend this one? Oh yeah, it would probably have cost Princess more, of course. So, 4 ports...well, we got 2 and a container port. Useless. Entertainment: We only checked out the theatre on the last night and saw the very talented Neil Lockwood, very good he was too. We generally avoid cruise entertainment as it is not really our thing, but he was excellent. The theatre is large. Staff: In general they were a delight. However, the more ‘elevated’ staff were not, particularly the Cruise Director, who I found to be generally awful. I’m sorry to be specific, but I was unsure what he brought to the show other than his starring in his own intergalactic movie attitude. Tune in to Channel 29 in your cabin and you can watch him and his sidekick embarrass themselves each morning. We watched it as it was so bad, you just had to. Self-indulgent and childish, it was at best patronising, at worst a pair of adults behaving like gushy school children. Truly dreadful and I’d be all over this if I was running the ship. Haha, that’s likely! Do you really need to have his young woman sidekick being quizzed about not having a boyfriend? That is plain creepy. Am I interested in how the Cruise Director ‘keeps an eye’ on his favourite football team? No mate, I am not. The worst bit about them is how they are totally on-message with the Princess trademark upselling. When asked about the best restaurants aboard, the woman started to pretend to be thinking before coming up with 3 choices...all of which ‘she loves’. Which 3 do you reckon, then? Correct, the extra charge ones! Do me a favour the pair of you...One assumes she doesn’t join the fist fights in the overcrowded buffet then or, indeed, is not a vegetarian or a lover of fresh vegetables. Ridiculous and just out of touch with many passengers. I know some people will like the skittish banter but it is just endless and vacuous, it really is a tired formula. Holiday camp?...maybe. On the extra sea day because of the Helsingborg issues, they came up with a great idea for entertainment...making paper planes...I kid you not. The front desk staff were surly and unhelpful. Sorry, but that is how we found them. I loved the separate velvet rope section for elite and suite passengers...again, really? Do they actually push in like this anyway? Shopping: Awful. Expensive and lacking in choice. My wife bought a bag which was reasonably priced once they had applied the advertised 30% discount to bring it back to the price on the mainland, groan. We found another bag for my daughter back home, but we noticed it appeared to be damaged as we took it to the till. They whisked it away without any offer to knock a bit off. I raised this with the Retail Manager who brushed it all off a little too easily; fact is, I think, the same bag will be back on the shelf on the next cruise or back to the retail outlet village it came from. Buyer beware, that’s all I’m saying. The fragrances are more expensive than on the mainland and everything, everywhere is in dollars, by the way. It is an American ship, so fair enough. But it does slightly affect the cruise experience for Brits sailing from, erm, Britain. Go figure. The art auction: This needs its own section because it was so totally dreadful. Our ‘invite’ was received and the idea of free bubbly definitely got my wife’s interest. Sure, you can choose not to go, but it was a sea day and we were intrigued as to what this auction would be like. I have asked Princess directly to talk to me about our experience at the auction because what I saw does not sit well and I wish to establish what was going on. It was pressure and squeeze and foam and blather, laughable from start to finish except for the bit when bidding started after the auctioneer had taken an age to butter up the increasingly bored audience before she started her comedic selling patois as well as the hyper speed auctioneering spiel. Honestly, we were giggling like kids...perhaps good enough for Channel 29. The art work itself was a mix of horrendous garish coloured works together with stuff you can see in any school art department, no better. Just our two cents! Bars: Wow, expensive. They whack on a service charge on every drink, so we felt miffed about being asked for an additional $12.95 per day, per person for gratuities. We removed these and tipped our room steward ourselves, a lovely guy called Michael. Just increase the price of the cruise by $100 and do away with this contentious gratuity issue, it really does nobody any favours at all. There is a happy hour (2nd drink for $1) in the Skywalkers ‘nightclub’, which is worth taking advantage of if you are late up each night, as we were, though you’ll need to be able to withstand the same standard playlist of music each night...the opening hours of the bars is a little skitty and seem subject to alteration without notice. Generally, they are fine, it is the prices that are not, they are way out of order. Disembarkation: As easy as getting on, absolutely first class. I guess the suite and elite people get carried off on thrones...who knows! The only gripe is that they want everyone out of their room by 08.00. which leads to everyone piling for food in the already inadequate Horizon area...well, not everyone but a lot of people. Given that fellow cruisers love to place bags on chairs designed for actual humans, an act of selfishness that too many cruisers seem to enjoy (not all, but too many), you will find it hard to get a seat. Very hard. The weather was mainly superb and we had plenty of laughs. But it was not great, not by a long way. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
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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