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5 Princess Emerald Princess Cruise Reviews for First-Time Cruisers Cruises to Baltic Sea

My wife and I booked the Baltic cruise in order to travel with a family member who we promised to go with a few years ago. We expected the worst and were not disappointed. There were a few thousand geriatric travelers, mostly from Britain ... Read More
My wife and I booked the Baltic cruise in order to travel with a family member who we promised to go with a few years ago. We expected the worst and were not disappointed. There were a few thousand geriatric travelers, mostly from Britain and America, which made it something akin to a floating nursing home. It was hard for me to believe that these people were my peers, people that were young during the rebellious 1960's. The furnishings of the ship were extremely tacky, the staff overly pleasant and uncomfortably obsequious (they probably detest the passengers who have nothing better to do with their money). The passengers seemed mostly the type that live in the suburbs or in gated communities, bourgeois that is. In Saint Petersburg, the few thousand tourists from the ship were herded like cattle into waiting buses, which took us to the signifcant palaces, churches and museums where we were led like sheep bumper to bumper with other tourists. As if I went to St. Pete to see a Titian or a Rembrandt or an amber room or some of the other extravagances that my peasant family had to suffer for. We were informed in detail about the Czars and Czarinas and shown the opulent palaces and expected to stare at appropriately dumbstruck at their beauty. The last 100 years of Soviet history was remarkably absent from the narratives. It was all Catherine this and Peter that, Nicholas this and Elizabeth that, to the point of asking for mercy. We went on a number of tours and on each one we spent our time with other tourists in palaces, churches and museums (as if they alone were the essential fabric of the country). The only somewhat non-painful days (no, they too were painful) we really had were the ones where we walked about cities pretty much at random and did not go on tours, but rather used public transportation. But still, we had to return to the prison of the ship in a few hours time in order to not be left behind. The towns of Gdansk and Tallinn, specifically have been restored beautifully, but it is tourists that you will be spending your time with there. In fact, all the tours had something of a Disneyland (where I've never been) quality about them (fake that is). The food was adequate and plentiful, although I wouldn't think that a reason to travel, especially since the chef made no attempt to provide the national dishes of the cities we visited. Really, I can't figure out why anybody would waste their money on a cruise or on the frivolous tours that accompany them. It was all so boring, inauthentic and aseptic. But that is probably why people do choose to cruise and tour. They want a sanitized edition and history of the countries they visit. They have no desire to walk the streets or mingle with the actual people of these "foreign" places. These people travel to see tourists. So all in all, the trip was miserable. It even ended miserably when you are treated like a suspect at the airports, all due to the foreign policies of America and the western European countries. I should mention that we did not go to a single lecture or show, rather spent our time in our tiny cabin reading. I am not condemning people that cruise, it simply isn't our thing. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
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
This eleven day tour of scandinavia and the baltic region with Princess was a great experience. All of our expactations were met and exceeded. Pre cruise concerns...sea sickness, lack of interest in drinking, gambling, dancing amounted ... Read More
This eleven day tour of scandinavia and the baltic region with Princess was a great experience. All of our expactations were met and exceeded. Pre cruise concerns...sea sickness, lack of interest in drinking, gambling, dancing amounted to nothing. There were heaps of things for us to do both aboard and ashore. I loved the art history and gem lectures, jewellery shopping (excellent prices for amber), art auctions, scenery, tour of the galley, variety of dining experiences, quality of food. We had three full days at sea...one unexpected as we couldn't land in Oslo due to a general strike and seven ashore days. We were disappointed in missing Oslo but actually appreciated the day (first day of cruise) to explore the ship and recover from our jet lag. On two of the shore days - Aarhus and Tallinn - we did our own thing and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. On the other five days we did Princess shore excursions. All of them were managed brilliantly. They were exhausting days but absolutely brilliant. Of 3200 passengers only 11 were children. There were people from all over the world but mostly Americans. Many people we talked to were seasoned cruisers...quite a few had clocked up over 10 cruises many with Princess. The food, service and entertainment were much much better than I expected. Don't use " The Love Boat" as a reference guide! We used the specialty restaurants, Crown Grill and Sabatinis for formal nights. Other nights we did Anytime Dining in Michaelangelo and Da Vincis. A couple of times we had room service. We had breakfast at Horizon Court most days. All of the food was high quality and the service was excellent. We hardly felt any boat movement...mostly we had calm or mild seas. We will definitely cruise with Princess again! Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
From August 9th to 20th we took our first cruise and it was just fabulous, fabulous to the point that we are now planning a European river cruise for next summer. The Emerald Princess was a beautiful ship which was well maintained by an ... Read More
From August 9th to 20th we took our first cruise and it was just fabulous, fabulous to the point that we are now planning a European river cruise for next summer. The Emerald Princess was a beautiful ship which was well maintained by an excellent staff who were more than helpful. The quantity and quality of food was as good as we have had at numerous 5-star resorts and the specialty restaurants were well worth the extra fees. The Internet Cafe was somewhat disappointing as internet service was quite slow even while in port which resulted in our spending a lot of money just to keep in contact with people. Due to inclement weather we were unable to dock and consequently missed our excursion to Berlin, that was disappointing. We were so impressed by the fact that our ship took us right into the middle of Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallinn,Aarhus and Oslo. The only negative item about our whole cruise was the harassment inflicted by Princess Cruises organization and staff on those of us who did not take their excursions at St. Petersburg. We had an excellent excursion there with SPB! Last but not least, we would like to thank CRUISE CRITIC and its members for all the help we got prior to setting out on our first cruise. Sincerely, Kate and Jerry Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Perhaps I should get this over with first. Princess Air total botched our airline reservations. Despite being advised by me that Delta insisted our names on the reservation be spelled correctly, Princess of several occasions insisted ... Read More
Perhaps I should get this over with first. Princess Air total botched our airline reservations. Despite being advised by me that Delta insisted our names on the reservation be spelled correctly, Princess of several occasions insisted otherwise. I had to begin straightening things out at our local airport and then then, when we arrived in Amsterdam, we had double reservations. I had to run, not walk, run, two concourses to straighten things out and reach Copenhagen. On the return trip we spent a half hour at the ticket counter while KLM sorted out the mess. This could have been entirely avoided if Princess Air had been willing to correct the names on our tickets. I do not recommend anyone use Princess Air. Our cabin steward was unobtrusive and most competent. We never returned to our cabin without finding that everything had been cleaned and he ensured we were aware of any matters that required our attention. Our servers at the 8:20PM dining were outstanding in every way. I found the tone of Princess' lectures distinctly low brow, not to enriching and imagine that they match the interests of the majority of Princess passengers. It would be pleasant if a corporate entity, even a cruise line, actually attempted to provide lectures that truly uplift and teach. That said, their Baltic expert's lectures, repeated on the television, were first rate. Diner was a splendid experience on the Emerald Princess. Our 8:20 seating was most pleasant; the food, excepting the fish, was excellent, the waiters were superior and the wine reasonably priced with a good selection. The wines essentially duplicated those we drink at meals and carried no more markup than standard in a restaurant, however, they did add a 15% tip! We wandered quite a bit throughout the ship, which I was told holds 3,000 persons, and I don't recall feeling crowded at any time, except when we looked around the shops down in the bowels of the ship and at the Horizon Court Dining Room. We found the service at the Horizon Court Dining Room to be grossly inattentive. At breakfast, the waiters and bus persons walked past us, not offering coffee, juice or anything. After you hailed them, which often brought about a sneer, then they would continue to pass you without looking to see if you needed a refill. Now, one imagines the better personnel work the service for about a week at the Horizon Dining Room. Others have said this but the coffee was truly horrible; it was watery, tasteless and was delivered through a pipe! Our cruise was splendid once we boarded in Copenhagen We found the majority of the ports visited by the Emerald Princess to be excellent. We would recommend Tallinn, Oslo, Stockholm and St. Petersburg to anyone. Tallinn is undoubtedly one of the best preserved medieval walled cities in the North and it has managed to survive without damage either natural or man-made. I can't imagine a trip to the Baltic without a stop in Tallinn. St. Petersburg is wonderful. We had a tour with ALLA tours and the itinerary and guide were first rate. If we never get to Aarhus or Helsinki again, it won't be much of a problem as these ports were at best time fillers. Tallinn is undoubtedly one of the best preserved medieval walled cities in the North and it has managed to survive without damage either natural or man-made. I can't imagine a trip to the Baltic without a stop in Tallinn. St. Petersburg is wonderful. We had a tour with ALLA tours and the itinerary and guide were first rate. Incidentally, this is the best place to buy either Scandinavian or Russian gifts. The quality is high and the prices much, much more reasonable than the later ports. Frankly, Aarhaus isn't ready for prime time. There was little to do of value, and that was a shame, because we spend only about 8 hours in Stockholm, far too little time. Helsinki was a bit of letdown, especially the monument to Sibelius, my favorite 20th century composer. It is worth a ten minute look at most. Oslo is a bit different in the way its people view the work and gosh, everyone should see the Sculpture Park there. Three hundred nude statues done in a distinctive style, my that's wonderful; let the prudes get their apoplexy, I found the statutes alive and, in all cases the depictions either caused one to consider aspects of the human condition or laugh. It was great fun and we will never forget it. Also, the cruise's walking tour of the downtown was super; the woman to walked with was an opera singer and she sang to get our attention. She was deeply committed to Oslo and really provided an insightful commentary as we walked. What little of Stockholm we were able to see was outstanding; the problem was that 8 hours doesn't cut it for such a city. We plan to return and explore some more. The rating is lower because Princess failed to make a sufficient commitment to visiting the port. We thought Helsinki would be something special. It wasn't. We managed to spend a day looking around, but our time would have been better spent in Stockholm. The Hermitage, Russian Orthodox churches, the Peter and Paul fortress and Catherine and Peter's palaces are the highlights in and around St. Petersburg. We spend two days there and could have stayed a month. It is very different than other European cities and possesses some of the best museums and preserved palaces in Europe. The architectural style is a bit over-the-top but wow! We couldn't imagine a Baltic cruise without St. Petersburg, the absolute high point. We took a small group tour with ALLA Tours, a local outfit and it was just wonderful. Outstanding itinerary and great guide. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
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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