We arrived in Copenhagen three days before the cruise. We stayed at the Scandic Copenhagen hotel. This hotel is about three blocks from the Central Train Station and the same distance from the Tivoli. From here we were able to walk anywhere in the city. The cab ride from the airport to the hotel was about $50.00. We elected to take the train for $6.00. It was an easy ride. We walked the three blocks from the train station to the hotel.
The Scandic was lovely. We had free breakfast and free internet service. The staff was helpful and friendly. The rooms were spotless.
On our second day we did the tour with the gentleman who calls himself Hans Christian Anderson. This was an excellent, informative tour. For about $11.00 U.S., we became experts on Copenhagen. "Mr. Anderson" made several dining and shopping recommendations that were right on the mark. He even interviewed people on the street, asking them questions in response to our questions.
We also did the hop-on-hop-off cruise in Nuhavn. We spent two relaxing evenings at the Tivoli.
There were seven people in our group and we had 17 pieces of luggage. It took two cabs, one large and one small to transport our group to the ship. Make sure you know where the pier is; there is nothing on your ticket or travel documents to let you know and there are several piers in Copenhagen.
We boarded the ship around 3:00 and the process was very smooth. Our staterooms were ready and our luggage arrived shortly after we did. The ship was pristine. Someone was always cleaning and polishing the outside decks. Our room steward, Luisa, was a gem. She couldn't do enough for us.
The ship was beautiful and beautifully maintained. She sparkled inside and out.
We elected to do the anytime dining and this went well. We usually ate at 6:30 and never had a wait. The service was very good (we had only one bad experience with a nervous waiter). The food was not excellent, but it was good. There was a nice variety. Even when we didn't enjoy the entrEe, there were other parts of the meal that we enjoyed. So we never left the table hungry. The food was occasionally cold, probably because they were not using covers for the plates.
We tried the Crown Room one night. We went there for the lobster and they were out of lobster. They did not tell us this until we were ready to order. Six people in our group ordered steak and they felt that the meat was a cut above that served in the dining room. My shrimp was the same as in the dining room. The side dishes were excellent, especially the black and blue onion soup. Most people in our group felt that this dining experience was not worth the $25. surcharge.
The buffet was very ordinary. During peak hours at breakfast and lunch, it was almost impossible to get a seat. The food was mediocre and was always room temperature. I think they have better food at the State Prison.
We tried the little cafe on the Plaza deck and ended up eating some of our breakfasts and most of our lunches there when we were on board the ship. They have delicious breakfast pastries and a nice selection of lunch salads and sandwiches. The adjoining coffee bar had the best coffee on the ship.
We elected to have room service for most of our breakfasts. The muffins, fruit and yogurt were good and we did not have to brave the mob at the buffet. The food was always served on time.
We loved the pizza by the pool. Others in our group tried and liked the Trident Grill. One of our favorite experiences was high tea in the dining room.
For the most part the service was excellent. Everywhere we went people smiled and were friendly. We were told by staff members that they signed on with Princess for 8 months. They live on board and get their food and medical care for free. They are given a plane ticket home at the end of their contract. They can sign up again when their vacation is over. Many have worked for Princess in this manner for years. They work sometimes 12 hours a day and they work hard. Some of the staff are married to other staff members and have children who are cared for at home by relatives.
We had one negative experience with a surly employee from the Purser's Office and one bad waiter. That was not bad, given the number of people we inter-acted with on the ship.
I thought that the shops were reasonable and all of us enjoyed shopping on board. The port lectures and movie selections were great. I would have liked to see an American news channel.
We had an inside stateroom and everything was compact and shipshape. We had plenty of room to store the clothing and incidentals in the three suitcases we brought with us. We did not feel closed in; in fact we spent little time in our room.
This cruise was so port-intensive that we had trouble staying awake for the evening activities so I can't really rate them. There was one very funny comedian, however.
There were plenty of activities for the time at sea. There were computer classes, pottery classes, and dance and fitness classes among others. My husband loved the gym and the employees there were very helpful. They attempted to explain the equipment and program to one of my friends. She thanked them but told them that she planned to spend all her time eating!!
Princess is committed to raising one million dollars for Susan Koman Breast Cancer Foundation. We did the three mile walk (9 times around the ship) and it was fun. The charge was $15.00 and we received a baseball cap commemorating this. They also served snacks during the walk and you could stop in and help yourself. This walk took place as we were leaving Norway, so we could see the fjords while we walked. It was a memorable experience.
In Stockholm, Talin, Helsinki, and Olso, we took the shuttle into the center of town and toured on our own. We did the Gdansk, on your own tour. In Helsinki, we were fortunate enough to secure the services of a guide when we got off the shuttle. This worked very well because most of the activities are in the center of town where the shuttle left us. We were there during Midsummer so many shops in Helsinki and Stockholm were closed. We were disappointed that there was not more time to explore Stockholm and Oslo and could have done with less time in Helsinki. I noticed that Princess is increasing the time in Stockholm for their 2009 cruises and that is a good move for them. All in all the ports were great.
Five people in our group did a private tour with DenRus. On the first day we met at 6:10 A.M. by the gangplank. We just walked off the ship when it was cleared. There were about 30 other people who did the same and there was no problem. It took about five minutes for us to clear immigration. The next day we left at 8:30, and again had no problem.
Alana, our guide from Denrus, was great. I had sent several e-mails back and forth to Natalie, of DenRus and our tour went well. We crammed a lot into the two days Peterhoff, the city orientation, walk on Nivsky Prospect, several cathedrals, the Catherine Palace, the Hermitage, a Metro ride, a canal ride and the hydrofoil to name a few. She was pleasant and professional and we learned a lot from her. We did not like the fact that we were taken to several souvenir shops. The prices are inflated and our tour guides gets a commission for taking us there. If you do a private tour with DenRus or Red October, do your homework first. Check guidebooks like Fodor's and Frommer's and decide where you want to go for the shopping. Incidentally, the Museum shops had some lovely items so when you are mapping out your tour, make time for the shops. We were gone from 6:30 AM on the first day until 7:30 at night. On the second day we left the ship at 8:30 and did not get back until 4:30. We paid slightly less for our private tour the ship's tour with its busses of 50 people. If there was something we did not want to do, we just told Alana and we moved on. This really enhanced our trip to Russia.
Debarkation went smoothly until it was time to wait for a taxi. We were in the 9:30 group because we stayed over in Copenhagen again. The taxi lines were long; we did not get a cab until about noon. Once you are off the ship, there is no one to help. It's like "Good-bye - Good Riddance."
This was our forth cruise and the most enjoyable so far. I was very pleased with Princess and would especially recommend this cruise for the ports.
My husband and I left our group after the cruise and hopped on a train to return to Stockholm. We spent four days there before returning home. This is a beautiful city and was a perfect end to a perfect vacation. If you have further questions, please e-mail me at email@example.com.