We often, but not exclusively, cruise with Holland America. We chose this specific cruise because we enjoy the Prinsendam and we wanted to connect a trans-Atlantic with northern Europe. Ultimately we sailed three segments, the TA, then the Baltic and ended with the North Cape to the fjords of Norway - 30 ports in 50 days.
We had some specific requirements including transportation of our bicycle on-board (surprisingly, not all cruise lines allow this) and the ability to leave the ship for a few days in Denmark (this worked because of the turn around in Amsterdam, returning 4 days later to Copenhagen). Both of these things created a bit of confusion, it worked fine.
We chose to ride our bike to and from the terminal for both embarkation in Ft. Lauderdale and disembarkation in Ujmuiden (Amsterdam). This actually worked very well, though there may be ports where it is not possible.
Since it was not possible to book this trip as a complete cruise (i.e. two segments comprised a Collectors Voyage, but they didn't book three together), we ended up with two bookings (second was added later).
We had an guarantee inside cabin for the first two segments (could have upgraded to outside, but would have lost HAL and agency perks). We were assigned the highest inside category - mid-ship, just off the atrium, which was on deck 9. It was our first experience on an upper deck, but the ship handled the seas beautifully.
We booked an ocean-view cabin for the Norway cruise (at same price as inside).
Since we routinely book an inside cabin (cheaper cabin = more cruises :), it was fine. Cabin 175 is unique on the Prinsendam in that it actually has a door on the main hallway (most have a short hallway off the main hall). This was unexpected but actually worked very well for us with our tandem bicycle in our room. Most inside cabins on the Prinsendam only have the option of twin beds, perpendicular to each other. It's a very unique set up, but once we sent our little chair away with the room steward, they have a nice amount of floor space. We kind of like them.
Cabin 441 is mid-ship, just aft of the forward staircase - a very convenient location. I think that there may have been a bit more upgrading in the ocean view cabins - the bed seemed to have a better mattress, etc. We again sent off the chair and coffee table to give us more floor space. We had to rearrange the cabin a bit to accommodate the tandem (moved the loveseat so it was under the window, then the bike fit in the corner).
We have found that the room stewards are very accommodating and actually enjoy the fact that we bring a bike with us.
We've not had a port day experience in Ft. Lauderdale, but have stayed over prior to a couple of cruises. This time we use AirBnb and stayed in a small apartment overlooking a small canal - a real look living there.
We spent several hours on the Railway trail. This is purported to be for walking and cycling, but unfortunately the effort to keep motor vehicles off the trail, they have made it almost unusable for cyclists. We rode a section from Hamilton toward Dockyards, then took the lower road back to town.
I'd like to return to Bermuda, maybe on a cruise that stays a night or two. Hamilton is a great port, with good public transport by bus or ferry. I think it's definitely a place that a couple of days would be wonderful.
Okay, Le Havre is really just a place to go from. We rented a car and went to Giverny to see Monet's gardens, then spent an hour or so in Honfleur. Neither of these places are easily accessed with public transport during a port stay. There is a bus to Honfleur but limited schedule, which is unfortunate since it's a lovely small historic town. Using a car was a good choice, but the car rental company (supposedly Dollar or Thrifty, but in reality run out of a Hertz truck rental location) was not one I would ever choose again. If you can find a downtown rental location, do that instead. We had a very rainy day (the Seine and many other rivers were flooding), but had an hour or so in each stop to enjoy without rain.
This is actually Zeebrugge but with relatively usable public transport to Bruges (combining a ship transfer and train). We chose to go to Damme instead since we've been to Bruges (lovely though it is). Damme is the "off the beaten track" spot, so very quiet, even with a few tour buses. Others took the tram (all day ticket) and explored the coastline.
Hamburg was a mixed bag for us. Germany has a great cycling system, so we had hoped to explore by bike. However, it seems to have missed Hamburg. Since we had an overnight there, we chose to leave the bike on the ship the second day and took the "free walking tour". We had a great guide (3rd generation in Hamburg), so that was a great option.
The highlight for many was the Miniature Museum near the port - it sounded amazing, but we just didn't have the energy after the walking tour.
This port was actually a bit of a surprise. We cycled into Lubeck and back from the port, so had the chance to get out in the countryside - really nice day. Lubeck itself was quite busy with tourists, but fun to see - found a simple amber necklace for my grand-daughter in the old market square.
Several people actually enjoyed the seaside town of Travemunde every bit as much as Lubeck.
Fortunately the cruise line supplied a free shuttle to both towns. These aren't advertised much in advance, but were a good option in a number of ports.
Tallinn is a great port (we've been there before), but with several ships in port, it really was quite overrun by tourists. You really need to get into the back streets as much as possible. It was a rainy day again, so that impacted the enjoyment of the town.
Two days in St. Petersburg was wonderful. We booked a private excursion company (TJ Travel) and had a small group tour with just 10 of us. We took the "Highlights" tour, which was really full, but definitely at a quick pace. We went to twice as many sites as we did last time on the ship tours. As is generally the case, the cruise line led you to believe that you must take a ship's excursion if you don't have a visa, but would eventually acknowledge that you can take an tour by an official Russian tour company. There were two tour companies that were used by our Roll Call group - TJ and Alla. I think they saw pretty much the same sites, though the Alla group was slightly larger (16 people). Both experiences were good. Our tour did the out-of-town sites all on the first day, then the Hermitage and St. Petersburg sites on the second day so we were closer to the port and didn't have concerns about getting back on time.
The rules for this port need to be well researched and verified. The companies have a good reputation and sent all the necessary paperwork via email, so going through immigration in St. Petersburg was actually very easy. There is a new cruise port, not right in the center but it's closer to the city and much better than being at the end of the huge commercial port.
Helsinki is a great city for exploring on your own. We had the advantage this time of docking right by the market square, so super walk-able. The tram system works well, so getting just a little further is easy, or use it as a quick circle tour. It's a nice, super modern city with enough history for interest.
Stockholm is really easy to get around. Gamla Stan (old town) is within walking distance, but not close. Other sites are a ferry ride away. Right now there are some large road construction issues as you walk into town. Of course, one of the best parts of going to Stockholm is the wonderful 3 hour sail in through the maze of islands - be sure to spend at least some time on deck.
We actually spent our time further from town this time - in the suburbs and countryside. Roskilde is easy by train and it's two main sites are worth seeing. The cathedral is the burial place of all Danish royalty and quite impressive - kind of steep entrance fee, but that has become more normal in recent years. We did not have time to do more than have a glimpse of the Viking museum - but it would definitely be worth a half-day of exploration.
Back in the city, there is so much to see - palaces, museums, canal tours, Tivoli, that it really takes several days. It is walk-able from the ship if you are at Langeline, as well as bus and train options.
We also like to visit just a bit of Christiania, which is a counter-culture (i.e. hippie) enclave on an island that was a military base. After WWII, it became a world of squatters, but it's much more than that. It seemed more tuned to tourists this time around, but still is a very odd place, but so interesting - just be sure you don't take pictures of people.