My wife had always wanted to visit Helsinki, Stockholm, Tallinn and St. Petersburg and I had always wanted to visit St. Petersburg, Tallinn and Stockholm. With this in mind, when we received information on the Baltic cruise with Princess, we had to book our places. Other advantages of the cruise would be a visit to Gdansk, which we both wanted to visit as we had enjoyed a city break in Krakow, plus being able to revisit Bruges and Copenhagen which, again, we had enjoyed on city breaks in the past. For those of you reading this- in our opinion, all the ports lived up to our expectations and did not disappoint. More detail is offered later, if you wish to read on.
We had not sailed with Princess before, so, as we all do, we checked on numerous sites with respect to the Emerald Princess. Although reviews were a little mixed, we remained focused on the ports and went ahead with our booking. Again, in our opinion, we would sail with Princess in the future, but they are unlikely to be our first choice if the ports are on offer with another line as we feel there are some areas that could be improved.
Having addressed the two main points ie. the itinerary and would we sail with them again, I will now start on the detail both good and bad-feel free to stop reading at any point- however, I hope some of the information is useful.
At this point, I should add that the Emerald Princess now has sufficient beds for over 3,400 passengers and, as they have not made the ship any larger, some cabins now have bunk beds fitted. Unfortunately, this proved to be the case with ours (E102) and, although my wife is only 5ft2in and I am only 5ft 7in we both banged our heads a number of times (bending to change shoes and slippers) plus had to sidestep and bend at the waist in order to get into our bed. The bed had been made up as a double for us and, as stated in other reviews, was very comfortable. However, although the pillows were also soft and comfortable, they were too soft for us as we prefer a more supportive pillow. The bathroom proved to be nothing special and is the case that the curtain sucked in when showering. No tea or coffee making facility is available in the cabin, you can use room service. However, tea/coffee is available from Horizon Court Buffet on Deck 16 from 06.00 to 23.00 hrs daily for free. The International Cafe in the Piazza on Deck 5 is also open 24 hrs and Cafe Cariba on Deck 15 opens at 05.00 hrs, so plenty of places for Tea/Coffee/Hot Chocolate. One final moan about the cabin is the lack of a settee or sofa, just two chairs. Although the cabin was well- serviced by Andy, there were some old marks in the carpet and a couple of chips, plus some red stain in the resin by the sink. The air-conditioning worked well and was never pushed to its limits, the hot and cold water worked equally as well in both the sink and the shower and we had no problems with the toilet. All in all an okay cabin with no floods- a full sized window, desk/dressing table with built in refrigerator, plenty of storage/hanging space mostly open plan (facing the bathroom, so a good walk in wardrobe), a number of draws and a full height cupboard with shelves and a safe for self programming. Andy proved to be one of the best stewards we have encountered-there if you need him, but most of the time getting on with his work and not bothering you. The cabin, being located forward on deck 8 ,was above the main theatre and only had cabins to one side and across the passage. Apart from some winch noise which did not affect our sleeping as this was outside normal sleeping time, the only noise that we encountered was from the cabin opposite as they had a young child.
Embarkation and Disembarkation only- however, it should be noted that they are very well organised and both processes combined took us less than one hour.