Emerald Princess Cruise Review by rlb1950
- Sail Date: June 2009
- Destination: Baltic Sea
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.
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