We chose this cruise because of the region (ports) and Princess based upon reviews, particularly the quality of the dining experience, which did not disappoint This was our first cruise on Princess and were extremely pleased. We have cruised on other lines 7 times. Although we would still cruise the other lines (as I am in April because 25 family/friends are going and I'm tagging along), we definitely are interested in cruising with Princess again. Quality and service of every aspect was a step above. Definitely not as much as party hard and all night ship, but that fits with our style. No shortage of things to to see in the ports, so just needed to focus on a few things and go with it. Didn't try to do everything, too much. Weather was +90F. Heard it was the hottest it has been in 150+ years. So that slowed us a down a bit. Only took once organized tour (in St. Petersburg due to VISA issues) and that was with SPB tours, not Princess. As with all cruise lines, the cruise shore excursions are very pricey, big groups and see less. I've traveled extensively (with US) and am very comfortable doing self-guided walking tours,, hop on/hop off buses, etc., so we did that in every other port. We stayed the night before the cruise in Copenhagen (hotel booked through Princess) so we could see a bit there. We used Princess EZ Air to book the air (after I did my own research) and booked their ground transportation from the airport to the hotel, to the ship and back to airport upon conclusion of cruise. First time for using those type of services as I'm usually a DIY traveler. But this was a big trip, first time to Europe and had other people with me. Wanted it to go as smooth as possible and it did. Absolutely no issues with an of the transportation, hotel was good, breakfast was incredible the morning of the cruise. Never have a seen such a spread, similar to the cruise offerings. It was nice to be in a hotel that catered to the cruise passengers as Princess had a desk in the hotel and any questions could be easily answered. Absolutely fantastic vacation. Fortunate to have the means and health to be able to do this type of travel.
Very happy with it. Plenty big enough and set up well. Mattress and bedsheets/coverings were extremely comfortable. Like the way the dressing/wardrobe area and bathroom are around the corner. Love the fabric shower curtain vs the plastic roll doors. Quality of bathroom counter top and fixtures were very good.
We arrived the day before embarkation in the morning, so had all day. Did an abbreviated self-guided tour, took a nap, had dinner and went back out for a brief stroll. Next morning, took a brief walk to the city hall as that was on my list to see, very interesting interior and the astronomical clock. Love the fact this city's main mode of transportation is a bike, the car traffic is very low. We did not have time to rent a bike, but would love to come back, see the palace and national museum via bikes. Would definitely fly to Copenhagen just for 4-5 days to check out the area more. People were friendly and easy to navigate.
City is within walking distance when getting off ship and a ferry to the island for the viking ship museums is a quick walk. We bought an Oslo pass to cover public transport which included the ferry and the buses on the island, as well as entrance fees. We thoroughly enjoyed Oslo/Norway. It is a walkable city. Upon returning to port, we flew through the Nobel Peace Center and the city hall. Would not hesitate to come back for a 4-5 day vacation. Again, biking is a great way to get around. Actually thinking a cruise through the fjords in Norway might be in order.
This port is actually 3 hours (by train) north of Berlin. So if you want to see Berlin, it is a minimum of 6 hours travel by train and can be a very long day. We opted out and plan to do a road trip of Germany in the future. We took a quick train ride to Rostock. Buying the train ticket was the most challenging part of the day. But with patience, it got done. It was nice not to be in a city (knowing many city ports were coming up) and just meander through a town. We walked to the main square and spent time in St. Mary's church, a 13th century church, worth the train ride alone. Although we did not opt to do so as our travel partners were tiring, there is time and we would have loved to grab a beer at one of the cafes in the square and just enjoy our time in Germany. We made up for it. We took the train back to Warnemunde (where the ship actually comes to port), a seaside village. Our travel partners returned to the ship and we strolled through the, busy/crowded, seaside/beach community, but it was nice. We climbed the lighthouse for a great view of the area, strolled the beach barefoot, and hit a cafe for a German beer, German Reisling and bratwurst before returning the ship. A lovely day and not chaotic.
A relatively short walk to old town, which is clearly the main attraction. It really is something to see, 14th/15th architecture within a walled town, cobblestone streets/alleys, etc. A bit crowded and busy because of the several ships in port, but navigable. Again, we didn't take the time here, but numerous cafes to sit and sip coffee, wine, etc. Our travel partners returned to the ship and we rented bikes to ride outside of town along the sea. I'm glad we did it to stretch out legs and get out of the crowds for a bit, but it wasn't a very pretty seaside. After returning the bikes and heading back to the ship, we noticed this structure that was clearly abandoned, a bit eerie and clearly leftover from the Soviet era. No signs, nothing to really indicate what it was. A quick Google search indicates it was a border crossing station. It is right on the sea and if you climb all the steps (and there were many) you get a great view.
We took a 2-day independent tour through SPB. They were great to work with. I settled upon them after reading reviews here and on Trip Advisor. You need a Visa to enter the country. 3 choices that I could determine. 1. Apply for one yourself (expensive, lots of paperwork, etc.) If you want to be able to be on your own and go where you want, you will need this. 2. A ship excursion (large groups, 40 or more, about twice the cost of independent tours) 3. Independent tours (max 16-we only had 10, 1/2 of the ship excursion and saw more as you can move faster. I made the reservations and paid online, couldn't have been easier. The guide and driver were excellent. The transport was very clean and comfortable. We saw the Faberge Museum (my fav), a bit at the Hermitage, went by the Winter Palace, Peterhof palace grounds, Pavlosk Palace, Church of the Spilled Blood (just amazing), lots of soviet concrete. Absolutely no complaint with SPB. However, we would have been happy with one day in St. Petersburg. There is definitely a lot to see and depending on your appetite for history, etc., I imagine you could spend a week. But 1 day in a bus is good for us. And although seeing a palace is really quite amazing, 1 or 2 is good in as many days. Especially when the eyes of the women who sit in the rooms, watching the rich tourists go by, look so vacant. It was uncomfortable for me. Which leads me to Passport Control. Plan on at least 30 minute wait. The process is anxiety producing, like you are waiting for something to go wrong. Many of the passengers we chatted with felt this way. You get the feeling, yes they will let you in and take your tourist dollars, but they certainly don't make you feel welcome. I would have been happy with 1 day and spent more time in Helsinki. Speaking of which....
Love this city as much as Oslo. it is a distance from the port (walkable only for the hardiest). But there is a Hop On/Hop Off Tour company right there, you walk up, buy the ticket. Very organized, they clock stamp your receipt and have you line up by the time to ensure nobody cuts in line and you get on the bus you should, etc. My husband laughed and said, this is your city, they are rule followers! Yes, that works for me. And then we proceeded to see the sights, first of which was to visit the outdoor flea market. Our travel partners are huge into flea markets and needed a fix, which was fun. We saw the Church in the Rock, the Senate Square etc. It's all on the Ho/Ho brochure. We then took time to walk to the Design Museum, which has great exhibits on Finnish Design. It was really very interesting. Then we walked back towards and then along the sea to catch the bus at one of the last stops. Could have easily spent several more hours there, but we had to be back on the ship by 3:30. I was sad to leave.
Our travel partners opted to stay on the ship. The ship comes into Nynasham, a small seaport village. Then Stockholm is about a 1 hour train ride. We opted to take the train into Stockholm as I wanted to tour Gamla Stan (old town). Unfortunately, when we arrived in Stockholm, a major event/parade was just gearing up and it was just stuffed with people. We finally made it to old town but, again, stuffed with people it was hard to move through the streets. It was unfortunate as we were looking forward to meandering through the cobblestone streets, taking a self-guided walking tour and whiling away some time over a beer/wine at an outdoor cafe. We cut our Stockholm visit short, especially as were concerned that if we stayed and the parade ended, getting the train out of Stockholm would have been a nightmare, so we opted to just head back to Nynasham. Once there, rented bikes and rode the bike path along the sea . Just beautiful. Ended our stay with a leisurely beer and wine. We decided we should have just spent the day there, walking through the charming town. If you are "citied" out by then, that's my recommendation.