When I booked the cruise, I selected the Berlin embarkation port. I did not realize that most passengers started in Copenhagen. The fact that we were on leg “c” of the cruise detracted from the overall cruise experience. (1) We were cut off from tour excursions 12 days before the cruise (not 5 as published online) because, according to Princess customer support “our cruise” window had closed, referring to the cruise that started 9 days before ours. We would have to adjust tours once we got on the ship; (2) When we got on the ship and went to the tour desk, we were told we had to wait until after we arrived in Copenhagen when “our cruise” started (a different cruise that started on Day 4 of ours); (3) We felt as though we were joining a cruise already in progress, no welcome party, incomplete information (we could only get port information through Oslo until after we picked up new passengers in Copenhagen) and leftover seating (explained later) in the dining room. The one positive is that onboarding was an absolute breeze since we were the only ones in the little tent! The staff warmly greeted us and seemed to know we were coming! On the flip side, it was a tad annoying when we were disembarking in Copenhagen (only our 2nd port) and staff was telling us to have a nice trip home. :( At least I didn't get disembarkation instructions on day 2 of the cruise like one of my family members.
I was unsatisfied with the dining situation. We requested and reserved a dining time in the Allegro Dining Room and intentionally chose a close cabin due to my mother’s mobility issues. When we arrived, we were notified that we had been moved to a different less convenient dining room. What made it even more disappointing was that the staff in our dining room were only prepared for anytime diners and kept telling us to get in line. On two nights, our table was given away and one night we had completely different wait staff. Dinner generally took two hours (how many rolls can you eat?). The food was hit or miss - some nights spectacular and other nights like bad leftovers. The dishes were almost always over salted. There was no enforcement of dress code. Why ask me to use suitcase space for formalwear if people can wear blue jeans on formal night?
I usually avoid the buffet because I'm cautious about germs onboard. The Princess staff enforced excellent hygience protocols and the food choice was impressive. However, the buffet was a nightmare of overcrowded lines and inadequate seating. Once you did secure a table, the juice and coffee service was excellent.
The mobile apps are a mess. Why does it require 3-5 apps for basic functions? Also, they are glitchy. My family was continually dropped. The way finder feature was nice, especially since we were a party of 6, always looking for someone. It would have been fantastic, had everyone been able to stay on the app.
Ship - Beautiful, clean and new. I loved the skywalk. My biggest complaint is the slowness of the elevators. At midship, the elevators have 3 independent cycles causing people to call the elevator from all 3 options. The result in that the elevators stop on floors unnecessarily. Since many of the main decks are not accessible from the aft (without going up and down), this was a real problem for our family member in a wheelchair.
Cabin - The bed was HARD! It was so hard, I had to get up in the middle of the night, walk around and take lots of Alleve. The cabin steward was fantastic and kept the room spotless. Loved the flat screen TV and generous bathroom (by cruise ship standards). The Medallion technology was slow and glitchy but I loved being able to take care of all my check-in before I left home. In general, great idea - poor execution.
Entertainment - Enjoyed the evening shows. They were a lot of fun. Shopping was very reasonable. I had one spa treatment and it was quite nice until I got the hard product sell at the end.
Ports - Fantastic!! I loved every single one and left craving more time in each. We mostly booked private tours but the one Princess tour was smooth and worry free. My favorite port was Tallinn. Also, Princess does a great job at providing information about each upcoming port.
This was our third cruise with Princess (Alaska - soso, UK - fabulous). We aren't done with this cruiseline but are definitely looking at other cruising options. Despite my criticisms, we still had a wonderful vacation.
The balcony was lovely and our room steward kindly opened the door so we could connect with family members next door (made one big balcony).
Spent several days before and after in Berlin, a city rich in history. Climbed to the top of the Berlin Dom and Reichstag (a highlight). FYI - you need to go online and make a free reservation ahead of time. Food was fantastic (schnitzel). Also enjoyed DDR museum, Berlin Wall, Topography of Terror and Memorial for Murdered Jews of Europe (sobering).
Our HOHO bus was cancelled due to Pride parade. However, the city is very walkable and we saw the Royal Palace, toured City Hall (impressive) and climbed to the top of the Opera House. The Akershus Fortress was right by the ship and was fun to wander in as well.
Nice boat with bathroom (a plus in Europe). Got us where we needed to go to wander on our own.View All undefined undefined Reviews
HOHO Bus. We spent more time stopping and waiting for more passengers than we did seeing the City. Do NOT recommend. Also, the sidewalks are impossible with a wheelchair and often dead end into bike paths. Watch out! People will run you over. We really should have taken the Princess tour for this city. The Rock Church was cool but CROWDED.View All 193 City Tour Reviews
I highly recommend Best Guides Tours in St. Petersburg. Before we left the U.S., Kira and Dariya were super responsive to questions and worked with us on every detail, providing suggestions and working out the schedule so that we could maximize our time in port. Our tour guide, Irina, was extremely knowledgeable and engaging. She accommodated our diverse group, ages 84 to 17 and we all had a great time. We went on the “The Happy Tour” which included a wonderful lunch on Day 1 and pierogis on Day 2 (which were more than enough for lunch). This agency is obviously very experienced in their scheduling. Although we visited in peak tourist season (June), we managed to avoid the worst crowds at Peterhof, Katherine’s Palace and the Hermitage, leaving time for a few extra photo ops. There were a number of personal touches as well, like visiting a local grocery store to get ice cream. The additional evening tours were perfect (canal cruise and climbing the Collonnade at St Isaac's Cathedral). Overall, this tour was so much more personal and enjoyable than the standard bus tour. I cannot thank Best Guides enough!View All undefined undefined Reviews
Copenhagen Hop-On Hop-Off Bus - Great way to get from point to point. Nothing special, just practical. Especially enjoyed wandering through Royal/Public gardens. The city is pristine and beautiful and can't wait to go again.View All 201 City Tour Reviews
Copenhagen Canal Tour with Skip-the-Line Entry to Tivoli Gardens
Loved the boat tour the best. Next time I'll skip Tivoli Gardens (amusement park) and spend more time really enjoying the many city sights.
TG - Big amusement park. Nice restaurants but very crowded. Performances by local children's dance and gymnastic studios (the kind of thing that parents of the performers relish but I was done after a few minutes).View All 64 Tivoli Gardens Reviews
We reached out to Saku travel because we were concerned about navigating Talinn with my mother in a wheelchair. What a great choice! Not only did we not miss a thing, we received personalized care with attention to every detail. Our drive navigated the narrowest of streets to get my mother to the doorstep of many interesting stops. While my husband and I meandered narrow alley ways that weren’t accessible, our tour guide gave chatted with my mother and gave her additional insights about the area. It was super interesting to hear her stories about Soviet days, participating in the human chain and the song festival. I never felt rushed but we managed to get a broad sampling of Talinn highlights.View All 90 City Tour Reviews