Baltic Cruise with a Scooter: Emerald Princess Cruise Review by katisdale

Emerald Princess 4
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Baltic Cruise with a Scooter

Sail Date: May 2011
Destination: Baltic Sea
Embarkation: Copenhagen
We reserved the nine day Imperial Cities tour which covered visits to Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Berlin before joining the ship in Copenhagen. I had polio as a child and now use a travelscoot scooter as I am both somewhat unsteady on my feet and a slow walker. The scooter allows me to keep up with the group. I found the normal and expected obstacles throughout Europe. There are fewer curb cuts and many cobblestone areas but I did better than I expected. The primary challenge was getting on and off the bus. Princess uses Globus tours for the Imperial Cities Tour. The bus driver, named Marco stayed with us for the entire tour and was excellent both as a driver and in loading and unloading my scooter at each stop.

At the first stop in Budapest I did not have an accessible room as Princess had not notified the tour operators that I had reserved an accessible cabin (and filled out their required form) on the ship. However the guide arranged an appropriate room in the other More three cities.

Upon arriving at the ship in Copenhagen we found the ship on Norovirus precautions being maintained from the previous transatlantic cruise. This caused us no problems and was removed about three days later. We have cruised previously on the Crown Princess and found the Emerald to be almost identical. The ship met our expectations with one exception. On previous cruises on this class of ship we have sailed to the Caribbean. The ship always felt spacious. However it was cold and rainy during this cruise and almost everyone stayed inside all the time. We found the bars and hallways extremely crowded, especially the hallways when the boutiques had their sale tables set up.

Our accessible cabin had enough room for us to store the scooter inside the room. The bathroom was level entry with the room. The shower had a pull down seat. There was one minor problem with the room that could not be fixed. The temperature control did not cool the room sufficiently.

The food on this cruise was excellent. We ate one night in the buffet, one night at Sabatini's (old menu), and one night at the Crown Grill. All of our other meals were in the anytime dining rooms. We always chose to share a table and never had any wait. Most evening we ate about 6 or 6:30 PM. For lunch we chose to go to the International Cafe for the shrimp salad. At breakfast we used the buffet when we had early excursions and the dining room other mornings. I was always offered assistance in the buffet but if it was not crowded I declined the assistance.

Our only problem with this cruise was the personnel in the Shore Excursion Department. I had never previously experienced discrimination due to my disability. Every time I or other passengers using walkers or wheelchair/scooters passed the shore excursion manager she rolled her eyes. One time I heard her sigh. This plus the poor excursion we had in Aarhus, Denmark were solely her responsibility. We had a train excursion in Aarhus and there were four of us who did not have seats. I spent the train portion of the tour seated on a wooden table in front of the door to the washroom. Three men stood on the deck outside the car because there were no seats. Although this was completely unacceptable it was not addressed on the ship even after I complained. After I returned home and snail mailed a complaint to Princess I got a phone call that informed me I was on a tour that was "too strenuous" for me. I also found this to be unacceptable. I was on the train, I didn't have a seat for the ride but since I can't stand for long periods I sat on the wooden table. This should be unacceptable for anyone, disabled or not.

Overall this was an excellent cruise. We had an outstanding cabin steward. The food was very good and we enjoyed seeing so many new and exciting cities. Less

Published 06/19/11

Cabin review: JJC312

C312 is an accessible inside cabin. The door to the room is wide enough to allow the scooter to enter the room without problems. There is sufficient room to store the scooter in the room. The bathroom door is also wide enough for the scooter. The bathroom is well designed with plenty of grab bars in both the shower and the toilet area. The shower area has a seat. The drains around the shower are sufficient to contain the water to that area unless the ship is rolling. There is an additional drain in front of the door to catch any water that escapes the shower area. The shower has a hand held shower head. You do need to watch how you point this or you can get other parts of the bathroom wet. The closets are not the open variety in the standard Princess cabins. There is sufficient hanger and storage space for the hanging and folding clothes we brought. The beds can be in queen or twin format but I find it is easier to turn the scooter around if the beds are in the twin locations.

Port and Shore Excursions

We spent one night in Copenhagen at the end of our cruise. We purchased the room from Princess and were assigned to the Radisson Blu hotel. The hotel provided us with an accessible room. This was a form over function room. There was a very high tub in the bathroom but no shower seat. Even if I could have gotten into the tub I would not have been able to shower without the seat. The front desk said they had "never heard" of a shower chair. Also the bed was only six or so inches above the floor. This is much too low and I had difficulty raising from it. The chairs in the room were also too low and also uncomfortable. They were designed to look nice but not to work well. We took a hop-on hop-off tour of the city that was a lot of fun. Copenhagen is one of the most accessible cities I have ever visited in Europe. There are curb cuts everywhere and we had a lot of fun just walking/scooting around the area near our hotel. The hotel was well located being across the street from the Visitor's Center and Tivoli Gardens.

We had planned to use the hop-on hop-off tour here but it was pouring rain when we arrived. Therefore we decided to wait awhile before getting off. The rain never stopped so we stayed on the ship. As we sailed away the sun came out.
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This port was also a highlight for us although we had not expected such excellence. We took a Princess tour in this port. Our tour focused on the marine heritage. Others may say they enjoyed one ship or another but for us it was the Fram, an early 1900's arctic/antarctic exploration vessel. This wooden boat went were no other boats had gone before and the small rooms and artifacts were astounding. Our tour also included a sail in the harbor and a bus ride through the city.

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We took a tour to Schwerin Castle and Rostock which was excellent. The trip to the castle was through beautiful farm lands and we saw huge rabbits, several deer, and lots of birds as we drove along. It was also interesting to see the many wind farms throughout this part of Germany. Schwerin castle was interesting as was the lake cruise we took prior to touring the castle. This tour included an excellent lunch in a restaurant in the town of Schwerin. The guide was excellent on this tour as well. After Schwerin we toured a church in Rostock before returning to the ship.

This was one of the highlights of the cruise for us. We used SPB Tours as part of a group set up by one of the roll call members here on cruise critic. We had two long days of cruising and enjoyed both days greatly. I had read a book about the amber room and really wanted to see that. It was worth the wait. Catherine's Palace is amazing. If you want pictures of the Amber Room you will need to purchase them in the gift shop as no photos (with or without flash) are permitted in this room. The hermitage is also amazing. My husband noted the many stunning young women throughout St. Petersburg. I have great sympathy for the Russians who endured the siege during WWII. I can't imagine living with such privation.

In this port we made a poor choice for our excursion and would have probably enjoyed another tour much more. We took the Princess sponsored "least walking" harbor cruise. Since it was a least walking tour I left the scooter on the ship and instead took my two canes. This was a huge mistake!. After exiting the ship I had to walk more than the length of the ship to reach the harbor boat. Then I had to maneuver down an extremely steep ramp. The tour did point out a few buildings that can be seen from the water and we went through a lock between the harbor and a lake. We also saw some art work that faces the water. Back at the dock it was another long walk back to the Emerald Princess. My husband went to the ship and retrieved my scooter so I only had to walk about half the distance to the ship on our return. This type of information should be explained before the excursion. I make mention of this because I was requested to go to the shore excursion desk before I took any excursions. I did this but was only asked if I knew that the buses to be used did not have lifts. I would have been better served to take a bus tour of Stockholm.

We took the accessible Tallinn tour provided by Princess. This tour was satisfactory and the guide was quite humorous. Tallinn is not a large city and the best sites are not accessible by large bus. However our guide did give us a good overview of the area and also talked about how much has changed since the Soviet Union has fallen.

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