We just returned from our Baltics cruise on board Regal Princess that started and ended in Copenhagen Denmark 8-28 to 9-8.
We stayed in a Mini Suite on board Regal Princess B315, and it was outstanding. When we checked in for the ship it only took about 15 minutes to get to our room and we were randomly supposedly selected for the ocean medallion pilot program. This pretty much amounted to being able to enter our room without having to scan the card or The Medallion. They gave you a card as backup in case The Medallion didn't work. One time when I went to get coffee at the new grounds Cafe it automatically registered through The Medallion so I didn't have to give them my card to scan to pay . Other than that we really didn't use any of the perks or benefits of the Medallion program because we weren't really sure what any of it was. We attended the Ocean Medallion pilot program event that they had on the first night on ship, but they really didn't give much information during that meeting. The ship itself was beautiful the buffet selection was FANTASTIC and we ate there almost every single day. We tried the main dining room one time, but the rest of the week the menu wasn't really to our liking. My husband does not eat much fish or duck or lamb so the buffet was a better choice for us. One thing to note is some of the items offered in the main dining room are actually at the buffet so I was able to get my Seafood fix no problems. This was our 6th Cruise, our second with Princess, the other four with Celebrity. On all prior cruises we did set dining as we traveled with family. For this cruise it was just the two of us so we opted for Anytime dining, but we really enjoyed the flexibility and variety of the buffet. We ate at Alfredo's 3 times and loved it each and every time we went. The service was great the food was excellent and we loved the pizza. We tried the pizza up on the pool deck and we agree with other reviewers that something changed and it was not nearly as good we remembered and we preferred Alfredo's Pizza. We ate at the Crown Grill on one of our nights and it was just so so . I ordered the ribeye which was extremely fatty and my husband ordered the porterhouse which was very tough on the New York strip side of it . The service felt rushed and when they serve the sides to you it felt like you were in a cafeteria line having the food slapped on your plate. Dessert was good. We definitely were not impressed with the Crown Grill. However, we really loved the Regal Princess and would definitely sale on it again. It was a gorgeous ship inside and out, the staff were super friendly and accommodating almost everywhere we went. It never felt crowded on board. The only downside was the spa. We each got a massage and the sales pitches ruined the relaxation. Prior to my massage I sat through a facial consultation which I did not appreciate. I was told I have puffy eyes and after 8 months using skincare it becomes less effective and I should switch off. I am 43.....the entire cruise we were asked if we were on our honeymoon, when I told people I am 43 and married 19 years, they did a double take.....I think my skin care regime is working just fine, lol.
In Copenhagen we stayed at the Admiral Hotel for two nights pre-cruise. The hotel itself was beautiful and upon check-in we were told we were upgraded to a newly renovated room with a Harbor View which we had not booked. This sounded great until we checked into the room and realized they put us right next to the construction, right next door actually. Since we checked in on a Sunday it wasn't an issue that day/night but Monday morning and Tuesday morning they were often working before 8 a.m. Hammering, drilling, sawing. If we had been staying longer at the hotel we would have asked for a room change. The room itself was very nice, comfortable, clean, wonderful shower, and bigger than what we were expecting, so there were no complaints there. We would stay at the Admiral again after the construction has been completed. We did pay for their morning buffet breakfast and it was very good, we were pleased with the selection, albiet a little expensive.
While in Copenhagen we walked down to the Little Mermaid statue easily from the hotel as well as the Palace for The Changing of the Guard. We then just toured by foot and walked around Copenhagen. We toured the round Tower, the Palace grounds, Trinity Church, the main shopping district, and we made it all the way out to City Hall Square where Tivoli is. We did go to Tivoli and spent a couple of hours there. We wound up taking a taxi back to the hotel after Tivoli as we were exhausted. We really enjoyed the location of the Admiral in Nyhaven. There are tons of restaurants along the Canal area and we were able to also get on the canal boat tour right there, so for us this was a perfect location. We stayed there at the end of August so we missed the heat wave that Copenhagen had been experiencing , so no AC at the hotel was not an issue. One side note was the day we were getting on the Princess ship also happened to be the day the French president was in town visiting. They were having a special changing of the Guard and as a result the taxis that normally would have been available at the front door of the hotel were not allowed as the street was closed. We walked down to the first cross street where taxis were supposed to be available but it was nearly impossible to get one. We wound up having to walk about 15 to 20 minutes lugging our suitcases to the Parliament building in order to be able to catch a cab. Lots of fun...lol.
We opted to do a ship tour in Oslo Norway. We visited Vigeland Sculpture Park, The Folk Museum, the Viking Ship Museum, the Fram Museum, and a City highlights driving tour of Oslo. The Museums for the most part were great and our favorites were the Folk Museum and the Fram. The tour guide left a lot to be desired. The way that she spoke about Oslo gave us the impression that we were being spoken down to, so it left us with a not so great impression of the city. She was soft-spoken and hard to hear throughout the tour, the whisper devices did not work properly so we wound up unplugging and pretty much walking around on our own during many of the visits. It was a big disappointment. We made the most of the visit and really believe our disappointment was in large part due to the tour guide . We would want to visit Oslo again and probably do it on our own next timettime to really experience it.
We again opted to do the ships tour and chose the Ultimate Berlin for small groups. We mostly chose the ships tour due to the distance between the port and Berlin, I was too nervous to take a chance. This tour we thought was fantastic. It started with a train ride to Berlin which took approximately 3 hours but there were restroom facilities on board and they handed out snacks during the morning drive. Most people slept during this part of the tour. Once in Berlin we met up with our guide William and he was absolutely wonderful. We visited Brandenburg gate, Checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin Wall , and the Reichstag building which included an inside visit and a champagne reception on the rooftop. We also had some free time for shopping as well as a drive around of the city where we passed the Holocaust Memorial as well as many other notable Berlin sites . We ate lunch at a local restaurant which was very good ..the only side note to the restaurant was you could get beer, wine, coffee, soda, or water with your lunch but when I asked for a hot cup of tea they couldn't give it to me. Appparently they no longer serve tea to the cruise ship tours. I believe I got a little motion sickness from the train ride and just wanted a hot cup of tea to settle my stomach. Luckily, my husband had a spare tea bag in his backpack and they did allow me to have a cup of hot water. Other than that small glitch the restaurant was great. It was a served meal not a buffet. The train ride back to the port was a little bit shorter at 2.5 hours. They came around with beverage service where you could purchase beer wine or soda for a small fee as well as handed out at no charge sandwiches and snack boxes and water . Overall it was a fast-paced intense day of Berlin but we were really happy with our tour and were glad we opted to do it.
We did not choose any tours in Estonia and opted to do it on our own. We followed Rick Steves walking tour from his book which worked out great. We absolutely loved Estonia and were not expecting to like it so much , it was one of our favorite ports of call. We toured the old KGB prison building as well as one of the large Tower Museums, both places took credit cards for admission. We had pretty good weather the whole trip including in Estonia. It rained for a short time in Estonia but it was while we were in the one Museum and it didn't last very long. We found the town of Estonia to be very medieval-looking and a joy to tour. We walked right from the port into town without any issues.
ST Petersburg, Russia
For ST. Petersburg we used spb tours. We chose the deluxe 2 Day Tour. Our guides name was Elena and she also went by Helen. She was an absolutely fantastic tour guide over the course of the two days. My husband called her the walking Wikipedia. She had so much knowledge about every single thing we saw it was unbelievable. We were very nervous about St Petersburg as the night before docking, Princess put a handout in all the rooms about what to do if you lose or have your passport stolen. It was very intimidating to read that you would have to find your way to Moscow in order to get an emergency Visa and it would be difficult to even get there by train, plane, Etc without having a passport and it could be a lengthy and expensive process. Princess can not help you and you are to use your tour guide for assistance. We were very jittery the first day in Port and must have checked the location of our passports about every 5 minutes. Elena made sure to inform us of the areas where pickpocketing was the highest so we were just sure to be very vigilant while in Port. The tour itself was very comprehensive and included Hermitage, Peterhof, Church on Spilled blood, St Peter and Paul Fortress, St Catherine, Yusopov, St Isaac, a boat tour, and we did a subway ride. It also included 2 sit down lunches, non buffets. The second being the better of the two. We saw so much during our two days. We did get to St
Catherine's Palace which was up in the air prior to arriving in St Petersburg as spb would make a decision based on the lines. We did not experience many wait times to get in anywhere during the whole trip with the exception of Yusopov Palace. It was very crowded the day we were there but it was our last stop on day 2. We would recommend spb to anyone. All Aboard was at 5:30 on day 2 and we were back to the ship by 4:45. we got really lucky with the weather in St Petersburg as well it was about 72 degrees and sunny both days with rain moving in in the late afternoon on day 2. it started just as we were leaving our last stop headed back to the ship.
We were originally scheduled to do an spb tour to Porvoo in Finland but decided to cancel and attempt Helsinki on our own. We were docked pretty far from the downtown area so we paid 12 US dollars round trip per person to take the local shuttle from the port to the drop-off in town. There were also taxis and hop on hop off buses available. The shuttle ran every 15 minutes up until 3 p.m and dropped you off about a five-minute walk from the market. We used Rick Steves guide again and picked out the places we wanted to visit. We made it to the outdoor Market, the Cathedral, the square near the train station, and also walked all the way to Rock Church. We arrived at Rock Church at about 12:10 and they actually closed from 12:30 to approximately 2 or 2:30 I believe, but we were able to get in line and get inside before they closed. I'd say it was about a 20-minute walk from the location where the shuttle bus dropped us off. We had a really nice time in Helsinki and we're happy we chose to do it our own. We picked up some great souvenirs at the outdoor Market.
For the port of Stockholm, Princess docked at the further away port and we opted for a ship tour this day and choose the Vasa Museum with time on our own. spb offered a similar tour but the ships tour allowed for more time on your own then the spb tour did. We were satisfied with this tour. The guide was very knowledgeable and took us on a walking tour of Old Town and then a drive around tour of Stockholm with a trip to the Vasa Museum. After the Vasa Museum, the bus dropped us back off near the Opera House on the waterfront which is the meeting spot for pickup and it was about a five-minute walk to Old Town. Old Town was very quaint, there are tons of shops and restaurants to choose from. In hindsight we probably should have researched this port a little bit more and opted to do some tours of museums as opposed to shopping. Many of the shops offered the same merchandise and it got old after awhile. I had forgotten to grab Rick Steves book before heading out to Stockholm which was a mistake on my part. All in all, it was a nice day and we were satisfied with the Princess tour.
We had a fantastic vacation and were sad to see it come to an end but at the same time we were exhausted and were happy to be going home. The itinerary with Princess was great however we wish there had been another sea day included between the port stops of Tallinn Estonia through Stockholm, Sweden. 5 days in a row was pretty intense.