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Northern Europe & Baltics Aarhus, Bergen, Copenhagen, Gdansk, Greenland, Helsinki, Oslo, Riga, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Tallinn

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  #1  
Old August 8th, 2004, 01:38 PM
kool kruiser kool kruiser is offline
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Smile Live from the Grand Princess

As we have received so much wonderful help from our cruisecritic friends I will try and post my views when I can to help our friends who follow us.
Today is our sea day, having embarked yesterday.My random ramblings thus far are as follows

1 We had platinum embarkation at around 12 noon which was very fast and efficient.The express line was also very short but the standard line was quite long. worth avoiding 1pm to 3pm as the princess hotel transfers arrive then.

2 I was worried from some posts about the age and condition of the ship. Have no fears, it looks great. Sure, our cabin has some minor rust fatigue but inside it is immaculate and the public rooms are up to Princess' regular very high standadrs.

3 We have had 1 evening meal which was very nice, our party enjoying their prime rib and mahi mahi entrees greatly. The buffet is fine and the service is warm and friendly. Many of the wait staff seem to be from the Phillipines wheweas on the Golden last year many were from Eastern Europe.

4 I am afraid that the Purser's desk is at best inconsistent. They need serious re-training in lightening up and could try being jolly and even smile, after all this is our holiday!

5 Our biggest problem so far was with our dining reservation. We chose pc dining and wanted to reserve a table for 8 ( we also suggested 2 fours as an alternative) for a fixed 7 pm slot throughout. They were very loathe to help us, asking us to eat at either 5.30 or 7.45, both of which did not suit. We were referred to the chief maitre d, a chap called Jose from Portugal.A man lacking any warmth or charm, he was more intent on telling us his troubles than trying to help. I persevered and got what I wanted eventually, but it left a very bad taste. If Princess monitors these boards suggest they explain to this guy how pc dining should work for us guests!!

6 By contrast the captain's circle host, Roxy is really nice and really warm and helpful. Top marks, Roxie.

7 We booked a ba cabin on caribe. What a great choice...massive balcony. We gave our steward a $5 pre-tip and I now feel that I'm his long lost relative. I wish all my investments produced the same immediate return

8 We saw the introductory show yesterday, which featured a great singer called Darren Lynton who we have seen before. A real professional. The Curtains Up production show and a comedian are on tonight.

9 Tonight is formal night. For those with kids, a suit is fine. We adults dress up but many do not. Shame

10 Soda card is $25..only one price...souvenir cup compulsory.If you want drink of day special I think you have to buy a hurricane glass for $2.50 and they then give you a sticker entittling you to buy drink of day, which they call ''hurricane special"' Hope I got that right. By the way, they have now discontinued the daily 4 side news sheet which used to be a freebie. Pity...they clearly want you to buy their very overpriced newspapers.

11 Last but not least weather simply fine. 26 degrees celsius, high 70s...IMHO just perfect.

The last 2 days have re-inforced by love of cruising and why I can't do a land-based hotel package.I hope our friends who follow enjoy as much as we do

If you have any specifics, I will do my best to help...I owe a lot to you great people.Excuse any alcohol induced mistypes...see you all soon.
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  #2  
Old August 8th, 2004, 03:49 PM
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Default some ideas while your on the ship

We just left the cruise you are on....you might like to look at my notes entitled "Just back Concise Report". Hope you have as much fun as we did. We were on the same deck C218, aren't the balconies great.
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  #3  
Old August 10th, 2004, 01:01 PM
CruisePlease416 CruisePlease416 is offline
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We were also on the same cruise - Caribe 631 - loved it. Our balcony had private area and sunny area. We thought the ship was in great shape, but heard from others who felt otherwise.
I agree with you about the confusion with anytime dining. We found it best to make reservations each evening. When we had large groups, we made reservations a few days in advance, if possible. We found the staff in Michelangelo to be friendlier than the staff in DaVinci, but DaVinci was lighter and prettier.
Wish I had thought to pre-tip our cabin steward, but service was still good.
Had breakfast on our balcony one morning - a day at sea. It was wonderful.
Thanks to all who posted previously. Your comments were very helpful.
Bobbie
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  #4  
Old August 11th, 2004, 12:04 PM
juliejoe juliejoe is offline
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kool kruiser -

I've been watching for your "next installment" - but as this is an extremely port intensive itinerary, won't be surprised if you don't have the time! Sure enjoyed having all the information you shared here!

We're right behind you! We leave Fri. a.m. for Copenhagen. Doesn't the Grand over-night there on the 16th? If I remember correctly, you pull in about 1:00 that afternoon. We're doing a walking tour at about that time with Richard's Walking Tours or we would come to the pier to meet you.

Hope you are having a great time!
Julie
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  #5  
Old August 13th, 2004, 07:33 AM
kool kruiser kool kruiser is offline
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Hi everybody and especially Juliejoe - sorry but I lost your e-mail address. I do hope that you see this. Here are a few more snippets that I hope those on the next cruise will find useful.

1. The Captain's welcome party on the formal night (sea day) was very disappointing - low quality canapes and very very weak drinks - We will probably skip this next time.

2. Entertainment - first production show Curtains Up was on formal night - usual Princess quality. We enjoy these, although they always seem very similar. There was a very funny English comedy juggler called Mike who was great. If he is on your cruise, don't miss. The lady cabaret singer Celeste was also very good and the pianist, Mac Frampton was really good.

We also really like Charlie who is the pianist in the bar at the top of the Atrium on Deck 7. A great place to listen, drink, relax and people watch!

3. Food - no problems. All really nice but then we are easy to please.

4. My previous posting about the changed procedures for the cocktail of the day was correct. I had to buy a really nasty glass for $2.50 after which the cocktail of the day can be bought at the reduced price. A little bit more in Carnival's coffers.

5. Ports - Stockholm is a really lovely city. We did the train transfer from the port as did many others. The last train back from Stockholm left at 14.52, giving plenty of time to walk back to the tenders. We found Stockholm Central very confusing and it was not easy to find the correct platform for our return journey. Also, you need the front carriages of the train, as it splits along the journey. Do alllow plenty of time to get off the ship. I suggest leaving as soon as you can - certainly before 8.00 am at the very latest.

Helsinki - we took bus 16 round the corner from the pier. As others have said, the best deal is the all day ticket which costs 5.40 euros. For a family of four (like us) the cost is only 8 euros. The bargain of the cruise. The ticket includes all transport and tram 3B/3W (I think) was great for a round trip.

St Petersburgh - We used Red October and were very impressed. We also took in the Folklore show which was excellent. Be prepared for a very full, intensive and exhausting two days. There were no problems at all in leaving the ship early - just join the shortest immigration queue. We also had no difficulty in taking food off the ship for our lunches and Princess did not post any warnings that this breached any regulations.

Tallin - easy walk into town, very pretty, dead simple to get around but only limited amounts to see and do. As I write, we have just departed and it is time, at long last for a relaxing afternoon to unwind before 2nd formal night this evening.

If anybody does have further questions, please let me know. However, it is difficult to find a free terminal on occasions as there are insufficient stations and they don't all work. Something for Princess to sort out in the forthcoming dry dock.

Finally, we are very happy with our standing 7 pm table in the Michaelangelo restaurant. Notwithstanding the efforts of the charmless Jose to prevent us dining at this time, the restaurant is fairly quiet and our table is not used before us. There are plenty of tables available for all. Jose could enrol in the Princess charm school asap!

See you all soon.
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  #6  
Old August 13th, 2004, 09:12 AM
juliejoe juliejoe is offline
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Thank You Colin!
What a treat to get such good tips from a friend who is on the sailing just ahead of ours. You can't get more current information that that. Thank you for taking the time to share!

I'm about ready to shut down the computer before we leave this morning. Of course I had to take one more look at CC for the latest. I've been reading the Baltics Ports board for more than a year. Finding your post put a on my face! After all the planning and anticipation - the beginning of our big adventure is finally here!

Be sure to fill out a little green card with your comments about Jose!

Julie
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  #7  
Old August 14th, 2004, 10:34 AM
kool kruiser kool kruiser is offline
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A very quick update. We have just returned from Gdansk. What a treat!! A really beautiful place. If you travel independently, as we did, just go along to the taxis along from the ship and not to those that are there when you get off-the price is much much lower. We paid $60 round trip for 4 of us and saw the cathedral with the famous organ, old town,Solidarity monument and Sopot. Everything was very inexpensive...a real gem.last night we saw a very good New York comedian called Steve Scott and the Shake Rattle and Roll show, which is showing its age IMHO.

Bye for now
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  #8  
Old August 14th, 2004, 07:19 PM
umcerjudy umcerjudy is offline
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Your trip sounds nice so far. Enjoy reading your posts. We are on the Radisson Seven Seas Aug 27 from Stockholm. Give us a weather report, please. Is it sweatshirt weather or shorts? Can't wait to hear about St. Pete's and Tallin.
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  #9  
Old August 15th, 2004, 04:49 AM
kool kruiser kool kruiser is offline
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Dear umcerjudy

You will really enjoy both Tallin and St Petes.I hope you have a tour organised for Russia although Tallin is very easy to do on your own.

Weather is mixed. I am a hardy sort of person and have worn shorts throughout although many have been in trousers. T shirts some of the time and sweaters on occasions. Temperatures have varied from low 60s to high 70s. It has also rained a bit but not for too long. I think you must be prepared for all weather conditions here. Also, the weather can change very rapidly, even having 3 or 4 types of weather in the same day.

Today we are in Germany and it is fine at present

Have a wonderful cruise.
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  #10  
Old August 18th, 2004, 09:44 AM
kool kruiser kool kruiser is offline
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Back home now after a really nice enjoyable trip. For us a cruise holiday is still such a fantastic experience.

May I just thank all cc contributors for their great kindness in helping us get the most from our trip. Power to this wonderful community!

If any body is planning for the same cruise next year on sister ship Star Princess ( I think ) and needs anything answering please let me know and I will do my best
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  #11  
Old August 19th, 2004, 01:13 PM
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Default Several questions for kool kruiser

Quote:
Originally Posted by kool kruiser
If any body is planning for the same cruise next year on sister ship Star Princess ( I think ) and needs anything answering please let me know and I will do my best
Yes it is the Star Princess and we have b2b cruises booked on her. I enjoyed your postings and have printed for reference. There are several questions: Did you stay pre-cruise in Copenhagen and if so where, how long, and what did you do? Disembarkation what time did it start, how did you get to the airport, and what time did your flight leave? I see you did not go to Moscow but was this option offered?
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4-19-2016 - 28 days Sydney-New Zealand- South Pacific - LA- Golden Princess

-------------------------------------------------
Past cruises: (339 days & adding)

PRINCESS
Caribbean Princess -2014 x2 -East & West Caribbean
Crown Princess--2008 TransAtlantic & Baltic 2009 E. Caribbean
Golden Princess-2007-Alaska
Sea Princess-2005 Canada/New England
Diamond Princess- 2005 Mexican Riviera
Star Princess- 2004 x2 Med. Venice to Barcelona/ Barcelona to Rome-2007 TA Rome-FL
Dawn Princess - 2004 x3- Southern Caribbean
Grand Princess- 2003 x2 W.Caribbean/ 2004 Panama 2013-Alaska
Sun Princess- 2003 Mexico
Tahitian Princess- 2003 Tahiti & Cook Islands
Royal Princess- 2003 x2- British Isles / Norwegian Fjords & Iceland
Island Princess- 2003 Panama Canal / 2007 Hawaii
Sky Princess- 2000 China & Orient

SITMAR- Fairwind - 1979 x2- Caribbean/Panama Canal

-------------------------------------------------
HOLLAND AMERICA
Amsterdam- 2004 Alaska
Ryndam - 2001 x 2- S. America

------------------------------------------
CELEBRITY- Silhouette 2014 x2 Greek Isles/ Greece/Croatia, Montenegro & Turkey
------------------------------------------
Viking River Cruise- Spirit/Pride -2006 Budapest to Amsterdam
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  #12  
Old August 20th, 2004, 04:54 AM
kool kruiser kool kruiser is offline
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Hi BJS

Wow- 20 days in the baltic....make sure you pace yourself and do not suffer burn-out!!

We flew out to Copenhagen 1 day early and stayed at the SAS Radisson Scandinavia, which is also used by Princess for their bookings. We chose this hotel as they could accomodate the 4 of us in our family best.We paid DK1295 per night for the 4 of us, including a good buffet breakfast.They gave us an upgrade to 2 inter-connecting rooms, so we effectively had 2 rooms for the price of 1. The hotel is a 10 to 15 minutes very easy walk to Tivoli.Many Americans were hit by jet-lag when they flew to Europe and I would definitely advise a pre-cruise stay to help this along.

We went to Tivoli on our pre-cruise day and walked along Stroget.After breakfast the following day we took a Taxi to the ship- I think cost was equivalent of $30-35.

Disembarkation-we had a late afternoon flight and left the ship as late as we could-about 9.30 am. Disembarkation started at 4am but it must be remembered that we were berthed in Copenhagen overnight. There are 2 alternating itineraries so your disembarkation could be different.Princess warn that there are few taxis in order to sell their extortionate transfers at $40 per person. This is nonsense as taxis are plentiful, although the taxi queue was long. We waited 30 minutes in line and the fare for all 4 of us was $40.Disembarkation was handled with great efficiency by Princess.

Moscow- I believe Princess offer a 2 day excursion with an overnight there-details should be on their website. perhaps somebody who took this trip could provide further information

Hope this helps-just let me know if anything else comes to mind.By the way, we have just booked a Caribe balcony and opposite inside again for 2005 on the Grand as we enjoyed this location so much...the BAs on Caribe are great!
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  #13  
Old August 20th, 2004, 04:01 PM
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BJS BJS is offline
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kool kruiser Thank you for the information. We will see how well we do with our 24 day trip coming up in Sept. on the Star Princess in the Med. and have an idea how much we can do without burn out. We did 24 days in the British Isles/Norweign Fjords/Iceland last summer without any problem.

Funny how they switched itineraries for these 2 ships and both of us are sailing on the same one again next year. So happy to hear that BAs on Caribe are great because we have one, Caribe 515, for the Baltics. Did a guarantee on the Star this year at a great price and have a BA C632 for one leg and a BC on Aloha for the other which would not have been my choice but it will be just fine I'm sure.

What a great rate you got at the SAS Radisson and it included breakfast. We have booked 4 nights at the Radisson SAS Royal. The web rate is the same rate as you paid but for 2 people and no breakfast included in 2005. We didn't like the charges if cancel so opted to pay a little more to get the breakfast and no fee cancel charges.
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Barbara










4-19-2016 - 28 days Sydney-New Zealand- South Pacific - LA- Golden Princess

-------------------------------------------------
Past cruises: (339 days & adding)

PRINCESS
Caribbean Princess -2014 x2 -East & West Caribbean
Crown Princess--2008 TransAtlantic & Baltic 2009 E. Caribbean
Golden Princess-2007-Alaska
Sea Princess-2005 Canada/New England
Diamond Princess- 2005 Mexican Riviera
Star Princess- 2004 x2 Med. Venice to Barcelona/ Barcelona to Rome-2007 TA Rome-FL
Dawn Princess - 2004 x3- Southern Caribbean
Grand Princess- 2003 x2 W.Caribbean/ 2004 Panama 2013-Alaska
Sun Princess- 2003 Mexico
Tahitian Princess- 2003 Tahiti & Cook Islands
Royal Princess- 2003 x2- British Isles / Norwegian Fjords & Iceland
Island Princess- 2003 Panama Canal / 2007 Hawaii
Sky Princess- 2000 China & Orient

SITMAR- Fairwind - 1979 x2- Caribbean/Panama Canal

-------------------------------------------------
HOLLAND AMERICA
Amsterdam- 2004 Alaska
Ryndam - 2001 x 2- S. America

------------------------------------------
CELEBRITY- Silhouette 2014 x2 Greek Isles/ Greece/Croatia, Montenegro & Turkey
------------------------------------------
Viking River Cruise- Spirit/Pride -2006 Budapest to Amsterdam

Last edited by BJS; August 20th, 2004 at 04:04 PM.
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  #14  
Old August 23rd, 2004, 05:56 AM
kool kruiser kool kruiser is offline
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Guess what !! Our BA cabin next August is C515...what an incredible co-incidence. Have a great time in the Med.
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  #15  
Old September 9th, 2004, 03:09 AM
Kami's pal Kami's pal is offline
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Question Comparisons?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kool kruiser

1 We had platinum embarkation at around 12 noon which was very fast and efficient. The express line was also very short but the standard line was quite long. worth avoiding 1pm to 3pm as the princess hotel transfers arrive then.

I've never travelled with Princess, but have with RCCL. Does that entitled to the express line?

2 I was worried from some posts about the age and condition of the ship. Have no fears, it looks great. Sure, our cabin has some minor rust fatigue but inside it is immaculate and the public rooms are up to Princess' regular very high standards.

I am concerned that this is a large ship. Did you feel that you were limited to berths in cargo area?

3 We have had 1 evening meal which was very nice, our party enjoying their prime rib and mahi mahi entrees greatly. The buffet is fine and the service is warm and friendly. Many of the wait staff seem to be from the Philippines whereas on the Golden last year many were from Eastern Europe.

I have lactose intolerance, and I am almost vegan so prefer to use dining room so that I can enjoy fresh fish and fruit and greens with no sauces that might include milk, cheese etc. Would you think that I could order from the menu?

4 I am afraid that the Purser's desk is at best inconsistent. They need serious re-training in lightening up and could try being jolly and even smile, after all this is our holiday!

Did you get a read on what were the problems that brought people to purser's desk?

5 Our biggest problem so far was with our dining reservation. We chose pc dining and wanted to reserve a table for 8 ( we also suggested 2 fours as an alternative) for a fixed 7 pm slot throughout. They were very loathe to help us, asking us to eat at either 5.30 or 7.45, both of which did not suit. We were referred to the chief maitre d, a chap called Jose from Portugal. A man lacking any warmth or charm, he was more intent on telling us his troubles than trying to help. I persevered and got what I wanted eventually, but it left a very bad taste. If Princess monitors these boards suggest they explain to this guy how pc dining should work for us guests!!


I prefer custom of 2 dining times and same seatmates as I travel alone, and therefore really look forward to having the same table-mates every evening. That way, we can progress in conversation beyond the usual opening ritual "Where are you from? How many cruises? et,. Is personal choice the only way now on Grand Princess?


6 By contrast the captain's circle host, Roxy is really nice and really warm and helpful. Top marks, Roxie.

Don't know what Roxie's duties are?

7 We booked a ba cabin on caribe. What a great choice...massive balcony. We gave our steward a $5 pre-tip and I now feel that I'm his long lost relative. I wish all my investments produced the same immediate return

I usually buy the inside as I pay double to have a room of my own. On a trip to Med. would the extra cost for a balcony be warranted in your opinion?

If you have any specifics, I will do my best to help. ..I owe a lot to you great people. Excuse any alcohol induced mistypes... see you all soon.
Thank you for your review.

I've cruised with ORIENT, CRYSTAL, RCCL, NCL, HAL, CELEBRITY and CRYSTAL. I find that I enjoy the port intensive cruises more than the days at sea. AM not familiar with Princess lines, nor with he Grand Princess. I am interested in any opinions you might have if you have experienced the other lines. This would be the largest ship I've been on. How was muster drill handled? Did you get a feel for the crew and passengers taking this seriously?

Several Princess ships have reported GI illnesses. Any problems ?

Did you take any tours booked through Princess?

The trip I'm investigation would be in the Mediterranean. Any problems with Air Conditioning?

Since the daily newspaper wasn't distributed, did the day's events, ship's news get disseminated via the TV? Were you constantly being bombarded by announcements that could have been printed?

I notice that you bought a soda card. Are there any real necessities that will come as a surprise expense after we board?

What about noise on such a large ship?

Thank you in advance for any information that you can give me.
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  #16  
Old September 9th, 2004, 06:04 AM
kool kruiser kool kruiser is offline
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Hi Kami's pal

I will do my very best to reply to the questions you raised. Firstly, with regard to those relating to my original posting.

1. Unfortunately not. However, if you fill in the cruise personaliser online promptly, then express line stickers should accompany your cruise documents.

2. Absolutely not. If you look at the deck plans, you will see that most cabins are on higher decks and none below the deck which is at the foot of the atrium.

3. I would suggest that you speak to the maitre d immediately you board and I am sure that he will do everything possible to assist. I believe you can obtain dining menus 24 hours in advance and arrange "special orders" as necessary. Princess will also be willing to help you with "off menu" selections, provided sufficient notice is given.

4. There were no particular problems on this cruise and it must be remembered that people attend the purser's desk for many reasons. My complaint was with their attitude and countenance.

5. There are two personal choice dining rooms and one with the traditional two dining times. The traditional dining room should be booked as soon as possible, as it sells out quickly.

6. To look after all of the needs of captain's circle members.

7. Depends when you are going. Although this is naturally a matter of personal choice a balcony is very pleasant when the sun is shining. On the other hand, trips to the Med are very port-intensive with few days at sea. I think this is a difficult decision that only you can make.

Turning to the other queries in your main thread:-

1. We had no problems regarding such illnesses on our cruise and were not aware of any such issues.

2. I dislike ships tours and travel independently or through local tour companies, who generally have much smaller vehicles, which I much prefer.

3. The air conditioning was great, if anything too cold!

4. There is CNN and Sky News on the in-cabin tv. On-board announcements are not excessive, although there are ocassional reminders of the activities coming up.

5. Since being "Carnivalised" Princess have adopted a policy of what my American friends call "Nickel and Diming". This means that there are modest irritating extras to pay for eg the purchase of a naff souvenir glass to access drink of the day specials, a charge for espressos and cappuccinos in the dining room and so on. Port transfers are also chargeable. The Princess transfers to and from the airport tend to be very expensive.

6. There are no particular noise issues. Although the ship is large, it really is quite spacious even when full.

I do hope that this helps, but please do not hesitate to let me know if any further queries comes to mind.
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  #17  
Old October 22nd, 2004, 08:38 PM
momofteens momofteens is offline
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Smile Are there any teens on Baltic Cruises

I'm going on a cruise next summer with my grandparents. I'm 16 I've been to the Carribean and I'm really looking forward to seeing Europe. I know I'll have fun either way but I was wondering if anyone noticed teens on the ship. Thanks
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Old October 23rd, 2004, 12:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by momofteens
I'm going on a cruise next summer with my grandparents. I'm 16 I've been to the Carribean and I'm really looking forward to seeing Europe. I know I'll have fun either way but I was wondering if anyone noticed teens on the ship. Thanks
You didn't say which ship you will be on, but if it is Oceania by chance, you may very well be out of luck. I sailed on this ship last year to the Baltics and didn't see any teenagers on board. You will probably have a better chance if sailing on a larger ship like Princess. From what I have read, there are not as many teens on the Northern Europe cruises in general.

You will still have a great trip regardless and will never forget the places you will see. Much different from the Carribean, so you are in for a treat!
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Old October 25th, 2004, 08:39 AM
kool kruiser kool kruiser is offline
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Hi there

Although i have already replied to your other thread on the Princess board may I allay your fears. The style of the Princess Baltic cruise is very different to Oceania, a P&O branded ship.Having been on the Grand this summer, I can confirm that there should be other teens to mix with on board. Do look up my reply on the Princess board
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