Sunday, April 24, 2022

Copenhagen - Princess Cruise Boarding

Originally this cruise was a Baltic Sea cruise scheduled to go to St. Petersburg. It's on our bucket list and we were looking forward to finally seeing Russia. Then Ukraine was invaded by Russia two months before our cruise was scheduled to leave. The original cruise was a Baltic Sea cruise with numerous stops within the Baltic Sea and a return to Copenhagen after 10 days.

First the St. Petersburg stop was canceled and replaced with a stop in Sweden. Then other stops were modified on an almost daily basis as the cruise line scrambled to replace formerly safe stops which were no longer considered safe. Finally the entire Baltic Sea was considered too dangerous for cruise ships. Our Baltic Sea cruise morphed into a Western Europe cruise. Instead of ending in Copenhagen it was going to England.

Those weeks preceding the cruise turned out to be extremely stressful. We had made plans to fly from Copenhagen to Brussels after the cruise and then spend a number of days in Bruges and Brussels before flying to Ireland. Now we were faced with having to take a train from Southampton to London airport and then fly to Copenhagen to catch our original flight or fly directly to Brussels and then take a train from Brussels to Bruges. The cruise was turning into one big complicated mess.

Luckily the trip ended up being a bit simpler than that because our now Western European cruise had a scheduled stop in Bruges a few days before we had originally planned to be there. That meant we could cut the cruise short to seven days instead of 10 and spend a few extra days in Belgium instead of spending two days at sea and one day in Portland UK, a stop we'd already been to before. The two days at sea and the Portland stop had been added to the tail end of our "Western Europe" cruise to make it a 10 day cruise. Getting off the ship early, the extra days ashore actually turned out to be very good days, with an extra night in Bruges and unplanned nights in Ghent, halfway between Brussels and Bruges. Ghent was also an easy train ride to Antwerp so we ended up taking a day trip to Antwerp during one of the two days in Ghent.

All in all it ended up being an enjoyable trip despite the month plus before the cruise being stressful with a rapidly evolving set of stops. Add to all that the fact that we were still emerging from the COVID pandemic and multiple COVID tests required during the entire trip. One for Copenhagen, one for boarding the cruise, one for entering Ireland and one for returning to the US. Never mind what would happen if any of those happened to test positive - we'd handle that if it ever happened. Which luckily it didn't.

There was one more itinerary change we found out about after we boarded the ship. Our first stop in Skagen Denmark had been canceled due to weather concerns and we were spending an extra night in Copenhagen. We actually could have gone back into Copenhagen for the morning as the cruise ship wasn't leaving until early afternoon. We decided to spend the day aboard the ship relaxing instead of rushing out on a crowded shuttle bus and waiting in a long line to get back aboard the bus to get back to the ship. The day before we'd seen the long long line waiting to get on the shuttle bus back to the ship. Besides - the ship had one of the best beer menus I'd ever seen aboard a cruise ship.

Unfortunately I've never seen anything remotely like this variety of beers on the subsequent cruises. I've complained on most of my cruises of a very limited beer menu. For a one week cruise this lineup was more than adequate.

Click this link or the picture above to see more pictures in the Princess Cruise Day 0 photo album.

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