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Emerald Princess Baltic cruise: Percy and others please help

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We've just signed on to this cruise for August. From my reading of another thread, it sounds like Percy may have taken the same cruise. If so, and if your hand/fingers are getting better, I hope you can answer some questions.

This is only our second cruise. We do independent travel and have been to Europe multiple times so I'm really loathe to sign on to ship tours. Nonetheless with only 2 days in St. Petersburg I'm thinking an "independent tour" would be useful. Sounds like you did one. Did you find it good? Would you engage the same person/company again? If so, would you please share the name and e-mail. How long did you use the guide? Where all did you go with him/her? What was the price for the service? Any glitches?

We are two couples and would like to have some help getting around in order to maximize our time and help with language issues, etc. We'd also probably like to dismiss our guide at the end of a touring day and go off on our own for dinner and return to ship by cab, etc. Is all of this possible? Assume it means we'll have to have visas. Can you recommend a visa service?

Any other tips from your cruise of the Baltics? We'll be in Copenhagen, Helsinki, Stockholm, Gdansk, Oslo and Tallin as well as St. Petersburg. Thanks very much for any help/advice you can give.

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