Cruising in the Baltic Sea through Northern Europe and exploring the water-lined Baltic capitals is a riveting experience. The breathtaking cities of Stockholm, St. Petersburg, Copenhagen, Tallinn, Helsinki and Amsterdam boast motley of languages, cultures, currencies, ancient histories and artistic traditions. Spellbinding cultural and historical sites, picture-postcard villages, scenic cities and startling landscapes, all await cruise travelers’ gaze, who head northwards for summer sojourn. Witness these inspiring sights on a broad range of alluring cruise vacation options available on numerous cruise liners.
Ideal cruise duration: 12-14 days
A typical itinerary covers:
Berlin (Warnemünde), Germany
Warnemunde is the gateway to Berlin, the capital city of Germany. Before embarking on your magnificent cruise to the Northern Europe, explore the fine sands of Warnemünde and the awe-inspiring sights of Berlin. Ride the narrow-gauge railway ‘Molli’; marvel at the splendid seaside and countryside scenes; take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage; meet the locals; walk up the late 19th-century lighthouse that affords a fabulous view of Rostock; admire the brilliant 700-year-old brick cathedral of Bad Doberan; visit the ‘Teepott’ that houses a sea voyage exhibition and various restaurants; or get an insight into the town’s past at the Warnemünde History Museum.
Don’t forget to explore the beautiful medieval town of Lübeck, listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List; discover the magnificence of the 17th-century Charlottenburg Palace; and witness the immaculateness of the Brandenburg Gate. If you’re fascinated by the Cold War and military history, get a tour of the East German bunker; and if you are looking for something different then board a plane to Leipzig, take a Porsche factory tour and test drive Porsche Cayenne. For an historical excursion, take a tour of the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, place where thousands of political dissidents and prisoners died of starving.
Estonia’s capital and the largest city, Tallinn is one of the most comprehensive and well-preserved medieval cities in Europe. It has both Russian and Scandinavian influences in its culture, language and architecture; in fact the city exudes a feeling of romantic history. When here, visit the Old Town designated as UNESCO World Heritage; walk the tangled warren of cobblestone streets lined with marvelously preserved 14th- and 15th-century buildings and outdoor cafés; drive to Tallinn Song Festival grounds, where more than 30,000 singers perform in every five years; take a local tram to experience Tsar Peter I’s glorious Kadriorg Palace, full of art and bordered by peaceful woodlands and sculpted gardens; or visit the modern art museum KUMU that houses contemporary Estonian art.
Venture into the Rotermann Quarter, a great cultural and shopping center. Here, relax in a café; browse the market square, or drop into the Loovala art collective studios, where Estonian artists display their creations. To know more about Tallinn’s history, visit the Town Wall and Toompea Castle, well-preserved 13th-century landmarks or the Open Air Museum that presents 18th century life’s reconstruction; or marvel at the magnificent St Mary’s Cathedral, that displays over 100 coats of arms. If you are a hiking enthusiast looking for unusual terrain, trek across a bog in the Lahemaa National Park or the North Korvemaa Landscape Reserve; or walk along or kayak in the Pedassaare Island if you a nature lover and a water sports enthusiast.
St. Petersburg, Russia
World-renowned as “Venice of the North”, St. Petersburg in Russia is one of the world’s most magnificent and intriguing cities. Declared as a UNESCO world heritage site, this grand city with a lurid past is the marquee attraction for Baltic cruises and therefore most cruise lines spend at least two days here. When here, stroll the halls of the dazzling gilt Baroque Hermitage Museum, one of the world’s oldest and largest museums housing a massive collection of Picassos, Leonardo da Vincis, Matisses and Rembrandts; don’t forget to watch the Russian ballet at the Alexandrinsky Theatre; walk the grandiose grounds of the Tsarist-era palaces like Peter the Great’s Peterhof and Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin and explore their splendid gardens; visit St. Peter and Paul Cathedral. Explore the city’s picturesque bridges, canals and islands; and admire St. Isaac’s Cathedral, whose superb gilded dome reigns St. Petersburg’s skyline.
Finland’s capital city Helsinki, surrounded by the Baltic Sea on three sides and its own archipelago, has kept its historical roots intact. Renowned as Scandinavia’s “White City of the North”, the city is far-famed for its historical architecture than its cool climate. While your stay here, explore the sea-side of the city, take a boat tour or ferry ride to Suomenlinna Sea Fortress; visit the Hietaranta beach, Sibelius Park, and several marinas and waterfronts for scenic views; or enjoy cool temperature at the world’s first all-year-round indoor Winter Wonderland. Take a walking tour; discover tree-lined graceful parks, avenues and distinct architecture; take in the scenic view of colorful flower market near the Harbor Front. If you have an artist’s eye, stopover at the Design Museum and the avant-garde Museum of Contemporary Art for contemporary style; if you are a history lover, gaze at the onion-domed Russian Orthodox Uspenski Cathedral, neo-classical buildings in and nearby Senate Square and the Lutheran Cathedral. Shop your heart out at the Market Square; buy distinctive Finnish glassware, chocolates, crafts and woolens.
Stockholm (Nynashamn), Sweden
No other major city in the world can match the breathtaking and picturesque Sweden’s capital Stockholm. Perched on 14 islands, where the lovely Lake Mälaren meets the Baltic Sea and connected by bridges, Stockholm offers numerous panoramic vistas to its beholder. When you reach this port, explore Gamla Stan, the city’s old town that dates from the 13th Century; stroll through its narrow cobblestoned streets lined with impressive cafés, quirky shops and fabulously modern dining venues; visit Livrustkammaren, Sweden’s oldest museum homing five centuries’ worth of royal clothes, carriages and weaponry; explore the Gothic cathedral of Storkyran; or discover the elaborate 17th century Royal Palace. Try something different here, take a guided tour of the city from buildings’ rooftops or take a magical ride in a hot air balloon above the channels, bays and islands, for a bird’s-eye view of the city. Don’t forget to visit the grand City Hall with its amazing courtyards; frosty Ice Bar and the Vasa Museum on Djurgarden Island ingeniously built around the famous salvaged 17th century warship.
Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, is an enchanting city with 17th- and 18th-century buildings, ancient winding streets and beautiful gardens and parks. The city exudes a historic feel with its cobbled squares, canals and copper spires; however it is the most cosmopolitan city in Scandinavia with some of Europe’s finest museums, shopping, nightlife and cafes present here. During your stay, relive the medieval times in the Latin Quarter; visit the magnificent Gefion Fountain; get mesmerized by the grandeur of the Amalienborg Palace, Rosenborg Castle and Christiansborg Palace; stroll down the Nyhavn Canal, browse the cafés and market stalls and look at the fine old ships moored by its banks; explore the Old Fish Market; revel in the Tivoli Gardens, park full of beautiful flowers, twinkling lights, restaurants and amusement rides; or admire the Hals, Rubens and Rembrandts at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts. Don’t miss out the bronze statue ‘The Little Mermaid’ erected in 1913 and one of the world’s most photographed statues, dedicated to Hans Christian Andersen.
Norway’s capital Oslo is positioned at the head of the Oslo Fjord and is surrounded by rolling green woodlands, snow-capped mountains and lakes. It is a relaxed modern city that boasts world-class shopping and cultural amenities with an eclectic architectural setting in the backdrop. Frescoed 18th century homes, ancient castles, sparkling lakes and vast parks, are a delight for the eyes. Once you step here, visit the Munch Museum, home to works of famous Edvard Munch like the masterpiece, “The Scream”; explore the Viking House Museum that displays 9th century longboats; discover the warren of secret crypts, passages, dungeons and magnificent halls in the medieval Akershus Castle; stroll through lush Frogner Park that houses over 190 masterpieces by the renowned sculptor Gustav Vigeland; enjoy at the waterfront – lively place with chic shops, outdoor cafes, street musicians and performers; and visit the far-famed Nobel Prize Peace Center and 230-year old Hadeland Glassworks. Go for a hike in the hills of Nordmarka or ski jump at the Holmenkollen Ski Jump with its sweeping views of the islands, fjord and city below.
Denmark’s second-largest city Aarhus, a major cultural center, perches on Jutland’s eastern coast amidst dense forests and beaches. Travelers easily get lulled by the ambience and charm of this small historic city full of friendly people, paved streets, old squares and amiable restaurants and cafés. While here, visit the exceptional Old Town museum ‘Den Gamle By’ to behold colored, timber-framed buildings depicting three centuries of Danish life in an open-air setting; marvel at the oldest church in Scandinavia, The Church of Our Lady, constructed in 1060; or visit the historical baroque-style Clausholm Castle, dating back to the 1690s. If you are history buff, visit the archaeological museum Moesgård Manor of Prehistory that houses the 2000-year-old Grauballe Man.
Popular Cruise liners that operate in the Baltic Capitals:
Princess Cruise Lines, with a fleet of 16 modern vessels, is the world’s third largest cruise line. It is world-famous for a wide collection of onboard options, innovative ships and an ambience of outstanding customer service. Rendering traveling opportunity to approximately 1.3 million travelers every year to world’s top destination, Princess Cruises effectively balances cruise traditions with innovations to deliver an experience that suits people of all ages. Royal Princess offers 10 – 14 Days cruise to Europe-North and Britain from May to August. Departing from Berlin, Germany; St Petersburg, Russia and Copenhagen, Denmark, the cruises take passengers through various ports of call including Goteburg, Warnemunde, Tallin, St. Petersberg, Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo and Aarhus
Celebrity Cruise Line has 11 luxury cruise ships in its fleet, each offering chic, contemporary spaces paired with award-winning design and décor, an impeccable personalized service and unparalleled spa, cuisine and fine wines. Celebrity’s each ship has its own distinctive style, with its own exceptionally inviting social spaces and public rooms. Celebrity Constellation offers 10 – 14 Days cruise to Europe-North and Britain in May and July. Departing from Copenhagen, Denmark, the cruises take passengers through various ports of call including Amsterdam, Warnemunde, Tallin, St. Petersberg, Helsinki, Stockholm, and Copenhagen.
Costa Cruises, presently operating a fleet of 15 ships, are far-famed for the decorative and architectural aspects of their ships. These ships illustrate teamwork of world renowned artists and esteemed architects. Costa cruise are continuously growing providing authentic Italian cuisine, nonstop entertainment and warm hospitality. The suites aboard Costa Cruise Lines are often referred to as “La Dolce Vita”, meaning The Suite Life. Costa Fortuna and Costa Luminosa offer 6 – 9 Days cruise to Europe-North and Britain from May – August. Departing from Copenhagen, Denmark, the cruises take passengers through various ports of call including Warnemunde, Andalsnes, Bergen, Geiranger, Hellesylt, Oslo, Kristiansand, Stavanger and Flam.
Holland America Line
Holland America Cruise Line, since its inception in 1873, has been providing its travelers the finest and the most exquisite cruise experience around the world. Currently there are 15 Holland America ships in operation, each offering a traditional style of cruising with a modern touch and an award-winning service. Every ship is gracefully adorned with nautical antiques, fine art, floral themes, huge paintings of old HAL ships, ship memorabilia and Indonesia touches that provide a subtle connection to the line’s heritage. Crew members are cordial and dedicated to rendering guests the best possible cruise experience at the best value for money. Holland America’s ms Eurodam, ms Ryndam, ms Rotterdam and ms Prinsendam offer cruises to Europe-North and Britain ranging from 12 to 36 days from May to August. These cruises take passengers through numerous ports of call, which include Copenhagen, Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm, Warnemunde, Hamburg and Aarhus.
MSC Cruises is one of the most modern and luxurious fleets in the world. They pride themselves on Italian style, exceptional comfort, strong environmental credentials and warm hospitality. This young MSC fleet is modern and sophisticated, with a reputation of having some of the cleanest ships at sea. It is the only company in the world to receive the “6 Golden Pearls” award from the Bureau Veritas in recognition of its high level of quality management and environmental responsibility. While onboard, enjoy life’s comforts, from the sauna to the massage as well as culinary delights, the best entertainment and all the pampering that a luxury vacation demands. MSC Poesia and MSC Orchestra offer 6 – 9 Days cruise to Europe-North and Britain in May and July. Departing from Copenhagen, Denmark, the cruises take passengers through various ports of call including Helsinki, Kiel, Gdynia – Gdansk, Warnemunde, Stockholm, Tallin and St Petersburg.,
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) is world-renowned for its Freestyle Cruising theme, which means that there is no formality in terms of a set time or seating arrangement for meals, nor there is a compulsion for formal attire. NCL is more like a sailing resort unlikely to be found in any other mainstream cruise line on the high seas. NCL provides liberating cruise experience to those people who look for their own style of cruising. Open dining schedule, onboard Internet cafés, on board bowling alleys, alternative restaurants and relaxed disembarkations are some of the key features that are responsible for NCL’s popularity. Norwegian Star offers 10 – 14 Days cruise to Europe-North and Britain in July, August and September. Departing from Copenhagen, Denmark, the cruises take passengers through various ports of call including Rostock, Warnemunde, Tallin, St. Petersberg, Helsinki and Stockholm.
Royal Caribbean International, with a fleet of 22 world-class ships, is the world’s second largest cruise line. Cruising travelers across the 6 continents and covering more than 270 destinations around the globe, the Royal Caribbean is far-famed for having the most exciting and innovative cruise liners in the travel industry. Journey on each of Royal Caribbean ships is a truly royal experience with their amazing entertainment and onboard activities, finest quality of service, exciting dining options, spectacular shore excursions and innovative features like a rock climbing wall, an ice skating rink and miniature golf. Legend of the Seas offers 6 – 9 Days cruise and Brilliance of the Seas offers 10 – 14 Days cruise to Europe-North and Britain in May. Departing from Copenhagen, Denmark, and Harwich, United Kingdom, the cruises take passengers through various ports of call including Copenhagen, Tallin, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Visby and Stockholm.
Best Time to Travel
The cruise season for Northern Europe is very short owing to the cold climate with fewer ships sailing there. Baltic cruises’ prime season was earlier limited to July and August, however, now voyages start from May until September. Usually at these times, the temperatures are a bit more brisk, but you certainly avoid summer crowds. Moreover, the cruise fares are much lower at these times. One of the best times to travel to Russia is June as St. Petersburg celebrates “White Nights,” called so for the almost-endless daylight.
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