This Baltics cruise being our 9th has been the best port sight seeing and cruise sight seeing trip. Latter meaning the entering and leaving of the Helsinki port and then the Stockholm Archipelago.
The food was great and the entertainment on NCL cruises overall the best. Remember to dress in layers, and to bring conditioner and body lotion, which are not supplied on the big cruise ships. They all have hairdryers.
We normally like to do the ports on our own and take one pre-arrange tour in a port where it is not that easy to do on your own. On this trip it was St. Petersburg. Not only is the price of the Visa very expensive for two days, but it will also be very difficult to do it on your own. If you take a tour, you do not need a visa. Remember to take a map in the airport or every cruise terminal or nearest info shops as soon as you get there.
We stayed in Neptune Hotel near Nyhavn. See that you have Danish Kronen. We took the Metro to Kongens Nytorv and paid DK 36 (3 zones) pp and walked to our hotel.
There is a lot to see and it is all walkable. The first day we saw the Marble Church, Changing of the guards at Amalienborg Palace at 12:00, the Russian Church. We were there on Sat & Sun and it was great to see the locals on Nyhavn and how they relax on weekends and lie in the sun in the parks like the Royal Garden at the Rosenberg Palace. Then we went to the Round Tower, and did some shopping in Storget street.
The next day we walked past Holmes Church and the unique stock exchange building to Christianborg Palace. The Carlsberg Glypotek is free on a Sunday. It has a few halls with antique artwork and sculptures and has a lovely indoor garden and tearoom.
From there we walked past Tivoli to the train station, were we exchanged more money in DK and paid no commission. We were actually looking for the free city bikes, but that is no more. There are places where you can rent a bike. We went back to our hotel, rested a bit and then walked tot the Little Mermaid. It was a lovely walk on the promenade, we could see the Opera House from this side. We took a different route back and passed the St Albans Church and Gefion Fountain and the quarters at the Kasteliet.
The next morning we took bus 26 from Odd Fellow Paeet busstop near our hotel to the Cruise Terminal for DK24 pp.
We decided to explore the fishing village and it was a very good choice, an easy walkable path from the ship. Very nice. You can rent a bike for 8 Euros. We decided to walk, Muhlen Strasse round the church and then down Park Strasse. Saw cute little houses, walked through Stephen Jantzen Park with a lot of tombstones (late 1800 until early 1900) and onto the beach and promenade. We went to the top floor of the Neptune Hotel, it was round 11:00 and the skybar was empty. We stayed there for a while because it had a lovely view over the famous Lighthouse and Teepot.
This town is inexpensive compared to the rest of the ports. I even found a bargain. There is a supermarket Edika Neukauf opposite the church. They also have lovely shops both sides of the river/canal right down to the lighthouse.
Walkable from the ship with lots of stalls selling goods at factory prices. Get a map from the info counter inside the shop. This map shows were to walk in the old town and a few viewpoints. The best 2 viewpoints are if you walk from St Mary with Kirikupoik then Rahukohtu, just follow the string of people. The other good view is, if you follow Kontu from there to the viewpoint.
On our way back we passed Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and went into the Danish Kings Garden. There was a cute little cafe built in the wall. You climbed up with narrow steep steps and the view from the wall was good. We saw that you can also walk on a part of the wall near the Musrivahe Viru Gate where they sell all the knitted goods. The entry fee is 3 Euros.
Outside this gate were all the flower stalls.
We took the SPB moderate two day tour for $200 pp and would recommend it. The delux would be very rushed, this one was hectic enough. Getting through customs took us 1 hour. We heard that the officials were on a go slow strike, because they were unhappy about something. Our tour started an hour later and we did the city sightseeing part only the following day. On the first day we drove to St Nicholas church and then we drove for 50 minutes to the Pushkin City were we went into Catherines Palace. All the glitter and gold is really something to see. After an optional lunch outside Petershof we walked through the gardens with all the statues and fountains until we reached the Gulf of Finland See. It was a Saturday with lots of locals as well, dressed in the 1800-period and willing to pose with you for a fee. We did not change money for Rubels, (you will need it for the optional lunch) because we took some fruit and water with us. Souvenirs you can buy with dollars, euros or credit cards. They even accept dollars and euros for the toilets.
The following day we started half an hour earlier and did the city sightseeing tour, which was great. We also went down to the subway with an escalator for about 50 m because the railway runs underneath the water. We took the metro to the next station. The stations are very beautiful decorated.
Then we went into the Hermitage winter palace and museum. We only had two hours and did a small portion of this huge museum. For us that was more than enough. From their we walked through The Palace Square to the bus. Then it was the typical Russian architecture Spilled Blood Church. It was built on the spot were Alexander II was killed by a bomb thrown by a terrorist in 1881. We have seen a lot of churches but this one is very unique. All the murals are made out of thousands of small mosaics.
After an optional lunch we went to Peter & Pauls fortress. Inside the church are all the graves of the Russian Emporers and their families.
Our advise is to take a all day card that you can buy on the bus just outside the port for 8 Euros. It is quite a distance to the centre of the city and a single bus ticket costs 2.6 Euros.
With the all day card you can ride all the public transport, it includes the ferry to Soumenlinna Fortress (5 Euros). Take bus 14 to the centre of the city and back you can also take a 14X bus. The 3T and 3B tram runs in a circle past all the main attractions. Do not miss the Rock Church. Spend time in their parks. We did Soumenlinna Frotress first, but we recommend that you do it last if you have time.
About 1,5 hours cruising leaving Helsinki we came across a bridge that goes partially under water to the other side very interesting.
We got up 5:30 not to miss the Archipelago in case it rains when we depart. It is very beautiful and interesting, definitely one of the hi-lights. We enjoyed it again leaving Stockholm and the scenery was there for 3,5 hours, thanks to white nights.
The city is walkable from the ship, it said 2.6 km to the city centre on the board. Sounds far, but it is a beautiful walk along the harbor to the Old Town. The marching and changing of the Royal Palace Guards together with the Swedish Naval Band is something not to miss. We were there on a Monday although it says the marching is only on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
The Old Town was also something special. It was raining in Stockholm on and off and we would have liked to spend more time there, because it is beautiful. Due to the rain we left sooner for the ship.