The ship overnighted in Copenhagen to begin the cruise. We had planned to go to Tivoli Gardens in the afternoon of the 1st day, but we were too tired. We just relaxed on the ship. The next day, we took a ship excursion, Royal Highlights – this was a 3 hr tour. We stopped by Amalienborg Palace Square for a photo stop and had a brief walk to see the opera house. We were supposed to go to Christiansborg Palace for a tour inside but there was some royal function being held so instead went to Rosenborg Palace for our tour. It was very nice and we got to see the crown jewels. We then drove to the Little Mermaid for a photo stop and back to the ship. The ship was offering a free shuttle from the pier to an area in the city center. After lunch, we attempted to walk to Nyhavn and were going to take a boat ride. I somehow got us lost and instead we went to the US Embassy. We saw sections of Copenhagen that most visitors don’t get to see. The guards at the Embassy were very nice and quickly had us pointed in the correct direction. This detour took about 1½ hours but it was a nice day for a walk. Because of getting lost, we did not have time for a boat ride and instead walked from Nyhavn back to the ship, without getting lost this time. Nyhavn is a very delightful area, filled with restaurants. All aboard was 5:00 pm, Muster was 5:15 pm and we sailed at 5:45 pm, a bit before the scheduled time of 6:00 pm. Of note, sunrise was 4:27 am and sunset was 9:58 pm.
The ship docked in Helsinki at 9:00 am. There was a free shuttle from the dock to the top of the Eplanade. We took the shuttle then bought an all day bus pass. We took the 24 bus to the Church of the Rock (Temppeliaukio). We took the bus because the way to the church was all up hill. There was something going on, so we weren’t able to go into the church proper, which was too bad. We then walked down towards the shuttle stop. Along the way we passed the Cathedral of Helsinki and Senate square. There was a huge gay pride celebration going on, which was fun to people watch. We made it back to the shuttle stop. This took about 2.5 hours total. We went back to the ship for lunch. After lunch, we went back into town via the shuttle. We walked down to Market square, where a huge market was being held – crafts, food, other vendors. We then walked to Uspenski Cathedral (Greek Orthodox) and there was a baptism being held. We watched silently for a bit. We then took a ride on the huge ferris wheel (12E). It gave a nice aerial view of Helsinki and the harbor area. It was then back to the ship. All aboard was 5:30 pm and we sailed at 6:00 pm. Sunrise was 3:58 am, sunset was 10:49 pm. We lost 1 more hour this night.
Warnemunde – very delightful seaside resort. The ship was scheduled to dock at 7:00 am. I’m not sure exactly what time we came into port. We had originally planned to take the train to Schwerin to see the castle, but the weather was overcast. We did not want to be too far away from the ship in case it turned to heavy rain. It was a very easy 10 minute walk from the ship into the heart of town. The ship had provided very nice maps with points of interest and a walking tour outlined. We spent about 2 hours walking the town and then returned to the ship for lunch. After lunch, we walked to the train station in Warnemunde and purchased a round trip train ticket to Rostock for 3.7 Euro. The train ride took 20 minutes and trains left every 30 minutes. It was very efficient. Once at the hauptbanhof (main train station) in Rostock, we took a 5 or 6 tram to the Old Town area (Altstadt). Again – we had a nice map from the ship that gave us points of interest. We walked for about 2.5 hours. Rostock is bigger than Warnemunde, but had more impressive old buildings and churches we were able to go into. We took the tram / train combination back to Warnemunde and returned to the ship. All aboard was 8:30 pm. Many passengers took the all day excursion to Berlin. They left at 7:30 am and returned between 8:30 - 9:00 pm. The ship was a bit late leaving waiting for the last bus back from Berlin. Dinner was open seating in the MDR. Sunrise was 4:40 am and sunset was 9:48 pm.
we arranged for a private 3-day group tour through Alla Tours. It was wonderful. There were a total of 10 of us from the ship, which was a perfect number. The ship was scheduled to dock at 8:00 am. We met our guide at 8:45 am the first day. Because we did a private tour, we did not have to get Russian visas. We only had to show our tour tickets and passports. Immigration was very quick – less than 5 minutes. We started the day with a tour of the city. Some things on the itinerary had to be changed a bit because they were running the SPB marathon this day and there were road closures and more traffic than expected. We had a photo stop at St. Isaac’s cathedral then went to the Church of the Spilled Blood. Amazing. We were there right when it opened and our tour guide expertly put us at the front of the line. We had lunch included and the service was horrible. We were the last table served, when food came out, it was not hot. We were supposed to have 1 hr for lunch but it took between 1:30 – 1:45. After lunch we went to the Russian Museum for 1.5 hours. Then it was to the Peter and Paul fortress, with a visit inside the church and a 45 min boat ride to wrap up the day. We then went to a souvenir shop to shop and pay for the tour. We had 35 min here. We were a bit late due to traffic issues and were back at the boat at 5:40 pm. I should note there are some nice souvenir stores in the pier. Prices here were very similar to what we found throughout the city. Sunrise was at 4:39 am, sunset 11:24 pm. Some passengers went to the ballet or a folk show this night. There was a very nice hot buffet in the Crystal Cove that started at 11:30 for those returning since they missed dinner on the ship to do this.
Day 2 – started at 8:00 am. We drove to Peterhof for a tour inside and a 1 hour walk through the fountains / gardens. We were there right as they turned the fountains on. We then had lunch. It was much better than yesterday with much quicker service. Then we drove to Catherine’s Palace for a tour inside and a walk through the gardens. We were back at the pier at 5:00 pm. Sunrise was 4:40 am, sunset was 11:23 pm. Many ship passengers went to Moscow this day. For those who went, they left the ship at 7:15 am and returned at midnight. The ship had a very nice hot buffet in the Cove that started at 11:30 pm or midnight for those who went to either Moscow or to the Ballet.
Day 3 – We left the ship at 9:00 am and the day started with admission to the Hermitage. We had about 2.5 hours to tour. Even with the special early admission, the museum was very busy and crowded. We then had a very nice lunch right next to the square outside the Hermitage. After lunch we went to St. Isaac’s cathedral for our inside visit, since we were not able to get in the first day. Then we went to Yusupov palace. We made our guide cut our visit short here because we were nervous about getting back to the ship, given the traffic, and most of us wanted to do some more shopping. We were back at the pier at 4:40 pm. All aboard was 5:30 pm and we sailed at 5:50 pm (early – scheduled at 6:00 pm). Sunrise was 4:41 am and sunset was 11:22 pm. We sent clocks back 1 hour.
We got up early to watch the sail into Stockholm, through the archipelago. It was very pretty and sunny. The ship docked at 8:00 am. We took the Stockholm sights & Vasa museum tour. It was 3.5 hours. We left the ship at 8:45. We had a brief drive and went to the Vasa museum. We had about 1.5 hours here. We then had a city drive with 2 brief photo stops. Then we had a 10 minute walk around the Gamal Stan (Old town area) and they pointed out where the ship shuttle stop was, next to the Opera House. We went back to the ship for lunch. After lunch, we took the ship shuttle and walked around the old town area some more. We were going to walk to the Ice Bar at the Grand Hotel, but again the weather was looking pretty nasty. My mom didn’t want to get caught out in the rain, so we just walked around Stockholm some. We also passed on a canal cruise. It started to rain as soon as we were on the shuttle back to the ship.
Ship docked at 8:00 am. We had a relaxing morning and took the ship shuttle into town. It is 3 blocks from the entrance to the old town. From here, we walked up the hill to the Alexander Nevsky cathedral, which is at the top. We explored the Toompea area (at the top of the hill) then meandered back down the hill and through the old town. We stopped in at least 4 churches &went to town square where a great craft market was held. We then walked to Fat Margaret and back to the shuttle stop. We spent 3 hours in Tallinn. I found prices in Tallinn much better than in St. Petersburg and got a very good deal on a matryoska doll here. We went back to the ship for lunch and decided to spend the afternoon relaxing on board to recuperate from St. Petersburg. All aboard was 4:30 pm and we sailed at 5:00 pm. Sunrise was 4:10 am and sunset was 10:39 pm. We set our clocks back 1 hour again.