Eurodam Cruise Review by fun_seeker: May in the Baltics
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May in the Baltics
We flew into Copenhagen, took the Metro to Kongens Nytorv and walked to the Hotel Bethel. Rolling suitcases can cause soreness in the wrists, otherwise a lovely experience. We easily walked all over the historic district of Copenhagen from Nyhavn to Amalienborg Castle and then took in the Rundetarn (Round Tower), the City Hall square and Tivoli Gardens. If you get a chance, try the tomato bisque at Cafe Norden. The best anywhere. Embarkation was the slowest we have experienced; it took us about one and one-half hours including standing on line to get to security, sitting and waiting for our group to be called, standing on line until a place was available to finally check-in. They took our passports at check-in so they could make a copy for us for our stop in St. Petersburg, but instead of telling us that, they were very mysterious about why they needed them. Lunch at the Lido was unremarkable, but dinner that evening and all of our subsequent meals were what we associate with HAL. Our More
cabin was spacious and more than adequate for our needs, but then we travel light (one 22 inch roll-aboard and one tote each). Included with the key cards was a map that made it easy to navigate on board. There were maps by each elevator bank also. The sailing was uneventful except in one instance to be mentioned later.
Our first port was Warnemunde where we caught our DenRus tour to Berlin. The trip to Berlin was colorful and we had many opportunities to walk in Berlin, which was desirable by all in our party. The trip provided an overview of Berlin and packed a lot of information and scenery into a limited amount of time.
Tallinn was our second port and the ship was docked close enough to town that we were able to walk to the Old Town and tour it without effort.
St. Petersburg was our next port of call for a two day visit. The ship was docked at a new cruise facility and the Customs people were not equipped to handle the crowd from the ship. If you have a private tour be ready to go ashore the minute the ship is cleared. Otherwise, you will be delayed quite a while as they do not have enough capacity and we were the only ship there! We had arranged for a private tour with Anastasia Travel and they were able to get us to everything we wanted to see when we could see things without running into a lot of tour groups, which made the experience more pleasurable. St. Petersburg's castles are beautiful and not to be missed.
Helsinki was the next port. The city provided shuttle buses for the trip into town. They let us off by Stockmann's Dept. store, which is easy to find. We were able to walk from there to the Rock Church, Senate Square, Market Square and the Uspenski Cathedral (a must see). It was then time for lunch. Afterwards we looked through Stockmann's, the largest department store I have seen since Macy's Herald Square store.
We returned to the ship to sail for Stockholm. We were advised to use the shuttle buses (some from the city, some from the HOHO company) because there was construction going on along the walking route into the city near the Opera House. We walked to the Vasa Museum and took the free tour of the vessel and viewed the exhibits. From there we walked to Gamla Stan and found a cafe for lunch. After touring Gamla Stan we returned to our ship to sail for Kiel. Our time in Stockholm was far too short to see all that we wanted. We should have used vehicular transportation to save time, but the walking was fun.
During our sailing to Kiel the ship encountered heavy fog and the fog horns were going all night. Despite that we arrived in Kiel one and one-half hours late, which put a severe crimp in our sightseeing tour of Hamburg. We made the best of it, but were disappointed not to be able to see all that we had planned. At least we were able to see some of the city, which meant it wasn't a total loss for us.
The next day we returned to Copenhagen and a messed up debarkation process. If you can carry your bags off the ship yourself, do so. We didn't and had to scour the dock to find our bags then stand on line for quite a while until we could get a cab to our hotel. We decided not to plan on making a tight connection from the ship to the airport and it turned out to be a good choice. We spent the rest of the day walking around Copenhagen and seeing Rosenborg Castle and the crown jewels. A wonderful trip. We returned home tired, but happy. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
Amalienborg Castle, its museum and the changing of the guards; Rosenborg Castle, its museum and the crown jewels; the churches; the statuary; the buildings: all make Copenhagen a wonderful port to visit.
We toured the Hermitage at a time when it wasn't very busy, only a few hundred people in it. The art work is most impressive with many styles and media represented including the two DaVincis. As if the paintings were not enough we paid the extra amount to see the Gold/Treasure Rooms. In there we viewed gold and gems in jewlery that traced the history of mankind from some ot the earliest times to the most recent.
St. Isaac's Cathedral with its magnificent dome and the Church on the Spilled Blood, which looks like Moscow's St. Basil's Cathedral, are magnificent churches with the most beautiful mosaics and icons that we have seen thus far.
The Peter and Paul Fortress which contains the historical Russian mint and the Peter and Paul Cathedral with its memorials to the Russian Czars.
Catherine's Palace is the most beautiful castle that I have ever seen from its blue and white exterior to its various colored rooms containing paintings and furnishings from the royal apartments down through the centuries. Not to be missed is the wonderful amber room that was stripped of its walls by the Nazis and painstakingly restored from photograhps and the memories of people who had seen it before WWII. The workers who labored on restoring the room now make their living from the beautiful amber jewelry that they sell from the workshop they used in the restoration. The prices are reasonable.
One must visit Peterhof in the afternoon when the fountains are at their peak. I would venture to say that nowhere in the world can you find more beautiful fountains. The combination of colors from the green of the foliage to the gilt of the fountains to the blue of the sky and of the Gulf of Finland to the white waters of the fountains has to be seen to be appreciated.
One can sum up this port by saying that despite the surliness of the local people (guides excluded) and the building block architecture of the Soviet period, the beautiful castles and their contents make this a port that everyone who appreciates beauty should see at least once in their lives.