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Home > Member Reviews > vanvleckeren's Port Reviews of Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Riga, Gdansk

vanvleckeren's Port Reviews of Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Riga, Gdansk
Vision of the Seas cruise in July 2011
Member Name: vanvleckeren
Cruise Date: July 2011
Embarkation: Stockholm
Destination: Baltic & Northern Europe
Member Review: vanvleckeren's Vision of the Seas Review
Stockholm
Port Rating: 5+ out of 5+
This was our port of embarkation. I loved just about everything about Stockholm, except for the prices...:) We stayed at the Stockholm Sheraton, a very nice and well-located hotel, for 3 days prior to the cruise. There were so many great things to see in Stockholm, including medieval churches, Djurgarden, the Vasa Museum, Skeppsholmen, the Engelbrecht Church and the Drottningholm Palace. A really great stop.

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Helsinki
Port Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
Helsinki is a great place to spend a day, though I'm not sure I'd want to spend a whole lot longer. It's pretty sleepy. But it's interesting to see the Russian influence here. It's completely different from the other Scandinavian capitals, and the language is also completely different. The Russian Orthodox church there is interesting to see. One of my favorite parts of this port was the boat tour we took of the harbour, where we got a great view of the city from the water and a look at the (failed) defenses that Finland had erected in the 19th century to keep the Russians out.
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St. Petersburg
Amber Room Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
This was part of Catherine's Palace. A stunningly beautiful room, different than what I had expected for some reason. My only regret is that they didn't allow us to take pictures.


Catherine Palace Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
Beautiful and overwhelming palace. Great to see how it was rebuilt from near-total destruction by the Germans in World War II. I was very surprised to be serenaded with "America" when we got off the bus. Imagine that, right in the heart of Russia. Russian singers serenaded us in several places during this tour. It was a really nice touch and made us feel welcome.


Neva River Cruise Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
It was wonderful to see St. Petersburg again. This time, I opted for a trip to Catherine's Palace and Neva River cruise. The previous year, I had seen the Hermitage Museum and Peter & Paul fortress. The river cruise was beautiful and relaxing, and we saw a lot of the major sites from the water, got a great feel for the city, and heard a lot of the history.


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Riga
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
Beautiful city. Absolutely storybook. The previous year, I had taken a tour related to Latvian history, with a heavy emphasis on the period of Soviet-German occupation from 1940-1991. I found that very interesting. This time, I was supposed to go to the auto museum, but the trip was cancelled so I just toured Riga on my own. I climbed to the top of St. Stephen's church and took pictures of the beautiful views of the city. Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed into the landmark Russian Orthodox church for a tour because I was wearing shorts. But I loved this city and would love to go back.

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Gdansk
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
The previous year, I had been to see the Stutthof Death Camp and the city of Gdansk. This time, I opted to see the Malbork Castle, the largest baroque-era castle in Northern Europe. It was a great choice. The castle was really beautiful and very interesting to see. It was substantially damaged during World War II, but mostly rebuilt. It was interesting to see the church section that was not rebuilt to see what kind of damage was done. The people in Poland are so warm and friendly. One girl selling food lit up when I spoke to her in Polish (I only speak a few words). I loved the Polish take on hamburgers, which are served in a cone-shaped wrapper with a fork, and filled with cole slaw and Russian dressing.

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