For once, it’s smooth sailing on the motorways as we drive from north Cambridgeshire to Dover, where I’m boarding Boudicca for a Baltic Sea cruise with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. It’s been well over a decade since I first hit the high seas, and then on a very different kind of ship, so I’m practically a cruise virgin.
On this voyage, I’ll be visiting Scandinavia for the first time. We’ll sail through the Kiel Canal and are due to visit Stockholm and Copenhagen, as well as stopping at three islands: Danish-owned Bornholm; Swedish Gotland, for the port of Visby; and Mariehamn, capital of Finland’s Swedish-speaking Åland islands. It’s an intriguing itinerary; practically all Baltic cruises include the long haul east to St Petersburg, and this one doesn’t, but I’m attracted by the idea of exploring smaller ports and the promise of two new capital cities.