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Cruises to Helsinki

Helsinki (Photo:Scanrail1/Shutterstock)

About Helsinki

Helsinki is a city with a variety of identities. Maybe it's the Russian influence (St. Petersburg is a quick train ride away). Maybe it's the strong appreciation of contemporary design -- the capital of Finland is home to Marimekko, world-renowned for its boldly patterned textiles; Kalevala, known for distinctive bronze and silver jewelry; and Iittala, known for glassware. The city also might be associated with the dark, cold and snowy winters that last half the year (fortunately, this is not the season for cruising). Helsinki embraces a bit of oddball fun, too. One annual festival features the tossing of Finnish-made Nokia cellphones, and another popular mainstay is a wife-carrying competition.

Finland differs from Nordic neighbors like Sweden and Norway because of its near-inexplicable language. (It originated as an oral language, rather than a written one, so it's very difficult to follow; Swedish is also widely spoken.) The country itself is one of Europe's newest; independence from Russia was achieved in 1917 following the Bolshevik Revolution.

Helsinki was founded in 1550 by Swedish King Gustav Vasa and offers monuments such as the Lutheran Cathedral (Lutheranism is one of the national religions), the onion-domed Uspenski Cathedral (Eastern Orthodox) and the neo-classical buildings in and around Senate Square. The city also features Kiasma, the avant-garde Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Design Museum.

Helsinki's other major plus is that it's bounded on three sides by the Baltic Sea. In summer, the city's waterfront is the liveliest place in Finland -- whether you're soaking up the sun at a cafe, riding the ferry to the island housing the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, or taking a boat tour of surrounding waterways.

  • More about Helsinki

  • Why go to Helsinki?

  • Helsinki Cruise Port Facilities?

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Cruise Critic Favorite
Riviera
Riviera

12 Night
Europe - Northern CruiseDetails

713 Reviews
Leaving:Portsmouth
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
Sep 2, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Dawn
Norwegian Dawn

10 Night
Europe - BalticDetails

2,901 Reviews
Leaving:Stockholm
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Jun 22, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Dawn
Norwegian Dawn

10 Night
Europe - BalticDetails

2,901 Reviews
Leaving:Copenhagen
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Sep 5, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite
Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria (Photo: Cunard Cruise Line)

14 Night
Europe - Northern CruiseDetails

545 Reviews
Leaving:Southampton
Cruise Line:Cunard Line
Jul 23, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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12 Night
Europe - BalticDetails

2,901 Reviews
Leaving:Le Havre
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
May 24, 2024
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9 Night
Europe - BalticDetails

2,901 Reviews
Leaving:Stockholm
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Aug 15, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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14 Night
Jewels Of The BalticDetails

57 Reviews
Leaving:Amsterdam
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
Jun 3, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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51 Night
World CruiseDetails

207 Reviews
Leaving:New York
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
Jul 12, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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14 Night
Jewels Of The BalticDetails

57 Reviews
Leaving:Amsterdam
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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9 Night
Europe - BalticDetails

2,901 Reviews
Leaving:Copenhagen
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Aug 6, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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12 Night
Best Of ScandinaviaDetails

1,994 Reviews
Leaving:Southampton
Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises
May 13, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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10 Night
Jewels Of The BalticDetails

197 Reviews
Leaving:Copenhagen
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
Jun 8, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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10 Night
Jewels Of The BalticDetails

197 Reviews
Leaving:Copenhagen
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
Jul 2, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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14 Night
Europe CruiseDetails

186 Reviews
Leaving:Southampton
Cruise Line:Princess Cruises
Jul 8, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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9 Night
Europe - BalticDetails

2,901 Reviews
Leaving:Copenhagen
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Jun 13, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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More about Helsinki

Why go to Helsinki?

Pros:

The city features a lively waterfront, with various markets, cafes and access to ferries and boats

Cons:

Helsinki is a bustling city and as such, there's the usual risk of petty crime to watch out for

Bottom Line:

This port is full of character and personality, and it's a lovely destination for a summer day

Helsinki Cruise Port Facilities?

There is tourist information at both harbors and also money exchange, an ATM, luggage lockers, a trolley service and restaurants. It is easy to walk into the city center from South Harbour although taxis are usually available near the gate. There are taxis and also tram stops at West Harbour.

Good to Know?

Helsinki is a safe city where traditional Lutheran values mean that people have always looked after each other, but this does not mean the city is free of pickpockets. Take care of your money and your valuables in crowded places like the Market Hall or Market Square.

Getting Around?

Cruise ships typically offer a shuttle (most charge about $5 to $10) from the ship, stopping at five locations between the Swedish Theatre and Market Square (at the harbor end of the Esplanade). Taxis also line up at the cruise ship terminal; a cab to Market Square or the Swedish Theatre will run about $15. The city is very walkable, and once downtown, you'll also find a good trolley system (there is no direct service from the pier). At the Swedish Theatre, you can catch hop-on, hop-off double-decker tourist buses that take you to the major sights (for about $25). These buses also operate from the harbors in peak season.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The euro has been the currency of Finland since 1999. For currency conversion figures, visit www.oanda.com or www.xe.com. ATMs are located throughout the city center and around South Harbour.

Language?

Finnish and Swedish are the two official languages of Helsinki, but you'll find most shop assistants and waitstaff in Helsinki speak English (the Finns find using English useful as the only language similar to theirs is Hungarian). A few Finnish phrases always help, of course.

Hei: Hello

Nakemiin: Goodbye

Kiitos: Thank you

Where You're Docked?

There are two harbors in Helsinki. South Harbour is right in the center of the city, where ships tie up opposite the Presidential Palace. There is room for three ships (on Olympia Quay and Pakkahuone Quay) around this pretty, natural bay.

Located outside the city, West Harbour has been created for larger ships. Melkki Quay is located at the south end of West Harbour, 15 minutes by taxi to the city center. Katajanokka Quay is located slightly closer (10 minutes by taxi).


Helsinki Cruise Reviews
Enjoyed the day. We visited the museum of Helsinki as well as strolling around.Read More
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tring
For the first day we used Tours by Locals and our tour guide, Timo was fantastic. The first part of the tour took us to Porvoo, a charming medieval city with lost of great shops. We were only supposed to spend an Read More
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Devilaw
10 mins bus ride into town. Did independent exploring. Plenty of shuttle buses and accessible transport too. Went to Europe's largest electrical shop. Ate out at a chicken wings place, lovely. Bought some orangeRead More
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Red Leicester
Absolutely beautiful, didn't do a ship sponsored tour but did take one of the harbor, was very informative and entertaining. You do need to use the ships shuttles as the ship is docked really far from town. Read More
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Wayne813

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