I enjoy art, architecture, museums, big cities, old palaces, new cultures, and meeting new people. My wife likes the laid-back aspects of cruising--long, carefree days at sea with absolutely nothing to do but the little she really wants to do--she's a bingo addict. She also enjoys culinary demonstrations. We both like fine dining, dressing for dinner, posing for photos, live entertainment and saving money. Transatlantic to the Baltic and all the capitals of northern Europe was a perfect vacation in fulfilling all these needs--believe it or not, even the part about saving money.
First we spent three days driving from southeastern Ohio to Cocoa, Florida, where we found a Days Inn just off I-95 offering free parking for up to 30 days (their biggest selling point). It wasn't the fanciest place in the area but one of the cheapest. It was adequate. We stayed two nights before the cruise and one upon returning by plane to Orlando. We built an extra day into the schedule to take in the Kennedy Space Center about 15 miles northeast of Cocoa (not to be confused with Cocoa Beach on the coast).
The Days Inn provided a free shuttle to Port Canaveral getting us there around eleven. Check-in was painless and the wait to board was maybe a half-hour or so. We were on the ship by noon. In checking out our cabin location, we found, to our surprise, that it was already ready, so we moved in carry-on bag and baggage.
Handicap Accessible cabin 5013, Deck 5, near the forward elevators and the Java Cafe in the atrium. Bathroom and shower were large and wheelchair friendly with a little extra storage space in one corner. In general, NCL skimps on vanity/desk space, especially in a time when many bring along their laptop computers. Hey, guys, MORE PLUG-INS! The cabin is about one-third larger than most in the OE category of picture window Ocean-view cabins.
Copenhagen--We toured the city marking the end of the transatlantic and the beginning of the Baltic cruises together. See them on
YouTube at: http://youtu.be/IHoaWhAqj3A
Tallin--A lovely little Estonian city, long on foot traffic, short on historic importance, but a nice glimpse of both modern and medieval life on the Baltic. Video can be seen on YouTube at: http://youtu.be/BnEcOJ6BK8w
Helsinki--The city has the so-called "Rock Church" blasted from a single granite boulder, though really only the lower part of the church fits this description. The rest is built from the rubble from the blast with a low flat, modern dome. It's totally different from any other church you've ever seen. There was also a trip to the ancient village of Parvoo some fifty miles away by bus. If you're female and into quaint shops you'll enjoy this. There's a chocolate shop/factory for the sweet tooth. Video can be seen on
YouTube at: http://youtu.be/O1a-xzPTcHg
Stockholm--After six northern European cities in a row, they all start to run together. Stockholm...let me see...Stockholm...oh yes, the Vasa Museum and the Globe Skyview. Both are great. The two hours downtown to shop was something of a surprise but lots of fun. I ate at a Swedish McDonald's. The McFeast is not to be missed.