Hubby and I decided to do this at the last minute to celebrate my birthday. We had been looking at various cruise lines who included St. Petersburg in the itinerary for months, thinking of doing it next spring, when we found this trip on the internet on Oceania. They are the only ones we found that gave us a full two nights and (almost) three full days in St. Petersburg. We only booked this 10 days prior to sailing date, so did not have time to get visas and knew we would only be able to take ship excurions without one. We had some misgivings but decided to just go for it. Oceania did not disappoint us!! Their excursions turned out to include things we could never have scheduled on our own. The first morning, we visited Peter the Great Palace in Peterhof, which was pretty much a standard tour with thousands of other people filing through the palace at the same time (but still incredible). We returned to the ship, had lunch, took a nap, then went on our evening tour. This one, title "Grand Imperial Evening with the Tsars", was an excursion to Catherine's Palace in Pushkin. We were totally stunned to find out that somehow the Palace was opened afterhours just for our group, which turned out to be about two busloads (probably 60 people)!! After walking through the carriage house (which was also incredible) our little group was greeted at the Palace entrance by about a 10-piece brass band, and as we walked through all the gorgeous rooms, they had a flutist in one room, and a musician playing a vintage keyboard (maybe a clavichord?) wearing vintage costume in another room. After touring all the rooms, we were seated in a grand ballroom, where we were served champagne while a string orchestra played, then two people dressed as the tsar and tsarina entered, and the orchestra played while two more costumed dancers danced for us. We did indeed feel like royalty! After this we walked a short distance to a restaurant on the grounds and were served a Russian dinner while costumed musicians played Russian folk music while we clapped along with the music and shared a vodka toast. We returned to the ship around midnight totally awed by the incredible evening we had experienced. The next morning we took an excursion named "Highlights of St. Petersburg, which was enjoyable. That evening we had booked an excursion named "Musical Evening at the Hermitage" and were delighted to find that the Hermitage had been reopened just for our ship excursion group (about 75 people), so we again had a virtually private tour without the crowds. At the end, we were again treated to champagne then escorted into the beautiful The Majolica Room filled with more priceless artwork where we were seated and the State Orchestra of St. Petersburg performed a full concert for us. We returned to the ship around midnight again still in disbelief that we had been able to visit both Catherine's Palace and the Hermmitage without the crowds. Everyone we talked to later on the ship that visited these places during the day experienced the same huge crowds we experienced at Peter the Great Palace. Thank you, Oceania--I don't know how you pulled it off, but the two nighttime excursions we had in St. Petersburg were sosmething we could never have experienced any other way, and were worth the price of the entire cruise!! On the third day we slept in then took an afternoon excursion named "St. Isaac's Cathedral, Kazan Cathedral & Spilled Blood Cathedral" which was also very good. This was our second cruise on Oceania and were already impressed by the high levels of service, courtesy, and friendliness of all the staff. We were particularly impressed by our waiters at the bar in the Horizon and in Tapas on the Terrace, the friendly guy who was always at the customer service desk, and the excursion staff. We like the port-intensive itineraries offered by Oceania and the smaller size ships that can go into places usually only seen from riverboats. We previously sailed on the Insignia and were delighted to find the Nautica had an identical layout. We loved all the teak wood furniture and decks. We alternated most of our time onboard the ship between Tapas on the Terrace for the great views from the back of the ship and Horizons to enjoy the panoramic views from the front of the ship. I am so happy that we were lucky enough to book this cruise at the last minute and don't think we could have possibly seen more if we had planned our excurions and books months ahead of time!!!!
Very comfortable room withlarge picture window. Upscale linens and amenities. Our room was on midship on deck 4, same as the Front Desk and Excursion Desk, and we liked the location. It was nice and quiet.
Our tour we prebooked was canceled because not enough people signed up, so at the last minute took a "Scenic Helsinki Harbor Cruise". Still had lots of time there so walked a short distance to the tram stop, found a cute restaurant for a glass of wine and snack, then rode the tram around town, getting off at the Rock Church where we lucky enough to catch the end of a choir concert, then back on again to the Lutheran Cathedral. After climbing all the steep steps to the top and seeing the inside of the church, walked the remainder of the way back to the ship, which was very scenic, then walked through the nearby marketplace looking at all the furs, fresh fish, and produce before boarding.
Ship's excursion to Turaida and Sigulda Castle was very picturesque and we got to see a lot of the countryside. This is evidently a place where many locals go to get married, and we must have seen 10 different wedding parties, which made it even prettier.
Ship was anchored right at the edge of town so walked around on our own. The famous statue of The Little Mermaid was so close we could see it from our Ship. Took the free shuttle provided by the ship downtown where they dropped us off directly in front of the Tivoli Museum. We walked all over town on our own, and just happened to arrive in front of the Amalienborg Palace in time to see the changing of the guard, then walked back to the ship, stopping at a restaurant closeby to relax, talk to some locals, and have a glass of wine. Copenhagen is a very beautiful city, and next to St. Petersburg, was the most enjoyable port of the cruise.
The ship offered a number of different excursions into Berlin, but we had been there before so took an excursion into Rostock, which was pretty but was disappointed we had no time on our own because the guide had to allow time to include a stop at a local pub where we had a free beer and pretzel, and also received a souvenir mug. After arriving back at the ship, our departure time was not until 11:00 pm so decided to see Warnemunde which was within walking distance of the ship. Warnemunde is a very scenic beach town which is used as a vacation spot by the German people, and this was August which is vacation time so it was very crowded, but fun. There was also a very scenic street on a canal, which was lined with restaurants, pubs, and shops. It was a fun port to just wander and enjoy the atmosphere.