This was my first Crystal Cruise and it was wonderful. This is going to be a lengthy review but I had such a hard time finding out any info on specifics for the Baltic Cruise that I want to give future cruises the info that I wished I had beforehand. I had done quite a bit of research before selecting which line to use for the Baltic Cruise and I am very happy that I picked Crystal. We really liked the fact that the ship overnighted in Copenhagen at the beginning and Stockholm at the end of the cruise. This saved us from hotel stays at the beginning and end of the cruise. We were also very pleased that we had 3 full days in St. Petersburg. Many of the other lines only spend 2 days in St. Petersburg. I am very glad that we had the time to experience everything that we did. This cruise was titled “White Nights” due to the extensive amount of daylight we had. When I review the ports, I’ll mention sunrise and sunset times.
Embarkation: Very smooth. Our flight landed in Copenhagen around 7:00 am the morning of embarkation. We had paid for Crystal transfers on both ends, just for convenience sake. We were met in the arrivals hall by multiple Crystal Reps. They stayed with us while we waited for our luggage. We were able to send whatever luggage we wanted to the cruise ship. We kept a small day bag with us and were taken by bus to a local hotel (Scandic Hotel Copenhagen). A conference room was available for us. There was tea, coffee, and water along with some danishes. There were a few Crystal reps here who had maps of the areas and suggestions for what to do until we would be bused to the ship at 11:45. There was free wifi available at the hotel. We walked around some lakes right in front of the hotel and just rested. We had had a long flight and did not sleep at all. The ride to the dock was quick and we were on the ship with bording cards within 15 minutes. Very smooth and painless.
We were told that cabins would be ready at 3:00 pm. We went to the MDR for lunch. After lunch, we dropped our day bags into our Cabin and put stuff into the safe, then went up to the Lido deck with our books and read and rested for a bit. We went to the cabin at 3:00 pm and were a bit disappointed to discover that it had not been completely cleaned – the mini fridge still had ½ consumed drinks from the last cruise, there was only 1 robe, and other minor things. Our cabin stewardess Marisa quickly appeared and apologized for the state of the room. It seems our originally assigned stewardess quit with no notice that morning and Marisa had been pulled very late from another floor to take over. She told us the cabin would be to Crystal’s standards when she made up the room in the evening, and it was. The only other hitch was that our two checked bags were in the cabin by 4 pm, but our two pieces of hand luggage were not there. I went to reception and notified them. Within 20 minutes our luggage was located and delivered. We then had 3 follow up phone calls from different departments confirming that it had been delivered.
Port side 2nd cabin off reception. We were very happy with the location. Being right off the Crystal Cove and reception was very convenient. Some days the gangplank was on this floor and others it was on deck 4. We really liked having a bar just off the cabin. Other that the first night with some noise in the hallway, it was very quiet. We never heard neighbors on either side of us or anyone above us. We had the cabin made up as 2 twins. There was ample storage room, both in the cabin and bathroom. We pushed the table up against the window for a bit more walking room by the couch. My only suggestion is to replace the barrel chair at the desk with a more straight backed chair that didn’t take up too much room. I should note that the blackout curtains worked very well the entire cruise. We used the table up against the wall to help keep them closed. We never had issues with the very early morning sunlight coming into the room.
The ship overnighted in Copenhagen to begin the cruise. We had planned to go to Tivoli Gardens in the afternoon of the 1st day, but we were too tired. We just relaxed on the ship. The next day, we took a ship excursion, Royal Highlights – this was a 3 hr tour. We stopped by Amalienborg Palace Square for a photo stop and had a brief walk to see the opera house. We were supposed to go to Christiansborg Palace for a tour inside but there was some royal function being held so instead went to Rosenborg Palace for our tour. It was very nice and we got to see the crown jewels. We then drove to the Little Mermaid for a photo stop and back to the ship. The ship was offering a free shuttle from the pier to an area in the city center. After lunch, we attempted to walk to Nyhavn and were going to take a boat ride. I somehow got us lost and instead we went to the US Embassy. We saw sections of Copenhagen that most visitors don’t get to see. The guards at the Embassy were very nice and quickly had us pointed in the correct direction. This detour took about 1½ hours but it was a nice day for a walk. Because of getting lost, we did not have time for a boat ride and instead walked from Nyhavn back to the ship, without getting lost this time. Nyhavn is a very delightful area, filled with restaurants. All aboard was 5:00 pm, Muster was 5:15 pm and we sailed at 5:45 pm, a bit before the scheduled time of 6:00 pm. Of note, sunrise was 4:27 am and sunset was 9:58 pm.
Warnemunde – very delightful seaside resort. The ship was scheduled to dock at 7:00 am. I’m not sure exactly what time we came into port. We had originally planned to take the train to Schwerin to see the castle, but the weather was overcast. We did not want to be too far away from the ship in case it turned to heavy rain. It was a very easy 10 minute walk from the ship into the heart of town. The ship had provided very nice maps with points of interest and a walking tour outlined. We spent about 2 hours walking the town and then returned to the ship for lunch. After lunch, we walked to the train station in Warnemunde and purchased a round trip train ticket to Rostock for 3.7 Euro. The train ride took 20 minutes and trains left every 30 minutes. It was very efficient. Once at the hauptbanhof (main train station) in Rostock, we took a 5 or 6 tram to the Old Town area (Altstadt). Again – we had a nice map from the ship that gave us points of interest. We walked for about 2.5 hours. Rostock is bigger than Warnemunde, but had more impressive old buildings and churches we were able to go into. We took the tram / train combination back to Warnemunde and returned to the ship. All aboard was 8:30 pm. Many passengers took the all day excursion to Berlin. They left at 7:30 am and returned between 8:30 - 9:00 pm. The ship was a bit late leaving waiting for the last bus back from Berlin. Dinner was open seating in the MDR. Sunrise was 4:40 am and sunset was 9:48 pm.
The ship docked in Helsinki at 9:00 am. There was a free shuttle from the dock to the top of the Eplanade. We took the shuttle then bought an all day bus pass. We took the 24 bus to the Church of the Rock (Temppeliaukio). We took the bus because the way to the church was all up hill. There was something going on, so we weren’t able to go into the church proper, which was too bad. We then walked down towards the shuttle stop. Along the way we passed the Cathedral of Helsinki and Senate square. There was a huge gay pride celebration going on, which was fun to people watch. We made it back to the shuttle stop. This took about 2.5 hours total. We went back to the ship for lunch. After lunch, we went back into town via the shuttle. We walked down to Market square, where a huge market was being held – crafts, food, other vendors. We then walked to Uspenski Cathedral (Greek Orthodox) and there was a baptism being held. We watched silently for a bit. We then took a ride on the huge ferris wheel (12E). It gave a nice aerial view of Helsinki and the harbor area. It was then back to the ship. All aboard was 5:30 pm and we sailed at 6:00 pm. Sunrise was 3:58 am, sunset was 10:49 pm. We lost 1 more hour this night.
Ship docked at 8:00 am. We had a relaxing morning and took the ship shuttle into town. It is 3 blocks from the entrance to the old town. From here, we walked up the hill to the Alexander Nevsky cathedral, which is at the top. We explored the Toompea area (at the top of the hill) then meandered back down the hill and through the old town. We stopped in at least 4 churches &went to town square where a great craft market was held. We then walked to Fat Margaret and back to the shuttle stop. We spent 3 hours in Tallinn. I found prices in Tallinn much better than in St. Petersburg and got a very good deal on a matryoska doll here. We went back to the ship for lunch and decided to spend the afternoon relaxing on board to recuperate from St. Petersburg. All aboard was 4:30 pm and we sailed at 5:00 pm. Sunrise was 4:10 am and sunset was 10:39 pm. We set our clocks back 1 hour again.